from Turkey to Greece
Keci Buku - Leros
is an example of a typical itinerary on our two week
Turkey-to-Greece trips. However, no two trips are
ever exactly the same; one of the greatest things
about being on a sailboat is the flexibility to change
our minds and our route to suit personal preferences,
prevailing wind conditions, etc. The start and finish
points are fixed, of course - but all else is changeable
according to the whims of the wind gods and those
on board !
Your yacht will be awaiting you at 11am in Keci Buku - 30mins
drive from the main town of Marmaris. A wonderful contrast
to the buzzing metropolis, Keci Buku is described as a "gem"
in the Turkish Waters Pilot - and it truly is. A wide, sweeping
bay surrounded by pine forests, with a fascinating old fortress
perched on the top of an island guarding the entrance -
a view which is well worth the scramble up!
After having gotten everyone settled in, we'll set off for
our first destination of Dirsek - an even quieter, very
pretty little bay, with just one taverna nestled in a corner.
Wonderful swimming, great chillout spot; and a shortish
sail on the first day to get everyone's sealegs working
Enough of the quiet, relaxing evenings to recover from
jetlag - tonight, we are heading for a night of belly-dancing
! We'll be heading for Bozburun; usually very leisurely
sail around the corner. Bozburun is a small, very traditional
Turkish town; full of gulets (wooden motor sailors), but
not many yachts, and certainly not many tourists.We dock
our yachts on a little wooden jetty just outside the town,
the family who run a small pension/restaurant right there
on the waterfront being our very accommodating hosts.
It is a shady, tranquil little spot to hang out in - and
we even get to borrow their fun kayaks plus a windsurfer
or two to go explore the bay in! Most importantly of all
is the evening's entertainment - for our groups, they
will invite along local friends who play traditional Turkish
music - and even a belly-dancer to teach us all how it
is done !
Sail to Datca - a lively little town. The waterfront is
lined little bars and tavernas; one street behind are
several interesting craft & jewellery shops. Walking
towards the beach, there is a tiny lake, with a surprisingly
powerful "mini-waterfall" as it runs into the
ocean; a great and very cooling massage experience !!
For those wanting to dance the night away, Datca has several
lively bars and nightspots - and a "hamam" (Turkish
baths) , to ease any aching muscles the next morning !
Nestled up in the hills is a fascinating old Greek town,
which is now being repopulated. And if anyone has a hankering
to buy a Turkish carpet, some of our best local connections
Sail to Ova Buku - a total contrast to the busy, modern
ambiance of Datca, this is traditional Turkey as it has
been for many years.Our favourite taverna - Ogun's Place
- has the best home-cooked Turkish food imaginable, not
at all the usual tourist fare; and our young host - Ogun
himself - always has lively (and often unexpected!) additions
for our evening's entertainment ! The village itself has
a great little bay for cooling off; for those looking
for a little more privacy, a short hike away is a lovely
long and isolated beach; a perfect afternoon retreat.
Sail to Knidos - once upon a time, this was a key city/harbour
in the ancient world, home to many thousands of people.
Now it is just a tranquil and well-sheltered bay - but
the remains of these former civilizations still lie scattered
around the hills, surrounding the bay on all three sides.
There are amphitheatres, stone pillars and carvings, temple
remains - all incredibly intact. It is really a time warp
experience to wander around these hills and try to imagine
the way of life all those thousands of years ago.
Sail the next morning to Bodrum - an early start, so as
to make the most of all the things to do and see in the
"big metropolis"! A complete contrast to many
of the little traditional places we have been visiting,
Bodrum is very much modern-day Turkey. Winding street
bazaars criss-cross the town, beautiful old wooden gulets
line the waterfront, as do hundreds of little bars and
restaurants. The 10th fortress of St John is a fascinating
place to visit, especially the museum inside. And for
those who love their nightlife, Bodrum claims the largest
outdoor disco - "Halicarnassos" - in Europe
We'll spend most of the morning in Bodrum - last chance
for the great shopping, sight-seeing, etc. Bodrum is our
official checkout habour from Turkey; once customs paperwork
is done, we'll be sailing for Greece - the harbour of
Kos ! It's a short 90 min sail, a lovely beam reach usually.
It will take a couple of hours to deal with paperwork
- enough time to go check out the castle/ruins for those
who are culturally inclined / sit and drink milkshakes
and take in the passing harbourfront parade for others
! Kos is very much a "package tour town", so
we usually choose not to spend too much time here; but
head onwards that afternoon for a taste of the "real"
Greek islands - our dramatic little port of Vathi, on
the island of Kalymnos.
For those sailing
with us for just the Turkey week, Bodrum is the disembarkation
port. On occasion and given sufficient space, we are able
to extend this to a disembarkation in Kos instead.
