Turunc Bay to St. Nicholas Island

Trip Start May 17, 2006
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Trip End Jun 01, 2006


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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006
Turunc Bay to St. Nicholas Island / Second Day Aboard Yacht

It has been decided by group conscience that breakfast will be at 8am daily as a routine. A ship's bell is rung to announce the breakfast hour, but most everyone is already up and on deck. There are eggs and sausages, coffee and tea plus orange juice. The captain describes our activities for the day, and we are moving shortly after 9am.

First destination is a place called Butterfly Valley, so named because it is the site of an annual migration of Tiger Butterflies. We are a few weeks early, and only see a few butterflies of a different variety.

The beach is lined with tents and hippies, and it appears that they operate a commune of some sort, planting crops and raising animals. We are charged 4 lira per person at the entrance to a nature walk up to a small waterfall, and we aren't entirely sure where that money is going. It makes no difference, however, as the walk is delightful-through crop fields and wild flowering trees and some incredible plants with an enormous bloom and horrible smell that I've never seen before (see photos).

After enjoying the refreshing waterfall, we hike back to the beach and several of us swim back to the ship. We continue our journey to Oludeniz, or the Dead Sea. It is a site that has been made famous in every photo book or travel guide on Turkey, with a dramatic point of land surrounded by beaches and water of the most amazing blue color. We snorkel for a while, and I help teach our deaf client how to do it. There aren't too many fish, but we have a blast in the water.

Lunch is spaghetti with a red sauce and dill, which I slather generously with some of the delicious plain yogurt for which Turkey is famous. There is also a green bean dish and a salad. Fresh fruit (strawberries, cherries and very tart green plums) comprise our desert. Then up motors a small boat offering crepes with chocolate and bananas. We can't resist!

After lunch we enjoy siesta time, moving the ship again at about 4pm. This time we cruise to the St. Nicholas Island-so named because of its association with the Turkish holy man who gifted children and became the inspiration for the Santa Claus legend. The island is covered with the ruins of a Lycean settlement, and churches dating to the 5th Century.

Shortly after arrival a rowboat approaches selling more crepes. We've just enjoyed lunch, and must turn them away disappointed. The same could not be said, however, for the next two boats that approach, hawking their wares. The first has a wave runner in tow, and the captain jumps on for a spin. There is also a three-seat bouncy boat, and several of us decide to take a spin around the entire island in it. We shriek hysterically at how silly the whole experience is, and yet have time to enjoy the ruin-strewn landscape passing before our eyes.

Another boat approaches offering water skiing just as the first one departs, and of course I have to volunteer to do that. It is years since I have enjoyed the sport, and it takes me several tries to get up, but once I succeed in standing up I have a blast. One other client and our guide decide to try, and both of them are successful standing up their first try!

Then after the water-skiing, one more client decides he would like to do the 3-person bouncy rubber inflatable around the island, so off I go again. I gulp coffee between adventures.

About a quarter to seven our dinghy takes us to the island, and we climb to the top to watch the sunset. This is the highlight of the entire tour for many of us. Clambering around through the ruins, pretty much at will, without any tourist hoards in evidence, was a thrilling experience. The only others at the summit with us are three Australians. They are delightful, and my guys share with them some of the wine they brought for the occasion.

Dinner tonight is barbecued chicken with rice and salad and garlic yogurt and strawberry pudding for desert. Afterwards we take inventory of our beverage and food supplies, and prepare an order for the captain to go into town and purchase at the first opportunity. Then it's off to the aft deck to socialize until pumpkin hour.
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