Farewell Turkey, hello Greece

Richard Niebuhr said “Pilgrims are poets who create by taking journeys.” James and I discuss what it means to leave Turkey, which we are very fond of, which we enjoy and its history we are amazed by. But the farewell is tinged with only a small feeling of sadness, because we hope to come back again. When sailing, we are almost by definition looking forward.
The planning, down to hours and days that one requires to sail, adds to the feelings one experiences in the new port. We pray for good weather and we wait for it. Wednesday”s five hours of sailing with fluky winds, is like a penance we do to get to a prize.

Thank you, Turkey.  We have had a great time
Thank you, Turkey. We have had a great time

Wednesday’s prize is Symi. Here is an island of Neoclassical houses, stacked up the hills surrounding the bays of the islands. It is an island where oregano runs wild by the road. Churches have pride of place and wonderful views. Another penance is walking up hills to get to the views and Symi affords plenty of hills.  Symi is a jewel, with wonderful tavernas, shops and cafes and beautiful churches.

Symi - a beautiful town
Symi – a beautiful Neoclassical  town

We hike up to the Chora and stop for a coffee at the Olive Tree, while waiting for our coffee, a pack train of horses bring building materials up the hill.

Hill town deliveries
Hill town deliveries

After our quiet respite in the Marmaris Yacht marina, we were back on a town quay in Symi. We had forgotten about the duf duf music and parties on nearby yachts. There would have been 20 people on the 70 foot yacht next to us, singing, dancing and partying until 5:00am. No amount of earplugs blocked their good-humored noise. Ah yes, now we remember. Amazingly, they left before the rosy fingers of dawn on to their next destination.  Thursday’s excitement was watching new arrivals collecting other yachts anchors. This is a game where the goal is for a boat to manage to keep its anchor ensconced in the mud, while other boats see their anchors come unstuck.  Our new arrivals brought our neighbour’s anchor up to the surface interlocked with their own. Excitement.

Symi, looking from the top of the island
Symi, looking from the top of the island

This morning we are on our way to Kalki, heading southwest and saying Hello Greece.

The journey so far:


Kalkan, Cold Water Bay and Wall Bay Restaurant

We had a lovely afternoon and evening in Kalkan, we swam, saw a turtle, shopped and enjoyed some wonderful Moet left by Rene and Richard. Very appropriate as we had a slightly late birthday celebration for Louise.  Thank you Commodore and Mrs Chapman. We then had a great dinner of Turkish mezes and desserts at the Olive Garden.

Moet and Japanese Rice crackers
Moet and Japanese Rice crackers

On the way back to Mercier, we spied Aladdin’s lamp and Frosty was busily making wishes.

Frosty, busy making wishes
Frosty, busy making wishes

The long sail from Kalkan to Butterfly Valley, was punctuated by rock formations and fault lines, but once you get to Butterfly Valley and Olu Deniz, para-gliders are numerous. Colourful and almost dangerous, the para-gliders sail close to the shrouds and close to the mountain. They seem to land so close to sunbathers on the beach, a worry if you are on the shore.

We spent more time at Gemiler Island and swam at Cold Water Bay, where two men from a gulet climbed the cliff and jumped off to Cold Play and the roar of the crowd. Once back on board the gulet, they marched around with a giant Turkish flag to a Turkish marching band.  We decided to return to rustic Wall Bay Restaurant. Here we were immediately surrounded by Russians.  Five boats sailed in one after another, each with two men and six women.  The Russians were female, beautiful, about 22 years old and in very brief bikinis. Men on Mercier, and the boats around us, on the dock and boats across the way turned as one and focused laser like stares onto the Russian derrieres as they tied the boats onto the pontoon.

We had wonderful calamari, meze and sea bass sis kebab for dinner. The food at this remote but charming Turkish restaurant is authentic and so is the raki and the entertainment.

