Coronavirus halts plans but opens our eyes to other pleasures

After the extreme busy-ness of our daughter and son-in-law’s wonderful wedding it was great to be able to just relax and unwind for a few days while they enjoyed a “mini moon” in the beautiful Hotel des Indes in The Hague.

The beautiful Hotel des Indes

While they were away we looked after their cat and enjoyed daily walks around their neighborhood.

Cato wasn’t that impressed with us!

As in so many countries, a second spike in the Coronavirus infections had increased restrictions. In the Netherlands this meant a partial lockdown with all cafes, bars, and restaurants closed and households only allowed two visitors a day (although these rules didn’t apply to children under 13).

She has a subtle way of getting attention

We felt very fortunate to be able to stroll through the local streets and see fantastic sights that we might normally have missed if it hadn’t been for lockdown. Coronavirus might have halted our plans but our eyes have been opened to so much beauty!

A beautiful heron fishing in a nearby canal

For example, a beautiful heron poised to catch a fish in a nearby canal and the many colours of autumn in the trees both on the streets and in local gardens. Other beautiful sights such as some amazing bright purple berries and the still evening light reflecting trees in the water, have us great pleasure.

Stunning autumn colours
I’ve never seen purple berries like these before
Such a still evening – loving the reflections in the canal
A pretty bridge in Pijnacker

Sadly Hannah and Pieter’s romantic honeymoon on a beautiful island somewhere had to be postponed as overseas travel was just not possible under the circumstances.

Sadly the dream of a honeymoon on a deserted island like this had to postponed (taken in India’s Andaman Islands)

Despite all the restrictions, outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling etc have been encouraged and as Pieter and Hannah were still on leave they took the chance to show us some lovely forest areas within driving distance from where they live near Delft.

One such place was Den Treek Henschoten- a lovely old forest with winding paths and cycle tracks criss crossing many hundreds of acres of estate land in Leusden.

So many lovely trails in this estate
The autumn leaves were spectacular colours

Hannah had heard that the estate was famous for its wide variety of fungi. We had only just started on our walk when Pieter discovered the first of many wonderful toadstools (and perhaps the occasional mushroom but we weren’t game to try and identify these!)

Searching for fungi

There were beautiful red toadstools – the ones with white spots much beloved in fairy tales; there were toadstool towns; we spotted gorgeous ones that looked more like sea creatures than anything belonging to the land.

Fairy toadstools!
A toadstool town
These looked like sea creatures
These wouldn’t look out of place in the ocean too

There were purple ones, wet-look ones, lacy ones, flat ones, domed ones and many more besides.

What an amazing purple
Wet-look toadstools
Look at this lacy number!
There were flat ones….
…..and domed ones

We couldn’t believe how prolific they were, or the huge variety – it felt like a real revelation!

We couldn’t believe how prolific they were
Last toadstool photo – promise!

After so many years in Australia we have really relished experiencing a European autumn again.

The leaves have been so beautiful with many shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. As we waded through the crunchy, crisp leaves, enjoying the feel and sound of them, we started to relive our childhood – scooping up great armfuls and throwing them in the air and of course over each other! Such fun.

Playing in the leaves – such fun!
Newly married!
Long time married!

Another lovely outing was a walk in some woods quite near to where Pieter and Hannah live but somewhere we had not been to before.

So good to be exploring a new place
Just look at those colours!
Someone had built a tepee!
Peeping through the trees to the fields beyond
Who would believe we were only minutes from a busy town?
Another beautiful scene
An amazing avenue of trees with light at the end!

After a really lovely hike we stopped at a popular and pretty cafe right in the middle of fields on the outskirts of Delft. In normal circumstances it would be crowded with customers – any day of the week and in any season- but because of Coronavirus it was only serving takeaways.

Fortunately it was warm enough to sit outside and we found a table nearby where we could enjoy our coffee and apple pie.

Fabulous apple pie. You can see Jonathan is happy!

The Dutch arguably make the best apple pie in the world and we have been doing some serious research to establish whether this claim is true or not!

We also paid a visit to a wonderful farm shop situated close to the cafe and spent time patting cows before buying some lovely farm-fresh vegetables.

View from the farm shop
Loved these cows
And these ones!
Now these fungi you can eat
Great pumpkins too

The weather was really glorious – wonderful sunshine although a little cooler than we are used to! It was so lovely to be able to sit outside at Hannah and Pieter’s in November!

Wonderful being able to sit in the sun in November
Later we needed a fire though

After a relaxing time staying at Pieter and Hannah’s we decided it was time to hit the road again. We had planned a visit to see family and friends in England but the country went into full lockdown and travelling was banned unless it was for an essential purpose.

We decided to postpone our English trip and instead, travel in the Netherlands for a while. There is always something new to discover and although it’s a small country there are plenty of interesting places to visit.

Great to be in the road again

As usual with us, we headed towards water and a yacht marina (I know, we just can’t help ourselves!) to a place called Warten in the province of Friesland in the north of the country.

A fantastic evening sky

We were the only ones in a campervan staying in the marina and it was blissfully peaceful. Our grassy site was surrounded on three sides by water and there were lots of boats to look at.

We were surrounded by water
With lots of boats to look at
It was very peaceful
Wandering along the jetties

We were amazed at the bird life there – particularly the massive flocks of Canada geese flying overhead, filling the skies with the sounds of their belligerent honking.

We couldn’t believe the number of geese flying overhead

Coronavirus might have stopped us doing some of the things we had planned but the plus side is that we have seen some natural wonders and new places that perhaps we would have otherwise not encountered.

The geese filled the sky with their belligerent honking

Love in the time of Covid (getting married in lockdown)

Right up until just a few days before their wedding in The Netherlands on 19 October 2020, our daughter and her husband-to-be (Hannah and Pieter) were wondering if they would have to call the whole thing off.

No prewedding nerves here

Planning a wedding is nerve wracking enough in normal circumstances but during the time of Covid-19 with ever-increasing restrictions, anxiety has the potential to reach another level!

The beautiful engagement ring made with family gold and gemstones

One big decision had already been made a couple of months earlier – predictions of a second hike in the number of Covid infections and possible further and stricter lockdown restrictions meant that if the wedding was to go ahead, the plan to have a friends and family attend the ceremony, reception and party would have to be shelved.

Wedding dress fitting – one of the many jobs to be done

A “change of plan” card had been sent out and plan B was hatched – only their two sets of parents would attend the wedding (and be witnesses) and a celebratory meal for the six of us would take place at home. Plans for parties and other celebrations would have to be shelved for 2021 or whenever possible.

Sorry friends and family, Covid19 means a change of plans

The surprising thing was that despite downsizing the celebrations there was still lots to organise – the rings, the wedding dress and groom’s outfit to choose and fitted, flowers, photography, the wedding cake, lunch menu, wines, transport to and from the wedding, meetings with the celebrant, hair and makeup, catering etc etc.

Pieter and Hannah in a French winery choosing a suitable wine for the wedding!

Suddenly after the busyness of preparations the big day dawned. The sky was grey but after weeks of constant rain we were all delighted that it was a dry autumn day.

The big day has dawned and the bride-to-be starts to get ready

The young lady doing the makeup and hair arrived promptly at 9 am and at the same time four of Hannah’s best friends from Australia joined in on a simultaneous video call.

