Jul 052015


our sojourn in turkey has ended and we left our cottage in bozburun with heavy hearts. we caught the local bus to marmaris and then a ferry to the greek island of rhodes which is just 20 miles off the turkish coast. we arrived at early evening in rhodes and spent the night in the old walled city which is very pretty – although completely overrun with hordes of tourists.

we enjoyed our short stay in rhodes, it was great to taste some greek food and note the slight variations on the turkish cuisine. after staying the night we spent the next day and exploring and then we flew out for frankfurt in the evening. after we took off we flew past the datça peninsula where we had sailed and over knidos where we had spent 3 happy days on our charter yacht. as we described earlier we also drove the rental car out to knidos. so in effect we had driven, sailed and flown to knidos!!


Jul 012015

cindy & peter on their yacht

“insha’allah bozburun geri gel” is an expression we have heard a lot in the last few days, “god willing you will come back to bozburun” – as we visit all our friends here and tell them it is nearly time to move on, that is the standard response, and we can but agree! i dont often like to go back to a place i have visited, ultimatley it means i dont go somewhere new. i think in the case of bozburun it will be an exception and we will be back fo another stay in paradise.

our run of meeting interesting people has continued up to the last minute. a couple of days ago we were down at the boat harbour and sal noticed a yacht with a huge australian flag, we were having lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the harbour so while i was waiting for coffee i went to say hello, i asked, “is that a flag or a sail?” – the tongue in cheek question was well received by the boat’s owners, peter & cindy.

although they did get me back by roping me into helping them with retrieving a pulley sheath that had dropped into the boom while they were trying to grease it, it turned into a major operation with us having to remove the boom! needless to say my coffee was cold by this time!

anyway after an hour or so fiddling around we managed to recover the pulley and reinstate everything to its correct place, peter and cindy offered to take us out to dinner for our help, but we suggested instead that they bring some food along and we would have a bbq at our cottage.

once again theirs was a fascinating story, peter did an electrical apprenticeship when he left school, but after he finished his time he went straight into the catholic church as a priest and worked up in the torres straights with aboriginal communities and missions there. he gave up on the church when he decided that he wanted to have a wife and children.

some years ago he bought a yacht to set off sailing around the world, it was a well known yacht he purchased, “silver spirit edition” – that Ken Gourlay ftom tasmania, sailed round the world, non-stop in 180 days – becoming the fastest, single handed, unassisted circumnavigation by an Australian, a record that still stands.

while on his trip, peter met cindy in florida, living on her own 38′ yacht there, love blossomed between yachting neighbors at the marina and so 2 boats become one and their jouney continued together.

they arrived in turkey 3 years ago and have been teaching english since, they both work in a school in gaziantep – a city that is only 40kms from the syrian border in the far south east of turkey. not exactly the sort of place many westerners hang out! they love living there despite the proximity to the troubles and say the food is the best and most authentic in turkey!

they keep the yacht on the hardstand at bozburun when they are working and then during the holidays come down, put the boat back on the water and go sailing! what a life!!

anyway we had a fantastic night with them, they bought over plenty of beer and wine, a lovely salad and marinated chook ready for the char grill. i reckon it was one of the best paid hours work i have ever done! we have certainly been blessed with the amazing people we have met in this little town – reinforcing the “travel slow, stay in small towns” message.

today we are off to marmaris on the bus, then this afternoon we catch the ferry to rhodes, have a night there and fly to frankfurt to stay with carl and dorethea for a week or so.

Jun 262015
looking back at bozburun

looking back at bozburun

following on from the theme of the previous post, we have a family staying here that we also would never have met even if we had visited their home city of ankara, but here in quiet little bozburun and staying in the same property it was inevitable – especially as they have a 7 year old son, hamzah!

esam is Iraqi, his wife marie is scottish and hamzah is born in turkey – he already speaks arabic, turkish and english and hopes to learn spanish next! esam is a maths teacher and marie an english teacher. i have really enjoyed talking with esam, he is a very interesting guy, thoughtful, intelligent and gentle – he has also fuelled my interest in iraqi food!

meeting someone like esam also makes me reflect on the despicable way australia treats refugees and i wonder how different his story might have been had he sought refuge in australia?

its been great for kai to have a friend to play with again – especially one that speaks english! there is also a young turkish boy who is part of the family here at the apartments and the three of them spend most afternoons in the water together playing.

yesterday esam and i took the boys for a hike round to the other side of the bay and up a ravine that runs up from sea level to the top of the surrounding hills. its a dry creekbed and quite interesting with ancient stone walls built by the greeks to control the water in the winter and create small gardens along the side of the ravine. we also found an old well, it was surrounded by oleandars and still had water in it. there was some sort of water snake in it and as i moved closer to look lots of orange frogs jumped off the oleandars and into the water!

it was a day for animals really, we walked past the usual goats and sheep on the stony slopes and then came across the elusive tortorsises on the beach – i had been told about them but this was the first time they were out and about when we were there.

we also met a wild donkey on the track beside the ravine that we were climbing. all in all a fun boy’s outing!


