A Travellerspoint blog

September 2010

Three Sheets to the Wind ><}}}}o>

25 °C

We've been out exploring the Turkish coast for almost a week and it's been amazing! Also, it's been a learning experience and it's taken us about this long to get used to the boat and sailing in strange waters. Arwyn was a little sea sick and I had to do some quick anchoring in the dark but the things we've seen and the places we've visited are just spectacular. We've even seen dolphins, flying fish, and birds chasing flying fish in mid-air!

Here's a picture from the ruins at Gemiler Island... (more coming soon)

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-Jason

At many of the popular anchorages, locals in small "putt-putt" boats (they sound like they have a really small, noisy moped engine) will approach you when you arrive. Sometimes they'll offer to help you with your stern line, and then suggest strongly that they come back later and ferry you across to their restaurant. "Best fish!" they'll tell you. Or, if they aren't advertising a restaurant, they're selling ice cream, fruit, bread, or "pancakes." The pancakes are more like a very thin, flat, chewy bread, like a roti, and the pancake boats usually have a man driving and a woman rolling them out, plus a round griddle to fry them on. They're great - and they come with fillings like chocolate, banana, cheese, lemon and sugar. One man in particular gave me a chuckle - he came around every morning hollering "Breakfast service!" and singing loudly and enthusiastically. His boat sold ice cream and pancakes - the pancake lady looked older, maybe his mother? We saw him at two different places we anchored, and once we bought ice cream from him for an exorbitant price. He kissed my hand and called me "sugar."

And the ruins! Good grief, ruins every which way. At Gemiler Island there are ruins of what was once quite a large Byzantine town, and two bays over from there we hiked to Kayakoy, a ghost town abandoned in the 1920s. Kayakoy is about 3000 buildings, some of which date from the 17th century, which were inhabited by Greek Christians until the Turks decided to kick them out (or something - ask me later about the details, I'll have to look them up). We hiked for about half an hour uphill in the heat to get there, and it was totally worth it. At the bottom of the deserted town we found a non-deserted restaurant, where we had cold beer and delicious mixed mezes (cold appetizers like hummus, carrots in yogurt sauce, roasted red peppers, eggplant with cheese, etc.). Apparently what I care about is food... but the ruins and the flying fish are pretty neat too!

-Arwyn

Posted by jcobham 09:48 Archived in Turkey Comments (2)

Sailing Away

sunny 32 °C

We're now in possession of an Aloha 27, a keeled boat with two sails and a diesel engine. We had to have a little adventure with several ATMs in order to get enough Turkish Lira to rent the boat, but now we've got it and for the next month it will be our home. Exciting! Anyway, now we probably won't be able to get on the internet very often, so if you don't hear anything from us for a week or so, that's why. Time for sailing!

Posted by arwyn 01:13 Archived in Turkey Comments (2)

One more photo

Just in case you didn't believe me about Istanbul being crowded.

sunny 30 °C

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See how many people are in that picture? Now just imagine that that many people are all around you, everywhere you go, and that's Istanbul as we saw it. We had to get up early and go to the Blue Mosque right at 9:00am, when prayers are finished for the morning and visitors are allowed in, in order to wait in a line that was only about 100 people long. By 11:00am all the queues were so big for every tourist attraction that it wasn't worth waiting in the hot sun that long! It's really nice being in Fethiye now, because there are no crowds like that and there's a breeze from the sea every now and then. It's so hot, however, that in the long afternoons we don't really do much except swim in the hostel pool, read our books in the shade by the pool, and blog about it. We're paying just 3 Euros more per person for this double room than we would have paid per person for an eight-bed shared dorm in Istanbul, and did I mention this place has a swimming pool? We've also spoken to a man about renting a boat, and we may be getting ready to sail by Friday or Saturday! We haven't rented any motorbikes. Even Jason said he didn't feel too good about driving around here... When we were in Istanbul, we caught a taxi at one point with four other people, because there was a problem with the tram and it just didn't come. Now, this was an ordinary-sized taxi, so it was made to fit one driver and four passengers. However, we crammed five passengers in, slammed the doors on ourselves, and the driver said, "Are you ready? I'm not going to go slow!" with a twinkle in his eye. It wasn't nearly as crazy as the taxi ride we had on our first night in Istanbul, but it's just another example of what Turkish driving is like. Not for the faint of heart or the hesitant!

