Since my return from the wonderful trip to Australia and New Zealand, already 7 weeks have flown by. Lane had the boat all clean and tidy, but still with a few unfinished jobs. In his defence, he was waiting for the spare parts that I was carrying in my suitcases back from NZ.
Finike Marina has been a perfect place for us to stay, with great facilities and a real friendly network of cruisers who use this as their base over the winter months. Regular Happy-Hour get togethers and weekly BBQs are a great way to relax from boat chores, share ideas, plan outings and get to meet the new arrivals into the marina. Last week we shared a table with friends from South Africa, Israel, Sweden, Germany, France and Australia, all living on their boats here. Then we have Americans, British, Armenians, Ukrainians and quite a few Turks. The conversations and cruising stories are very humbling. Such a fantastic atmosphere.
Finike, which is mostly an agricultural town, is very pleasant and has parks and hiking trails nearby when we want to get off the boat for awhile. We get very few charter boats coming this far south, so not too many souvenir shops for all the tourists.
Most Saturday mornings we walk down to the local market to stock up on the week’s fresh supplies. Everything from the freshest fruits and veges, selections of cheeses, olives, dried fruits, dried nuts and local honey. Finike is famous for its oranges, so when in season there are delicious sweet oranges everywhere. I love the way they give samples of their produce to taste before choosing what to buy. It is all so delicious and the Turkish people so, so friendly.
Looking through my photos, I realise just how busy we have been exploring all around this area, so rich in ancient history.
Finike, once named Phoenix, was a trading port town of ancient Lycia. The Lycian people built city states along the Mediterranean coast up until about 550BC and we have been exploring some of these ancient sites.
Some of our hikes have been on part of the Lycian Way, which is a long-distance walking trail along 540 kms of coastline from Fethiye to Antalya. Finike lies right in the middle of the Lycian Way, which is reputed to be one of the worlds best hiking routes.
Here are remains of the ancient castle of Olympos, built right on the cliff edge and we can’t help but marvel how the people built them there in the first place, It is truly amazing that even this much is left standing.
Lycian tombs dating back to 350 BC are still visible in several of the ancient cities of Lycia. These tombs, intricately carved right into solid rock, once held the bodies of prominent citizens and kings. They were once painted in bright colours, which has faded over time. The carved out tombs do not go deep, but have just enough room for the coffin to be placed on a stone plinth.
Myra was once a thriving agricultural town, one of the most important cities of the Lycian Union. The city has been subject to plagues, flooding and earthquakes, and has been abandoned since the 11th century.
Yanartas is the site of the “eternal flame”. Lane and I hiked up an old stone pathway to an ancient site near the top of Mt Chimaera. There were dozens of fires that have been burning continuously for thousands of years. The flames are burning gases from a natural gas reservoir that reach the surface through cracks in the earth’s crust, probably the result of volcanic activity.
We got very excited when we saw that Verdi’s opera, La Traviata, was to be performed in the nearby, open -air Aspendos Amphitheatre. So a group of 16 of us from the marina bought tickets, hired a minibus and lapped up the atmosphere of this magnificent Amphitheatre, which was built in 2nd century AD. It is one of the largest ever built by the Romans and is also one of the best preserved. It was an unforgettable experience with amazing music, lighting, costumes and perfect acoustics.
People began to arrive as the sun was setting, to hear the orchestra tuning and settle in for the night’s entertainment. Each seat had a small cushion supplied to ease the hard rock seats.
Just as the stage was being set up for Act 4, the moon rose slowly into the sky to complete the picture for the final death scene.
We needed to go to Marmaris pick up some parts for our water maker. It is too far to sail up there this late in the season, so we decided to drive up over the mountains behind Finike. During our 5 hr drive over winding roads we enjoyed the startling change of scenery and lovely cooler temperatures. In the valleys are acres upon acres of fertile gardens, and green houses, where much of the produce is grown for the Turkish markets.
Marmaris is a very busy city, especially in summer. Huge numbers of tourists arrive everyday to take charter boats out around the beautiful bays to go diving and explore the many local caves. There are several marinas here and it is a popular place to get work done on boats or stock up on marine supplies from the numerous ship chandleries. It seems that every marine store sells huge boat fenders, which gives you an idea of how crowded it gets in some anchorages.
A drive along the Datca Peninsula to the very beautiful seaside town of the same name, with the waterfront lined with cafes for the thousands of tourists who come here. The protected anchorages along the peninsula soon fill up with both sailing boats and hundreds of charter boats during the long warm summer months from May until September.
We haven’t even begun to explore the hundreds of amazing anchorages up north, along the coast of Turkey but we will have time to do that when the season is right. Now there are many boats returning from their summer cruising and some are returning from several weeks in the Black Sea. We look forward to hearing their stories of new places they visited.
Just off the Turkish coast are a few Greek Islands, some just a a few miles off shore, but it is not possible to just “pop over” with our boat to drop anchor for the day. We need to officially check out of Turkey, then check into Greece, pay for Greek cruising permits, begin a 3- month Schengen pass, then, we may not be allowed back into Turkey with the boat for 6 months!!!. If you are trying to make head or tail of that, don’t even try!!!!. We found it easier to take a ferry from Fethiye to Rhodes and spent a week visiting this gorgeous Greek island and the walled city of Rhodos, visiting friends, and picking up a new fridge, shipped there from Italy.
If you have been in Turkey longer than 6 months, then you can’t legally hire a car. (I know, what is that about?) To work around this silly rule, we got our passports re-stamped into turkey by taking a 20-minute ferry from the town of Kas to visit Kastellorizzo, a small Greek island just 2 miles offshore. There are several lovely hotels for tourists to come and relax. It was a wonderful day!
Next year when we leave here, after exploring some of the Turkish coastline, we will then spend 2-3 months cruising the Greek Islands on our way westward towards Gibraltar. We are only allowed to stay in Schengen countries for 90 days out of 180, so we need to head for a non-Schengen country for the following 90 days. Albania, Montenegro and Croatia are destinations of choice at the moment as they are not members of the Schengen group. Also, possibly Tunisia. This does not apply to the boat, just us, so we can put the boat into a marina somewhere, as long as we stay out of the Schengen country. This is heavily policed and hefty fines to be paid if we overstay. It makes our itinerary planning quite complicated as we need to plan ahead to make sure we can get to a non-Schengen country every 90 days and stay there for 90 days.
Back in the real world, we are keeping our eyes and ears open, watching the global unrest, with particular attention to the situation in Ukraine, Turkey and Greece. We are not too far away from the Ukrainian War, only a little over 500 miles. Economies are now beginning to crumble all around us, most notably Egypt, Turkey, UK, France, Italy and of course Russia. We wonder what we will do if the banks close in Turkey. The Turkish Lira is dropping like a brick and inflation is between 85% and 100%. We wonder how we will be able to buy food and supplies here if the economy collapses? Shops and banks will close. We both agree that all we can do is keep Mai Tai well provisioned with full diesel tanks, ready to set sail from here in a hurry if things change for the worse.
Anyway, why waste time worrying! Life is too short for that. We are getting very excited about another 15-day car trip to some amazing places in Eastern Turkey. We will be sure to keep you up to date on all the best parts.