Author Archives: cuffy40

Final stop in Turkey and into Georgia

We had reached the last port we were stopping at on the Turkish coast of the Black Sea which was Hopa, a commercial harbour. 

We were visiting Ciha Castle. Up into mountain’s, another road, well it wasn’t a road more of a wide footpath or was probably built for horse and carts but definitely not for cars in particular mini buses. We stopped so far up and then we were to walk the rest of the way.  Ian, for once, had some sense and stayed with the mini buses along with some other sensibly minded people, already sensing this was going to be more of a climb.

We started the walk and then went off the dirt track road.  It got harder and harder with the track being some down trodden greenery and rocks.  I should have realised when I saw the guide with a very large knife in his hand needed to cut his way through that this wasn’t your usual trek.  I kept looking for David and Sarah of Wandering Star, as this walk was definitely one of those that you were told not far and it will be easy.  I got a stone’s throw from the top and where the castle was, but along with some others we had to retreat back down.  We were told later that no international tourists had ever been up to the castle, I now know why. 

Mencuna Waterfall

We next visited the Mencuna waterfalls which were spectacular.  They are about 90metres high and Turkey’s highest.  After our mountain trek earlier we were told this was just a 700metre walk, uphill mind you.  We’d been walking 10 minutes and then saw the sign which said 500metres to the waterfall.  It was worth the walk up though. 

We were heading to Poti in Georgia just for a couple of days.  We were leaving at 6am but we had to check out of Turkey first.  We got our passports back at 2am, so not much sleep. We had just moored up and a guy came up to the boat and said “Hi Ian”. Now Ian was a little taken aback as he didn’t know the guy.  It transpires he was from the port authority and was British and he had googled the rally when he heard we were coming and found our blog.  His name was also Ian, so Ian if you are reading this, Hi, it was great to meet you and chat.

We had a wonderful welcome from the town of Poti.  They put on a concert for us with singing from the elder generation to the younger ones.  It was a very enjoyable evening. 

The next day we were due to go to Batumi, which was just over 45 miles back near the Turkish border.  We weren’t able to moor up at Batumi hence the reason for being at Poti in the commercial harbour.  We had checked the start time for the trip with one of the organisers and told it was 10 o’clock.  Ian being slow in the morning, so I was trying to gee him up to get us to the buses as we’d seen other people leaving about 9.45.  We finally left the boat at 10am, rushing along as the buses were five minutes away.  We arrived and no buses or people in sight, so after a few choice words between us, we came to the conclusion that the buses must have already left.  Oh well it’s our own fault we were late.  So off we went to discover what Poti had to offer.  It turns out that the start time had in fact changed, which we weren’t made aware of and we were 25 mins early. But we had the day to ourselves which wasn’t such a bad thing.

All roads lead to Poti Cathedral which is in the centre of town next to the park.  The location was chosen by Niko Nikoladze , the mayor of Poti, so that it could be seen from every side of the town.  The cathedral was built in 1906-07 and is an imitation of the Hagia Sopia in Istanbul but on a reduced scale. 

We also took a walk down to Poti Lighthouse which was built by “Easton Amos & Sons” an English company in 1862.  It was then transported by steamship to Georgia where is was assembled by British engineers.  It is made of cast iron, is 36.6m high and has a range of 17nm.  There are 160 steps to the top.  Just alongside the lighthouse is a very large cemetery.  Each of the grave stones shows a picture of the departed and some had tables and chairs set in stone/marble for their loved ones to come and sit with them. What a lovely thing.

We were now off back to Hopa in Turkey.  By the time we arrived back at Hopa we had made the decision to cut short our participation in the rally.  Unfortunately, we didn’t obey orders, yes they were the words used, although we had informed the necessary person of our intentions and reasons.  Orders and obey don’t belong on a sailing rally.  The programme was very busy, plus a few other things and so we decided to do the return journey along the Black Sea coast solo and take things at our own pace.  We are glad we’d spent a month with the rally as we saw some places we wouldn’t have done on our own and we had the pleasure of meeting a great crowd of people.  We appreciate all the hard work that goes into putting a rally like this together and we thanked the organisers for doing so and we wished the group all the best for the rest of their trip.  

