The end of one road trip and the beginning of another

After driving through snow for what seemed like weeks, it was such a pleasure to set off from the seaside town of Side on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, in bright sunshine with a completely dry and ice-free road.

Driving out of the ancient ruins at Side in the bright sunshine

We were on our way to Finike where we had wintered over the previous year (2021). We thought it would be good to show the marina to our travel buddies Jan and Jack, maybe rest over for a night or two and catch up with friends we had made last year.

On our way from Side
We stopped off to buy delicious strawberries

After a lovely couple of days of rest and relaxation in Finike we recommenced our journey back to Didim 466 kilometres north.

Great to catch up with friends in Finike (Jan and Jack pictured with Jill from Eucalyptus)

It was lovely to see the snow sparkling on the mountains as we drove along the coast road and a great relief we were no longer inching our way down the steep and slippery mountain roads!

The snow sparkling on the mountains as we drove along the coast road

We stopped in the lovely little fishing village of Uçağız that sits within the series of stunning sheltered anchorages in the massive Kekova Bay.

The lovely little fishing village of Uçağız

We were keen to show Jan and Jack the fabulous seaside restaurant run by excellent chef and welcoming host Hassan and his lovely family.

Caps from yachties and other travellers decorate Hassan’s restaurant in Uçağız

Unfortunately, virtually every business in Uçağız was closed but by a stroke of luck Hassan and his wife happened to be in their restaurant and when they saw us they instantly recognised us and welcomed us inside.

Luckily, Hassan and his wife happened to be in their restaurant

They had no food to cook but generously made us tea and gave us juicy, refreshing oranges to eat.

Jack and Jan enjoying Hassan’s oranges

This generous welcome to travellers is so typical of Turkish culture. Wherever you go, even if you are complete stranger, you are fed and watered and made to feel really special.

We continued on towards Fethiye, another favourite place of ours. On the way we came across a very typical Turkish scene – a herd of goats wandering along the road.

A very Turkish scene!
The traffic will just have to wait!

A little later we were surprised to see snow at the roadside and even more surprised to see a large number of families having picnics in the snowiest spots. It was obviously a really unusual event!

We were surprised to see snow at the roadside and even more surprised to see a large number of families having picnics!

The snow soon disappeared and the rest of the journey unremarkable and soon we were in beautiful Fethiye, parked on the sea front just over the road from the hotel Jan and Jack had selected.

Parked in our favourite location- near the water and boats!
Always love Fethiye
Just a short walk into town

That evening we walked into the town centre for a really good meal and some great live music at a restaurant called Piraye.

We had a good evening here
Jan in one of the many lanes of the covered market

It was great to arrive back at the marina the following day and we were relieved to find Sunday shipshape and looking good.

Last leg

We had a lot to do in the following week before getting back in the road to drive back to the Netherlands.

One of the exciting developments was getting Sunday measured up for a new very light and large foresail that would enable us to sail more successfully in light winds.

Measuring up for the new bowsprit

Although a spinnaker style sail, it would be on a roller for ease of use and to enable this a new bowsprit needed to be installed.

Securely tied on for the job!

We also needed to organise some other jobs such as finally fixing our wayward passerelle once and for all. Two unsuccessful attempts to stop the leaking hydraulic fluid had been made and we decided that new parts would have to be ordered from Greece where the passerelle (electronic gangplank) was made.

Our wayward passerelle

In order to avoid the dreaded Turkish customs process (we had heard of people waiting for many months to obtain boat parts) we had the bits sent to our daughter‘s home in the Netherlands.

One day we had a visit from a very curious cat who examined everything very carefully and wandered round “Sunday” as though she owned the place.

A little visitor to Sunday
She was very curious
Our guest wandered all over the boat
Finally she decided not to move in!

We were sad to be leaving the marina for a couple of months as we had met a great group of people there, however we were excited about our drive back to the Netherlands.

A birthday dinner for Marianna
on “Aussie” Anthem
Our last night- Jonathan made a friend
at the restaurant!

Our first stop was Viaport Marina in Istanbul. We were planning to make this marina our base in the coming year as we were hoping to go on the Black Sea Rally.

Our trip to Viaport Marina near Istanbul

John from our buddy boat Catabella joined us on this leg as he and Sue (who was off visiting family) were also planning to make this marina their winter base (in fact Sue did the research to find it!)

Nearly there

We were pleased to have this opportunity to view the marina and it’s surrounds before making a decision on whether to take out a contract for a year.