Vathi is a
well-hidden and very narrow fjord-like bay, opening up
into a tiny fishing village at the head of the bay. It
boasts one main street and a collection of houses scattered
into the valley; an unexpected patch of lush vegetation
on an otherwise very dry and arid-looking island. Vathi
is the only place on the entire island that is lucky enough
to have it's own spring water supply, and they use it
carefully to cultivate citrus fruits, figs, grapes and
anything else that can be persuaded to grow! It's also
the home of Poppy's - one of our "adopted families"
around here, where momma makes the best homemade dolmades
(stuffed grapeleaves) you'll ever taste in your life,
and the swordfish steaks are out of this world !!
A short sail today, just a couple of hours north of Vathi
- to our little-known secret anchorage of Paleonissos!
Another dramatic and mountainous bay, tucked well away
in the north of the island; anchorages like this are what
make landlubbers fall totally in love with the cruising
lifestyle ! There is little here apart from herds of goats;
at dusk and dawn, the sound of their bells echoes around
the hillside - not a bad alarm call ! With no distracting
light around, the night sky is a dramatic sight; many
an hour has been spent sitting on deck / on the beach
simply star-gazing. Our unlikely-seeming dinner spot is
a hike-and-scramble 5mins inland,through bushes of sweet-smelling
sage - to the backyard of our local buddy Nicolas, an
eccentric character who delights in telling stories of
the old Kalymnian sponge fishers, and inviting his music-loving
companions from nearby villages to serenade us!
Time for a more lively spot ! - next morning, we set sail
for Pandeli Bay, a very pretty and active little village.
Traditional blue-and-white houses lie scattered down the
hillside, around the little horseshoe-shaped bay. Our
favourite beach tavernas are conveniently just a 2 min
swim from where we anchor the boats in the middle of the
bay - a real picture-postcard scene! For those with plenty
of night-owl energy, there is the infamous Savana Bar
- a very idiosyncratic little local hangout, where we
often end up dancing the night away! Leros is also a great
island to rent little 50cc scooters or a jeep, and go
explore the dozens of bays & backroads, other little
villages - and most of all, the 11th century fortress
which towers over the bay (both sunrise and sunset are
totally spectacular from up here).
Sail to Agathonissi - a leisurely departure time of "some
time after lunch". Arrive in Agathonissi to be greeted
by our host Giorgos - a.k.a. Unofficial Harbour Master
and Ouzo King of Agathonissi ! A colourful evening at
George's is usually on the menu; he loves to see our yachts
sailing in - it's a great excuse for a party on an otherwise
quiet and isolated island. 3-4 hrs sail time.
Early am sail for Marathi; a truly tiny little island
which is home to just two families; a real sandy beach,
beautiful water to swim and snorkel in. If you could paint
a picture of the perfect, idyllic island retreat, Marathi
would be it. Our adopted family here are wonderfully hospitable
- and the food incredible!! This tiny spot has hit top
of the Favourite Spot list with our groups for several
years now - it's sometimes been hard to persuade people
that, really, we should leave, there are other islands
to visit !
Sail to Patmosa short hop of only a couple of hours.
This is the famous monastry islandin fact is supposedly
the second most important religious centre for Greek Orthodoxy
in the world! This is where St John (as of Apostle fame)
was inspired by visions to write the Book of Revelations;
where the 10th century monastry (built by Crusader Knights)
reigns over the island, still an active training centre
for novice monks. The village that lies at the foot of
the monastry is everyone's romantic image of what a Greek
village should be like; incredibly narrow, winding alleyways,
cats sunning themselves on whitewashed streets, old ladies
in black collecting fresh bread from the bakery in the
morning. Despite all the visitors they now get, these
villagers have remained wonderfullly friendly; particularly
if you go up there in the early morning hours; the old
ladies will look at you in faint amazement that a foreigner
should find their way up there at such an hour; if you
can remember enough of our Greek lessons to say "kalimera!"
(good morning), they'll give you a huge smile and a "kalimera-sas"
back (good morning to you too)!
Set sail southwards again - a lovely downwind leg of around
3-4 hours. Wind permitting, we may be able to stop for
lunch at Archangelos, a tiny island whose turquoise-coloured
waters make wonderful "make-'em-totally-jealous-back-home"
shots ! We'll end in the main port of Lakki (on Leros)
Disembarkation 9am in Lakki.
info: Flights to Athens depart approx 10.30am. There is
sometimes an afternoon flight also in midseason; check
with Olympic Airways. Hydrofoil connections to Samos and
Kos depart between 9-10am. Ferry to Athens departs approx
9pm; takes 10hrs. Cabins are comfortable and booking one
is highly recommended! The ferry dock is 5mins walk from
our marina base; the airport is 10mins taxi ride.