August 2022

Black Sea – reaching the end of the Turkish coast

Chained together

We were due to leave Tirebulo at 8 o’clock, we were just contemplating getting up when we could hear, “Cuffysark”.  I obviously got up, and there was Dusk with our anchor hooked up on their anchor.  This is bound to happen at some time when there are so many boats moored up together in med mooring style.  Med Mooring is where you drop your anchor and then reverse up against a quay and tie up on the quay.  It can be quite easy for a chain to lay across someone else’s’ as boats are moored up close together.  Dusk didn’t take long and we were off the hook!

We attended the Sis Dag (Fog Mountain) Cultural Festival in the Salpazari district of Trabzon, that has been held for 200 years, 2022 was the 201st such festival. Sis Dag is over 2,000 metres high.  Villagers from all around flock to the area where there is a market, music, dancing and lots of food stalls.  There were cows wandering around too.  There is a traditional dance where it starts with people dancing in a line holding hands and it gets bigger and bigger and ends up around the hill side.  Many of the villagers are in traditional costumes.  On the food stalls there are piles and piles of loaves of bread which we believe is sour dough and they are big and heavy. You could certainly build your muscles up carrying a couple of these.  The fog did come in during our time on the mountain. 

You do have to smile at times with how the Turkish deal with situations.  On our journey to the festival we go through a town and there’s a car blocking the road, the driver had just popped into the shop.  The bus driver hops out of his seat, gets into the car, expecting the keys to be in the ignition, absolutely they were, moved the car out the way and off we went on our journey.  No drama no road rage, problem solved. 

The journey was up some very steep dirt track roads.  Unfortunately, the bus we were on wasn’t too happy with this and as a consequence was damaged.  So off we all get and also those on the other bus.  There was a café just around the corner, so off we went.  Ian jokingly asked one of our fellow Turkish sailors, “do you think they’ll have some beer?”.  No of course not, we are in a very dry part of Turkey.  So of we go, order our tea, when we discover someone had eagle eyes and had found they did sell beer.  This small café in the middle of nowhere did a roaring trade that afternoon and it made the time we were waiting for another bus much more pleasant. 

We are nearing the end of the Turkish coast on the Black Sea and our next port was Trabzon.   We arrived and had a tour of the city first visiting the Hagia Sofia, yes there is also one in Istanbul.  It was originally a Greek orthodox church which was converted into a mosque in 1584, then in 1964 into a museum.  In 2013 it was back to being a mosque again.  

We also visited the Ataturk Pavilion, which was a lovely building.  Ataturk thought so too and as a result the city gifted him the house which he only stayed in a few days.  The Pavilion was opened up as a museum after his death. 

Trabzon is home to the Sumela Monastery which sits on the side of a mountain.  It was founded in the 4th century by two monks names Barnabas and Sophronios, who came from Athens and built a small church here. The monastery was expanded during the Byzantine Empire and was used until 1923. 

Now we’ve been to a factory where they convert the leaves to tea leaves for your cuppa.  This time we visited a tea farm.  The tea leaves are on bushes and it is just the tips of the bushes that are cut.

The following day was a bit of a different activity with zip lining and water rafting in Firtina Creek.  Ian joined in with this. I sat and looked after a few people’s bags, not my thing. 

We went up into the mountains and visited Zil Kale, the views were stunning.  The landscape is amazing here. 

We had one more Turkish port to visit and then we would be off to Georgia.

August 2022

Karadeniz – Turkish for the Black Sea!

The next place we visited was Samsun, which is the largest Turkish city on the Black Sea.  We were a little way out of town in a place called Canik.  The start of the trip was definitely not my sort of sailing, big seas which got bigger and it was grey but the waves did settle down eventually. 

We had another full day visiting various museums in the town.  One stop was the Bandirma Steamer which was built in Scotland.  The Bandirma arrived in Samsun on 19th May 1925 with Atatürk on board.  This was a very significant and important day as Samsun was where the bid for Turkish’s independence began. 

DaDD Ralli Crew

There is a very large monument in honour of Atatürk on his horse.  I was going to say most, but I think all the places we’ve been to, have some kind of monument to Ataturk.    We were asked to gather in a ring around the monument as a sign to protect it.  Last year some people put ropes around the feet of the horse and attempted to pull it down. 

The following day we had a break from museums and had a day with nature.  We first visited the Kızılırmak Delta, which is the biggest wetland in the Black Sea region, stopping at the bird sanctuary first.  There are 420 bird species in Turkey and 340 of them have been identified in the delta, 140 of these species breed in this area.  There was various wildlife, plant life and animals in particular lots of water buffalos. 