Four of Hannah’s best girlfriends joined in via a video call (photo credit: @eve.fotografie)

How lovely it was to have their company while Hannah was getting ready for this momentous day! Thank goodness for modern technology which allowed them to be in the room with us, making Hannah laugh and cry and sharing these special moments.

There was much laughter and a few tears

While Hannah was having her hair and makeup done her flowers arrived – a stunning bouquet of autumn flowers – along with matching “button hole” sprays for the rest of us as well as two different arrangements for her hair.

The flowers arrive at the house

The table decoration had been picked up the previous day and was already on the table. The autumn colours in all the arrangements were stunning and the talented florist had incorporated some lovely Australian wattle, eucalyptus and grevillias into the table arrangement and bouquet in a nod to Hannah’s birthplace and home of 21 years.

Gorgeous autumn flowers with a nod to Australia (photo credit @eve.fotografie)

All the chatting with her friends had slowed the makeup and hairdo process – we realised that time was running short when the photographer returned from Pieter’s parent’s house where she had been taking photos of him getting ready. The next job was to take photos of Hannah getting into her wedding dress!

Time to put the dress on! (photo credit @eve.fotografie)

Well it was quite a struggle – the dainty little (and numerous) buttons just refused to be captured by the delicate loops running up the back of the dress. I tried, the makeup person tried, Jonathan tried. All to no avail. Time was marching on, my hair and makeup was still to be done, the limo arrived! EEK!

Almost done!

What we needed was an old fashioned button hook! “Wait I need to get my tools” the Father-of-the bride said.

A moment of reflection

He returned brandishing a small Phillips screw driver (an indispensable piece of kit for every emergency!) and niftily buttoned up the dress. In the meantime the makeup artist did a super quick job of my hair and make up – thank goodness she had experience in doing fashion shows where working quickly under pressure is the norm!

Thank goodness for Dad’s screwdriver!! (photo credit @eve.fotografie)

By the time we went downstairs to get in the car the poor driver was having conniptions about being late! Google maps told us that it would take exactly 13 minutes to get to the wedding venue- the beautiful Renaissance City Hall (Stadhuis) in the Market Square in Delft – and we had exactly 13 minutes! Brilliant!

We were just a couple of minutes away when we came to a dead stop – as fate would have it, the landmark Koepoortbrug (Cow Port Bridge) over the Rhine-Schie Canal was about to open to let a boat through! Talk about stressful!

Koepoortbrug (Cow Port Bridge) open!

In the end we arrived only a couple of minutes after the appointed hour just as the bells of Oude Kirke (the ancient Protestant Church opposite the City Hall) rang out “Here comes the Bride”.

As we got out of the car we had a wonderful surprise – Pieter’s sister and three brothers, their partners and children were all there!

Arriving somewhat flustered at City Hall (photo credit @eve.fotografie)

We all had to wear masks in the car and as we entered the City Hall but once we were in chamber itself we were able to socially distance and were allowed to take them off.

Helping Hannah with her train (photo credit @eve.fotografie)

It felt very strange walking in with our wedding clothes accessorized by fetching surgical masks. I kicked myself for not thinking of finding ones that at least matched our outfits – including a white lace one for the bride!

Walking in with our masks on (photo credit @eve.fotografie)

The ceremony was just so precious – small of course (six of us and the celebrant) – but so intimate and romantic. It incorporated music with special meaning to the couple, a lovely speech from the celebrant and both of the bride and groom making heartfelt and beautiful vows to each other.

In the stunning wedding chamber at City Hall (photo credit @eve.fotografie)
The ceremony was romantic and very intimate
Husband and wife

Then it was time to don our masks again and step outside to the sound of the Church bells ringing and Pieter’s family blowing bubbles and making a wonderful racket on various percussion and other instruments!

The nieces and nephews were very excited
It was so lovely to have Pieter’s family there to congratulate them!

Soon we had the other kind of bubbles cracked open and distributed and we all drank a toast to the bride and groom and posed for “socially distanced” photos.

Balloons and bubbles
A socially distanced wedding photo (Covid restrictions don’t apply to children under 13) (photo credit @eve.fotografie)

While Hannah and Pieter went off to have a photo shoot around the picturesque alleys, canals and woods of beautiful Delft, the two sets of parents went back to Hannah and Pieter’s place.

After the ceremony. Hannah and Pieter went for a very Dutch photo shoot (photo credit @eve.fotografie)
Their photographer did an incredible job (photo credit @eve.fotografie)
There were many gorgeous shots (photo credit @eve.fotografie)

When we arrived we found some of their good friends busy decorating the house with sheets bearing messages such as “just married” and “Mr and Mrs”. They had also left stunning flowers, chocolates and all sorts of lovely treats.

When the two sets of parents went back to the house they were greeted with this
Their friends had been busy!

While waiting for the happy couple to return we enjoyed some delicious canapés prepared by Chef Ryan and served by his partner and professional front of house manager Jess.

Delicious canapés and bubbles of course

It was so mild that we were able to enjoy our pre-lunch drinks outside! Later we sat down to a long and incredibly special meal lovingly crafted by Ryan who until Covid hit was a chef at the Neil Perry’s signature restaurant at Melbourne Casino in Australia, where his partner Jess also worked as front-of-house manager.

Ryan and Jess preparing our magnificent meal
@eve.fotografie taking another cracking shot
Father and daughter moment
The neighbours call by to congratulate Pieter and Hannah – and the sun came out!
Jonathan and I with the happy couple (photo credit @eve.fotografie)

The food was sensational!

First course, quails eggs in a nest!

While we were enjoying our delicious meal we surprised Hannah and Pieter with videos recorded by friends and family across the world – from Australia, India, England, Japan and Vietnam. Hannah’s bridesmaid made a hilarious but sorrowful speech; there were beautiful songs, poetry, speeches and toasts proposed. It really felt like all those special people were with us and watching the videos brought much laughter and of course, a quite few tears. Then there were gorgeous cards and gifts to open.

Watching the video messages
Opening cards and gifts
More surprise gifts

We lost count of all the courses but each was more delicious than the last.

A mouth refresher
The soup course
The meat eaters had quail for their main course
The vegetarians had a cauliflower based main course

Lunch eventually finished well into the evening and then all too soon it was time to wave off the newly weds to their classy honeymoon hotel Hotel des Indes in The Hague.

Pieter reading all the messages attached to the balloons from his family.
There were two desserts and then cake!!

What a spectacular day it had been. Everything had gone like clockwork and even the weather behaved! Despite Covid preventing loved ones from attending, we all agreed that it had been a really memorable and wonderful wedding.

One of the beautiful headdresses
Stunning bride!

Wedding preparations and the lead up to the big day!

On a quiet Friday night, just 10 days before the wedding of our daughter and son-in-law, there was a sudden and urgent banging on the back door of their house.

What was going on?! Who would be hammering on our door like that on a rather cool and drizzly autumn night during Covid times?

Hannah’s choir friends contend with the scaffolding at the back door (repointing was happening)

It was such a wonderful surprise to see three (and one on Skype) of Hannah’s choir friends who had come to give her an unexpected hen’s night!

Champagne anyone?!

This beautiful group of ladies brought champagne and wine, food (including home made brioche) and lots of gifts for the bride to be to unwrap – some fun or silly and some really special.

