Running is an excuse to visit beautiful Bozcaada
With its difficult running track accompanied by an amazing nature and touch of history, the Bozcaada run has a special place for me amongst the others. Yet, running in this terrific atmosphere with friends fr om Adim Adim and Tider volunteers, before and after the run, it has become my ritual to benefit fr om the pleasant facilities of the island, that I have thoroughly acquainted and embraced.
I attended the Bozcaada run in the last week, which has become quite a tradition for me. I’d like to tell you about the story of how this run gives me distinct pleasure each and every year.
In the past years, I joined the Bozcaada run three times, and this year it has become my fourth time. Previously, I wrote about this topic twice. To remind you of these, I have shared the links:
The running atmosphere this time round was much warmer in comparison with the past few years. The confidence of knowing the island, with the dedication of constantly coming and going, the familiarity of individuals, Tider’s volunteers, friends fr om Adim Adim made me feel more and more like I was at home.
On the morning of last Friday, after we finished our work in our Maltepe office, we hit the road at about 11.30am. Two of my friends fr om the Tider volunteers joined me. We went to Izmit Korfez fr om Maltepe and crossed to the other side over the Osmangazi Bridge. Before arriving into Bursa, we headed towards Canakkale on a very comfortable ride over the freeway. We gave breaks in between in Karacabey and had lunch at Tavaci Refik. My friend who recommended this restaurant, which is situated on the side of a lake, advised that it was the most popular stopover restaurant. It truly was a great place, and a really nice meal.
The panic of an extra journey!
While at the restaurant, due to some calls I received, I had to get back into working. I requested fr om one of my friends who had joined me on the journey to take the wheel. During the two hours it took us to go fr om Karacabey to Canakkale, I dealt with the work tasks in the backseat. Once we arrived in Canakkale, I again took the wheel, and drove until we got to Bozcaada. We arrived at Geyikli Pier at about 5.30pm. We put our vehicle in line to be loaded onto the ferry boat and assuming it would take off at 7pm, we went and sat in the café courtyard. As I was walking out with a tray with Turkish coffee and tea, I realised one of my friends had gone missing. My other friend was standing up in a panic looking straight at me. When I noticed the bus in front of us making its way towards the ferry boat, I put the tray down, grabbed the biscuits off it, my friend grabbed the waters and we rushed off towards our car. My other friend had long gone and taken the wheel. When I noticed it move, I signalled “go to the ferry boat, we will come on foot”. And we went walking onto the ferry boat. When we went to the top of the ferry boat, we again bought Turkish coffee and tea and made most of the view with the previous need to unwind with the coffee. When I found out the reason for the mix-up, it turns out that despite the normal 7pm journey, an extra service was added for 6pm. For this reason we were all slightly messed up. Then we had arrived to the island. The roads had already been closed. For this reason, we were able to reach the other side of the castle by taking the back streets, and then arriving at our hotel.
Great minds think alike
Meanwhile there was an interesting encounter. My friends who were staying at the Ege Hotel had previously written for us to stay there. I had arranged my assistant, Miss Oylum to organise me a hotel in Bozcaada, in which she prepared me a list of 7-8 available hotels listing their prices and level of quality, in which my first preference was the Ege Hotel. Thus, by chance, my two friends that came with me, along with the two Tider volunteers, ended up staying at the same hotel as me.
The Ege Hotel has been converted fr om an old Roman primary school to this venue with a great concept. It wasn’t luxurious, the rooms and bathrooms were small, the breakfast didn’t have much variety or taste that great, but it had a spirit and flare of its own. That’s why I liked it.
