Tainted (Greek) love and Turkish delight

Our last task before leaving the Greek island of Kos to make our way to Turkey was to hand in our transit log at the Customs department.

We were not looking forward to this as the last two visits had been excruciating but we gritted our teeth and walked in with our documentation which had already been stamped by the port police the day before.

Just leaving the boat to pay a last visit to customs
We would prefer to remember the Roman remains in Kos than our dealings with Customs

Thankfully the officious Mr Shouty, as we had dubbed him, who had whipped up an atmosphere of confrontation, intimidation and uncertainty, wasn’t there. Instead, Maria who had interviewed us on our previous visits and the other young lady who had also spoken to us, both came out to see us.

This is the Greece we love

This time they were all smiles and perfectly charming, telling us about their planned trips to Australia and wishing us well

Sunday with plenty of lines out as high winds were predicted

They apologised for what we had been through and told us that we had been “caught in the middle”. Caught in the middle of what, we wondered. Mr Shouty getting one over on his colleagues in Athens who gave us a longer transit log than was required? Or Mr Shouty’s misguided ambitions to try and get money out of us? Who knows.

The architecture is partly what makes Greece so charming

Anyway Jonathan told them that they were the future of Greece – bright, educated, computer literate and with fantastic English skills.

The food is amazing too!

“Your boss is a dinosaur,” he said (giggles from the two young women). “He can’t use computers, he can’t speak an official language of the EU, and he treats his female colleagues appallingly by yelling out commands while they were talking to clients (us!)”.

We were on a roll now!

“If Mr Shouty worked anywhere else in the EU or Australia come to that, he would be sacked for the way he speaks to you,” I chimed in.

Sadly in Greece, it is almost impossible to be sacked from public service jobs which explains a lot about the crumbling bureaucracy dominated by older people (mostly men) who often don’t have the necessary up-to-date skills to successfully run their departments.

It felt good to have had the chance to say that and judging by their smiles, they didn’t disagree.

We felt so relieved that finally we could leave Greece unimpeded but sad that our memories of the island of Kos would for ever more be tainted by the treatment of the authorities there. We still love Greece though!

Leaving our tainted love behind in Kos!

The following morning we headed for our last Greek island of this trip – Symi, where we were going to rest for the night before heading to Marmaris in Turkey.

On the way to Turkey

We had a fantastic sail there bowling along with the wind behind us under headsail only. We were going over 7 knots so we were glad we hadn’t raised the mainsail.

We entered the lovely, enclosed, Panormitis Bay, around 4 pm and as we were the only yacht there we could drop our anchor in the very best spot.

The The Holy Monastery of Archangel Michael in Panormitis Bay

Once settled we dropped the dinghy and motored in and tied up right in front of the Venetian style monastery (restored in 1783) which boasts the highest baroque bell tower in the world.

The highest baroque bell tower in the world.

The monastery is dedicated to the Archangel Michael who, we learnt, is the protector of mariners so it felt very appropriate that we should visit this tranquil place as live-aboard cruisers.

We were able to wander round the monastery precincts
Such interesting architecture
I loved the mosaic floor
A reminder that The Archangel Michael is the patron saint of mariners
The monastery had a lovely atmosphere
The monks even sell their bread baked in a wood oven

The monastery chapel had some amazing artifacts, including a collection of massive chandeliers and an impressive silver icon of the Archangel Michael.

The chandeliers were massive
There were some interesting frescoes
An impressive silver icon of the Archangel Michael.

After a walk round the monastery we strolled along the water’s edge enjoying the peace which was only broken by the gentle bleating of goats and the tinkling of the bells round their necks.

Looking out towards the Bay
Our dinghy moored outside the monastery – Sunday is a tiny speck in the background
Sunday at anchor, taken from the shore

The following day we were up and off early as we had been advised by our agent to arrive in Marmaris, in Turkey where we were checking in, by 2 pm to allow time for all the checks etc.