After a visit to a Tobacco museum, we were taken to a hazelnut farm where we had dinner. We discovered that Turkey provides 80% of the world’s hazelnuts. 

We went from Samsun to Kumbasi, 75nm up the coast, which was just a stopover and then on to Tirebolu.  Half way between Kumbasi and Tirebolu was a very small island called Giresun where we were asked to complete a Circle of Love. There was a slight difference to this Circle of Love though as we were accompanied by a fighter jet on a training exercise, who circled above us several times, as well as doing some loop the loops and other stuff. It was amazing and the sound was so loud.

After all this excitement we carried on with our journey.  On entering the harbour at Tirebolu we found that the starboard engine (the righthand one to you landlubbers) had no drive, we were near to the rocks at the entrance to the harbour so it was getting a bit worrying.  We came out of the harbour back into clearer water, Ian stuck his snorkel on then head down into the water as we thought something may have caught around the propellor, no much worse than that the propellor was gone!  We came in and rafted (tied along side) Dusk.  This was a disaster, or so we thought.  Would you believe, one of the boats in the Rally had a spare propellor, a little big, but it would do us for now until we could get a replacement. 

Tirebolu brought a few days of overcast weather with rain and wind.  Just to remind us of good ole blighty although Britain was sweltering at the time.

We were provided with another Turkish breakfast.  The one is Gerze was good but this was something else.  Ian was delighted as the eggs were fried. As well as all the usual bits for a Turkish breakfast we also had kuymak which is basically a cheese dip, which is a specialty of the region and then when we thought we couldn’t eat another thing up came some pide.  The food was never ending and plenty of tea.  The local mayor presented us “yabancilar” (foreigners to you and me) with a memorial plate which Tracey from Dusk accepted on our behalf.

After such a hearty breakfast we needed to burn off some of those calories so we were taken on a walking tour of the old town. One part had been painted by the residents and local artists and was very colourful.

We next visited a hazelnut factory which showed the process from the hazelnuts arriving at the factory, how they cracked the shells without breaking the nuts and a machine which picked out those within certain dimensions.

Our final visit of the day was to the Amber Tea factory which is a local co-operative established in 1988.  Seeing the process of how the leaves from a tree become tea leaves for your cuppa made me appreciate the effort that has gone into it.  Ian always appreciates his tea!

July 2022

More of the Black Sea … it’s a long coast!

There are no marinas along the Black Sea coast, just lots of fishing harbours.  You don’t get many yachts along this coast.  There is a saying that there are three safe harbours July, August and the town of Sinop.  The next harbour was a small one, Caylioglu, but what a welcome we received.  There was traditional dancing and music being played on our arrival. 

We were given cay (tea).  Ian can’t quite believe that there are people here who can out drink him on the tea front, that takes some beating.  We were then loaded into local buses and taken to a nearby town where we visited a church and then onto an arts school.  Here they produced fabric similar to linen from picking the plants and then weaving it all by hand on a loom.  It is a very long process to create the fabric.

The following morning after a very nice dinner the villagers served us with breakfast.  They were also preparing food for us for later which is normally what would be served at a wedding.  They certainly knew how to do cater for big numbers with the big metal pots, which we were all given the chance to stir.  It was very hot, so you wouldn’t want to be doing that for too long. 

As wood is plentiful many of the old houses were built with wood.  In fact when sailing, you have to avoid the twigs and branches, some of them quite big which have come down from the rivers and into the sea. 

David and Sarah from Wandering Star, were anchored in the bay and they joined us for a few drinks on the quayside where local musicians were entertaining us.  David proudly showed us his large bottle of beer he’d found and it was cheaper than the usual stuff.  Panic soon ensued when it was pointed out that it might be non alcoholic beer.  After some help of Google translate, I don’t know where we would be without that at times, we deciphered that the slogan translates as “alcohol is not your friend”.  Some big phews all around. 

After two nights we were making our way to Gerze.  This sail was my type of sailing, lovely and calm with the sun shining.  Now contrary to popular belief I don’t sit in the sun very often now but today I thought I’d lay on the trampoline, read my book and take in some rays.  How delusional was I.  Ten minutes in, barely time to get myself settled and I’m told the spinnaker is going up, a big sail, which, yes, you’ve guessed it, completely shaded the boat. 