The entrance of the Ege Hotel
For example, there was an element that supported this spirit in every room, by hanging an important poets poems or an important writer’s piece, as an attribute to them. I stayed in Oguz Atay’s room. And here are my three favourite door posts:
Taken ownership by Istanbulians, not by locals
Off course the creator of this spirit was the operator of the hotel, Umit Turan. I had a chance to have long conversations with him during my stay. He was a very informed and detailed individual. He was actually fr om Uskudar, Istanbul. He passed on a lot of information to me about the island and the history of the hotel. Amongst these, I’d like to share with you the most I found interesting:
“It’s the people fr om Istanbul who take care and ownership of the island and its history. Unfortunately, as the local Turks here lack culture, they don’t really care about how badly the structural outlook changes, the pollution of the sea or of the essential issues. Unfortunately, all the locals think about here is filling their pockets. On the other hand, the people who escape Istanbul are constantly battling to stop this island fr om becoming how their own city has become”.
After we settled into our hotel, we had a shower and got ready, and went to dinner at Kuzina restaurant. The volunteers also starting showing up fr om behind us. As the ferry boat was getting closer, the number of our volunteers joining us was increasing. We were all formed as a team by the time it got to 10pm. The food, especially the fish was delicious. The workers were also very friendly.
Eating fake sea bream fish
That night we suffered a mishap. We asked for sea bream. An hour after the appetisers came, I starting asking “wh ere’s the fish?”. I think I asked five times within two hours. Infact, as a joke I asked “haven’t you been able to catch the fish yet?”. In the end, I couldn’t help myself and said “did you serve our fish to another table?”. In return, they replied “unfortunately, yes”. They sincerely apologised. Our fish then came to our table at 11pm (they cooked us another one once we all realised). Fr om the very start, what I had predicted had happened. Generally, when things like this come to my mind, they generally happen. Fr om the very beginning, I got angry as they were trying to buy time with their excuses. The service staff even started to panic. In the end, we said “things like this happen, nevermind” and then we decided not to ruin our night and continued on.
Forgetting we had a 10kilometre run the next day, we went a little overboard. We woke up early on Saturday morning, and went for a walk with our friends to sober up; I was able to rest up after breakfast. Afterwards, I had a shower and left the hotel. Everyone in the arena was warming up with music. Because we had a little too much fun the night before, I was trying not to tire myself out. A good breakfast and a short nap helped revive me a little more. Right before the run, we took the below photo with all the volunteers:
…and it was time for sport!
The run started at 11.30am. As we were late for the line up, we ended up in the back rows. It wasn’t a problem as I was planning to start slow and sweat it out. In the first two kilometres, I was slowly passing the people in front and making my way to the front rows. I was below my normal tempo. I started to speed up after the second kilometre. Sweating had allowed me to regain myself. I continued to speed up. As the track in Bozcaada is difficult, you’ll find yourself climbing many hills. You’ll also run the track back on the return. On the return, when I saw the Tiderian volunteers, I greeted them “hey Tiderians”. After, I completed the hills in the first five kilometres, and then I started coming down. I started speeding up much more. Although it was getting hotter, I was getting better. Infact, I started passing the people in the last two kilometres even though it was up a long hill. One of the runners I passed even said as he was clapping “bravo, you’ve got a great tempo”. I turned and smiled to say “thank you”. This was a great reflection of real sportsmanship. Being able to applaud and encourage each other is the essence of sport. In the last 300 metres, I was able to outrun and see the finish line. I had finished the 10 kilometres in 48 minutes. Considering the difficulty of hills, finishing the race at 48 minutes in Bozcaada is a great ranking. I came in at 51st place amongst 2728 runners. I also came 7th in my age group. To be able to complete at this result considering lately how busy work has been, moving house, not doing any training, and to top it off, having a big night the night before, I considered this result as a great success. Infact, we joked amongst ourselves and said ‘however big the party is the night before, that’s how great you can run the next day J’.
Details of my ranking
A strange case of attack
As I finished the race in 51st place, I was able to gain some time. Except there was one problem. I couldn’t see any of our volunteers in sight. For about 30 minutes, I waited for all our other friends to arrive. In the meantime, I was able to snack on the bananas and granola provided and consumed plenty of water. Infact, the firm that established the granola turned out to be someone I had known. I had a chat with them and our Adim Adim friends. At that point, I witnessed an amazing outcry around us. It was fr om someone who seemed like he had lost his mind. He was of strong build and was acting rather strange when he started to proceed towards the top panel wh ere the presenters were, which is when he tried to push them off. I took immediate action when I saw this. I tried to intervene. At that point, the strong build man jumped off. One of the Adim Adim trainers were there, who tried to hold up the platform as it was about to fall. Afterwards, some people were able to catch the person who started this commotion and handed him over to the police. I no longer had to do anything further.
