We arrived late, checked into the hotel in Sultanahmet on Wednesday night. We were determined to get up to make the most of our few days in Istanbul. We are at the bottom of the hill but it isn’t long before we see evidence of the Blue Mosque, minarets shining brightly in the sun. In fact, in this historic centre of Istanbul, many famous sights are within easy walking distance.
We follow our gaze at the beautiful Blue Mosque and end up at the Greco-Roman Hippodrome, a race course for horses or chariots, but now is a park with several ancient structures including the Obelisk of emperor Theodosius, who in 390 brought one third of the obelisk from the temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt. Looting and re-purposing has been going on for a thousand years.
The Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Mosque stands in quiet beauty facing the equally beautiful Hagia Sophia, once an Orthodox Cathedral from 537 to 1453, then an imperial mosque until 1931, when Ataturk converted it into a beautiful museum.
We took the tram over the Galata Bridge to the Galata Tower, visited Taksim Square and had coffee at the Dolmabace Palace. Galata Tower is a Genoese medieval stone tower standing over the Golden Horn’s junction with the Bosphorus.
What the tower gave us were 360 degree views of Istanbul. We finished our day shopping in Arasta Square and there is always the Grand Bazaar tomorrow. Try YouTube for the song, it’s very catchy and you too can have an earworm.
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.
On the way back to Mercier, we spied Aladdin’s lamp and Frosty was busily 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.
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.
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
To reach this special part of the southern Turkish coast, we motored through a hidden passage between two islands. The islands act as a wonderful breakwater creating a virtual road of water, which is resplendent with Genoese castles, sunken villages, bays and harbours, large turtles and ancient Lycian rock tombs. and sarcophagi. Many friends and fellow Aussies that are based in Turkey had recommended Kekova Roads.
One of the lovely bays is Tersane, or Boatbuilder’s Bay. The Byzantine ruins of a church are right on the edge of the water. We raced around in the early morning to get here before the Gulet’s arrived from Kas or other nearby ports so we could go for a swim and really enjoy this special place.
Initially, the feeling of Kekova Roads is hauntingly romantic. The sights of entire villages that have subsided, with stone stairs descending into the water and remnants of lintels hand carved into the stone wall, and the front fences under water but still visible after hundreds of years. We motor in a single line, at a funereal pace with many gulets and yachts, viewing history.
In the 2nd century AD in Simena, there were terrible earthquakes and the houses on the island subsided into the water. My thought was that the village was abandoned then and the ruins remain. The people of Simena rebuilt in the Byzantine era. It was much later that pirates became such a problem in this part of turkey that Simena was abandoned.
On the other side of the bay, there is Kale Koy and Ucagiz Limani. Kale Koy is the sight of ancient Lycian ruins, remediated into a castle by the Geonese knights of St John. The knights just built the fortress around Lycian rock tombs and a small amphitheatre. The views down to Kale Koy are quite splendid on a beautiful sunny day.
Looking up to the castle.
There is a Lycian rock tomb and amphitheater in the castle and sarcophagi overlooking the water, with one subsided into the rock pools and restaurants catering to yachties and other tourists.
We enjoyed two wonderful nights at anchor in the peaceful Ucagiz Limani, while during the day we visited all the other bays like Tersane, Spring Bay and Woodhouse Bay. We swam with the turtles in the Woodhouse Bay, making sure they were at a respectable distance away. There were freshwater springs mixing the warm bay water with chilly fresh water causing lots of squeals in Woodhouse Bay.
First we will begin with a the beautiful night lights in Kalkan, we enjoyed the Olive Garden’s roof terrace and wonderful food. Rene, we think of you when ever lights come into play. Back at the boat, the whole lovely town of Kalkan was lit like a Christmas tree.
We woke up and the boats that had been tied to gulets, were gone by 7am. We thought we would get moving soon after breakfast, no hurry, it was only a short motor to Kas. Then we realised the small harbour of Kalkan was whipped into a frenzy at about 9:30AM, with gulets exiting and entering at speed. With laid lines this would have been easy but the sport is to collect your anchor before you go, while dodging at least three gulets that are aiming for you as you try to retrieve said anchor. Blood sport then escape.
