Posted By: Trisha Johnson
When friends invited us to join them on the PICCOLO for a mid-October cruise, Bonnie and I happily accepted, anticipating luxury, warmth (an escape from Canada’s encroaching winter) and excitement but not really knowing what a Turkish Mediterranean experience would be like.
After landing in Antalya’s swish airport we took a taxi to Kemer where PICCOLO was moored.
Boarding her we were immediately swept into a cocoon-like comfort right in the middle of an active bustling holiday town – observing from the deck yet remote and comfortable. Our luxurious cabin reinforced this feeling.
The other first impression was that we were joining a small group of fellow Piccolites that would (and did) develop its own intimate and unique team-like culture during the 10 days we were together (there were 8 of us – in the hands of talented team - captain, chef and 2 crew – a luxurious ratio). Eating delicious food at the spacious afterdeck table and drinking the excellent Turkish wine added to this feeling of – yes – being like a visiting God.
Apparently capricious decisions took us from port to delightful inlet sometimes under sail always on a crystal salty depth that we entered effortlessly (from Piccolo’s bathing staircase) buoyed by the salinity, and cheered by the warmth, of the clear water permeated with dancing schools of fish.
Some nights were in ports where we dined on local fish and awoke to the Islamic wailing summons to prayer – in Fethiye we purchased fresh fish in a market surrounded by restaurants – one that cooked it for us - delightful.
And whenever we wanted we could take the dinghy to ruins from the Greek and Roman pasts of this ancient land, towns that had lain there quiet and undisturbed for two thousand years except by our small party it seemed.
Our last night was in Marmaris – and surprise – it was Bonnie’s birthday. Our friends had arranged a sumptuous breakfast with champagne and orange juice (Buck’s fizz). Then Bonnie and friends took a Turkish bath and later a dinner on the harbour just by the boat where our Captain had ordered a personal birthday cake followed by dancing in the discos.
The Turks are mad about football and that night there was a match between the two top Turkish teams. The whole town crowded around big screens and erupted with every goal just like they were in a stadium – ending up in tumultuous scooter rampages – sometimes three per scooter waving their arms and scarves madly.
When we disembarked from PICCOLO in Marmaris we experienced that tormenting emotion named by the Brazilians - “saudade” – there is no other word to describe the separation we felt. This was reinforced when we took a Greek ferry to Rhodes and as we left a huge storm came up. PICCOLO left its moorings to ride it out and came within 100 feet of our ferry. There were the crew swaying on the deck and waving us off! What romance and there it is again - saudade. Can we ever return?
David and Bonnie Fletcher