After 23 hours on May 3-4 of FLL-IAD-LHR-IST (and sore sit-bones to prove it), a quick crash at the Istanbul Airport Marriot - thank you G! - was definitely in order. Next morning though was super for a Bosporus walking tour through the moon-and-star land of Sultans, whirling dervishes, minarets and - coming soon - gorgeous anchorages.
Above we do a quick over-winter catch up, though, with a few Florida pics of our radio-controlled model sailboat racing, orchids on our Boca patio and a Christmas visit from Italian sailing pals Attilio & Maria from sistership Amel Santorin "Sisila". Then, with a layover at Heathrow we opted for a 'virtual' Tower Bridge & Big Ben stop, before boarding Turkish Air to Istanbul.
From our Bosporus walking tour, then, you see the view from Europe to Asia across the busy Straights. On the right are the Imperial Gates of the Dolmabahce Palace exquisitely located on the European waterfront. Unfortunately the queue was also exquisitely long, so we opted to continue our walk along the water's edge taking in the full-on marine traffic, including sailboats returning from the "Bosphorus Sailing Cup" further up the straight, which the banner Kath's holding was about. The little fish you see are the catch - not the bait!- for hundreds of fisherman lining the sea wall ... wonder if they made much of a meal at the teaming Ortakoy seaside restaurants? We took a pass on them and the plentiful nargile (water pipe) cafes and after Craig hit a perfect soccer head shot, we toured a very special gallery and the attached Palace Collections Museum - see the next montage below.
In the gallery then, to our delight, we stumbled on an unexpected private viewing by local artists, three lovely and very welcoming young women: Oya Metalar, Esranur Kahraman and Melike Deveci. They happily described the exhibit, called Mehasin-I Selatin and their personal artwork. Esranur, to Kath's left, had the best English and enthusiastically showed us their paintings with very fine detail illustrating themes from the years of rule by the Ottoman Sultans. In most pieces, gold leaf was used to illuminate images colored with acrylics, inks and water-based paints. The two page,' book-like' paintings represented individual Sultan's influence including distinctive robe patterns, floral and other decorative motifs, Islamic verse and each Sultan's signature. Other contemporary paintings complimented the more traditional interpretations, highlighting specific motifs on marbleized watercolor backgrounds. Esranur was very proud to demonstrate her fine brush free hand technique and the works of her teacher and fellow artists. What a lucky find for us as the exhibit is only open for two weeks!
No more pictures - our batteries died :-( but set just behind the gallery, in and above the old Dolmabahce Palace kitchens (ruins showing below a glass floor) is the Palace Collections Museum (5TL pp), a permanent exhibit where over 5000 objects from the last six Sultan's palaces are well-displayed. Beautiful textile, porcelain, glass, silver, photographic and furniture artifacts provide traces of the opulent life in the late Ottoman Empire. We ended our day at the Istanbul train station of Orient Express fame and, nearby, had an excellent meal at Pasazede - we highly recommend it!! (Take note Threshhold!!)
Just the name conjures up the exotic in this crossroads of Europe and Asia as we became total tourists for four days, having flown up from Didim before flying out to the US. The montages below that Katherine has crafted tell most of the story - we add just a few notes.
Classic ceramic tile work and street vendors with fresh pomegranate and tankards of tea surround the historic Aya Sofya church built by Emporer Justinian in 537, converted to a mosque by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet in 1453 and then to a museum by Ataturk in 1935. It's just down the street from the 1600's Blue Mosque with its six minarets - all of which and more were the view from our pension's rooftop dining. Makes you want to whirl like a dervish!
These scenes above are from the opulent Topkapi Palace, the home of the Ottoman Sultans from 1453 to 1839. The history and the artistry make it a magical place.
The Blue Mosque with its awe inspiring exterior, the blue tiles of the interior that give the building its unofficial name and the 260 windows surrounding the central prayer space. And, no, Katherine hasn't converted - that's awe in her eye.
Ah - the Grand Bazaar, with its tongue-in-cheek Shopping Mall sign. And it has it all - fruits, veggies, spices, baklava and other pastries, and the ever present blue "eyes" to ward off evil. We were struck with the dichotomy of the clothing - ultra conservative and plain full length dresses for the Muslim women next to gaudy and sexy night club garb, plus some fancy slippers - to wear under your burka, perhaps? Exotic indeed and the crowds were teaming.