Raki with turkish coffee at 10 PM, Louise was ready  to dance.
Raki with turkish coffee at 10 PM, Louise was ready to dance.

We had seen this gentleman perform earlier in the evening with an Anatolian flute. For the Mercier crew, he sang a song about raki, while playing on a baglama, which is a similar to a mandolin.  We came back to the boat and listened to music, sang and danced to Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen.

In the morning, we headed over to Deep Bay for a swim and passing Sarsila Bay, we spied a flotilla with a gulet and Mariner Boating flags, we motored over to have coffee with Trevor and Maggie.

Maggie and Trevor - Mariner Boating Flotilla
Maggie and Trevor – Mariner Boating Flotilla

We had coffee and a tour of their gulet, seeing over the entire boat. It was great to catch up in Turkey and we may be joining them for a gulet trip in a few years. It would be fun to have someone else do the cooking.  Just ask Maggie.

Happy Belated Birthday Suse, hope you saw our Facebook message

Oludeniz and Butterfly Valley

We have decided to mix it up a bit and we thought we would go and look for the Butterflies.  Instead of sailing the blue highway, we would take a trip to the Hippie Trail for a short hike and then visit a few watering holes for swims to recover. We are going to take a gulet trip.

One of the captains collects us from Ece Marina and we take a scenic drive over the headland from Fethiye to Oludeniz, a beautiful seaside resort famous for its swarms of paragliders.  Oludeniz is known for being one of Turkey’s most photographed beaches.  It seems a bit surreal to see so many paragliders in one place, all jumping from Babadag Mountain, many are tourists, so they are in tandem with the ever present go pro’s in their hands to record their flights.

Oludeniz Beach, Turkey
Oludeniz Beach, Turkey

The beach is a hive of activity, with hundreds of people coming to find their gulet on the shore and make the jump onto the passerelle between waves.

Gulets, Oludeniz Beach
Gulets, Oludeniz Beach

There are several types of gulets, these are the daytripper style with two levels, a covered level below with tables and the roof covered in floor to floor beach bags for tanning purposes.

It is a warm morning, so our first stop is at secluded Blue Cave beach.  At least it was secluded upon arrival.

Blue Cave outside of Oludeniz Beach
Blue Cave near Oludeniz Beach

About 15 minutes into our stay, Ninja Gulet shoved between us and the wall you can see above, almost taking a few of our fellow passengers with him. The Ninja’s Captain shouted at us and then took his gulet and motored away. There is a universal truth that if one gulet comes others aren’t far behind.  Seclusion may be overrated.

Butterfly Valley is a no road access beach, gorge and butterfly sanctuary.  There are acres of plants here that they love, interspersed with tents and an open air restaurant on the beach.

Beautiful Butterfly Valley, no road access
Beautiful Butterfly Valley, no road access

We decide to hike up into the gorge, which reminded us of our last hike with Peggy S and Donna in Tucson. Butterfly Valley isn’t as big an area but there were no tour guides warning us about mountain lions.

Butterfly Valley
Butterfly Valley

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The valley gorge is quite wild and beautiful, no butterflies to be found as we are probably out of season.  We aren’t sure about the tent city but the reception was quite colorful.

Butterfly Valley
Butterfly Valley

Hotel California in Butterfly Valley, I am not sure of the name but that song kept playing in my head on the way home.

Happy Birthday Rachel Hayes. 30 has never looked so good.


Tucson Trails

James and I along with Donna Tormo received a lovely invitation from our friend Peggy San Filipo, come and see Tucson.  Peggy, Donna and I are old skiing/life/work buddies from Aspen, hard to note that was decades ago.

Saguro Cactus in an Arizona
Saguaro Cactus in an Arizona landscape

We did a walk in Sabino Canyon in the Santa Catalina mountains of Arizona.  There were large numbers of Saguaro cactus, water holes and large boulders of gneiss. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny.

