Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life at Kemer

Life of a Live-on-Board Yachtie

We have been here at Kemer Marina for a month now. We decided to stay here a little while, explore the area, and enjoy life living on-board. Our original plan was to rest for a week or two here, and then keep sailing to explore other parts of Turkey, but the hot weather changed our plan. In August, the weather of much of Turkey is very hot, and often humid. Mid day temperature is typically 35C, with humidity it feels like 40C. It’s better at anchorages with a breeze, but it’s hot nevertheless. So rather than sailing off and getting broiled at anchorages, we decided to hang around the marina where we have shore power to run the air conditioner on the boat, and do some land traveling. Sailing will resume in September, when the temperature drops to a more pleasant level.

Kemer Marina is a first-class marina, with excellent facilities and within a short walk to town. The stony peaks of the Taurus Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop, framing the lush gardens and palm trees that dot the city. The marina is also part of a hotel complex, with a library, restaurants, swimming pool, and a tennis court. This entire area is a tourist playground, and an endless string of hotels line the beachfront, stretching for miles and miles. We are surprised at how well-developed the tourist industry is. Yes it’s a bit ‘touristy’, but we don’t mind, as we enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, with free evening concerts, beautiful beach-front settings, plenty of choices for restaurants, and Turkish coffee at side-walk caf├ęs ….

Within a short drive, there are numerous attractions to keep one busy for the entire summer: numerous ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, diving, sea-turtle gazing, jeep safari, and rafting, just to name a few. We went rafting – under a blazing sun, the water was ice-cold and very refreshing.

We rented a car with some friends and explored the surrounding mountain regions. Compared to most other parts of the Med where the scenery is usually semi-desert, this region of Turkey is surprisingly lush, almost tropical. In less than half an hour drive down the highway from Kemer, there’s a good road that lead into the Taurus Mountains that rise to over 2,000 meters. A stream runs through the valley. The stream is just a trickle in the dry summer months, but there’s still enough water to keep some trout farms in operation and several restaurants, nestled in the valley by the stream, provide excellent seafood dishes. At the peak of the mountain, above the tree-line, one can see the Mediterranean Sea in the distance, framed by dramatic mountains peaks. The road peaks at a little village called Ovacik, and there’s a nice mountain hotel with a commanding view of the surrounding valleys and where one can take a rest for breakfast. And then going north-west, the road descents gently into a rolling forest of lush pine trees. The forest drops into a deep valley craved by an ancient river, and behind the valley, another mountain range rises sharply into the sky. In the winter, the peaks will be all snow-covered. The road eventually winds back to the sea, the perpetually blue Mediterranean sea.

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