Finding my sea legs on the Mediterranean…

Meet the Alaturka 81……

…my mobile home for the 4 days I spent cruising around the Mediterranean Sea of the southern coast of Turkey.

Not too shabby hey?

After waking to another slightly ominous looking morning in Fethiye, the sun had luckily started to peek through the clouds as we made our way down to Alaturka cruises office. We were joined by 13 other travellers and led down to the harbour where we all hopped onboard and were introduced to our captain Ahmet, the cook and ‘Only’- a wiry little local boy who looked around 12 but was apparently 18.

We set off around lunch time and quickly learnt that life on the boat was pretty hard…a typical day went a little something like this:

  1. Wake up around 9, likely a little hungover.
  2. Feast on a huge Turkish breakfast that was prepared for us by the boat’s chef and his adorable little helper ‘Only’.
  3. A quick dip to shake off the hangover.
  4. Sunbake/read/listen to music/chat to everyone as we lay on the sunbeds on the bow of the boat.
  5. Another quick dip
  6. The boat stops by a tiny coastal town. Jump off board for an hour or two to explore.
  7. Come back to a huge cooked lunch.
  8. Swim
  9. Sunbake
  10. As the evening gets closer, it’s time to switch from water to vino
  11. Tuck into to a massive bbq dinner – fish, chicken, grilled veggies, salad etc.
  12. Join in on the impromptu dance party above deck as people blast the tunes from the huge onboard speakers
  13. Repeat steps 1 -12 on a daily basis

I don’t think I have ever more relaxed in my entire life! It truly was idyllic.

The main dining area onboard

It almost happened to be a complete bargain. With a minor online discount I think we paid 155 Euro – just under a mighty $200 Australian. This included staying in a reasonably sized (for a boat) private double room with ensuite onboard and 3 huge meals cooked onboard every day for 3 full days. The only things we had to buy were drinks and any extra activities we wanted to take part in. Amazing!

Tucking into a fish feast for dinner on the first night

It wasn’t just the (extremely difficult!) onboard life and incredible value that made this trip so enjoyable though. Along the way we got to see some genuinely amazing sites, both whilst popping onto land to explore or cruising close by the places whilst onboard on the boat.

At the end of the canyon in Butterfly Valley

On our first day we visited the striking Butterfly Valley.  This place is named for the rare Leopard butterflies that call the valley their home. An easy hike into the valley ended with a number of us scrambling up boulders and through shallow creeks to reach a hidden waterfall at the end of the canyon.

The last paraglider for the day in Oludeniz, I just missed out!

Later that evening we passed by Oludeniz, known as one of the more picturesque beaches in Europe. It’s also considered one of the best places in Europe for paragliding, with a huge mountain positioned right beside the sea and lots of hot updrafts of wind. I was super keen for this and actually went as so far to get driven up the mountain and strapped into all of the gear – only to have all of the wind completely die out and the glide cancelled. Boo! If anything at least the view was spectacular and I got some pretty stunning photos whilst up there!

Looking out from the top of the fortress in Simena

Having the chance to explore the villages of Kas and Simena was one of the highlights of the trip for me. As usual, I managed to lose myself in the myriad of back streets and lanes, but in the process found some gorgeous looking restaurants, guesthouse and local homes. There were also some beautiful lookout points in both cities if you had the energy for a bit of a climb!

The fortress in Simena

In Simena a toothless old man piled me up with oranges after I bought some water at his store and then refused to accept any further payment for them. I honestly lost track of the number of times this sort of thing seemed to happen throughout out my time in Turkey. Somehow I still managed to be constantly taken aback by the generosity and warm heartedness displayed by the Turkish locals everywhere we went.

Spotting some sections of the Sunken City

On one of the final days we cruised by the ‘Sunken city’ where you’re able to see the remains of an ancient Roman city that became submerged after a huge earthquake cause a large section of the earth to sink beneath the water. It’s quite a strange experience seeing staircases and doorways half submerged and the size of the ruins that sit just a few metres below sea level.

In terms of the people we had onboard with us we couldn’t have gotten luckier. There was a solid crew of young Canadians, as always a decent Australian contingent and a couple from San Francisco on their honeymoon. Over the 4 days we all drank together, got slightly sunburnt together, feasted together and danced together once the evenings got a little later.

A morning dip to cure the hangover

The crew was absolutely amazing as well. I have never seen anyone work as hard as the little deckhand Only. He was constantly cleaning, stuffing us with food, driving us into shore in his tiny little boat but then still managing to have an entire meal set out for us as soon as we arrived back on the boat. The captain Ahmet was a hilarious, trashy pop-song loving tanned Turk. Throughout the trip he managed to create several iPod wars by constantly changing whatever was playing to his favourite Rhianna song. One night he told us all when he was ten beers deep that he had just sent a text message breaking up with his English girlfriend – with nothing more than a very eloquent ‘f*** off it’s done’. Charming!

On our final night the boat was moored in an area known as ‘Pirates Cove’ and we actually had a little taxi boat come and collect us so we could be taken to a nearby bar/nightclub that was water-access only and thus was filled with people who were staying on all the boats moored nearby!

Another day, another delicious Turkish breakfast!

Needless to say the hangover on the final morning was definitely the biggest of the lot. I think little ‘Only’ was well aware of our tender dispositions in the morning as he supplied us with the most amazing cook up – eggs scrambled with tomatoes, capsicum and spices, Turkish sausages cooked in a tomato sauce, olives, tomatoes, lashings of cheese and piles of Turkish bread. It managed to make me feel almost human again!

Not long after we sadly said goodbye to the Alaturka 81 and our little crew and arrived back onto land. Hugs and emails were exchanged with promises to stay in touch and some of us even travelled on to our next destination together.

It only took me a few days to recover my ‘land’ legs and for everything to stop rocking – but I can honestly say that the memories of those four idyllic days cruising around the Mediterranean are going to stay with me for a long, long time to come.




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