Rain was smacking from the window. It was actually icy cold. Sitting at nighttime depths of the British University’s library in 1994, I had been gazing out having dreams about somewhere warm and exotic. Turkey was the area that lit up my imagination.
Three great things embody this country. Just four hours flight away from international London, it has a culture which can be profoundly different, distinctly unfamilar. A land on the very cusp of Europe and Asia, with two heads simultaneously facing both east and west, it embodies the magic and mysticism in the orient. Once nomads from Central Asia, the Turks were for hundreds of years the middlemen of the world, famed merchants uniting three continents – Europe, Africa, and Asia, as far east as China. Today, its people are famed for warmth and hospitality, a present of the nomadic ancestry and Islam’s code of respect for strangers in the strange land.
Another great advantage of Turkey is its age. The area is steeped in the past. It’s the website of several of the very earliest cities, like Çatal Hoyuk, stretching back 10,000 years. Ever after it absolutely was a veritable crossroads of civilisations. When archaeologists dig in Turkey they may be confronted by layers upon layers of peoples and cultures, from Hittite fortifications to Byzantine churches. Before I’d even set foot there, Turkey conjured up images of the stuff that I longed to view, great sun-burnt plains which ancient battles were fought, theatres where Greek philosophers declaimed, along with the marble clad ruins of Rome’s imperial ambitions.
It’s widely stated that Turkey has more and better preserved Greek and Roman archaeological sites than Greece and Italy combined. The landscape is just riddled with ruins, a few of which are virtually untouched. You may literally stroll with an olive grove and come across a Greek temple still standing proud, and have the place all to yourself. Many people say component of Turkey’s charm is it is much like Greece was thirty years ago.
The third fantastic thing about gulet charter turkey is the landscape. About three along with a half times the size of Britain, it offers almost a similar population, leaving vast areas wide, empty, and basically as nature intended. Add to that soaring mountain ranges, brilliant white sunlight, and a vast coastline stretching along three seas, the Black Sea, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean, and you will have a totally marvellous holiday destination.
I first went to Turkey eleven yrs ago, on the 2,000 mile walking adventure, to retrace Alexander the Great’s footsteps from Troy for the battlefield of Issus, the location where the epic warrior defeated the Persians for the second time. A five month journey took me across the western Aegean coast past some of the giant cities of classical history, like Ephesus, Priene, and Miletus; deep to the interior through tiny farming villages where I found myself feted as being an honoured guest; and south from the peaks and valleys of your Taurus mountains, where donkeys will still be a favoured mode of transport.
Ten years later and my love affair with Turkey still beats strong. Even though it was walking that brought me to Turkey, today I like a really different means of travelling: sailing. With many 5,178 miles of coastline, Turkey can be a paradise for cruising. Its south and west coasts offer perhaps the most spectacular sailing from the Mediterranean, filled with devjpky02 coves and sleepy fishing villages, bustling harbours and deserted bays in the shape of giant theatres with breathtaking vistas. Littered with antiquities, protected by law, large sections of it have remained undeveloped, still lapped by the clear waters which the giants of ancient history sailed: Achilles, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar…
In places, mountains of limestone drop sheer in the sea, elsewhere pine forested peninsulas extend like sinuous fingers hiding a cornucopia of golden beaches, deep gulfs, and tiny offshore islands. By using these an amazing everchanging backdrop, I can’t think of a better way to see Turkey, to learn its culture, discover such rich ruins, and drink from the landscape, than to set sail with a gulet. Spared the requirement to constantly pack, unpack, and alter hotels, instead one travels in luxurious style. Possibly the key thing for me is the fact it’s travel how the ancients usually did. It will make considering the past altogether easier. Out on the waves, time can literally dissolve in the water, two millennia can disappear from the mind.
A mad keen sailor, Peter Ustinov once wrote: “The water not only sharpens a sense of beauty and also alarm, but additionally a sense of history. You will be confronted with precisely the sight which met Caesar’s eyes, and Hannibal’s, while not having to strain the imagination by subtracting television aerials from the skyline and filling in the gaps inside the Collosseum… off the magical coast of Turkey you rediscover precisely what the world was like if it was empty… and when pleasures were as elementary as getting up in the morning… and every day is really a journey of discovery.”
Gulets really are the vessel preferred by exploring the Turkish coast. Handbuilt from wood, usually pine from local forests, they’re often up to 80 feet long and sleep between six and 16 guests in attractive double or twin cabins. They usually have 3 or 4 capable and helpful crew members, captain, cook, and one or two mates, that do all the work allowing passengers to chill out. Most gulets use a spacious main saloon, a large rear deck where meals are served, and sun loungers about the roof in front. Almost all operate for the most part under motor, however some will also be made for proper sailing. If the sails climb, and also the engine turns silent, you will have the same soundtrack as Odysseus on Homer’s “wine dark sea”, the slapping of water along the side of the ship, as well as the wind rushing throughout the canopy.
Aboard a gulet, one travels from the footsteps of ancient Greek pilgrims en way to an oracular temple like Didyma, or maybe in the wake of Byzantine merchants carrying a cargo of glass, much like the Serce Limani shipwreck now in Bodrum museum, or like Roman tourists on their approach to begin to see the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven ancient wonders around the world.
