Magical Day in Kastellorizo

Kas is a lovely place, with the shopkeepers and restaurateurs keeping their invitations low key. History just inserts itself into daily life seamlessly. It was Lesley’s last day with us yesterday, she is travelling to Rhodes via Kastellorizo. We have not used up our 90 day Euro allotment for times like these and we decide to take the ferry trip with her.

Lesley buying green almonds, which are packed with ice.
Lesley buying green almonds, which are packed with ice in Kas

In less time than a ferry trip would take from the Quay to Manly, we are back in Greece and on a picture postcard island of about 5 square miles. The island, also called Meis in Turkish and the older Greek name of Megristi, has a beautiful natural harbour facing Kas. The houses around the harbour and up the hill are either completely renovated, beautiful and colourful or in various states of ruin.

Queen of Ro Square
Queen of Ro Square

Many residents of Kastellorizo migrated to Australia, mainly Melbourne and Perth with only 500 residents on the island full time. Their descendants are coming back to enjoy the island and to renovate the family homes.

Megristi, Kastellorizo
Megristi, Kastellorizo

One of the joys of travelling is friends’ sharing their experiences so that we are sure to visit, because they have enjoyed the magic too. Dave and Leigh visited and really enjoyed their time on the island. Leigh mentioned the Aussie connection. Sharron and Graeme celebrated their 25th anniversary here, danced to a bit of Greek music and broke a few plates.

Everything happens on the water front, with the restaurant tables so close the edge of the harbour, you see everything in the water and it is very tempting to throw bread in for the fish. We saw at least three big turtles in the harbour and they would push each other around. We couldn’t tell if it was territorial or amorous in intent.

Loggerhead Turtle, asking how our lunch was.
Loggerhead Turtle, asking how our lunch was.

When our ferry arrived, within minutes we were walking round the waterfront. The chefs are clever, they fillet their fresh fish and throw the bones and bits to the Loggerheads, which keeps the turtles interested in the foreshore. You will also see how sleek and glossy the cats are, well behaved to ensure they get their share of the fish scraps.

tourist looking at the turtles, cats in elegant attention waiting politely for their morning tea.
Tourista looking at the turtles, cats in elegant attention waiting politely for their morning tea.

Before lunch we climbed up to the fortress castle, then around the back to other squares and churches, before our long and lovely lunch at Alexander’s. Finally a goodbye to Lesley, which brings to mind another joy of travel, travelling with friends so you can enjoy the experience and create memories.

Colourful houses
Colourful houses

We still have home firmly in our thoughts and it has been busy at the RSYS.  We send our warmest congratulations to Richard Chapman, who is now Commodore of the Squadron; we wish you smooth sailing. The same wishes go to Dave Edwards, our new club captain; David Ward, our new Vice Commodore; Christian Brook, our new rear Commodore.  Good luck to you all in the coming year.

James and I would like to thank Commodore Malcolm Levy for including us in Squadron life for the past four years. Great job, now you will have more time for leisurely lunches in McMahons Point.

Lyn and Rene, I hope they thanked both of you for all the work you have done too.

 

Kekova Roads, Tersane, Kale Koy and Simena

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.

Gulets vying for best position in the bay of Tersane
Gulets vying for best position in the bay of Tersane

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.

ruins of ancient Simena
Ruins of ancient Simena
Simena, Kekova Roads Turkey
Simena, Kekova Roads

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 down on Kale Koy
Looking down on Kale Koy

Looking up to the castle.

Genoese castle built on Lycian ruins
Genoese castle built on Lycian ruins

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.

Lycian sarcophagus, Kale Koy
Lycian sarcophagus, Kale Koy

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.

About to go for a swim in the aquamarine waters of Woodhouse Bay
About to go for a swim in the aquamarine waters of Woodhouse Bay

 

Kas pronounced Cash

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.

Rene, look at the lights
Rene, look at the lights

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.

James and Lesley at Republic Square, with mountains rising in the background
James and Lesley at Republic Square, with mountains rising in the background

We walked up the hill overlooking harbour beaches, with plenty of excitement with cliff jumpers,

Kas Harbour beach
Kas Harbour beach

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.

Tomb with a view
Tomb with a view

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.

Tugra Art Gallery
Tugra Art Gallery,Kas

Another favourite purchase, has been peshtemals and this store had lovely towels both for beach and home.

Hamam, Peshtemal shop, Kas
Hamam, Peshtemal shop, Kas

 

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.

Kas carpets
Kas carpets

 

Fethiye to Kalkan

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.

Local Fisherman , Calis, Fethiye Bay
Local Fisherman , Calis, Fethiye Bay

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.

Gulet, Fethiye marina
Gulet, Fethiye marina

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.

James with Butterfly Valley in the background
James with Butterfly Valley in the background

The coastline is not conducive to anchoring, you sail pass Long Sandy Beach and arrive in Kalkan.

Kalkan
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.

How many shopping days until Christmas?

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.

St Nicholas Island
St Nicholas 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.

Corridor between churches
Corridor

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.

Church lll on St Nicholas Island, showing the apse and sanctuary
Church lll on St Nicholas Island, showing the apse and sanctuary

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.