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Jun 242015
aydin & hale at the wooden beach

aydin & hale at the wooden beach

one of the great things about staying in smaller places for a siginificant amount of time when you are travelling is that you meet people you would otherwise never cross paths with. aydin & hale menguç live in istanbul – but we would never have met them in the 2 weeks we spent in a city of 17m people!

here, they are staying in one of the apartments for a month and we have moved from polite ‘hellos’ to a real friendship and socialising. yesterday afternoon they joined us for a few beers and nibbles at our table under the grape vine and I actually recorded the conversation because they are such an interesting couple and i wanted to capture their story.

aydin is 95, born in 1920, 3 years older than the Turkish Republic! hale is a younger and sprightly 88! they have been coming to bozburun for 30 years and staying with the Ünlü family that own the apartments we are staying in. they will have been married for 65 years next week – on the 1st of july. they swim nearly every day, and are pictures of health and happiness. both aydin & hale speak perfect english and are both sharp as a button mentally.

aydin went to school in istanbul and went on to do law at istanbul university, he graduated after 4 years and then did a further 2 years study before becoming a judge in the turkish magistrates court, eventually he became chief judge in the supreme court and later the senior public prosecutor. he spent a year living in london during this time where he was sent to study the british legal system. after some years working as a judge and public prosecutor he retired and became a lawyer.

meanwhile hale had started work as a librarian for TUSLOG (the us logistics group), part of the NATO operations, as a result of a chance meeting at a party at hale’s work he met an american captian who was a judge advocate for TUSLOG and they needed a legal advisor so aydin became the chief legal advisor to the american forces, he started this role in 1963 and worked for them for the next 28 years, until his retirement at 72 years of age.

hale has held many interesting jobs also, as well as a librarian, she was an english teacher and a swimming teacher. she also worked as a technical interpreter for the building of the bridge over the bosphorus joining european istanbul with asian istanbul, the bridge was designed by the british hence the need for an interpreter.

aydin’s father, feyzi was a four star general, he fought and was wounded at canakkale (what we call gallipoli), and later became chief of the general  turkish staff and a personal friend of eisenhower’s. i found an amusing anecdote about him HERE

(click the play arrow and wait, to hear aydin talking about his father.)

their love story and marraige of 65 years started when aydin travelled to istanbul for his sister’s wedding, he ended up falling in love with his brother in law’s sister – so brother and sister married sister and brother! its a beautiful thing to see a couple so obviously in love with each other after such a life together, their passion for life, energy and enthusiasm with a very positive outlook on life must be a contributing factor to such longevity – both individually and collectively.

(click the play arrow and wait, to hear aydin & hale talking about how they met.

i think we are very privileged to have met them and to have aydin and hale share their life story with us, they are an inspiration and I can only hope that i am still swimming at 95 – as well as enjoying a few cold beers and a lengthy conversation with youngsters like us!

aydin after his morning swim!

aydin after his morning swim!

there was much more conversation last night of course, but hopefully these words paint a small and simple picture of this amazing couple and their interesting life. its surely a big part of why we love travelling.

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Jun 212015



we arrived in selimiye late afternoon after a really wonderful days sailing and found anchorage in the bay, it was our last stop before returning the yacht to marti marina, so it was a little sad, but we were also happy to be back in selimiye. kai and i hooked the paddle board up to the tender and i dragged him round the harbour!

sal and i had another lovely meal at sardunya restaurant, where we had been for her birthday, and then the following day we had a leisurely start for the short sail round into the next bay and back to orhaniye to return zambak to her home. we had to be fuelled up and back in the pen by 5:30pm and then we could stay onboard until 9am the next morning.

the marina services were very good, they had amazing showers – we all had very long, hot showers! it also has a lovely big swimming pool and a few restaurants, we chose to eat at the one beside the pool for our last night.

by lunchtime we were back in our cottage in bozburun, it truly felt like we had arrived home and i got a sense of how sad we are going to be to leave when we head to germany in a week or so!

anyway here is a last motley collection of images from the week on zambak!

Jun 212015



Skipper Sal at the helm with first mate kai

while we were in knidos i kept trying to get the best panorama to show the layout of the 2 bays, mainland and island that make up the area. the island was joined to the mainland by a causeway the ancient greeks constructed. anyway here a few of the attempts that didnt end up on the cutting room floor!

from knidos we sailed south, round to the outside of the greek island of symi and down to the ancient city of loryma on the east coast of the bozburun peninsula called bozukkale. it was a great day, although the breeze was a bit flukey, luckily we managed to sail most of the day. the entrance to the bay is overlooked by the ruins of the castle.  measuring 27 m. wide by 320 m. long, and surrounded by fortification walls, this long, narrow castle was erected to protect the bay. there were once nine square-shaped ramparts along protective walls made from straight cut stones. however of the original nine, only a single promontory rampart in the north can be seen today. there are round towers situated at the two ends of the castle. its quite an impressive sight!

we moored off the sailor’s house restaurant, which proved to be an inspired choice. the food was fantastic, and given that there is no road access so everything has to come in by boat it was all the more amazing. it was a set price -50TL for dinner, we got 3 yummy mezes and a coice of main courses, sal chose a wonderful lamb dish with a large part of the leg of lamb cooked in the wood fired oven and i had scrumptious grilled octopus. all served with amazing fresh salad and vegies out of the extensive garden behind the restaurant.

mustufa was a very friendly host and was passionate about his lifestyle and wonderful little restaurant business.

after a very pleasant stay we had once again to move on. we sailed out from bozukkale and headed around the cape towards bozburun, but the wind was perfect for sailing so we decided to keep going and head across between the islands off the bozburun peninsula and the mainland and head towards selimiye. it was the best sail of the week, the wind was perfect and the scenery was stunning – the cliffs of the mainland on one side and the craggy islands the other.

