If the Boat’s Rockin, We Ain’t Dockin'
Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
58Trip End Jun 20, 2011
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Where I stayed
Turkish Gulet Boat
Squashed into an overnight Turkish bus with my back and knees aching and the bathroom out of order, we both had spotty sleep as we plowed ahead to Anatalya, fingers crossed that we'd catch our 8:30AM connecting bus. When we pulled in at 8:25, we were quickly directed towards another awaiting mini-bus and told that we were leaving right away. We tell the bus driver that we’ll be right back as we both had to pee badly and he points to his watch and says "hurry, hurry" as we scamper off to try to find the rest rooms. We make it back as the bus is practically pulling out of the bay and jump on, feeling better that we’re back on track and on our way to Olympos to catch our boat departure. The town of Olympos, however, doesn’t have a bus station, so after an hour and half bus ride, we’re dropped off on the side of the road, in front of a small, outdoor café, and try to figure out who will be taking us into town
We soon see other tourists arriving by bus, so are now gaining confidence that there will be someone, at some point, heading into town. Spotting one of the Turkish tea-drinkers who looked like he could possibly be the driver (only because he looked at his watch occasionally), Jill asked him if he knew of a shuttle heading into Olympos and he said that we would be leaving in a half-hour. OK….that’s gonna cut it close for the boat trip departure, but what can we do really? We have no phone to call our travel agent to ask them to hold the boat for us, so instead, we sit down, have a quick snack and wait patiently. Forty-five minutes later, the driver sips the last of his tea, puffs the remainder of his cigarette, and ambles towards the vehicle heading to town. We are now officially late….and nervously hop on.
After about 10 minutes, we cross another mini-bus heading in the opposite direction and the 2 drivers stop to have a bit of a chat. Awesome. We’re late, we’re likely gonna miss our boat, and these guys are just catching up their lives with each other. In mid-pout, our driver turns around and yells out: “Is anyone on this bus going on a boat trip?!?”
Making small-talk during the hour long ride (I’m really bad at small-talk), we quickly find out that we both may have judged too soon. The handful of people we spoke to seem to be quite cool and chill….just excited about the boat trip, as you’d expect. Maybe we’re just so tired that we need to loosen up a little bit. By the time we reach the water, we were both feeling much keener as we were shuttled over to our boat and boarded our home for the next 4 days. After some instruction by our travel rep before he left us, we’re introduced to our crew – a middle-aged husband and wife team (the man with a big belly, bald head, and moustache) and their nephew….none of whom speak English
So what’s this boat trip about, anyway? Basically, it’s a 4-day cruise on the Mediterranean, along the southwest coast of Turkey. There are 12 paying passengers and 3 crew and we’re all aboard a traditional Turkish Gulet, a simple, wooden sailboat, originally built for fishermen. Along the way, we’ll be passing through sunken cities, ancient ruins, quiet, little fishing villages, and beautiful landscapes. So yeah….we think it’ll be pretty cool! Let’s just hope that the sea cooperates and we won’t have any stomach-churning adventures.
Heading out to the front of the boat after lunch, it was time to start getting busy doing the stuff that we came here to do….that is, lying down our towels, listening to music and soaking up some Mediterranean rays
After picking up some supplies from the simple village convenience store by the water, we boarded the boat again in time for dinner and some evening beverages. The rest of the night was spent just relaxing in the dining area at the back of the boat – drinking, listening to music, playing checkers, and of course, taking part in the most popular pastime of Turkey….backgammon! I was conducting backgammon lessons to all the Aussies while the Turkish crew eyed me suspiciously. Hmmmmmm….does this foreign, backgammon imposter actually know what he’s talking about? We shall see….
Despite a rocky boat, tight quarters, and a stuffy cabin, we actually slept quite decently our first night…until we heard the engines rev up at 6AM as we were leaving port. We stirred briefly, before deciding that it was a good idea to roll back over and go back to sleep until our breakfast call. When that came at 8:30, we headed out to the dining area to find that we dropped anchor in a quiet bay in front of another little fishing village called Kas. Once known as Antiphellos when the Greeks ran this place, there are still some old ruins to be seen in the town, which is described in our itinerary as “charming”. I wasn’t in need of any charm after breakfast though, so while everyone else disembarked to take a walk around, I stayed onboard with the crew and enjoyed some “me” time. I must say that I did find myself quite charming and great company. (Joe’s nothin’ but rainbows and sunshine in the morning and don’t let anyone tell you different!)
