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Monday, September 22, 2008

Tantalising Turkey 2008

Our first introduction to Turkey wasn’t great.  We arrived in Bodrum in high season July to clear customs and immigration and found the holiday crowds ghastly after the tranquillity of remote Greek Islands.  We also got stung with a 60euro a night marina fee – and they charged on top of that for wifi!  Highlights were the intriguing Bodrum museum with its wonderful artefacts from ancient shipwrecks and the amazing produce markets.  We filled Bandit’s lockers and hammocks with amazingly cheap and fresh fruit, vege, cheeses, eggs and olives and then high tailed out of there.
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We headed east from Bodrum into the beautiful Gulf of Korvezi and spent a week exploring the dozens of indented bays with crystal clear water.  Unlike the barren Greek Islands, Turkey is green with trees, mostly pines, growing down to the water.  Anchoring was tricky as the water was deep so we often had to take a line ashore.  We visited “Cleopatra’s Beach” – a beautiful white sandy beach that Cleopatra created for Anthony by barging in sand from Egypt.   Scientific tests have proven it’s definitely African sand.
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It was fun going ashore and sampling wonderfully cheap and delicious Turkish food especially that made by local women on the side of the road or outside their houses.  After a week we decided to head further east and went to Fethiye which we absolutely adored. 
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But we found the bays crowded with Turkish tourist gullets and charter boats so decided to just keep going east – to Kas, Kalkan, Kekova Roads and Fineke and then all the way to Antalya! 
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It was on the coast from Fineke up to Antalya that we found the remote anchorages we were looking for.  Often it was just one or two cruising boats and lots of turtles to snorkel with – magic. 
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On the way back we spent a lot more time in the beautiful Kekova Roads area.  It was getting late in the season and all the people seemed to have gone – wonderful. It is a beautiful undeveloped (as yet) area that is mostly boat access only.  The popular Lycian Walkway skirts the area so the odd backpacker stumbles by and you see a few kayaks but generally it’s fairly quiet.  We loved it and just enjoyed small village life for a while.
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We met up with Ross and Jo Blackman and Pippa Blake in Kekova Roads.  We’d first met them in Bozuk Buku on our way to Marmaris and had a fantastic night at a local Turkish restaurant where Ross produced his guitar and put on an impromptu concert.  He is one mean guitarist and sings beautifully.  We had some great nights on Sojourn with Ross playing a range of amazing songs from Jimmy Buffet to Simon and Garfunkel with Jo on backing vocals.
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The season was slowly winding down and it was time for us to start heading back to Marmaris where we were wintering Bandit.  We moved from anchorage to anchorage – savouring every minute of life in these pristine Turkish waters.  Discharging effluent is illegal so our holding tank got plenty of use but such regulations result in wonderfully clean water for everyone.
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Back in Yacht Marine Marmaris it was time to strip Bandit of sails and do an end of season clean up and carry out maintenance. And we had an unexpected visit from Will Oswald who was completing an epic road trip through Poland, Russia, Iraq and a few ‘stan countries as well as Turkey.  He pulled up into Marmaris marina in the battered Volvo he and mate Henry Willis had driven thousands of miles.  Sadly Henry had become ill and had to be airlifted out of Antalya.  Undeterred Will carried on alone and we were thrilled he found time to visit us.  He left us headed for Holland!
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