Posted by arwyn 06:24 Archived in Turkey Comments (2)

Photos

sunny 29 °C

Here are some photos from the last few days when we were tourist-ing around in Istanbul.

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A Quran in the Topkapi Palace museum

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Some tile-work in the Harem, Topkapi Palace
Basically the entire palace is covered in very detailed tile work and marble. Any picture you could possibly take could not do it justice. That probably goes for basically anything in Turkey that you could lay eyes on.

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Turkish Coffee at lunch time

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Hagia Sophia from the park in the evening. The inside of the structure is absolutely awesome!

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Basilica Cistern... One of my favorite sites we've seen so far.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_Cistern

Posted by jcobham 10:08 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

Turkish Bath

Suleymanyi Hamam

sunny 26 °C

We thought it would be cheaper to take the bus to Fethiye from Istanbul, so, despite being told that it would take between 12 and 14 hours, we did it. It actually ended up taking about 16 hours all told, and I don't think we'll do it again! It actually wasn't very much cheaper than flying, and my ankles swelled to twice their normal size and started to hurt from sitting for so long. Quite the adventure. We're definitely going to fly on the way back. Anyway, I said I'd write about the Turkish bath in a previous post, and I haven't done it yet, so here goes.

I read reviews on tripadvisor.com, and decided that, of the tourist baths in Istanbul, Suleymanyi Hamam sounded like the best. Turkish baths usually have separate sections for men and women, but at this one we were able to go in together. The hamam provided shorts and a bikini top for me, and a cloth around the waist for Jason. It was apparently the place where Suleyman the Magnificent took a bath 500 years ago or something - an octagonal marble room with a domed roof and a large heated marble platform in the middle. Around the outside of the octagon were four partially walled-off cubicles, each with two person-sized marble massage tables. It was 38 degrees C in there. We lounged on the central slab, got too hot, poured cool water over our heads, did it again, were still too hot, and sat next to the cool water taps dousing ourselves until our attendants showed up to bathe us. They were two young men, wiry and strong and very good at what they did. They took us into one of the cubicles and sat us on either side of the tap, pouring water over us and scrubbing us with rough cloth mittens. Then it was on to the tables, where we were covered in foamy bubbles and massaged all over. The attendants were extremely professional and mine kept asking me, "How are you?" The massage was great - I like massages that aren't too gentle, and I find that often massage therapists are afraid to hurt me and just can't seem to do it as hard as I would like. These guys were, as I said, very strong, and definitely not afraid to do some crunching and slapping and kneading of muscles. After being soap-bubbled and massaged, we were rinsed, shampooed, rinsed again, and left to hang out for as long as we liked on the hot marble. When we emerged into the slightly cooler drying-off room, our attendants came back to wrap our heads and shoulders in cotton cloths and lead us to another room for drinks. It was the kind of thing where afterwards you feel like you'll never be able to move again, so we sat around drinking water and waited for the free shuttle bus to take us back to our hostel. Unfortunately Istanbul has some of the most awful traffic I've ever seen (although maybe not quite as bad as Bangkok), and we waited for quite a while. When the shuttle finally arrived, we only got about halfway back before getting stuck in some kind of giant tour-bus gridlock. There were four of us in the bus, and we all decided it would be faster to get out and walk. We apologized to the driver and left him to fend for himself.

I think the Turkish bath would be best appreciated in cooler weather - it was probably around 30 degrees outside and we'd walked to the hamam, so we were already too hot when we got in there. If it had been chilly outside and we'd come in to lie around on the hot marble platform it would have felt amazing, but it was so hot that if there hadn't been cool water to pour over our heads I think I might have passed out. It was a super relaxing experience, though, and I loved the massage.

Now we're in Fethiye, and it's hotter than Istanbul, and we might rent a motorbike and cruise around town, which will be great fun as long as Jason does the driving!

-Arwyn

Posted by arwyn 23:49 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

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