We finally entered Turkish waters on 25th November 2019 and headed for the customs dock in Marmaris to check in. With 25kt winds onto the jetty we were loathe to tie up here so we called Marmaris Yacht Marina where we had pre-booked a three month stay, and asked if we could come in early and check in at the marina. They duly obliged and we were able to get our visas, check into Turkey and head back to the boat. By now the winds had got up to about 50kts and we asked if we could stay on the collector jetty for the night as we didn’t want to anchor in the bay. They were fine with that and we found out later that the weather in the bay had hit 70knots so we were very grateful to be snuggly tucked up inside the marina. We spent the next few days exploring Marmaris but the weather was atrocious so we were pleased when the day of our lift out came. We were hauled out at 8pm, 12 hours after they said we would be lifted which was a bit disconcerting as we were flying to Istanbul the next day. With Indian Summer safe on the hard we set off for home for a couple of weeks with our kids.
As we were flying out of Dalaman, we stopped for the night in a delightful town called Dalyan. We walked down by the river and found these carvings in the rock face which reminded us of Petra. Many people were out walking their dogs and just playing board games in the cafes – a lovely stop before the busy day ahead in Istanbul.
Istanbul is a gorgeous city but freezing cold. I never knew Turkey got so cold, we had to buy hats and scarves and still we froze. Living in the tropics for the last four years has made us very soft! After dumping our bags in the hotel we headed straight for The Hagia Sofia to find out that it was shut on Mondays. With only one day here we were disappointed, it it just means we will have to come back to Istanbul. We did see the Blue Mosque which was stunning, and the Topkapi Museum which was beautiful. We wandered around marvelling at the amazing ceilings and artworks and all in such a stunning setting overlooking the whole of Istanbul.
We also went to the Grand Bazaar which has now become a major tourist attraction. Even though it was December it was still quite crowded but very different from how I remembered it from 34 years ago. The Grand Bazaar in Turkey is one of the oldest in the world and it is huge. There are many entrances from different streets and it is a rabbit warren of small shops all selling typical Turkish offerings. It is fully enclosed which makes it warm in the winter and cool in the summer and I could have spent hours here. There were some good bargains as it was out of the tourist season so we bought some cushion covers but held back on the rugs – we just couldn’t carry any more. It was still as colourful as ever with all the killims and rugs hanging from the shop fronts, the fabulous decorated windows containing dried fruits, sweets, Turkish delight and nuts and all the golden painted lights hanging outside the tourist shops. I remembered the tea boys running around giving out glasses of hot sweet tea to the sellers – family businesses that date back generations.
We found a great restaurant that sold only Turkish food mainly to locals. It was cheap and delicious and very welcoming after a long day. There was no menu, just point to whichever dish you wanted. We had 4 different dishes and a drink and it only cost about $5 – this Turkish food is excellent.
We found the window displays quite incredible, hours must be spent on making them perfect. Many of the shops sell just one type of product, breads, honey, nuts, spices etc which are all family run. Not many chain shops here like in Australia where nearly every shopping centre has the same shops. We spent a long time just wandering round the backstreets – we will definitely have to come back and explore some more.
The next morning we had to fly to Australia via London. We spent just 12 hours in London before taking the night flight to Dubai and then onto Perth. We stepped out into bright sunshine and 32 degrees – home at last….
The next two weeks went in a blur – we caught up with two of our kids, went to a couple of christmas parties, caught up with most of our friends and shopped for boat parts. We sorted out some business, checked on the house and as usual wished we were staying longer but we had decided to spend Christmas with our respective Mums in England as we had not spent a Christmas with them for many years so after another tearful goodbye, Emily dropped us off at the airport for another long haul flight.
My nephew Matt kindly picked us up from the airport and we headed down to Canterbury to stay with mum. She was looking much better than when I had seen her in October even though she is now bed bound. She was thrilled to have us and Matt spent a couple of days before heading back to Lincoln. Again, we got caught up in a whirlwind of visiting people, family meals and sorting out boat parts including picking up two new props and a stove top! With a combined weight of over 12 kgs we were seriously up the max on our weight, and we were also worried we may get stopped in Turkey and have to pay huge tax on them but fingers crossed. We had a large family dinner in London and caught up with Steph who has moved to Nairobi and was in London with her boyfriend. She was only staying half an hour up the road so we caught up a few times. Christmas Eve was spent with 6 of us in Mums house having a hilarious time – she loved it and we laughed so much at some of her comments. Christmas Day we spent with Ian’s family in Whitstable which was great fun. We also spent a couple of days with Steph and her boyfriend Will’s family. The two weeks went incredibly fast and all too soon it was time to head back to Turkey and two months work before we could start cruising again at the beginning of March.
We flew into Antalya where we just walked through without being asked to open our bags -phew….. we found our hotel and then took the 6 hour bus journey back to Marmaris. We were surprised to see snow – we had to drive up into the hills before going back town to the coast and drove through miles of beautiful powder covered villages. It had been many many years since either of us had seen snow so we were quite excited. We arrived back by about 6pm, exhausted but very happy to be home.
The next day I went into Marmaris to get some internet and let the family know we had arrived back safe and sound but instead got the dreaded phone call – less than 24 hours after we had arrived back my mother had died. I rushed back to Ian and we managed to get a flight the next day but again from Antalya so I grabbed a few things and took a 6 hour taxi back to Antalya where I stayed in the same hotel before flying to England.
I stayed for three weeks, organising the funeral and sorting out Mums affairs with my sister who came down most days and my nephew Matt came to stay for a few days too. My brother came down at the weekends to help and between us we managed to get quite a lot done before I had to leave. Many people came to her funeral including both her brother and sister, both in their 90’s who made the long journey. I was very touched by how many people came and from such long distances – one of my cousins even came from Scotland. I was so pleased we had spent the previous two weeks with her and will always remember Christmas Eve and how happy she was to have so many visitors. I eventually flew back to Turkey where Ian met me from the airport and we got home about midnight. It had been a long emotional three weeks and nearly two months since I had been on board but I was very glad to be home.
RIP Mum. 2/9/1925 – 4/1/2020 ❤️❤️