Saying goodbye to Seabird was difficult, leaving her in the hands of strangers. But, the straps were on here and the ship was sailing, so we had no control over her from that point on. We were able to follow the ship with a program called marinetraffic.com. It tracks almost any ship as long as the ship is transmitting on its AIS system and shows the position in Lat/Long as well as a graphic of the position on an electronic chart.
We hung around for a few days in Phuket and then hopped on a plane that took us to Istanbul. We had made the reservations months ago based on the ships estimated schedule and fortunately, we had changeable tickets and were able to adjust our departure by a few days as the ship was a few days late. The ship was to take about two weeks and we decided to make the most of it by touring Turkey until the boat arrived.
The flight left Phuket at 6:30pm and after a brief stop in Kuala Lampur, we landed in Istanbul’s Attaturk airport at 6am the next morning, which worked out perfectly as we were well rested and started touring immediately. There were some items on our list, like the Blue Mosque that we wanted to see and we went there right away. It is just huge and it is hard to believe that they could build something like that 400 years ago.
On my list was a Turkish Bath, which is spa treatment of sorts. You go inside and lay on a marble platform, they scrub you with a rough sponge, then cover you with bubbles and give you a massage. After that, they move you to another room where you receive but ANOTHER massage, but this time with oil. In the traditional Baths, they have Turkish men for the men and Turkish women for the women, but I managed to find a place where the masseuse were all women!
The food here was something of great anticipation for us. We knew that it would be a huge departure from Thai food, but great just the same. Carol was looking forward to the fish and vegetables and I was looking forward to the Lamb Kebap, the Donor (see pic below) and the Yaprak Sarma (rolled grape leaves stuffed with rice)
The weather was a real shock to our system! When we left Phuket, it was 95 degrees. Upon arrival here, it was about 40 degrees and rainy! Away with the shorts and out with the woolies.
We spent about four days in Istanbul and then rented a car to travel to Marmaris, where the boat was to arrive. We had made arrangements to rent the car weeks in advance. The plan was to take a cab to the airport at 6am, then drive to the Automobile ferry and cross the lake (2 hours). When I got to the airport, they had no knowledge of my reservation:
Steven: I have a reservation for a one way rental
Rental Agent: Sorry, no rent for your name sir..
Steven: I have a confirmation right here…
Rental Agent: Sorry, canceled by company
Steven: What??? Why..?
Rental Agent: Sorry, I can get you car for 11am today..
Steven: but the ferry leaves in one hour…
Rental Agent: Do not understand…maybe try other rental…
Well, thanks a freakin lot!!! With Carol sitting in the cold, I ran around looking for another car and found one, fortunately, at National Car Rental, for the same price! The big problem was getting to the ferry, which takes 45 minutes, in less than 25 minutes. Normally it takes me about 3-4 weeks before I am comfortable enough to start pushing the traffic laws in a new country to the limit. Not this time! Lets just leave it at this: I made it to the Ferry with 2 minutes to spare!
The ferry arrived on the other side in about 2 hours and we proceded to drive south to Izmir.
While in Izmir, we took a tour of Ephesus, an ancient town built by the Romans 2000 years ago.
The pictures simply do not do the actual place justice. It is simply amazing and both of us, while there, could visualize it as a complete, bustling city several thousand years ago. It was made entirely of Marble, including the streets. They had running water in the houses, toilets, baths, stores and a coloseum that seated 25000 people. The idea was, back then, that there was a population of 250,000, with 10% being the “elite”. Only those were allowed in the coloseum. The rest must have been food for the lions.
Pictured below is the Roman Library in Ephesus. It was a massive structure and it was directly across the street from the city brothel. There was a tunnel from the inside of the library to the brothel. Word is that the men told their wives that they were going to the library……..and they did, sort of….
Believe it or not, this gorgeous city was simply abandoned 400 years after it was built. The rivers and streams eventually filled in the harbor with silt, cutting off the ship traffic, so everyone just left!
After that, we drove to a beautiful seaside village called Bodrum. We were in the offseason so it was not very crowded, but looking at all of the upscale shops and restaurants, it had to be a very chic place during the summer months.
After a few days in Bodrum, we headed for Marmaris with great anticipation. Many of our friends had moored their boats there and it should be great, but who really knows? We had to spend a week at a hotel before the boat arrived so we chose carefully, and wrong!! The first hotel, which was rated 5 stars, had a beautiful lobby and a nice spa underneath. We thought, this should be really nice. When we got to the room, the first thing that hit us was the stench of stale cigarette smoke! We complained immediately and they upgraded us to a Suite, which did not smell QUITE as bad, but had carpet stains and it was just overall seedy. We ended up making some lame excuse about an emergency and had to leave. It cost us one nights stay, per the contract, but we were happy to get out of there and into a nice hotel, the Anemon. There actually were even better hotels, but they were mostly closed for renovation, not opening until May.
Back in Istanbul, one of the first things we did was to aquire SIM cards for our cell phones and our Ipads. It is a simple process, really. You buy them, then pop them in and use them….right? Well, we have found that in Turkey, many things are not as easy as they seem.
Next…..the cell phone adventure….