38. Athens // Greece

Over the next four days, the world was to open it’s doors to us, revealing an ancient snapshot of human accomplishments that went back to the 5th Century BC. Our time in both Athens and Rome will forever leave us feeling like someone had bent the fabric of time and allowed us to walk straight into when the Persians sacked the Acropolis and when the Gladiators roared within the Colosseum. Ok, that’s probably a little dramatic and would assume someone has solved time travel. But we were certainly awestruck numerous times as standing remnants of these ancient masterpieces towered above us.

ath5

After what was becoming a seamlessly never-ending summer, we were keen to return to some tourist spots and inject our minds with a strong dose of culture. We flew into Athens rather late, with few expectations of the city but a keen appetite to visit the Acropolis. Strangely, Elisha was struggling with a severe headache and was on the verge of vomiting so we made a concerted effort to get to our accommodation as quickly as possible. Lonely planet states on page 513 of the Europe on a Shoestring (8th Edition) under Dangers & Annoyances “Streets surrounding Omonia have become markedly seedier, with an increase in prostitutes and junkies; AVOID THE AREA, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT!”

On a shoestring budget but desperately needing our own space, I’ll give you one guess where our “hotel” was located. That’s right – in AVOID THE AREA Omonia.

The streets were dark and eerily quiet as we walked with our backpacks from where the bus from the airport had dropped us off in Syntagmos to our hidden hotel. Grafitti was laden everywhere. In fact, it seemed every spare inch of space on any building, poster, pole, transport or living thing was marked with grafitti. And then, on that grafitti, was more grafitti. Words like “seedy” and “needles” began to enter our discussion as we walked rather closely into the abyss. Sirens could be heard somewhere. Was that a glass bottle smashing? “Hey Elisha, remember that time in the backstreets of Kuala Lumpur when we feared for our lives?”

We eventually found our hotel around the corner from a street littered with trash. We checked in, climbed the stairs to our room, turned the lock, engaged the deadlock, shoved a chair under the handle and then turned our bed into a fortress. Thankfully, Elisha did in fact vomit.

Which was fantastic.

For this meant she did not wish to head back out for dinner. Which was fine by me because I didn’t want to open my eyes again until the sun was up. So with howls and screams bellowing at us from the street below, we huddled and shook beneath the bed until, finally, we fell asleep.

Our reasons to fear were confirmed the next morning when, as we exited the building mid-morning, we saw a large armoured police truck parked across the road and an armed policeman standing at the hotel’s entrance. As a result of this “scared-shitlessness” I guess you would call it, we unfortunately don’t have many photos of Athens as we ensured we left the hotel each morning wearing our cheapest shoes and simplest clothes and left our valuables, such as watches, cameras and phones, at home (where they were probably at an even greater risk with the wage-deprived hotel staff.)

ath2

But Athens is an interesting city. We are all aware they were hit hard by their own financial crisis in 2010. I think for those who may have seen the city before this time would tell a very different story to ours. However, it seems because of this recession that the city has blossomed and redifined itself into one that we very quickly fell in love with. If you like Berlin because of its grittiness but underlyingly adorable personality, there’s a good chance Athens will win you over too. Skipping ahead quickly, when we flew to Rome, we read an article which confirmed our suspicions. The recession has lead to incredibly cheap rent in the middle of the city. Jobs just do not exist and there are a lot of people sitting around with nothing to do. So what does this breed? Ingenuity. Small businesses, such as new waves of bars and coffee shops, barbers and app designers, are flourishing. We read that rent can be as little as 250 Euros per month in the city. People, who are so sick of waiting for a job to become available, are tackling the problem first hand and taking the initiative to create their own jobs. It’s really cool. As a result, there are heaps of new and cool things to check out, the city is alive and has an incredible night scene. Throw in numerous specialty coffee brewers and Elisha had me legging it all over the city. When we weren’t being tourists and snapping photos of 2000 year old rocks, we were meticulously comparing Athens with our other favourite cities, such as Berlin, Prague, Budapest and Melbourne.

With all that urban stuff aside, the real reason anyone goes to Athens is to of course visit the Acropolis. I think history books for absolutely any period in time probably confirms that some race or person lived on this very hill. It is shrouded in history. And I won’t go into it here – because this is a blog and not a textbook. But to again be standing on something so significant not just to the Greeks but to all of humanity really was truely amazing. It is also home to the Parthenon, the iconic temple that has been renovated at the very top. Please reader, be very careful when hashtagging this on Instagram. If you do what I did, and mispell it as Panthenon, two things will happen. One – your photo will join a mash collection of photos that comprise both the Parthenon in Athens and the Pantheon in Rome from tourists who don’t know the difference, and Two – some self righteous twat will comment on your photo to correct you. However, because he is also a tourist who doesn’t know the difference, he will say “It’s Partenon. Panthenon is in Rome.” Twat. His name is Bartekwasu if you wish to join me in forever trolling him.