We travelled over the Izmit Bay Suspension Bridge at the easternmost edge of the Sea of Marmara which connects the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea.

About to cross the Sea if Mamara

Less than half an hour later we were parked in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. John was hoping to stay the night there as it was just a stone’s throw away from the marina but unfortunately it was closed. We found a good hotel for him a little further away.

We parked near The Crowne Plaza

There were quite a few snack bars and restaurants behind the marina but they seemed to be more international pizza and burger style eateries rather than the more traditional cafes that we prefer. However, there was also a really well stocked supermarket, an aquarium, a water park, a lion park, a “big wheel” as well as a range of outlet stores.

The big wheel at Biaport Marina

The marina is only 20 minutes from Istanbul’s second airport and there is a metro station 15 minutes away from which you can travel to the centre of Istanbul.

The staff at the marina office were very charming and welcoming and willingly showed us round the marina in the pouring rain.

Jonathan in the administration office
at Viaport Marina

We were quite impressed by the cleanliness of the water, the ample turning space and good facilities, including a self serve laundry. The security seemed to excellent and there was access into the supermarket using your finger print.

We were quite impressed with the
marina facilities

Having received a good offer for year’s contract which included a month on the hardstanding and a bonus of an extra two months, we decided to sign up and pay a deposit.

We decided to make Viaport Marina our base for the next year

Later on that day we started our long 3,000 kilometres (approx 1,800 miles) road trip to The Netherlands where we would stay with our daughter and son-in-law before returning to Australia for the first time in two and a half years.

A rainy start to our long trip

It was pouring with rain when we set off that afternoon so we decided not to make for a specific destination but just to drive as far as we could go by early evening.

We turned off the toll road after driving about three and a half hours and found ourselves in a very rural area with tiny villages dotted between large tracts of agricultural land.

We found ourselves in a very rural area with tiny villages dotted between large tracts of agricultural land
Then we drove past this – we couldn’t work out what it was! Still a mystery.

It was difficult to find anywhere to pull off! No car parks, no sports centres, no parks, not even a lay by!

This was the only spot we could find to park but it wasn’t ideal – the place felt very uncomfortable

After meandering along miles of country lanes we came across a very isolated, gothic looking, building at the end of a very long and lonely road. If it had still been raining, it would have evoked The Rocky Horror Show. It was absolutely miles from anywhere and definitely felt very creepy.

This place felt very creepy

The sign swinging in the breeze read Bakucha and on googling the name we found the following: “Set on a leafy 200-hectare wine estate, this tranquil hotel is 23 km from the town of Lüleburgaz and 23 km from the D565 road.” We were tempted to go in and get a bed for the night but turned around and followed the lane back to a spot (the only one!) we had spied earlier next to what looked like an electricity substation.

We were tempted to go in and get a bed
for the night

Thankfully we had a reasonably good night there but I did wake up twice to the sound of an engine running and peeped out of the bathroom window to see headlights from a stationary vehicle just metres away. This was definitely unnerving as we were so far from anywhere and we didn’t know if the cars belonged to curious locals or someone with ill intent.

Waking up next to a sun station – nice!

Fortunately, we woke up the next morning in one piece with everything intact and were soon on our way heading for Edirne near the Turkish border with Bulgaria, feeling that somehow we’d “dodged a bullet”.

Fortunately, we woke up the next morning in one piece

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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 “The end of one road trip and the beginning of another”

  1. Hello,
    Lovely to see your posts. Thank you
    Perhaps you know I crewed with Boomerang and also know the Eucalyptus gals.
    Looking on internet, I cannot find dates for the Black Sea rally that you mention.
    If you need/want a crew for this, please let me know. Just friendly crew. From April end until June end, I’ll be in UK and EU visiting family, friendsand crewing in Spain.
    Safe travels to Nederland
    Cheers,
    Lori Ashton

    Like

    1. Thanks Lori, yes I do remember!! Lovely to hear from you. Unfortunately we (same as Eucalyptus) have decided not to do the rally, mostly because the insurance is almost impossible to get (Very expensive before Ukraine and now probably sky high). Also the rally involves going into small harbours rather than anchoring each night. The events looked great but SO intense and numerous. The rally is July 1 to August 30 from memory. I will certainly pass on your offer for crewing to anyone we meet who is considering doing the rally. Good luck!

      Like

      1. Thank you so much. Actually, it is a bit surprising that this rally is still going ahead due to the proximity to war areas. However, and hopefully, this craziness will have sorted sooner rather than later.
        Fair winds and do have a wonderful land trip as well.
        Lori

        Like

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