Friday, October 17, 2014

Yachting the Aegean - September, 2014

Having grown tired of the “big ship” experience, we were determined to seek out other exciting venues for our next vacation. After watching travel expert Rudi Maxa’s (www.maxa.tv) YouTubes on Blue Cruises (Turkey's Turquoise Coast with Rudy Maxa - YouTube), we instantly decided that was the ideal vacation for us. Gulets are wooden boats with a wide deck and a broad beam. They mainly travel along the Southern Coast of Turkey. When you step on a Gulet, you step back in time, you also visit areas where very few tourists get to. There are various blue cruise suppliers (www.bluecruises.org) do your research before choosing one. As eWaterways (www.ewaterways.com) is one of our suppliers we chose them for this venture

Click on this link to view Marmaris to Fethiye photo album
Click on this link to view Marmaris photo album

The "Askinoglu"
(click on all photos to view in full screen mode)

 Our cruise took us from Marmaris to Fethiye.





Our flight to Rhodes was of course long and tedious with a 1 hour layover in Montreal and a 5 hour layover in Athens. We landed in Rhodes at about 5:00 pm and breezed through customs as we only had carry-on luggage. Alex (brother of Greg our landlord - www.airbnb.com) met us and took us to our little apartment at 76 Rodiou just on the outskirts of Old Town Rhodes. What a cute studio suite and so well maintained. Alex lives on the ground floor. There was a welcome bottle of wine, flowers and some greek delights on the dining table. 

Studio Suite
Our Apartment - 76 Rodiou




















After settling in we familiarized ourselves with the neighbourhood, enjoyed a delicious glass of ice coffee at a small coffee shop; then sampled a Greek gyro before retiring for the night as we had to be at the ferry terminal by 8:00 am the next morning. Alex kindly dropped us off at the ferry terminal for our ride to Marmaris, Turkey. It was an hour ride by catamaran to Marmaris
 
Rhodes Ferry Terminal 
While on the ferry we met up with 2 lovely Italian ladies Maura and Ylenia who kept us entertained (despite some language difficulties) until we arrived at Marmaris. By the time we reached Marmaris, the temperature had reached 30°C. 

As Reg had booked the ferry furthest away from Marmaris Harbour (what was he thinking!), we had a 20 minute walk  to the Anatolian Cafe where we were to meet up with our Gulet representative from Barbaros Yachting. It was stinking hot but we finally arrived at our destination.
 
Marmaris Ferry Terminal
Marmaris is a busy port and tourist resort located on the Southern Aegean Coast in Muǧla Province, Southwest of Turkey. This harbour town is located along the shores of an enclosed bay with 2 major marinas filled with super boats, gulets and smaller pleasure boats. The promenade is an extremely lively center day and night filled with bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels. The town is well known as a gateway to Rhodes with fast catamarans making two daily runs back and forth.

  
   
Harbour Scenes
    
Marmaris Harbour Restaurants
 
After a quick lunch at the Anatolian Cafe, we ducked into the cooler confines of the Grand Bazaar

Anatolian Cafe
This bazaar is very popular and attracts thousands everyday from Rhodes and elsewhere. We also ventured out into the heat of the day and explored the town site, stopping for coffee or a cool drink and sampling some great baklava and other wonderful Turkish delights


Grand Bazaar


Street around the Bazaar




Town Centre


 


















We then explored the old town’s residential area with its colourful narrow cobblestone streets, restaurants and alleys. 

 




   
Our curiosity took us up a long steep flight of stairs to the Castle Cafe & Bar which is built on 3 levels and which has breathtaking views of Marmaris,  Marmaris Harbour and the Grand Bazaar


Contemplating climb
At Castle Cafe & Bar Entrance


Stairs looking down from the cafe entrance


View from Level 1

View from Castle Cafe & Bar
Rear View showing Grand Bazaar & Mosque
Our walk also took us to Marmaris Castle just above the harbour. This was first built by the Ionians (1044 BC) and later repaired during the era of Alexander the Great. The Castle was rebuilt and widened by Suleyman the Magnificent during his campaign for the Greek Island of Rhodes in 1522. The Castle was restored between 1980-1990 and is now a museum.


Marmaris Castle & Museum
 At about 3:00 pm we headed back to the Anatolian Cafe to meet Barbaros Yachting's rep Sema who then escorted an Australian passenger Kylee and ourselves to our Gulet the "Askinoglu". We were met by Cook Ramazdan (preferred to be known as “Cookie”), and the ship’s helper Davut (preferred to be known as David) who took us to our cabins. We promptly donned our shorts and relaxed on the top deck, enjoying the sunshine and activity around the harbour. Soon other guests started arriving, including Captain, Aidi Askinoglu. Except for 4 guests, most arrived by dinner. Cookie presented a tasty Turkish vegetarian dinner of Saksuka, Turkish style Moussaka and a green salad

Our Gulet the Askinoglu
























The next morning we met the rest of our fellow travelers who had arrived in the wee hours of the morning. We got to know each other over breakfast. Barbaros Yachting's rep Aisha arrived for a quick briefing and a question & answer period. Captain then set sail for our first destination Ekincik.


