Monday, 24 September 2012

Amazing Amsterdam...

Yes, it's raining. We were overcome by The Grey as the plane glided into Schiphol airport, over the waterlogged green green fields.

So good to be home... a spacious bed to sleep in, taps that produce warm water, drawers with neatly folded clothes, food stored in glass pots... and so many other small details typical of living on land...
Some boats, of course, boast all these amenities -- but they're not our kind of boat!

Lots of post to deal with, lots of items connected with house repairs, but best of all -- friends to phone and visits to be arranged.
Coming home and picking up the threads of life on land.
Never mind about the rain...

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A brief farewell to Turkey

We are back in the marina at Kusadasi. Happy so far with our decision to keep the boat here for the winter.
It is close to wondrous places such as Ephesus, not to mention the nearby Greek islands, Samos, Kos and so forth.
Lots of nice people around speaking langauges we understand, such as Dutch, German, English ... our progress with Turkish still taking a snail's pace...
But we are undeterred by age and diminishing capacities (!!) and determined to be able, within a few months, to carry out a limited conversatin with the people who work here in the marina and local shops, market, transport and suchlike essentials...
David continues to spend hours on the boat crouched over his laptop, editing learned articles, books etc and is presently meeting another publisher's deadline (Springer this time) at the same time as preparing yet more scrumptious meals for me and Stroemhella's guests, such as Adam from Finalnd, who arrived in Kusadasi when we did and is thinking of overwintering here too.

Above two pix show Kusadasi marina at sinset, and the blocks of flats nearby.
Now to pack the essentials for our excursion to the Netherlandsand the UK. Where, it appears from Weather Underground, chilly days await us...
A brief farewell to golden sunsets and azure skies -- now for three-and-a-half weeks of grey and mizzle.. but lots of friends to see again, so who minds a little rain?!
Think I'll miss the muezzin...

Reflections in the bay at Port St Paul, near Samos Straits.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Paradise enow....

The ambivalence remains. When idling at anchor in Paradise Bay, swimming in clear waters at a temperature of 25 Celsius, or at night watching the distant stars, myriads of fiery folk all aglow, as G.M. Hopkins called them-- what could be more delighful? Then we say happily: it can't get much better than this...
But when buffeting into a headwind over choppy waves, and when David slips on the coach roof and crashes down with a mighty bang, and the anchor doesn't hold in the weedy shallows -- then I am far from happy.
But here is me in a moment of extreme content:

So, after a day's somehwat windy sail, we reached another delicious bay -- named after St Paul, who apparently shelted here in this way to Ephesus... and watched the sun set quietly over Samos.

One more day of solitude and then tomorrow north through the Straits of Samos and back to Kusadasi. The wind will be on our nose, according to the forecast. The scenery will compensate for the bounce! I think I'll take two Stugeron pills, to be on the safe side.
Temporary farewell to paradisal days...

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Yelikavak... and home

This is where Rena has a house, on a tranquil hillside overlooking the Aegean Sea. Peace abounds.
We arrived after dark, by taxi up and down the winding coastal roads. And for the first time in almost two weeks slept in a bed that did not sway rhymically upon the balmy, and sometimes choppy, waves!
We sailed and chugged from Didyma down south to Yalikavak, little wind, a slow progress.
Very new marina in Yalikavak, too many super-yachts and sun-worshippers...
Didyma is also brand new, but was very quiet and low-frequency tourists... And very attractive with flowers and plumy rushes and shrubs. (Expensive, of course.)
I steered Stromhella out of the harbour at Didyma, very calm sea so no big deal.
I still find her a large boat -- so different from our previous yacht, Mitigator (which her new owner, Michael Forrest, has re-named Countess Maria II ... hope I've got those spellings right!).

This is the end of the trip with Rena -- she and I joined Stroemhella at Eskifoca on Monday 3 September.
It has been quite an upward learning curve, for all three of us, me perhaps the most. Rena had never crewed before -- she is very adept and patient. Also a terrific cook and we greatly enjoyed her meals.
Back on land in her home, she made us a delicious mushroom curry and we ate it slowly, sitting on the balcony overlooking the dark sea.
We talk softly, recalling days long ago -- how we met in London about 45 years ago -- and some of our adventures since. Rena tells David about some of the work she had done, in places all around the world, from England to Guyana to Australia to Papua New Guinea.
Always finding a place to call home...
Daivid and I will now return slowly to Kusadasi and on 23 September fly to Amsterdam. Time for a little northern interlude.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Official stamps in Kusadasi

