The Aegean Sea is beckoning you. You’re not surprised. It does every year around this time. Sometime after Greek Independence Day, before Greek Easter, or around a football tournament, during which the blue-and-white flag waves longer than expected, you start planning your next Greek escape. You’ve traveled to Santorini and Mykonos, Milos and Patmos, Ios and Rhodes because of these cravings. This year, you’re going to Turkey.
If you’ve never considered Turkey when you’ve dreamed about the Aegean Islands, it’s not surprising. There are only two Turkish islands in this sea. Upon first glance, you would assume they’re Greek, too. Given their largely shared history—featuring everyone from the Persians to the Byzantines to the Ottomans—you aren’t too far off. The dry islands manage to grow fields of wheat, grape vines, olive trees, and red poppies. Goats and sheep graze there, as well. At the windswept coastlines, sandy beaches meet the brilliant turquoise water. While brightly painted houses and even brighter flowers line the cobblestone streets in the center of town.
But in Merkez, the main—make that the only—town on Bozcaada, there’s also a Turkish quarter. The quiet area, compared to the livelier Greek side, is mostly residential. There are mosques instead of churches. But everyone has a view of the Medieval castle, rides the ferry to and from the mainland, and warmly welcomes visitors, who use the island as a weekend and summer retreat from Istanbul.
After you arrive on the ferry, which takes about 35 minutes, you make your way to Habbele Bay on the southwest coast. During World War II, the bay was occupied by British and French soldiers; the British built landing strips here for their airplanes. Cafes, sun loungers, and a little hotel line the beach today.
That hotel, Bertiz Hotel, is where you’re hiding for the week. Its two-story, whitewashed buildings have wooden balconies and trellises; more of those gorgeous flowers cascade down their sides. The rooms are decorated according to their themes—stone, wood, or mosaic—with sea views from each. The open-air restaurant doesn’t offer menus, but the owner will describe the freshly caught seafood better than a piece of paper could anyway. While the water in the Olympic-size infinity pool perfectly matches the calm water in the bay.
Between the food and the wine, the beach and the view, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re in Greece, Turkey, or any other country. All that matters is that you found another Aegean paradise.