We were able to take a breath and before we knew it we were at the glamorous Kas Marina. A splendid pool, showers, restaurants but we certainly wanted to see the charming city of Kas. After a quick swim, we went in to wander the hilly streets and we were beguiled with all the wonderful shops.
First a few photos of Kas and then the shopping.
We walked up the hill overlooking harbour beaches, with plenty of excitement with cliff jumpers,
Just above this point and all through Kas, there are Lycian sarcophagi. Unlike the way we place cemeteries on the outskirts of our towns, the Lycians opted for up on a mountain or along the coast. According to a very interesting and helpful website, www.lycianturkey.com, the Lycians integrated their dead into their life.
On our way to dinner, we were overwhelmed by the wonderful, captivating shops selling so many great products, found in the streets of Kas. My favourite art gallery, pottery shop, Tugra Art Gallery, belongs to Ali Yigit. He had my Hammam bowl but also beautiful pottery and much more besides.
Another favourite purchase, has been peshtemals and this store had lovely towels both for beach and home.
Kas is known for its rugs and we enjoyed seeing these after a wonderful meze dinner at Ikbal. Tomorrow, we are on our way to Kekova but we will be back to Kas in a few days.
We have been doing side trips, while we were in Ece Marina in Fethiye. The marina is so convenient, with showers just up the pontoon, cafes, and a Carrefours market . The orange ‘domus’ (shared taxi) takes us to many places on it’s regular run – a circuit about 5 km around Fethiye. We can also walk into town and take other domus to Calis (pronounced Chalish) or Oludeniz. Domus services in Sydney would be absolutely wonderful, imagine being able to pick up a mini-van going from McMahons Point to Neutral Bay, do your shopping for $5.00 return. Better than a bus and they pick up anywhere, drop off at a bus stop. They are incredibly efficient and easy to use.
There is also a shared water taxi between Fethiye and Calis, which we learned about from a great local blog, Turkey’s for Life. Julia talks about life in Fethiye and travelling about Turkey. A great resource for sailors sailing the Turquoise Coast, because she covers so many areas of Turkish life.
Once Lesley had arrived we were ready to depart, engines starts right away, all systems go until we get to the passerelle, which after two weeks of not being removed, firmly refused to let go its mooring. After much ado, James had to unscrew the whole fitting and take the entire fitting to Captain Eddy, who effects such repairs in Fethiye. He had the boat next to ours on the marina, he said “Leave it, it will be 1 hour, so we had lunch. James went to collect the piece but returned crest fallen, no one at the office. You think we had dinner in Fethiye, don’t you?
But can we say Captain Eddy delivered, although it took 90 minutes, for the princely sum of 40 Turkish lira ($AUD 20), Thank you, Captain Eddy and to your industrious team.
We had a lovely night anchored off Gemiler Island, swimming, watching first the paraglliders then the supermoon rise over the mountain.
The next morning, we sailed past Oludeniz, also known as Costa del Blackpool, then Butterfly Bay, so that Lesley could see the sights. We then continued motoring to Kalkan, for about a four and half hours. Oludeniz is in serious danger of becoming over developed. Thanksfully Butterfly Valley is unspoiled.
The coastline is not conducive to anchoring, you sail pass Long Sandy Beach and arrive in Kalkan.
Kalkan was destroyed by an earthquake in 1958, so the Turkish Government said to the people, let’s start from scratch up the hill. Move forward 50 years and an entrepreneur from Istanbul purchased the old town and now it could be called Costa del Salcombe*
No domus here, just stairs and great shops and stylish restaurants, thank goodness Lesley is here to keep me company.[Louise Sullivan, we are seriously considering a woolen kilim, we need your expertise. We will bring you back.] James is able to sit on a rooftop terrace and watch over Mercier. While Lesley and I try to determine if the leather bag is a real fake or a fake fake, some T shirts even have signs advising which is which. Lonely Planet says “Kalkan is not a haven for backpackers and lager louts.”
