It’s coming up to about a month since we left Melbourne so I thought it was about time to update the blog.We enjoyed a couple of days in Perth catching up with our good friends Malcolm & Sally, Emily & Chris, Ben, Fi and Simon & Gabby before heading off to Istanbul via Dubai.
In Istanbul we based ourselves in Sultanahmet so were well placed to visit all the main attractions. We visited the magnificent Aya Sofya, commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian around 1500 years ago, converted from a church to a mosque and now a museum. Another interesting Byzantine construction dating from 532AD was the Basilica Cistern, which once stored 80,000 cu litres of water under the city.
Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey had a saying “open door, open mind”, so Westerners and non-believers are welcomed into the Blue Mosque (no entry fee required, unlike some other religions I can think of). It was interesting to see people going about their ablutions and prayers in a dignified way.
We also enjoyed the colour and movement of the grand bazaar and spice market, with the cimit sellers (a popular bagel-like bread carried on top of their head) and chay guys to-ing and fro-ing with trays of tea for the stall holders. The Topkapi Palace, inhabited by various sultans between the 15th and 19th centuries is a must see for anyone visiting Istanbul. You can just imagine the pashas of a bygone era lolling about on their divans in the assorted pavilions being waited upon by concubines and eunuchs. Also took the obligatory cruise along the Bosphorous and the Golden Horn – just can’t seem to stay off the water for too long. Our visit to Istanbul also allowed us to catch up with our Turkish friends Oguz and Nihal, who we met in Gocek last year, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner in their home.
We then headed south back to Gocek, where Loki had been wintering. She’s now looking a million dollars with new anti-foul, polished topsides and cockpit combing, and new centre-hatch dodger, freshly varnished galley, companionway and nav station, and various other assorted maintenance tasks completed. We were joined in Goeck by Tim N and Alan W. Fitzy and Tim had hours of fun changing the pitch on the prop, so now we motor faster too! The newly installed flat screen monitor and VHF radio in the nav station look fantastic. We are ready for the season.
We headed off down to Wall Bay in Skopea Limani, and tied up to the small jetty at the end of the restaurant there. It’s a beautifully peaceful place that reminds me of the Whitsundays. Next morning we walked around to the next bay which has some old stone ruins that the locals refer to as Cleopatra’s Baths. They look entirely plausible as old Roman baths, but our pilot book suggests that if every beach, bay and inlet named after her had actually been visited by Cleopatra she would have needed a Lear jet to get around. Nonetheless, it’s still as pretty as I recall when we were last here with my brother Peter and sister Barbara 20 years ago, except that the rickety wooden jetty has gone.
From here we started heading west to Ciftlik, before turning the corner to go north. Our main aim is to go north early, before the meltemi (prevailing northerly wind) kicks in. We spent a few days in Yesilova Gulf, which wasn’t nearly enough time, but with bays such as “Sailors Paradise” I’m sure well be visiting there again in the future.
Hopping further along the coast we stopped at Knidos, the site of a 360BC ancient city. Because of its relatively remote location it isn’t overrun with tourists, although apparently the gulets do pile in here in the height of the season. From here we jumped up to the end of the Bodrum Peninsula to the picturesque fishing port of Gumusluk where trendy Stamboulites come for their long weekends. It’s too small for the cruise ships and coaches so all the English and Russian tourists go to Bodrum. If our plan works we’ll be back to explore the Gokova Korfezi when we head back south. We are now in Kusadasi where we’ve farewelled Alan & Tim. Off to visit Ephesus tomorrow, the most intact Roman city in Europe, which should be fun.
The only downer thus far is the horrific mining disaster that happened at Soma. Needless to say it’s still on the front page here. You might not be able to get Youtube in this country, but the press aren’t letting Erdogan off the hook. (Luckily there’s an English/Turkish paper available). It seems free speech is still alive & well in Turkey. It will be very interesting to see what unfolds over the coming weeks.
Hope all is good with you and yours. Please do drop us a line with your news, because we’d love to hear from you.