It was a beautiful surprise for the bride to be

We quickly gathered up warm blankets, found some wood and lit a fire outside (the government Covid advice was to keep visitor numbers inside homes to a minimum.)

Very cosy for a while but then it started to rain hard!

After a while the light drizzle turned into full-blown rain and despite the warming effect of the mulled wine (glühwein) we were forced inside.

Even the guys enjoyed the Hen night!!
Hannah and Pieter try on their undies to share gift!

Suitably socially distanced we had a wonderful time watching Hannah (ably assisted by Pieter) open her thoughtful gifts.

This delicate bracelet was very special and hadn’t been off her wrist since!

The following day we were fortunate to be part of an annual ritual/pilgrimage to Hannah’s all time favourite shop – the pumpkin store (the farmer grows each and every one on sale).

Pumpkins of every shape and size

It’s traditional in The Netherlands to decorate your house with pumpkins in the autumn. Hannah has embraced this tradition wholeheartedly and each year her displays are more impressive and prolific.

What a difficult choice!

As we stepped inside the pumpkin shop I could at last totally understand Hannah’s enthusiasm for these amazing vegetables.

Seeing these amazing specimens we totally understood Hannah’s enthusiasm!

There were pumpkins of every shape and size and of many hues of multiple colours – it was so hard to choose just a few. Fortunately with their wedding coming up Hannah and Pieter has the perfect excuse to buy extra this year.

It took quite a while to choose the ones we were going to take home
Hannah and Pieter’s pumpkin haul!
The autumn house decorations starting to take shape

Another favourite autumn ritual is to visit the local garden centre to buy autumn plants, visit the pet corner (particularly the rabbits!) and eat delicious apple pie.

No, not the wedding cake. This is actually a fruit and nut cake for birds!
One of the Christmas displays already assembled at the local garden centre

We were so happy to be in the Netherlands at this lovely change of season to enjoy all these fun traditions!

More Christmas fun!
Look at this gorgeous fluff ball
The apple tart was amazing!

The wedding was one week away – we were keeping everything crossed that it could go ahead as Covid appeared to be spreading like wild fire and the government were imposing restrictions that increased on a weekly basis.

Despite everything, the week before the wedding was filled with excitement- a trial makeup session, a visit to the hairdressers, a facial, gifts arriving and the stunning rings collected.

Make-up rehearsal!
Waiting for the facial
Hair cut in an empty shop (except for us)
Gifts started to arrive
Some beautiful fruits for the wedding breakfast
Gorgeous white roses and champagne
So happy!

The engagement ring and the wedding rings were just so special and the Delft jeweller did such a fantastic job to produce really individual and unique rings.

Aww down on one knee!

The gold for the three rings came from both sides of the family – old pieces that were no longer worn – the green-yellow tourmaline in the engagement ring was from a tie pin thought to have been bought in Burma in World War 2 belonging to Jonathan’s Dad and the white diamond was also from a family ring. Such a wonderful idea and such a precious heirloom.

She said yes!
Such a pretty ring with so many family connections – a real heirloom!

The evening before the wedding Hannah set and decorated the dining table ready for the six of us (the bride and groom and two sets of parents) to sit down for a celebratory lunch after the wedding ceremony – as you can see it looked stunning!

The table – all ready for the wedding celebrations
The pumpkins had a a place in the decorations
The florist did such a great job with the arrangement for the table

Impressive fortress defends itself against virus!

Exploring castles is always a favourite activity when we are travelling in Europe and our visit to Slot Loevestein, a medieval castle in the Gelderland region of the Netherlands, was no exception.

Exploring castles is always a favourite activity

We had hoped to use one of the free camper van spots in the castle car park – the location was beautiful with horses grazing nearby and lots of walking tracks.

There were some beautiful horses near the camping spot

Unfortunately, the four spots were already taken and as there was a hefty fine for parking illegally we decided to head for a local campsite just a short distance away in a town called Woudrichem.

The floodgates at Woudrichem

When we finally found the site (roadworks sent us on a diversion and we ended up lost at first!) the nice guy who ran it told us that they had closed for the season that day. However, he said that we could park outside the gates and that no one would move us on.

Looking back at our camping spot

That evening we were delighted to find we had parked just along from a small harbour filled with beautiful sailing barges modelled on the working boats that once plied the nearby rivers.

This view of sailing barges in the lovely evening light reminded us of a piece of Dutch art!

What a lovely place we had inadvertently found ourselves.

There were people living aboard these beautiful vessels
A cannon guards the small port at Woudrichem
Another typically Dutch scene

As we walked along the grassy medieval ramparts that ring the charming ancient village of Woudrichem, we came across some delightful sculptures depicting characters from the town’s history.

The grassy ramparts where sheep graze despite the steep slopes
The leaves were starting to turn in Woudrichem
There were several of these sculptures depicting the history of Woudrichem
A very elegant lady from medieval times
One of important historical figures of Woudrichem
Another of the delightful sculptures

We sat by the river and watched the massive barges loaded down with containers chug slowly by. There were rain clouds in the sky but the sun was shining and soon we saw a beautiful rainbow.

There were a surprising amount of barges loaded full of containers travelling up and down the river
I took so many shots of the rainbow but I like this one the best as it was shows where the treasure was buried!

We felt like we were sitting in the middle of one of those typical old Dutch paintings, with a windmill on one side, sailing barges on the other and a brooding light in the leaden sky. Fabulous!

A windmill, the brooding light in a leaden sky and Jonathan looking at the boats
Night is beginning to fall
Loved these outsized lanterns on the river wall

The next day we wandered around the old town, admiring the 17th century houses and the cobbled streets.

The gateway to Woudrichem
The 17th century houses were wonderful
Such graceful homes
We loved the roof lines
These brick cobbles were such gorgeous colours
A very cute historic building

We came upon a fabulous but small museum that displayed exhibits connected to the life of the river – fishing equipment, model boats and old photographs.

The museum was small but full of interesting objects
Fish traps
Many types of string and ropes

In the afternoon we drove back to have a look at Slot Loevesteen built where the Meuse and Waal rivers converge.

The moated castle- Slot Loevestein

This 14th-century moated castle was originally built as a place from which the knight Diederic Loef of Horne could levy tolls from trading vessels using the rivers. Later it was expanded to become a fortress surrounded by earthen fortifications with stone bastions and two moats.

The draw bridge still worked but fortunately Jonathan couldn’t quite reach the handle!

There was an interesting museum in what we imagined had once been the barracks and afterwards we could wander through the castle itself, starting in the dungeons and up winding staircases into various bedrooms, a chapel, reception rooms, kitchens and a massive dining hall.

The old school room
Shoes from a number of different eras found in the moat
We could wander through the castle
There were lots of stairs to climb
The banqueting hall
View from the drawbridge

There didn’t seem to be too many visitors that day and we were impressed by the way the management organised a route and staggered the numbers – allowing only one family into a particular area at a time and leaving hand sanitizer in strategic locations.

What a fabulous door
One of the bedrooms

It was amazing to think that when it was built, no one could have anticipated this great big impressive fortress would one day be taking action to defend itself against a microscopic virus as opposed to human invaders!

