Cappadocia – Land of Balloons & so much more Part II

Wherever you are in Cappadocia you will see Uchisar Castle standing out on the landscape. It is 1350 meters above sea level and is at the highest point of the region. It’s not known when the castle was built.  It was created by hollowing out the natural caves in the rock into rooms. 

From here we took a walk through Pigeon Valley where we ended up in the town of Goreme, which is the main tourist town in the area. The valleys were deep and looked like curtain plinths on top of the mountainside. 

We next opted to go the Zelve open air museum. We took the bus back to the hotel, we’d walked far enough, and collected the car as Zelve was a bit of drive.  There are three valleys here.  The first has a mill, church and a winery.  The second valley is where the Church of the Holy Cross is situated.  The third valley has a village square, mosque and a monastery complex. 

After a long walk around Zelve we were all fading it had been a long day so it was a fairly early night.

The following day we headed to the Ilhara Valley which was just over an hour away from Uchisar where our hotel was. On our way we visited the underground city of Derinkuyu.  There are over 200 underground cities in the region. The city was a place for the local Christians to hide from persecution from the Romans.  When there was no fear of attack they lived in homes above ground and tunnels connected the homes to the underground city. Some parts were a bit claustrophobic so I took a deep breath and off we went.

The city dates back to the 8th century and was only discovered by chance in 1963.  A local was was renovating his house and apparently his chickens kept disappearing into a gap created during the renovations, never to be seen again.  After investigation a passageway was discovered.  It was the first of hundreds of entrances found in private homes leading to the underground city. 

The city was large enough to house more than 20,000 people and extended to a depth of 85 metres over 18 levels.  You had to crouch quite low to get through some of the tunnels.  At various sections of the tunnels there were large round stones which would roll across the entrance to keep the enemy out as they could only be opened from the inside.  There were chimneys for ventilation and water.  Everything was catered for underground, food storage facilities, stables for cattle, wineries and also a chapel.

There were communication tunnels in the walls which they would use to tell those living at the lower levels the enemy was approaching so they could then shut the tunnels off. The city also had a a school where the teacher sat at the top and the children sat in front on stone seats. There was a tunnel that only the teacher could use if he needed to escape quickly. Not sure why only for the teacher.

The Ilhara Valley had come highly recommended. Having walking nearly 20,000 steps the day before Ian decided we’d take the shorter walk. We dropped David and Sarah at the beginning of the Valley and we headed to Besilrmi village where we would meet them later. We took a stroll along the valley which has the Melendiz River running through it. It was very peaceful and serene. The valley is 15km long and up to 150 metres deep.

There are a number of churches along the valley.  One was St George’s cave church which was built inside a burial grotto up some steep stairs.  It was completed in 1290 and was the last cave church to be built in Cappadocia.   There are approximately 100 graves lining the church floor.

There was a tea shop along the route so we obviously stopped there as Ian needed his fix of tea. There were so many different ducks which were amusing. Suddenly half a dozen of them appeared rushing along in a line and then back again they went, like sheep but they were ducks! The stream was running so fast that the ducks just zoomed along. As well as ducks there were chickens, peacocks, peahens and a turkey.

Next we went to the Selime monastery which is cut into the rock and situated at the end of the Ilhara valley. It was surprising how big it was, it was stunning. It was built in the 8th century.  The Kitchen was large and so indicated that there were a lot of people who lived on the site. 

There were two halls, the first had an upper level, which Ian insisted on climbing up, even with his dodgy knees.  The second hall was huge.  It was 17 metres deep, 6m wide and 8m in height.  This was the main hall for receiving guests and conducting ceremonial meals.  There was also an upper gallery. 

The Basilica Church was impressive.

Goreme is the main town of Cappadocia and as a result is full of restaurants including three Indian restaurants which you don’t see very often in Turkey so when in Rome, well Turkey actually.

Our final day in Cappadocia.  Ian and I were going to walk around Rose Valley. David and Sarah were going to do one half of Rose Valley and then venture into the Red Valley which was a longer walk. Well best laid plans and all that, so no didn’t quite happen like that. We started completely in the wrong direction and ended up walking three hours through Sword Valley. “Let’s go and look at the chimney houses over there”, said Ian and David. We ended up walking in between the cave houses, clambering over rocks and then going through tunnels, some very narrow.

In one tunnel Sarah, AKA The Mole, went through I followed, crikey I just made it through it was so low. The boys had no chance and managed to get outside and go round. Sarah enjoyed the crawl so much she went through twice.

We made it all the way to the top, stunning views and we could see the Rose and Red Valleys over the other side. We followed the trail back down on the outside. Ian and I had gone much further than we anticipated.

Our final day but there were two games of rugby to be watched. So, a late lunch and then off to our hotel. Luckily, we had a big hotel room so a few beers and watched the games. Sarah having not done enough walking or exercise that day so went for a run into Goreme which was 4 km away.

