Rain was smacking versus the window. It absolutely was icy cold. Sitting in the dark depths of the British University’s library in 1994, I used to be gazing out yearning for somewhere warm and exotic. Turkey was the spot that lit up my imagination.
Three great things embody this country. Just four hours flight far from international London, it possesses a culture which can be profoundly different, distinctly unfamilar. A land in 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 centuries the middlemen of the world, famed merchants uniting three continents – Europe, Africa, and Asia, as far east as China. Today, its individuals are famed for their warmth and hospitality, a gift of the nomadic ancestry and Islam’s code of respect for strangers in the strange land.
Another big plus with Turkey is its age. The area is steeped of all time. It’s the web page 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 can 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 all the stuff that I longed to view, great sun-burnt plains on what ancient battles were fought, theatres where Greek philosophers declaimed, as well as 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 actually riddled with ruins, many of which are virtually untouched. You may literally stroll through an olive grove and stumble upon a Greek temple still standing proud, and possess the place all to yourself. A lot of people say part of Turkey’s charm is that it is a lot like Greece was thirty years back.
Your third fantastic thing about yacht charter turkey is the landscape. About three and a half times the size of Britain, it has almost the identical population, leaving vast areas wide, empty, and virtually as nature intended. Additionally soaring mountain ranges, brilliant white sunlight, along with a vast coastline stretching along three seas, the Black Sea, the Aegean, as well as the Mediterranean, and you have a truly marvellous holiday destination.
I first visited Turkey eleven in the past, with a 2,000 mile walking adventure, to retrace Alexander the Great’s footsteps from Troy towards the battlefield of Issus, the location where the epic warrior defeated the Persians for a second time. A five month journey took me along the western Aegean coast past a number 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 as being an honoured guest; and south from the peaks and valleys of your Taurus mountains, where donkeys remain a favoured mode of transport.
Decade later and my love affair with Turkey still beats strong. Although it was walking that brought me to Turkey, today I like a very different way of travelling: sailing. With many 5,178 miles of coastline, Turkey is really a paradise for cruising. Its south and west coasts offer probably the most spectacular sailing from the Mediterranean, packed with devjpky02 coves and sleepy fishing villages, bustling harbours and deserted bays shaped like giant theatres with breathtaking vistas. Littered with antiquities, protected by law, large sections of it have remained undeveloped, still lapped from the clear waters where the giants of ancient history sailed: Achilles, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar…
In places, mountains of limestone drop sheer in to the sea, elsewhere pine forested peninsulas extend like sinuous fingers hiding a cornucopia of golden beaches, deep gulfs, and tiny offshore islands. With such an amazing everchanging backdrop, I can’t imagine a better method to see Turkey, to learn its culture, discover such rich ruins, and drink inside the landscape, instead of set sail on the gulet. Spared the desire to constantly pack, unpack, and change hotels, instead one travels in luxurious style. Perhaps the key thing to me is that it’s travel just how the ancients usually did. It can make considering the past altogether easier. Out on the waves, time can literally dissolve within the water, two millennia can disappear through the mind.
A mad keen sailor, Peter Ustinov once wrote: “The sea not simply sharpens a sense of beauty and also of alarm, but additionally a sense of history. You might 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 your skyline and filling in the gaps from the Collosseum… off the magical coast of Turkey you rediscover what the world was like whenever it was empty… so when pleasures were as basic as getting out of bed in the morning… and each day is a journey of discovery.”
Gulets are really the vessel of choice for checking out the Turkish coast. Handbuilt from wood, usually pine from local forests, they’re often around 80 feet long and sleep between six and 16 guests in attractive double or twin cabins. They generally have three or four capable and helpful crew members, captain, cook, and one or two mates, who do everything allowing passengers to unwind. Most gulets use a spacious main saloon, a sizable rear deck where meals are served, and sun loungers around the roof in the front. The majority operate typically under motor, however, some can also be designed for proper sailing. Once the sails increase, and the engine turns silent, you will find the same soundtrack as Odysseus on Homer’s “wine dark sea”, the slapping of water along the side of the ship, along with the wind rushing throughout the canopy.
Aboard a gulet, one travels in the footsteps of ancient Greek pilgrims en path to an oracular temple like Didyma, or maybe in the wake of Byzantine merchants carrying a cargo of glass, just like the Serce Limani shipwreck now in Bodrum museum, or like Roman tourists on his or her strategy to start to see the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven ancient wonders around the world.
