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Thursday, 06 November 2008

Turkish Blue Cruises - Page 4

Written by Aaron Highfill
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Many have lamented the loss of the Windjammer Barefoot Cruises. Catering to a much younger crowd than the big ships, their small wooden vessels would ply the azure waters of the Caribbean with only 60-100 passengers. Famed for their onboard parties and themed nights, they were responsible for many lifelong friendships and more than a few romances. While they have sadly not operated since 2007, those seeking to mellow out aboard a small yacht with the young and the young at heart should know they still could. Not in the Caribbean, but in the Mediterranean with a Turkish Blue Cruise.

Our third and final night, we anchored in a tiny inlet where cold springs could be seen bubbling from the rock. This created the odd sensation of swimming in warm water one second, and cold water the next. The captain barbecued some chicken on a grill at the bow of the ship. We had the usual sides of salad, green beans, and bread. While my vegetarianism is flexible enough to extend to the occasional locally caught fish, it doesn't cover chicken, so I satisfied myself with the bell peppers stuffed with rice that were leftover from lunch. After dinner, the Captain brought out a birthday cake and we all sang happy birthday in English.

Breakfast was the usual bittersweet exchanging of email addresses, promises to write, and to get together for drinks if ever in the same part of the world. The Mancunian and the two Aussie sisters were staying aboard to make the trip back to Fethiye. I felt more than a twinge of jealousy as we pulled into the harbor at Andriake. Waiting for the launch that would take us to shore, we were excited to see two giant sea turtles glide gracefully under the boat. Once ashore, our minivan took us first to the village of Demre, home to the Church of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas used to bring gifts such as shoes to the needy children in the area. If the windows of the home were closed, he would drop his gifts down the chimney. So yes, there really is a Santa Claus.

We next went to Olympos, a thriving backpacker hangout famous for its tree house lodgings. Dozens of pensions line the narrow canyon offering tree house accommodation with buffet breakfast and dinner included for $25-35 US per person. Those seeking a party atmosphere should check out Turkmen Treehouses or Kadirs. A more low-key environment can be found at Doga, Orange or Pirates camp pensions. The happy medium is often found at Bayrams pension. All pensions have dining/bar areas with cushioned platforms that seem to suck people in for hours of conversation, drinking, or smoking flavored tobacco through a hookah.

The two main attractions of Olympos are the rocky beach, and the ruins of the ancient city.  Though rumours of impending excavation and restoration abound, the sarcophagi, libraries and theatres of Olympos currently exist in a decrepit jungle covered state with only a few pesky interpretive signs to distract you from the fantasy that you discovered them yourself and that they are known only to you.

The beach is simply sublime – even more so at night. A group of us gathered there at midnight under a 3/4 moon for a goodbye swim for a London woman who had spent the season in Olympos as a Yoga instructor. As we kicked and splashed, the bioluminescent plankton traced glowing green paths in the otherwise glass still water while shooting stars arced overhead.

©Aaron Highfill

Photos ©Adrienne Walker

(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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