Gerze is a tourist town for the Turkish, so it was quite lively in the evening with lots of people wandering along the waterfront, it’s a bit like being in a goldfish bowl.  Although one couple decided they’d venture a little bit further than that and plonk themselves on the back our boat and take some photos!!

The following morning we were given a wonderful Turkish breakfast, the best so far.  A Turkish breakfast consists of eggs (ours were boiled) jam, honey, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, pastries with cheese in (like spring rolls), bread and lots of cay (tea).  There can be other bits too we had some chips.

The first place we went to were some waterfalls.  We turned off main road and onto a narrow dirt track where in some places it was just about the width of the minibus and a sheer drop. Didn’t do much for the nerves. We hadn’t appreciated that we would have to trek down to the waterfalls but it was worth it.  There were some brave, I’m being kind, I’d call them mad who ventured into the water under the waterfall, which was very cold.  You didn’t need to be told it was cold the look on their faces said it all. 

Our last stop for the day was an old mansion house called Yakup Aga Mansion built in 1911 by Yakup Ağa’s father, Hacı Zekeriya Efendi, who immigrated from the Caucasus in 1864 and took refuge in Ottoman lands when the Russians forced Muslims to settle outside of Russia. 

It was an early start the next day 72 nm to Samsun which may not seem a lot by road but it was a 12 hour day. 

July 2022

Going East in the Black Sea

We left Kefken Avasi and sailed 55nm to Eregli (pronounced Erelee) which took us a little over nine hours.  The local mayor was hosting a dinner and we had just over an hour before we had to leave.  At this precise time the water pump decided to stop working which is not great when you want a shower.  Ian spent half an hour clambering around in the engine room and managed to get it working again.  He can be pretty useful at times!

We were taken by coach to a locally run municipal restaurant.  We picked up a couple of strays too, David and Sarah on Wandering Star. 

Our starter was a plate of various dips and other bits.  Talking to someone on the rally, they said you would normally expect Raki to accompany this plate but there was only water on the table and as it was a municipal event they weren’t expecting any.  Raki is a big favourite in Turkey, similar to Pernod.  Well, we just all needed to have a bit of patience as next out came the Raki glasses and the Raki. There was also music and dancing.  It was a great evening. 

Eregli is home to Hell’s Mouth Caves. Jason and the Argonauts, from Greek Mythology, visited the caves whilst searching for the Golden Fleece.  The Golden Fleece is the fleece of the ram that kidnapped the sacrificial children of Athamas, the king of Boetya, from Georgia.

The first cave is known as Church Cave and according to records it was named this as it was used by Christians to worship in secret, as they feared the paganists.

Heraclius Cave is down some very narrow steps.   Mythology says this is one of the entrances to the home of the underground God Hades and was where the battle of Heracles and the monster dog, Kerberus took place. 

The third cave is Ayazma, which means holy water. 

We next visited the City Museum which is situated in a 19th century Ottoman house over four floors.  Interestingly it had signs to tell you where to take “selfies”.  We also visited the “Alemdar” a ship used in the Turkish War of Independence.

Our view of Amsara

We had another long trip of 55nm.  Our rally commodore told us we should leave at 6am. Our schedule showed we were to do the circle of love. It takes a while to get everyone off the jetties so we thought we won’t rush. Ian’s thought was we’d get up at 6.30am, me on the more cautious side set the alarm for 6am which brought me out of a very deep sleep. I popped my head up into the saloon to discover just three boats left on the jetty one of which was already manoeuvring off. So, Ian not known for wanting to get up in the morning, leapt out of bed and by 6.06am we’d released the lines and we were off only to discover there was no circle of love after all and we could have had the extra half an hour! A nice sailing day with Ian’s pink spinnaker up.  We arrived in Asmara and tied up and this is the view of our time there.  The pontoon was for ferries and as a result was so steep we didn’t get off the boat. The Passarelle would have been vertical.  The youngsters from the local sailing club made bay leaf wreaths for us all. 

Thankfully the next port, Kurucasile, was just 16nm away.  So, as we got a lie in, we did a circle of love for the locals.  They must wonder what is going on when there are 20 odd boats going round and round in circles.  The pontoon wall at Kurucasile wasn’t quite as high this time but it was a case of sliding down on your backside to get back down the passarelle. 

