Looks like a paradise on the sea, Burgazada (located 1 hour of ferry trip from Istanbul) whispers its beauty in your ears with its seagulls, ferries, phaetons, cats and dogs to make you leave the city mangle. How about a drop of Burgazada?
The beautiful Adalar (Islands) District of Istanbul. .. The long-time place of pine groves, immortal writers, unforgettable films Yeşilçam (Turkish cinema), happy cats, shouting and screaming seagulls, phaetons, paddle-steamers, summer breeze, bicycles, beautiful Rum women with net hat, old men with walking sticks, people going to the beach, Rum fish restaurants, moonlight, gramophones playing record, summer nights foods eaten outdoors.
Burgazada is the place that reminds you what an ill concept the city is.
Leading a life in Burgazada is primitive, because you cannot reach or leave the island after a certain time. Most of the time there is no too much light in the island, but you can always watch the stars as much as you want. There are no bars where hundreds of people cavort and lose themselves under the title of “having fun” with the harmony of sweat and flesh, but it is quite likely to get lost watching phosphorescence in the sea while sipping a glass of wine or liqueur. Only in Burgazada a person can lose himself just with the splendid scenery and atmosphere. The approaching ferries bring only about 10 people in winter, and you know those 10 people name by name. Just after a short while living in Burgazada, you do not want to get back to city, because you fell in love with the island.
While describing Burgazada, it would not be wrong to say the most natural one and the most “island” in the Adalar District of Istanbul. By the way, the famous Turkish writer Sait Faik Abasıyanık resided in the island for a long time. In his books, you can a great detail about Burgazada including its fish, seagulls, Rum fishermen, Laz owner of grocery store and waves phosphorizing in the sea under the moonlight. What is told in the stories of Sait Faik Abasıyanık about Burgazada is 100% true and can still be found in the island.
For example; if Laz owner of grocery store was not there, his son or grandson will definitely be there. Burgazada functioned as an exile island for well-known people in the period of Byzantine.
Burgazada put its bad memory behind and nowadays it houses a multi-cultural lifestyle. In the eyes of its residents, Burgazada is the symbol of severest contradictions of human life, and a place of humiliation with pride, nothingness with greatness, happiness with poverty. Actually, all of the islands of Istanbul are a different land where people clasp and accept each other without questioning the sectarian or nationality. Besides, there is no any personal conflicts in the islands.
There is a huge cultural gap between the winter and summer seasons when it comes to the island life. In the chirping summer season, Burgazada hosts many day trippers. The settlement is composed of a mainland and 5 separate islands, which dramatically reveals the cultural, social and economic differences of people living in summer season and winter season.
The people with different ethnicities live peacefully in Burgazada, which makes the life much more beautiful. The residents of the island and day trippers generally prefer bicycles as a mean of transportation. The day-trip island tours are among the most popular activities for day trippers. Covered with pine trees, the path used by phaeton and bicycle tours mesmerizes the visitors.
Sait Faik Abasıyanık and Madam Martha
The famous Turkish writer Sait Faik Abasıyanık is definitely one of the first names coming to mind in Burgazada that is quite silent day and night as if it has been abandoned.
Walking on the streets he walked and looking at the same scenery with Sait Faik Abasıyanık makes you feel very different.
The mosque and church located just behind the port square give a little clue about the lifestyle in the island. With its temperate weather, coastline, pine trees, and stylish restored mansions, Burgazada is one of the most popular places in the city of Istanbul. The seaside residences and mansions in Burgaz are famous for their beauties. The beautiful wooden mansions are mainly located in Gezinti Street and Gönüllü and Mehtap Streets at the foot of a hill facing Kaşıkadası and Heybeliada.
On the top of the hill is stands Hristos Monastery as a wall. When you keep on walking from the monastery you can reach the coastal part of the island including Esentepe Neighborhood (offering the best scenery in the island), Marta Bay (once known as Halikya Bay) and Süt Bay. If you visit the island in summer season, you will probably welcomed by a good-humored guy named Mehmet Ali who brew delicious tea in the beach.
Madam Martha Bay has an interesting history. Madam Martha was an attractive and charming ballerina who was too free spirited for the era she lived.
