WilsonSailingChronicles

25 November 2015 | Istanbul, Turkey
25 November 2015 | Istanbul, Turkey
25 November 2015 | Marmaris, Turkey
19 November 2015 | Turkey
19 November 2015 | Turkey
19 November 2015 | Turkey
19 November 2015 | Greece
19 November 2015 | Greece
17 November 2015 | Greece
17 November 2015 | Greece
10 November 2015 | Greece
10 November 2015 | Greece
10 November 2015 | Greece
10 November 2015 | Greece
10 November 2015 | Greece
10 November 2015 | Greece
10 November 2015 | Greece
10 November 2015 | Greece
26 July 2015

Istanbul, Day Three and Four

25 November 2015 | Istanbul, Turkey
Reg
Day three was intended to be a relaxing day by boat to the Princes’ Islands, a group of islands a hour by fast ferry to the south east in the sea of Marmaris, followed by a tour of the Çirağan palace. However, the driver of our tour bus was delayed in traffic and we missed the 9:00am ferry, which meant we would not be back in time to tour the palace. So revising on the fly we elected to enjoy some casual dining in the Ortakoy district alongside the straight of Bosporus and visit the reputedly most beautiful Mosque of Istanbul.

It was a beautiful day, little wind and calm seas and the passage of 1:15 hrs was very relaxing, someone else had to be responsible. The first island visited was the largest called Büyükada (Big Island). It is famous as a residence for several people that I had never heard of except for Leon Trotsky, who stopped here for 4 years after fleeing Russia. We were at the very end of the season and the multitude of restaurants assaulted us on the street since tourist volume was nowhere near what was required to fill them all. We took the mandatory horse drawn carriage ride around the island. Most of the horses were not in great shape and the phaetons showed the results of daily use over the busy season. We had a great lunch in a place the locals frequented and then gratefully left for the smaller island next on the agenda.

The second island was called Heybeliada (Saddleback) and this one I enjoyed. We were not assaulted, the people were helpful and courteous, and we enjoyed a great walk. The walk up started with a climb past the naval academy, transitioned to a stroll past the Christian and Muslim segregated cemetery in the pine forest on the backside of the island and final ascent up an eroded gravel jeep track to the peak. It ended as a very steep walk down through the town streets to the ferry dock. This descent was hard on the knees, however overall it was a nice break from sitting and the boat ride back was a great opportunity to recover. On our ferry return we had the most entertaining presentation of a vegetable peeler, and we along with at least 20 other people are now the proud owners of the Cadillac of peelers.

In our stroll through the streets of Istanbul the day before we had been intrigued with the many booths selling baked potatoes. They cut them, fill with butter and/or cheese and mash the innards then top them with dressings of your choice; onions, beans, corn, olives, hot chilies, yogurt and more. So Ortakoy had a special appeal for us as it is well known for the rows of baked potato booths, and the beautiful mosque. All this is true, the mosque is beautiful, we got some great pictures of it, particularly in light, and the booths looked appealing but we had no appetite. A nice beer in a side street was welcome and then our time was over.

But then an unscheduled treat; a cup of tea and pastries at an open walled restaurant on the top of the cliffs overlooking Istanbul and the Bosporus Bridge. Great!


Day four, started with a tour for guy stuff, the Koch museum of industry. Privately funded it houses displays of old cars, ships and ship models, trains from Mussolini’s Italy and Turkey and complex train models , giant steam engines, airplanes including the wreckage of a USA bomber from WWII retrieved from the Med, guns, a tank, massive cranes, trucks, and I could go on. The ships models and the steam engines intrigued me, the doll houses caught Phoebe’s attention. We had 2 ½ hours and we did not have time to see it all. I realized I was old when the cars I drove at 18 were on display, but at least they brought back some interesting memories.

Lunch, which was expected to be the famous “fish” restaurant by the fishing pier, was not to happen. It seems the restaurant had been demolished to widen the bridge, and our trip to the other side of Istanbul for the alternative “fish” restaurant ended in the same state, as that was also demolished for a new road. We did see in the circumnavigation of what was the original boundary of Constantinople some of the remains of the cities massive fortifications. Lunch became a famous kebap restaurant. I learned that Shish kebap is recognizable meat on a stick, whereas kebap is minced meat of mixed origin on a stick. I had lamb shish kebap.

