Our last stop in Greece was the island of Chios, which is where we caught up with my sister Barbara and Cecily. The island is home to some lovely old medieval towns, so we hired a car for the day to drive around and take a closer look. First stop was Nea Moni, a famous 11th century Byzantine Monastery, housing some slightly gruesome relics, with the skulls of monks massacred during the Greek war of independence kept in the ossuary of the chapel.
Next stop was the carless, fortress town of Mesta, with its thick defensive walls and stone alleyways where locals sit and chat or clean their fish in the street and wearing black isn’t only a fashion statement. But the loveliest was Pyrgi where the houses are painted with fabulous grey and white geometric designs, made from a mixture of cement, volcanic sand and lime, and fresh cherry tomatoes are hung out to dry in front of every second place.
It was then time to say goodbye to Greece and head eight miles across the water back to Turkey, clearing in at Cesme. From here we headed south around the Turkish coast to Sigacik, then to Port St Paul which is now part of a national park (where St Paul purportedly once stopped to rest his oarsmen from the meltemi headwinds) then on to Didim. We all enjoyed the brilliant facilities of the three marinas we stopped at, all of which had pools! After visiting the Temple of Apollo it was lovely to kick back poolside and enjoy the marina yacht club facilities.
At Didim we farewelled Barb and Cecily and welcomed aboard Dean and (the lovely jubbly!) Sue. Didim is located on the north side of the Gulf of Gulluck, or ancient Gulf of Mandalya. Just north of here lies the remains of a number of ancient Ionian cities which date back to 1000 BC. These were all harbour cities before the Meander River silted up the ancient Gulf of Latmos. We hired a car to explore the land northwards and were delighted to find the informative museum at Miletus that provided a great overview of the ancient gulf area. The next surprise was that we had Miletus, once an important port city and home to some of the great thinkers and scientists of the day (Thales of Miletus calculated the clipse of the sun, to within one year, in 585BC) all to ourselves to clamber about the ruins unimpeded by busloads of tourists. From there we headed towards the mountains and the site of what was Priene, yet another sophisticated city, much like Ephesus. Being halfway up a mountain with a few shady trees to loiter under made Priene an enjoyable visit in the heat of the early afternoon. Fitzy and Sue tried out the front row VIP seats with their carved lions paws and we strolled around the ruined Temple of Athena.
Back on the water again it was time to explore the Gulf of Gulluck. We left behind the sprawling mass of holiday housing that is Didim/Altinkum and headed for the thickly forested pines of Paradise Bay, Kazikli Limani. A couple of bays around we anchored in Asin Limani, where the ruins of ancient Iassus (900 BC) overlook the village of Kurin. Next stop was Guvercinlik, a popular summer holiday place for locals, but much less developed than Altinkum. Cruising around the end of the Bodrum Peninsula we stopped at Yalikavak and Turgutries before spending our final night with Dean & Sue at anchor in Ada Bogazi, also known as “The Acquarium”, because of it’s clear water.
Bodrum Castle, built by the Knights of St John in the 15th century was well worth the visit, as was the excellent Underwater Archaeology Museum housed within it.
Time then to check out the Gulf of Gokova. Cokertme, English Harbour, Dergirmen Buku, Sehir Adalari (Snake & Castle Islands), and Yedi Adalari (Seven Islands) all rate a mention. I’d read about Cleopatra’s Beach at Sehir Adalari, so felt compelled to check it out. The story goes that Cleopatra wanted to create an idyllic little beach for her and Marc Antony to cavort upon, but the local sand wasn’t up to scratch. So she arranged for galleys full of sand shipped in from the Sahara. Apparently the fine-grained sand has been examined by a notable geologist and found to be not typical of the local area, but indeed from Africa! No longer is this a secluded place for a lovers tryst, instead it swarms with gulet-filled daytrippers. These days you can swim in the water, but the actual beach is roped off in order to protect the sand.
But it is still possible to get away from it all in the Gulf. At Kufre we found a remotely located restaurant in the wilderness (must be because no wi-fi).
“I’m sure there’s a restaurant around here somewhere!
Great food in the middle of nowhere. Just had to share the bay with a cow that was using our mooring lines a an obstacle course.
We then headed back to the western cove in Cokertme Bay for a farewell dinner and so Helen could get transport to the airport.
We are loving this area, particularly Dergirmen Buku and there are still a few more places to explore around the Gokova Gulf, so the weather will no doubt decide where we go next.
Hope you are surviving the Melbourne weather O.K. (or wherever you are). If nothing else the snow must be good. Stay warm! We’ll be home in about a month, so looking forward to catching up soon.