Leaving Marmaris Harbour




Ekincik is a very well sheltered cove with several anchorages. This is the starting point to the ruins of the ancient route to Caunos. On the way we watched a military manoeuver. A military helicopter was practicing landing and take off from a naval vessel - quite cool!


Heading to Ekincik
Military Manoeuver





  At Ekinck Gulf our Captain dropped anchor for a swim break & lunch. 

 
The Askinoglu

 
Lunch at Ekincik

Swimming at Ekincik




















After lunch some of us opted to take a tour on a “Piyade” up the river to Koycegiz Lake, Dalyan & Caunos. Dalyan River connects Lake Koycegiz with the Aegean Sea. Dalyan Delta is one of the indigenous ecosystems of the world, which was formed by tectonic movements lasting for millions of years. This reserve is a National Conservation area and home to over 100 species of birds along with a variety of turtles, including the Loggerhead Caretta Caretta.  Iztuzu Beach (or Turtle Beach) is a 5 km long stretch of golden sand and a key nesting site for the Caretta Caretta. Unfortunately the "Piyade" crew could only entice one turtle, using a blue crab as bait, for a quick second breather for all to see. These waters are also home to the blue crabs. These protein-rich crabs are a delicacy amongst the tourist because of the quality of its meat. The Turks just use them as bait. Our first stop was Iztuzu Beach. This was a disappointment as we were expecting a clear, clean expanse of beach, instead it was filled with concession stands, washroom facilities, day-tripping tourist lounging about on sun beds, frolicking in the ocean and noise. A typical man-made environmental catastrophe!  

 
Heading towards Turtle Beach

 
Turtle Beach

 



The locals use small punts to travel through the reed beds, bulrushes and pampas grass. We traveled in the “Piyade” through reed beds up to the picturesque village of Dalyan where we stopped for about an hour. Dalyan is a traditional fishing village nestled on the riverbank near Lake Köycegiz. Dalyan town, called the “Venice of Turkey” is in a delta cut up by rivulets and straits. 


On Piyade


Entering Dalyan Town


 
Docking at Dalyan Marina

 
Dalyan town



After Dalyan, while traveling through the reeds, we look up the cliff face and see the majestic Lycian burial tombs. These rock tombs dating back to the 2nd to 4th centuries were the burial chambers for kings and queens of that era.


Riding through the reed beds


Piyade at the Lycian Rock Tombs


Lycian Rock Tombs



Our next stop is the Dalyan mud bath and thermal springs. This warm, rich gray sulphuric mud is supposed to have therapeutic properties curing all manner of ills, skin problems, aches and pains, it increases the blood circulation, relieves the muscles; and purifies the skin, making it soft and clean; and claims to make you look ten years younger. Once you’ve rubbed the mud over your body, you let it dry in the sun, then shower off the mud, finally finishing off in the 40° temperature sulphur pool to cleanse yourself.  


 
Arriving at the mud baths


At the mud baths


At the mud baths


Mud bath


Our ride back from Iztuzu Beach to our Gulet was quite rough as there was a slight change in the weather. Captain was busy barbequing dinner when we pulled up alongside the Gulet. We over-nighted in Ekinck. Due to the change in weather and rougher seas the next day Captain suggested a change in the schedule.

 
Captain BBQing


Instead of Gemiler Island, which would be a 5 hour ride on rough seas, we headed to Danub Island, about a 3 hour ride with only about an hour of rough seas. 



Heading to Danub Island
On the way to Danub Is.



Cookie anchoring at Danub



Visit from a Scarf Vendor
 
   From there, to the isolated bay of Boynuz Buku.

 
Heading to Boynuz Buku


Pulling into Boynuz Buku

Anchoring at Boynuz Buku



From Boynuz Buku to Rabbit Island where fellow travellers Nick, Kylee, Pat & Kathy took some fun rides on an inflatable water bouncer. 


Heading to Rabbit Island
  
At Rabbit Is. - visit from a produce vendor

Ice Cream Vendor

Relaxing at Rabbit Is.
 




Fun Rides at Rabbit Is.

  


















Our next stop was Samanlik Bay

Heading to Samanlik Bay



Heading to Samanlik Bay

 
Heading to Samanlik Bay


Heading to Samanlik Bay past the Letoonia Resort

 
At Samanlik Bay


Relaxing at Samanlik Bay
 





















. . . . . . . and from there to Fethiye.