View from St Nicholas Island or Germiler Adasi
View from St Nicholas Island or Germiler Adasi

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.

Cold Bay Anchorage
Cold Bay Anchorage

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.

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

P1060076 (640x480)

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.

 

Gule Gule Blue and Rene

Yesterday, it was up early for breakfast, some with a decidedly raki disposition and then a quick walk to the ferry terminal to send Blue and Rene over to Rhodes for their journey home.  There is always a bit of separation anxiety when our friends leave, then the usual boat chores and shopping.  Yesterday, however, we were able to go back to our air conditioned room for a few more hours and just ‘chill’.

 

Ece Saray Outdoor Bar #1
Ece Saray Outdoor Bar #1

The hotel was outstanding, here is the view from our room.  In the evening ducks would wander by and graze in the lawn area. Inside there are two parrots, which amused us and themselves.

Outlook over Ece Fethiye Marina
Outlook over Ece Fethiye Marina

Fethiye was once know as Telmessos in antiquity, the largest Lycian port.  In the fairly usual course of events in this part of the world, earthquakes leveled the town and today most of the town is fairly modern.

The Town Quay harbour front area is full of gulets but there are also a few monuments.  Here is a monument to young soldiers from Fethiye who have perished in recent wars. Images of Ataturk are along the bottom.

Touching monument to recent wars surrounded by incredible topiary
Touching monument to recent wars surrounded by incredible topiary

 

Fountain gave us a sense of cool relief in the 40+ hot August day. You can survive in Turkey in August, as long as you are near water.

Fethiye Dancing fountain
Fethiye Dancing fountain

Gule Gule means goodbye, from the person who is staying. Literally “Go Well”, we wish Blue and Rene a very good flight home, fingers crossed for that upgrade, Rene. See you before you know it.

 

Dalyan Delta and Lycian Tombs

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.

Boating through the reeds
Boating through the reeds

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.

Big Flag, Frosty, wouldn't you say?
Big Flag, Frosty, wouldn’t you say?

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.

Lycian Tombs, Dalyan
Lycian Tombs, Dalyan – Temple tombs
Pigeon Hole Tombs
Pigeon Hole Tombs

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.

Turtle feeding station in the morning, selling crab in the afternoon.
Turtle feeding station in the morning, selling crab in the afternoon.

From the morning’s almost deserted journey, now there were hundreds of people at the sand bar beach.

Sand Bar Beach Party near Turtle Beach
Sand Bar Beach Party near Turtle Beach

 

Returning to Ekincik
Returning to Ekincik

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.

Ekincik Celebrity Chef
Ekincik Celebrity Chef

 

Dalyan Delta and the Mediterranean Loggerhead Turtles, Ancient Caunos

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. IMG_4099 (640x401)

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.

Going to the Dalyan Delta
Going to the Dalyan Delta

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.

near Iztuzu
near Iztuzu

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.

Caretta Caretta
Caretta Caretta

We sailed through the labrynth of reed beds and sand bars up to the Ancient city of Caunos (Kaunos).

Sand bar in Dalyan Delta
Sand bar in Dalyan Delta

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.

Ruins of Canous
Ruins of Canous

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.

Theater of Canous
Theater of Canous

Closer to the old harbour there is a temple and the Agora. The Acropolis is at the top of the hill above the theater.

Canous Ruins
Canous Ruins

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.

 

Selimye Koyu and Bozburun

Mercier is sailing in beautiful waters, crystal clear and warm, along the Bozburun Peninsula.    On Tuesday, we sailed into the marina of Selimye, a striking little village full of boats and holiday makers.The weather is very hot and water is the key to being comfortable. Jumping into the bay to cool down or turning on the hose on the jetty, or water in the form of ice are saviors in this sort of weather.

 

Wednesday morning swimming hole
Wednesday morning swimming hole

We decided to explore the town and have lunch saving a salad dinner for on board Mercier later in the evening.  It can be too hot to eat at night. The village is full of shops, green grocers, restaurants and pensione or as they are known in Turkey, pansiyon. After wandering around town, we stopped at a lovely cafe attached to a pansiyon. Nane Limon Pansiyon had a swimming platform and cafe in the midst of Hellenic ruins, with tables, couches, lounges and a hammock between the fig trees.

Selimiye
Selimiye

On Wednesday morning, we continued down the Bozburun peninsula, to the village of Bozburun.  There is a small marina there but it looked a bit noisy and hot so we tried moving back out to the mouth of the harbour where there are several restaurants with boat moorings available, the breeze was fantastic and so was the view.  The arrangement is that you stay on the mooring or stern to on the restaurant’s quay and have dinner.  I am perplexed as to how they don’t have a minimum spend but they haven’t seemed to thought of it yet. Hotel Aphrodite was a very good mooring, much cooler than being in the main part of town and there are a couple of other nice restaurants nearby.

James at the Hotel Aphrodite
James at the Hotel Aphrodite
Selimiye
Selimiye

We are sailing over to the ancient town of Loryma, down the Carian Coast.  Compared to sailing in Greece and Croatia, we see incredible numbers of beautiful boats here. In a few days we will meet Rene and Richard in Marmaris.