Having recently returned from a trip around Turkey, I feel somewhat qualified to discuss the merits of this spectacular Eurasian land. And let me tell you, spending two days on a boat cruising along the Mediterranean is definitely what any self-respecting traveller would define as a ‘merit’.
Sometimes in life, we’re lucky enough to do things that absolutely knock our socks off. Some of these things are adrenaline inducing, some are emotionally overwhelming and some are spectacularly relaxing. The aforementioned boat experience falls into the latter category. But you knew that already, right?
Anyway, you want to know why you should be on a gulet boat in Turkey right now. So I’m going to tell you.
1. The serenity
You may think you have experienced serenity before, but I’m here to tell you that you have not. I have actually just written a letter to the Oxford English Dictionary asking them to change the definition of serenity to: “Sitting on the bow of a Turkish gulet boat whilst cruising the Med, a tender breeze in your hair, a glass of Turkish tea in your hand and a warm fuzzy feeling in your belly.” I do not expect a response.
2. The food
No kebabs, no seafood – just the freshest salads, stews and traditional home-cooked Turkish food you could hope to wrap your mouth around. There were around 20 people in total on our boat – including our awesome tour group, our leader, the captain and Sabahat – our incredible host and cook.
Sabahat cooked three meals a day for 20 people in the boat’s kitchen – a kitchen that is no larger than, well…a tiny, tiny kitchen. The food was miraculous. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but I promise it’s true. If food made people cry instead of satiating their hunger, there wouldn’t have been a dry eye in the house (boat).
3. The sea turtles
Spotting sea turtles became a bit of an obsession. These beautiful creatures would pop their heads up from time to time, only to dive under the surface fairly rapidly. On our second day on the boat, myself and two other members of our seafaring posse opted to float around in the water in the hope of swimming with sea turtles. We were out there for a good few hours. I got sunstroke. But eventually, we did get to swim with a sea turtle and it was magic. I felt a bit like the Little Mermaid, or something.
4. The bays
Each day we’d stop off in some of the area’s finest bays to swim, snorkel, relax, eat and drink. The water in these bays was immaculate – so clear it was like a window to another world. Which it was. And the other world is underwater. So…yeah.
5. The ruins
The entire area we cruised for two days was smattered in ruins. In some of the bays we were able to swim to shore and go exploring the islands’ respective ancient sites, which is a pretty awesome way to spend a couple of hours off the boat. Then when you’re done exploring, you can just go and lay on the beach, which is probably also flanked by ruins.
Simena castle is also worthwhile visiting – you can take the stairs up for some mind-expanding views of the surrounds. You will not regret the slog to the top.
6. …and the sunken city of Kekova
Speaking of ruins, the sunken city of Kekova is also a notable attraction. Not least because it is probably the only underwater city you’ve ever seen (it was certainly the only underwater city I’d ever seen). Cruising on top of it, it’s possible to make out where some of the city’s old establishments are – like the harbour, for instance. Exciting times, I think you’ll agree.
7. Sleeping under the stars
Each day was rounded out by putting together some (comfortable) makeshift mattresses and sleeping on the deck under the stars. This was good for two reasons: one, because it is not often you get to fall asleep under the stars in the Mediterranean and two, because it is not often you get to wake up to sunrise in the Mediterranean.
8. You’ll (probably) make great mates
There’s nothing like chucking a bunch of people on a boat for a couple of days to break down some barriers and get everyone getting along swimmingly (sorry). Living in such close proximity might sound hellacious to some, but my experience was quite the opposite – the folks I was travelling with made my time on the boat, and in Turkey, that much more memorable. You’re kind of like a little sea-faring family by the end of it, like The Swiss Family Robinson (except your crew will not abandon you).
9. Because it’s (probably) better than you can imagine
I’ve done my best, but nothing will prepare you for quite how brilliant it is to gather your thoughts and unwind ‘pon the sparkling Mediterranean for a couple of days.
10. This photograph:
You can get yourself out on a Turkish gulet boat with the help of Intrepid Travel and one of their rather splendid itineraries in Turkey.
Feature image c/o Jaydee, Flickr