Jun 212015
sal at the helm of zambak

sal at the helm of zambak

its been a pretty eventful week since my last dispatch on the blog, friday a week ago we got a lift over to marti marina in the village of orhaniye and picked up our charter yacht, zambak – a beneteau 343 – and set off for 8 days of sailing the turkish coast.

we sailed up to datça the first day, and discovered a couple of unexpected problems, the fresh water pump wasnt working and the bilge was full of fresh water – likely connected events as i suspected.

i rang the charter company and they arranged for a mechanic to come to the boat and try to repair the pump, he managed to find the leaks on the hot water side and fix them, but the water pump was beyond his persistent macgivering and late on friday night he gave up and informed the company they would have to send someone over with a new waterpump the next day.

we didnt mind too much as datça is a nice little town, a pretty setting and a bit of a buzz without being too busy. also our friends robbie, jo, peter & heidi who were sailing on their boats and whom we had met in bozburun, were still coming up the coast so it gave them a chance to catch up with us.

a guy appeared on saturday morning on his scooter with a toolbox and waterpump between his feet and he set to replacing the old one, it was a brand new second hand one and proved to have a mind of its own with the pressure switch playing up over the remaining time of the charter, but we just took it in our stride and got on with the job at hand!

after a second night at datça we headed off to knidos, the others decided to stay an extra day and do some exploring by motorbike, as we had already driven the area we said we would go on ahead and they would catch us up the following day in knidos.

we ended up staying in knidos for 3 nights, we had an amazing time there, it is such a powerful setting, being anchored in the actual harbour of a 2500 year old ancient greek city. imagining the population of about 6000 people going about their business and daily lives. trying to guess why after nearly 1000 years the city was deserted and left to crumble into ruins, despite none of the issues that beset other abandoned greek cities, (silting rivers, earthquakes, sacking by conquerers.) discussing what had happened to the statue of aphrodite that mysteriously disappeared from its circular temple on the crest of knidos and is apparently lost to humanity. trying to work out how the hell they actually carved, moved and then erected the massive stone blocks that remain from the waterline right up to the acropolis at the peak of the steep hills overlooking the harbour. it is truly mind boggling and largely myterious to us.

its impossible not to be impressed by not just the scope and breadth of the endevour to build such a city over 2500 years ago, but also the accuracy, construction without mortar and joints that are still perfect.

as well as scrambling all over the hillsides like crazy mountain goats, which are covered with fragrant wild thyme bushes ablaze with purple flowers and buzzing with bees, we enjoyed the crystal clear, azure waters. this is the point where the aegean sea and the med meet and the turquoise waters live up to their postcard perfect reputation. swimming, snorkelling and paddleboarding were all pleasant past times in paradise!

each afternoon we got together for drinks on one of the boats, either joining robbie and jo on the “southern star” – their very comfortable and roomy nordhavn 47 motor cruiser they had steamed up from nz in, or peter and heidi – 3 years into sailing round the world from germany on the very practical and pretty aluminium cutter, “stormvogel” or on the final night together squeezing onto “zambak”!

after knidos we parted ways, “southern star” & “stormvogel” heading north and we weighed anchor and headed back south, around the greek island of symi and down to another ancient greek city, loryma, now called bozukkale, but thats another story!

it was not without sadness, we had become very close to robbie, jo, heidi and peter in a short amount of time – but thats part of the joy of travelling, you meet people, connect, share experiences and then move on. i somehow it wont be the last we see of them though – maybe a get together in arnhem land!


Jun 102015

the view from the road to taşlica

we have been in paradise for another week or so, i took the car back to marmaris on monday so its shank’s pony to get about now. sal and i had a drive over to söĝüt and taşlica on sunday while we still had the car. we enjoyed a lovely seafood lunch at denizkizi restaurant in söĝüt. the road from söĝüt to taşlica climbs near vertically from sea level up to a couple of thousand metres and the views were breathtaking (again!).

we also met an interesting couple on a large power boat from new zealand, robbie & jo had steamed from NZ and then had the boat shipped from asia thru the red sea and into turkey where they rejoined it. they are travelling with another couple on a yacht, peter and heidi left germany 3 years ago and have been travelling the world on their very smart and practical aluminium yacht.

they all came over for dinner last night and we had a lovely time eating, drinking and chatting at our dining table under the grape vine. i knocked up my go to meal here, char grilled butterfly lamb marinated in yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice, spices and herbs with grilled vegetables, potato salad and a “fresh from the garden” green bean and red cabbage salad.

we have really spent very little time with other travellers on this trip, but this was really a special night and really enjoyable to talk to such interesting and genuine people. i must have been concentrating on the discussions too much because i forgot to take any photos of us together, so once again its just more damn images of food!!

on friday we pick up a charter yacht from marti marina at orhaniye and have 8 days seeing this amazing country from a different perspective, we are all looking forward to it with much excitement! we will be sailing a Beneteau Oceanis 343, the next post will be from on board Zambak!

