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May 21st 2016
Published: May 21st 2016
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Sabbath, 14 May – MS Myra, Bodrum

We woke up in a leisurely fashion, had breakfast, and checked out about 11am. Unfortunately rain had moved in so we shared an umbrella as we trundled down to the waterfront on a reconnaissance mission to find our boat. We found the boat, had a look on board at our cabin and what luggage space we’d have and then found a place for lunch. It was most yummy because I had a veggie casserole for 12TL ($6) and it was not tomato or cucumber! It was full of carrots, peas, corn, tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms and cheese. Talk about cheap and wholesome. However, I have to state for the record that I HATE tipping. I don’t understand why companies, hotels and restaurants can’t simply raise their prices 10%!a(MISSING)nd then tip staff out of that. Even our all-inclusive cruise doesn’t include tips and isn’t that the very definition of all-inclusive? It means “All. Everything. Nothing left to pay.” So annoying.

There are stray dogs and cats everywhere. Just like Bangkok, although these ones get cared for.

Then I got duped yet again – this time by Starbucks. I went in and ordered their signature hot chocolate and a mocha. I asked if they used fresh milk for the hot chocky and they said yes. Then they asked me “How strong do you want your mocha and do you want the chocolate or caramel squirt?” I said I wanted normal strength and chocolate squirt would be fine. I got the hot drinks and they’d charged me an additional 2TL for the coffee part of the mocha and another 1TL for the squirt. Not only that, the hot chocolate had been made from UHT, even though I had specifically asked if it was fresh. Anyway, they wouldn’t refund my money so after the 2nd time of having hot drinks with UHT, hot drinks are completely off the list, unless I physically see a bottle of fresh milk on the counter. I was most annoyed as I think a global brand like Starbucks should have products that taste identical no matter where you are in the world, like McDonalds. I’ve had hot chocolates in Switzerland, Canada, Australia and the US and they have all tasted the same. It’s not like Starbucks doesn’t have access to fresh milk in Turkey, they just choose to use box milk.

Anyway, we walked back to our hotel, was shuttled to the boat with our luggage and boarded at 3pm, just as it was starting to rain again. Our cabin had a small leak so they asked us to move to another cabin. We were hoping we’d get the master suite but unfortunately the 2nd couple, an Aussie lawyer and oncologist, have booked it. Doh! The MS Myra is a Turkish wooden gulet. It has 4 queen cabins with ensuite and 1 master king cabin. There are only 6 people on this cruise, not including the 3 crew. The other Aussie couple are departing half way through so we’ll be down to just the 4 of us. The ensuite has a marble vanity with shower and vacuum toilet, similar to an airplane. All the toilet paper we use, has to go into a little bin and not in the toilet system. I pity the crewman who has to clean that out! Above the cabins is the indoor seating area with 2 bench seats and a table. Up on deck are another two wooden tables with chairs and sun lounges. The table and lounges at the back are covered by a large shade cloth, the ones up the front are in the sun. We are allowed to sleep up on the lounges if it’s too hot in the cabin and we’ll probably do that one night when we’re nowhere near a nightclub. The indoor décor is all varnished wood. It’s a lovely space to call home for the next week.

We settled in for the night and we were disappointed to hear that the weather had made it too rough to leave and the final couple, from Scotland, wouldn’t be arriving until late so we have to stay in the Bodrum Marina for the night. It is unclear why we can’t motor out to one of the little bays either side of Bodrum allowing the Scots to join via dinghy, avoiding the weather and giving us a peaceful night.

Sunday, 15 May – MS Myra, Old Datca

As the world’s greatest lover of sleep, you can imagine my utter dissatisfaction that the doof-doof night club 50m away from the boat literally played music until 4am! At 6am the motor started and we left the harbour for our breakfast stop of Knidos. 2 hours sleep is all I had. Furthermore, we were roasting like chickens in the cabin because the portholes were closed for noise cancellation and the air con, which we were told would be turned on, was not. It was the worst overnight accommodation we have had since a little motel in Fresno in 2002. When you think luxury, this was not it. Surely something could have been done to distance the boat from the waterfront.

Anyway, we arrived at Knidos at 9am, dropped anchor and had breakfast up on the deck. We then used the dinghy to ferry to Knidos for a look around. Evidence suggests it was populated in 4000BC, but its golden age was the Hellenistic era (353-31BC). There are a lot of old ruins and some things that are being restored, but mainly it is a rocky outcrop of ruins with the odd information board. It was 10TL pp to get in but they accepted the Aegean museum pass so we got in for free. I thought those passes had met their use by date when we boarded, so this was a welcome windfall.

