of Our Gundogan Blue Voyage
Continuing on our journey through the river to the village of Dalyan we passed through Turtle Beach which is one of the only breeding grounds on the Mediterranean for loggerhead turtle. It was daytime so there were no turtles around, but it was pretty.
After a light lunch of fish at a local riverside restaurant named "Melodi". We negotiated robustly for $4.50 per person which included salad, a variety of appetizers and a fresh fruit, local fish "Kefal" and "Green Mullet". By this time we had been meandering along the river to the south end of the Koycegiz lake for 4 hours, 12-minutes later we arrived at the thermal mud baths. We slopped ourselves with mineral muds until we were fully covered from head to toe. We baked in the sun 45 minutes until we were completely petrified and we removed the mud by crumbling it and rubbing it of which had a wonderful effect of exfoliating and leaving our skin baby soft. After a dip in the thermal pool we were off again on our water taxi back to the yacht, where cocktail hour was officially commenced.
After a delicious dinner aboard the Gundogan we wandered around Fethiye, the ancient city of Telmessus which dates back to 5th Century B.C. [A Lycian legend explains the source of the name Telmessos as follows: "God Apollon falls in love with the youngest daughter of the King of Finike (Phoenike), Agenor. He disguises himself as a small dog and thus gains love for the shy, withdrawn daughter. After he reappears as a handsome man, they name their son 'Telmessos' (the land of lights).] We walked around the city and soon we found a small bazaar. We picked up some olive oil soap, which we love for keeping our skin soft, we bargained until we got 12 bars for 50 cents each plus 3 free bars. That took about 1 hour and our husbands were patiently waiting as we moved along the spice shop. Now there are many spice shops in turkey selling all kinds of Turkish grown curries, saffron, peppers, and oreganos, but this spice shop was different. This man really knew his spices! He even made up his own special mixtures of spices for meats, salads, and pastas ? all were very aromatic and fresh ? we could not help become enveloped in his enthusiasm and love for the spices. He knew which city they were grown in, what climate, what food they were used in, what medicinal purposes they had ? everything. Turkish curry, Indian curry, ginseng, cumin, mint, rosemary, black cumin, oregano, thyme, saffron, cardamom in seed or powder, and the list goes on. By the time we had decided on our purchases and spice lesson another hour had passed and our men were gone. It was about 11pm (although we didn?t know exactly because we had surrendered our watches when we got on the boat) - some of the shops were just starting to close. So we headed back to the boat passing a leather shop here and a disco there, a Lokum (Turkish delight) shop here and a carpet shop there.
We managed to slip in a
gelato (I won"t call it ice cream because it was way too delicious and
full of fruit) before we got back to the yacht.
We finished the evening off with our pre drink watching the local
folks admiring the yachts on the evening stroll.
Our bed time in port was a bit later because Turks are late night
folks and don?t usually rest until 1am.
We had finally dozed off when at 2am we were awakened by a
piccolo player that was fishing out on the pier.
It was magical ? until he decided to play until 3am.
By the time we were
ready for our hike, 3 ferryboats, full of Turkish tourists had pulled in
to do the same. We quickly darted up the trail, looking for butterflies along
the way. (It is a nice hike
but we suggest an early morning hike to avoid the crowds) flocks of
butterflies pass through the semi-tropical environment made lush by the
waterfalls. We reached the waterfall and cooled off in the ice cold
water. On the way down we chatted with a young Australian
couple resting in a huge tiki hut surrounded by 20 mattresses
with backpacks strewn about. The
hut roof was made of grapevines with fresh green grapes hanging from the
ceiling. The couple told us that
they had found the place from the website
They took the ferry out from Fethiye, found a vacant mattress, paid
their 1.5 million lira ($2.25) and were "chilling out" with other young
people from all over the world strewn around in the dozen Tiki huts in
the valley of the butterflies.