Last night we had a wonderful dinner on the rooftop terrace of The Olive Garden, with traditional Turkish meze and dinners. 98% of the clientele would be well off British retirees or vacationers. Every restaurant, all stylish, is the similarly full of the British. The entire town is the same, we thought we were in England. We were like sprightly Aussie kids, not a bad feeling.
*Salcombe is one of the priciest seaside villages in England.
Yesterday, after Butterfly Valley, we stopped back at the island of Gemiler, also known as the home of St Nicholas of Myra or the original Santa Claus. Old St Nicholas has quite a story. Gemiler Adasi, on the Turkish Turquoise Coast, was probably the final resting place of St Nick. Beginning in the mid 90’s, a Japanese group came to study and excavate the Byzantine ruins on St Nicholas’s Island.
On this island of 1000m by 400m, there are four churches. There is no tillable land and seemingly little water. There were quays but these are now all under water, so there must have been trade from nearby ports and islands. The Japanese archaeologists wonder if religious tourism was the reason for the abundance of homes and churches. Gemiler is on the route between Venice and Jerusalem, a beautiful stopping off point.
St Nicholas born in 273 AD, was credited with several miracles but also with selfless generosity. He heard that a good man was unable to provide his daughters with a dowry, meaning that they might have to turn to prostitution to survive. Each time one of the daughters was coming of age, St Nick would throw a purse of gold into the window. The girls’ father became suspicious and St Nick decided to throw the third purse of gold down the chimney, so he wouldn’t be caught. The young woman had washed her stockings and they were drying by the fireplace and the purse of gold coins landed directly in her stocking.
St Nicholas is also the patron saint of sailors, which makes him special to us. His bones are no longer at Germiler but were spirited away by Crusaders to Bari and Venice circa 1087, because these sea faring knights were afraid they might not be able to visit his tomb in the future. Knowing the Muslims would not touch pork, they stole his bones from his grave and packed them in the middle of salted pork for their voyage home. Their ship was searched but their ruse worked. Today, Turkey is asking Bari to return the bones of St Nicholas.
We also stopped in Cold Bay after lunch, a small bay which has a frigid spring feeding into it. The gulet inched in so close to the cliff. Then many of the young men on the boat went up to the cliff top and jumped in. It was quite a show to end the day.
We are off to my childhood homes in Izmir tomorrow. We will say an early Happy Birthday to Graham Sommerville, Hope it is a good day.
How many shopping days until Christmas? About 112, so you had better get planning.
Ilyas Kaplan from Sanem Tourizm took us on our very own boat, from Ekcinik Koyu, to the Dalyan Delta. Ilyas dropped us off for a tractor ride up to Caunos, after our walk through the ruins, he collected us and we went on to the town of Dalyan for lunch and a visit to the market.
I am sure Dalyan is a lovely town nine months of the year but in the heat of August, we strolled rather languidly around the ‘market’, which was tourist trap central. We thought it better to spend our time eating mezes in a waterfront cafe. Actas. While watching all the river boats, we considered going to the thermal baths with the other thousands of tourists that were now pouring in from the Lake and even on tours by road or boat from Marmaris, Gocek and Fetiyhe, but the sheer numbers kept us in the restaurant with baklava.
From Actas Restaurant, the Lycian Tombs were directly above us. The Lycian Tombs were tombs created high on the cliff with an edifice that looked like a temple, a house or a pigeon hole. Ilyas said the large temple tombs were known to be the tomb of a Prince but it seems all the Lycians were practitioners of ancestor worship. The tombs are amazing, such a romantic setting which set our imaginations racing.
We boarded the river boat once more and headed back down to the Turtle area, where we collected our freshly cooked crab for a return trip snack and then off to the sand bar for a swim.
From the morning’s almost deserted journey, now there were hundreds of people at the sand bar beach.
Now this story has been in two parts, most people would have gone back to their boat and had a quiet little drink. We all know Blue though, we went to dinner and Blue asked how something was cooked and before you know, he is there offering advice to the chef. They just told him to cook it.
The four of us have been having fun but today took a different twist. We trod the educational path, not once but three times. We are in Ekincik which is a pick up point to go on a local boat for a trip to the Dalyan River. Our guide,Ilyas Kaplan, picks us up early and first takes us to a cave with stalactites.