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Jun 042015


yesterday was sal’s birthday, 21 again! we started the day with breakfast in bed, a big omelette made with eggs from the chooks at the house here. then we set off in the car to visit marti marina and look into chartering a yacht for a week.

after that we drove across the bozburun peninsula to a little place called çiftlik and had lunch there before driving up the coast through more amazing, steep, rocky country to the village of söğüt which is the next one around to the east from bozburun and has a very good seafood restauant we wanted to find for another day.

after an afternoon rest sal and i drove into selimiye for dinner at a waterside restaurant the owners of the pansiyon had recommended to us, called sardunya. we had a lovely meal there and it capped off a lovely day of celebration of sal’s special day.

at the end of the meal i asked for the bill and they instead brought out an amazing birthday fruit salad replete with sparkler and a tea candle on a lemon inside a hollowed out tomato! we squeezed in as much as could of the fresh cherries, strawberries, watermelon, rock melon, apricots and banana!

Jun 022015
kai & sal in the rental

kai & sal in the rental

yesterday we headed off for a day on the road, we thought we better use the rental car while we still have it! the plan was to explore the large peninsular to the north of bozburun so we drove out of town, across the hills and past the next town of selimiye. its also a very pretty town, just a little more touristy.

then it was on thru the other towns and out the peninsula to datça for lunch. other than marmaris, datça would be the biggest town in the area. its an amazing drive out there, with a wonderful winding and steep road up and over the mountain pass before plumetting down into datça. truly a road that you would expect to see the top gear team tearing up with a lambo, porsche and ferrari! amazing views of the sea from high above, both on the south side towards the greek island of symi and to the north side towards the bodrum peninsula.

we had a bite of lunch in datça before heading on out towards the town of yaziköy, near the ancient greek city of knidos. again the road was amazing, mainly sealed with some gravel sections, narrow, winding and steep, stunning views of the mountains, valleys and sea on either side, passing thru tiny, traditional villages.

i dont think many people ever get all the way out to knidos, the road is pretty intimidating, its a long way and not many people – even turkish people, seem to know about it. we were told about it by an english couple on a cruising yacht – they were not even sure if it was possible to drive there, but said it was an amazing anchorage and worth trying to find by road!

the ancient greek city of knodos is right on the tip of the bozborun peninsula and was established in the 6th century BC, it had a population of around 20,000 at its height and was famous for various reasons throughout the empire. it was an amazing experience to wander amongst the ruins, overlooking the twin harbours.


we went for a swim off the jetty and the water was chrystal clear – even by mediterranean standards, not hard to see why its such a favourite anchorage of the yachties!

anyway, i will let the images speak for themselves!


Jun 012015



our little french chateau

…so we had arrived in bozburun, i had hurriedly booked a night at Ünlü Apart Pansiyon before we left selçuk – they appeared to have a range of apartments and i figured it would do for the first night, and if we liked the spot we could stay there longer or find somewhere else.

when we arrived they offered us either an upstairs apartment with 2 bedrooms and balcony, or a quaint little stone cottage – once we saw inside and heard the story it was a no-brainer! the apartments are owned by Nail and his wife, and run with the help of his son, fadil and his french born wife, laetitia.

the story with the cottage is that friends of laetitia, a french couple, had fallen in love with bozburun and had the little stone cottage built on nail’s land with the intention of spending their spare time here.

from the photos it looks like they now have 2 young children, and i suspect the spare time is short and infrequent, so they let the family rent it out to people like us. its filled with the owner’s furniture, fittings, knick knacks, artifacts, art, cutlery, crockery – basically an entire home down to some clothes and toothbrushes in the bathroom!

so we just fell in love with it, though small there is a sofa bed for kai in the lounge area, and a separate dining area, small kitchen and bathroom as well as our double bedroom. it has a flat roof with a marble floor so we can sit up there and look over the harbour, it also has a small verandah with a table we sit at for breakfast and then a large tiled patio with a huge grapevine shading it and comfy seats and dining table as well as a hammock.

then its straight onto the small street that runs along the waterfront, across that and onto our ‘wooden beach’, at first i was more than a little dubious about the wooden beach – essentially a wide wooden deck along the foreshore with a ladder to get in and out of the water and comfy deckchairs with shade umbrellas.

i have to say i am totally sold on it now, no sand to get in tricky places, no rocks, straight into deep water, comfy deck chairs and back across the street to grab a snack or beers – and if you forget to stock the fridge its 50m to the shop to grab a few coldies for the ‘wooden beach’

anyway, the long and short of it is that we have just fallen in love with both bozburun and the cottage – or chateau rick as i am calling it! we have decided to stop here for a month or so, we dont believe we will find anywhere this special again and even if we found another village we loved as much, we certainly wouldnt find another french cottage like this!

we are also enjoying being stopped again and being able to cook again – although we havent had to do much thanks to the owner’s generosity! they brought over a huge pan full of dolma yesterday at lunch time – stuffed zuccini flowers, zuccini and grape leaves, as well as a bowl of baby potatoes, cold in lemon juice and olive oil with a big lump of home made yoghurt!

we had a bit for lunch, then ate it with some lamb i grilled for dinner and again with grilled fish tonite! they are already talking about the next dish they will cook for us!

if you never hear from us again, you will know where to look!