At lunch the rain came and as we motored down the coast to Datca, the rain was steady and the mountains were clothed in low cloud. I don’t mind the rain because it gave me a chance to have a nap without feeling guilty about missing the scenery. Besides, it’s meant to clear overnight and we should have 5 days of clear blue sky and 23C for the rest of the trip. The colour of the water is mesmerising when the sun is out. It is aqua in the shallows and navy blue in the deep. In places you can see 10m down to the bottom because it’s so clear. It reminds me of the Croatian coast. I am going to enjoy looking at that non-stop for the next week.

At 6pm the group decided on an 8pm dinner and since I was already starving, I decided to distract myself with a swim in the rain. The captain was most amused. The water was a chilly 18C but I did a circuit of the boat and treaded water for about 20 minutes as exercise. It was very pretty with the rain. By the time I came back in at 7pm, had a hot shower and snacked on a kiwi fruit, I only had another hour to wait.

Our meals have been starting with vegetarian mezzes, or 4 plates of salads/starters, and then a plate of meat and one of rice or something for the hot mains. I will often eat small amounts of meat but the main on Sunday was a whole fish of which I ate less than a quarter. After that meal I asked the captain if I could just eat vegetarian for the rest of the week, since the meat sizes are pre-determined. He said that wouldn’t be a problem. I was really looking forward to my hot veggie main tonight but when the main was served, everyone got a decent size of roast lamb, one potato and one carrot. I got one potato and one carrot, minus the meat. It was actually quite poor that my plate was so empty. After everyone had finished, I asked if there were any leftover carrots or potatoes but unfortunately the cook had only made enough veggies for one each. I can’t understand why he didn’t cook more vegetables for me, given I wasn’t having meat. There was also a share plate of risoni on the table so I had some of that to fill me up. I do hope this isn’t a taste, or lack of taste as the case may be, of things to come. I shouldn’t be left watching people eat their main meals whilst I go without.

The other thing that’s killing me on this cruise is the 8 or 8.30pm dinners, as requested by the majority. I usually eat at 6.30pm so waiting for an extra 1.5-2hrs is a nightmare but they like to have drinks at 6 first. That’s great if you’re a drinker but there’s only so much soft drink I want. Oh well, such is the life of a cabin charter. Apart from that, they are lovely to travel with.

Tomorrow we visit Simi, which is in Greece.

Monday, 16 May – MS Myra, Simi (Greece)

We had a wonderfully quiet night in old Datca harbour. No noise at all. It was bliss.

After breakfast we departed for old Datca and motored around to modern Datca to get our immigration details sorted before exiting Turkey. Datca is a pretty little town out on a peninsula. After 30 minutes the passports were done and we were off to Greece.

First stop was the Panormitis harbour on the south side of Simi. It houses a monastery and several cute buildings that reminded me of Spain. The water was an amazing turquoise colour that defies belief. There were even wild goats on the rocky hills. After lunch we all jumped in for a swim and while it was cold down deep, the water was warm at the surface because of the sun. Once we were all out and dried off a little, we motored around to our next bay for a mid-afternoon stop.

I’m definitely going to enjoy this cruise because I could look at the water all day. The thought of sitting back and just watching the world go by makes me happy.

As we pulled into Georgiou Bay, I had my “wow” moment that I’ve been waiting for. Ironically, it’s in Greece and not Turkey! In any case, the bay was an even a more brilliant turquoise than at Panormitis. Close to shore it is crystal clear and you can see right down to the bottom. I know the water is quite cold for swimming but I can’t not be a part of the picture. The U-shaped bay is surrounded by dramatic cliffs several hundred metres high that make the scene even more jaw dropping. It’s baffling as to how the water can be so pristine with all the boat traffic in these waters. More wild goats.

The crew pulled down the stand-up paddle boat and so I asked for a wakeboard for the 2nd time today, given we were here for 30 minutes and the water was smooth as glass. They captain said that I couldn’t go for a ski because we didn’t have time. I don’t understand that because I usually only ski for 2 minutes, the dinghy was already launched and I would have finished my ski long before the others had swam back to the boat. I was hoping to get several skis in but the captain keeps saying “we’ll see”. Maybe he thinks everyone will want a ski but as far as I’m aware, I’m the only one who’s keen so it’s not going to take very long. Oh well, I live in hope.

