Happy New Year !
I have had quite a few people ask me what my impression is of Marmaris and Turkey, so I thought I would add it here, just in case you were wondering also.
We are impressed so far. We were in Turkey for only about two weeks and much of that was taken up with getting the boat ready for the winter before we returned to Canada. However we did get in a small cruise east to Ekincek and Dalyan. (See Previous blog postings). We really liked what we saw so far. No problems with officialdom and even though we have read the same stories about black water and gray water discharge rules we have not had any problems. We do use our holding tank and are careful with limited gray water discharge. We did use the marina's agent at Yacht Marine to get Visa's, transit log and to set the boat set up in bond while we are away. It cost approximately 50 euros, if I remember correctly.
Yacht Marine, Marmaris is probably the most well organized and well equipped marina we have been in yet and probably is the most impressive I have visited anywhere! No, I'm not a shareholder just very impressed so far. http://www.yachtmarin.com/marina/index.php?lang=en Lots of great service people there also. There is an active cruiser community there and they are friendly and interested in meeting new people. The rates ($) are low although climbing..... The downside is there is only one restaurant in the marina and you have to take the bus to town. So far I give Marmaris an A, though as mentioned it's based on about two weeks of experience only.
Hope this helps.
Even though Christmas Day and New Year's Eve have both come and gone, we hope it isn't too late to send you our holiday wishes. Our lives seemed even busier than usual this December, and we decided to assign the task of writing Christmas cards a "B" priority. The days slipped by and we didn't get around to it, but when Christmas cards and letters began arriving from our family and friends, we realized how much we enjoyed getting everyone's news. So, we decided that maintaining the tradition is well worth the effort, and this posting is an abbreviated version of our Christmas newsletter.
Bonnie and I have had quite a year, with lots of ups and downs. Our annual sailing adventure started in April, when we returned to Aisling I in Tunisia. Before setting sail, we explored Carthage (what's left of it) the lush countryside of northern Tunisia and the edges of the Sahara desert and got a small taste of life in the Arab world. After lingering in Tunisia for nearly a month, we pointed Aisling's bow toward Malta, to see what the Knights of St. John had built. As we arrived from the sea, the mark they left was obvious at first glance. The fortifications and the architecture are impressive and beautiful. We also re-discovered how comfortable it feels to be in a country where English is spoken, and how great it was to connect with some of our cruising friends. Life is inexpensive and good in Malta. Then, on to Syracuse in Sicily. Did it ever feel, taste and smell good to be back in Italy! Italy may have its problems, but the Italians have the art of cooking and wine making down to science. It was later, in Greece, when our supply of Italian wine and prosciutto ran out, that we knew we had to head back to Italy soonish. You really have to go, if you haven't already.
From Sicily we did a two-day passage to Paxos in the Ionian Sea of Greece. What a difference a few miles make! The water was bluer and clearer, the hills were greener and the language and food were completely different. Historic and cultural sites seemed greater in number and significance than anywhere we had visited before. We loved it, but soon after our arrival in Greece we learned of Bonnie's cousin Isabel's tragic death in a terrible boating incident. Shortly after getting this news, Bonnie returned to Canada for the funeral and I followed a few days later, after finding a secure place on the island of Lefkada to leave the boat. While we were at home, we were able to attend our daughter Katherine's call to the Ontario bar, catch up on work and spend some time with our family. When my brothers visited Nova Scotia we had our first opportunity in nearly four years to spend an extended period of time with them and my sister Lyn and their families. (Al lives in Abu Dhabi and Rob lives in Houston, so organizing family reunions can be a bit complicated.)
Upon our return to Lefkada in late July, we discovered that an uninvited guest had taken up residence on Aisling while we were away. The signs were unmistakable- a rat had been on board- but was he still there?? Neither of us got much sleep the first night, but as it turned out, the perpetrator had already left the scene of the crime. Our rat apparently had a refined palate and Mediterranean tastes, since the only things he chewed were a couple of heads of garlic and the lid of our jug of precious Tunisian olive oil. Fortunately, good olive oil is not difficult to find in Greece and we were very lucky that he didn't gnaw on any hoses or wiring. Now our pre-docking checklist includes an environmental assessment of the "rat risk". Anchoring out seemed the safest solution until someone told us that rats can tread water indefinitely and can even climb anchor lines! "Yikes, lets get out of here!" Rats aside, Greece, as you probably can imagine, is amazing, with the lore of the ancient mythology, remains of temples, olive groves and an almost endless selection of beautiful islands floating on beautiful seas. We swam in the warm water, toured Ithaca on a motorbike, visited the awe-inspiring ruins at Delphi and Delos, transited the Corinth canal and dealt with the usual equipment failures and maintenance issues as we hopped from island to island.