There was a woman who swam (in the bay facing Sivriada as if she wants to reach the sun) in every sunset like she was worshipping without caring it was summer or winter. This beautiful woman went by the name of Madam Martha. She was a Christian with Egyptian descent. Her husband was Armenian. She was born in Mersin Province in 1920, and she came to the city of Istanbul when her father (the manager of Ottoman Bank) was appointed to Istanbul. After graduating from Saint Benoit High School, she became a student of Lydia Krassa Arzumanova who left her country because of Soviet Revolution and opened a ballet school in Istanbul 1921. Madam Martha became one of the first ballet dancers in Istanbul. She dedicated herself to nature and sea after getting married and moved in Burgazada. Her house was located in Saint Nicholas Square (Aya Nikola Meydanı), but she spent most of her time in cottages of old mineral water producers and in the bay, which is now known as Martha Bay. She even hosted her guests on the table under the fig tree in front of the cottage. Without taking offence, she cleaned the bay herself. Madam Martha had a child-birth pain in the sea and then was taken to the hospital by a boat. She was like a nymph. She bathed herself with cold water both in winter and summer season. She did not wear socks even while it was snowing. She directly went to her house to bath herself with rain water (she called the rain water “the water of God”). She wore colorful bandanas wooden bracelets, big earnings, and anklets although they were not popular yet in those years. Every evening, she welcomed her husband in colorful clothes in the pier. Madam Martha, who formed great friendships with the people of Burgaz, passed away in 1986. The people of Burgaz continue to call the bay she loved “Martha Bay”.
Food & Beverage
When it comes to foods & beverages in Burgazada, Barba Yani is the first stop in the island that is full of beautiful memories and stories. Barba Yani has a setting including naturalness, simplicity and sincerity. It is quite probable for you to mesmerize against the scenery that Barba Yani offers. Barba Yani welcomes its customers with various mezes (a selection of small dishes), numerous food and salad and fish varieties.
Antigoni Restaurant, offering the taste and pleasure together, is a spectacular place for those who want to spend a great time in a quiet and beautiful restaurant. Antigoni Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Burgazada with its scenery, location and fresh fish varieties. The restaurant is in the style of traditional Greek taverna and the prices are very convenient.
Ada Keyf is another great place where you can begin your day with a delicious breakfast accompanied by a spectacular waterscape, and end your day with fresh fish varieties and cold Turkish raki watching the moonlight. Located in the coastal part of the island, Ada Keyf is a lovely and house-like place.
Fincan Café is a small but lovely place stuck in the middle of two large shops in the shore of the sea. The café offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Burgazada and Fincan Café are quite different in the evenings. The sincerity of the café and its owners reflects to its customers.
Bakkal Mustafa (the grocery), Adalar Market, Ergün Patisserie, Bülent Pharmacy and Burgaz Meat World are sincere places where you can meet your needs without hesitation.
Kalpazan Kaya (Forger Rock) is another place you can prefer for foods & beverages. It is necessary to book in Kalpazan Kaya particularly in weekends. First of all, the mezes of Kalpazan Kaya are quite delicious. The octopus salad and bass fish are very delicious as well. After the delicious mezes with a glass of Turkish raki, I strongly suggest you to taste fried calamaris, as starter entrée, which was definitely the best calamari I had ever tasted. Besides, the stonecrops and sea beans can be an alternative in the restaurant. The lamb in tandoori and fish must definitely be tasted in the main course.
The Ferries and Seagulls
The islands of Istanbul are getaways for the citizens of Istanbul who suffocate from the urban chaos. Even a day in quiet and peaceful island is a great experience and a relief in the exhausted spirit of the person who lives in the city. The islands can be reached by ferries and boats. Even though the ferries can be a little crowded, it will be a wonderful experience for those who can find a place in outside benches of the ferry.
You will have a great ferry-trip if you bring a bagel or a loaf of bread with you to feed the seagulls. The most crowded period of the island is the summer season. The people who come to the island by boats and ferries first gather around the pier. They, then, begin experiencing a very different atmosphere with various cafés, souvenir shops and savory smell of Ada Restaurant and the other grilled meatball restaurants.
The landlords of historical streets of this beautiful island are the cats and dogs that were mostly abandoned by their owners. The people of the island are a family and friend for the cute animals of Burgazada. I always believed that the former owners of these lovely animals set them free. I mean, I hope it is.
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