My cruise along the Mediterranean coast ended today. The boat left Sunday morning from the Finike harbor and arrived this afternoon at the Fethiye harbor. We actually got transferred from Olympos to Finike by bus but I knew this beforehand so it was not a sour surprise.
The gullet was a very nice boat called Suleimanbay with 8 cabins and sleeping space for 14. There were only 8 people on the boat the first day, Erin and Ann (Australians living in London), Stanley and Cecile (French), Sebastien and Marilou (French speaking Canadians) and Natalia (South African). A very nice American couple joined us the second day in Kas. Kind of a strange mix at first glance but it all worked out well as there was a lot of room on the boat to keep everybody content without stepping on each other’s toes.
The boat moved from one beautiful spot along the coast to another during the day. It anchored at the harbor on the 2nd night and at a cool spot the rest of the nights.
When the boat anchored at a nice place, a staircase was lowered to the water level. So, I was able to dive from the boat directly in the water and swim around the boat or even to the shore. I could also ask to be taken to shore by boat if there was something nice to see, which usually required some hiking as well.
When the boat was on the move, I socialized with the rest of the passengers, contemplated the amazing view, sunbathed, read a book, or simply slept.
I can remember a lot of cool moments that made this trip memorable.
Every morning, I would wake up, get on the deck and jump right into the water. It was great; I did not even have to walk to the pool or to the beach.
The second evening, we harbored in Kalkan so that the Ausies could see their team loose against Italy in a nice dive at the last minute. After dinner, Natalia and I checked out the little resort town. It is a very nice place built around the harbor.
On the morning of the third day, we arrived early at a beach located at the end of a valley called the Butterfly valley. Rod had mentioned to me that the place was very nice and I really wanted to check it out. Surprisingly the captain was saying the opposite, not nice, too hot, too far, trying to get us to stay at the boat. However, I had my mind set on going and was ready to swim there even with my shoes on if I needed to. But finally I managed to convince 3 other people to come with me. The captain had no choice but to get us to the shore. I was happy to discover a beautiful white sand beach with not too many constructions on it. The place had a warm feel of community with a garden and a small hotel. The way to the valley was very easy to find and the path was very pretty. It leads you to a lovely waterfall where I took the liberty to shower under it (How cool is that? :)). To add to the magic we were accompanied by beautiful butterflies along the way. Rod was right, the place was just perfect and we had the chance to enjoy it without other people around. Our boat actually left just as the place started to get crowded. The whole setting was amazing and I would not have minded staying there a bit longer. It was definitely better than Olympos. Thinking about it, maybe this is how Olympos used to be when it all started.
Our next stop was in Olu-Deniz whose lagoon is called the “dead sea” because it is protected by a natural rock formation. After lunch, I swam all the way to the beach with Ann and Erin to check it out. The water was much warmer in the lagoon and the setting was just beautiful. Unfortunately, the beach is fully covered with lounge chairs which is totally the opposite of what we experienced at the Butterfly Valley beach. Still we ended up staying there a bit too long for the taste of the captain who had raised the anchor and was ready to go while we were swimming back. He sent the small boat to get us and we were soon on our way.
The final stop of the day was in the bay of Saint Nicolas Island. It was a bit disappointing because it was only 3pm and it seemed there wasn’t much to do there. I would have much preferred to have stayed longer in Olu-Deniz. The captain did not give any insight on the history of the island and declined to take us to the shore with the excuse that he was busy working on the anchor system. I guess that might be the reason he left early from Olu-Deniz. To make things worse, it started raining and sadly there was not much to do except dive or swim around the boat. However luck was with us that day as another tour boat anchored close by. It turned out this boat had a water slide on it and we were more than ready to try it out when invited by some Turkish guys. It was quite an experience sliding through the boat which certainly brightened up our day.
On the last morning of the tour, we anchored close to a nice little beach and I decided to swim to the shore. On my way there, I spotted a small inflatable red ball that was drifting on top of the waves. It turned out some little girls had lost it and the waves and the wind drifted the ball too fast for them to be able to seize it. I caught the ball and took it back to the girls who… immediately lost it again :). So, I caught the ball and brought it back one more time (It was quite a fast ball!). Then I left. It turned out the girls had lost it again while I was on the beach but nobody was there this time to catch it. That little ball just wanted to be free!
Overall the cruise was great. However, some things were disappointing or just plain bad.
The program mentioned that the boat carries water toys like snorkeling gear and a windboard but unfortunately they were not available on board. There was a windboard but it was missing the sail and some other parts so it could only serve as a decoration! The captain on the other hand continuously promised he would buy some snorkeling gear at the next harbor but he never did.
Also, I was hoping to do some water sports at the stops but never managed to. Wave ridding and water skiing are forbidden in many places because there were too many tourists to make it viable, and not offered at all in some other places because there were not enough tourists to make it worthwhile. I was thinking to try paragliding in Olu-Deniz but as I mentioned earlier the captain wanted to take off earlier, so I missed the chance. Gokkaya bay is the only place where water skiing is available, but we arrived there too late because of our delayed departure from Finike. It was already dark when we got there :(. Too bad, it would have been a lot of fun to have tried these things.
The captain never sails the boat. He only uses the engine to direct it. It would have been nice to shut the engines down and just sail, as the wind was definitely strong enough to pull us. I guess I have to rent a boat some time and try it myself ;).
I lost two towels in two days! Yes, I first forgot my travel towel in Olympos and then the towel I had just bought in Kas fell off the boat during the 2nd night! It must be a sign. I don’t know yet what kind, but without doubt it must be one.
And definitely the worst part was the fact that the captain and the cook made advances on the two Ausies during the first evening. The girls were certainly very upset and did not tell me until the next day. But, because of my experiences in the Middle East, I kind of guessed what might have happened when I saw them agitated that night. Very sleazy indeed!
But all these did not really compromise my enjoyment of the trip and the good definitely outweighed the slight bad. I would do it again any time.
At the end of the cruise it started raining, so I did not feel too bad about leaving the boat. I also have a long journey ahead of me so there is no time to look back yet ;).