The next EMYR stop was Bozyazi fishing harbour. Although in appearance quite a contrast to the lovely new marinas in which we had been staying, the hospitality from the local fishing cooperative was exceptional. The rather desolate & industrial dock was transformed into a banquet and dance area with lively Turkish and western music for our welcome dinner: quite unexpected, but wonderful. It was a good base to visit the ancient site of Anamurium situated in the most beautiful spot on the coast a few miles to the west.
We tasted the local specialty of tantuni in Anamur town and bought some of the locally famous small Anamur bananas from the roadside. We are also getting to like ayran, the Turkish yogurt drink – delicious and refreshing once you get used to the rather salty taste.
More cocktails and dinners at the brand new marina of Kumkuyu – another good base for visiting more of the many ancient sites dotted along this coastline.
Kandlivane – a 90m chasm where those who caused the Romans displeasure were said to have been thrown to their deaths.
The caves of Heaven & Hell. The long slippery tour down into a rather cool ‘hell’
And the so-called ‘Asthma cave’.
On to Mersin, another new marina where we left Sea Cloud for a 2 day 1200km bus trip (!!) to the spectacular Mt Nemrut. The drive, although long was fascinating. We were very much in the SE Turkey – about 50km from the Syrian Border in places. Obviously a very important and highly fertile agricultural area.
It is hard to imagine how the 50m high man made mountain of stones on tip of this isolated mountainous site were constructed. It is believed that more of the huge human statues lie under the peak but nobody has been able to find them. Built by a megalomaniac king, they depict he and the gods (his family). They are hauntingly beautiful, well worth the long drive and climb up the hill.
Sanilurfa (known also as Urfa) was our all too short overnight stop. It looked like a fascinating town, deserving a few days rather than the hour or so we had scheduled.
It is a pilgrimage town, with a very middle-east feel because of its proximity to Syria. For many of the people here, Turkish is their second language. Dress is traditional and conservative, with women wearing colours of their tribes, and facial tattoos depicting their ‘ownership’ and men wearing arabic –style baggy pants.
Gobeklitepe, is a relatively newly discovered site (not in our guide book) dating back to 12,000BC (well before the pyramids). It is so hard to imagine how they had the resources to allocate to this religious site in what was essentially the stone age and probably before organised farming in this region.
Another great party at Mersin, then we were off on our first overnight EMYR sail to Girne, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Motoring into residual lumpy seas and a little wind on the nose wasn’t the best start. The wind picked up as predicted so we had a great sail for about a third of the journey, increasing as we approached Cyprus. This made for quite exciting docking in the very exposed and crowded Girne commercial harbour. Berthing 32 boats in 25+ knots is always rather a challenge, particularly as the wind was blowing right into Delta Marina.
The cocktail reception at Girne castle was fabulous. After touring the castle and the shipwreck museum, we were treated to music, cocktails and yummy food in the wonderful surroundings of the castle courtyard. Informal conversations with local dignitaries at these events is a wonderful opportunity to hear more about the politics and background of their city.
The Girne shipwreck (about the same size as Sea Cloud) which sank just off Girne harbour about 2,300 years ago (around 300BC) after travelling from along the Turkish coast from as far north as Samos with a cargo of olive oil and almonds.
The Bellpais monastery on the hill overlooking Girne is a beautiful spot. Unfortunately we weren’t there for one of the concerts they have regularly in this lovely refectory. The holes in the back wall were reported to be a result of English troops practicing rifle shooting in the 1950’s. The lovely gardens are a popular wedding spot.
The St Hilarion castle on the peak above the coast is in an impressive site, easy to see why it would have been easy to defend in times gone by.
The green line between Turkish and Greek Cyprus, the border controls in Nicosia and the Turkish troops doing target practice just below the castle is a reminder that this is still an unsettled part of the world. The ex-cathedral now mosque in Nicosia is one of the many seen around Turkey.
The pirate party – one of the highlights of the EMYR calendar – concluded our stay in Girne. There were some fabulous costumes, much better than our bits and pieces cobbled together at the last minute. Parading through the town with our flags was a lot of fun. Locals come our each year to enjoy the parade, while some tourists obviously were a bit perplexed by the antics! Our resident German bagpiper Claus piped us through the town and around the old harbour. Fortunately his bagpipes had been returned after he left them in a taxi following the last cocktail party.
Dinner overlooking the sea at the Dome Hotel, was of course followed by dancing. A display of belly dancing by the EMYR group of Turkish and German belly dancers was enjoyed by all.
Our last few days in Cyprus were are the new Karpaz Gate marina, a beautiful site with fabulous marina, restaurants, art gallery and a beach club with a pool and lovely sandy beach. We were fortunate to be here for the season opening, cocktails, followed by a party at the beach club.
Our last tour was to the extensive ruins of Salamis, near Farmagusta, a port on the south east side of Northern Cyprus. Tour finished, we were back at the marina to say our goodbyes to our new friends who were heading back to Turkey. Our remaining group of 26 yachts will leave during the night for the 200Nm sail to Israel.