Jun 012015


bozburun harbour

bozburun harbour

i figure i better split this into two posts, one about the village of bozburun and one about the specific place we are staying, so here is the bozburun post!

i first heard about this town when researching for our drive down the south west coast of turkey, i came across a mention somewhere that alluded to the fact that bill gates had rated it as one of the world’s most beautiful spots. now as an apple man, and someone who regards windoze and M$ as the work of the devil incarnate, i wouldnt normally take any notice of what bill gates says.

lets face it though, if you were worth a rough $80b, you should have some idea of where the good spots are on this planet (and a few others in nearby solar systems), and hence my interest was piqued.

when we discovered we couldnt get the ferry from bodrum to kalymnos to visit the gove cafe because it doesnt run until the summer season after mid-june, we decided to skip bodrum and head to the next spot on our list – bozburun – based on no more than the hearsay opinion of one of the planet’s richest individuals.

it proved to be an inspired decision, this is truly one of the planets best spots. there are so few places like it. it has everything you need, ATM’s, fast internet, supermarkets with all the day to day essentials, local restaurants at local prices, fresh produce grown locally, BUT, almost no one knows about it, no big hotels, no masses of holiday homes (even the turks dont know about it.).

the locals still own and run the place, the owners where we are staying are a turkish family born and bred in bozburun, their son, fadil, married a french girl, laetitia, and she told us that as far as she knows she is the only local not born here!!

so the locals own the restaurants, bars, bakery, butcher, shops, pensions, boats and everything else. i cant think of anywhere other than nhulun that has this level of services and yet almost no tourism.

we are about 150m from the center of the village and right on the water, we can walk about 1.5km along the water front in one direction, back to the boat building yards the village is famous for, and in the other direction we can walk about 2km to another little boat harbour on the outside of the peninsular.

we actually just walk out the front door of our cottage, walk 10m across the front patio, under a grape vine and across the ‘street’ to the ‘wood beach’ and the waterfront.

anyway, enough about bozburun, next, the perfect little french cottage that has become our new home!



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May 302015
the zombies apocalypse has started!

the zombies apocalypse has started!

we stayed one night in selçuk which is the city close by the ancient greek city of ephesus, it was badly damaged by earthquakes and eventually destroyed by one of the roman leaders. it has been painstakingly restored by international archaeologists and while the restoration is only partial some sense of its former glory can be observed.

it includes the site of the temple of artemis, one of the seven ancient wondors of the world, all that remains is one column constructed of disassociated fragments found at the site. there is also an ampitheatre, library and terrace houses that date from roman occupation.

one thing we have learnt is that there are no distinct ruins remaining to one period, for example, although ephesus was an ancient greek city it was partially destroyed and then rebuilt by the early romans and later the byzantine empire. No doubt early ottaman people also used parts of the city.

so the bottom levels of the ampitheatre are ancient greek in construction, whereas the upper two tiers were added by the romans.

the terrace houses were built on the site of an ancient greek graveyard by the romans.

the ampitheatre was particularly impressive, not hard to imagine the massive crowd baying for blood as the gladiators emerged out of the tunnels to fight to the death!


ephesus was also a center for the construction of sarcophaguses and it was interesting to see how small they were, the average person in those times was obviously rather stout!

after ephesus we drove down to bozburun which is on the peninsula out from marmaris. the drive was stunning, especially the last 100kms or so which climbs up over a large range and plunges down the other side back to the sea. unfortunately we had massive thunder storms and torrential rain all day so no photos!

bozburun is an amazing little fishing and boat building village, almost all of the inhabitants were born here, very little tourism and a stunning location surrounded by steep rocky hills. i will write more about it and where we are staying in the next post.

May 292015

we finished our 2 weeks in istanbul and flew out to izmir on monday, its only about a 50 minute flight but it saved having to drive a car thru istanbul city. we arrived in the afternoon and picked up our rental car – a very nice, near new honda civic. its been a few years since i have had to drive on the wrong side of the road and it took a bit to get the hang of it again – but having sal as co-driver certainly helped! i think the round abouts are the hardest thing to get the hang of, it definitely still takes both of us to get round them! sal tells me where to go and i work on looking in the right place for traffic to give way to!

we had about an hour’s drive across to a town called mordoğan (underlined on map), we ended up stopping for lunch at a little seafood cafe in a place called balikliova, while i was trying to work out how to order some fish, a huge platter of salad, a couple of mezes and a bottle of water arrived at the table! i ended up just pointing at the yummy looking fish the couple were eating on the next table to get our fish! we arrived at our hotel, the mavi keci late afternoon, it was not easy to find as it was up a winding little cobblestone road on the side of the big hill overlooking the town. serdar’s sister serap, knew the owner and had arranged for us to stay there, we got the first night free as a result of some past favour owed! it was a beautiful small boutique hotel, lots of wonderful wood work and very comfortable rooms with a huge terrace separating the rooms from the dining area.izmir.png

the fields surrounding the hotel were filled with ancient ruins, and scattered with grazing goats who have distinctive bells on their necks so you get this wonderful melody as they wander along feeding!

the second day we did a drive up and around the top of the peninsular, down the west side and back across to balikliova for lunch before completing the circle back to the hotel. it is all very quiet here, the roads have almost no cars on them and all the seaside villages have just the locals – although from the massive amount of holiday houses in some places and the many deserted restaurants its obvious that there is a huge influx of holidayers in the season. i think our timing has been perfect in doing this trip now, it would be much more difficult in another month – both the driving and finding accomodation etc.

