It is said that “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good” and the scary events caused by the Meltimi wind in Datça (mentioned in my previous blog), proved this to be true!
Apart from the fact a drowning woman was saved, we also met some great people through the series of events caused by the “ill wind”
When our daughter Hannah noticed someone in trouble in the water and Jonathan was trying to get to Sue and John’s boat but being blown backwards in his dinghy, I put out a message on the Radio’s emergency channel calling “all ships” to let them know there was someone in the water and to assist where possible.
The message was picked up by Niki and Jamie from S/V Grateful who swung by the following day and very kindly invited all of us to dinner on their boat.
We had a lovely evening and shared many travel stories, ate good food and drank wine.
During dinner we noticed smoke rising from a hillside behind Datça town. Our hearts sunk as there had been so much destruction already from forest fires that week.
The fire fighters leapt into action and helicopters and purpose built aeroplane were soon collecting water from the ocean nearby and dumping sea water on the fire.
Fortunately being so quick off the mark seemed to do the trick and the fire was brought under control surprisingly fast.
The next day we sailed back to show our daughter and son-in-law one of our favourite spots – the outstanding anchorage near Orhaniye in the Hisaronu Gulf. It was a terrible shock to see how much of the beautiful pine forest had burnt out in the wild fires.
As soon as we arrived they dived off the boat and swam straight to the 600 metre sand spit that stretches out from the beach into the anchorage. It’s quite strange seeing people standing there – looking for all the world as though they are walking on water!
We had a really fantastic few days – Hannah and Pieter climbed to the top of the rocky hill on the small island and explored the ruins of the castle, (reputed to be Medieval in origin but there would have been a fort here previously, belonging to Bybassus, a town in ancient Caria.)
The climb was rugged but they loved the experience and said the views were amazing!
We found a beautiful sand-between-the-toes restaurant where we had a very special dinner to celebrate Hannah’s recent 30th birthday. It was a perfect spot to welcome the start of her third decade!
Part of her birthday gift from our son Ben and his wife Sarah was a parasailing experience, so one day we took a taxi to Marmaris and she and Pieter experienced a tandem flight high up above the sea. The views were amazing they said.
That day happened to be Ben and Sarah’s second wedding anniversary so we drank a toast to them and wished we could visit them (or them us) as the last time we saw them was when we attended their wedding. It seems such a long time ago and like everyone separated from their loved ones at this time, we miss them so much!
Pieter and Hannah’s stay with us was rapidly drawing to a close. We went for one last drink at the restaurant where we had celebrated Hannah’s birthday and drank a toast to family, far and wide.
There were last swims, last stargazing on the deck together and sadly, more watching helicopters fill up with sea water to dump on fresh (mercifully small) wild fire outbreaks nearby.
We decided to make their last day in Turkey a bit of a road trip as they were flying out of Izmir which was a longer drive than to Dalaman, where they had landed two weeks previously. Added to that, their flight was leaving at 6am!
The countryside was stunning and in parts quite different to the scenery we had seen previously. At the top of the range we were amazed by the landscape – especially the massive rocks all piled on top of one another, looking just like a giant’s building blocks.
By mid-morning we were ready for a break and stopped for gözleme – the Turkish answer to pancakes – at a small roadside stall. The lady there was lovely and showed Hannah the different steps used to make these delicious treats.
While we were watching her cooking, several guys on tractors drove by and then the tiniest woman I have ever seen leading her two good looking cows walked by! Having spent the last two weeks in tourist spots it was interesting to see a bit of rural Turkey.
We arrived in Izmir in the early afternoon and found the Doubletree Hilton hotel at the airport with no trouble. The only problem was it was the wrong hotel! I had inadvertently booked at the other Doubletree Hotel in Izmir! Who would know that there were two hotels of the same name?!
Fortunately the other hotel cancelled the booking at no charge but then we found out that it’s twin at the airport was full!
Eventually they did offer us a suite and a deluxe room which although expensive by Turkish standards, was still way under what you would pay for a normal room in a good hotel in Australia or the United Kingdom.
So we plopped our bags down and went out to explore Izmir (founded by the Greeks and known as Smyrna in antiquity).
We didn’t have much time but we had a walk around some of the popular tourist sites such as the Konak Clock Tower built in 1901 and the tiny Konak mosque with its lovely blue ceramic tiles.
The Kemeraltı Bazaar in Izmir covers a vast area and has existed in its present layout since the 17th Century but of course, the bazaar was in existence for centuries before then. Parts of it is still very traditional – selling sumptuous fruit, aromatic spices, olives, colourful vegetables, beautiful carpets, as well as plentiful fish and meat but there were also many stalls that sold gaudy toys, t-shirts and other clothes and tourist-focussed paraphernalia.
In the middle of the bazaar we came across the Hisar Mosque (“Fortress Mosque”) which we later found out, was built in 1592 and is the oldest, most significant, Ottoman landmark in İzmir.
We ate an early dinner in one of the lovely quiet and peaceful courtyards off the bazaar and then went back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and an early night.
Unfortunately, things did not go to plan! We were just getting ready to go to the pool when an incredibly massive din broke outside our window which happened to look out over the pool.
The windows were literally shaking to the “duf duf” music and there were tables set up for some kind of celebration in the pool area.
Given that Hannah and Pieter were leaving at 4 am and were hoping to have at least some sleep that night we agreed that the situation was untenable. The hotel was actually very nice and agreed they should have warned us about the party and kindly organised another hotel for us. So we moved again and we had a restful sleep! Third time lucky!