Wooden boats are made here. There are lots of trees here so resources are readily available.  It was a struggle to get Ian away from here, as it’s his favourite subject, Boats!!!

Inebolu was our next stop, another early start, 5.55am, as we had places to see when we got there and was only there for the one night.  No, we aren’t hanging about, we have a lot of miles to cover in two months.  We were told that on this trip there is a maritime ritual when we pass Cape Kerempe that we must throw bread into the sea so as not to anger Poseidon, the God of the Sea in Greek Mythology. 

The sea was strange here, there were two quite distinctive colours which we believe is where a river runs into the sea.  There are lots of logs, twigs to try to avoid too.

During the Turkish War of Independence, arms and ammunition arrived in Inebolu from Istanbul.  The goods were then transferred by a dirt road to Ankara.  This route is known as the Independence Trail, Istiklal Yolu.  Inebolu was the only town in Turkey to be awarded the Independence medal for its efforts in the fight for independence. 

In 1925 Ataturk visited Inebolu and he made a speech launching his campaign to reform how the Turks dressed in a more western style.  It is known as the Hat and Dress Revolution.  As a result of this a law passed in late 1925 that made it mandatory for all men to wear Western style hats in public places, although it wasn’t compulsory to wear a hat.  There were stiff penalties for those who did not comply.

July 2022

Black Sea Rally – we’re rocking!

Having arrived in Sile (Sheelay) on Friday 1st July, we were due to be here for just two nights.  Well, the wind had different ideas to that and so we were port bound at the second hurdle and stayed four nights instead.

Our first full day in Sile was a tour of the town and our first stop was a textile centre where they made Sile Beze.  The yarn for the cloth is put in a flour like paste and boiled.  It is then woven into fabric on looms then washed in the sea and left to dry on the sand.  The fabric is similar to cheesecloth.  There are four centres in the area and they were set up to provide employment for women.  There are currently 500 women employed and no one is turned away who wants work. 

Our next port of call was the Life boat centre.  It was originally set up by the British and French in 1869 for the Crimean war. 

Sile has a castle and a lighthouse.  The castle is 12th century overlooking the harbour and was restored in 2015.  The lighthouse, which has the longest range in Turkey, was constructed in 1859 to guide the ships from the Black Sea into the Bosporus during the Crimean war. 

Sakligol, a hidden lake, is a manmade lake a few miles out of town. It is a beautiful setting and many people go there to propose or to renew their wedding vows.  So, as we’d not been on a boat for about five hours, we took a boat ride along the lake. 

We were having dinner with the Mayor of Sile.  So, after visiting the lake, we naturally assumed we’d go back to the boat and have a quick freshen up beforehand as we’d been out since 10.30.  Lesson learned, never assume. 

As we had longer in Sile than originally anticipated Sunday was a free day which meant catching up with chores, particularly as we have a packed itinerary.  Ian was very pleased it was a free day as it was the British Grand Prix so he watched it with some of the other guys, followed by Mexican dominoes on Cuffysark, if you’ve never heard of this game look it up, great fun.  We had a long day the following day so sensibly, of course not, well you knew it wouldn’t last, this time we didn’t have an early night! 

The next day so as not to miss the sights we were due to see at the next port we had a coach take us there.  It was a rocking day and I don’t mean in the musical sense.  We first visited a site where they created charcoal.  Next we took, yes another boat trip, down the Goksu river.  A novel way to cross the river in a carriage on wire. 

The landscape along the coast is quite spectacular, with some unusual rock formations and we visited a few sites.  The coach took us down some dirt track roads and then off road up and down the fire break in the hillside, who’d have thought we’d be doing that in a coach. 

We visited the small village of Kerpe, where youngsters were jumping off the side of the rock formations.  Can you spot a pair of legs in the air?  The young lad jumped from the large rock on the right hand side. 

We also visited Pembe Kayalar, Pink Rock, which is an ancient quarry.  Stone from here is believed to have been used in the construction of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. 

We had lunch on the edge of a river where the fish were fighting over the bread.  Quite a funny thing to see with the bread going round and round where the fish were chasing it.

The weather was more in our favour and so after four nights in Sile we set sail for Kefken Adasi, a small island with a sheltered harbour, to anchor for the night.  Before we could make our way we had to show our appreciation to Sile for its hospitality and we did the circle of love, which means going round in a circle a few times before heading off. The coastguard was in the middle doing is own circle.

