Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gunkholing in the Med

Gunkholing in the Med

In early September the temperature was finally comfortable enough for us to venture out and did some gunkholing around this coast. This stretch of the Turkish coast is known as one of the best cruising grounds in the Med, with numerous coves and beaches that are very scenic and well sheltered. We started with those that are within a few days sail. Around this time of the year, wind is mostly from the north, and mostly on the nose for going up that way. We went to Cineviz Limani, a beautiful cove just a few hours from Kemer. The Turkish Pilot guide describes this cove: “The deserted bay is magnificent, with awe-inspiring cliffs dropping sheer into the sea….there is no other anchorage on this coast as grand as Cineviz”. We dropped anchor in 5 meters of water, took another stern line to shore to limit the swing, and stayed in this comfortable cove for a few days. At noon the gullets (large wooden charter boats) crowds into the bay with their hoards of tourists, but by evening the secluded bay only has a few cruisers and some small fishing boats. The water is clear and perfect for swimming, and the view wonderful. Fishing is apparently good too, but we have no fishing gears on board.

Another bay we visited was Tekirova. The bay is very picturesque, with a large sandy beach, pine forests, backed by a tall cliff and distant mountains. What makes this location unique is the historical ruins: The ancient Phaselis is just steps away off the beach. Dating back before Roman times, the ruins are fascinating and well preserved, including an ancient harbor, a paved boulevard, theater, Roman aqueduct, and sarcophagi lying around as they fell. We anchored here, and on daybreak we went on shore and walked around the ancient grounds in the morning twilight, sat on top of the theatre watching the morning sun gradually brighten up Mount Solymnus in the distance, probably exactly the way it was seen in 600BC.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cappadocia Tour

In September our daughter Hazel visited us, and we decided to do some land travel as well as some sailing. We joined a 3-day tour to visit Cappadocia, an area with fascinating rock formations and underground cave cities. Located in the eastern region of Anatolia, it is more than 12-hours drive away from Kemer, so most of the tour is spent on the bus, but the drive goes through the high Taurus Mountains and is very scenic. Having spent the last five months mostly at coastal areas, it’s also refreshing to be in the mountains and to drive through alpine forests.
We arrived the town of Gerome at about 6:00PM, and the arrival was timed such that we could see the sun setting over the high plateau where the ‘chimney rocks’ are located. The view was stunning. Formed from volcanic lava eroded over the millenniums, the forest of tall, cone-shaped rocks are in many interesting shapes. In the distance a high canyon glowed from the setting sun. In Gerome, some naturally-formed caves are carved and expanded into dwellings, including many cave hotels that are claimed to be 4-star hotels. Our tour package is only an economic package and our hotel was quite modest. But it’s clean and tidy, and the package included a traditional Turkey supper. The evening temperature drops to a very comfortable level, in contrast to the stifling heat in Kemer.
The next day we started early to get on a hot air balloon ride. The ride is quite expensive, but it’s another one of those ‘once in a life time’ events, and everyone who’s been to Cappadocia all highly recommended it. The idea is to see Cappadocia at dawn, from high up. It was a very interesting experience, to see the giant balloons inflated by huge propane torches, became bigger and bigger and gradually took off from the ground. And then in the open space just outside of Gerome, dozens of colorful balloons all took off one by one into the sky. The balloons were captained by certified balloon pilots, who skillfully drove the balloons at the right heights to get the best views for the scenery, riding the light winds and using burst of flame to control the height.
We then spent the day visiting different areas around Cappadocia and saw more interesting rock formation and rock caves, including some caves that were carved into churches dating back in Roman times.