We now had the long drive back to Finike, about nine hours. It was a grey cold day. How lucky had we been. We had the right winds for the balloon ride, lots of warm sunshine and no rain.

On our way back to Finike was the Sultanhani, the largest caravanserai in Turkey built in the 1229 on the Silk Road.

It has sections for summer and winter periods. The courtyard is surrounded by storage rooms, stalls, kitchen and bedrooms where animals and people were accommodated. In the centre of the courtyard is a small mosque. The covered courtyard was for the winter and during cold weather people and animals stayed indoors to keep warm. In fact in one of the rooms we saw a dog sleeping. 

One final stop at Side where we had a quick look around some of the ruins.  We didn’t have much time so it was a real flying visit. 

Cappadocia is an incredible place to visit.  Turkey is often thought of a place to go for a beach holiday but I would recommend taking some time to fly up and stay a few nights to see this spectacular place.  You won’t be disappointed.  Definitely a highlight of Turkey for us and we’ve seen a lot of Turkey. 

March 2023

Cappadocia – Land of Balloons and Fairy Houses Part I

We’d visited a lot of Turkey during our time here but Cappadocia was the one place we’d not got around to going to. For those who don’t know, Cappadocia is the place with all the balloons they show on the adverts for Turkey or Turkiye as it is now known.   

We left Finike and started our journey to Egirdir, our first overnight stop before reaching Cappadocia. En route we stopped at the ancient city of Sagalassos which is on the slopes of the Western Taurus mountain range.  The ruins are well preserved and the Roman fountain, Antonine Nymphaeum, which is still working, is impressive.  It was believed it was built between 160-180 AD by the Romans.  Standing watching the water flow it’s quite something to think it was built around 1800 years ago and people stood just like us and watched the fountain as we were now.  The fountain collapsed during an earthquake in the 700s AD and was painstakingly reconstructed by archaeologists. 

The theatre is carved into the side of the mountain and had various functions, entertainment, religious and political. 

On the road back down the “boys” were taken with another bit of history, albeit modern.  Yes a Ford Capri, bright orange, which they had to stop and have a look at!

We had a slight detour on the way to Egirdir.  Ian seeing a sign for a ski slope decided, with encouragement from David and Sarah, that we would go and have a look.  It was possible to take a ride on a chair lift to some of the way up the mountain to more of the snow.  No amount of persuasion was getting me to get on it.  So I waved them off and waited behind.  I was building myself up to a balloon ride, so let’s not get too carried away!!

We reached Egirdir, our pitstop for the night and had a lovely hotel overlooking Lake Egirdir with Mount Davraz in the background.  Egirdir is the fourth largest lake in Turkey.  We had a walk around the peninsular of the Lake and then we set off for the long ride to Cappadocia which was five hours away.

The Cappadocia landscape of deep valleys, caves, tunnels and pillars called fairy chimneys date back millions of years and are a result of volcanic eruptions and erosion.  The first civilisation was likely in the 6th Century BC, which is about 8,000 years ago. 

We decided that we should book the balloon ride sooner rather than later as if the weather wasn’t right and it’s cancelled hopefully we’d get to do it another day. David AKA “the Negotiator”, well he’s also known as Doghouse Dave but that’s another story, negotiated a great deal for a ride the following morning. We banked on it being a bit quieter now and so they’d have spaces they’d be keen to fill and so with Ian also putting in his two penn’orth we got a cracking price.

We were being collected at 5.25am for our balloon ride. I was a little nervous as I’m not good with anything there is a slight risk. But I thought how can I come to Cappadocia and not do this. To fly over the area and see the wonderful sights from above I’d been told is something you cannot NOT do. So off we went. We arrived to see all these balloons laid out. It was a spectacular sight. It was time to get in the balloon, no turning back now eeks!

Our balloon had 16 people, four areas of four people so you had no problem seeing everything. It was a wonderful experience. Our pilot took us down into Love Valley and then up and above Goreme.  We were up in the air for about an hour. We thought we’d be really cold so we were really wrapped up but next to the burner it was ok. We were so lucky to get to do the flight as so often they are cancelled due to too much wind. The following few days had no balloons because of too much wind.  

We were dropped back at the hotel by 8.45 in time for breakfast, refresh and off sightseeing for the rest of the day

Again as like our trip to SE Turkey, there is too much for one blog, so more to follow in part II. 

March 2023

Our trip to South East Turkey Part II

Our next stop was Sanliurfa, known as Urfa for short. On the way we visited Halfeti, which is situated on the Euphrates River.  We took a boat ride along the river up to Halfeti of which some parts became submerged after the construction of the Birecik dam that was built-in 2000.  Legend has it that the name, Halfeti, was taken from two young sweethearts, Halil and Fatma, whose families did not approve of their relationship and refused to let them marry.  So Halil and Fatma threw themselves into the raging waters of the Euphrates River.  In their memory, the area was known as  Halfeti, an abbreviation of Halil and Fatma. Rumkale fortress overlooks the river.