that night derya cooked up a beautiful meal for us, just a simple baba ghanoush that was wonderfully smoky and garlicy, a serve of fresh calamari deep fried and a big salad. the next morning we headed off to drive down to a little village called ildir where we stopped for a tea looking out over the harbour and then we drove onto the village of alaçati which is just out of çeşme. it was a pretty place, narrow cobblestone streets, with the main part all closed to traffic, lots of lovely old stone buildings and filled with restaurants, cafes and shops. it was very touristy, but in a nice way and again because we are here before the season really kicks off, it was quiet enough. we had a bite of lunch and then headed into find our hotel we had booked in çeşme.

this looked simple on google maps! of course it was rather different in reality and our first real test driving in turkey, first of all the road we were driving along into çeşme became more and more congested as it approached town, it soon became obvious it was market day, then the road promptly ended where it was blocked off to vehicles! we worked out an alternative route which took us down cobblestone streets so narrow the mirrors were just about knocked off the car, we then got caught in a 3 way traffic jam – no possibilty of passing each other, and a battle of will and wits over who would back up to let the other through! i won with my deft use of english against 2 car loads of people who only spoke turkish!

we finally got down into the center of town where the narrow lanes continued, except they were mainly one way, which people mainly, although not always heeded! it also became obvious that our hotel with ‘free parking’ was on a lane that was closed to all cars anyway! after a couple of ciruits of the general area around the tiny lanes, we decided to get as close as possible by driving the wrong way down a one way lane and then parking close enough for sal to find the hotel on foot and ask about the parking.

5 minutes later she returned to the car, we were directed to another hotel that would provide the parking for our hotel! i managed to turn the car around and start to drive out the right direction this time, when we got to the start of the street though we found our path blocked by parked cars and taxis and a row of steel bollards in front of them preventing any possibility of us exiting the street we were in!!

after a minute of so of blind panic i got sal to jump out again and go across to where the taxi drivers were gathered to ask them how the hell we were meant to escape, i think she got a lecture about driving the wrong way down a one way street, into an are that we werent allowed into anyway – but they relented and one taxi driver jumped in his taxi to make a path out clear, as he started the taxi one of the large steel bollards auto-magically disappeared down into the road so we were able to make good our escape!

we found the other hotel, who basically told us we could park in the street anywhere where we could find a space! not sure why the hotel we were staying in didnt just tell us the same! luckily we had already repacked so we only needed day packs with essentials in them and the suitcases could stay in the car, so it was no great effort to walk from the car to our hotel.

sal and went for a walk along the waterfront and stopped in a bar to have a beer, across from us was a small timber motor boat with a group of about 4 guys sitting on it, they got glasses out and started drinking raki and sal commented that it looked like they were setting up for a party. we went back out with kai to look for somewhere for dinner and ended up walking past the boat again – sure enough the party was in full swing, a newspaper for a tablecloth on the engine cover and a spread of mezes, octopus, crab and fish.

i stopped and asked if we could take a photo, they spoke no english but waved us onto the boat to join them! we ended up sharing their feast – and about 3 bottles of raki!! another couple of guys joined the group and they spoke english so then the party was in full swing. they were the most wonderful and generous hosts and we had an incredible night with them.

we staggered back to the hotel at the end of the night and have suffered all day today!

today we have driven down to selçuk where we will visit the ruins at the ancient greek city of ephesus.


 Posted by at 12:46 am  Tagged with:

May 242015

istanbul-13our time in istanbul is drawing to a close, on monday we fly to the city of izmir and hire a car to explore the south west coast of turkey. its been a fantastic 2 weeks, staying in europe’s 2nd biggest city has been quite an adjustment from life in nhulunbuy, or even our few months in NZ.

at nearly 15m people, istanbul is not so much smaller in population than the whole of australia! despite that we have really enjoyed our time here, its a vibrant city filled with amazing buildings and constant reminders of a history that dates back to the beginning of civilisation. the greek gods are not far away, neither the sultans of the ottaman empire, helen of troy or the roman’s architecture.

we havent really done too much of the touristy stuff, its enough just to live and breathe in this amazing city, straddled over 2 continents, many religions, and several eons. we did a boat trip out to the princes islands – islands renowned for their peace and tranquility due to the total absence of cars on the islands. sadly we were not really impressed, i am sure residents of istanbul feel like its a tranquil getaway, but coming from arnhem land and piha it didnt feel that way to us! the fact that we accidently chose to go on a tuesday that was also a public holiday for government workers didnt help!

we also went to the istanbul aquarium with kai, it was ok, but to be honest its not in the class of say auckland or melbourne.

i think for us its been the wandering thru the back streets, discovering un described ancient ‘things’ and buildings, wonderful little restaurants and meeting the locals that has made it such an interesting city. we have barely scratched the surface in 2 weeks, only one trip to the asia side – where i suspect there is days of exploring to be had, very little time around galata and taksim and we have not seen the business center at all.

the public transport is outstanding for such a huge city, a great card system for fares, you only swipe on so you pay an average fare whether you go the whole distance or just one stop, it works or buses, trains, trams and ferries. we never seem to have to wait long for anything, there is a very good subway system only opened a couple of years ago and there are apps you can download for your phone to work out how to get anywhere at any time.