The group verdict was that the town of Kas was “okay” and that I didn’t miss much, (Ahem, thanks to your loving and thoughtful girlfriend, who made sure to bring back the most important find of the town… an espresso for her Prince Charming!) so with all of the adventurous excitement out of the way, we spent the rest of the day getting busy with more sunning, swimming, and drinking at the front of the boat
Despite the late night, our crew was up early on Sunday morning to take off for our next docking spot. The choppiness continued, however, and we nearly fell out of bed with the boat rocking around in the splashing waves. With the captain deciding against making a stop at the designated port due to the conditions, the day progressed pretty similarly to yesterday – lounging around in the sun and in the water. Tough, tough life. Later in the day, we played a bit more backgammon in the back while the captain and a friend of his from a neighboring boat were having a boisterous game of their own in back of us
With a crowd gathering to see how the underdog tourist fares against the home-boat advantaged Turk, Murat tells me that it will be a “best of-9” game. So whoever wins 5 first. Wow, that’s quite a lengthy competition, but let’s do it. After the first 3 games, I was running away with a 3-0 advantage and this one looked to be a laugher. Not only am I holding my own in this match-up, but I’m running away with it….“U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!!!”. Uhhhhhhhhh…..not so fast. As I’m contemplating in my head how I could best convey graciousness to Murat after my 5-0 broom job, he manages to rattle off 4 games in a row against me, much to the stunned silence of the growing crowd. Well, okay. The worst I could lose here is 5-3. At least I’ve earned his respect. We continue on to Game 8 and I halt the long losing streak with a face-saving victory of my own. This is going to a final and decisive Game 9, people. At this point, everyone on the boat is looking on. Will the tourist pull off the improbable victory or will Murat defend the honor of the Turkish crew? I haven’t felt this much drama since walking the streets in India
Sunday night carried on as last night did – with all of us deciding to start drinking early. Hey, if we’re not gonna actually get off the boat at a port, we might as well have a good time here, right? We end up playing a hilarious game of charades, which spanned the dinner hour, and continued on into the night until we were all huddled in a mass on the benches in various states of sleepiness. Lots of laughs and a great time on our last night aboard the boat. (I never realized just how animated one can get playing charades until Joe started taking candid shots of us during the game… the 4 hour game… that’s a lot of baaaad photos as seen below!)
We woke up Monday morning to more choppy waters as we left port at about 6AM, heading towards Butterfly Valley. Arriving at about 8:30, we had our breakfast before evacuating the rocking boat to do a bit of hiking on solid land
Filing back aboard the boat, we pulled up anchor and motored off to our next and final stop – the Blue Lagoon, a national nature reserve set in a beautiful, turquoise-colored bay. Unlike the peaceful, relaxed vibe of previous stops, this place is a hotbed of activity, which we don’t really mind at this point as everyone is ready for a bit more action before we end this trip. Guys are buzzing around in their boats or jet skis, offering all kinds of water sports, ice creams, sweet pancakes, and other stuff. Jill and I join a few others for a tube ride, where six of us are split into 2 inner tubes attached to a motorboat, which is speeding and swerving around the lagoon as we’re crashing into each other and hanging on for dear life
We hung out on the front deck to soak up the last of the Mediterranean sun and have a few more laughs together before we had to take off to our final port at Fethiye. We kept the crepe lady busy on the boat beside us during lunch, as everyone ordered some dessert for afterwards. Jill and I shared one with chocolate and banana…..pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty good (said in a Larry David voice). The waves were getting worse than ever at this point and the final leg of the trip to Fetiyhe was a sickeningly bumpy ride. A couple of the other girls were getting green at the gills and we weren’t feeling too chipper either, so we both crashed out for a while on the cushions in the dining area. Packing our bags in a hot, stuffy, cramped cabin with the boat rocking and rolling around us wasn’t on our top-ten list of most enjoyable moments of this trip either. (I can’t believe how well Joe did here. After our adventures of “The Great Barrier Greef”, I thought for sure we were in trouble. But once again, Joe laughs in the face of adversity while in the meantime, I am struggling to keep down my lunch.)
Arriving into port at Fethiye, we said our goodbyes to everyone and exchanged contact info. What a great bunch of people
We’re only here for 2 nights and tomorrow, we’re gonna check out the famous hot springs and travertines of Pamukkale, which people have been bathing in for thousands of years. The Roman emperors once used this place as their own outdoor spa! And the ruins of the ancient city of Hieropolis remain. Don’t know what travertines are? Yeah, we didn’t either until we looked it up on Wikipedia. Pretty cool though. Looking forward to taking a look tomorrow. Bye for now…