Just half an hour’s drive from Urfa is Gobeklitepe built 11,000 years ago.  To put this into some sort of perspective Stonehenge was built about 4,500 years ago.  So this site is very very old.  The site comprised of monumental structures and was discovered in 1963. Excavations began in 1995 by German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt .  He discovered more than 20 monumental round structures

Schmidt believed that the site was a ritual centre where small nomadic groups from the region gathered as part of their beliefs.  They built things at regular intervals, held banquets, and then dispersed again. Following Schmidt’s death the excavators had to dig deeper than Schmidt had done for foundation work of the canopy over the central structure.  They discovered there were houses and residential areas under the monumental structures.  So it was more than just a site for rituals but a growing village.  

We visited the town of Harran which is just 20km from the Syrian border.  This area was quite different to the rest of Turkey that we’d been to so far and we’d covered a lot of Turkey by this time.  Harran is known for its traditional mud brick beehive like houses which are believed to be around 3,000 years old.  We were shown around by a lovely young lad who as well as showing us around was very excited about a band who was playing in the town.  We also visited the ancient city ruins of Harran.

The Pool of Abraham, Balikli Göl, is in Sanliurfa.  The story goes that the Prophet Abraham was thrown into the fire by Nimrod.  The fire turned into a pool and the firewood into fish.  As a result the fish in the pool are considered sacred and are protected so there are a lot of them.  You can buy food to feed the fish, bit like feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square.  It was quite a frenzy when we threw the food in the water. 

We stopped off on a walkabout around the town for cay in a caravanserai.  There are youngsters walking around selling treats.  One of them about eight of nine years old was selling candy floss.  In perfect English with no trace of an accent he asked if we would like to buy some to which we said no and his response was ok thank you, sorry to have disturbed you.  We got chatting to him and discovered he was a refugee from Aleppo in Syria and he was missing his home and hoped to return one day.  He was such a lovely lad and from the way he spoke and how polite he was well educated.  So terrible he and his family had had to flee their homeland. 

We were walking along the street looking at the various shops and was surprised and shocked to see a gun shop.  Ian had to go in and have a look, as you can see it was very busy.

On our way to Mardin we visited the Mor Gabriel Monastery which is the oldest surviving Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world.  It is still in use and is a working community.  It is in pristine condition and is continually maintained.  So much so the toilets were like something out of a really expensive hotel! And no I didn’t take a photo.

We went into the town of Midyat and did some wine tastings and then bought some Syrian wine as we thought Mardin, our next stop, would be devoid of wine.  Little did we know every other shop was selling Syrian wine and soap.  Mardin is a touristy place and some of the streets are decorated in very brightly colours.

The final day of our trip had dawned and so we were heading back to Diyarbakır for our flight back to the boat.  But … not before we looked at another bridge.  When we arrived a week earlier it was raining and yes you’ve guessed it, was raining again.  The Diyarbakir Dicle Bridge, aka On Gözlü Köprü (Ten Arches Bridge) sits across the Tigris River. It was built between 1065-1067.  The bridge has had a number of repairs over the years, so the original construction may have been partly altered from its original state, possibly a bit like “Triggers Broom”.

It was pouring with rain and we had some time to kill before our flight.  We managed to find a pub called the “North Shields Pub” (it was part of the Ramada Hotel so that would explain why we found a pub) where we had a traditional burger and a pint.

We had covered about a 1000miles in a week and seen so much of this part of Turkey, an area where not so many western tourists travel to but it was definitely worth the trip.  Mount Nemrut being the hightlight. 

October/November 2022

Our trip to South East Turkey Part I

We had been around most of Turkey apart from the South Eastern part.  Sadly, this is the region that was hit by the devasting earthquake in February this year. We had been to some of the towns that were hit and it was awful to think of those people who lost their lives and homes.

It is quite a way from Finike, where the boat is, so we flew up to Diyarbakir and then hired a car for the week as many of the places were quite a distance apart.  We covered about 1000miles.


This is the largest city in the region and is situated on the Tigris River.  We visited the Grand Mosque which Muslims consider to be the fifth holiest site in Islam.  It was built in 1092 and can hold up to 5000 people.  The design of the mosque is based on the Great Mosque of Damascus. 

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit the Fortress as it was closed on Mondays.  We did take a walk around the city walls which had four gates that were restored in 349AD during the reign of Constantinus III of Rome. The walls are the the second largest in the world after the Great Wall of China.

Kahta and Mount Nemrut

We next made our way to Kahta and on our way we drove over the Nissibi Euphrates Bridge, a cable stayed bridge which was completed in 2015.  It spans the Atatürk Reservoir on the Euphrates River. Ian liking bridges, don’t ask, we had to stop for a look. 

