In September I went to Bozcaada. This delightful island in the northern Aegean is the favourite destination for Istanbul residents when they have a yen to embrace peace and nature. It is still (to some extent) a refuge from mass tourism. Traditionally, fishing and looking after the very ancient vineyards that cover the hills are the main activities.
I had been dreaming for a long time of staying somewhere that would be close to nature but with the same comforts as a hotel, ad the Aral Holiday Farm ticks all the boxes.
Here, I was able to disconnect from the pace of the city and reconnect with the simple life, surrounded by grape vines and olive trees, and the farm animals that roam free in the gardens. The farm is not on the coast but you are still aware, in the distant background, of golden beaches and the translucent blue of the Aegean Sea.
Add to this the lovely stone facades of the little flower-decked houses, the many areas for relaxation scattered about in the gardens, and the superb breakfasts prepared with products from the farm and enjoyed in the open air beneath an arbour, and nothing else was required to make me yield to the charm of my surroundings.
However I did leave my oasis of calm to explore the island. You can enjoy the paths and strolls through the vineyards either on foot or by bicycle. Another means of transport, the motor scooter, is very fashionable here. The island is quite big, so a car is needed to go all the way round. The landscapes that opened up before my eyes at every bend are as unique as they are fabulous.
Don’t miss the Aquarium bay, where you can observe marine life and then top up your tan on the pretty beach with its crystalline but quite cool water. I did the tour of the fortress and sauntered around the streets of the town between little boutiques and traces of the distant past. In the restaurants beside the sea, I tasted delicious fresh -caught fish and (especially) meze dishes.
And finally, in a must-do for all my getaways, I went and admired the sunset, from Bozcaada’s westernmost headland near the Polente lighthouse.
When I got back to the bustle of Istanbul, it was with the conviction that I had, in just a few days, relearned how to be happy living close to nature, and how to appreciate simple things.