The portcullis to this impressive fort

Breaking free from quarantine in sunny Netherlands

It was such a relief to be safely in The Netherlands in plenty of time for our daughter’s wedding to her Dutch partner. With COVID cases threatening to increase rapidly as the cooler weather hit, we were worried that we might get stuck in Turkey and end up missing the forthcoming celebrations.

What a wonderful reunion

Our daughter and partner were there to meet us from Amsterdam airport in our camper van. What a wonderful reunion it was!

They had come to pick us up straight from a two-week holiday travelling through France and Brittany in the van so were full of great travel stories as we drove to their home in Pijnacker near Delft. This was where we were to self isolate for the next ten days.

This sunflower in our daughter and partner’s front garden was obviously enjoying the warm weather!
The flowers were huge!

Although “confined to barracks” most of the time we managed to take walks around the neighborhood every day and to enjoy some lovely sunshine in the garden – although after the intense heat of Turkey it felt quite cool to us!

We enjoyed some lovely sunshine in the back garden during quarantine
We were able to take walks around the neighborhood every day
The canals in Pijnacker are very pretty
There’s always something beautiful to see
Who would believe this was just a few minutes from home
It was sunny but felt very cool after the intense heat of Turkey
Our garden companion
Another garden beauty

The weekend after we completed our quarantine period the weather was glorious so we decided to drive to a beautiful lake called Maarsseveense plassen (in the province of Utrecht) for a picnic and a walk round the lake’s perimeter.

Out of quarantine hurray!

The sun was really bright, the temperature perfect and it felt so good to be out and about.

It felt so good to be out and about
Enjoying the view of the lake
A relaxed Sunday breakfast

A day later we cycled to the gorgeous historical town of Delft where the wedding was to take place.

The historical town hall in beautiful Delft

It was very exciting to think that very soon the wedding would be taking place in the centuries old (the part facing the square was built in 1618 but the bell tower behind originated from 1300) and very majestic town hall.

Looking out from the town hall on to the normally busy square and the Nieuwe Kerk
These beauties were in the town square
Visiting family to celebrate the birth of the latest little one. Eating a rusk with aniseed-flavoured sprinkles is traditional

After such a wonderful weekend we felt inspired to take the camper van for a short trip so a couple of days later we were heading towards the De Hoge Veluwe National Park, one of the largest nature reserves in the Netherlands. Of course by then it was pouring with rain!

It was pouring with rain as we set off on our trip

The drive was less than two hours (everywhere is so close in the Netherlands compared to Australia) so we were soon happily tucked up in a camper van park in Otterlo, a small village near one of the National Park entrances.

Tucked up in our camping spot in Otterlo

The following day dawned dry and reasonably warm so after breakfast we hopped on our electric bikes and pedalled to the National Park.

A different view of sunflowers by Van Gogh

We were booked in to visit the fabulous Kröller-Müller art museum – now a national museum but originally a private art collection – which we were introduced to by our friends from the Sail to Indonesia rally, Annemieke and Gerrit.

The postman by Van Gogh

We loved the museum on our first visit and had been very much looking forward to returning to soak up all the beautiful paintings, drawings and sculptures once again.

A beautiful painting of Van Gogh’s hospital grounds

As well as having the second-largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world (after the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam) there are works by many other famous artists including Picasso, Mondriaan, Gaugin, and Seurat.

More stunning paintings

Despite a strict booking schedule due to Covid, the gallery seemed to be quite full. Most people were mostly very good about social distancing but we were quite surprised to see so many visitors there on an autumn weekday.

The gallery seemed rather crowded considering Covid.
The floral displays were sensational

The highlight for us this time was the outdoor sculpture park – 25 hectares of beautiful woods, lawns and gardens, with a fine collection of modern sculpture spread throughout.

The highlight this time was the sculpture garden
We were enchanted as we strolled through the park

As we strolled through the gardens we were enchanted over and again by the amazing works – often found in secret corners of the park.

A mossy staircase leading to a secret corner of the park
Sculpture or mini amphitheatre ?

At one point we were in a beautiful wood when we began to hear some mysterious, ethereal, rather desolate sounds – reminiscent of ships at sea sounding their fog horns.

We began to hear some mysterious, ethereal, rather desolate sounds

As we got closer it sounded more like a school brass band with the participants playing random notes without a conductor!

We came to where the noises were emanating from – a magical circle of trees talking to one another via speakers in their branches. A haunting sound and one of the many interesting installations we saw that day!

A pavilion in the Sculpture Garden
There were some fantastic pieces in the pavilion
I was really moved by this one
I liked this one too
This was Jonathan’s favourite – by a Tasmanian artist
Such a restful pose – gazing off into the forest
A lawn dotted with sculptures
This one was by Rodin

Later we cycled for hours through the National Park – there are many tracks to choose from in the 55 square kilometres of parkland. The cycle paths took us through glorious woods, heathland and sand dunes.

We cycled for hours in the National Park

The following day we travelled to the Westerwolde region of The Netherlands on the border of Germany to a fascinating village called Bourtange.

Taken from outside the star fort

At the centre of this tiny hamlet is a Star Fort built in 1593 at the start of the Eighty Years War against the Spanish. This amazing construction defended the link between Groningen and Germany until its decommissioning in 1851.

It was fascinating to walk on the massive grassy fortification walls

The fort was restored in the 1960s and is still in wonderful condition.

Part of the network of canals and ponds that provided a barrier to any potential invaders

The star shape was constructed using an incredible network of canals and ponds that provided a barrier to any potential invaders.

Inside the fort we found this mill
There were some very ancient buildings within the fort

From above its beautiful star shape can be seen more clearly than at ground level but it was still fascinating to walk around on top of the grassy fortification walls and look out across the watery barriers.

The beautiful star shape can be seen best from above (photo credit Google)
There were plenty of cannons guarding the fort

Up, up and away

This will be our last post from Turkey for a little while as we have hauled “Sunday” at Kas Marina while we travel to The Netherlands for our daughter’s wedding and to do some land travel (Covid permitting).

Guess what this cat is up to?!
Yes she’s fishing in the clear water of Kas Marina

A few days before leaving we decided to have a day off from “winterising” the boat and had a fantastic morning at the ancient Lycian port of Andriake and then later at the Museum of St Nicholas in Demre (see my last blog entry).

The fabulous museum at Andriake
A statue of St Nicholas aka Santa Claus

In the afternoon we decided to drive back towards Kas and on through Kalkan to Patara, where the ruins of another important Lycian city lie.

At Patara, an important City from Lycian times

Patara was famous for its temple and oracle of Apollo, apparently second only to the oracle in Delphi. Later, in 333 BC Alexander the Great captured the city. After many occupations and invasions it was eventually annexed by the Roman Empire in 43 AD.

The city gate at Patara

The ruins of the city which was deserted around 1340, are numerous and spread out over a wide area.

The ruins of Patara are numerous and spread out

Visiting them in the late afternoon with that beautiful light that you get around sunset in Turkey, we found the ruins to be really atmospheric.

The ruins were really atmospheric

The amphitheatre, built in the time of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (born 86 AD) was in remarkably good condition. It was only excavated in 2007 having been buried under tonnes of sand for hundreds of years.

The amphitheatre was in remarkably good condition

Even more impressive was the “bouleuterion” – the parliament building where the elected representatives of the Lycian League (the first federation in history) met.