One of the reasons for our visit here was to go up Mount Nemrut.  We decided to do this on a tour which included a few other sights.  First stop was Karakuş Tumulu, which means Black Bird in Turkish.  It is an artificial mound, 35 meters high, located on the top of a natural hill.  There are three columns remaining and are about nine metres high.  It was built by Mithridates II, son of the magnificent king of Commagene I antiocho as a burial site for the female members of his family.  The views from here were stunning.

We then visited the Cendere Bridge which was built in the second century AD in honour of Emperor Septimius Severus and sit across the Chabinas Creek.  

Next on our tour was the Old Kahta Castle which was used until 1926.  Unfortunately, there was an accident recently at the castle and it was closed to visitors.  So, we had to look up at it on the hillside.  It looked rather steep so wasn’t too disappointed we didn’t have to hike up there.

From here the highlight of the trip was Mount Nemrut, the burial site of King Antiochus I Theos from the Kingdom of Commagene. Mount Nemrut is part of the Taurus mountain range and is 2150 metres high.  As well as being the burial site of the King it is full of statues of Greek and Persian gods built in 62bc by King Antiochus I Theos.  The heads of the statues now sit alongside their bodies which originally were about 33 feet tall. It has been reported that the structures survived the earthquake that hit in February 2023. 

It was really cold up there but it is a highlight to watch the sun go down (or sunrise but that was far too early for us).  The sun has never taken so long to go down so we could get back down to where it was warmer. We didn’t expect to be wrapped up in our winter gear in Turkey.

One of the largest dams in the world is the Ataturk Dam which was built to generate electricity and to irrigate the plains in the region. We stopped for a cuppa here and a cow wandered along and stopped for a bit of a munch on the tree leaves.  It’s owner sooner appeared and dragged it back to where it should be.

Not happy with seeing the front of the dam, we had to go off-piste to see the back of it. Off dirt track roads, just hoping the car didn’t break down as we were a long way from anywhere.

Our next stop was Gaziantep where the biggest collection of mosaics in the world can be found.  There are about 2,500 sq m from the Roman and late antiquity periods.  There is one particular mosaic called “The Gypsy Girl” that is in a very darkened room of its own and is nearly 2000 years old.  It was discovered during excavations of the old city of Zeugma in the late 1990’s.  However, there were pieces missing which had been looted and smuggled out of Turkey in the 1960’s and bought by the Bowling Green State University of Ohio in the US who displayed the pieces until 2012.  The pieces were eventually returned to Turkey after tough negotiations in 2018. 

We visited Gaziantep Castle which is now closed as it was badly damaged in the earthquake.   The castle sat on a mound in the centre of the city. 

It’s easy to get lost in places when visiting but we had no problem finding our way back to the hotel as it stood head and shoulders above everything else. 

Turkey amongst other things is famous for Turkish Baths, known as the Hammam.  In  Gaziantep there is a Hammam museum.  I hadn’t appreciated that the Hammam is not just steam rooms and a place for a massage but it is also a place of entertainment.  It is common to visit a hammam before a wedding or a religious holiday.  There is a Puerpera Bath ceremony which is held 40 days after a woman has given birth.  Food and gifts are prepared for the ceremony.  Salt is put on the baby’s body and then washed with 40 cups of water.

We packed a lot into our trip, too much for one post so the rest coming soon!

More Greek Islands


There were more strong winds coming through so off we headed to Samos to hide until they’d blown through.  Samos has a wine museum which included some wine tasting, so no guessing where we headed to.

The huge wooden vats were made from black pines growing in the forests of Samos and could hold up to 80 tonnes.  Samos wine is mainly sweet.

There tends to be a lot of wind in the Aegan at this time of year so we had a window to make a dash to the next island to again hide from more strong winds.  This time it was Leros.  You’ll notice so many of the islands end in “os”!  As we don’t need much depth we managed to get a spot at the end of the harbour wall.  With the wind came so much dust and the boat had a black film over it by the time we left here.

We took a walk to the other side of the island where there was a nice beach with restaurants lined along side. 

Our next stop was Symi.  We went to the bay where the Panormitis Monastery is. We’d been here a couple of years before.  We were on anchor which was a nice change as we’d spent so much time on harbour walls this season.  As boats approach the monastery it chimes the bells in welcome.

Our next leg was 69 nm from Symi over to Rhodes.  Some of you are aware I’m one of the Canvey Crafters.  We knit and crochet for various charities in the Canvey and surrounding areas. This includes blankets, hats, scarves, shawls, twiddle muffs (dementia), baby clothes, poppies and anything else we get asked for where someone is in need.  The group was initially set up by a lady called Frances during the pandemic.  So, who do we meet up with in Rhodes none other than Frances and her husband Greg.  We had a lovely afternoon with them. 

Our last Greek island before heading back to Turkey was Kastellorizo.   Kastellorizo is just two kilometres off the Turkish coast and is the smallest of the Dodecanese islands and in the 2021 census recorded a population of just 594 people..  It is very picturesque with colourful houses along the harbour. 