The gale subsides, the wam wind soothes our skin. We have reached Kusadasi, close to Ephesus. And here we decide: over-winter in Turkey.
So after weighing up all the pros and cons -- like how many wonderful old crumblies are in the vicinity, how easy the air connections are to far-flung relatives, whether there are possibilities for David to make some academic contacts (Izmir University), the general feel of the place and the sunset glow -- we decide: YES.
So armed with all essential documents we make our way to the office of the marina where the excellent Zenyap (spelling?) fills out the necessary forms and soon we are off through the city, from coastal guards to tax office to photographer and back again -- and after a few hours David has his resident's permit in embryo...
Mine must wait till we return in October, since my passport expires in January 2013 and we have applied for a year's residence permit.
With much-lightened spirits we return to the boat and spend hours making all the flight bookings now required to get us through the coming month -- to Amsterdam, the UK and back to Izmir.

Now I must seriously start learning Turkish, which so far has challenged me greatly (!) although I have mastered the word for Thank you (four syllables...) for which I gain gleaming smiles from appeciative Turks.
Thus we will visit Ephesus after we return from our northern jaunt, and now will sail south a little to Yalikavak, where Rena has her home in this warm, hospitable land.
A few days there (more sunsets to admire) and then we'll come back here to begin the next chapter.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Temple of Dionysus, Teos

It is said to be the largest ancient Greek temple known to exist... So we shoulder a knapsack containing the essential water bottles, and set off along the dusty path, over a few small hills and past a shed where sheep and goats bleat plaintively, and lo! a vast open space spread before us, filled with scatterd grey chunks of broken Ionic columns. Earthqauke a couple of thousand years ago responsible for this devastation. Only two stumps of pillars remain standing.
I sat a long time and looked at these stones... the olive trees with their thick twisted trunks shaded me; the tumbled stones lay time-weathered and pale grey in the brilliant sunlight.

I tried to imagine this place thronged with people, all the columns erect, music instruments sounding into the windy air (was it always so windy?). Now the leaves of the olive trees rustle and some sleepy cicadas chirp. Otherwise the silence of hot noonday.
My name is Dionysus, god of dance and wine... this place really recalls those words: 'look on my works ye mighty and despair.'
Yet far from depressing. Many of the broken stones bear numbers in red paint, the work of  archaeologists (the French arrived in the 19th century, followed by other groups). Who knows, perhaps one day the columns may stand again in the sunlight, in the wind.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Turkish coast near Izmir

We left Istanbul and flew to Izmir, whence a train and then bus to the delightful coastal town of Eski foca (the 'c' is a 'ch'). Eski means 'city' and 'foca' means old. And it is truly  charming. We spend a couple of very happy days there, wandering round the cobbled streets, skirting the ancient city walls, eating in shaded restaurants adn trying to practice my few Turkish words (please and thank-you and good-bye).
It was quite a sheltered bay and Stroemhella lay at anchor, which meant the three of us had to clamber into the dingy and row ashore over the sparkling waters... Sometimes quite bouncy!

In the central pic above you can just detect our boat -- a small white speck on the right, with tall mast...
We had some good talks about being on the boat and our different expectations. I realize our plans have kept on changing, particularly as regards the crewing of Stroemhella.  We grow more easy with each other and I re-learn crewing activities! It is very hot and the first few days I don't feel particularly energetic unless I'm in the shade. And I miss space -- all is indeed cabinned and confined! But then comes the wonderful moment when, arived in a marina (in this case Sigacik, still north of Izmir) and official papers shown and stamped by marina authorities -- we can have a shower. Oh bliss!
This is an excellent marina. Outside, the winds howls and whines. But what a joy to have an unsticky skin!

We await the whims of the winds, but plan now to sail towards a Greek island -- maybe Rhodes -- where we will keep Stroemhella through the winter months.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Cartwheels in Istanbul

This is an amazing city -- Rena and I are staying in the historic centre, near Topkapi Palace, the Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, and other joyous locations. We have walked and walked and today relaxed and went to a wonderful Hamam (Turkish massage and so forth). Have not had such a good massage since I stayed in Ubud, Bali, more than twenty years ago. Feel ready to fly...
There is so much to see... happily David and I are thinking of staying over the winter in Turkey -- this seems to be slowly developing along the right lines. Tomorrow we fly from Istanbul to Izmir and then a journey of about two hours to meet David near Eskifoca (the "c" pronounced somewhat like a "ch").
This interesting building is just round the corner from our hotel which is appropriately named "Adora". Now for a pic of Rena and then one of me in the gardens of Topkapi Palace.

Above one of the many architectural joys encountered in Topkapi.
And the food is delicious, especially the lentil soup and Turkish bread...
Must stop now though there is so much to tell. Hopefully there'll be more time on the boat.
Final view of a street in the centre of Istanbul.