We managed to sail to the anchorage rather than motor but sadly we had a particularly big gust of wind and Ian’s beloved code zero, a sail to you landlubbers, was no more.  He’s had his eye on a new sail for a while, hmmm. 

July 2022

Black Sea Rally – The Bosporus

We are taking part in a Black Sea Rally organised by DaDD, a Turkish Amateur Sailing Association of whom we are now members, which takes us along the North Turkish Coast into Georgia and back again.  We will cover approx. 1400 miles over 66 days.  The itinerary includes lot of excursions, dinners, some being hosted by the Mayors’ of local towns, lunches, receptions, breakfasts and a host of other stuff.  We think we’ll need a holiday once this is all over because as you know this is not a holiday it’s a way of life!

So being a little behind with the blogs I’m going to do some out of order and go back to where we’ve been over the last few months at a later stage. 

The Rally has just over 20 boats and are mainly Turkish sailors with some Brits, Americans, French and Slovenians thrown in.  Ismail, our Commodore for the Rally, has to repeat everything in English.  Although many of the Turkish sailors also speak pretty good English, so are all translating for us when needed.  They are a very friendly bunch.

We arrived in Kiyi Marina, which is not fully operational as yet, but is very nice, a week before the start of the rally.  The marina put on a welcome cocktail party for us and a couple of days sightseeing in Istanbul.  We opted out of one of the days as we had visited Istanbul, just two years ago. 

You will see from the photo that we have been provided with a uniform, white t-shirts with DaDD rally logos on, which we’ve been asked to wear at all events and excursions.  No worrying about what to wear most days. 

Our trip to Istanbul was an early start, 8.00am.  We had quite a whirl of a day, little did we realise that this is setting the pace for the duration of the rally.  We visited Miniaturk, which is models of various buildings around Turkey.  One of them being a Knitting Column, not quite sure how you’d knit with that!

We next went to Istanbul Rhami M Koc Museum which has a wide range of industrial heritage in communication and transportation.  We saw trains, planes, automobiles, boats and a submarine. 

The opening DaDD rally dinner was the night before we left to start our trip, always a good idea, but we were sensible as we had to be up at 6.30am the following morning as we had 59 miles to cover and this included currents of up to 3/4 knots against us, plus taking into consideration the wind it can be a bit of slog going up the Bosphorus.  In normal circumstances it is not permitted to sail in the Bosphorus however, we had been given permission to do so, which pleased Ian no end, as last time he was ordered by the Coastguard to take his sails down despite telling them he had his engines on too, they weren’t having any of it. The Bosphorus is quite a busy shipping lane with over 45,000 ships passing along it annually.  However, for our passage through it was closed to ships until 4pm.  It was, we were advised Nautical Bayram, and this was probably behind the decision.  We were asked to follow in a line as we entered the Bosphorus and it was quite a sight, not that Ian kept in line, but hey what’s new. 

We had nice conditions for the trip and it took us two and half hours to pass along the Bosphorus, so all in all from Kiyi Marina to Sile, pronounced Sheelay it was a ten hour trip.  We were looking forward to flopping out after a long trip but no we’d been invited by the mayor to the town of Agva Merkez, about 45mins away by coach, for a  boat cortege and a concert.  So quick turnaround for dinner and shower and off we went. The cortege was small fishing boats, full of people, going along the river and back again, lots of loud music, singing, fireworks and guns being shot in the air.  Some of us were able to go on one one the boats which lasted about 15 mins.  We then stayed a while for the concert by Zehra, who is a Turkish Pop singer and from the amount of people singing along is well known. 

July 2022

All a bit of a whirl in Konya

Another trip out was to Konya which is 260 miles inland from Finike with Colin and Maggie.  We put this trip off a number of times as it has a lot of snow and is cold.  On the journey there, which was going over the mountains, there was still lots of snow about but the roads were clear and on arrival in Konya it was warm and sunny, enough for shorts and t-shirts. 

Konya is the home of the Whirling Dervishes, a Mevlevi Order formed in 1312 by the followers of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (or Mevlânâ).  Rumi was born in Afghanistan in 1207 and moved to Konya in 1228 where he lived until his death in 1273.  A museum and Rumi’s resting place is in Konya and his shrine is a place of pilgrimage. 