Our final stop was a museum of Dioramas (scale models). We had no idea what to expect but given the choice between the Navy museum and this one, the vote went to Dioramas much to the surprise of the ladies. Our guide had never been there, nor recently to the “fish” restaurants apparently. It was amazing. It is a recently opened privately funded museum of a collection by a family of all things military concerning Turkey, some in human scale, some in miniature. It was again too much, 5 stories of display with just an hour. The manager came to greet us and wondered how we tourists had heard of the place. It was certainly off the beaten path but I think will become very well known.

Istanbul, Day One & Two

25 November 2015 | Istanbul, Turkey
Reg
We took a four day organized tour to Istanbul. A friend of our daughter Emma, who we had met in Spain, had said his favourite city is Istanbul, and I can see why he is impressed. It is home to 16 ½ million people, more than half the population of my country. It is the site of the Roman city Constantinople, and has been a centre for early civilizations since we humans ceased our nomadic existence.

Our hotel was in the core of the ancient city of Constantinople, and so convenient to all of the museums and major sites. Day one, after depositing our bags at the hotel and a quick lunch we went through a very large mosque’s courtyard for an explanation of the traditional layout of the iconic structure on our way to Istanbul’s famous bazaar. If you need spice or a taste of Turkey there were numerous opportunities. Phoebe purchased a pashmina to be used as a head covering for our visit to a Mosque later that day. The intended mosque was recommended due to its beauty, and being a bit off the beaten path gave us an opportunity to see a mosque with the traditional beautiful blue tiled walls without having to endure the crowds associated with the larger famous “blue mosque” in the core of the city. It is a functioning Mosque, with people in prayer and we were required to remove our shoes step onto the entrance mat without touching the outside floor. Inside our guide Taș (pronounced Tash) explained the rituals of Muslim faith within a Mosque, including the use of prayer beads. After the mosque it was a short bus ride, but some time, to a cable car up to Pierre Loti, an overlook of the city and the body of water that was the eastern boundary of ancient Constantinople, the Golden Horn. I was captivated by what will become a hit at home once I develop the franchise and take it continent wide, a spiral cut potato, deep-fried and salted!!!!

Day two started with an extended tour of the museum of archeology inside the grounds of the Topkapi palace. The walk within the palace grounds was memorable for the large sycamore trees overhanging the paved paths and the fall remains of the gardens. It was absolutely overwhelming, containing over a million articles, since the site has been a population centre for many centuries, with ancient Bronze Age, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine and Ottoman dynasties. The entire tour group felt it was too much to retain, but it was fascinating. Troy, or the remains of Troy, is only a few miles away and archeologists have been working the site for years. So a series of large-scale models are on display illustrating what they have categorized as the seven periods of Troy’s history starting about 3000 BC. We persuaded our guide to take time to tour the cisterns. The Romans funneled water via aqueduct (parts still standing) to the city and stored it in a below ground cistern. It was constructed with 336 marble columns they took from other sites and reassembled in Constantinople. Consequently there is no consistency in the columns design. Most notably two of them incorporate the head of medusa in the base of the column. Hot chestnuts were the temptation we didn’t resist, even if we were headed to lunch.

