Big news week!

Thinking about what to write in this week’s blog there didn’t seem much news to recount but on second thoughts, there have been at least three events of importance this week.

The first is that Turkey came out of full lockdown which means we can walk freely, get boat work done (our gang plank – aka our passarelle has been waiting for new seals for weeks) and postal and courier deliveries can get back to normal.

There are still lockdowns every weekend which means we can only sail during the week and can’t wander around town or go for long walks at weekends although food shops will still be open.

At the post office trying to find missing post!
Our gangplank waiting to be mended

The second big event is that yesterday we received our Turkish temporary residency cards! This is such a wonderful relief at a time of travel restrictions and closed borders due to Covid.

It was a red letter day!
Officially Turkish residents now!

Last year, in contrast, we arrived in Greece just as the country was about to go under total lockdown. We moved onto our boat on March 17 the day lockdown began and from then on were confined to the boat and the marina surrounds for almost. three months.

Leaving Alimos Marino in Athens in May 2020 after almost three months in lockdown

There were barriers placed across the harbour entrance to ensure no one tried to sail off into the blue yonder (there were 1,000 charter yachts moored there and a tiny handful of cruising yachts – us and the Whittaker family on Polykandros to be precise.)

The Whittakers who we spent the first lockdown with in Athens, Greece

When our three months Schengen visa free period was up we were not allowed to extend our stay despite the circumstances. The Immigration official banged on her desk and shouted to Jonathan – who has a New Zealand passport but hasn’t lived there since 1984, “You go back to New Zealand and your wife must go back to Australia” (despite there being absolutely no flights!)

Despite being told (forcibly) to leave Greece we do miss the beauty of the Greek islands
Just one of the wonderful Greek sights – on the island of Amorgos

In contrast, in Turkey it has been very easy to apply for one-year temporary residency and with the help of Finike yacht agent Samet Gölgeci and travel agent Tarik Toprak, the process was easy.

We feel so grateful to Turkey for giving us the security of somewhere to stay while the world continues to be unsettled – unlike our home country, the hermit kingdom of Australia, where the government has made it nigh impossible for us to return.

Finike marina

The other important milestone was that I was called in for my first Covid vaccination. Unfortunately Jonathan is still waiting for an appointment but hopefully it will be his turn soon.

The Turkish health app letting me know that I could go in for my “jab”

Having had a very mild dose of Covid late last year in the Netherlands I wasn’t too anxious about getting grievously ill with the virus even if I caught it again but I really do believe that it is each person’s duty to think about the good of others before their own needs and desires.

The hospital in Finike is very modern

It’s all very well for people to decide they don’t want to be vaccinated – for whatever reason – but in order to get ALL of our lives back to normal we need to have the majority of the population worldwide vaccinated – ASAP.

The entrance to the Covid clinic

In the UK more than 37 million people (55.9 per cent of the population) have received at least one dose. Now the country is out of lockdown and Covid cases and hospital numbers are way down.

New cases are way down in the UK

So for those anxious about having a vaccine – look at the numbers. The vast majority of people in the UK who have been vaccinated have had no harmful side effects. In contrast, the small number of people who have ended up very sick in hospital and in some cases, dying, with Covid have been unvaccinated or have caught Covid before they were vaccinated or before their immunity had built up.

Deaths are right down. The vast majority of the people dying have not been vaccinated

In Australia people are being very slow to be vaccinated partly, I believe, because they feel that they have “beaten” Covid. Well they haven’t!

Hospital admissions of people with Covid continue to tumble

The Australian government has announced that the borders with the rest of the world will remain closed until mid-2022. There is no way the country will open even at that stage unless people go out and get vaccinated.

The entrance to the hospital in Finike

For those, like us, who have family in Australia (and dear friends of course) it seems a hopeless situation. We sometimes wonder if we will ever see them again.

