A Travellerspoint blog

Yalikavak/Bodrum and Sailing Turkey

Thanks to the Stanley's for their hospitality!

Yalıkavak is a town near Bodrum in Muğla province, on the Aegean coast of Turkey. It is 18 km from Bodrum and located at the north eastern tip of the Bodrum peninsula. It has been inhabited since near the end of the second millennium B.C. The cliffs overlooking the ocean are covered with little white villas, one of which Marks mum owns. Kira was kind enough to let us stay in the villa during our stay which we appreciated because this is where we had our first proper home cooked meal in two months! The villa came with free cats (about 6), an awesome 25m pool and plenty of room for the 5 of us. 

During our stay, we visited a town called Gumusluk to walk on the 3500 year old Royal Road. The 150 meter long and 1.5 meter wide Royal Road connects Rabbit island to the mainland on the Gumusluk Beach, in Bodrum. The road is now visible, after the sea withdrew in 2007. Pretty freaking awesome! We could wade through the knee deep water to get to the island but we were able to go onto the island because the ruins are currently being excavated. 

Most other days we made our way to the town down the road, Bodrum, because this is where Marks dad, Dave, lives. Bodrum is an awesome town with a Grand Bazaar for those 'Genuine Imitation' purchases, and also lots of traditional Turkish souvenirs like the Shisha pipe, ceramic crockery, rugs, pashminas.... Every girl at least needs a black pashmina! This was my justification to Brad for my pashmina purchase in summer. Unfortunately we couldn't buy too much because its not real fun carrying around bulky souvenirs for months :o/ 

We had one big night out at Halikarnas, one of the biggest/best open-air clubs in the world. Its design is a combination of ancient and modern world. It is situated right by the water and has two entrances; by boat through the pier or by land. We took the by land option.... The scenery from the club is marvelous; while people dance they can enjoy the Aegean Sea and the medieval castle (St. Peter's Castle) right across the bay. Thanks to Mo Captain (captain of Dave's Gulet) we got us some VIP treatment! We felt like kings! I'll leave out the details about me holding Brads hair back... Hehe

After a week of chillin', swimming, window shopping, eating and drinking, we went sailing with Dave on his 18 meter traditional wooden gulet! Dave is the proud owner of Southern Cross Blue Cruising so we felt extremely privileged to be invited to go on the boat. Our trip included sailing along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey and the Greek islands. We got to visit beautiful little villages, ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins, an active volcano, quiet beaches, and eat lots of Turkish cuisine, cooked by our wonderful chef, Umi. Or 21/blackjack as the boys would call him because he has 6 toes on one foot! He had no troubles balancing in rough seas. Haha The crew are absolute legends. The deckhand, Verol, had lots of secret talents incuding playing the guitar and singing, backflips off cliff jumps, and always making sure that we always had a drink in hand.

But then there was Mo Captain. Who is kick arse at his job! Mo Captain got to display his expert captain skills one day while we were docked in a harbour and a charter yacht was reversing without dropping his anchor chain and the wind blew the yacht sideways into the gulet beside us. It was very intense and there was lots of yelling from the owner of the gulet. Particularly when he tried to deflect the 35ft yacht from hitting his boat with his hands..... Let's just say that his wrist took on an awful S shape... I had moments of feeling very ill for the remainder of the day from the sight of his wrist. Yuk! Thankfully onlookers on the harbour placed fenders along the cement wall to stop the yacht from smashing up against the wall. Phew! The captain of the charter yacht had all the right clothes, but no skills to match. They didnt even really seem to care... By the end of the afternoon, Mo Captain had done captain duties on all the neighbouring boats to get the harbour in good order and all the boats secured in the harbour. Especially because the gulet next to us had lost their captain with his trip to thr hospital. Not bad for a 28 year old! We were all most impressed. 

Mo has been trying to improve his English and is planning a trip to Oz to study around December - look out ladies! 
 
Yalikavak/Bodrum Pics - check out Halikarnas!

Sailing Turkey Pics - google Southern Cross Blue Cruising and do it!

Posted by KPad 13:19 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Istanbul and Gallipoli Peninsula

Turkey

We arrived in Istanbul, not really knowing what exactly we had in-store for us. We were meeting our mates Mark, Quentin & Jason the next day, we knew that much, and the name of the hotel where we were staying. Istanbul immediately exceeded our expectations, with great roads lined with manicured gardens and beautiful bright flower beds.