There is a blue cave here that can only be reached by a small boat and in calm weather.  We took a trip boat with “Tony” who on arrival at the entrance to the cave told us to lie in the bottom of the boat, yes the entrance was that low, so we didn’t hit our heads as in we went.  It was spectacular. 

This was the end of our sailing season for 2022 as our next stop was Finike, Cuffysark’s home for the winter. 

February 2023

Off to Greece


We checked out of Turkey and headed over to Lesbos. On arrival we bumped into Petra and Bogden who had been on the Black Sea rally with us but they were just leaving Lesbos.  They decided to hang on for a couple of hours so we obviously had to have a couple of beers with them. 

Lesbos is the third largest Greek island.  We hired a car to have a look around.  It wasn’t far to the other side of the island as the crow flies but by road there are lots of twists and turns and so made it much further.  We drove to the Agios Taxiarchis Monastery.  The story is that all the monks at the monastery were massacred during a Saracen raid.  The only survivor was a young novice who was hiding in the roof and saw the Arch angel Michael fighting off the attackers with his sword.  The novice, whilst the vision was fresh in his mind, made an icon of the saint using earth and blood from the fallen monks.  Pilgrims buy metallic shoes to offer to the icon, the idea being that Michael will wear them at night and appear to them in visions.

Three saints, Raphael, Nicholas and Irene lived on Lesbos in the 15th century.  They were unknown for 500 years until 1959 when the local villagers reported seeing them in visions.  Following the visions excavations were undertaken and human remains were found and believed to those of the three saints who were martyred.  Raphael was the Abbot of Karyes near the village of Thermi, . St Nicholas was a deacon at the monastery and St Irene was the 12-year-old daughter of the mayor of Thermi.  During the Turkish invasion, on the 9th April 1463 a group of Christians went to St. Raphael’s monastery to hide from the Turkish. The Turks tortured the saints and St. Irene’s family in order to reveal where the other Christians were hiding.    The saints are remembered by the Church in April on the first Tuesday after Orthodox Easter.

We visited the Petrified Forest, what the hell is that you may ask?  A scared forest?  No!  There are hundreds of fossilised tree trunks from a 20 million year old forest.  The petrication, which in layman terms, is the natural process in which dead things change to a substance like stone over a very long period of time and was created by lava and ash from volcanic eruptions.  The lava and ash disappeared leaving the tree trunks behind. 

The highest standing fossilised tree in the world, with a height of 7.20 meters and a circumference of 8.58 meters was here in the forest.

Additionally, there were quartz crystals, these due to the presence of iron became a deep violet colour and so called Amethyst.  The name originates from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning “not intoxicated”.  Ancient folk believed that the stone protected its owner against drunkenness.  Also the birth stone for February, aptly mine!

We found a lovely restaurant by a very quiet beach where we had lunch followed by a dip. 

Also on Lesbos is the Roman Aqueduct of Moria dating back to the second and third century AD.  This 160-metre structure is the largest remaining section of an aqueduct that channelled water 26 kilometres to ancient Mytilene from the springs on Olympos Mountain.  Two spans are complete at the top, giving a clear idea of the magnitude of the aqueduct 1,800 years ago.  We arrived here late afternoon and there was a 5km running race just about to start. 


We went to the lovely quiet island of Inousses.  Some of the most important owners of Greek shipping companies were born on this island. Many now live abroad but return for the summer.  At the entrance to the port is a bronze mermaid with a crown and a sailboat in her left hand. The sculpture was made by sculptress Maria Papaconstantinou in order to welcome the visitors of the island.


Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit many of the small bays due to the meltemi (strong wind) coming through and so we headed to Chios to hide from the wind for a few days.  Chios is the fifth largest Greek island.  Even though we were in Greece there was an old Hamam, which dated back to the 18th century, inside the Castle walls when it was once part of the Ottoman empire. 

Chios is known as the Mastic Island, and that’s not the stuff that fills the gaps between the wall and the skirting board.  Mastic is a resin that comes from mastic trees.  It is also known as the “tears of Chios” as the resin drops from the trees.  Apparently, it is the only place that mastic trees grow.  They tried to grow them on some of the other islands to no avail. 

Various things are made from the mastic, in the main chewing gum which it is suggested has some health benefits, but there was an array of items in the museum shop including shampoo and moisturiser.  Mastika, a liquer, is available all over the island. 

We visited Pyrgi, known as the painted village.  Many of the buildings are decorated with geometric motifs. The motifs are created by applying a plastering to the wall which is then painted and then the designs are scraped out. 