After Georgiou Bay we came to the town of Simi (on the island of Simi), where we docked for the night. It’s a cute little Greek town with houses perched on the sides of the hills surrounding the port and very quiet at the moment due to the low number of tourists. I withdrew some euros from an ATM and since dinner was at 8pm and the veggie options have been quite meagre, I was starving so we bought a pizza for me and ate that before dinner. We finished our walk around the town, came back for dinner and, ironically, ended up having the best meal, vegetarian-wise, of the trip. There was mashed potatoes, green beans, beetroot salad, broccoli and lentils. Let’s hope that continues!

I can also confirm that despite the existence of ozone in Europe, I continue to burn in the shade with sun cream. It is my super power.

Tuesday, 17 May – MS Myra, Ciftlik Bay

We had anchored overnight in the town of Simi and had another quiet night. It was just as well because at 7am the motor roared to life and we left Greece to re-enter Turkey. The difference between the barren landscapes of Simi versus the completely covered green hillsides of Turkey, a mere 5km away, is quite bizarre.

After clearing immigration we had a look around the little town of Bozborun, boarded again and anchored off just around the corner. It wasn’t anything special but we stayed there for several hours over lunch and headed off to another bay for the night. We commented at the lack of wild goats and our Aussie friend said that they are only in Greece. 10 minutes later, we saw wild goats. Ironic.

Once we arrived in our overnight bay, the captain FINALLY let me go for a ski! We found the wakeboard and I did a longer-than-usual run since being behind the dinghy was easy work. My brother would be proud of me. There was no wake to speak of so it allowed me to practice my edges outside the wake, although the captain kept driving in a figure of 8 when I would have preferred a straight line with a turning circle at the end. The bay was big enough to go in a straight line but he keeps telling me I can’t ski in places because we don’t have enough time or the bays aren’t big enough (even though we can see their sister ship skiing with their clients). When we arrive at the bays we find they’re the length and width of two Sydney Harbour Bridges. He would be absolutely horrified to see the 75m wide Hawkesbury that we ski on! They had the board and rope out of the water and were hosing it down quicker than you could say “what the” so it was just as well no one else wanted a turn.

The waters around Simi (Greece) and Turkey have been strangely different. The Greek water was brilliant light aqua and turquoise colours but the Turkish waters are a darker jade. It’s still very pretty but in a different way. Again, I don’t understand how it’s the same sea but the colours are different depending on the country. I’m told that it’s the stuff at the bottom (sand vs rock) that determines the colour. Maybe it’s a different colour of sunlight today?

Wednesday, 18 May – MS Myra, Selimiye

They changed the sheets and towels today. Out went our queen doona and plushy towels and in came the single hospital blankets and less plushy towels. We have to keep asking about the wifi as the device seems to keep turning itself off.

I was planning on going for a ski this morning but at 6am a northerly wind came up and so it was too choppy for my liking. However, what was unfortunate on one hand was a blessing on the other. After breakfast we got to cruise to our next bay under sail. To see the two main sails hoisted up and sailing along in absolute peace, save for the creaking of the ropes, was absolute bliss. It also provided shade up the front so I was able to enjoy the forward deck for the first time without burning. Unfortunately it only lasted a couple of hours and when we arrived at our lunch stop, the sails came down and were packed away. It’s been a very blustery day so we only swam once in the afternoon and it was the coldest bay we’ve been in thus far. We were also surprised by more wild…donkeys! A mother and a foal foraging along the rocky shoreline. The captain said that lots of people used to use donkeys for transport but in the past 20 years they’ve been letting them go. It’s a bit sad because the donkeys were not in good condition so nutritious food can’t be plentiful.

Tonight is the last night for our Aussie friends. They are heading to Germany for a wedding so we’re all dressing up for a last hurrah. Their favourite saying is “When in Turkey”. They exude overwhelming positivity and haven’t had a bad experience anywhere, from what I can tell. Our Scottish friends, Heather and Graham, are also good company with lots of funny stories. We’ve been very lucky to end up with great travelling companions.

Tonight for dinner there was whole fish again complete with head and tail. The chef had made stuffed peppers with cheese but he only makes one of everything so where everyone got one pepper and one fish, I got one pepper. Again, the food is really tasty but for vegetarians you just don’t get a main meal unless it’s pasta. Since the peppers were part of the mezzes and we had eaten them all at the same time, I sat and watched everyone eat their main while I ate nothing. They felt very guilty but it wasn’t their fault.

We are supposed to tip the crew 10%!b(MISSING)ut for me this cruise hasn’t been as good as for the other cruisers. The food has been very tasty but few veggie mains, the WiFi has been spotty, the power points in the rooms sometimes work and sometimes don’t and there has been a distinct lack of water sports.

