Rain was smacking from the window. It was actually icy cold. Sitting at nighttime depths of a British University’s library in 1994, I had been gazing out yearning for somewhere warm and exotic. Turkey was the place that lit up my imagination.
Three great things embody this country. Just four hours flight from international London, it has a culture that is profoundly different, distinctly unfamilar. A land around the very cusp of Europe and Asia, with two heads simultaneously facing both east and west, it embodies the magic and mysticism of 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 folks are famed for his or her warmth and hospitality, a present of their nomadic ancestry and Islam’s code of respect for strangers within a strange land.
Another wonderful thing about Turkey is its age. The location is steeped in history. It’s the internet site of several of the very earliest cities, like Çatal Hoyuk, stretching back 10,000 years. Ever after it had been a veritable crossroads of civilisations. When archaeologists dig in Turkey these are 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 things 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 merely riddled with ruins, a few of which are virtually untouched. You can literally stroll through an olive grove and come across a Greek temple still standing proud, and have the place all to yourself. Lots of people say component of Turkey’s charm is that it is a lot like Greece was thirty yrs ago.
Your third fantastic thing about yacht charter turkey is the landscape. Around three and a half times the actual size of Britain, it offers almost the same population, leaving vast areas wide, empty, and virtually as nature intended. Additionally soaring mountain ranges, brilliant white sunlight, plus a vast coastline stretching along three seas, the Black Sea, the Aegean, and also the Mediterranean, and you will have a really marvellous holiday destination.
I first went along to Turkey eleven years ago, on a 2,000 mile walking adventure, to retrace Alexander the Great’s footsteps from Troy on the battlefield of Issus, the location where the epic warrior defeated the Persians to get a second time. A five month journey took me down the western Aegean coast past several of the giant cities of classical history, like Ephesus, Priene, and Miletus; deep in to the interior through tiny farming villages where I had been feted for an honoured guest; and south throughout the peaks and valleys from the Taurus mountains, where donkeys continue to be a favoured mode of transport.
10 years later and my love affair with Turkey still beats strong. Though it was walking that brought me to Turkey, today I prefer an extremely different means of travelling: sailing. With a few 5,178 miles of coastline, Turkey is a paradise for cruising. Its south and west coasts offer possibly the most spectacular sailing in 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 legally, large parts of it have remained undeveloped, still lapped through 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 stretch out like sinuous fingers hiding a cornucopia of golden beaches, deep gulfs, and tiny offshore islands. With your an amazing everchanging backdrop, I can’t think of a better strategy to see Turkey, to learn its culture, discover such rich ruins, and drink from the landscape, than to set sail over a gulet. Spared the necessity to constantly pack, unpack, and change hotels, instead one travels in luxurious style. Probably the key thing for me personally is it’s travel just how the ancients usually did. It makes considering the past altogether easier. On the waves, time can literally dissolve inside the water, two millennia can disappear from your mind.
A mad keen sailor, Peter Ustinov once wrote: “The sea not merely sharpens a sense of beauty and of alarm, but also feelings of history. You are confronted with precisely the sight which met Caesar’s eyes, and Hannibal’s, without having to strain the imagination by subtracting television aerials from your skyline and filling within the gaps in the Collosseum… off of the magical coast of Turkey you rediscover exactly what the world was like when it was empty… and once pleasures were as easy as getting out of bed each day… and each day is really a journey of discovery.”
Gulets really are the vessel preferred by going through the Turkish coast. Handbuilt from wood, usually pine from local forests, they’re often as much as 80 feet long and sleep between six and 16 guests in attractive double or twin cabins. They usually have three or four capable and helpful crew members, captain, cook, and one or two mates, who do all the work allowing passengers to relax. Most gulets use a spacious main saloon, a big rear deck where meals are served, and sun loungers around the roof in front. Most operate typically under motor, but some can also be made for proper sailing. Once the sails climb, along with the engine turns silent, there is the same soundtrack as Odysseus on Homer’s “wine dark sea”, the slapping of water on the side of the ship, along with the wind rushing from the canopy.
Aboard a gulet, one travels within the footsteps of ancient Greek pilgrims en way to an oracular temple like Didyma, or 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 strategy to begin to see the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of your seven ancient wonders of the world.