finally staying in this apartment has been perfect, its such a great location and a lovely old house made perfect with the balcony overlooking the city. serdar, has been the perfect host, he whips up an amazing breakfast every morning and has been very helpful and welcoming. we have also met 2 of his 5 sisters and a cousin! we took one of his sisters and his cousin out to dinner last week, with the two german guys who had been staying here in the house. stephan & michael were really good fun and so it was fantastic to be able to all get together for a big meal together. we got serdar to choose the restaruant and he took us to a very good seafood restaurant and we ate till we burst, washed down with the turkish firewater, raki, which is an aniseed based spirit.

here a few more images of the city we have loved so much,


 Posted by at 12:03 am  Tagged with:

May 222015
street food

typical Istanbul street food vendor

the food of istanbul has been at least as good as expected – which is great because we arrived with high expectations! i have posted lots of images on instagram but i figured some readers may not follow my instagram account so i better throw some foodie pics up for them! so apologies to those readers that have seen all the yummy food already.

eating out here is certainly very cheap, we do frequent the local street vendors, cafes and restaurants, but even the bigger, flasher restaurants are cheap by australian standards. its easy to get a simple lunch with a drink for $4-5 and not much more for a filling dinner. $15 per head will get you dinner and a drink of ayran in a comfortable restaurant with table service.

we have grown accustomed to the turkish national drink, a form of salted yoghurt drink, its called açik ayran and special machines foam it up to give it a frothy head when served in pewter bowls. its actually the perfect accompaniment to the meaty and spicy dishes so common here. the cheaper places just have the ayran in plastic cups like a small yoghurt container, but its still yummy!

we have also grown to love the turkish coffee and the many glasses of tea that are a part of any meal or conversation or opportunity!

anyway, i will let the images speak for themselves!

i realised i need to update with a few more images and words! so firstly dürümzade, reputably the best dürüm in the world, another place made famous by anthony bourdain – and another place in istanbul that doesnt trade on the attention and custom he has brought to the restaurant. it remains a tiny, corner shop, char grill in the window, about 3 tiny tables and a non stop production of one simple dish done really well! two dishes actually, i had a bowl of the mercimek çorbasi (lentil soup) and it too was to die for. the prices are the same as they have been for years, about $3.50 of our pesos gets you the worlds best dürüm.

dürüm is the name of the kebab wrap that is the perfect fast food in turkey, its made with a lavaş a tortilla like flat bread. the lavaş is heated on the charcoal and then the kebab of choice (we had lamb) is grilled, after one rotation of the kebab, out comes the lavaş, the grill master then drapes it over the kebabs cooking over the coals, creating a smoky tent for the meat while keeping the lavaş off of the fire directly.

as the lavaş heats up, the spice rub on the wrap imparts its flavor onto the skewered meat below. While the lavaş is still flexible, the usta (“master” in Turkish) pulls it from the grill and covers it with a bed of chopped parsley, sumac-dusted onions and tomatoes, onto which he lays the freshly grilled meat from the skewer.

no discussion of food in istanbul would be complete without a tip about the best place to eat lahmacun, the amazing dish made with flat bread spread with a paste of finely ground meat, spices and herbs baked to perfection in a wood fired oven, then served on a platter. the customer then adds a handful of fresh parsley and a big squeeze of lemon juice before rolling it up and eating a little bit of heaven, standard cost 4 TL or $2 aussie.

quite by accident sal and I stumbled upon borum taşfirin in kadiköy on the asia side. we went over on the ferry to have a wander round and after a few hours of aimless wandering we happened upon this little shop, again on a corner, it immediatley looked like our sort of joint, not at all touristy, packed with locals, a gaggle of yourng turks in a production line to roll out the dough, spread the secret topping mix and load them in and out of the wood fired oven. we have had lahmacun in many places around the city, but this one was the standout.


 Posted by at 5:37 pm  Tagged with:

May 172015



panorama of the view from our balcony

the area of istanbul we are staying in is the greek and jewish quarter of istanbul and is a rabbit warren of narrow cobblestone streets overhung with narrow fronted, tall buildings in various states of decay and dilapidation. it is quite reminiscent of our time in havana, cuba.

in the morning we hear the sing song calls of the vendors with handcarts selling hot pastries and breads walking the streets. tourists are few and seldom seen. all are just visiting the area, we havent seen any others staying here. its very much a living local community and a great insight into turkish life in this ancient sity.

the cafes, restaurants and street food vendors have only one price – there is no tourist markup, pretty clearly because tourists are so rarely customers.

because of the narrow, steep and winding cobblestone streets its much quieter here, much less traffic than most areas of the city – you dont drive in here unless you have to and you know where you are going! there are always kids playing on the streets, mainly very young syrian refugees – turkey has about 2 million syrian refugees.

(for australians reading, ‘refugees’ are displaced people who are fleeing violence and persecution in their own country. the rest of the world, even very poor countries like turkey, give these people safe refuge and look after them.)

as far as i know, no other country demonises them, imprisons them offshore, allows the children to be sexually assaulted and then forcibly returns them to the violence and oppression they were seeking to escape. australia perhaps should start pulling its weight and comply with international law on the treatment of refugees.

this is a little video of my favourite street vendor, he has a great call and comes through about 10am each morning, so i know its time to get moving! he is selling Poğaça sade which are hot little, flakey, plain pastries – not unlike a croissant.