Thursday, 19 May – MS Myra, bay of Mersincik

Our Aussie friends left at 5am and the captain started up the engine, as we had a 4hr commute to our breakfast point. We slept intermittently until we stopped at 9am. It was a port of some sort although I didn’t catch the name. The wind has picked up in strength again and so the captain found a sheltered cove for lunch and overnight. It already had one ship when we arrived and yet the captain did a stellar job of squeezing in between the boat and the shore. We are wedged about 10m from rocks at the back, the other ship 25m on the left and other side of the cove another 25m away. The water is about 3m deep. The coastline on the right has rows of tall mountains fully covered with trees down to 3m above the waterline. They look like mighty ships in a harbour and we are the little dinghy in between them.

The wind is worse today so no skiing L

We found out today that the reason our WiFi keeps dropping out is not just because of signal strength but because they keep turning it off without telling us, and we have to specifically ask them to turn it on. The brochure we received said we get 4GB but apparently that’s for everyone for a month, not per cabin. So people have been Facetiming home thinking we all had loads of data. As expected, we’ve gone over our collective data limit.

It would have helped if they’d communicated it clearly in the brochure and explained it at the start of the trip. They only needed to say “We only have limited data so if you could please keep to email, Facebook and internet, and do not make calls or use streaming, there will be enough for everyone. We will turn on the WiFi for 2hrs per day and let you know what time we turn it on.” At least we could have planned our usage rather than having this one-minute-it’s-there-next-minute-it’s-gone issue. A simple explanation at the start would have changed the way people use data.

Dinner tonight with just Graham, Heather, Dwayne and myself was enjoyable. It’s nice to get to know the other couple of their own. There was no main tonight – only mezzes with kofta, homemade hot chips and 4 veggie dishes so I could eat everything on the table. It was a nice change. Heather is gluten free so has had issues with pasta or wheat being served several times, despite advising in advance that she can’t do flour. Like me, she sometimes is light on for food although she can always get the main meat dish if it’s not pasta. If you eat everything, the food has been amazing and plentiful. The vegetarian mezzes have been the stand out dishes every time.

Friday, 20 May – MS Myra, Adabogazi bay

It’s our last full day on the boat before disembarking tomorrow. As we rock here in the Kisimbuku bay, I reflect on the past 5 days and am thankful for the opportunity to have experienced cruising in Turkey. 90%!o(MISSING)f the world will never have the privilege of holidaying in their lifetime. I’ve tried to appreciate every moment, realising that the life I have been given is a cherished one and should not be taken for granted. The boat is wonderful, the scenery and water has been a visual feast, the crew have been good, the food has been delicious, the relaxation has been awesome and the company has been excellent.

The obvious downsides for me have been the lack of vegetarian hot food main meals, the minor WiFi issue and the lack of ski opportunities at the beginning of the trip, when the conditions were at their best. However, this is how things roll in Turkey and at the end of the day, we’ve still had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Speaking of skiing, I did both a slalom ski and wakeboard after lunch. Conditions weren’t ideal but I didn’t want to wait until 6pm for the next bay as it would have been too cold by then. When the crew saw me only taking one ski into the water, they started chuckling. I don’t think they get many people on one ski. I wasn’t sure I would get up as the rope was only a short V, but I got up 2nd go on a massively fat ski and managed not to come out of the size 9 foot well. I then changed to the monster board, again too big for my little feet, and the captain took off at ski pace. He doesn’t think ski and board are different speeds!

I don’t’ think we could have come to Turkey at a better time. The government warnings have seen a 90%!d(MISSING)rop in tourism so it’s almost devoid of tourists everywhere we go. It’s such a great experience not to have to fight other tourists for photo spots or pay high prices in fully booked hotels. The flip side is that it’s horrible for the locals who are suffering.

Sabbath, 21 May

We decided to sleep up on deck last night on the sun beds. It was really comfortable until it started raining, so unfortunately we had to go back to the cabin at 1.30am. Our cruise started with rain and ended with rain. Luckily for us, we had five days of blue sky in between.

At 7am the motor broke our sleep and we showered and packed, ready to watch the boat enter Bodrum. As we passed the harbour entry, the coast guard was unloading refugees, mostly men. A stark reminder that the world is not a happy place for everyone.

After breakfast we said our goodbyes to Heather and Graham with reciprocal invitations to visit Edinburgh/Sydney, collected our car and were on our way to the Lycian Coast.


21st May 2016

Loved the pics and reflections about the cruise- glad you guys have had a ball and been safe!!!

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