If you’re like me and you don’t normally live on a boat, you might wonder about the same thing. How to survive on a boat for 8 days? Now obviously I use the word “survival” in the loosest definition. So this is a lot more about 20th century big city folks surviving with no internet, than, say, Life of Pi.
I love internet, I do. It is unbelievable how much time I spend time on the internet every single day. It is a living breathing beast. It seems to make everything else in life redundant. Since the age of internet we have no need at all for any other daily distractions, activities, ways to waste time, and even people. Who needs real people if you can just look down and interact with people in the virtual world 24/7? Why look up and see the world if you can ogle at beautiful pictures of the world in this little magical thing in your hand?
Hence one of the things I love most when I travel to foreign countries is to NOT have internet. I may not be able to get away from Internet’s choking existence in my daily life (how I got to this stage is a discussion for another day), but when you travel you do a lot of things that are out of the ordinary. And it’s amazing what you can do in life without Internet!
More amazing is when you’re “stuck” on a boat of 100 feet with only a dozen people and 6 crews for 8 days. Imagine a limited amount of space, limited amount of people, limited amount of land, limited amount of resources, limited amount of Internet, you get the idea. If you’re thinking to go for a similar trip and wondering, here’s what we did:
As it was a Fitness Voyage, yoga was a big part of our activities. We had yoga class at least once a day every morning (sometimes twice a day), first thing after tea and coffee, before the full breakfast. As someone who likes yoga a considerable amount but never spares the time for it in daily life, the yoga classes were very welcome, and I tried to not miss it. The coolness factor of having a yoga class on a boat did not diminish until the end. It was amazing to look up, left, and right, and found yourself surrounded by pure natural beauty.
All that water! Swimming was an obvious choice. I’m not a great swimmer so it took me a while to warm up to swimming in the ocean. Some of us were super swimmers and some of us just wore swimming suits on the deck. Whichever side you’re on, you will be in the water by the last day!
3. Sun Bathing
There were mattresses on top of the boat for sun bathing or simply lazing around, reading, taking a nap, daydreaming, enjoying the view, whatever. There were bean bags on the deck too. Just pick a spot. To be honest it took me a couple of days to tell myself there was no task I should do and no place I should go to, and slow down my brain.
I always loved the idea of a holiday of “just relaxing next to a pool”. People told me that all the time, but somehow it was an elusive thing for me, and I wasn’t even sure if that’s a real thing that people do, to just go somewhere for holiday and relax next to a pool. What does that even mean? — my pre-boat self thought, as I traveled to odd places and packed too many things in one day. Well, after 2 days on the boat I know what that meant and it was wonderful.
And as a reader I really appreciated all that time for reading. At the end of the boat trip Mr Mee wondered if perhaps we lacked activities on the boat so I “had to” read all the time, to which I replied, no no no, this was exactly what I wanted. Remember about the mythical relaxing holiday next to a pool? We just had it! And I loved it!
5. Becoming an expert at Backgammon
Backgammon is a national pastime for Turkish people and on the boat we got a chance to learn this game. As we had 6 Turkish crews there were a lot of opportunities to play with them, and get told the best strategy and how you made the most wrong move possible. A few of us really took to this game and Mr Mee especially played A LOT.
6. “Water Sport”
One afternoon was mysteriously dedicated to “water sport”. Then we found out it was donut ride – which is the equivalence of water skiing but without having to stand up or have any ability to balance yourself. It was the first time for me to play it and it was actually slightly scarier than I thought! I’m a big fan of roller coaster and I’m not scared of scary rides, but this one was quite up there (in a fun way).
One of us went for the hot dog ride and she flipped over no less than 3 times, so after that everyone seemed to cower down and no one else went for the scarier hot dog ride (pictured above with Mee safe on the deck :).
Kayaking for those who prefer a calmer water sport (picture courtesy of Ali / MDF Voyage).
If you’re small enough you can fit two people in the kayak and fight about who to do the rowing or not do the rowing as Mr Mee and I did. The last time we kayak’ed it was at a vicious whitewater river in Cairns, Australia, and we barely managed to not kill each other by the end of the rafting, so this calm water was a nice change.
8. Glorious eating
We ate a lot of course. Fed 3 complete meals a day, plus afternoon tea and pre-breakfast tea and coffee, one sometimes wondered which part of this cruise was fitness related. It must be all that healthy and fresh food. The food was so delicious that I devoured everything like I hadn’t had lunch for 24 hours even though we were fed every few hours. I loved our boat chef!
One of our two chefs, grilling fish for our dinner ❤
10. Raki tasting
Pictured above was a special night, when Ali introduced us to Raki — the favorite alcoholic drink for both Turkish and Greek people (only that it’s called something else in Greece). It is water clear in the original bottle and it turns white when mixed with water — which is the way people drink it.
As we had been to Turkey before, we’re very well acquainted with the aniseed-y strong alcoholic drink. The last time we were in Turkey we bought a small bottle, and because it was so strong (and tasted so much like liquorice, which we’re both not a big fan of), we couldn’t finish it, and Mr Mee put this small bottle on the side of his backpack. It was made very clear to us then that Turkish people loved this drink, because random people turned especially friendly when they saw the Raki bottle peeping out of Mr Mee’s bag, hah. And on this occasion too, all the boat crews keenly gathered about and became very happy indeed when the drinks were distributed around.
11. Bingo Night
12. Belly Dancing – with Champagne
To say that I was horrible at belly dancing is an understatement, but that didn’t stop me or any of us to have fun with our fancy ringing scarf thing. Even some of the crews joined in. The champagne helped to loosen you up a bit :).
There were many more activities we did that were not on a boat: hiking, town sightseeing, Turkish bath. But I think those activities on the boat were the ones that needed more creative thinking, and Ali and crews were doing great in planning them :).
(To clarify, our boat did have a bit of internet connection but it was very patchy for most of the time, and when there was a spark of juice it was too slow to do anything other than whatsapp texting. Granted you could get SIM cards with data that would work in Greece and Turkey, but even so we spent quite a bit of time in between the 2 countries, which is an area that no internet connection from either county reaches.)
So this is probably my last post on the delightful journey with MDF Voyage. They posted just last week on their Facebook page that last year, they offered 5 Voyages, and had maybe 20 guests. This year, they have 9 Voyages, and almost 100 guests. A great achievement and I’m feeling very lucky to be a part of their journey. Check out their 2016 voyages if a small, intimate travel experience in the Mediterranean sounds like your idea of a good holiday :).