After lunch it was the Hippodrome, the one time site of horse and chariot races in Greek and Roman times. Along one side are two monumental mosques, the Sophia Mosque and the Blue Mosque. We did not tour these structures, as time was too short. Note worthy to me, the Sophia mosque was originally a Catholic Cathedral, in fact the largest in the world for 1000 years. In the centre of what was the track stands an obelisk from Egypt, actually just the top 19.6 metres. The magnitude of the Obelisk is diminished, as the original track on which it was mounted is now 6-7’ below the current surface. Thutmose III erected the original 30-metre structure in 1490 BC in the region of Luxor. It was transported to Constantinople in 390 AD and raised (How the hell did they do this???) In an adjoining building dedicated to Islamic art was a display of portions of the original Koran. Tall grandstands in stone surrounded this area for spectators in Roman times. It must have been even more impressive then. The final site for the day was perhaps the most impressive, the Chora museum. At one time a Christian church, built by a wealthy businessman about 400 AD, then a mosque until an earthquake, now a museum. When converted to a mosque the Christian images were covered in plaster but this has been removed to reveal the unbelievable mosaic art. Interestingly, one of them depicts the businessman kneeling offering a church to Jesus. Tiny coloured stones, attached to domes, walls, and arches. It is absolutely amazing workmanship and thankfully being restored. Waiting for the group to reassemble for supper we took a photo of a pedestrian street to give an impression of the density of the population, and thankfully found a quiet few to enjoy a tea and stroll through.

Yacht Marina and City of Marmaris, Turkey

25 November 2015 | Marmaris, Turkey
Reg
So, under threat of thunderstorms, we stayed at the marina. It was definitely the right decision. A few weeks prior to the arrival of the Berkeleys and Sakers the yard crew constructed 30’ tall structures with canvas covers over the trees around the offices. They also secured braces to the trunks of the palms. The bar staff said this was to protect them from the rain and winds. Made me wonder if it wasn’t overkill but sure enough, our dinghy was full to overflowing after one overnight deluge. We had 4 days of this, off and on, but time passed comfortably with the help of good friends, the standard 500ml beers, a bar with pool table, and apparently some spouse huddles when I wasn’t looking.

Yat Marina Marmaris is reported to be the biggest marina in the Mediterranean. With capacity for 750 yachts in the water and 500+ on the hard it seems a credible claim. They have two travel lifts, one for boats we are used to and a larger beast. The 330 tonne travel lift, with wheels taller than a man, moves large yachts, some 150’ long and stories high, onto hard standing for maintenance with ease. Marmaris Bay is also the home to two other marinas, Netsel in the town proper and Albatross midway between the two. Consequently the yachting community is well served with skilled trades people and many competing chandleries.

During one sunny break we headed to the town of Marmaris to see the sights and maybe get an idea of where to go for the last night dinner. Marmaris is quite western, likely due to the strength of the tourist industry. Women dress in traditional Muslim fashion, some very traditional, and some in bare midriff and tattered jeans. Men “hang” in assorted cafes drinking tea and playing backgammon or work hard. Hotels abound and cover the waterfront for miles going east from the main street. Restaurants and shisha bars cover the waterfront going west to Netsel marina. Fountains and statues with tiled sidewalks along the waterfront make a very comfortable place to stop and people-watch with a beverage or a smoking rubber tube stuck in your mouth. Yes, Sue Saker had to check smoking a shisha off her bucket list. Seems we were inspired to add it to our bucket lists so we could check it off as well. So much for independent thought! Fortunately we men elected to not partake of the “Turkish” bath experience. Peter was adamant that no man was going to massage him or wash his armpits (I think was even more worried about other pits) and Mike and I stayed so he wouldn’t feel isolated. I think Mike was keen to go but….anyway, the “girls” went and finished much later than planned with no happy faces. Seems it was far less than expectations so a proper Turkish bath is still on the agenda for some. While the girls were getting rubbed and stuff we guys walked the bazaar. The Marmaris version is a large series of original streets covered with an arched roof and lined with all variety of shops. Leather, souvenir, women’s clothing, shoes, handbag shops abound with the occasional barber shop, that offer shaves as well. Tea houses, restaurants and ATM machines loiter around the various entrances. None of us “boys” bought a bag, but an Ouzo and order of fries passed as a multicultural snack on our second tour through the bazaar, a Turkish beer motivated the first.

All in all it wasn’t the coastal sailing we had planned but I for one had a pretty good time running with plan B.