Another boat joined us in the anchorage
Leaving the enclosed bay – our last stop before Turkey!
An old windmill at the entrance to Panormitis Bay

Soon we were delighted to have crossed the border into Turkey! We arrived in Marmaris in good time and managed to locate the customs dock with no problem.

Taking down the Greek flag

On the way there we messaged our agent to let him know our ETA and received a message to say he would unable to be there at 2 pm (despite the fact that was the time he had suggested) and his brother would come instead.

And raising the Turkish flag and the yellow “quarantine” flag
Our first Turkish lighthouse

We were tied up by a couple of customs guys who were intrigued by our flag. They asked where we were from and we told them the boat was registered in New Zealand. “Aah” they said and then went back to other duties. After a couple of minutes they came back and asked again where the flag was from.

The Turkish Navy dressed their boat to welcome us!

“New Zealand – you know, in the same region as Australia “ we said. “Aah yes Australia” they said happy to have identified at least roughly where we hailed from.

At 2 pm a woman came up and handed us latex gloves and masks which we duly put on. She gave us some paperwork to fill in which we were a little puzzled about as our agent had already sent us paperwork which we had filled out and returned.

We were unsure who she was as her English was very minimal and our Turkish non- existent. Eventually we gathered she was there on behalf of her husband who was our agent’s brother.

Marmaris was absolutely stuffed full of yacht masts

She asked for our passports and ship’s papers as she would take them to Customs and Immigration for us. In the meantime Jonathan was inside battling with the health form as some of the questions were quite confusing to say the least (correct meaning lost in translation!)

The quarantine official took our temperatures (we had to lean over the side for this as our feet were not allowed to touch the ground until we had passed the temperature test.)

Soon after, our agent’s brother’s wife with very little English returned and said “All done but port police at the marina, I take your papers there”.

At this Jonathan told her very firmly that our papers were to be returned to us and that we wouldn’t be leaving the customs dock until we received them. There was no way that we were letting our passports and ship’s equivalent leave without us!

What if our agent’s brother’s wife with very little English wasn’t who we thought she was? What if she went missing with our passports and ship’s papers?

By this time the weather was blowing up and we didn’t really fancy trying to dock our new-to-us boat in high winds when we still felt such novices. Anyway, we didn’t really want to go into a marina when there were several really good anchorages close by.

Marmaris Harbour is massive and very dramatic

Also, as customs and immigration were done, there was no need for her to hang on to our passports so where were they? Oh, they were in her pocket.

So our agent’s brother’s wife handed them over and called someone – our agent? – and then she disappeared. Ten minutes afterwards she returned with our transit log and our ship’s papers and we were free to go – once we had paid our bill.

We did a quick search of the pilot and decided to make for a comfortable looking anchorage in the tourist resort of İçmeler across the other side of the vast Mamaris harbour.

On our way to İçmeler

It was about 5pm by the time we arrived and as we approached the anchorage we were amazed and very happy to see that there were three boats already anchored there – and they were all Aussi or Kiwi boats! The most incredible coincidence was that one of them was the OTHER Sunday – registered in Australia with video bloggers Ryan and Brittni and their dog Jackson and rescue cat Finn on board.

The beach resort of İçmeler

Ryan popped by to say hello and later came aboard for a drink that first night. We were amazed to meet him on our first night in Turkey!

Our Corona lockdown buddies in Athens – Silke and Tim from Polykandros – had mentioned the OTHER Sundays to us. They had watched some of the sailing videos Ryan and Brittni had produced and then had been chatting to each other on-line.

It was such a surprise to meet the other Sundays!!

It’s a small world but no more so than when it comes to the cruising community!

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

3 thoughts on “Tainted (Greek) love and Turkish delight”

  1. Simi was my mums favourite Island She visited it countless times to paint! Sorry the horrors of Greek bureaucracy were so tedious. Love from Annie

    Sent from my iPhone



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