Meanwhile those who
couldn?t be convinced to take the hike stayed frolicking in the water
while the captain and crew caught octopus and tenderized them by beating
them for hours on the rocks.
The Dead Sea area is a very popular Turkish vacation spot and almost every inch of sand is covered by either an umbrella or a beach chair. Needless to say, we left after only 1 hour for more unpopulated seas. We sailed onto Gemiler but decided that we had too many neighbors and took off for a quiet, private cove. It took only 5 minutes to find a beautiful spot where we were all alone in our paradise. We watched the sunset reflect off the mountains and jetties that jutted out into the sea in silence. It was so quiet you could only hear the waves splashing against the rocks and the cacophony of locusts in the pine trees along the shore. To speak would have ruined the moment.
We were wined and dined
and our meal was topped off with a sculpture of fruit topped with
sparklers. Most of us
preferred to sleep out on deck this evening because we were so alone and
the sky was so full of stars ? and of course the Persoid meteor shower
was making its display. Unfortunately
we only had time to see one shooting star before the rocking of the boat
lulled us to sleep.
We took our first
morning swim, had breakfast and rested while the Gundogan took off for
Kalkan. As we sailed along
on our voyage we saw a beautiful cove and could not resist stopping for
a swim. We stayed and
floated in the water for hours until we were called for lunch.
After lunch and another swim and another nap, we pushed off
again, this time more seriously, for Kalkan.
Entering the harbor we all knew we were going to like it here. A small fishing village that had been destroyed in the 1950's by an earthquake. The government decided not to rebuild it, but some private investors could not let this picturesque spot remain abandoned. A few hotels and according to all reports 127 restaurants are scattered along the San Francisco-like vertical streets. Restaurants and carpet shops made of white stucco and wood, one right next to the other, going up the hillside. At the top of the village we found "Terrace" bar that had a fabulous view of the entire harbor. We sat for a few beers and headed back down the hill. We didn?t get very far before a few of our group got happy feet and stopped to dance at a miniature disco. They finally showed up back at the yacht about 3am, which is when the music blasting in the harbor finally quieted down so that we could sleep.
We drove through small
villages with greenhouses that covered almost every inch of the local
farmer?s 10-acre plots of farmland. They grew tomatoes in the winter
for the entire country, and cotton and tobacco in the summer. After 20
minutes we reached Xanthos. Xanthos
rests on top of a hill overlooking the Xanthos river which provides
crystal clear water to the 20,000 inhabitants, only miles from its
source in the mountains. Xanthos
was the capital of Lycia and mentioned in the "Iliad" for its
fine meats, wines and bountiful vegetables.
The inscribed pillar at the NE corner of the agora is actually a
tomb erected in 50 BC and is inscribed in Greek and Lycian script and is
the longest Lycian inscription known. Many of the friezes and sculptures in Xanthos were taken by
Sir Charles Fellows and the British Navy, and can be seen at the Xanthos
room of the British Museum.
hundred years later the same thing happened when Brutus attached Xanthos
in 42 BC.
We managed to find the
caretaker who, after feeding us figs from a tree that grew next to the
agora, explained to us that Xanthos has three layers - Lycian, Roman and
Byzantine. Its easy to tell
the difference in the walls ? the Lycian made with huge boulders
strategically placed on top and along side each other to ensure
stability. The Roman walls
are smaller rocks cut in rectangles and placed on top and next to one
another, and the Byzantine walls made of small rocks held together by
mortar. He explained the
different water systems of carrying the water to Xanthos ? from
cisterns and paddlewheels to Roman aqueducts.
We walked up to the church to see beautiful mosaics, which our
friend uncovered by moving away the sand.
We had one more city to
see ? Patara - the Mythological birthplace of Apollo and a principal
harbor of ancient Lycia. The ruins are numerous and fascinating. Its
twenty-two kilometers of pure white sand stretch as far as the eye can
see, making it a natural choice for all types of beach sports.
But it was 100 degrees and we were very hot.
