An Aegean Adventure
Traci Ayris travelled with us on our Aegean Yacht Rally in 2019 and has shares part one of her travels along the way.
PART 1 – ISTANBUL to KUSADASI
One of the best things about my love of sailing is that it takes little encouragement to gather a bunch of like-minded friends for an adventure. When overnight temperatures begin to plummet, those warm blue waters on the other side of the globe are mighty enticing.
For most of us, long term cruising isn’t always an option but chartering is a great alternative. More than a decade ago I joined many of my Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia members on the Kalia Cup Rally in Tonga. A Mariner Boating holiday, it was my first group charter and one which I fondly recall as an unforgettable South Pacific soujourn. Three years ago, a few from our Tonga group joined Mariner’s French Riviera Rally (without a doubt, THE best way to experience the Mediterranean coast from Marseilles to Monaco), and, upon returning, we all immediately signed on to see the Dodecanese Islands of Greece as part of the 2019 Aegean Rally.
[Red Marlin Crew minus Nick and Kay]
Trevor and Maggie Joyce have hosted leisure sailing rallies around the world for more than 20 years, each one a great mix of racing, lay-days and social events. The Aegean rally this year was (supposedly!) Trevor and Maggie’s last hurrah before handing the reins over to daughter Sarah.
[Underground Basilica – Istanbul]
Unlike previous Mariner Rallies, our adventure this time didn’t start on water. Flying into Istanbul we were given the option to join a 5-day guided “Turkey Trot” as a touristy transfer to our departure port of Kusadasi, but first, we needed to spend some time with the beauty on the Bosphorous.
Istanbul is a jewel box. Lift the lid and it’s easy to see why it continues to capture the attention of so many travellers. Who wouldn’t be eager to experience one of the world’s great melting pots of culture, religion and history?
[Grand Bazaar – a kaleidoscope of colour]
Exploring this kaleidoscopic, cosmopolitan city at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, we were in turn seduced by its stories, awed by the architecture and impressed by the local cuisine. The welcomes, too, were warm and, over a few quiet Efes, (beer) we honed our basic skills in conversational Turkish with the locals. Sandy and I spent an afternoon in a traditional Hamam (Turkish Bath) that dated back to the 16th Century. Want to be covered in suds? full body massage? hair shampooed? it’s all here at Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam (where there are more boobs on display than a Sports Illustrated magazine). This is a must-do for any chicks on tour in Istanbul. #sorrynophotos
[If you see these in Turkey – order one! #delicious]
On the “Turkey Trot” our group of 16 or so were among the first to visit Troy’s spanking-new museum. We tried our best to imagine an incredible city walled city on the rock-covered outcrop that remains today.
At Gallipoli. So many places and familiar names to continually tug at our emotions. Standing by the beach, I wondered if it was possible for anyone to read the words of Ataturk without tearing up. I don’t think so. A big fan of the story of Simpson and his donkey, I respectfully left a floral token at his final resting place, noting, as I did so, that my own son is the very same age today as this brave soldier was when he died. It was quiet on the bus as we left, many of us humbled by the futility of war and incredible respect shown by the Turks for our Anzacs.
[Ataturk’s Words] [Turkish and ANZAC Soldier Statue]
We visited an obligatory rug factory in Selcuk to learn how silk is spun, dyed and used to create works of art so impressive that it’s almost a crime to walk on them. Nearby, at the amazingly-preserved town of Ephesus, our guide treated us to some surprising history and fascinating insights of this UNESCO heritage site. According to legend, Ephesus was founded by the Amazon tribe of warrior women. Turkey, you never cease to surprise!
by Traci Ayris, Aegean Yacht Rally 2019 traveller
Original post available here