Tomb Bay, Turkey
03 May 2014 | Tomb Bay
What are we doing in Turkey?
For one thing, we're eating extremely well. Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables were so prolific in today's farmers market, Allan and I were in anti-oxidant heaven, with long rows of Turkish women in colorful scarves and floral dresses displaying a rich bounty. And we're especially enjoying the fresh-squished pomegranate juice, available all over Turkey this time of year.
But we're actually here in Turkey because our sailing friends Michael and Gloria are here, and their raves about cruising the Turkish Mediterranean last season convinced us to come and join them this season.
We flew into Istanbul direct from Los Angeles on Turkish Airlines, and arrived at our charming hotel, on a winding charming cobblestone street in a charming neighborhood with a view of an old ruin of some sort just out our windows across the street, and the Mediterranean ocean a few blocks away. We were sort of, well, completely charmed. I had no idea what to expect, but it wasn't quite that.
We had dinner around the corner at a restaurant with a marvelous view of the Blue Mosque, which is, like so many beautiful and important buildings and structures in major cities around the world today, lit with an array of lights that made it look right out a movie set.
The next morning, on the recommendations of multiple friends as well as our Lonely Planet guide book, we set off in the rainy morning to tour said Mosque, as well as the Basilica Cistern, the Haggia Sophia, a 5th century Byzantine church which was later converted to a Mosque, and is now a museum, and finally a visit to the infamous Grand Bazaar.
The first two things were fabulous, the Haggia Sophia was good but I was getting a bit tapped-out by then, and the Grand Bazaar, updated in recent years, is too 21st century for my tastes, with neon lights and a McDonalds, and feels more like a mall these days than a crowded, fascinating old Turkish bazaar. But we took some cool pictures of the old stone walls and ceilings in parts of the Bazaar, as well as some fun belly dancing costumes, and could sort of imagine what it might have been like 75 years ago, or even 25, before Istanbul began a long overdue overhaul.
We ended our day at a terrace restaurant, of which there are many in Istanbul, taking wise advantage of the city's many fascinating views. We wound our way up narrow spiral staircases to the 4th floor (followed by a waiter, laden with a big tray of food - up and down four floors again and again - good exercise, that job!) Bundled up in our down jackets, we drew the table close so the tablecloth kept our legs warm from wind and chill of the brisk evening, and watched the sun sink behind one of the many Mosques in the distance while huge ships sat at anchor in the bay.
Up the next morning for a flight to Dalaman, on the southwestern coast. Michael and Gloria had arranged for a taxi driver named Feris to meet us, and there he was, holding a sign with our names, (spelled correctly!) on a big sign. Off we went, and after a short while Feris took a detour into a narrow road that deteriorated into old paving and finally gravel, and we began to wonder if perhaps we were being abducted, as our GPS (love this modern world, at times!) indicated the marina was off in a completely different direction. But soon enough we began to glimpse the sea, with sailboats and big yachts in the idyllic bays, and we realized we weren't headed for the big marina after all. Sure enough, we got to the dirt parking lot and there were Michael and Gloria just climbing off the dinghy. Gloria rightly chastised me for not reading her email thoroughly: she had completely briefed us the day before on the winding dirt road and every aspect of what to expect.
After a fantastic lunch along the water at a wooden table set under a blooming tree on the lawn, we headed off to Michael and Gloria's Beneteau Custom 50, Paikea Mist, shore-tied in a little corner of the bay, and off on our Mediterranean Adventure.
As I write, we're now anchored in picturesque Tomb Bay, sipping white wine while the late afternoon sun makes the trees and flowers seem transparent and aglow. The sun is glinting off the water just astern in a way that seems unreal, enhanced, and our little spot, nestled up against the shore reminds us of a set for a summertime Shakespeare play. Tomorrow, after a breakfast of granola, sweet berries, crisp, incredibly fresh walnuts, rich yogurt, and giant plump raisins we'll hike the hills to one or two of the Lycian tombs.
Our planned itinerary takes us to a few more spots M & G know of with some good hikes planned and one day hiding out from predicted 40-knot winds. Tuesday Allan and I will rent a car and spend a day at Ephesus, one of the best Greco-Roman ruins, located along the coast, and return to Paikea Mist that evening. We'll fly back to Istanbul next Saturday for a few more days of city time, then home.
This all feels completely comfortable to me, perhaps because the climate is very Californian, and the produce meets the needs of a mostly vegan very well. I can see why Michael and Gloria love this part of the world.