The order holds a ceremony each week which, yes, you’ve guessed correctly, involves whirling around.  There are approx. 25 men ranging in age from eight to 85 together with musicians.  When whirling (or turning) their arms are open.  The right hand held up to the sky, representing his readiness to receive God’s beneficence.  The left hand is turning towards the earth, representing his willingness to convey God’s spiritual gift to those witnessing the Sema.  They whirled for long periods of time, you’d think they’d get dizzy but apparently they don’t.  There are various reasons why not, one being they turn rather than whirl.  It is quite mesmerising to watch.

Konya is dry, dry you say, you delayed going cos of snow! Not that kind of dry, no I mean completely dry of any alcohol, not a drop, not even in a supermarket.  Finike, Cuffysark’s home port, only has a couple of places that serve drinks, but all the supermarkets sell it.  We found when we visited Istanbul two years ago many restaurants and bars only served soft drinks.  We were pre-warned so we took our own and enjoyed a glass or two in our rooms. 

It wouldn’t be long before we would be leaving Finike to start the sailing season.  So, lots of jobs to do.  There seems to be continuous maintenance on boats.  We upgraded our solar panels this year which are slightly bigger in size than the previous ones but the output has gone from 380 watts to 680 watts, which for us is massive.  This may not mean much to land lubbers but to put it in perspective it means I can use my hairdryer, yippee!!!

This is the view from a hilltop on a walk, I was told a walk but it was a hike. I should have known better, when Sarah and David say walk, their walk and my walk and most others people’s definition of a walk is not the same. I ached for days after this but it was a good view at least.

June 2022

2022 – A bit of exploring – Antalya and the Countryside

We like to try and visit some places during the winter we wouldn’t necessarily get to during the sailing season.  There are lots of hotels outside of Antalya.  We visited one at Lara Beach in November with my cousin Sue and her hubby Rik, and a couple of their friends and had a great time.  Unfortunately, the photos I took were lost on my corrupted hard drive!  This time we went to Antalya’s old quarter, Kaleiçi.  We found a very nice hotel but it must be the smallest room we’ve ever stayed in but hey ho.  We took the bus from Finike and then the tram.  A cheap and easy way to travel.

The old town is narrow, winding streets inside the ancient city walls.  Antalya is the eighth most populated city in Turkey.  The city was occupied by Italy for three years following the first World War but was recaptured during the Turkish War of Independence.  On our first evening it was very cold.  We found a bar for a pre dinner beer which had a log burning fire in the middle of the room which fortunately had a untaken table right next to it.  There was a couple of guys playing some music so we ended up staying longer than we anticipated.  We wandered about, as you do, looking for a restaurant we fancied and the one with some music playing caught our eye.  Later the traditional belly dancer did a few turns and twirls.

We’ve discovered there are various houses dotted around Turkey that are identified as Ataturk’s House. In fact, some are actually places he stayed when he visited.  Ataturk visited Antalya on three occasions and the house was allocated to him for his visits.  It was converted into a museum in his memory in 1986 and some of his personal belongings are exhibited there.

The only entrance gate in the city walls that remains is Hadrian’s which was built in honour of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, he who built Hadrian’s Wall. Hadrian visited Antalya in the year 130.

The Kaleici Museum, which we stumbled upon, wandering around the narrow streets, is a traditional Antalya house built in the 19th century.  The sets are made up of authentic garments, covers, furniture, rugs and kilims collected from the Antalya region. 

Outside of the old quarter are lots of shops, bars and restaurants.  Very different to the old town.  We succumbed to a Burger King here, as you don’t often get the opportunity for Western junk food. 

Let’s go walking – Clare on Tula arranged a couple of walks with a guide for a group of us.  Well, when I say walk there was a fair bit of hiking up and down hills.  The first was along part of the Lycian Way which is over 300 miles long and the direction of the path is marked with a white stripe above a red stripeWe were picked up by mini bus and then dumped, I mean dropped off, about 40 minutes from Finike near to Demre.  The weather had not been that great so far, it had been quite cold, it was the worst winter in 30 years.  It was like an English day, unpredictable and with lots of variations.  We started off with lovely warm sunshine, followed by rain, then snow and finally large hailstones.  The path often looked just like a pile of rocks which it often was.  The path could easily be lost so the guide on a few occasions went ahead to look for the white and red marker. 

