We're on a boat!

Trip Start Mar 28, 2010
Trip End May 31, 2011

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Flag of Turkey  , Turkish Aegean Coast,
Friday, June 18, 2010

The ride on a hydrofoil boat from Rhodes to the town of Fethiye in Turkey was pretty fun – sort of like a ride at a theme park. It looked like a submarine type vessel but it skipped along on top of the water instead of diving under it. Neither of us can remember being on a boat that moves so quickly. Lyndsey got a bit nauseous during the ride but was fine once she got a viewing point where she could see the horizon. Once off the boat and through customs we found our home for the next couple nights, a decent hostel called the Ideal Pension, which offered a gorgeous view of harbour from the dining area. That night we located a great spot for dinner that is popular with locals and it lived up to expectations by serving up a very tasty chicken shish kebab. After a solid sleep, we were up fairly early the following morning to shop around for what they call a Blue Cruise – a cruise on a pirate-esque type vessel called a Turkish Gulet (see photos). Shane had taken such a  cruise a few years back and enjoyed himself so much that he wanted to go back for another tour. After visiting a number of travel agencies looking for the best deal (everything is negotiable,) we booked a 4 day cruise leaving the following morning for 250 Turkish Lira each (about $170CAD), pretty good considering that includes all meals.

Meeting your fellow shipmates is always a bit of a nervous moment as it's really the people that make or break a good cruise. Lucky for us our shipmates (17 including us) turned out to be a fun group offering up good conversation and laughs. Day 1 of the cruise began at noon and  brought us first to a place called Samanlik Bay for lunch. After a light bite to eat the anchor was up and we were off to Butterfly Valley – a beautiful bay where we had the option of being shuttled to shore by the gulet’s little motor boat to make the hike to a nearby waterfall.  After sitting in the bay for a little while watching what was obviously an amateur gulet boat driver steer right over his own anchor line, entangling it in his motor (very entertaining to watch the crew deal with the situation), we finally dropped anchor. About half the people on our boat opted to stick around for some swimming and diving off our boat rather then make the hike – we were part of that group... normally we are all over a good hike but for some reason we just didn’t feel up for it that afternoon. After Butterfly Valley we made our way to St. Nicholas Island where we spent the night enjoying a few beverages, rounds of card games and general banter.  

At the crack of dawn (around 5am) the next morning we were off again. The start of the boat’s engine seemed pretty rude at first but once going we were able to fall asleep and didn’t wake up again until 9am when the boat stopped for breakfast.  The break was short lived as immediately following breakfast we were off to our next stop, the fishing village of Kas where we were able to get off the boat for an hour or so to explore before returning to the ship for lunch. From Kas we moved down the coast only a short ways before stopping for the night in a quiet cove. Although the water here was a fair bit cooler than we had experienced elsewhere due to a fresh-water spring runoff it didn’t stop everyone (including members of the crew) from going for a refreshing swim and game of water Frisbee before dinner.

As we had covered so much distance on day 2 of the cruise, day 3 was much more relaxed. Starting a little later (sometime around 10am we think) we made our way to Simena, a traditional Turkish fishing village with no car access. We were only able to have a look at the village from the comfort of our gulet however as winds had picked up significantly that morning making docking in the village next to impossible. The high winds also prevented us from stopping for a snorkel over top of the Sunken City of Kekova. Oh well, dems da breaks.... can’t control the weather. Moving further down the coast we were able to make a stop in a small bay near what they call the Pirates Cave and some of us made the short swim over to the grotto for a look. Swimming inside the cave and sitting on the rocks in very dim light was a very cool experience which brought about another Indiana Jones-type moment for Shane. Following the cave, we again moved only a short way down coast before stopping in Gokkaya Bay for the evening - five hours earlier than planned on account of the weather, though no one really seemed to mind as it afforded us more swimming, snorkelling and jumping-off-the-boat time. Hearing that Gokkaya Bay is known as a 'pirates haven’ sparked an impromptu pirate themed evening on our boat which included most people putting together their best pirate costume from what little they had to work with. Yaaaarrr! After a tasty dinner of charcoal barbecued chicken, most on our boat loaded onto a complimentary boat taxi to the famous Smugglers Inn – an interesting little bar accessible only by boat down one of the inlets feeding the bay – to continue the party. During the ride to the bar we saw the most amazing sight, something we think  few people ever get to see. With hundreds of stars as a backdrop, a fairly large meteor or asteroid (we think) entered the Earth’s atmosphere leaving an amazingly large trail of light. We’ve seen plenty of meteor showers before but nothing that compares to this single object - it was massive and visible for quite a long time (well over ten seconds). Most on the boat weren’t sure what it was at first though some initial thoughts were of a large airplane with huge headlights face backwards. We quickly realized that didn’t make sense the longer and larger the astral trail grew therefore we concluded it must be a meteor, asteroid or something of that nature. Either way, what a sight it was. Something none of us on that boat will ever forget.

After breakfast the next morning we were on the move again, this time towards the town of Demre where our cruise would end after a final lunch on the boat. However, once out of the shelter of Gokkaya Bay we discovered that the high winds from the previous day were still swirling. This meant, because of its location, docking in Demre would be very dangerous. After spending some time on the phone, our captain advised that we would first be doubling back to Gokkaya Bay for lunch before doubling back even further to another seaside village where the waters were supposedly calm enough to dock. As it turns out, our return to the pirate’s haven provided some very entertaining people-watching... boatloads of Russian tourists posing model-style, one after another at the front of their respective boats, for what we can only assume were a series of new Facebook profile pics... we think they’re likely watching way too much America’s Next Top Model.

 Once at our port, we discovered the waters weren’t much quieter at all and in fact, there was nowhere for us to dock as most boats had already come in from the rough water to seek refuge. After sitting in the harbour for quite some time, the ship heaving on the waves while our captain yelled back and forth in Turkish with a couple gentlemen on the docks, we moved down a bit to attempt to dock in a section which is clearly not used very often anymore. It must have taken the captain and crew 30 to 45mins to pull the boat in with rough water causing a series of problems. While this was happening a couple of kids were working frantically to secure one section of the dock well enough so we could walk on it safely, luggage and all. You could see that most people on our boat were pretty nervous at the thought of exiting on the shaky dock with waves crashing up against it. Visions of slipping off into the water with our backpacks (basically our entire lives!) ran through our minds. However, we are happy to report that we all made it off the boat to safety, boarding an onward bus to the tiny village of Olympos.  As we were the first to jump off the bus in Olympos, goodbyes were very quick. To those shipmates reading this, sorry about that... consider this your official Goodbye and thanks for the good times!  Until we meet again!
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