 Posted by at 12:49 am  Tagged with:

May 162015
ishan's fiat taxi

ishan’s fiat taxi

I had heard about Ishan Aknur, self proclaimed world’s best taxi driver, from my friend annie. I realised he also featured in the episonde of ‘no reservations’ that anthony bourdain filmed in istanbul and we also discovered numerous other media appearances around the world on his website, HERE.

we engaged his services for the day yesterday and he picked us up around 10am and we headed across the bridge and through taksim on our adventure. the day was destined to be drama filled, ishan got a puncture just before picking us up and then outside of taksim we got caught up in a traffic snarl due to an office block being on fire! having negotiated the fire brigade we were then brought to a standstill by a demonstration of some sort by students – forcing us to take an alternative route again.

our first stop was the Çırağan Palace, now a very flash hotel, but originally a sultans palace on the banks of the bosporus. history buffs can read the details HERE.

ishan told us he would drop us at the entrance to the hotel and we should pretend to be guests and walk down to the right until we came to the original palace and have a steaky beak around the palace and its grounds while he waited for us. apparently the subterfuge was required due to some dispute between hotel management and himself. i suspect it was largely all part of the sense of theatre central to ishan’s tour!

its pointless to try to describe ishan and his antics in the taxi, best just to go to his site and watch a couple of videos, you will quickly get the idea! our next stop was across in asia, istanbul is the only city in the world to bridge two continents, half is on the european side, and when you drive across the bosporus bridge to the other side of the city you are actually driving into asia!

we drove up to the top of the highest hill in istanbul which has sweeping views back across the city, it was pretty smoggy so the pics werent the best, but it was worth the visit. after that we headed back into eminonu to find the best turkish delight store in the world, for kai. the shop has been operating for over 200 years and the turkish delight lived up to its reputation!

the final stop before lunch was the fatih mosque and we saw the serious side of ishan as he explained the process and significance of prayer at the mosque. the photos i took inside simply didnt do the structure any justice, they are certainly incredible buildings.

lunch was at sur ocakbasi, a restaurant made famous by anthony bourdain’s visit. they cook whole lambs in an amazing fire pit that the lambs are lowered into and then the pit is sealed up while they cook slowly. the end result is the most tender, melt in the mouth lamb you have ever eaten!

after lunch we finished off the day with a visit to the chora museum in the church that dates back to the 5th century. it is the site of the most incredible mosaics and frescoes lovingly restored to their former glory. history and culture buffs can read more HERE

here is a little homage to anthony bourdain and ishan. (you have to watch the episode to get it) it also gives some insight as to why he is also the craziest as well as the best!


May 132015

bazaar-6one of the great benefits of ‘slow’ travel such as our gap year adventure is that you have enough time in one place to stumble across things that a normal tourist has little chance to observe.

sal & i had lunch at a little restaurant we had discovered on our walk this morning, and after our delicious lahmacun we went for another wander up through the back streets of fener and we came upon an amazing market that stretched for many hundreds of metres along a road that had been closed off.

apparently it was the Çarşamba Pazar or Wednesday Bazaar, held once a week in this area of fatih. the scale of the bazaar was extraordinary and its hard to imagine the amount of work to set up all the stalls and awnings etc for just one day a week.

May 122015
our first glimpse of turkey

our first glimpse of turkey

we left NZ on sunday lunchtime and landed in singapore after 10 hours flying at about 7pm, we then had about 7 hours in changi airport. I had booked a room in the transit hotel so we just crashed in there and slept until boarding. we then had another 10 hrs or so to istanbul, the flight left at about 2am so we were able to sleep a bit on the plane.

we flew singapore airlines all the way and found them as good as ever, polite, helpful air staff, good food (for planes!), and soft landings!

we were a bit disconcerted when the first glimpse of turkey as we crossed the eastern border early on monday morning was snow covered mountains!! as you can see from the image, its not light snow either, maybe the spring thaw is a little late?

with the aid of google maps on my iphone we were able to direct the taxi driver to our apartment, no easy feat as the area, fener balat, is a maze of tiny little cobble stone streets.

serdar, from whom we rented the apartment was there to meet us and it soon developed into a bit of deja vu – like our arrival in havana some years ago. the similarity was more than just visual, there was a ‘misunderstanding’ about the apartment. We were not in fact renting the whole apartment as we had understood, we were renting 2 bedrooms in the apartment, serdar lives in another bedroom, and there is another double and another single that he rents out also.

so in effect we are sharing with him and whoever stays in the other rooms. its not the end of the world, and i am sure we will meet some interesting people – although so far we are the only guests anyway.


its 4 stories high, so kai is sleeping on the ground floor, where serdar’s bedroom is also, then on the next floor is a double and single bedroom, then on the third floor is another double (ours) and a kitchenette, and on the fourth floor is another kitchenette, a living room and the balcony!

the apartment has a narrow winding staircase up through the floors and in the middle of the lounge room on the top floor there is a thick piece of glass set in the floor so you can see all the way down to the ground floor!

we are only just starting to explore the food, so far we have just been getting a big plate with heaps of stuff, rice, chick peas, lamb, kofkas, vegetables etc so we can try different things and see what we like. in fener balat they serve it with the most delicious, light bread – very similar to baguettes.

we have also been buying the most scrumptious tomatoes from the street stalls and fresh hot bread from the bakers for a yummy snack at home!

we have done a bit of exploring in our immediate neighbourhood, my foot gets better by the day, but I still have to be a bit careful about how much walking we do! its certainly a fascinating city to wander around and I am sure we will continue to be amazed as we explore further afield over the next couple of weeks.