In an environment like this, it was really tedious to have someone attack and act like they’d lost their mind (no one really understood what had happened). However, in a short space of time, everyone was able to pick themselves up again and enjoy the remainder of the event.
Our volunteers started showing up. Everyone started gathering under the sycamore tree in the centre. After having a mastic gum Turkish coffee, we returned to our hotel and got ready. Then altogether we went to Ayazma beach, which in comparison was much calmer. Our friends had already organised a picnic basket. We enjoyed the food and beverages by the beach. We were in the beautiful weather at the beach, swimming, chatting till 6pm. This way, I had started the official swimming season for myself.
No matter how much I enjoy myself at the beach, fr om time to time, my attention can sway to topics about work.
We again returned to the hotel, got ready and went to Gumus restaurant for dinner. The food wasn’t bad. The service was. The manager was friendly and a nice person. However, would I go there again, I’m not sure. Besides me, there were 12 other volunteers at the table. At one stage, they asked me if I could give them an up date regarding the club society, to that I replied “of course, happily” and started to speak. I spoke for about half an hour, giving them all the up dates regarding the club society. I advised our priorities, issues and what other things we have planned.
Music and pranks fr om a fellow Roman woman
Our conversation continued. We fully enjoyed our dinner. After dinner, I bought ice-cream fr om the ice-creamery on the corner. The honey almond and mastic gum ice-cream was really great. I recommend the island ice-creamery. Then we went to a coffee shop found in the back streets. It was an interesting place. The operator was a woman fr om the Far East. Besides us, there was one other table. The lady who was sitting at it, which we assumed was of Roman roots asked us “if we played music, would you all dance?”. Some of the volunteers were of Balkan roots who immediately replied “of course we’ll dance”. Right after this, a young friend who was sitting next to this lady, pulled out his Oud and started to play. Suddenly, due to our genes, everyone started to get active. Our friends of Balkan roots and friends fr om Balikesir got up and started to dance. After a 1 hour dance interlude, we paid the bill and left. Just as we were leaving, the Roman lady came onto me with a joke. This was our dialogue:
-how many girls are on your table?
-people struggle to find 1 girl, how did you manage to find 12 (of course saying this in a laughing manner)
-let’s say it was by chance (I wanted to further provoke her with this answer)
-what chance mate, there’s something going on here.
At this point, one of the cheeky volunteers got involved to further stir things up:
-we are actually his disciples. There are also some other disciples that are not here
-oh my god, I think I’ve just aged another year. What’s more to come!
To add to this and rectify the situation, I further got into the conversation:
-no madam, my friends are joking with you. This is a club society. My friends are volunteers
Jokes aside, all the volunteers in the club society, I see as my siblings wh ere each and everyone is personally valued by me. Because during a time, wh ere humanity is tested, these people put their heart and souls into everything without return, and for that, they have a special place for me.
By the way, we argued amongst us why the amount of male volunteers was seriously lower than those of the female ones. The result was as follows: our club society Tider, provides food for those in need, cleanliness and clothes to meet the basic needs of people in need. And this brings out the motherly feelings at front. That’s why, as women are more sensitive and more heartfelt, supporting us like this enables a situation like this. Infact, one of our volunteers used another club society as an example: For example, there are more male volunteers in Akut. Although the General Secretary is a woman (who we adore), as far as their missions is concerned, they demand having more male volunteers there.