January 2023

Pamukkale, Permagon and up to Istanbul

We hopped along the coast to Kusadasi and met up with David and Sarah on Wandering Star.  From here we took a trip to Pamukkale. (Cotton Castle).   Pamukkale is famous for its travertines which look like snowy hills but they aren’t.  The travertines were formed when a spring with a high content of dissolved calcium bicarbonate flowed down the cliff.  Once cooled it left hardened calcium deposits creating pools and ridges.  Three of us took a dip in one of the pools which were hot.  You are not allowed to wear shoes walking on them and they do hurt your feet a bit. The others didn’t think so but I’m a sensitive soul!  They can be slippery in places. 

At the top of the Travertines is Hierapolis.  It was a bit of a trek to the top, at least for Ian and I, not for David and Sarah, this was nothing to their usual hikes.  The theatre at the top was definitely worth the uphill walk as it was stunning.  It could hold between 12,000 and 15,000 people.  We’ve seen a lot of piles of rocks over the last five years and this was a good un!

Virgin Mary’s house

On the way back we thought we’d visit the House of the Virgin Mary.    It was a very small church.  A Roman Catholic nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich, had a vision that the Virgin Mary returned to Ephesus with Saint John.  Anne gave a detailed description to a German writer, Clemens Brentano, of the Virgin Mary’s return, her life and the house even though Anne had never been to Ephesus.  Clemens Brentano published these visions in a book after Anne’s death.  In 1891 priests and historians from Izmir read about the vision and discovered the building which matched with the nun’s descriptions.  Catholic pilgrims visit the house based on the belief that the Virgin Mary was taken to this house by Saint John and lived there until she passed away. 

We had the pleasure of some dolphins on a number of occasions and they are still magical, no matter how many times you see them.

We next made our way to Ayvalik which is about 130nm from Kusadasi stopping at a few anchorages on the way.  There are lots of street animals, cats and dogs, in Turkey and they are generally quite well looked after.  It always astounds me how they sleep anywhere with everything going on around them, they don’t butt an eyelid.

We met up with Colin and Maggie on Serafina and took another trip inland from Ayvalik to Permagon because it was on the list of places you should visit in Turkey.  We hired a car and then took the cable car for the final part of the journey to the acropolis.  Pergamon was founded in the 3rd century BC as the capital of the Attalid dynasty. It was an important cultural, scientific and political centre.    The city came under control of the Romans in 133 BC and was the capital of the Roman Province of Asia.  The theatre is very steep and it was suggested it could accommodate up to 10,000 people. 

In the distance we could see the remains of a Roman aqueduct from the second century AD.  It supplied the growing population of Pergamon and the Roman baths. 

Next stop was Morto Bay at the entrance of the Dardanelles where we’ve anchored before with lots of Jellyfish.  This time we anchored in a slightly different place, big mistake!  There was lots of swell overnight and so neither of us had a very good night’s sleep. 

We left Canakkale the next day and the landscape reminded us of going along the Thames, it is  so similar.  The last time we came along here in 2020 the 1915 Canakkale bridge was under construction.  It was now open.  The bridge spans 2,023-metres and symbolises the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey.  It is the sixth tallest bridge in the world and the longest bridge of any kind in Turkey.   The height of the bridge at 318 metres is a reference to 18th day of the third month, and 1915 in the name represents the Canakkale Naval Victory on March 18th, 1915 during the Gallipoli campaign.

To give you an idea of how big it is.  The container ship “Oscar” was going under it.  Oscar is 395.4m long, 59m wide and with average 14tn containers it has a capacity of approx. 14,000 TEU.  (TEU is a measure of volume in units of twenty foot long containers).  When Oscar was launched in January 2015 she was the largest container ship in the world, she lost that crown some time ago.  But you get the picture she is pretty big, I’d say enormous!

Another place we didn’t visit in 2020 was Marmara Island.  This is well known for its marble quarries.  We moored up in Port Marmara which was rather quaint with trees lining the harbour and fishermen mending their nets and drinking tea.  We thought we’d take the bus to Saraylar at the top of the island to visit the marble museum.  It was very dusty as a result of the quarries.  Despite our best efforts we never found the museum or at least how to get to it.  We thought we’d try a taxi but the only one we found was empty and we couldn’t find the driver for love nor money. 

We’d at least had a ride around the island so off we went to the bus stop where we waited and waited and waited.  The scheduled time for one bus came and went as did the next one.  We waited for over two hours still no buses.  No taxis either.  A guy from one of the houses across the road came walking towards us, we asked him If he had a number for a taxi, as it looked like we weren’t going to get a bus.  He didn’t, so now what were we going to do, it was a long way back.  Anyway as luck would have it the guy said it’s ok I will drive you back.  We were so grateful and we gave him a good drink for his kindness. 

We headed to Istanbul where we met our friends Gary and Shelley who were staying with us for a week.  We visited the sights of Istanbul and had a great night out in Kadikoy, which is where we catch the ferry to Istanbul.  Found a bar serving Guinness and playing music and got the DJ to play lots of requests for us.  It was a late night/morning.

