We (S/V Sunday and our buddy boat S/V Catabella) were finally arriving at our destination – Viaport Marina in Tuzla, Istanbul – which is going to be our base until the first half of 2023.
With the promise of quite a few visitors arriving in the coming months – after a dearth of guests over the last two years due to Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions – we thought it would be a great idea to be somewhere easy to get to from anywhere in the world.
Viaport Marina is a twenty minute taxi ride away from Istanbul’s second airport and has plenty of appeal for people coming on holiday: easy access by boat to the nearby Prince’s Archipelago and the Bosphorus Strait; a train line into centre of Istanbul for sightseeing, a shopping mall on the door step complete with water park, aquarium, funfair, lion park, bowling alley and cinema and some lovely sea food restaurants a stroll away.
We were greeted by the marinaras, as is usual in Turkish marinas, who pick up the “slime lines” that are anchored to the seabed and to which you tie to your own lines at the bow. Monohulls only need one line but catamarans like ours require two – one for each hull.
Unfortunately they expected us to manage with one slime line each and then one to share between us. This effectively meant we were tied together and the result was that it was impossible for either boat to straighten up properly.
We requested that we have a second line for each boat but the head marinara seemed reluctant to do this. A young marinara, Mehmet, who spoke brilliant English translated for us and he told us that they needed permission to do this. In the meantime the wind started to blow up and our two boats started to act like kittens in a sack (or like cats on a shared line!). Both skippers lost the plot and demanded action before damage was caused “act now and ask permission afterwards” entreated Sunday’s skipper. Both skippers said if there was no action we would leave the marina immediately and not come back.
At this point our dinghy which hangs off the back of the boat was banging against the fire hydrant and hose on the dock which we pointed out as one urgent reason for action. In the end we were given our own lines and we were able to settle our boats properly. It was an inauspicious start to our stay.
Things got better from then on fortunately. Mehmet was able to help organise a diver to scrub Sunday’s hull below the waterline to get rid of all the little sea snails, limpets and other sea life that had attached to her “bottom”.
The following day we went to the office and signed the contract and paid the balance of the annual fee.
We had a couple of days to get our bearings before heading off on a road trip with our guest Jack, Jonathan’s brother. Unfortunately he had come down with a very nasty chest cold and had been ill for about a week. We decided a road trip is what he needed!
After some difficulty (it was the school summer break and a public holiday) we managed to hire a car. The day we headed off Sue and John left for a canal barge holiday in England with two of their sons and their two youngest grandchildren.
We decided to head for the famous ancient site of Troy – we had been there previously in the campervan but had spent so long at the museum that we didn’t have time to go round the archeological site. This time we were going to do both!
On the way there we drove over the new 1915 Çanakkale Bridge – the longest suspension bridge in the world – that we had sailed under just a few days earlier.
There were hardly any vehicles crossing over it – not surprising really as it costs more than 200 Turkish Lira (about 12 Euros or $16 Australian) which would be prohibitive to the average Turkish resident.
The Troy museum is fabulous but we feel it is utterly wrong and absolutely heartbreaking that all the best treasures from Troy are sitting in museums in other countries (mostly in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow) – having been looted by antiquities hunter Heinrich Schliemann in the nineteenth century.
The Museum of Troy still has many treasures to boast about however, including a wealth of artefacts from nearby Tumuli and other sites close to Troy.
After a great wander round the museum we returned to our lodgings – a small bed and breakfast place over the road from the museum which also caters for campers and one or two vans.
We had a good set dinner and then settled in for a red wine or two in Jonathan’s and my bedroom!
The site of Troy was a pleasant surprise. We had somehow gathered that there wasn’t much left to see (Schliemann had destroyed layer upon layer of evidence of habitation in his frenzied search for treasure) but in reality the ruins were very interesting.
There are a remarkable eleven layers and sub layers (each with sub divisions) containing the remains left behind by more than three millennia of human occupation.
It was fascinating for example, to see fortification walls built around 2920 BC, and then a partially restored ramp which dates back to the next incarnation of Troy, and built over the remains of the original city. Fascinating stuff.