Where we were dropped off there were a number of street dogs.  There are a lot of them in Turkey and the majority are very friendly.  One decided to join us on our walk which was nearly 8 miles long.  We stopped for lunch and she never bothered anyone while they were eating.  At the end of the walk our mini bus was waiting to take us back to the marina.  We all felt we couldn’t leave this lady so far away from where we started.  We coaxed her very gently into the mini bus, there was no resistance and so we dropped her back to her friends in the boat yard by the beach where we started. 

When the hail stones rained down on us we took shelter under a tree on some farmers land where there was a shed for the goats who were sensibly all inside.  We did laugh as there was a gap in the tarpaulin and there were a number of heads bobbing up and down to get a better view of us silly sods outside. 

“Look at those silly humans in the rain” said the old goats!

The second walk we did was split into two parts either side of the road.  We walked/climbed up and the views were quite amazing.  Then down again and across the road.  Looking at what was in front of us I thought we can’t possibly be going down there, yes of course we were.  It was thankfully all down hill but it was a long way and quite rugged in places.  At the end we walked across some farmers land and to the ancient city of Sura.  The monumental tomb, is the largest sarcophagus in Lycia.  This was a long day we left the marina at 10am and arrived back about 6.30pm when it was dark and my feet and hips certainly reminded me I’d walked a long way. 

Clare and I decided to have a day out in Kas, which is 90 minutes on the bus.  We had a wander around the shops, a bit of lunch and then back again.  As I mentioned there are a lot of street animals and on turning the corner in the Waikiki store there lying asleep on the floor was this little fella, bothering no one and no one bothered him.

Let sleeping dogs lie!

May 2022

Myra – Off to visit Father Christmas, amongst other things!

We had a group trip out with 18 of us from the Marina organised by Maggie.  Our first stop was the Ancient City of Myra.  There are Lycian Tombs carved into the hillside from the 4th century BC and were for VIP’s.  On the outside walls of the tombs there are carvings, some of which are funeral scenes and others showing the daily life of the deceased. 

The Greco -Roman Amphitheatre is the largest theatre in Lycia  It has 38 rows of seats and its facade was richly decorated with theatrical masks and mythological scenes.

Turkey is a Muslim country and doesn’t celebrate Christmas.  However, we didn’t realise that St Nicholas was born in Myra.  Although at the time of his birth Myra, now known as Demre, was part of Greece not Turkey. 

SPOILER ALERT

The next segment is about Father Christmas, so if you don’t want your illusions burst then don’t read the next bit!! ……

St Nicholas, AKA Father Christmas and in Turkey he is known as Noel Baba, was born in Patara, and died on 6th December 343, contrary to popular belief he isn’t in the North Pole.  He was the Bishop of Myra and is patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers and unmarried people.  Legend says amongst many other things he stopped a violent storm to save doomed sailors and donated money to a father who was forced to sell his daughters into prostitution.  His tomb is in St Nicholas Church, Demre, however, some say that a group of sailors came to Demre from Bari in 1087, opened his tomb and took his bones to Bari in Italy for protection.  The bone fragments, which were believed to belong to St. Nicholas that were not taken to Bari, are exhibited in the Antalya Museum.

We visited St Nicholas Church on the anniversary of St Nicholas’ death on 6th December.  This day is a big occasion and a service is held in commemoration. A priest from either the Greek or the Russian Orthodox Church visits and conducts the service.  Pilgrims travel here every year on the anniversary and there was quite a crowd.  They all took holy communion and then kissed the cross the priest was holding which was quite a surprise considering we were in a pandemic!

SAFE TO START READING AGAIN – the story about St Nicholas, AKA Father Christmas, is over.

After a spot of lunch, we headed the Lycian Civilisation Museum which has only been open for a couple of years.  There are various ruins and displays of artefacts that have been found in Lycian cities.  The museum sits on the port of Andriake and was used until the 7th Century AD.  It is now a swamp and access to the sea has been cut off.    

Finike Community

Finike has quite a big marina community and there are the usual Friday night Happy Hours and Sunday BBQ’s.  We also had regular training sessions where Sarah took us through our paces and bridge twice a week, this does sound very middle aged!

We also had some musicians amongst us and the week before Christmas they put on a concert for us where songs were played and some sea shanties were sung.

May 2022