We are now a full month into our winter contract, and I still haven’t shared how much we love this place.
You may have read that we had a bit if trepidation since this is one place that I had very little knowledge of before we committed – indeed had to commit, to our winter home.
But I’m pleased to report that not only has Türkiye surpassed my wildest dreams in terms of hospitality and sheer enjoyment, but Kas is also the perfect place to spend the winter.
I’ll be honest, it was a slow building love affair. I didn’t (as I sometimes do) fall head over heels in love the moment I arrived. Perhaps it was the sheer fatigue of a long (but glorious) summer. But more likely it was how “foreign” everything felt. A funny aside here is that the very thing that made me nervous is the thing that I have been most craving. We have loved cruising in Europe and while every country has been incredible, it has felt a bit – well, Western. I have been searching for something that feels totally unique and with nary a hint of home. Well, my dear reader, we have found it. Türkiye is exotic and as spicy as the donor at the local market.
Having cruised Turkey for a full 3 months before arriving in Kas, we had a real feel for the country and had (mercifully) learned a few basic words in Turkish. Another aside here, the language and many other elements of the Turkish culture are a bit Westernized. This is thanks to President Kemal Ataturk who brought Turkey to independence 99 years ago. After the 1st world war and the fall of the Ottoman empire, Ataturk fought for independence and the country won. A few of the changes that were ushered in this new era, a change from the Arabic alphabet to the Roman which is the only reason that I have a prayer of understanding or communicating in this language. Ataturk also brought about a commitment to a more moderate approach to religion and dress which is why women in Türkiye are free to dress and worship and shop in any way they wish. The current administration is slightly less liberal, but I won’t get into local politics except to say that the reason we love Turkey as much as we do can be traced back to Ataturk who won this country’s liberation 99 years ago.
We have had the distinct pleasure to witness, in our short time here, the respect that this nation has for the flag, their country, and their country’s founder.
First, the flag. I’m not sure how many countries we have visited up until now, but we can categorically state that without a doubt this country has more national pride than any other. Flags, and not just little wimpy ones, but giant car dealership types are everywhere.
We were privileged enough to witness the country celebrating their independence day on Oct 29th. And when I say privileged, I really mean it. This tiny town in which we are residing has a scant population of just 7,000 residents according to http://www.propertyturkey.com. But there must have been bus loads arriving in droves because the roadways were utterly clogged with the thousands who turned out to celebrate this special day. There were boats of all sizes in the harbor, parades with thousands walking in the closed roads and streets, and a large closed off square where carnival food was offered with bands playing Turkish music. But what made us so grateful to have braved the crowds at this hour of the day (it was late) was to watch how these lovely and gentle people celebrated. Old, young, and teens in between showed respect, reverence, and joy. There was no drunkenness, no excuse to behave poorly, just proud citizens showing their solidarity. During the national anthem, you could have heard a pin drop. Not one person failed to show respect for the flag and their country’s anthem. It was heart rending and we all left with tears in our eyes even though we didn’t know a word that was uttered. It would have been impossible not to feel the emotion that was emanating from the crowd.
And finally, Ataturk himself. Each year, on 10th of November, the entire country of nearly 85 million people, stop what they are doing to show their respect for and commemorate their deceased hero. Cars stop on the roadway; grocers take a moment of silence to show respect. And even where I was, doing yoga at the amphitheater, the teacher stopped class and we all resumed whatever asana we preferred for the 3 minutes of respect paid to the founding father Ataturk. Incidentally, the name Ataturk was given to him in 1934 and means “Father of the Turks”. I wonder in moments like these if we have any such respect in our country. I’m certain in the UK there was this moment of reverence for the Queen when she passed and was buried. But I’m not sure we have this level of “one voice” necessary for such a moment of solidarity. Regardless, we certainly enjoyed being a part of both of these celebrations.
So now, a short recap on the things that I ADORE about Kas and Türkiye in general.
-Yoga classes daily at the ampitheatre
-Medical care that is affordable for us and Pratt
-The market on Friday with the most abundant and delicious food in the world.
