This particular trip is a 13 day exploration of both Greece and Turkey. Starting on our home island of Leros, our route will cover a wide variety of islands. We'll be sailing to some of the famous islands such as Patmos (where St John wrote the Book of Revelations) and trying out the local Greek dancing; checking out the local tavernas and joining in the very spirited Greek nightlife! We'll relax in tiny, quiet anchorages, and get chance to meet our local friends in little villages and fishing harbors. For the second week, we'll sail south to Turkey, and experience even more of a contrast between ancient and modern! From the busy, bustling harbors of Bodrum and Turgutreis, to the ancient city of Knidos, dating back to 500BC.
Day 1: Embark 11:00 am in Lakki (main harbor on Leros). After boat briefing, unpacking, and generally getting comfortable with the yacht, we’ll set sail for Lipsos – island of the 42 blue-domed churches! It is the perfect introduction to “traditional Greece”; a small, untouristy village, with an unruly array of whitewashed buildings scattered around the bay. The vivid streaks of traditional blue trim and the blazing bougainvillea pinks and purples make it a real photographers’ dream!
To cool off, there is a lovely little sandy beach, 5mins walk over the hill from where we moor the boats, and a great hike out to the point for those needing to burn off some of those calamari ! If we’re lucky and conditions are calm, we may be able to visit Macro Nisi (the “cave” island) for a swim stop en route. It’s a secluded little anchorage with sheer-sided cliffs, which have been known to entice the braver (or more foolhardy!) amongst us to throw caution to the wind and leap off them ! For those more inclined to be adventurous in/under the water, there’s also a swim-through hole to snorkel through to the cave the other side.
Day 2: After chance to wander around the village of Lipsos, we’ll head out mid-morning for Arki – a little island which boasts a permanent population of just 47 people! (The population expands considerably if you count the goats, however). There is just one tiny port, a few houses scattered down the hillside – and most of all, Manoli’s place! Mr Cool Dude Manoli runs a wonderful little oasis of a taverna; cushions scattered around the shady patio, speakers hidden away in the trees; Manoli has great taste in music and the most incredible CD collection and sound system you can imagine on an island of 47 people!
Day 3: Sail to Patmos – an early start to make the most of exploring the famous Monastery Island, where St John was inspired by visions to write the Book of Revelations. The 10th century monastery (built by Crusader Knights) reigns over the island, still an active and influential part of daily life here. The village that lies at the foot of the monastery is everyone’s romantic image of a Greek village; narrow winding alleyways scarcely wide enough for a skinny donkey! - cats sunning themselves on whitewashed streets, old ladies in black collecting fresh bread from the bakery in the morning.
It’s well worth an early rise to get up there in the dawn hours; the old ladies will look at you in faint amazement that a foreigner should find their way up there at such a time; 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)! (Note: that’s “kali-MER-a”, not “calamari”!). The island’s attractions are not solely for culture/history buffs, however – there are dozens of little beaches and bays to explore, the old priest who looks after the island’s strays to visit (our ex-Liz-Taylor’s-choreographer!); and last but not least, the greatest milkshakes and homemade pies on “Quiche Beach” !
Day 4: Sail for Pandeli, a beautiful little bay on the east side of Leros. This is one of the prettiest anchorages to sail into you can imagine; a horseshoe-shaped bay with traditional blue-and-white houses scattered down the hillside; 11th century fortress which towers over the bay; a couple of little beach tavernas just 2 minutes swim from the boat. Try sitting and watching the moon rise from one of these tavernas, boat in the foreground, the lapping of waves almost at your feet… it’s a total “Shirley Valentine” scene ! For those with more energy to burn off later, there is the infamous Savana Bar - a very idiosyncratic little local hangout, where we often end up dancing the night away till the wee small hours! Another great island to rent scooters and explore.
Day 5: Leave Pandeli around midday, giving us the morning to make the most of our time on Leros. Paleonissos is our destination - a little-known secret of the next island south, Kalymnos. A complete contrast - a dramatic, sheer-sided bay tucked well away in the north of the island; anchorages like this are what make landlubbers fall 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. 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 divers, and inviting his music-loving companions from nearby villages to serenade us!
Day 6: A leisurely morning, then a short downwind sail to Vathi - a well-hidden and very narrow fjord-like entrance, 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” – a wonderful little family taverna, where Poppy’s mom makes the best homemade dolmades (stuffed grapeleaves) you’ll ever taste in your life, and the swordfish steaks are out of this world !!