Dalyan River Tour, Turkey

19 November 2015 | Turkey
Reg
The Dalyan River is just 20 miles away along the coast from Marmaris. It was our intention to sail there in our boat with our guests but a forecast for 5 days of thunderstorms provoked a change in plans. Consequently we elected to do a day tour to the site. Our large tour boat left its berth along the moored pirate ship with “the hulk” on the bowsprit on schedule, on to our first scheduled stop a sweet swim off a quiet beach at the entrance to Marmaris. The kids went in!

The mouth of the Dalyan River is fronted by a long beach that was the centre of a massive environmental controversy in the late 1980’s. The beach is the nesting spot of endangered loggerhead turtles and a proposed development for a tourist hotel threatened the beach. The turtles lay hatches of four or five eggs and then not again for two or three years so the sanctity of its breeding sites were and are critical. Fortunately for the turtles the beach is now a protected sanctuary and poles along the beach indicate the closest to the waters edge you are allowed during the season they are hatching.

After a short stop on the beach we re-embarked in smaller groups in the boats employed by the local fisherman as river tour boats and headed upstream to the village of Dalyan. The village is a popular tourist destination due to the beach and its proximity to two other attractions, the ancient Lycian tombs carved in the cliff sides dating from 400BC and the hot spring mud baths. The traffic on the river is quite intense and given the number of boats tied to the shore as we passed through the village is even busier in the summer.

The tombs are visually stunning, but not approachable. There are approximately 60 of them but the most prominent are those of the king, his wife, two daughters and a son. The balance of the tombs were closer to the base of the cliff and shrouded by the dense vegetation along the river.

The mud baths stunk. If there is a benefit to the baths it must be the sinus flush resulting from the strong sulphur stench. It also apparently affects one’s attitude to cameras or perhaps technology generally, as some bathers seemed ready to attack the local staff photographer. The mud was difficult to remove even with the showers provided and all in all, I would pass on another experience. Phoebe did get a great photo of a mother hen and her chicks that were bouncing around the area of the baths.

The river is peaceful and an unusual shade of green. The contrast with the shore-side vegetation in the late afternoon sun after leaving the mud baths provided some beautiful scenery. And despite the threatening weather as we returned to Marmaris, we were blessed with a great sunset before the rain finally caught us. A pretty good day all around, knowing we were about to endure steady rain for 4-5 days.

Pamukkale, Turkey

19 November 2015 | Turkey
Reg
The town of Pamukkale is adjacent to Hierapolis, another Greco/Roman city. It was built with an east west orientation parallel to the white-topped lime-excreted hot springs along a hillside. As you approach it appears as a striking white hilltop as the ancient city is not visible from the highway. The scale of it is not initially obvious as you approach it from the narrow west end, but the main road ran for a mile and a half between the two gates.

This is a place where people came to be healed of almost everything since antiquity. In Greek and roman times the hot springs were contained and channeled through large stone baths and open pools. Today the management maintain an attractive hot spring fed pool with fallen roman columns in it from the ancient original pool structure, as well as some attractive sculptures, just as they were found. Of course the springs do have a healing or soothing power for some ailments, and the five youngest of our party decided to take the advice of our guide and jumped in. They appeared much relieved after the 38-degree swim, obviously having rid themselves of something they thankfully neglected to disclose.

The seeping hot springs have leeched the original limestone in its flow downhill resulting in a stepped procession of infinity pool like terraces finishing at the base of the hill. The effect is man made. The terraces were formed with human design on what was a road leading to a hotel built on the ruins. Both of which were demolished when the site was declared a world heritage site. It is beautiful and much grander than one imagines looking up from the base as we had the evening before.

Many tourists just enjoy the hill and pool, but the ruins of the ancient city and the small museum housed in the Roman enclosed baths, library and gymnasium is worth considerable time. A display of many massive and ornate sarcophagi was impressive, much like the marble sculptured end of the blog cover photo. These were strong contrast to the much smaller scale tear bottles in a display case. These little containers for the tears of the grieving were placed with the deceased. Imagine.