Our driver suggested we go to Saklikent to see a gorge and to
Kadikoy to see a carpet making cooperative.
was a great
hiked up from the river along a reinforced walkway to the mouth of the
gorge where we could walk along the shore. The ice cold snowmelt
escapes from the mountains and flows down through this gorge to make the
Xanthos River. We plunged into
the water, which stopped our breath but felt so invigorating.
Back down along the river, restaurants were set up along the
banks in a very unusual way. Platforms were anchored into the water by
braces and the platforms rested only a few inches above the swiftly
running headwaters. Carpets
and big pillows covered the platforms and after removing our shoes, we
sat on the carpet and rested against the pillows - very comfy!
The idea was to have your lunch and take a nap afterward while
being cooled by the flowing water that is running underneath you ?
Turkish air conditioning! We
had a small lunch of local borek with white cheese and parsley and
rested. Once in a while we'd dip our feet or heads into the water to
cool off. The only drawback to the experience was that one of our
party lost his shoe when it was apparently accidentally dropped into the
rushing river never to be seen again.
After lunch we were off
to our next adventure to learn the fine art of rug making in Turkey in
Kadikoy. This village has a
carpet cooperative. The
ladies of the village make the rugs but share in the profits.
They maintain the area?s designs, natural dyes and wool &
silk quality. We watched as
the ladies turned lambs wool into thread and silk cocoons into thread.
They mixed and colored the threads with natural dyes made from
onionskins, sage, flowers, and roots. Then
the threads are turned into carpets. Turkish carpets are unique in that they are double knotted so that
the threads never slip. It
takes about 3 ? months for a woman to make a normal wool carpet with 5
knots per inch ? the carpet would sell for about $600.
We couldn?t help but think that it was an incredibly time
consuming process from shaving the sheep, making the thread, dying the
thread, tying the knots to selling the carpet - how many hours were
spent? Our estimate was 700 hours for one carpet.
It was then that I felt a sudden pang of guilt for bargaining so
relentlessly with the carpet dealers in Istanbul.
We learned so much in
those few hours that my head was reeling.
The evolution of the carpet, modern carpets, making the carpets,
the carpet regions and villages, designs, symbols, and colors.
Like studying the great masters of Goya, Picasso, and Rodin, the
carpet is a form of art to be held in high respect and admired. By
the time we left Kadiboy it was 6PM and we had to head straight back to
the Gundogan who was waiting patiently in the harbor to take off for Kos.
Our mini bus driver was
Idris Coban and Captain Hasan set him up for us.
He charged us $100 total for the ten-hour jaunt.
If you need a driver he can help
you in Kas, Kalkan and Antalya.
You can reach him at his mobile
number 0533 335 6553 or work 0242 844 3295 or at home 0242 844 2109 -
his English is very limited.
To detail our evening carpet buying adventure would be far too long so I will relay the abridged version. It all started before dinner when we all entered a large and well-stocked carpet shop and met Ismail. Ismail did not lack energy and as one of our members pointed out was in great need of Prozac. He bounced off the walls from one carpet to another yelling to his helpers, insulting our group members for not purchasing or for being ignorant in our knowledge of carpets. After seeing a few carpets that we really did like, he spit out one too many insults for my group and we walked out. Then another group walked out and so on until there was only one group left. By this time Ismail was insanely angry that he had lost his five customers. So angry that he told the last group that they could have their signed Hereke silk carpet for $500.
By the time we got back
to the boat, after visiting another carpet shop with a much more mellow
salesman, we were told that Ismail had returned to the yacht, demanding
the return of the carpet he had sold. Eventually he was lured into promising that
if we all return to his shop, we could have any carpet in his shop for $500.
We reviewed our options at dinner and after much debate our
unanimous decision was to go back to Ismail, and if he kept his word we
would buy. We went back - most of
us hid behind some bushes until we confirmed that he was unarmed and not
dangerous. With a big smile
and open arms Ismail welcomed us into his shop and kept his promise.