*Note: this anchorage is very dependent on prevailing weather conditions; should they not be favorable, we will sail on to Kos and spend the night there instead.
Day 7: An early am sail for Kos – yes, we’re talking sunrise here ! It’s a beautiful time to be out on the water…. if you’ve never experienced this before, it’s well worth dragging yourself out of bed! Kos is where we officially clear out of Greece, which – Greek bureaucracy being as it is, can take a while. So whilst the skipper(s) deal with paperwork, there is plenty of time to go see the castle and the famous plane tree where Hippocrates supposedly taught (for the more culturally-inclined); or enjoy a great chocolate milkshake on the busy waterfront for others! This is the disembarkation point for those sailing with us for the first week.
Passports duly stamped, we will set sail for Turgutreis - a very lively, up-and-coming little town! The contrast to Greece is striking – their plush new marina is beautifully organized, swimming pool and all sorts of other surprising facilities for such a small place. Happily, the place has not (yet!) grown into a major mass-tourist centre like Bodrum; the little town still has a very local ambiance; lots of very fun shopping in the winding bazaar streets! – and some lovely little waterfront bars and tavernas overlooking the sandy beach. And the most spectacular sunsets to enjoy with our evening cocktails… !
Day 8: Sail south for Palamut - a little traditional fishing village. One of our longer sails, this will be around 4hours – if the prevailing wind gods are with us, we’ll have a lovely beam reach for most of the way! In the morning, our buddies at the local taverna can organize a minibus to Knidos – about 30 minutes drive, taking in a little of the “local color” and life en route.
Knidos: Once upon a time, back around 400-500 BC, this was a key city/harbor in the ancient world, home to many thousands of people. The harbor silted up over the years, and the city was abandoned, leaving now just a deserted, tranquil bay. However, the remains of these former civilizations can still be seen scattered around the hills, surrounding the bay on all three sides. There are amphitheaters, 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.
Day 9: Sail to Ova Buku. This tiny, out-of-the-way spot is often voted top favorite of the entire trip! It’s not even big enough to rate the title of “village”! – what it does have is a lovely little sandy beach, perfect for diving straight off the boat to cool off; or for those looking for a little more privacy, a short hike away is a lovely long and isolated beach. But what defines Ova Buku most of all is - “Ogun’s Place”! “Ogun’s” is an experience hard to describe; a great little beachfront taverna, hang-out-and-chill-out spot for afternoon beers - and the best home-cooked Turkish food imaginable! But much more than this is the very fun and entertaining ambiance created by our young, lively host, Ogun. Belly-dancing, “Ogun’s Airways” - you just have to be there to experience it!
Day 10: Sail to Datca – a very lively little town! The waterfront is lined little bars and tavernas; one street behind are several interesting craft and jewelery 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! There’s also a couple of other interesting inland trips we can organize for those interested; check out a local olive farm (taste-testing included !) , a chance to see the very pretty old Greek town which was abandoned when the Greeks and Turks did their “swap” post WW2. We’ll usually do these in the morning, before setting sail for –
Day 11: Bozburun - back to the less developed, more traditional Turkey! This little village is home to a still-thriving wooden boat-building industry – all the old craftsmanship lives on here. We dock just outside the town, on a wooden jetty owned by a little family-run pension/restaurant right on the waterfront. It is a shady, tranquil little spot to hang out in – their hammocks and sun loungers are all ours to use - and we even get to borrow their fun kayaks plus a windsurfer or two to go explore the bay in!
Day 12: A gentle run to Dirsek, a secluded little bay about 2 hours sail away. A little taverna lies nestled in one corner, a blaze of brightly-colored bougainvillea and other greenery. Wonderful place to swim and generally veg out.
Day 13: Sail to Keci Buku. A well-sheltered hideout 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! It is also just 30 mins drive from Marmaris – the easiest connection back to the “real world” of modern-day Turkey, where you can shop-till-you-drop some more; or just head on through and back to Dalaman, the closest airport, and domestic connections to Istanbul. Twice daily ferry connections also from Marmaris-Rhodes.
Day 14: Disembark 9:00 am in Keci Buku. Ongoing connection info: We can help arrange transportation from Keci Buku to Marmaris or Dalaman airport. Ferries Marmaris-Rhodes (Greece) run twice a day; approx 9:00 am and 3:30 pm. For those with tight connections, it is possible to get the 9am ferry on the morning of departure, just means getting up a little early! Transfer time Keci Buku is 30mins. Transfer time Keci Buku to Dalaman is approx 90 minutes. Several flights per day to Istanbul.
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