The most interesting part of this is how far into the cave this little boat can go and I am reminded of the stout boats that Odysseus sailed about in. They sail right onto the beaches with no problem at all.
Our next stop is Iztuzu or Turtle Beach, one of the beaches these Mediterranean Loggerheads (Caretta Caretta) have been coming to for around 95,000 thousand years according to local lore. The turtles have breeding grounds here and also in Zakynthos and on beaches in Libya. The hatchlings have to dig out during the night and not surprisingly some turtles had hatched recently, with the August super moon.
The tourist industry to come to see the turtles and other sites in the Dalyan Delta are massive and growing both by ferry, ship and by road and small boats. Only small local boats are advised to sail through the delta, many of them are cooperatives and create work for local villagers. There are a cadre of boats that feed the turtles fresh crab, so Ilias took us up to his favourite spot and the turtles came in. We had seen smaller turtles on the way just swimming in the water.
We sailed through the labrynth of reed beds and sand bars up to the Ancient city of Caunos (Kaunos).
Like Epheseus, Canous had been a port town but the river silted up so it is now inland. Homer talked about Canous, the Carians and the Lycians; the Dalyan River is the meeting place of those three cultures. We saw temples, theaters and ruins in Caunos.
Canous might have eventually become a ghost town because of malaria.The theater is the most intact building on the site. Like the theater in Kos, it would have held 5,000 people.
Closer to the old harbour there is a temple and the Agora. The Acropolis is at the top of the hill above the theater.
There was more to the day, but it was time for lunch, so we promise more tomorrow.
Today, we want to say Happy Birthday Charlene Bradley. We know you are having a good time.
Richard and Rene arrived on the ferry from Rhodes and after a coffee on board Mercier, we went looking for the vegetable markets at the Bazaar. Instead Ayjin the Barber saw us and decided the boys needed to be made “younger”. Here are the photos.
The sequence of events is waxing, threading, fire in the ears, massage, straight edge razor shave,masque, hair cut, trim the eyebrows and all while dancing and doing Michael Jackson impersonations.
Sailing past the headland of Cape Krio can be fraught with worry, especially in a big meltemi. We were up before dawn and sailed out of Kormen on a glassy sea and motored all the way to Knidos.
Knidos is a small bay and surrounding slopes literally covered in antiquities, but the interesting fact is that there are also antiquities in the bay itself. As you sail into the bay, you immediately spy a small amphitheatre in a spectacular ruin, which even in 300 bc, would have given views directly to the water.
The water in Knidos is incredibly clear, you can easily see the bottom. You look up on the hills and you see the foundations of sanctuaries to Apollo, Aphrodite, Dionysus and also the Nymphs.
We arrived so early that we were able to anchor in the bay until there was an opening on the pontoon, which offered electricity and water. As people left we tied up to the dock thinking what a lovely small serene bay. It didn’t last long,within the hour we were absolutely surrounded by gulets. Gulets are local Turkish boats that take day trippers out for a swim and to see the ruins or for a week’s holiday. Our quiet little sanctuary was completely over run with other tourists here for about two hours.
There are also some very elegant gulets, that people hire for a week or two with paid crew and skipper. We are often amazed at the dexterity they show in maneuvering these large ships into small bays and tight anchorages. They are without a doubt skilled sailors. The crew are also multi-talented. Here is a photo of a gulet being brought into very tight space, so they anchor and then take a line ashore. It’s something we do in Pittwater at Smith’s Creek or Penta Bay regularly.
Of course, in Smith’s Creek, we usually take the line ashore in a dingy.
There are two mysteries concerning Knidos, why was the site abandoned here? One reason that there is so much in the way of antiquities left on the ground was because the site was simply abandoned, and no one seems to know why.
The other mystery is a beautiful nude Aphrodite was sculpted by Praxiteles and it is the first nude female statute, copies of it have been saved but not the statue itself. Sad not to see it but we have seen a copy of it at the Vatican museum. Maybe the statue will be found in the future, there is so much still undiscovered here in Knidos.