James and I still travel with both ladies.  For years we met Donna in different places: San Diego, San Francisco, Baltimore, Houston and New York on our trips back to the US and also travelled Italy together.  Peggy has visited us twice in Sydney and for years we have met in Los Angeles just before we would head back to Sydney.

Peggy preparing dinner
Peggy preparing dinner

There was quite a bit of eating, drinking, laughing and talking going on all weekend. There were walks and taking photos.  Visiting the Hotel Congress and visiting a very  lively downtown Tucson and seeing where they captured Dillinger. We had a great dinner at Cafe Poca Cosa on Saturday night with friends Arta and Celeste.

Donna on the 'Sunset balcony'.
Donna on the ‘Sunset balcony’.
Peggy, Gaila & James at Poca Cosa
Peggy, Gaila & James at Poca Cosa

Brunch is mandantory
Brunch is mandatory

It was quite a drive to get to Tucson.  It is about a six-hour drive through the desert. Hours of the drive are in barren desert country but as we approach Tucson we see the hills and scenery of Cowboys and Indians. Rugged hills full of Saguaro cactus, which is indigenous to the Sonora Desert.

Walking in the wash, taking close up views of the Saguaros.
Walking in the wash, taking close up views of the Saguaros.

A giant thank you to Peggy for all her hospitality and generosity.  Tucson is highly recommended,  if you are going and want to play golf or pickleball, I will introduce you to Peggy.

Bol, Zlatni Rat and Stari Grad

All a boy needs, a boat, Mom and his dog.  Early morning scene on Bol Harbour
All a boy needs, a boat, Mom and his dog.
Early morning scene on Bol Harbour

The song says ‘you always take the weather with you’, the last few days we have had wonderful sunny clear days and most evenings a big thunderstorm, reminding us of Sydney southerly busters.

We were on our way to Bol on the island of Brac, thinking we would be able to pick up a mooring but we were waved onto the town quay. On the other side of the L shaped Quay there were several catamarans, who probably only draw about 1.3; on our side it was a bit deeper but very busy with the ferry wharf. James, Claire and I decided it was too bouncy to stay on board for lunch and went off to find a pizza on the boardwalk. We said hello to the Perth, WA owners of La Mischief, Steve and Cas, who invited us over for a drink in the evening

We headed out to the iconic beach of Zlatni Rat. This is one of the most photographed beaches in Croatia. Zlatni Rat is a arrowhead of white pebbles over 600 metres long, which changes shape depending on the currents and winds. Close by there are Roman ruins in a stand of pines and a lovely simple church. It seemed one side of Zlatni was protected great for swimming and the other perfect for wind surfers.

Zlatni Rat, Brac
Zlatni Rat, Brac

Sunset is nigh, we head over to La Mischief, which is very close to the boardwalk and its cafes.  The prevailing thought seems to be we should have a cocktail.  So an order went in to the nearby cafe for 3 margaritas and 3 Royal Mojitos. In Bol’s joggly bay, it is hard to negotiate the passerelles, but our wonderful waiter manages to do it with a tray of cocktails.

Service with a smile, agility & balance
Service with a smile, agility & balance

During our chat, we hear about La M’s problem on entering Croatia.  Current practice on entering a country late at night would be to fly the Q flag, stay on board until morning and contact the authorities.  However, two months ago, Croatia changed this rule.  You must fly the Q flag, make your way to the Harbourmaster’s office and call him on the number advised on his door, regardless of time.  One more reason to arrive during daylight hours. Fines are payable. Money better spent on Procip!

We were planning to go to Hvar and moor in the town’s bay, but the weather has been questionable, so we opt for Stari Grad, which means we can take Claire to our favourite swimming spot and chill out bar for lemon press.  Stari Grad is the port on Hvar from which the ferry leaves to Split or Dubrovnik.

Stari Grad Swimming Hole and chill out bar
Stari Grad Swimming Hole and chill out cafe

It is so dry here during summer that there are many cafes that exist under umbrellas.  Please note the secure fencing (aka ropes) to ensure safety.  You can’t see all the dogs also visiting the cafe, none of which cause a problem.