From Greece it was on to Asia, Turkey to be specific. The Mediterranean is probably the only place in the world where you can touch three continents (Africa, Europe and Asia) in such short distances. The coast of Turkey is dramatically different than the other Mediterranean countries, with lush pine forests sitting on steep hills and mountains. The Greeks and Romans were here also, leaving the country rich in history and architecture. Modern Turkey is truly an economic powerhouse and very well developed, more so than some European countries. We returned to Canada in October after closing up Aisling for the winter. We are looking forward to exploring more of Turkey when we return in 2010, if the gods are with us.
This summer saw the passing away of my Aunt Joyce, who will be missed. She was a happy soul and always had a kind word for everyone. She was an important part of the Salsman family "glue" that keeps us together. My parents (86) and Bonnie's Mom (78) are all in good health and great spirits. Our son Christopher has been working in the accounting department at my business as well as looking after our home and our dog Shakespeare (who is now 12 years old but still looks like a youngster) while we were sailing. Christopher has a beautiful new girlfriend Sara whom he likes so much he moved in with her a month ago. Our daughter Katherine finished her articling year in Toronto and moved home to Halifax in July to join a small law firm here. She has found an apartment on the second floor of an old house just around the corner from us and we are now expert assemblers of Ikea furniture.
We always find it difficult to resume our "real" life when we return to Canada and this year seemed more daunting for some reason. To-do lists mount at home and work while we are away, and the week before Christmas we managed to flood our basement and nearly burn our house down all in the same day. Ahhh it's good to be home- but luckily, we had no lasting damage from either mishap. The decorating and wrapping all came together in the nick of time, and as we listened to our nephew Richard narrating the Christmas story at St. Matthew's on Christmas Eve, there was nowhere else in the world that we wanted to be. It has been great to re-connect with our friends at holiday parties, we had a chowder lunch and took in the movie Avatar for my birthday on December 23rd, had a huge turkey feast with the Salsman side of the family on Christmas day at Lyn and Kevin's house, then had an equally huge ham dinner with the Dicksons at our house on Boxing Day (Dec 26th). We rang in the new year in style, with a lobster feast at Roy and Joanne Redgrave's house In between the festivities, we even had some time to relax beside the Christmas tree and listen to Christmas music. We've had rain, and snow, and freezing rain, and more rain...such is the winter weather in Halifax.
Happy New Year to all- we hope 2010 finds you even happier, healthier, wealthier and wiser than last year!
After seven weeks at home, we're not even remotely close to being caught up on the tasks that accumulated while we were away. One tends to get hit hard by the hammer of reality after an extended absence. Given the frightening length of my to-do list, I probably should be declining all invitations, but when Rick had to attend a Cruising Club of America meeting in New York, of course I insisted on tagging along.
Although I detest pre-dawn wakeup calls, our early flight meant that we were settled in at the Milford Plaza on W 45th St. before noon on Sunday. The location, just steps away from Times Square, was hard to beat, but our room was barely large enough to swing a cat in. We began to doubt the wisdom of having recommended the place to Hans and Dani, who were arriving later that day. No matter- we are quite accustomed to living in small spaces and weren't planning to spend much time in the room anyway.
We wandered to Times Square and through the streets of downtown Manhattan where, even on a Sunday afternoon, the traffic and crowds were overwhelming. The temperature was hovering in the mid-sixties (that's roughly 17 degrees Celsius, for those of you who don't relate to the Fahrenheit scale) and if we looked up...waaay up...we could actually catch a glimpse of sunlight between the rows of office towers. I couldn't shake the feeling that we were walking through a movie set. Much of Madison Avenue had been converted to a giant flea market. Haven't seen that many people in one place since the Ramblas!
We wandered through the stalls, decided we really didn't need any pashminas (even though they were less than half of the price of the ones I'd bought in Turkey) and bought takeaway skewers of barbecued pork from a sidewalk stall. After eating the pork, Rick promptly declared that he felt ill, but it must have been his imagination, because he recovered quickly. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Guggenheim museum, which we had been unable to visit during our last visit to New York, since it was closed for renovations.
A visit to the Guggenheim is as much about seeing the building as about seeing the collection.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, its unusual architecture includes an interior spiral that works its way gradually upward under a rotunda, with works of art exhibited along the exterior walls of the spiral.