We didn’t have long now until the Black Sea Rally began but first Cuffysark needed a lift out to have some work done and clean up her hulls.  So, we spent a week in West Istanbul marina.  We weren’t allowed to stay on the boat here, so we had to stay in a room on site.  The most uncomfortable beds ever. 

October 2022

The Start to Season 6

Now we go back to the beginning. I missed out our adventures from when we left Finike to when we started our journey along the Black Sea so as to keep up.  It’s only now I look back I realise that we visited quite a few places before we reached the Black Sea. 

We left Finike at the end of April to start sailing season six.  Can’t believe it’s that many although, we don’t count last year as we were in the UK for a lot of the time.  Obviously our first stop, as is the norm for us yachties leaving Finike Marina, is Kekova, a beautiful anchorage that we do not get tired of.

We next called into Kas for a few days before setting off to Fethiye.  We met my cousin Sue and her husband Rick here for Sue’s birthday lunch at Gocek where we anchored in the bay.   The dessert here was amazing but it did beat me. 

Now without the marina facilities I’m back to my rotating bucket for doing the washing.  Gocek is lovely but it gets very busy during the year and we were thankfully just ahead of that.  We arrived and tied back to rocks alongside Dusk and a couple of other boats but before evening it was full.  Serafina joined us and we went to a restaurant nearby that served a nice meal but with quite a hefty price tag, but that’s Gocek for you.

We wanted to take a trip up the Dalyan River, so we headed to MyMarina and then six of us, Cuffysark, Dusk and Serfina took a local boat as it’s not possible to sail up there.  It gets very shallow in parts. 

There are some ruins along the river which we went and had a look at, called Canus.  The city was at one time on the coast but because of silting of the river it is now about 8km away from the sea.

Along the river carved into the rockface are rock tombs which date back to between the second century BC and the second century AD.  This area is also known for its mud baths.  So when in Rome, or Dalyan, should I say.  The mud smelt awful but it was very soft and we then washed it off under freezing cold water before getting into a warm bath.  It was a fun day.  It was a bit choppy and windier when we came out of the river on the way back to the Marina and as a result Ian managed to not hang onto his hat, he’d only bought a few hours earlier. 

Next stop is Sweet Shop Town, well that’s what it’s like for sailors with all the chandleries, obviously I mean Marmaris. We had some rain here which brought with it red sand.  I’ve never seen it so bad as this time, so nothing for it but it had to be cleaned and hope it didn’t rain again. 

 It was a Finike reunion here, David and Juliet invited us all on their boat for pre-dinner drinks.  There was quite a crowd of us.  Thanks to Catie on Alys for letting me use some of her photos.  We then went for dinner, it was nice to meet up with everyone. 

We next hopped along the coast heading towards Kusadasi where we would visit Pamukkale. 

October 2022

The Dardanelles and out into the Aegean Sea

We left Avsa Adasi and headed off. We anchored in a small harbour, Lapseki,  just before the 1915 Canakkale bridge as we didn’t fancy mooring up in Canakkale with such strong winds.  Yes, the wind was still with us, this Meltemi (very strong wind) was lasting for longer than usual.  We had two reefs in the mast and a reefed gib this time.  Our fastest speed on this trip surfing down waves was was 15.4knots.  Ian and John thought it was great, not me so much!

We arrived in Canakkale the next day in calmer weather.  John and Ian did a guided tour of Gallipoli, visiting the war graves.  As we’d already been before I decided to stay on the boat, put my feet up and enjoy the peace and quiet, I wish!!  The boat had so much salt on it from our time in Avsa and the inside needed cleaning so that’s was my day, cleaning inside and out.  Yes, I just sat down as the boys arrived back. 

We’d been to Cannakkale a couple of times before but we’d not been to the Naval Museum before.  We only chanced upon it so decided to pay a visit. 

Part of the wreckage of a German submarine, UB46, is displayed here.  She sank four ships during her six months career.  In early December 1916, in the Black Sea near to the entrance of the Bosphorus she hit a mine and sank.  The wreckage was found on the shores of Akpinar Village during open cast coal mining in September 1993. 

These are net anchors used to prevent submarines passing through the straits

A replica of the Ottoman navy ship, The Nusret, is moored here.  She was a minelayer during the Gallipoli campaign.  The Nusret laid 26 mines in an unexpected position in February 1915 and sank HMS Irresistible, HMS Ocean and the French battleship Bouvet, and left the British battle cruiser HMS Inflexible badly damaged. 

Within the museum is Çimenlik Castle.  The castle is located on the narrowest part of the Dardanelles and was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1462 to protect the Dardanelles.

Ian always says that the cheapest beer in Turkey is in Canakkale.  The bar is basic inside but sitting outside with a table it’s no different to any of the other bars along the promenade.  So for 32tl (£1.50) we stopped for one, well perhaps a couple. The Turkish guys behind us gave it the thumbs up 😁

Whilst here we heard the news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth.  It was headline news even here in Turkey.  We paid our respects by dropping our flag to half mast. 