Leaving the historic Sultanamet section of town and walking across the Bridge of the Golden Horn into the Beyoglu (say, Bay-oh-loo) section, we toured the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art where you see our intrepid photographer Katherine, well..photographing, and we have a great view looking across the Bosphorus to the Asian side of town. The old tram in Taksim takes you to the Galata tower. The two lower right scenes are back in the old section of Sultanamet with Aya Sofya and the old domed Turkish Baths.
How's dat for alliteration (couldn't desist). Anyway, just so you don't think this sailing life is all easy, we do have chores, from washing and drying sails, to pumping out and changing the engine oil, to soaking out all the salt from our lines and hanging them to dry, plus, plus, plus for about 2 weeks. Then it's button her up and head to Florida for the winter - after a stop in Istanbul, which is the next blog.
Click the Google Earth button on the right and you can zoom in right to our dock - neat!
With our favorite "paradox", Dr. Keith and Dr. Pat, of course, flying in September 29 for a delightful visit we explored the Bay of Gülük (say, "Gue-luek"), made our way down to Gümüşlük (say, "Gue-mue-schluek" - kinda fills up your mouth!), and even scooted over to Greece's Leros Island, before returning to Didim for K&P's departure. (See last birthday visit by the Boothbys, in Venice Sept/October, 2010!)
Going around the pictures in the montage, at top are the girls whooping it up at one of our anchorages; Keith's birthday party in Sangaris' salon; a market vendor in Gülük selling pottery bird whistles that ,of course, Craig couldn't resist buying and then, much to the er... delight, of the crew, blew incessantly for the duration - while not practicing on the StrumStick.
Another vendor had mops for sale, which Craig put to good use as "tour director". Then in Gümüşlük we had a wonderful rendezvous with pals Rachel and Ollie on "Sunday Morning", whom we had met last season at the boatyard in Leros. Here they are hamming it up with Pat at the market. Finally, we sailed the 20 miles over to Leros and Katherine, Pat and Keith posed aboard Sangaris with the ancient windmills that overlook the Pandelli bay in the background.
Note: We highly recommend the historical novel "Birds without Wings", where the pottery bird whistles are a bit of the color in this gripping tale of Turkey during the years leading up to the modern republic.
09/22/2012, 70's at night, low 80's days - perfect!
Since the last few slogs have been a bit scenic, we thought we'd let you know we're still kickin'! We're standing in the pine forest just ashore from Sangaris there, in drop-dead beautiful English Harbor (oh, ok, it's got a Turkish name - Değirmen Bükü).
You can't get much different than the barren and wind-swept Greek islands and the tip of the Datcha Peninsula in Turkey, where we stopped at Knidos with it's Greek ruins. Those are just off to the right of the little harbor where we anchored. The bottom pine forest pic is where we're now anchored in English Harbor - and the two are just 40 miles apart.
We've buddy boated with Steve and Karyn on Threshold for the past few days and they've got Scottish sailing pals Peter and Susie Dixon visiting, whom we met in Brittany in 2006. No need to state the obvious - we had a blast. Here we are after a "dinghy cocktail" tour - Karyn with Craig on the dock and Steve, Peter and Susie in the dink - Katherine's the photog. The other pics are the scenery around, starting with the woods directly behind Sangaris where the opening shot was taken.
FInally, though, it was time for Threshold to head off as Peter and Susie's holiday was coming to a close so the Sangaris crew took a hike to the top of the forested hillside with fabulous views like the one in the lower left below. Then we just kicked back and enjoyed our own private shady glen. With a bow anchor holding us off and the stern tied to a tree - the preferred Turkish waters mooring method - we could simply shuttle back and forth in the dink, enjoying the serene forest setting.
As advertised in the last blog, here is Keçi Bükü - say Ketch-ee BewKew !
We anchored off that little island in the middle, where's there's an old Byzantine fort - well, ruins of one - and had a good Gam with Steve and Karyn on Threshold and Fred and Jane on Escape Key - no pic but there were three SSCA Commodore flags a-flying. Sangaris and Escape Key then spent a night at the restaurant dock at the very bottom of the picture.
