Cruising the Turkish Mediterranean

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Ok yes, it’s been awhile.  Again.  Have to admit that I’ve been losing the enthusiasm to write a bit lately but I wanted to do a bit of a catch-up when I realised that I had the one below half-written and pictures already uploaded.  So before my attempt to bring you update (and against advise that this post is now too old!), I thought I might as well finish it!  The last post that I wrote was about my return visit to Tilos, in Greece – my little holiday break after being based in Cappadocia for the previous 2 monts.  The post below continues on from that, as I returned to Turkey.

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Having a short holiday in Greece just wasn’t enough.  I arrived back in Fetihye on the Turkish coast, and decided that I just wasn’t quite ready to return to Cappadocia.  As we were moving into the cooler months of winter, I knew that this was going to possibly be my last time to enjoy the Turkish coast for a long time, if not forever.

So what’s a girl to do?  Book herself on a cruise along the Turkish Mediterranean coast, of course! I did some quick research into a couple of options, then phoned Okey, the guy I worked for at the hotel in Cappadocia to see if he had any recommendations on which company I should book with.

Luck would have it that he was good friends with the owner of one of the companies I was considering.  And more luck would have it that Okey was able to pull in a favour or two – and got me on the cruise at no cost. In spite of the bad weather forecast, I didn’t need to think any further – I was in!  This was also the last cruise that they were running for the season so my timing couldn’t have been better.

Killing time in the Fetihye guesthouse

Morning coffee in the Fetihye guesthouse

I had a day to kill in Fetihye before boarding the boat, which was mostly spent wondering around the town.  I had a sore neck (attributed to sleeping with my head jammed up against the bedhead at an awkward angle, for some inexplicable reason) so I decided a massage was in order.  Fetihye is very popular with retired British ex-pats, Europeans tourists and rich yachties.  Correspondingly there are plenty of spas that offer a menu of massages, all at exorbitant European prices.  I was still in cheapskate backpacker mode, so I opted to go to the local hamam for a Turkish bath, massage and facial (all for a lot less that just a massage would have cost at the fancy-pants spa place!)

Now you may recall my rather humiliating experience when I had my last hamam in Antalya.  At least this time, I knew what to expect.  Sort of.  Except that this time, the Turkish Bath component (the scrub and soapy part) was done by men!  There were no women working in the bath section, so both the men and women customers had male attendants.  At least this time, I made sure my swimsuit stayed on.  I have to say, there were professional in how they went about things, but it was still very strange and well, just slightly awkward.    This is also typical of many hamams throughout Turkey, both touristy and local versions.  To me, this really contradicts the concept of Muslim modesty!

I did have a woman masseuse who was very good and her magic hands did the trick needed to sort my sort neck out.

A Gulet Cruise

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The next day I made my way to the Gulet boat.  “What is a Gulet?”, I hear you ask.  Well, it’s a traditional two or 3-masted wooden sailboat popular along the southern Riviera and Mediterranean coast of Turkey.  The masts, however, are mainly for show and it appears that they are rarely rigged for actual sailing.  Pity.

On the boat, I was introduced to my 14 other boatie companions.  We had a really good mix a people on the boat, ranging from an older English woman in her 70’s to a young Aussie guy around 20 years old, both travelling on their own.  Around half the people were from Australia but we also had couples from Denmark and California, and one very cool couple in their early 30’s from Istanbul who spoke very little English but managed to mix in well with everyone else and be very entertaining.  I was weary of the reputation that the cruises had to be ‘party boats’ – but I struck it lucky with a good mix friendly, fun and interesting people who weren’t there to drink the bar dry every night.

Just another busy day on the Med

Just another busy day on the Med

After our detailed cruise briefing, we were on our way – a four day cruise from Fetihye to Damre (Olympos) with many stops along the way in gorgeous coves, beaches, etc.  The water was such a gorgeous turquoise colour at each of the coves that we stopped and crystal clear. However, the temperatures were dropping and I could only bring myself to jump in a few times.  Let’s such say the water was invigorating!

Sunken city of Kekova

One of the highlights of the cruise that I had been looking forward to was seeing the half-submerged remains of the sunken Lycian city of Kekova that we visited on 3rd day.  The town was destroyed by an earthquake in the 2nd century as parts of it sunk to below water level.  During the Byzantine period it was rebuilt but eventually abandoned.

Sunken Lycian city of Kekova

Sunken Lycian city of Kekova

Unfortunately, you are not allowed to swim/snorkel over the sunken city thanks to the pillaging of past visitors, so we could only enjoy it from the deck of the gullet boat as we cruised over it.  It was interesting, but perhaps not as elaborate a city that I had imagined.  But still, you could see the remains of stone steps that now led to below water levels, and the outline of ancient buildings.

Village and Byzantine castle of Simena

Village and Byzantine castle of Simena

We moored the boat in the harbour here, and went ashore to the small village of Simena, only accessible by boat.  A short walk up the hill to the Simena castle (used by the Byzantines in the middle ages) and we were rewarded with gorgeous views over the bay area.

View from castle of Simena

View from castle of Simena – with storm brewing on the horizon

It was while we were making our way up to the castle that the forecasted bad weather finally started to close in.  From the hilltop we could see the heavy down pouring rain in the distant hills along the flashes of lightening.

I was admiring the view and talking to Tom, the American guy on the boat, when his eyes suddenly opened wide and he said “I’m outta’ here”.  He turned and immediately headed down the hill.  Feeling slightly alarmed, I called out “What’s going on?”  His reply, called out over his shoulder as he was heading back down the stairs:  “Your hair is standing up on end.  And that means lightening is about to strike.”   What?!  I like how he didn’t try to rush me down the hill as well – he just wanted to be as far from me as possible so he high-tailed it out of there.   I turned back to one of the other girls, and her hair was doing the same.  We made a quick exit ourselves back down the hill to the safety of sheltering trees and buildings. The lightening never did strike, but I wasn’t about to hang around to find out.

Somewhere on the Med....

Somewhere on the Med….

As always happens when you share living space with a good group of people for four days, I felt a bit sad as we pulled into Damre at the end of the cruise, where we knew everyone would be heading their separate ways.  After hugs all around, I jumped on the bus with Barbara, the older English lady, to make our way to Antalya.  Coincidentally, two of the couples were coming to Cappadocia and happened to be booked into the hotel where I was working a few days later, so it was nice to have a mini-reunion – and I enjoyed having the opportunity to share some local knowledge on the things to do in Cappadocia.

Just another sunset on the Med

Just another sunset on the Med

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About BusyLizzy

Normally I live in NZ but having re-discovered the joys of independent travel over the last few years, I decided it was 'now or never' and am taking some time out to see what the world has to offer.
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4 Responses to Cruising the Turkish Mediterranean

  1. Nick says:

    Finally!!!
    Life has been SO BORING without your blog – and it’s great to hear that you’re still travelling 🙂
    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and any other recent occasions that may have occurred since your last post …

    • BusyLizzy says:

      My humble apologies for foregoing my responsibilities in keeping ex-colleagues entertained! Stay tuned for the next instalment – it’s a WIP that should be posted tomorrow (internet willing!) The good news is I’m closer to home that you think Whatcha’ doing for lunch next Friday? 🙂

  2. Nick says:

    Haha !!! I guess I’ve got a hot date 🙂

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