I remember the first time I visited the traditional city of Knidos, a sensational site for maritime trade perched in the very tip in the Datca peninsula, between Bodrum and Marmaris. We sailed and moored up in the city’s old commercial harbour, in the same way merchants from Athens, Rhodes, and cities right all over the Mediterranean might have done over 2,000 in the past. My fellow travellers and I gawped in wonder, as we eased in to the ancient port, as well as its monuments took shape: the little 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, possibly even some fighting triremes. Even today the traditional mooring stones where they tied up are still visible, projecting out of the harbour walls.
One from the defining characteristics of your gulet trip may be the back to nature appreciation in the simple things: the clean clean air, the canopy of stars through the night, time to lounge about and browse. Swimming from the crystal waters of the celebrated turquoise coast is needless to say one of the frequent highlights, and then there tend to be windsurfers, kayaks, and snorkelling gear designed for the a little more adventurous.
Alongside the archaeology along with the relaxed atmosphere, one in the greatest delights is the food. Turkish foods are justly famed, often ranked as one in the three pre-eminent cuisines in the world alongside French and Chinese. The target is all 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 difference. It’s surprising how even on the smallest gulets, out from the tiniest of galleys, the boat’s cook can produce such various fresh local delicacies.
A Turkish breakfast typically includes bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheese, eggs, yoghurt and honey. Lunch and dinner are generally one or two main courses, associated 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 inside a cigarette shaped filo pastry wrap). Fruit is a mainstay item, and ranges through the seasons from cherries and strawberries, to melon and figs.
But because of so many miles of coast where do you want to sail? Three areas are particular favourites of mine. First is definitely the ancient region of Lycia, a giant bulge to the Mediterranean on Turkey’s underbelly. Situated between Fethiye and Antalya, it’s a region oozing with myths and brimming with archaeology. Here, behind the soaring Taurus mountains, an extraordinary culture along with a fiercely independent people developed. Their funerary architecture, unlike whatever else worldwide, still litters their once prosperous ports.
This was 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, within the fore part a lion, at the rear a serpent, and at the center a goat, breathing forth in terrible manner the force of blazing fire.”
The legend probably owes its origins for an extraordinary site high up from the hills. Sacred since time immemorial, it was the primary sanctuary of your 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 with the outside air.
Not only is yacht charter turkey the easiest method to explore this kind of essentially maritime civilisation, sometimes it’s the only way. Even today, there are actually tiny coastal villages which can be accessible only by sea. One favourite is the sleepy hamlet of Kale, in the southern tip of Lycia. Above several piers where small fishing boats jostle, rises a ramshackle combination of houses made out of ancient stones. Dominating the whole scene is really a mighty Ottoman fortress built 550 yrs ago to overpower the Christian knights of Rhodes and secure the all important sea lanes between Constantinople and Jerusalem. The castle, however, was really a latecomer. 1,800 years before, a small town called Simena was perched here. Its small Greek style theatre sits slap in the midst of the Ottoman castle, and all through the village are tombs hewn in to the rock, and sarcophagi standing ten feet tall.
A second great area for sailing is west of Lycia, the ancient region of Caria, between Bodrum and Fethiye. This was the ancient field of Mausolus, a powerful dynast 2,400 yrs ago. A strategically vital region, densely pack in antiquity with rich cities, it was jealously guarded and desired. Alexander the Great liberated it from Persia, Rhodes sought to annexe it into her own empire, along with the legacy of Crusader castles still speaks of the epic battle that raged along this coast between rival religions, Christianity and Islam. Today, there remains an awesome mix of architectural and historic marvels. The exquisite temple tombs of Caunos, carved into a cliff face by masons dangling from ropes; the monumental city of Knidos, famed for Praxiteles’ infamous statue of Aphrodite, the first female nude in history; and Halicarnassus itself, site of your fabled mausoleum and also the mighty fortress of St. Peter.
One 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. In the centuries before Alexander the truly amazing, 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 beautiful – loaded with the finest temples, theatres and markets that money could buy. The highlights are plentiful: from the pretty little harbour of Myndos, where Cassius fled after murdering Julius Caesar; towards the marvellously preserved Hellenistic city of Priene, in which the houses, streets, and public buildings are organized across a hillside in a perfect grid; not to mention, Ephesus, capital of Roman Asia. This was one of the very first cities on earth to have street lighting. The website is magnificent, a cornucopia of colonnaded streets, agoras, baths, private villas, a theatre for 28,000, plus an extraordinary library.
In the event you fancy exploring some of the world’s finest ancient wonders, spring or autumn is the ideal time and energy to go. April and early May sees Turkey decked out with a wonderful display of wild flowers. From your end of May through the beginning of June the sea becomes swimmable prior to the summer heat scorches, while September through October is good for leisurely bathing.