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Turkey: Bodrum, Dalyan, Ephesus, Gulf of Gokova, Istanbul
Gulf of Gokova, Turkey: Hue of Blue
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
For 7 days I was almost cut-off with the world. And that precisely was the idea. I spent a week sailing the Gulf of Gokova – waters that touch the shores of Turkey and Greece. The trip may sound a bit adventurous but it wasn’t exactly so. I would rank the experience as one of the most peaceful ones amongst the hundreds I have done so far. The waters donned hues of blues. The shades were the result of the colour of the sky and the depth of the waters.
I was leading a group of 11 other holiday makers. For the 12 of us I hired a Gulet (a wooden sailboat) that had 6 cabins. Our Gulet was named Cemre Junior. On board we had a crew of 4. We were in safe hands of Captain Mehmut Ulger and his 3 very able assistants. Call them Men Friday. Each one of them was good at cooking, cleaning, maintenance, anchoring and the works. They made for fine butlers! For 7 days, we were owners of the Gulet with the freedom to drift at will. Anchor at will.
The trip commences on Saturdays from Bodrum – an hour’s flight from Istanbul. We reached Bodrum on a Friday evening and headed straight for the harbour where our Gulet was ready to welcome us. Off the 6 cabins 2 were suites. Instead of fighting for the best rooms, we decided a draw of lots. The lucky four got the suites. The other eight cursed their fate. The cabins are just big enough to hold 2 guests. And come with an attached barely-to-squeeze-in-size bathroom.
There are many companies that offer Gulets. You can either charter the boat in multiple of weeks or just buy a cabin for the cruise. The rate per cabin is upwards of Euro 350 per week. The charges are substantially higher for luxury Gulets and the season of sail. August thru September is considered high season. That’s when the sea is at its best and the weather quite bearable. 3 meals every day are usually an inclusion. I used the services of ATB Holidays, one of the leading and reliable inbound tour operators in Turkey.
Food was cooked fresh every day. Because most of us were vegetarians, the menu was planned accordingly. Whenever the Gulet anchored the team ventured out to buy fresh supplies of vegetables, fruit, milk and bread. We also carried with us some Indian spices and ready to cook meals. The ladies on board made it a point to seize the boat’s kitchen. At the end of the trip, the Turkish chef learnt the nuances of Indian cuisine!
The next morning began our sailing. Though we had chartered a route, we did not quite follow it. We spent more time in some bays and coves whilst skipped others. We wanted to be away from other boats. Though mobile services were excellent all along the route, each one of us made limited use. To be honest, we actually lost track of the day and dates. There was nothing to disturb us save for the sea breeze and humming of the engine. The sails are hoisted only to balance when the sea gets choppy. The Gulet runs on the engine otherwise.
Every day we would sail for about 2 to 3 hours and would visit 2 or 3 bays and coves. Once the engine stopped we were free to jump into pristine turquoise waters or to explore the shores and walk pine through clad woods.
On one of the days, we left our boat for a day to make a trip to Dalyan. We hired a van that picked us up from the English Harbour and took us to Dalyan where we hired another boat to explore the river, swim in sweet waters and visit the turtle beach (we could see none as the turtles had left for the sea; they would be back again in April to breed). Highlight was to view the tombs that were carved on the mountain tops... nearer to the Gods.
Finally we anchored in Bodrum after a week of sailing. Another van took us to Ephesus, the ancient city built by the Romans. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we walked through marble streets, flanked by columns, temples and fountains. Highlights included Temple of Hadrian, the Celsus Library and the Great Theatre.
For the night we made a halt at Kusadasi to enjoy a Turkish evening – great food and belly dancing. Early next morning, we took a flight to Istanbul. We spent a few hours exploring Istanbul before boarding our flight home.
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