We grabbed a map and headed straight to the pub for some drinks and some traditional Turkish food, before exploring the area of Sultanahmet in the Old Town of Istanbul. We discovered that we were only 10 mins from the Grand Bazaar and The Blue Mosque, but we'd save those places for when the guys arrived. 

When the guys arrived in the morning, they were surprisingly spritely so we all had a welcome drink and then headed out for some sight seeing. First stop was Topkapi Castle which was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign. There is heaps of awesome holy relics of the Muslim world, including the Prophet Muhammed's cloak and sword. Also an 86 carot diamond! Yes, eiiiggghhhtttyyy sssiiixxxxx! 

We visited an underground Ancient Roman ruin called the Basilica Cistern. This provided filtered water to parts of the city in various forms since it was first built in the 6th century and is now one of the coolest (literally) places to visit. 

Then to The Blue Mosque. It's actual name is 'The Sultan Ahmed Mosque', but is known as The Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles adorning the interior. It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. It is still used as a mosque today and it certainly didn't disappoint. The interior was really beautiful. Its such a surreal sight to see when we were cruising around Sultanahmet. I was expecting to see Rapunzel peering out of one of the big towers. Haha 

Mark arranged for us to go on the Gallipoli tour for the following day. We were picked up from our hotel and driven to a little town for lunch and to pick up our tour guide, Kanon. Turns out that we got the  crème de la crème of tour guides. Kanon has been the guide for Queen Elizabeth! So we scored big time!! The tour went over two half days and was very in depth. We started at the new interactive Gallipoli War Museum. The museum includes 11 room's where they have spent millions immersing you into different stages of the attack on Turkey. After the interactive experience, we browsed through the museum of relics from the war including artillery, clothing, crockery, and also letters from soldiers to their families. This was a great way to kick off the tour because it gave us an overview of the battle before visiting the sites. 

The first site was Anzac Cove where the Anzacs landed. Then drove up the hill to stand in the advantageous positions of the Turks, walked through the bunkers, peeped into the opening a few of the many underground tunnels which stretch for miles! It was clear to see how the Anzacs never had a chance to defeat the Turks because of the tough terrain and high vantage points that the Turks occupied. We visited all the memorial sites for the fallen soldiers, not just the Anzacs, but also the British, French, and of course Turkish. 

It was a very moving tour and we were so lucky to not just get a hop on, hop off bus tour, but instead the full history and recount of the events that went on there, jam packed into 2 days. The most amazing statue stands at one of the memorial sites which is a Turkish soldier carrying an injured Anzac to safety. 

Somewhere all Aussies should visit.

Istanbul Photos

Gallipoli Photos

Posted by KPad 03:27 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Cairo

Egypt, catchin a glimpse of the pyramids.

We were a little apprehensive in making the decision to head to Cairo, with Aus Gov Smart Traveller website advising against any non-essential travel to the country. Egypt has always been so high on the list so we decided to go for it with a tour guide recommended to us. 

We felt like rock stars being picked up from the airport - before immigration! It was great to have someone to help us grab a visa and get us through the hectic front doors. If we were by ourselves, we probably would have turned around the got back on the plane. 
Our guide, Mamdoh, drove us to our hotel which we didn't leave without him as our escort. He offered to take us into the city to experience Cairo at night so we jumped at the opportunity. It was the Islamic month of Ramadan so the city came alive at night, and was rather quiet during the day whilst they all fast. We sat by a market in the outdoor area of a cafe and had a beverage (juice and tea, as alcohol is not readily available...) and took in all the action and chilled with a shisha pipe. Mamdoh then took us through a bustling market where there was not a single tourist in sight, and it was also the way to seeing the original city walls. It was so packed in the narrow market street that we had to squeeze through a sea of people and make regular stops so we could regroup after being separated by the masses. Somehow they still managed to get a few scooters through there somehow! 

Our 1st day started late with Mamdoh being stuck in traffic, which changed the plans around a bit. Instead of the pyramids on the first day, we went to the Coptic Christian and Islamic sites of the city. We visited the Citadel (castle) which also houses two mosques. We learnt a lot about the islamic faith here from Mamdoh. Mamdoh is Christian, but he has studied the religion for many, many years and is fluent in Arabic, which means that he has actually read the Quran... Next we visited Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Church known as  'The Hanging Church'. This church has been around since the 3rd century AD and is famous for the apparition of the Virgin Mary appearing on the roof of the church, every night for a period of 2-3 years back in 1968. You should Google it!  We visited a well in the back of a nearby little church which was used by Jesus and Mary when the resided in Cairo. 