The amphitheatre taken from the parliament building
The Lycian parliament building was very impressive

The building has rows of stone seats arranged in a semicircle. Its stone-vaulted main entrances are intact, and so is the thronelike dais where the elected Lyciarch, the president of the League, sat.

There were rows of stone seats arranged in a semicircle.

While we wandered up and down the rows of seats it was easy to picture the chamber full of representatives from the 23 city states (one, two or three from each – depending on the size and importance of the area) listening to speeches and debating important issues.

It was easy to picture the chamber full of representatives from the 23 city states
The throne-like dais where the elected Lyciarch, the president of the League, sat.
It was quite a magnificent structure

There were many more beautiful buildings and a stunning column-lined Main Street to enjoy.

The stunning column-lined Main Street
One line of columns were marble and the other side were made from limestone
The long evening shadows of the columns on Main Street

While we were wandering around we heard the tinkling of bells in the distance and soon we saw a small herd of sheep stepping daintily along the dusty pathway.

A small herd of sheep stepping daintily towards us
The eternal search for something good to eat

Watching over them was a beautiful massive but gentle dog – we think it was a Turkish Kangal, otherwise known as an Anatolian Shepherd Dog. These dogs are specially bred to be flock guardians rather than as herding dogs. They live with their flock of sheep and actively fend off any predators.

The gentle Turkish Kangal or Anatolian Shepherd Dog
This gorgeous dog just sat quietly watching and guarding the flock of sheep while they ate grass

We were fascinated to see a 14-metre boat made almost entirely from reeds on display in front of the bouleuterion.

The 14 metre reed boat built by German archaeologist Dominique Goerlitz

The boat was built by German archaeologist Dominique Goerlitz, as part of an experiment to show it was probably on this type of vessel that Egyptian traders reached the port of Patara and other ports in modern day Turkey in in ancient times. It was modelled on the Egyptian reed boats seen in paintings from antiquity.

Another view of the Main Street in the evening sun

The trip back to Kas along the incredibly winding coast road – just as the sun was dipping into the ocean – was fantastic.

This must be the only piece of straight road on the coast road to Kas
We enjoyed the wonderful sunset views

The wonderful sunset views over the sea would remain firmly in our memories while we were away from Turkey in the coming weeks and months.

Driving past an amazing gorge
Such a pretty sunset
The views on this coast road were captivating

Back in Kas there was as always, a flurry of activity at the end to get our boat prepared for the haul out. Some things had to be done just before we left, like deflating the dinghy and storing it inside (it takes up a lot of room so that was very much a last minute thing!)

Mountains rising above the hard standing
This is the monster that was to lift Sunday

Haul out day finally arrived and fortunately everything went very smoothly and the workers were extremely professional.

The deflated dinghy in our saloon

Jonathan did a great job of steering into the narrow pen (with just a few centimetres to spare on either side) and very soon we were settled in our spot propped up safely on the hard.

There wasn’t much room to spare on either side of Sunday!

Despite all our preparations we were still working until the very last minute, flushing out the toilets, bringing in anything and everything that was on deck that could either blow off or be lifted off.

Off she goes to her winter resting place
Boats always look strange out of water!

We also had to run around paying our last bills, chivvying the marina to turn our water on, looking for our sails which were meant to have been delivered and doing lots of last minute jobs.

Sunday has flashy neighbours
Adjusting the blocks
Checking out one of the props – it had fishing line wound round it

Finally it was time to flop into the taxi that was taking us to Dalaman Airport.

Farewell Sunday!

On the way we stopped for a quick break and had some delicious gozleme filled with spinach and feta cheese.

Rolling out the dough for Gozleme.
Mmmm these were so delicious

Soon we were up in the clouds and on our way. Up, up and awayThe trip wasn’t too bad, people were generally good at social distancing and everyone wore masks.

We stayed the night at the airport hotel in Istanbul and the next morning we took off for Amsterdam and an emotional reunion with our soon-to-be-married daughter and her partner.

An emotional reunion!

The flight was made so much more pleasant because no one was allowed hand baggage and passengers had to stay in their seats until the people in front were on their way out. There was no leaping up immediately the plane had landed, no pulling bags down on top of other people’s heads and no one’s back packs shoved in other people’s faces! One good outcome of Covid!

Sunset in Pijnacker

It was such a relief to arrive in the Netherlands in plenty of time to enjoy the lead up to our daughter and her partner’s wedding. With the expected second hike in Covid infections we could have so easily found ourselves stuck in Turkey and unable to attend this very important event!

The life and death of Santa Claus – The Truth!

Our tickets to The Netherlands were booked and “winterising” and cleaning the boat was almost completed so we decided to give ourselves a day off.

Let’s get out of this marina for a while!

We hired a car and headed for the Demre district round about an hour from Kas where there were several ancient sites that we thought sounded fascinating. The first was just a few kilometres south of Demre town – the ancient harbour settlement of Andriake.

The silted up port of Andriake
The wetlands are now a haven for water birds
The ruins date back to the 3rd Century BC

Dating back to the Lycian Union in the 3rd Century BC, this hugely important harbour and trading centre of what was once called Myra (present day Demre). The port of Andriake became particularly significant around the time of the Roman Emperor Hadrian at the turn of the 2nd Century AD.

Andriake was a hugely important harbour and trading centre

The river silted up and gradually trading stopped and the port ceased to function. The remains of this once thriving community have now become an open air museum with some buildings restored and with many ruins spread out over a large site.

The remains of this once thriving community have now become an open air museum
The remains of some ancient sarcophagi

There were lots of what had been shops, homes, at least two churches, several bath houses, a synagogue and an agora (market place) with an amazing restored underground water cistern which you could climb down into.

One of the bath houses at Andriake
The remains of a large Christian Church
The Synagogue at Andriake
Important port buildings on what was once the waterfront
Steps leading down to the docks

The tank was 24 metres long, 12 metres wide and 6 metres deep and the immense amount of water it contained must have kept all the businesses, shops and homes built in and around the agora well supplied with copious amounts of fresh water.

Entering the agora
Some of the shops and businesses around the edge of the agora
Underneath these flagstones lies the immense water cistern
Going down into the water cistern
Imagine, this was once filled with water!
Looking up to where the water used to be drawn from
Jonathan looking down into the tank from the agora

The highlight of our visit was the fabulous museum which was housed in what had been a granary in Lycian times.

The museum of Lycian Civilisations taken from the road to Demre. Who would have thought that the walls of this building have been there since the time of Emperor Hadrian!
The museum was once a granary in Andriake’s heyday
The ancient granary has been beautifully restored
A decorative detail restored to its former beauty

Its seven rooms has been carefully and sensitively restored.

The seven beautifully restored rooms flow into each other
The interior walls stood strong for two thousand years
Remains of the original floor under the glass floor in the first room of the museum

Within its ancient 56 metre by 32 metre walls, are displayed many fascinating treasures and information about the Lycian civilisations.

There were so many interesting things to see
These amphora contained olive oil
Chain from Lycian times still in great condition
More lovely earthenware

After an intriguing morning we drove into Demre for lunch and then made the pilgrimage to the birthplace of St Nicholas (Santa Claus).

Santa Claus was born here!

Now I hear what you’re saying, – Santa Claus comes from the North Pole – but I’m sorry to tell you that’s just not true.

