In my previous post I wrote about how I came aboard a Turkish boat for 8 days. One thing that appealed to me in Cynthia’s email was the “soft adventure travel” bit. I love adventure, I do. But the reality is my day job is a desk job, and I am tied to my desk at least 8-9 hours per day, and normally I continue to be sitting down after getting home, watching cooking and comedy shows and what not. So though in my travels I am out and about and walking distances, my alternate persona sadly lacks physical exercise.
Soft adventure travel seemed perfect. It sounds like anyone with any reasonable fitness and a bit of will power can do and enjoy the activities, which was the case. In my trip with MDFVoyage, we did a few hilly hikes, that took about 1-2 hours to go and come back. It was very doable (often the heat was more of a challenge than the hike itself).
Sounds great! Tell me more! Where did you go?
If you’re anything like me, first you’d like to know where you are on the map! (Yes? No? Is it just me? I am obsessed about knowing where I am on the map!)
I knew where we would depart and where the voyage would end, but anything in between was a bit of a mystery. Every day the boat would take a couple of hours to go to a different spot – which was really quite exciting when it happened: Weigh the anchor! Set the sail! And on we go for the next quest!
We joked that Ali could just take us round and round, and we wouldn’t even know (probably true). With internet being patchy at best (no you cannot open google map and see your dot moving), there was no better time to use a real map and ask a sailor to show us where we were:
MDF Voyage does many different routes per year (either June or September, since July and August are said to be too hot), so my voyage is just one of many. We traveled from Rhodes, Greece, to Marmaris, Turkey. Last year they did just Turkey, but this year they started to include Greece in their itinerary. Ali said they will do different voyages every year to keep it fresh and improved, which is also a great thing for frequent voyagers. Just in our group, two people had been on the voyage last year, and they did it again this year, getting a different experience and seeing different places. I can’t wait to see what they come up with in 2016.
We went to many quiet coves and different nooks of islands, that I can’t possibly point all of them on the map, but I can show you the major ports that we went to.
From Rhodes we went to Panormitis beach in Symi island, where there’s an old monastery, then to Symi main port town on the other side of the island (a very pretty little port town!). So we spent a few days in Greece between Rhodes and Symi, before we enter Turkey via Bozburun port.
In Bozburun we had to go through passport control and showed our Turkey visa (very easy to get for most countries – just get the E-visa and print). Then we went along Turkish coast to Marmaris, where the voyage ended.
Greece and Turkey used to be one country, and in 1923 there was a major population exchange based on religious identity that sent all the Orthodox Christians in Turkey to Greece and Muslim citizens of Greece to Turkey. This point of history always fascinated me and a major point that draws me to Turkey and Greece. I haven’t found a good book to read about this part of history, so let me know if you have any recommendation. In fact if I were to write a book, a kind of historical fiction, I’d be interested to use this as a setting. I was raised a Catholic in a Muslim country, so the two religions, the contrast, the tension and the divide between them is something that is close to home.
And I love crossing borders between countries (as I wrote about before here and here), and see how the landscape, architecture, and culture blend from one to another, instead of magically transform by an imaginary line on the map. When you experience this, you’d be reminded that country borders are made by humans, and that back in the days people was one, and the world was one. There are gradations and shades from one place to another, but there is no real division by a line on the ground.
In Rhodes and Symi islands, there were just a couple of things that reminded us of Turkey. Later on upon reaching Bozburun, we could see the iconic Turkish mosque from the distance, but it was probably the only thing that indicated that we were entering a Muslim country. On the Turkey side there were also ruins of castles and fortresses like what we saw on the Greece side, as the whole area was a strategic location for the power holders of the time.
One thing you need to remember is that even though you get the day-by-day itinerary before the trip, it could (will most probably) change. Our itinerary was revised daily at the end of each day by Ali and Captain, and a new printed one would be sticked on the wall in the boat for everyone to see. Sometimes we could even change the plan on the spot – mostly due to weather and wind, as we always tried to avoid strong wind and find a calmer spot. So it’s important to keep an open mind and trust the crew to do their best to get you the best experience.
I loved it though. I loved that we were dictated by nature, that we were so close to it.
I get it. Now tell me about the Boat!
Our boat is called gulet, a traditional design of wooden sailing vessel from Southwestern coast of Turkey. I loved our boat! Most of the boats that I saw during our trip were white and robotic looking. Ours was wooden and beautiful 🙂
The crew worked very hard in keeping the boat clean. They cleaned the deck and wiped all the railings daily.
Inside is 8 double rooms (most of them are double, but two are twins), each with ensuite bathroom, with shower and hot water. So in maximum capacity the boat could take 16 guests. We had 12 guests and 6 crews. (1 crew to 2 guests now that I think about it – no wonder we were well taken care of 🙂
I especially appreciated our welcome pack above. In standard hotels we often get tiny bottles of shampoo and usually with no conditioner, and in this trip they were abundant with good quality. The Turkish towel you can use for swimming or sun bathing, and you can bring it home (we also got big and small towels for use in the room).
How well did you sleep on the boat?
Very well. Too well! The movement of the boat just rocked me to sleep. In fact, after a few days the boat felt completely still (to me) and I missed the rocking at the beginning. People talk about “boat feeling” that you might experience on land after days being on a boat, but I didn’t get this. I experienced “land feeling” after days on the boat – like I was just on land 🙂
Hope I covered some details that you might be curious about. Those were the things I wanted to know about before the trip, but had nothing much to go with.
In the next post I will write more about the activities and probably food. Glorious food!