Celebrating Christmas in February and a bit of Turkey

One of the positive things about Covid restrictions is that we have made the most of every opportunity to celebrate life. Normally we would probably allow Valentines Day to drift by unnoticed but this year we got out the bunting and decorated the house and then ordered a delicious take away gourmet meal. It was such a treat and great fun!

Decorating in preparation for a gourmet Valentines Day meal

We were back staying with our daughter Hannah and her husband Pieter in the Netherlands while we prepared to return to our catamaran Sunday in Kaş, Turkey.

The snow had almost completely melted

The snow and ice that had brought such joy and excitement to one and all over the past couple of weeks had melted away and the weather became a lot milder again. (See https://saltytalesfrombalihai.com/2021/03/06/floods-snow-and-ice/ for photos and video)

The snow and iced-up canals had brought much joy and excitement
The weather was much milder again
This was the canal Hannah skated on a week previously

Taking advantage of the milder weather Hannah and Pieter went on a week’s break in the camper van while we “cat sat” and started packing.

Hannah and Pieter off on an adventure of their own
While we look after this princess

In between our preparations we found some more places to explore, including an amazing water reserve called the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen.

The Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen – an amazing water reserve

The park, very near to the famous tulip fields, is made up of hundreds of sand dunes which filter the rain water before it is collected and purified to serve the population of Amsterdam.

The hundreds of sand dunes filter rain water for Amsterdam’s water supply

We saw lots of water birds and at one point three stunning young adult swans took off and flew right over us just feet away from our heads. It was such an impressive sight but I was very disappointed that I didn’t manage to capture it on camera.

These swans flew right over our heads

There were also heaps of deer – some of which were very shy but others were much bolder.

Spot the deer!
These ones were less shy
Great pair of antlers!

We managed to get pretty lost at one point – the park is vast!

This stag crossed the road first, then two other smaller ones followed
Then they calmly walked up the hill

Meanwhile back in Pijnacker the first signs of spring were beginning to show – there were crocuses and mini narcissus blooming in every green space and garden.

So lovely to see Spring on the way
These narcissi popped up in Hannah and Pieter’s garden
More crocuses
Down the road in the evening sun

Two days before we due to leave for Turkey (on 1 March) we had the most wonderful surprise. The Christmas parcel that our son Ben and his wife Sarah had sent off in November finally arrived! Only two months late but great timing!

Christmas gifts from Australia. Better late than never!
So many gifts to open!

Sarah and Ben had bought us a range of lovely Australian themed gifts which was so thoughtful especially as we had hoped and planned to be spending Christmas 2020 with them in Brisbane.

Everything was so beautifully wrapped
It really was like a second Christmas Day!
Happy Christmas everyone – cheers!

To celebrate we had drinks and nibbles outside – just like an Aussie Christmas except we had a space heater and a wood fire for warmth!

We had such a good time opening our gifts
We even sat outside like an Aussie Christmas!
The fire was very welcome!

In our parcels a couple of us received mini bottles of some very special gin. We also had another small bottle of gin and the remains of a larger bottle so on our last night we had a gin tasting and sushi night. A great way to celebrate our last night together (for a while!)

Next morning Pieter was tackling his favourite gift “the impossible jigsaw”
Sushi and gin tasting – what a combination!
The gin tasting was a great success!
This one was our favourite – Fossey’s Shiraz Grape Gin Elixir

The following day, we bade our sad farewells and armed with our negative covid test results, left for the airport to fly to Turkey and back to our catamaran Sunday.

Everything went very smoothly checking in at Amsterdam and on the flight to Istanbul but our stop over in Istanbul was not the greatest.

We hadn’t booked accommodation as we had discovered that if you are unable to book an earlier connecting flight and there are more than 12 hours between your flights then Turkish Airlines would pay for a night in a hotel for you.

The long and the short of it was that we walked kilometres to try and find the desk where you organise this and in the end we gave up and booked an airport hotel at a travel desk.

We paid top dollar and ended up in the dingiest and most horrible hotel possible. We agreed it was one of those disastrous events that we would put behind us and never mention again!

Early next morning we were back at the airport for the short plane ride to Dalaman where we were met by the car and driver we had organised from the Netherlands.

The weather was cloudy but felt warm in comparison to the Netherlands and the two and half hour drive was very pleasant – with lovely mountain views and gorgeous glimpses of the Mediterranean Sea.

Lovely mountain views on our drive to Kaş
It was great to see the Mediterranean once more
A gorgeous glimpse of the sea

The apartment we had booked in Kaş was perfectly located – very close to the shops and the market and just a short walk to the marina.

Our apartment block

We had lovely views from our balcony and the only downside was that the apartment was situated right next to a mosque so every morning before dawn we were awakened by the call to prayer.

The view from our balcony was lovely
Looking away from the sea from our balcony
The mosque was right next door

Very quickly we learnt to turn over and go back to sleep despite some noisy roosters and barking dogs who conspired to try and keep us awake!

The call to prayer was very loud!

It was great to be back in Turkey at the start of another new sailing adventure!

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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.

4 thoughts on “Celebrating Christmas in February and a bit of Turkey”

  1. Lovely that you could have a late extra Christmas celebration before you left – and that Ben and Sarah’s presents arrived just in the nick of time! Glad you got to Turkey safely; it must be great to know you’ll be on the open water again in a few days! I’m hanging on to the hope that we’ll be able to visit you! xx

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  2. Your Valentine’s Day and late-Christmas celebrations looked such fun – how wonderful that the parcel from Australia arrived in the nick of time! I’m sure you felt sad to leave Hannah and Pieter – but exciting to be back on water again and starting new adventures! xx

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