Today we had an early morning walk to take Claire to the ferry enroute to Dubrovnik.  It is going to be a bit quieter on Mercier tonight, but we hope that Claire enjoys Dubrovnik and Corfu and the rest of her travels.  We all agree, you only live once.

Chill out Vis

On Thursday evening, we visited the crew of Nick of Time, Gloria, Alan and Bill on board their very plush Moody 45. We hear about life in Adelaide and the competitive evening card games, where sheep stations are on the line. Before dark, we jump back into the zodiac and set a date for dinner Friday night.

On Friday morning, we take the zodiac out for a spin and do a complete tour of the Bay of Vis for a fish eye view of the beaches and houses along the water front. Some houses are stone walls standing roofless and you realise they would be snapped up in a heartbeat if it were on Sydney Harbour. The stone from this part of the world is a matt white, beautiful and enduring. You can see how white the rock is at each islands waterline.

View of the Bay of Vis
View of the Bay of Vis

Later in the afternoon, we decide to walk up the hill to Fort George, it’s a 2.5 kilometre walk up the hill to see this Bristish Fortress built in 1813.  A quick aside, we see that Vis has a cricket team, left over from circa 1813 when the British introduced cricket and the locals took it up for spirited matches on the oval.

We aren’t sure that we will find anything at Fort George, just bastion walls that we can see from the water. The views would be worth the trip. We pass the turn offs for several nude beaches on the way up. The signage was very interesting.

We almost didn’t go into the Fort itself, it was so quiet and menacing. Merro being the intrepid traveller walks into the fort; so I follow past fallen wood and giant holes encased in safety nets. We turn a corner and there is a red carpet in the ruins. We follow the red carpet, seeing huge wooden doors up ahead we go further into this labyrinth to Vis’s latest Chill Out Bar.

Fort George Chill Out Bar - note rope tied to trees for safety rail. OHS?
Fort George Chill Out Bar – note rope tied to trees for safety rail. OHS?

We truly had no idea that this was here. They have music here and the young Taiwainese waitress, 19, told us that Fort George opened in June and they hoped to put in a full kitchen. It may have begun as a pop up bar for Yacht Week crews but was morphing into a inventive Chill out bar. 19 also mentioned that they have music and the views at Sunset were definitely worth a visit.

Jazz in the evenings
Jazz in the evenings

Friday evening brings Gloria, Alan and Bill back for a quick drink on Mercier and we decide to try a Trip Advisor tip, Konoba Lola’s.  Twilight is fast turning into night. You walk up three stone streets via narrow laneways and stairs. You walk into a stone walled courtyard and the tables are separated in garden rooms. Here the ‘walls’ are 3 foot tall hedges of rosemary and lavender, bathed in candlelight.  All the furniture seem to be charming little pieces from estate sales. The wine cooler was an old enamel pitcher. Food was imaginative, local produce and fish or beef. A gorgeous fountain in the middle hedge with a red Alice sofa – just magical.

Courtyard garden of Lola's. Tables seperated by hedges and fountains.
Courtyard garden that is Lola’s.  Tables separated by hedges and fountains.

Croatia has been a marvelous place, not the least for meeting sailors from home.  We are really enjoying these pleasant interludes during our travel.  We are in Brac now and looking forward to Lesley Sommerville’s visit.  Friendships, new and old, are a highlight of travelling.

Sailors like to party

Before coming to quiet Stari Grad, we shared the ACI Marina with a yacht rally.  All chartered yachts – what a party. Here are a few outtakes.

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Starts out beautifully
Starts out beautifully
Gets a bit out of control – would you like to buy a charter boat?
The noise becomes incredible
The noise becomes incredible
Every one is a bit tired and emotional the next morning
Every one is a bit tired and emotional the next morning


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