St Nicholas
Inside the partially restored Church of St Nicholas

Saint Nicholas, a Christian Bishop and patron saint of young children and sailors (and others including pawnbrokers and prostitutes!) was born in Demre in the year 270 AD. His legendary habit of gift giving (often through windows but sometimes down the chimney) was the inspiration behind the much loved figure of Santa Claus or Father Christmas.

The Church of St Nicholas – patron saint of young children and sailors

Around 200 years after he died, the Church of St Nicholas in Demre was built over the site of the church where he had served as bishop. It is now a museum and still a sacred place of worship, much beloved particularly by Russians as St Nicholas is also patron saint of Russia (as well as Amsterdam, Aberdeen and a host of other places).

The Church/museum is much beloved by Russians as St Nicholas is the patron saint of Russia

He was buried on the site of the original Church but in 1087 most of his bones were taken to Bari in Italy. The remaining fragments were taken to Venice during the first Crusade.

This is thought to be St Nicholas’s sarcophagus – Russian tourists leave notes and prayers to their patron saint

Excavations at this ancient site have been going on since 1988 and have revealed some treasures including some beautiful frescoes, vibrant mosaic floors and a desecrated sarcophagus, thought to be the original burial place of St Nicholas.

These frescoes were uncovered by excavations started in 1988
The floor mosaics were really vibrant
We loved the colours in this mosaic

There were a couple of big Russian tourist groups going round at the same time as us which was a bit confronting in this time of Covid as there wasn’t much social distancing going on!

We spent quite a bit of time avoiding Russian tourists
More artefacts from the excavations
There weren’t any exhibits to view
The buildings were worth seeing

From there we were heading to the famous rock tombs just in the outskirts of Demre but decided that there were too many tourist groups with the same idea so instead we headed to the ancient city of Patara, on the other side of Kas.

Perhaps too much history for one blog so look out for photos of this wonderful site in my next blog!

Opposite the Church of St Nicholas we found this shop with the western world’s idea of St Nick

Swarming wasps and “free” stay at impressive marina

Despite his dramatic slip on the rocks ( see previous post) Jonathan was not about to give up on the lovely anchorage in Karaloz Liman on Kekova Island – however, after an influx of wasps, the right decision to evacuate was made as the persistent buzzing around our heads was driving the crew mad!

Leaving Karaloz Liman

While pulling up the anchor I was literally swarmed by the little critters. It got so bad that my great-niece’s boyfriend had to squirt me with bug spray while I heroically operated the electronic anchor winch!

Away from the swarms of wasps

Finally we were away from the buzzing hordes and we motored gently back to lovely Gökkaya Liman – the first bay in Kekova Roads that we had taken my great niece and her boyfriend to.

A relaxing motor to lovely Gökkaya Liman
Plenty of room at lovely Gökkaya Liman
Such a peaceful anchorage

The following day we headed for Kas just a few hours sail down the coast to give our guests a couple of days in a more urban setting before they left Turkey to head back to England.

Heading for Kas in the early morning
It was so calm and peaceful

Fortunately, while in Finike a week earlier, we had negotiated a year’s contract with Setur Marinas which enabled us to stay for a certain amount of days without payment in any Setur marina in Turkey. We also organised for Sunday to be lifted and stored at Kas Marina while we spent a few months away to attend our daughter’s wedding to her lovely Dutch partner and also do some land travel (Covid permitting).

Departing Kekova Riads
We are on the way to Kas

So we were able to stay in Kas “for free” in comfort and our guests were able to enjoy the delights of the beach club just a few minutes walk away where they could swim in the pool and in the sea, and lie on sun beds and drink cocktails for a couple of days. As residents of the marina we were entitled to a generous discount off the entry fee.

If you stay at Kas Marina you can visited the beach club ( just visible in the distance)
My great niece and boyfriend enjoyed the cocktails there!

The entry into the marina was so easy and smooth – most of the work was done by the efficient and capable marina employees who picked up the mooring lines that were threaded through a chain on the seabed, attached them to a long line on board Sunday and then gently manoeuvred us in.

This chain sits on the seabed and the mooring lines are threaded through and picked up by the marina staff to secure your boat
All nicely tied up at Kas Marina

We were very impressed by the marina which was very clean and well kept. There are several restaurants, a pub with a blues band several nights a week and even a supermarket within its precincts (much better to use than risking Corona virus from the tourists in town)

The marina in Kas is very impressive
There’s a pub with live music
Several restaurants
There’s even a supermarket

We had a couple of pleasant meals out in the town (sitting outside of course) and Jonathan and I started to organise the process of readying Sunday to leave and looking at possible flights to The Netherlands.

There are plenty of good places to eat in Kas
We loved wandering round the narrow lanes
There were some amazing sunsets to enjoy

All too soon it was time for our guests to return back to England and rather than send them off in a taxi we decided to make a day of it and hired a car to drive them to the airport in Antalya. The trip was an enjoyable opportunity to see a little more of the interior of Turkey.

Looking down towards the hard standing
The mountains on the way to Antalya were spectacular
There were some beautiful seascapes too

Once our guests had left we seriously go down to the getting our boat ready to leave and organising our trip to The Netherlands. It was quite an anxious time as we were concerned that the influx of travellers (particularly from Russia – 40,000 just in the first two days of Turkey opening up to tourists) would bring more Covid cases and subsequently possible closure of borders between Turkey and other countries (particular The Netherlands!) We were terrified that we wouldn’t make it to our daughter’s wedding which would have been heartbreaking – especially as along with her partner’s parents, we were the only guests.

The heat was relentless but by evening it was a little cooler

The heat was relentless while we were working on the boat which made it all the more exhausting but thankfully we were able to swim in the clear cold water (the entire marina appears to be fed by icy streams off the mountains behind) in a roped off section off the hard stand area.

Jonathan doing some fibreglass repairs
Sanding down his handiwork
The designated swimming area with a swim ladder on the small jetty (left) so lovely to cool off!

We also organised for some of the bigger jobs like taking down the sails and cleaning, drying and folding them ready for storage down below, to be done by the workers from the sail loft.

It was too hot to take the sails down during the day
The guys from the sail loft took the sails down in the evening

As the saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” so we decided to have a day off and hire a car to do some exploring on land. Watch this space to hear more about an amazing day.

What? Where?
More of this incredible spot in my next blog!

Gunboats, Pirate Caves and a rocky slip-up!

The most remarkable part of our trip from Finike Marina to Kekova Roads – apart from the wonderfully dramatic Turkish coastline – was sighting a Turkish gunboat steaming past us the other way, leaving a massive wake behind it.

a Turkish gunboat steaming past us
A reminder of the hostilities between Turkey and Greece

Having already witnessed helicopter gunships flying overhead on three separate occasions, the existence of the naval ship reminded us yet again that hostilities between Turkey and Greece over drilling rights were of grave concern.

Leaving Finike

But we had no time to worry about that! We had our guests from England – my great niece and her boyfriend – on board and we had a lot of fun planned!

A welcome from a herd of goats at Gökkaya Liman

Our first stop was a lovely inlet in the stunning Gökkaya Liman (Bay) near the tiny island of Asirli at the Eastern end of Kekova Roads.