-The gozleme and fresh squeezed juice at the market on Friday
-The pide delivered to the boat when I don’t feel like cooking OR eating out.
-The abundance of vegetarian restaurants all over town.
-The care and love people here show for the stray animal population (of course here they just “belong” to the community – they aren’t really strays)
-The blessed Hammam. If you know, you know! And if this list was in order of love, it would be much higher up!
-The weather here is currently glorious with temperatures in the 60s during the day and 50s at night with sunny skies.
-And the friends who are here with us this winter, both new and ones from Montenegro. We are so very grateful.
And the things I don’t like about Türkiye (although this is true of most of Europe)
-The prevalence of smoking.
Ok – so, here is a little re-cap on our summer for those of you who like the data….
From the time we left Tivat, Montenegro to our arrival in Kas, Türkiye, we were traveling for 172 days, and we were underway for 2,354 miles. We spent 107 of those days at anchor and 65 tied to a marina dock. We had a couple of big milestones for us… we reached 15,000 miles while Sarah and Ryan were aboard in Greece and I posted my 100th blog piece, 15 of which were made this summer. Our combined and total generator usage was 370 hours which, compared to last year, before we got the solar and Victron upgrade, was a MASSIVE improvement. We will do even better next year after we manage to get the water maker on the house battery rather than the generator. We made 36 stops in 2 countries, and we hosted 7 people for what we hope was a vacation they won’t soon forget. We know we will treasure the memories of their visits for a lifetime. As a family, we continued to work through challenges that only this type of life can deliver, and we managed it in the space of a scant 64 feet. We grew closer, as we always do, and we learned and loved and thrived.
The questions we get most frequently are: “What was your favorite destination/country/city/island?” and I’m pleased that I finally have an answer. I have struggled with this question trying to think of some profound or deep sentiment that conveys the spirit of our adventure and I finally know that the place that is my favorite is the one in which I currently reside. I have loved every place we have been and there have been a few that I thought would make the top 3 (I couldn’t ever choose just one). But the more we travel, the more I can see that my favorite is and will always be the place where I stand.
And the second question we get all the time is “When are you coming home? This is the first time that we have a plan in place for coming back to the US so I thought I would share it with you.
I have already written that we want to get Jack back for high school, but we were advised by the High School administer that regardless of what school he ends up in, we should get him back by 8th grade. The reason for this is because the grind” (his word, not mine) is so tough in 9th grade, getting him back in 8th will give him the time to transition to the daily load and expectations of a brick-and-mortar school.
So, when we talked about this, and considered our existing plan to head to the South Pacific, we realized that we wouldn’t have the time to get back if we stuck to our original plan. And since Jack really wants to go back for High school and we believe he needs to be “all in” if we decide not to, we needed to do some re-vamping of the original plan.
So, we now plan to have SD Captains move Gratitude from Turkey to Southampton, England, while we do some land travel (mostly) out of the Schengen area. You may remember, we only have 90 days to enjoy most of Europe due to immigration restrictions and if we don’t allow someone else to move our precious Gratitude, we will be out of time before we get where we had hoped to cruise. We hope to be back on-board Gratitude by June 1 to head up the West coast of Scotland, through the Caledonia Canal, across the North Sea to Norway, down the South coast of Norway to Sweden, cruise the Western archipelago down to Denmark, then Germany, Netherlands, Brussels and finally into the Thames to return to the amazing St. Katharine’s dock at the Tower Bridge, London for winter. We may do some land travel during the winter, but it is our fervent hope to leave England in April 2024 and slowly make our way across the Atlantic via the Northern route, stopping in the outer islands of Scotland, Iceland, and Nova Scotia. All of this is, as they say, written in sand at low tide but we now have a firm idea and plan for our return. Which means we have only 1.5 years remaining of our “Great Explore” – but we have added “Part 1” since we both feel strongly that this isn’t the end for us – not by a long shot.
But that is all for now. The next post I write will include some of the incredible sites from around Kas and our most recent land travel trip to Israel and Petra, Jordan.