I remember the very first time I visited the ancient city of Knidos, a sensational site for maritime trade perched at the very tip in the Datca peninsula, between Bodrum and Marmaris. We sailed and moored up from the city’s old commercial harbour, just like merchants from Athens, Rhodes, and cities right over the Mediterranean might have done over 2,000 yrs ago. My fellow travellers and I gawped in wonder, as we eased into 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 original mooring stones where they tied up continue to be visible, projecting right out of the harbour walls.
One in the defining characteristics of a gulet trip may be the returning to nature appreciation of the simple things: the clean outside air, the canopy of stars during the night, the time to lounge about and browse. Swimming in the crystal waters of the celebrated turquoise coast is obviously one in the frequent highlights, and there are often windsurfers, kayaks, and snorkelling gear available for the slightly more adventurous.
Alongside the archaeology and the relaxed atmosphere, one of your greatest delights will be the food. Turkish meals is justly famed, often ranked as one of your three pre-eminent cuisines on earth alongside French and Chinese. The target is about simple but incredibly fresh local ingredients, often grown organically or raised free range. You only need to taste a tomato in Turkey to view the real difference. It’s surprising how even around the smallest gulets, out of the tiniest of galleys, the boat’s cook can produce such various fresh local delicacies.
A Turkish breakfast typically is made up of bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheese, eggs, yoghurt and honey. Lunch and dinner are usually one or two main courses, together with 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 a 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 choose to sail? Three areas are particular favourites of mine. First may be the ancient region of Lycia, a huge bulge into the Mediterranean on Turkey’s underbelly. Situated between Fethiye and Antalya, it’s an area oozing with myths and filled with archaeology. Here, behind the soaring Taurus mountains, an extraordinary culture along with a fiercely independent people developed. Their funerary architecture, unlike whatever else on earth, still litters their once prosperous ports.
This is the fabled land of your Chimaera, a dreaded monster from Greek mythology, described as soon as Homer: “She was of divine race, not of men, inside the fore part a lion, in 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 within the hills. Sacred since time immemorial, it had been the main sanctuary in the port city of Olympus. Here flames leap from the ground, a phenomenon arising from a subterranean pocket of gas which spontaneously ignites on contact using the outside air.
Not simply is gulet charter turkey the easiest way to explore this kind of essentially maritime civilisation, sometimes it’s the only way. Even now, you can find tiny coastal villages that are accessible only by sea. One favourite is definitely the sleepy hamlet of Kale, about the southern tip of Lycia. Above several piers where small fishing boats jostle, rises a ramshackle combination of houses made 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 all important sea lanes between Constantinople and Jerusalem. The castle, however, was actually a latecomer. 1,800 years before, a compact 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.
An additional great area for sailing is west of Lycia, the traditional region of Caria, between Bodrum and Fethiye. This became the original world of Mausolus, an effective dynast 2,400 years ago. A strategically vital region, densely pack in antiquity with rich cities, it absolutely was jealously guarded and preferred. Alexander the excellent liberated it from Persia, Rhodes sought to annexe it into her empire, and also 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 a fantastic blend of architectural and historic marvels. The exquisite temple tombs of Caunos, carved in to 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.
Still another glorious area for cruising, is ancient Ionia, for the north of Bodrum. Along this stretch of coast developed a civilisation of quite exceptional brilliance. In 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 increasingly rich, prosperous, and delightful – full of the best temples, theatres and markets that cash could buy. The highlights are readily available: from the pretty little harbour of Myndos, where Cassius fled after murdering Julius Caesar; to the marvellously preserved Hellenistic city of Priene, in which the houses, streets, and public buildings are outlined across a hillside within a perfect grid; as well as, Ephesus, capital of Roman Asia. This was one of the first cities on earth to possess street lighting. The web page is magnificent, a cornucopia of colonnaded streets, agoras, baths, private villas, a theatre for 28,000, and an extraordinary library.
Should you fancy exploring a number of the world’s finest ancient wonders, spring or autumn is the ideal time to go. April and early May sees Turkey decked by helping cover their a wonderful display of wild flowers. Through the end of May through the beginning of June the ocean becomes swimmable before the summer heat scorches, while September through October is perfect for leisurely bathing.