Papa goat watching out for his flock

After anchoring and a wonderful swim we took the dinghy over to the island to see the famous Blue Cave – so named because of the dazzling hue of its water.

A beautiful swim before heading for the Blue Cave
Inside the Blue Cave
It really was blue!

It is also known as the Pirates Cave, as supposedly, once upon a time, it was used by pirates to lay in wait for trade ships that journeyed along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.

No pirates but lots of little bats inside
Plenty of room to hide

Near to our anchorage there were some poignant ruins – not the usual Lycian tombs or Roman remains – this time they were from a Byzantine church.

Ruins of a Byzantine Church

Much of this coastline had been populated by Greeks for hundreds of years but in the 1922 population exchange they were moved out and Turks previously living in Greece were moved in and almost all the Churches were left abandoned to crumble back into the landscape.

After the population exchange the churches were left to crumble back into the landscape

During our swim we were surprised how cool the water was but then we learned that a cold water spring flowed into the bay. No wonder!

There was a cold water spring that flowed into the bay

We decided to head up the creek to see if we could discover the source but weren’t able to locate it but it was fun trying!

We headed up the creek to try and find the spring
It was a lovely dinghy ride but we didn’t find the source of the spring

We wanted to try and show our guests as many different highlights of this beautiful area so we quickly moved on to the village of Kaleköy – accessible only by sea- where we anchored just for a few hours while Jonathan and our guests walked up to the fort – built in the Middle Ages by the Knights if St John.

The village of Kaleköy with the fort built in the Middle Ages

I stayed on board to keep watch as the holding at this anchorage isn’t very good and there are nasty looking rocks everywhere you look!

Almost at the top of the fort

After the climb we reconvened for a light lunch at one of the restaurants at the water’s edge where we could keep an eye on Sunday.

Looking down to the Kaleköy anchorage – Sunday is the second boat from the left
The jetty with the red roof is where we had lunch

We motored to a great spot just outside Üçağız, the sweet little village we had visited (and loved) previously.

Üçağız, a sweet little village

The bay here is completely landlocked with three small entrance channels that lie between low rocky islets – hence the bay’s name – Üçağız which means “three mouths”.

One of the rocky islets on the way in to Üçağız

We anchored just east of the village right in front of several sarcophagi and other ruins. Apparently they are thought to be the remains of ancient Teimiussa which used to be the administrative centre for the region.

The sarcophagi opposite our anchorage
These ruins are thought to be the remains of ancient Teimiussa

My great niece and her boyfriend then had a chance to hone their driving skills when they took the dinghy to check out Üçağız. Later we all went again for another delicious meal at Hassan’s restaurant (discovered on a previous visit).

My great niece honing her driving skills on the dinghy
With her boyfriend as navigator and first mate
The seafront restaurants at Üçağız
This is the restaurant to head for!

Our next “tourist destination” was to the sunken ruins over the other side of the bay at Kekova Island.

There were quite a lot of ruins on land as well as under the water

The ruins were once a vibrant ancient town called Dolchiste which was destroyed by an earthquake during the 2nd century AD.

The ruins of Dolchiste which was destroyed by an earthquake during the 2nd century AD
When you sail over them you can clearly see ruins under the water

The water there was turquoise and clear as gin and as we drifted slowly by we could see the shapes of walls, stairs and walkways.

We could see the shapes of walls, stairs and walkways
The stairs to nowhere (left hand side of photo)

We had heard that Karaloz Liman, a completely landlocked cove on the south of Kekova Island, was a beautiful, sheltered anchorage with wonderful clear water water for swimming and snorkelling, so we headed over there to anchor for the night.

What we didn’t realise was the cove was absolutely tiny and it was already quite full when we arrived. We tried to anchor and put a line ashore in one spot but after several unsuccessful attempts to get our anchor to grab before getting dangerously close to the rocky shore (and a neighboring tourist boat) we gave up and found the only other spot suitable for our sized boat – just inside the cove.

We left our guest behind on a rock when we gave up – he was rescued in the end!

All seemed fine until Capt’n Birdseye decided to readjust the long line so we would be more comfortable if a swell came up in the night. Unfortunately while doing this he stepped on a very sharp rock, cut his foot, lost his balance, fell down into “a hole” and lost his glasses.

The long line was well set up but Capt’n Birdseye decide to adjust it

I saw him on his hands and knees, blood pouring down his face and not moving. Thinking he was concussed my great niece’s boyfriend (egged on by us!) dived in and swam to the rocks to “rescue” him.

Fortunately he was absolutely fine and was just looking for his glasses! The good news is that he found them – the bad news the glass in one of the lens was completely shattered! Fortunately he had a spare set on board – always a necessity for cruisers!

Broken glasses and a nasty graze but thankfully OK otherwise!

Ancient mountain city and more boat guests

The anchorage close to the sweet village of Üçağız was as still as a lake but unlike the limpid turquoise waters we had experienced elsewhere in Turkey, the water here was opaque and green. This probably accounted for the fact that we had the whole anchorage to ourselves.

The still green (empty) waters near Üçağız

We didn’t stay to savour the sense of isolation for too long as we were on a mission – my great-niece and her boyfriend were arriving shortly from the UK and we needed to get up the coast to Finike so we could meet them from Antalya Airport.

This gorgeous dog was so snuggly. He just came and leant against me. I think he was at least part Anatolian Shepherd

It was very exciting to be having more visitors from the UK – despite Covid restrictions – but rather strange when friends and family in Australia and SE Asia were still quite severely limited in their movements.

Sunset in our isolated anchorage
Kayakers in Kekova Roads

We had an uneventful trip from Kekova Roads to Setur Marina in Finike and the entry into our berth was made very easy and stress free by the excellent assistance we received from the marina staff. We were also fortunate to have a big space next to us so there was plenty of room for manoeuvre.

Heading towards Finike Marina with the Taurus Mountains in the background
Such a beautiful part of Turkey

Barbaros, the manager of Setur Marina, was extremely welcoming and helpful and we really liked the marina in every way.

Entry into our berth was made very easy and stress free by the excellent assistance we received
We were fortunate to have a big space next to us so there was plenty of room for manoeuvre.

We were considering leaving Sunday on the hard there while we left for our daughter’s wedding and during the winter months. Unfortunately it didn’t have a travel lift big enough to take Sunday but Barbaros very helpfully helped us negotiate a year’s contract with Setur Marinas and for their marina in Kas to lift and store her for an equivalent price to the one quoted by Finike.

We negotiated a year’s contract with Setur Marinas although Finike was unable to haul Sunday out
Setur Marina Finike from the town
We liked the marina at Finike very much but it didn’t have a travel lift big enough to take Sunday

Having all this organised set our minds at rest as time was ticking by and we really needed to organise flights to the Netherlands before all the rules changed again and countries started closing down due to the predicted “second wave” of Corona virus infections.

It was a relief to have a marina contract in place
It’s difficult to make out but this was one of the many large turtles we saw in the marina.
The town of Finike was pleasant with plenty of restaurants
This was the firewood cut ready for the baker’s oven. The bread was delicious!
Finike is “twinned” with Mosbach in Germany. We wondered if Mosbach had assisted with renovation of the ancient wall in the background
Ahh! Love a good cup of tea!
We found a great olive shop
….which also sold all kinds of soft cheese

Our boat guests were arriving in Antalya in the evening so we had the whole day in which to enjoy the car we had hired.