The dock belongs to the Iskelle Restaurant (the blue sign on the right, below) - free dockage with water and electricity. The quid pro quo being to enjoy some pretty good Turkish cooking at their restaurant, which we did amongst fragrant jasmine.The lower left is the view from Sangaris at the dock looking out over the Bükü - which just means "Bay" in Turkish.
And lest you think it all fun 'n games out here, the last photo is during the two work days we had disassembling the window and trim in order to redo the vinyl head liner under it that had detached itself - yucky job with crumbling padding under the vinyl all over and then the overwhelming odor of a quart of contact cement. OK, OK, we can hear all those tiny violins already, so bye for now.
Ah, back to Turkey with those great names - the first is pronounced Ben-chik, then Koo-yoo-loo Bew-kew and of course our favorite Ket-chee Bew-Kew.
We had been in touch with our good pals on s/v Threshold, Karyn and Steve via the morning SSB Net (hi frequency radio) and planned to reconnect in Bençik - a great anchorage they had "found". We anchored in a delightful cove with sterns tied ashore to pine trees that came to the waters edge.
After a great evening reunion aboard Threshold, it was off the next day for
Karyn and Steve got some good shots of Sangaris underway with "jib 'n jigger" flying, Katherine giving a "thumbs up" and both of us checking sail trim as our Turkish courtesy flag and SSCA burgee wave from the spreaders. Thanks for the great shots - it's a little difficult to do when we're sailing ourselves!
At Kuyulu Bükü we had plenty of room to "free" anchor (rather than tying stern-to to the trees) and here you see Sangaris and Threshold in the bay. That interesting point is to the left of Threshold and seems to be oddly composed of fine rock and soil - quite different than the volcanic Greek islands.
The little boys were well on the road to entrepreneurship, as they came around each day with bread, fish, FRESH FIGS!, and you-name-it for sale to the cruising boats at anchor - no wonder the Turkish economy is booming - they start young.
More on Keçi Bükü in the next blog.
09/10/2012, Symi Island, Dodecanese, Greece
Last year we found Pethi harbor on Symi's NE "corner" a sleepy yet engaging anchorage. Known to be a bit dodgy for anchoring (deep with squirrely winds) we trusted a light wind forecast and thought it would be a good spot for Sangaris to be secure while we did some island walking and shopping. Pals on "Far Out" recommended a wine store with a knowledgeable owner (Symi's first vintner), grand selection of drinks and groceries and free transportation over the high hill from Symi town ... but first we must go walking.
A Sunday morning stroll through Pethi's village turned into an incredibly challenging 5 hour trek once we found a path leading through the rocky terrain beyond the pastel houses featured in the top left photo. A couple of goat gates (and miles) later we descended the cliff arriving at an oddly green (grassy) beach resort and upscale restaurant that you can see in the bottom right pic. Thinking we'd have just an hour or so hike back, we opted for quenching our thirst and delaying lunch.
Three hours later we completed the other side of the trek (the north route) reaching the windmill ruins high above Gialos (Symi town). The path's end offered a beautiful view of Symi's main harbor and welcome respite - top right. Wobbly legs carried us through the chora's back alleys and steps down to the road to Pethi where we were relieved to take a cool dip and have a well-earned cockpit supper back aboard Sangaris, still happily at anchor in Pethi bay.
Monday morning we bused to town, loaded up the back of a tired pick-up truck for a free delivery from the wine shop as we restocked Sangaris (and a buddy boat) for upcoming guests and coastal Turkish cruising.
Cruiser's notes: Pethi (also called Pedi) does provide some anchoring challenges in gusty winds, but you can get a good hook on the north and south sides of this deep bay. Local fishing and tour boats filled the dock's port side and a large military cargo ship tied to starboard during our stay (last year, in October, it was free for yacht mooring). A new dock with room for 3-4 side-tied yachts has been [mostly] completed on the harbor's north shore ... no bollards or cleats yet! The bus from Pethi to Symi runs every hour on the half hour (until late - 10 or 11pm) for 1.50E pp.