This is where patients sat for 15 minutes after their vaccination

And just by the way, the Astra Zeneca vaccine is being provided at NO profit. Additionally, for those worried about blood clots it’s estimated this syndrome occurs in just six people per one million people vaccinated, on average, with the risk even lower for those over 50. This is about the same as your risk of serious injury from being stuck by lightning in a year in Australia.

No crowds, no fuss.

Anyway! Apart from those important events, the passed week has unfolded pleasantly with 7.30am yoga sessions (a miracle that I’m even awake at this time!); Scrabble or games of Rummikub in the afternoons; movie nights on S/V Catabella with a big screen, complete with popcorn and choc ices; farewell coffee and cake on S/V Liberte with Liz and Steve who we first met in Borneo, and drinks on other boats and on the dock.

Playing Scrabble has its tricky moments. This was Sue’s hand…..
….and this was mine!!
Just before our movie night we went to watch the flotilla commemorating Ataturk’s arrival in the Black Sea to launch the Turkish War of Independence in 1919
There were a lot of flares lit and patriotic music playing
Ataturk dedicated May 19 to the youth of the Turkish nation as Youth and Sports Day – a national holiday that (normally) sees young people take part in sporting and cultural activities with official ceremonies across the country

Yesterday we had a communal “casting off” party for all those leaving the marina this week. It was organised by the Turkish sailors who kindly invited us along to their celebration.

We all brought salads and other dishes to share to eat with the delicious “tray kebabs” cooked by the local butcher Nikki from S/V Destination Anywhere and Jonathan

We all took salads and other things to share and the local people organised large “tray kebabs” for everyone. The food was spicy and delicious and we had a lovely afternoon eating and drinking together.

The food was delicious! John from S/V Catabella enjoying a beer
Shelley (left) and Jill from S/V Eucalyptus
Sue from S/V Catabella

I have also been introduced to the delights of a Turkish spa this week by Sue of S/V Catabella.

The spa (Sue entering the bathhouse at the end of the passage)

Before our massage we were taken into a steamy marble-lined room with two slabs on which we were to lie.

Into the steamy atmosphere ready for the “dog wash” as Sue has dubbed it

Beforehand, hot water was sloshed over the slabs so it felt comfortably warm to lie on.

All set for the scrubbing

Then we were scrubbed from head to toe with what can only be described as one of those old fashioned pan scrubbers. While slightly excruciating it was also invigorating and strangely relaxing. At intervals we were rinsed by bucketfuls of hot water being sloshed over us which felt lovely.

After the scrub came the bubbles (not the alcoholic kind!) applied with what felt like a deliciously soft chamois, followed by a vigorous hair wash. Then after a quick dry off it was time for a wonderful but pretty conventional massage.

The massage itself was pretty conventional

Now lockdown is over we are slowly getting ready for our departure this coming Thursday. We can’t wait to out into the blue yonder again! One such task was to find a way round the strange phenomenon of having our telephone blocked.

A misty view of a mosque in the way to the phone shop

For some reason, after three months in the country, phones that are foreign made are somehow “disabled” by the Turkish government, regardless of whether you have a Turkish SIM or whether you are a temporary resident.

An unusual coloured bougainvillea

To get around this rather strange situation we have bought a small portable wifi hub with which we can “hotspot” using our disabled phones (apparently they can still do this!). We have also bought a tiny little Nokia with which we can receive an sms from our bank or credit card with a security code to complete a transaction. Hopefully this will work!

Our portable wifi hub

Not many photos this week but hopefully my next blog will be full of fabulous shots of blue seas and glorious landscapes!

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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.

One thought on “Big news week!”

  1. How wonderful to be out of lockdown – at least during the week – and to have had your first vaccination. The only way is up! It looks as though you’ve drawn on your usual reserves of good humour and capacity to enjoy life in order to have a good time in spite of everything. So good that you’ve got your residence permits too – at least that provides some security in these uncertain times. Hope you have a great break when you sail off later this week! xx

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