After our coffee sessions, we went to one of Bozcaada’s popular places, Polente. The venue is nice, people are nice, great weather. We were happily in a good place. There we again bumped into our friends fr om Adim Adim. We chatted for some time. And after chatting and dancing, we had an idea to go somewh ere else. Because the techno music at Polente was at the same rhythm, after a while it was doing our heads in. That’s why we all left together and went to a venue near our hotel which plays 80s and 90s classics called Salhane. Actually, when we had arrived, the open air entertainment had finished but as we sat on the sea side, we enjoyed the music coming fr om this closed venue. Afterwards everyone went back to their hotels.
We witnessed this amazing view fr om Salhane. The full moon over the Bozcaada castle.
The inoperative ‘waiter calling button system’
The next day we had breakfast at about 8.30am, gather at about 9.30am and left the hotel.
A photo we took after we left the hotel. After I shared this photo on social media, a friend fr om primary school sent me a teasing message ‘are you the master of Bozcaada?’
Thanks to the extra services, we were able to reach the 10am ferry boat. This time we decided to go via another route. We chose the Canakkale-Tekirdag-Istanbul (Europe side) route.
A photo we took on the ferry we boarded in Bozcaada. Behind us is the Bozcaada castle.
My friend who is a Bulgarian migrant was also in the car with us and being fr om Kesan, he suggested we stop over at the Kavaklik restaurant for a break, which was on our way. I can say we spent a little too much time there. With the famous classics of Thrace, we enjoyed meat and their cheese dessert. The system I always suggested of pushing a button to call a waiter, this Kavaklik restaurant had. I liked this. I also told the waiter that I would trial this system. Towards the end of the meal, I pushed the button, no one came. We pushed it again after 5 minutes, again, no one came. After 10 minutes, I myself got up and went to the garden and called a waiter. I asked why the system wasn’t working. Turns out the electronic panel reader was not plugged in. It was quite a Turkish innovated system! There was a system but we couldn’t use it because it was not plugged in. I plugged it in and after a few times, we saw that it started to work. After our coffees, we got up and back on the road to Istanbul.
The button system that calls the waiter
The panel that has the button calling system
The unplanned invasion of Bahcesehir
We returned in 9 hours a journey we took previously in 6. The biggest reason for this was that we spent 2 hours in Kavaklik restaurant and the fact that we were able to get out of the city centre of Bahcesehir. To observe the shape Bahcesehir had taken, which was built by our family company, was upsetting. At the top of the hill, there was a not so high levelled housing estate amongst the trees, which was built by Suzer Holding. The best thing about Bahcesehir was the pond, the natural gas infrastructure (the first users of natural gas infrastructure in Turkey was the Bahcesehir residents because we included the natural gas piping in the plan) and all the elements that make Bahcesehir Bahcesehir (Bahcesehir University, restaurants, shopping centres etc). We planned with our partners and brought it to life with 17,000 dwellings being built and sold, but when the project became popular, other construction companies attacked the area and bought all the land and started many real estate projects. Unfortunately, they filled the area with concrete buildings. Because of all these unplanned practices, and the plunder of people so to speak, increased the population and made it impossible for even the freeway to handle.
In the end, I dropped my friends off to a place close to their houses on the way and got home in an absolute tired state. We had come to an end of yet another enjoyable journey. As I bring my article to an end, I’d like to summarise some tips about Bozcaada. These tips evolved as a result of mine and my friends experiences:
Most comfortable route:
Istanbul-Osmangazi Bridge-Bursa-Canakkale-Geyikli Pier
The best restaurants:
Tavaci Refik, Kavaklik, Camlibel, Ozen
Hotels I recommend:
Kaikias, Bademlik, Kalais, 9 Oda, Alicante, Evreka, Ege Hotel
Kuzina, Maya, rendition Konukevi (especially for breakfast), Asmali Meyhane, Insulares, Sandal
Cicek, Polente, Oda, Ada Dondurmacisi (island ice-creamery)
Salhane, Bakkal, Polente
For further information, please check out the below link:http://www.bozcaadarehberi.com
For those who want to visit Bozcaada, I wish you a pleasant adventure…Tag: gezi