Looking over the edge from the top levels is not advised for anyone prone to vertigo. Rick got himself in a little trouble with the museum staff by snapping this photo from the top (the blur is the guard's hand as he tried to block the lens).
Currently, the Guggenheim is featuring an exhibit on the works of Kandinsky, one of the earliest abstract artists. Kandinsky, a Russian artist who lived in Munich, Berlin and Paris during his artistic career, coined the term "non-objective" to refer to art that is not based on objects in nature, but instead calls up emotions through use of shape and colours. His paintings have names like "red spot", "several circles" and "painting with white border".. (finding the perfect title for one's creative work can so challenging, don't you think?) but the paintings are complex and beautiful (to some, says Rick). All in all, it was definitely worth visiting, although we'd probably rate the overall experience a bit lower than the MoMA and the Met, which we've visited on previous trips.
If you want to get a glimpse of what we saw at the Guggenheim, here's a link where you can view an online exhibition.
When we got back to the hotel, we found Hans and Dani in the lobby with their friends John and Betsy Cumming. Rick had sailed with John to the BVIs onboard Hans and Dani's boat Delawana several years ago and I was happy to meet a couple I had heard so much about. We shared a Thai meal and sailing stories in a nearby restaurant, then walked back to Time Square, where an episode of "The Insider" was being filmed. The"star"of the evening? Levi Johnston, the teenage father of Sarah Palin's grandchild and aspiring Playgirl model. Only in America!
The next morning, Rick and I ran through Central Park and enjoyed the beautiful fall colours. We kept a more leisurely place than usual, enjoying the sights. New Yorkers smiled at us indulgently as we stopped to take photos.
Much of our remaining time was spent shopping, eating and just soaking up the atmosphere. In Soho, we did some early Christmas shopping and had a delicious lunch at Balthazar's, a French bistro with a wonderful ambience and reasonable prices.
On Tuesday, Rick and Hans put on their navy blue blazers and official club ties and headed off to the New York Yacht Club for the CCA Board of Governors meeting. This left Dani and I free to mount an expedition to Bloomingdale's. Although much of our shopping there was of the "look longingly but buy nothing" variety, we both succumbed to the lure of the cosmetic counters. When I expressed skepticism that a $50 face cream could actually take away my wrinkles and firm up my jowls, the beautiful young clerk pointed to her own face as proof- "I use this cream myself and look at me" she said. I thought it extremely unlikely that any cream would make my skin look like the skin of a 38-year-old African-American woman, but when she told me that EVEN HER MOTHER used this cream, I was hooked. Meanwhile, Dani, who had intended only to buy a small tube of foundation, had been kidnapped by another clerk for a makeup demonstration. Dani's clerk feigned amazement when we told her we were Nova Scotians- "You look just like New Yorkers!" she said. Clearly, she felt that she was paying us the highest compliment, but we were left wondering what she thinks a pair of Canadians would look like- should we be wearing parkas? mukluks?
The CCA Annual meeting/dinner was held in the Model Room at the New York Yacht Club- a setting that is guaranteed to put stars in the eyes of any sailor and into which, under normal circumstances, we could never dream of gaining admittance. The model room has a 4' scale model of every America's Cup winner since 1852 made in great detail and all under glass. The walls are filled with half-models of NYYC cub members' boats and boats designed by many of the world's Naval Architects. The evening was great fun, particularly since we shared a table with Milt and Judy Baker, who, like us, had crossed the Atlantic in June 2007. We had coincidentally (unknown to either of us, at the time) been moored in adjacent dock spaces in Horta. Milt and Judy spent two summers cruising the Mediterranean and had lots of cruising stories to share and locations to recommend.
Here's a photo of us with Hans and Dani in the Model Room. I'm the one with her eyes closed.
That was the end of our whirlwind visit to New York, except for a bumpy cab ride to the airport during which I suddenly began to feel queasy. Seasick in a cab! I guess I've lost my sea-legs.
Each time I visit New York, I wonder what it must be like to live in a huge city where you can't see the horizon without taking an elevator to the top of an office tower. I think it would be fun for a while, but not for long. Last week, I went for a run along the beach road in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park -no fences, no crowds, just me and a lone violinist who was sitting on the rocks beside the Bonaventure anchor, looking out to sea as he played traditional fiddle music. Life in Halifax would probably seem dull to a New Yorker, but it has its advantages!