So what did we learn?
We learned that carpeting buying in Turkey is a totally unique
transaction - more similar to a courtship than a purchase. It is a
romantic quiet courtship for some and a wild and exciting courtship for
another. Regardless of which experience you have - it is very satisfying
and entertaining. Just relax and enjoy the ride.
He has unusual kilims that you will not find anywhere else.
He has unusual kilims that you will not find anywhere else.
If you prefer a more
peaceful experience, visit Hakan at Magic Orient in Kas.
They have a good selection of both new and old carpets and kilims
at good prices.
Kale is a very small
village, very Turkish and isolated. The
school has only 10 children and the streets are footpaths that wind up
the hillside past houses where you can peek in and see the ladies
preparing food, while kneeling on the carpet covered floors.
On the top of the hillside is a medieval castle that is thought
to be Genoese. Surrounding
the castle there are Lycian rock tombs.
We were led up to the
castle by a young boy, Suleman, 10 years who was joined by his little
sister and mother. He told us what he knew of the castle and the area.
At the end of the tour our young Suleman expected our group to
purchase on of the bracelets he was selling and when we bought from his
sister he was very upset and ran away crying.
We later found Suleman and groveled apologetically and tried to
give him some money for the tour. He refused for several minutes, but
finally accepted. He was a
very proud boy, he didn?t want a handout ? he wanted us to purchase
his merchandise as a token of our gratitude.
A lesson we learned and pass onto you.
We anchored out in the
harbor, tied to the ancient remnants of 2500 year old Lycian building,
for the evening. We slept on deck enjoying the cool breeze and shooting stars.
We planned a short
excursion to Myra, a 20-minute drive, where the Lycian tombs are the
only remnants of the once great city of 5th Century BC.
Today there is an amphitheater from 400 AD where the Gladiators
fought. It is in good
condition and you can see the covered passageway and storage rooms where
vendors sold their wares.
Back at the boat we had
lunch and pushed off for a quiet cove to swim the afternoon away.
Then we sailed off for Finike where we were to spend the night.
Music greeted us at the harbor in and we knew this was our
opportunity to practice our Turkish dancing.
A few short lessons by our crew and one of our group and a few
glasses of Raki (the Turkish Anise liquor that we mixed with water and
ice) put us in the mood to dance the night away.
So we had dinner and off we went to an outdoor caf?with a live
Turkish band. We
danced he night away and had a great time ? needless to say the locals
had some good laughs.
Since we had hook ups
at the dock we were able to sleep in our rooms with AC we had a good
sleep, but missed our bedroom under the stars.
our expedition we returned to the boat, found a quiet cove to sleep in
and danced the night away.
After lunch we headed
off to Phaselis. Phaselis was founded in the 7C BC by Rhodian colonists
and is currently a Turkish National Park.
Three bays surround the peninsula, which makes Phaselis
particularly beautiful and a perfect setting for 18 holes of frisbee
golf! A well preserved
aqueduct, two Roman baths with substantial mosaics, 3 small agoras also
with mosaics, a colonnade 22 meters wide flanked by an acropolis and an
amphitheater where wild beasts challenged each other in a fight to the
death, and a large necropolis were just a few of our designated frisbee
Our next port of call
was Kemer, a large resort town that has been built up to the point where
it looked just like Miami Beach. Not
our favorite port, but we walked the streets as music blasted, shop
owners cajoled us and the breeze from the sea reminded us that we were
in the heart of history. I couldn?t help but wonder, as I looked at the faces of the
Turks: Which one was the descendent of a Lycian, or a Roman, or a Greek,
a pirate, a Mongol, a king, or even the first man.
What a history this country has.
For twenty years I have been reading and studying the
civilizations that have for a short time, occupied the landscape, but I
know nothing; it?s far too rich a history to learn in one lifetime.
I wonder if the Turks know how special they really are.