Our second day was a big one, starting at the Egyptian National Museum. The express guided tour from Mamdoh was really interesting and we got to see the treasury from the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy king. His inner sarcophagus is solid 24 carot gold weighing in at 110.4kgs, and a material value of $2 million USD. The sarcophagus has the most intricate and breathtaking images and inscriptions.... Fit for a King in fact! The best part was a section we payed extra to see. It was a display of ten mummified kings and queens. AMAZING! So strange to see a person that was alive nearly 3000 years ago! Some still had hair and one had a bashed in skull from being murdered in a war, and the center piece was the famous King Ramsays II. From here we headed out to the pyramids. It would've been hell there without Mamdoh. Local people and security try to convince you, usually by grabbing you or abusing you, that you're not permitted to enter the pyramid areas unless it's via their horse drawn carriage or camel. Which is bullshit. Luckily Mamdoh did all the yelling back on our behalf, but we did have a few moments when we had to be separated from Mamdoh but he gave us instructions to just barge through and tell people to bugger off. Pretty intense! 

We had a ride on a camel out on the desert side of the pyramids which was fun and then cruised around the site of the pyramids. We payed the extra again to climb into one of the chambers in the middle of the Great Pyramid. What an experience! The precision of the whole structure, especially the passage way and the actual chamber was beyond belief! After the chamber, and telling a whole heap of camel people to fuck off, we headed a few hundred meters down the road to the sphinx. The sphinx is carved from one gigantuous piece of rock and is the guardian of all the souls of those who were lucky enough to have a pyramid erected for them and their passage to the afterlife. 

Mamdoh took us to a few local vendors that sold local products and we grabbed a few souvenirs before he navigated us through the hectic Cairo traffic back to our hotel. 
We had to leave early the next morning, but wished that we have been able to see more of the country. Mamdoh was an excellent and fun guide to have with us for the trip!

Check the amazing pics

Posted by KPad 12:08 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

Ios

Greece

"Ios has long held a reputation as 'Party Island'. There are wall-to-wall bars and nightclubs in Hora (also known as 'the village') that thump all night, and fantastic fun facilities at Milopotas Beach that entertain all day". Quote from Europe on a Shoe String by Lonely Planet. 

Sounds right up our alley! But unfortunately we did not party one single evening whilst at Ios.... Lame, I hear you say? We agree. But it was a battle of the wills and we endured through the pain to once again become beings that sufficiently operate during daylight hours.... 

In light of that, Ios was prrrreeetttyyyy chillaxed. Our accommodation was just down the road from the port where the ferry arrives so that was nice and easy for us! We went and grabbed some lunch, checked out the nearby facilities and beach, bought a Lilo each and then went to the hotel pool. The beach was way too windy. After a stressful afternoon sunbathing and floating in the pool, we caught the bus up to the Hora to explore the narrow streets, shops and grab some traditional food for dinner... Thai. Haha it was really delicious. 

We hired a scooter each the next day so we could check out some of the secluded beaches and the rest of the island over three days. We started our ride with a trip to go see 'Homers Tomb', not really sure who Homer is though.... The rest of our time in Ios included cruising on our scooters, lazing on the beach or by the pool and generally chilling out! 

Here's the photos

Posted by KPad 12:06 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Santorini

Greece

To be honest, we needed a few days of recovery after Edinburgh and London, but Santorini left us a little underwhelmed. We didn't explore the whole island really, but the town of Fira (the classic two set into the cliffs) was kinda run down and the rest of the island was very barren and looked like a wasteland. What topped this off was the dinner we had for my actual birthday day. After checking the town out a bit, we chose a place with amazing views, even though it was a bit more expensive. If only we had read the Tripadvisor reviews first! Service was terrible and pushy, we were made to feel bad because we didn't fall for all their traps to drink overpriced (€15) cocktails and their most expensive meals. The food didn't even nearly make up for it. We both needed another meal after it! We found a few nice places the next day, but you could really see the effects of their money crisis around with many unfinished construction sites. Was still good to visit, but maybe would've been better in a better frame of mind and with lower expectations. Our hotel owners were really nice though! Gave us a big smile and wave every time we can in and out which made us feel welcome. 

Photos here :-)

Posted by KPad 09:53 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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