I remember the 1st time I visited the ancient city of Knidos, a sensational site for maritime trade perched at the very tip of the Datca peninsula, between Bodrum and Marmaris. We sailed and moored up from the city’s old commercial harbour, equally as merchants from Athens, Rhodes, and cities right over the Mediterranean will have done over 2,000 in the past. My fellow travellers and that i gawped in wonder, when we eased in the ancient port, along with its monuments took shape: the tiny theatre, the rows of houses, the miles of fortifications climbing up a steep ridge. We anchored where countless vessels had previously – large cargo ships, local fishing boats, maybe even some fighting triremes. Even today the traditional mooring stones where they tied up are still visible, projecting outside the harbour walls.
One of your defining characteristics of your gulet trip will be the to nature appreciation of your simple things: the clean outdoors, the canopy of stars at nighttime, time to lounge about and read. Swimming from the crystal waters from the celebrated turquoise coast is obviously one from the frequent highlights, and then there are often windsurfers, kayaks, and snorkelling gear designed for the slightly more adventurous.
Alongside the archaeology along with the relaxed atmosphere, one from the greatest delights is definitely the food. Turkish foods are justly famed, often ranked as one of your three pre-eminent cuisines in the world alongside French and Chinese. The main focus is all about simple but incredibly fresh local ingredients, often grown organically or raised free range. You only have to taste a tomato in Turkey to see the main difference. It’s surprising how even in the smallest gulets, out of the tiniest of galleys, the boat’s cook can produce such a number of fresh local delicacies.
A Turkish breakfast typically includes bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheese, eggs, yoghurt and honey. Lunch and dinner are usually one or two main courses, accompanied by salads and mezes, Turkey’s speciality starters, including cacik (a garlic and cucumber yoghurt), biber dolma (stuffed peppers), and sigara borek (white cheese and herbs in the cigarette shaped filo pastry wrap). Fruit is a mainstay item, and ranges from the seasons from cherries and strawberries, to melon and figs.
But with the amount of miles of coast where do you opt to sail? Three areas are particular favourites of mine. First will be the ancient region of Lycia, a giant bulge into the Mediterranean on Turkey’s underbelly. Situated between Fethiye and Antalya, it’s an area oozing with myths and packed with archaeology. Here, behind the soaring Taurus mountains, an extraordinary culture as well as a fiercely independent people developed. Their funerary architecture, unlike other things on earth, still litters their once prosperous ports.
This was the fabled land in the Chimaera, a dreaded monster from Greek mythology, described since Homer: “She was of divine race, not of men, in the fore part a lion, on the rear a serpent, and in the center a goat, breathing forth in terrible manner the force of blazing fire.”
The legend probably owes its origins with an extraordinary site up high inside the hills. Sacred since time immemorial, it absolutely was the main sanctuary of the port city of Olympus. Here flames leap out from the ground, a phenomenon arising from a subterranean pocket of natural gas which spontaneously ignites on contact together with the outside air.
Not just is yacht charter turkey the simplest way to explore this sort of essentially maritime civilisation, sometimes it’s the only method. Even today, there are actually tiny coastal villages which can be accessible only by sea. One favourite is the sleepy hamlet of Kale, about the southern tip of Lycia. Above several piers where small fishing boats jostle, rises a ramshackle group of houses created from ancient stones. Dominating the whole scene is really a mighty Ottoman fortress built 550 in the past to overpower the Christian knights of Rhodes and secure the important sea lanes between Constantinople and Jerusalem. The castle, however, had been a latecomer. 1,800 years before, a small town called Simena was perched here. Its small Greek style theatre sits slap during the Ottoman castle, and throughout the village are tombs hewn to the rock, and sarcophagi standing ten feet tall.
Another great area for sailing is west of Lycia, the original region of Caria, between Bodrum and Fethiye. It was the ancient field of Mausolus, a strong dynast 2,400 in the past. A strategically vital region, densely pack in antiquity with rich cities, it was jealously guarded and preferred. Alexander the excellent liberated it from Persia, Rhodes sought to annexe it into her empire, as well as the legacy of Crusader castles still talks about the epic battle that raged along this coast between rival religions, Christianity and Islam. Today, there remains an awesome blend of architectural and historic marvels. The exquisite temple tombs of Caunos, carved right into a cliff face by masons dangling from ropes; the monumental city of Knidos, famed for Praxiteles’ infamous statue of Aphrodite, the very first female nude of all time; and Halicarnassus itself, site from the fabled mausoleum along with the mighty fortress of St. Peter.
A third glorious area for cruising, is ancient Ionia, on the north of Bodrum. Along this stretch of coast developed a civilisation of quite exceptional brilliance. Inside the centuries before Alexander the fantastic, the dynamic cities of Ionia helped lay the foundations of Greek literature, science, and philosophy, nevermind architecture.
Under Rome, these cities became ever more rich, prosperous, and delightful – packed with the finest temples, theatres and markets that cash could buy. The highlights are plentiful: through the pretty little harbour of Myndos, where Cassius fled after murdering Julius Caesar; for the marvellously preserved Hellenistic city of Priene, where houses, streets, and public buildings are presented across a hillside inside a perfect grid; and of course, Ephesus, capital of Roman Asia. This was one of the 1st cities in the world to obtain street lighting. The site is magnificent, a cornucopia of colonnaded streets, agoras, baths, private villas, a theatre for 28,000, as well as an extraordinary library.
In the event you fancy exploring several of the world’s finest ancient wonders, spring or autumn is the ideal a chance to go. April and early May sees Turkey decked out with an amazing display of wild flowers. From the end of May through the start of June the water becomes swimmable just before the summer heat scorches, while September through October is ideal for leisurely bathing.