We decided to take “the scenic route” to Antalya which took us through the Taurus Mountains and right past the wonderful remains of the ancient Lycian city of Arykanda.

These were the mountains we had to cross to get to Antalya
Getting closer to those mountains!
We found the turn-off – not a lot of warning though!

Built on a series of terraces, high up on top of a mountain, Arykanda had stunning panoramic views. Set amongst glorious cedar trees whose needle laden branches sounded like the sea as the breeze ruffled through them, it was easy to imagine what an incredible place it was to live.

Arykanda was perched on a mountaintop with panoramic views
Despite the passage of time and frequent earthquakes there were large parts still standing
The mighty cedar trees were much prized when Arykanda was founded
The needle laden branches sounded like the sea as the breeze ruffled through them

We were so fortunate to be the only visitors there for much of our visit so we could easily visualise what this incredible town would have looked like in its heyday – without the distraction of modern day people wandering into our view and interrupting our imaginings.

It was easy to visualise what this incredible town would have looked like in its heyday
The excavations are mainly from the Hellenistic and Roman times.

Some of the archeological finds date as far back as the the 6th century BCE but the excavations are mainly from the Hellenistic and Roman times.

The remains were spread over a series of terraces
A fabulous mosaic from Roman times

There were some fabulous highlights such as the almost intact row of windows of the Roman bath complex and an excellent theatre, built during the 1st century BCE which had 20 rows of seats, divided into 7 sections. At the edge of every row are holes that were used to support protective awnings.

The Roman Baths at Arykanda
The theatre was built in the 1st Century BCE
The theatre was in excellent condition

The town was eventually abandoned in the 6th Century AD after of a series of destructive earthquakes made life there untenable.

The town was eventually abandoned in the 6th Century AD
A series of destructive earthquakes made life in Arykanda untenable
It was amazing to see what had survived the earthquakes against all odds

After a few hours of wandering through the fascinating site we set off once again for Antalya.

Driving through the mountains towards Antalya
High up it was pretty dry and barren

We were amazed just how sprawling and highly populated this city is but later learned that its metropolitan population alone is over one million people and in 2019, 13.6 million tourists passed through the city.

The head of Atatürk, the founding father of the Republic of Turkey,
We wondered if this cardboard cutout fooled anyone!

We eventually met up with our guests but only after waiting at the International terminal and then finding out there was a second international terminal just a few minutes down the road (no signs to indicate this whatsoever!)

Our boat guests!

The next morning we left Finike to head back to Kekova Roads with our guests. It was a sparkling day and Finike with its beautiful mountain backdrop looked gorgeous. We agreed that we would definitely have to return there to explore further next year.

Farewelling Finike
Finike’s gorgeous backdrop of mountains – we will be back!

Lost and found!

Headlines along the lines of “Aussie couple disappears in Turkish countryside – boat found abandoned” were running through my mind as we pondered where we had gone wrong.

Are we on the right path?
Everywhere looks rather the same.

We were on a hike in Kekova Roads starting in Woodhouse Bay where we had anchored Sunday.

Lovely Woodhouse Bay

We hadn’t been off the boat for a few days due to high winds and seas to match so when we reached this beautiful, calm bay we were raring to go!

So calm and peaceful

Our cruising guide mentioned a track which started right behind the spot where we had anchored although it was really difficult to make it out from the boat.

Now where is that track?

Once we had tied up our dinghy we scouted around and followed what did in fact turn out to be the trail although we were definitely dubious to start with.

We thought the track must be in this dip
More of a scramble than a hike!

Despite the heat it was great to be going for a hike (more of a scramble really!) after being cooped up in the boat for a few days.

After a laborious climb we reached the top and came to a more defined track – apparently there was meant to be a deserted, tumbledown, village somewhere on this path but we obviously chose the wrong direction to take (we turned right!) and managed to miss it!

At the top there was a more defined path

After a walking for a while in the rugged terrain we decided it was time to turn homewards. We walked back the way we had come for what seemed rather a long time and gradually became aware that we were travelling through unfamiliar scenery. We had managed to miss the turnoff for the rough path back to the boat!

The more defined path but where was that turn off?

While I had visions of spending the rest of the day wandering back and forth trying to find the track back down to Sunday, Jonathan retraced our steps the way we had been.

Being a former Boy Scout with a bushcraft badge he had, unbeknownst to me, left a sign using small stones a short way before our turn off.

Back on right path again

Unfortunately, it was so well camouflaged that he completely missed it on the way back. Luckily he found it second time round!

Fortunately we didn’t have to wander aimlessly for long

Eventually using his sneaky sign we were able to find our route and followed the red markings painted on the rocks all the way home!

It was a relief to see these red marks on the rocks
There’s Sunday!

Later that day we took the dinghy to a small cove where apparently, there was a fresh water spring. The cove narrowed to become more like a large creek which was cool, rather mysterious and so peaceful.

The start of the creek

Craggy rock cliffs topped with trees towered above us on each side and from time to time low shrubs clung tenaciously to the rocky outcrops at eye level. It felt like we were in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark!

Craggy rock cliffs lined the creek sides
It felt like we were in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark!

We motored further up the creek and the banks became bushier and less rocky. As we swished through the green water we became aware that the bottom of the dinghy – where our feet were – was deliciously cold. Aha, we had found the fresh water spring!

The water became icy cold
Where is that fresh water spring?

A little further along we spotted a very clear pool of water which was surrounded by submerged rocks. We could just make out trickle of water bubbling over the rocks – this was definitely the spring!

This was definitely it!
The water was crystal clear

Jonathan was very keen to get to taste this beautiful crystal clear water so he waded through the ice-cold pool to collect some in his drink bottle.

Collecting water from the spring- it tasted revolting!

He took a sip and then gave me some to try – it was revolting! Yes it was icy cold but it also tasted horribly salty and not in the least like we had imagined!

On our way back to the ocean

Keen to explore some more of the Kekova Roads area, we set off again the next day. Despite there being a fair number of tourist boats moored in the bays the huge harbour felt gloriously empty as we sailed across, passing the little village of Kaleköy which nestles beneath the mighty Byzantine castle – built in the Middle Ages to fight against invading pirates.

The huge harbour felt gloriously empty
The mighty Byzantine castle above Kaleköy

We sailed deeper into the harbour to outside the sweet village of Üçağız – described rather disparagingly in the Turkish cruising guide as “a ramshackle little village”.

Rocky outcrops at the entrance to Üçağız

It is true that it is very small but ramshackle isn’t accurate – Üçağız is a charming village steeped in history with welcoming locals. It is just such a charming place to visit once all the day trippers have left for the day.

Üçağız from the boat
Another view of the mosque this time from the village side
There are many charter vessels that leave from Üçağız
One of the lovely traditional homes in Üçağız
One of the many ancient buildings in Üçağız

As we strolled through the narrow streets we marvelled at the ancient sarcophagi from Lycian times dotted around the place – some in a car park, another on a street corner, one with hens living in it!

There were numerous sarcophagi scattered around the village
Chickens were living in this one!
Inside one of the sarcophagi

We also saw a crumbling old building that looked like a Christian church – later we found that the village had been inhabited mostly by Greeks until the population exchange of 1923 and that the building indeed had been a Church.