We wanted to go to the harbour at Assos, but the wind has to be fairly light as it’s very narrow and shallow so not the easiest place to get into but we managed it, mooring up bow to.  To get off the boat you have to step onto the wall next to the tables for the hotel restaurant.  The moon here was amazing unfortunately the photo doesn’t do it justice. 

Men at Work

We arrived at Ayvalik and managed to get a spot in the marina here.  The only available place for us meant walking through a building site, literally, while they were digging up the concrete, in the boat yard.  This is where Johnny would be leaving us after his trip starting at Sile in the Black Sea, down the Bosperous, to Istanbul, Cannakale for Gallipoli and to final stop Ayvalik.  He’d covered a good few miles with us. 

Here we met up with Serafina and we had dinner aboard Cuffysark.  Colin played a few tunes on his guitar.  We had a great night on Johnny’s penultimate night. 

The island of Cunda is connected to Ayvalik via the Ayvalık Strait Bridge, we’d not been before so we decided to make a visit.  The town is a very quaint.

The Taksiyarhis Church houses another of the Rahmi Koç Museums.  The Church was in a very dilapidated state but it was restored over 22 months and opened as a Rahmi Koç museum in 2014.  The restoration of the church is fabulous There are three Rahmi Koç museums in Turkey, one in Ankara, one in Istanbul and the other in Cunda.  We have now visited all three.  The museums feature mechanical and industrial objects.  The one in Cunda included a wide range of toys. 

September 2022

The final leg and back south we go

Fish from the fisherman

We were now getting near to the end of our Black Sea trip.  We left Amasra and headed to a fishing harbour at Kilimli.  The locals rushed to help us with our lines.  A little later a guy arrived with a bag of fish, freshly caught and he insisted we take it.  I had two on the bbq and made fish cakes with the remaining four.  We discovered that they were Palamut (Bonito) which is a mackerel type fish. 

We next arrived at Akçakoca which has a mosque that looks quite impressive from the sea.  It was different to the usual mosques you see, it was a white modern building with a roof that is inspired by the Seljuk Bristle Tent rather than the usual single roof system.  Construction started in 1989 and it was opened in 2004. 

The town was named after a 14th century, Akçakoca Bey, a Turkish chieftain who captured the area for the Ottoman Empire during the establishment of the Ottoman Empire. 

Along the seafront was a long row of head busts which there is no information about.  However, with some research on one of the busts we believe the head busts relate to people who founded Turkish states, not necessarily within Turkey and for how long that state existed. 

We next went to one of the two anchorages in the Black Sea, Kefken Island, which is in fact a safe refuge for boats.  We stayed here for a couple of nights taking in the tranquillity before we headed off to Sile where our good friend John was meeting us so he could take the journey down the Bosporus with us.

We were visiting Istanbul for the third time this year.  Everywhere was, very very busy lots of queues, not like when we visited in 2020 where we walked straight into places.  Much better for the local economy but not so good for visiting.  We did venture into the Blue Mosque but it was still being renovated although the roof has now been completed.  It was difficult to see as there is so much scaffolding in the building. 

We took John to the only bar in Istanbul we could find previously that sold a beer.  This is where you need to keep your hands in as the tram is touching distance. We also had a cay in the Grand Bazaar.

We’re headed back to another place we’d already been to, West Istanbul Marina, this was so that Ian could replace the fixed prop for a new folding prop replacing the one we, that’s the Royal we, managed to loose.  So up Cuffysark goes again but this time stayed in the slings for a changeover and then dropped back down again.  We saw some ducks have a meeting on the quay. 

There were some strong winds forecast and so we headed to our safe haven on Avasi Island.  The wind was between 18 and 25 knots, thankfully down wind and we were surfing on waves getting up to a maximum speed of 13.4 knots.  You can see how much of the sails are reefed, so those who know Ian, will realise it must have been very windy for him to reef this much! We saw a big group of dolphins.  One of the things we noticed in the Black sea was it was rare not to see dolphins on any trip.

The following morning the wind was so strong we were being pushed on the wall more than we liked so there was nothing for it but to move the boat to the other side of the harbour, which was no mean feat.  With the help of some locals we manged to tie up Cuffysark on the other side which was much calmer. 

The sun hadn’t been out much so Ian decided he would put the generator on which hadn’t been used in nearly two years so as a result he had to do a bit of maintenance.  I was cleaning the side of the boat as the other side of the harbour had lovely new black tyres which leave a big black mark on the boat.  I suddenly heard those immortal words “ oh f**k”.  Next things Ian’s stripping off and jumped into the water to retrieve the cover of the generator.  Panic over!  You’ll be pleased to know he got the generator working. 

We took a taxi into Avasi town and had a nice lunch along the sea front.  Still very windy but hot.  One of the local dogs dug himself a hole in the sand under a table to keep cool and out of the sun. 

September 2022