Heading to Fethiye



Fethiye was once known as Ancient Telmessos. Modern Fethiye is located on the site of the ancient city of Telmessos which rests at the foot of the Mendos and Taurus Mountains. Fethiye stretches in a half circle along the bay and is protected by 12 Islands.This is a rapidly expanding and vibrant town, harbour and tourist destination. The British, Dutch, Europeans Russians love it, many have bought condos on the hillsides overlooking the harbour. Paspatur Old Town is located to the rear of the main harbour with its bazaar and many cafes and bars, a fish market, restaurants, boutiques, spice markets etc. etc. A promenade along the harbour is lined with restaurants and bars. There is a medieval castle overlooking the town, believed to be the remains of Saint John's knights. Throughout the town are also Lycian stone ruins. We spent the day exploring the bazaar, fish market etc. stopped at the bazaar for a drink at one of the bars with cozy seats, replenished our spices at the spice shops, walked the promenade and explored the town site.


Nearing Fethiye Harbour




Ruins & Rock Tombs on hills above harbour


Entering Fethiye Harbour


Marina



Fethiye Town



Fethiye Bazaar
Relaxing at Bazaar with Nick, Jim & Mirjam
 



  
Fish Market

Market

Spice Shop


Floating Fish & Chip Restaurant

Dancing fountains at Uğur Mumcu Park


The next morning we headed for Tersane Island. This is the largest island in the Gulf of Fethiye. This naturally protected harbour was used as a shipyard in Byzantine and Ottoman times. We anchored at one of the sheltered bays for our daily dose of cool, clear Aegean waters.  


Tersane island




Across Tersane, Bedri Rahmi Bay is known for the famous painter Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu and his friends who visited during the 1970's and felt such admiration for the beauty of the bay they called it Bedri Rahmi Bay. We overnighted in Bedri Rahmi Bay.



Bedri Rahmi Bay

Pigeon Hole Tombs

Fellow Gulets






The next day we stopped for lunch and a swim break at Manastır or Monastery Bay also known as Cleopatra Bay or Sunken Bath Bay (under water ruins).  Legend claims Cleopatra visited Manastir Bay twice, in 46 and 32 BC while honeymooning with Marc Anthony. Cleopatra is said to have bathed in these waters. The fine sand on the small beach is unique to Turkey. Legend claims that Anthony brought it from Africa to prove his love to Cleopatra.



Heading to Manastir Bay

Cleopatra Bath at Manastir Bay
 
Sunken Bath
Reg at Sunken Bath
 
After lunch we sail to Aga Limani another gorgeous bay where we drop anchor for the night. 

 
Heading to Aga Limani


at Aga Limani

Dusk at Aga Limani



Our days were spent traveling from one stunning bay to another, sunning, reading and swimming the beautiful turquoise Aegean Waters. Captain or “Cookie” would ring the bell for breakfast lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. When we anchored at a bay he would call out “swim time”, we would dive in and frolic in the beautiful crystal clear, warm Aegean waters.






We sail to Kulumkuku Bay early in the morning and anchor at Cennet Island (also known as Paradise Island) for our last swim break & lunch. Paradise Isand is a peninsula covered with pine forests and is located at the entrance to the Bay of Marmaris.



Heading to Paradise Island


Last swim break at Paradise Island

Relaxing at Paradise Is.


We enter Marmaris Harbour about 4:00 p.m and overnight in Marmaris. Unfortunately, all ferries to Rhodes were booked out for the next morning. With the help of our representative we booked into the Candan Beach Hotel and enjoyed another day in Marmaris.




Heading to Marmaris



Arriving Marmaris


Marmaris Harbour


The Candan Beach Hotel is about a 20  minute walk from the main harbour front. We were given a seaview room which was great. The rest of the day was spent checking out all the other venues we missed previously.

  

Candan Beach Hotel



























Hotel Room View

 There was a great patisserie right next to our hotel called Karen Pastaneleri where we indulged in delicious Greek delights.






















For lunch we had to have our favourite Turkish pizza called the "Pide".


Owner making a Pide



Turkish Pide

We strolled the beach front at night and took in the activities of this vibrant harbour town.


Marmaris Centre at Night





























Setting up for Alfresco dining at dusk




















At 8:00 am the next morning we headed to the ferry terminal for our trip to Rhodes.

Thank you Captain Askinoglu for a safe and wonderful journey along the beautiful Aegean Coast. David for always looking after our needs and Cook Ramazdan for the daily wonderful, tasty Turkish fare.





 
David, Captain & Cookie

"Cookie" delicious, tasty fare

We had an excellent group on board as well:

Jim & Mirjam from Sydney, Australia
Kylee from Perth, W. Australia
Richard & Katherine from the UK
Nick from the UK
Gary & Georgina from the UK
Pat & Marilyn from the UK
Bill & Rosemary from the UK


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