The city now is essentially the rubble and pillars of the structures that stood along the main road, and the stones of the road. The exception is the largely intact Greco/Roman theatre. In form it is the best I have seen so far as the stage and backdrop has been resurrected and you don’t need to imagine what it looked like originally. If you look at the background in the picture of the theatre you can get the scale and see the outline of the main road running left to right in front of the trees. We have met many cruisers who get “stoned out” from looking at the old ruins, and there are days where I am in sympathy with that, but the scope of their geographic range and the number of these ancient cities gives a person an idea of the size of the Roman empire and the earlier Greek empire. An appreciation you will never get if you stop looking after the first one.

Ephesus, Turkey

19 November 2015 | Turkey
Reg
Day one of our two day tour with our friends from home, the Berkleys and Sakers, who will henceforth be referred to as the kids as one of them was to celebrate their 50th birthday with his peers during their visit. I have to say that the history of this city is extensive. It is mentioned in the bible, is reputed to be the final home of Mary, mother of Jesus, and it goes on. The internet will do a much better job then I, and this can only serve as a poor introduction.

Ephesus was originally a seaport and trade centre with a population estimated approaching 50,000 people. This is lost on one, as you approach it from the west side hilltop where the original city administrative offices were located, well away from the city lower down to the east. Initially I was disappointed as the first views were of scattered rubble and a few standing partial pillars. This was all that remained of the administration centre that would have originally been particularly impressive. However, the tour followed the road to the lower city and the magnitude and magnificence unfolded as we went.

To the east of the administrative area at the lip of the hill was a theatre, originally Greek. Then, passing through the area where the street narrowed to force riders off their horse so there could be no mounted attacks on the city’s leaders, we gradually descended into the city. Initially we went past the ruins of the hospital and the treasury and some beautiful statuary, and could see ahead the somewhat restored library. About here we passed the baths of the nobility, with rows of stone toilets as depicted in the cover photo of this blog. Apparently, if you were wealthy enough you would send a slave to save a spot and keep it warm, nice job. As a plumbers son I made note that the drainage system of the entire city was impressive. After the ruins of the bath we descended a bit farther to the turn in the road to the north and we were in front of the library.

This is a two story structure that dominates this area of the city, originally built about 130 AD. It was paid for by a city governor who is buried beneath it and the construction was overseen by his son. Adjoining it was a large agora (market place) and across from it was the ruins of what is believed to have been a brothel. Peter tried to get me to join him but being a man of principle I resisted. The library was sacked and all the contents burned in one of many conquests. It has been partially restored to show the original magnificence of the city. The street continues to the north until it reaches the Roman stadium where the gladiators fought and the governors addressed the citizens. Just before the stadium there is the ancient equivalent of a billboard. In a stone of the walkway was the outline of a woman, a left foot, a heart and the circular imprint of a coin. Apparently it suggests to sailors entering the city from the harbor that women were available ahead on the left and love was available at a cost.

The stadium is massive and again the acoustics were pretty impressive. Just past the stadium the street turns abruptly east and ran to the harbor. The street to the harbor is wide and lined by marble pillars. Sadly the harbor gradually silted up and the city lost its importance over time, and finally was completely abandoned.
Vessel Name: Three Sheets
Vessel Make/Model: Lafitte 44
Hailing Port: Sarnia Canada
Crew: Reg & Phoebe Wilson
About: We hail from a little village called Bayfield on the shores of Lake Huron in Ontario Canada. We have retired, released our worldly possessions and have set off on our next adventure.
Extra: We crossed the pond and arrived in Lagos Portugal in June of 2014. A great trip across thanks to our crew Peter Berkely and Mike Saker. In between visits home we are now sailing in the Med. We have enjoyed the Balerics, Sardinia, Sicily, Greece and are now in Turkey.
Three Sheets's Photos - Family BBQ-March 11, 2012
Photos 1 to 13 of 13 | Main
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Alia, Emma, Denise & Andrea (Alfredo
Alia, Reg, me, Emma, Alfredo
Enjoying the pool
Alfredo
Alfredo
Reg
Hugo, Alfredo
Andrea
Emma & Alfredo
Alfredo Sr, Reg and Alfredo cooking in the rain
The feast arrives, Hugo and Emma
Enjoying our dinner
Alia and Emma
 
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