Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How a Turk came to our rescue

How can it be the middle of January already?

I feel like I’ve had zilch time to look back on our busy year of 2012 and reflect on anything. There are hundreds of photos still to edit and so many blog posts I’d love to write, but I wonder where does the time go?

Earlier this month over Friday night cocktails, hubby and I talked about our favorite trips in Turkey during 2012. We hit quite a few destinations this year including Safranbolu, Gaziantep, Mount Nemrut and Fethiye.

But out of all the thousands of miles we logged by car and plane, our favorite Turkish trip involved taking a brand new seaplane from Istanbul to the Turkish island of Bozcaada

That’s right – you can now FLY from Istanbul to the lovely wine island of Bozcaada in about 80 minutes! 
We watched the Seabird plane land along the Golden Horn.

This sure beats the 6+-hour trek we made here in 2011 via two ferry boat rides and three hours by car. We nearly missed the last ferry from Geyikli to Bozcaada after narrowly running headlong into a herd of sheep crossing the road around midnight.

Last summer, a new company called Seabird Airlines started offering flights via a 19-passenger seaplane to Bozcaada, Bodrum and Alaçatı. This small airline is staffed with Canadian pilots and air technicians whom have flown all over the world, including the North and South Poles. These specialized Canadian captains also are normally accompanied by a Turkish pilot. 
We waited as our Seabird plane was refueled before we took off from Istanbul.
In October, we booked a weekend trip to Bozcaada through Seabird Airlines at the end of the bayram. We left our apartment early because we weren’t exactly sure where to meet the plane along the Golden Horn near the Rahmi M. Koç Muzesi. In typical Turkish style, we didn’t see any other passengers nor a seaplane anywhere.

We panicked. 

Jason called the company’s phone number, trying to find someone who spoke a little English to no avail. We understood the guy told us to wait, but our flight was due to depart in about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I spied a few Turkish fishermen along the dock and went to ask them for help. One of the fishermen repeatedly told me we were waiting in the wrong location. 

Burada değil.”

He pointed to the other side of the Golden Horn near the Ayvansaray Park.

Now, panic really set in. 

I thanked him, ran back to Jason to tell him our misfortune and thought ‘how the heck are we going to get over to the other side in time to make our flight?’

Within a few minutes, the lone fisherman pulled up to the dock in his small, puttering fishing boat. He already had a lit cigarette between his lips too.


You didn’t need to tell us twice. Jason and I jumped onto the back of the stranger’s boat with our backpacks.

Once again, we were saved thanks to a Turks’ helpfulness! We thanked our Turkish fisherman profusely and slipped him 20 lira.

The waiting passengers looked at us with curiosity. I bet they were wondering why two yabancılar were pulling up to the dock like this.

Well, we made our first seaplane flight, which ended up being slightly delayed because of the winds.
Shortly after take off, I took this photo out the window as we flew over the Golden Horn.
Flying in this small aircraft was truly amazing – motion sickness be damned! The views of historic Sultanahmet, sprawling Istanbul, the Prince’s Islands and the Çanakkale coast were spectacular! I couldn’t take photos fast enough using the camera’s sports setting.
Saying good-bye to Istanbul as we flew past the Haydarpaşa train station.
Flying by the electricity windmills along the Çanakkale coast.
During the short flight, I marveled at the changing landscape from cosmopolitan Istanbul to small red-tiled rooftops in Turkish villages to open farmland and even lush forests. I couldn't help but think how lucky we are to live in Turkey!
Peeking into the cockpit of the Seabird plane. This is how close we were to the pilot!
Flying over clouds, sea and land in Turkey.
Our Twin Otter aircraft made a perfectly smooth landing on the crystalline waters of the Aegean Sea at Bozcaada.

Surprisingly, one of the boutique hotel owners of Aika Hotel, Claudia, greeted us at the dock and whisked us off to the hotel. The seaplane dock is located about 3 km outside of the city center. Lucky for us, late October was the end of the tourist season so the island was fairly tranquil.
This is shortly after we landed at Bozcaada.
Looking back on 2012, this seaplane ride was the most unique aspect of our Turkey trips!  It's one of our top travel highlights in Turkey and an experience we will always remember!

Note: If you want a quick way to reach Bozcaada, I highly recommend taking this new seaplane service. We snapped up the promotion tickets for 298 tl per person. The cost is a little expensive, but it saves a ton of time, and the fast ferry boat we took with the car to Bandirma in 2011 was over 250 tl.

Stay tuned for more photos about our relaxing weekend on Bozcaada.

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Cuisine de Provence said...

Beautiful photos Joy!

Joy said...

Thanks Barbara! More photos on Friday. :-)

BacktoBodrum said...

That's the way to travel. I wonder how much it is to Bodrum?

jaz@octoberfarm said...

what a great trip. i love flights in small planes. we once hired a pilot to fly us over navaho burial grounds that had never been walked on by white men.

Unknown said...

This is so interesting, Joy. You are so right, up till now, getting there has been a pain. Will definitely investigate this way ... how come no-one else has mentioned it, I wonder? :)

Joy said...

@BacktoBodrum, I'm not sure. The season doesn't start until June and the 2013 schedule isn't posted yet. Check back later, I guess?

@Joyce, Wow, your small plane flight sounds pretty amazing too! If only I didn't get such motion sickness, I'd be a happier traveler. Even the car on long road trips, I don't always do well. But for this plane trip, it was totally worth it!

@Claudia, I know. I couldn't find any write ups about this new service yet online. But both our flights were packed with Turks! But this yabanci truly recommends the trek to Bozcaada. :-)

Yasmeen said...

Beautiful photos! I love turkey and next time we are in Europe visiting family it's on our list to pass through. So lovely.

Alan said...

. . with a bit of luck they'll start to operate from Köyceğiz lake at some time - beats road travel.

Joy said...

@Yasmeen, there's so much to see here in Turkey! Hope you'll have time to enjoy it.

@Alan, I'm sure you could "petition" them to start a route down there. ;-)

Katharina said...

Ah I found the link. Thank you for mentioning it. Was so excited about the pics that I commented too soon :)

Joy said...

@Katharina, You're welcome! I also posted a new NOTE on today's post (1/18/2013). Hope you can make the trek to Bozcaada like we did. :-)

Unknown said...

I just found this blog by coincidence and loved your post- especially since it mentions us at Aika Hotel by name! We do hope you return to stay with us very soon!

Joy said...

@Claudia, what a coincidence! I always meant to drop you a line to tell you how much of a good time we had at your hotel & how much we appreciated your recommendations. We love Bozcaada!

Unknown said...

Hi, How did you reserve on Seabird? Were most places open in October in Bozcaada? Thanks. William