ath4 ath6 ath7 ath8

The other main attraction in Athens is the Acropolis Museum. This is incredible as it is built on top of the archaeological site of Markygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. You walk over glass floors where you can see the foundations of the old city directly beneath you and marvel at its layout, design and architecture. Inside the museum itself are over 4,000 items that have been excavated from the Acropolis. Let’s just say lot’s of penises. Or is it penii? Battye, you’d know. Tell me.

ath3

Athens is exhausting. It’s hot and you do an incredible amount of walking. As such, it’s important to mix it up with plenty of refreshments. Elisha took me to a number of different coffee places. As we hadn’t had a great coffee in well over a month, this was almost the highlight of the city. There is also this bakery which does a Greek-style pie and is eaten for breakfast. They are served flat, taste great and I ate two. We visited a few different bars and had one final Mythos before saying farewell to Greece.

 

ath11

ath1

Before catching the bus back to the airport, we had to again make the dreaded return to the hotel to collect our bags. Ignoring Lonely Planet’s advise to AVOID THIS AREA, we made one final trek, empty-handed, through the suspicious hords of tramps loitering on the streets just so we could make a return trek, handed with cameras, watches and phones, through the suspicious hords of tramps loitering on the streets.

Athens had one final surprise for us. As we sat in the warm comfort of our bus, the heavens truely opened. I haven’t seen a flash flood like this since I was in Toowoomba the day cars were rolled down the streets in a torrent of muddy flood water. The bus splashed waves of water high over the pavements as we rolled through a foot-deep river or rushing water and we smiled gleefully as we took pictures of people on mopeds and people running beneath umbrella’s as they tried to escape the tsunami created by our bus.

We were excited to be heading to Rome after Athens. Although we assumed it would treat us with another display of ancient wonder, we were mainly keen to get there for more obvious reasons. And that was so we could be staying somewhere that Lonely Planet didn’t have a firm “AVOID THIS AREA” warning for.

ath10 ath9

37. Rodos // Greece

Months ago, my sister Jess had mentioned that her and her partner Alex would possibly be spending some time in Alex’s friends family home, and had kindly asked if we wanted to join them. We debated over this for a long time…free accommodation…Greece…Island…Rhodes….Summer…seeing my family….was a hard decision!! So of course we said yes and that’s how we came to be in Rhodes old town in the middle of August. You would think that a simple ferry across from Turkey and visa process would run pretty smoothly and it did, except for the very persistent very Greek authoritative officers who insisted on me unpacking my backpack and rummaging through 3 weeks of dirty clothes in order to make sure I wasn’t carrying anything I wasn’t supposed to. (I have no idea what the baggage x ray machine was for then), but finally we were on our way and back in the EU.

gre3

I had mixed feelings about entering Greece. I’d heard that since the recession it really hadn’t recovered and I half expected to see people squatting in half finished apartments or living on the side of the road. However, as Rhodes is one of the most touristy islands, it seemed they had just jacked the prices up on everything and had recovered quite well. We had 2 nights in the old town to give Jess and Alex a little time to get over their jet lag and settle in by themselves. It was still excruciatingly hot so I had booked another air conditioned room with a swimming pool, so we basically spent the next two days walking around the walled city, eating gyros, drinking mythos and swimming.

gre2 gre1

Before we knew it, it was time to leave and catch the bus down to Asklipio, which would be our home town for the next month. Luckily I had been able to view the bus timetables online, and realised that this bus would take us all the way up to the town, which only happened twice a week, score! With neither Jess or I having a phone number or reliable wifi, we had agreed to meet at a town square in the middle of the town. We jumped off the bus at the top of a hill, asked where the square was and were directed to the smallest town square I had ever seen with Jess and Alex sitting under a tree sipping beer. I’d only seen these guys at Christmas for the smallest amount of time in the past 2 and a bit years, so after hugs hello and a quick beer, we headed back to our cottage to continue the celebrations.

gre16gre19

Asklipio is a town of about 500 people 64km’s south of Rhodes and sits upon the top of a hill so about 4km’s to the nearest beach. The cottage that we would call home for the next month was approx 300 years old and consisted of the bedroom which had all our mattresses in it and apparently used to accommodate a family of 8 people. It had a little verandah, in which Clinton and I ended up sleeping on every night under the stars. Downstairs was a kitchen with a fridge and a little gas burner, and then the bathroom, which I could hardly stand up in, and Clinton had to sit on a tiny stool in order to shower.This used to be where the family kept the animals, so in other words, a stable. This had a western toilet built on a slab of cement and a shower. The rest was dirt. It was really basic, but I actually became quite fond of our basic home for the next four weeks.

We very quickly developed a daily routine, which was to stay with us for the rest of the month. Morning would consist of Greek coffee or iced coffee whilst sitting on stairs and reading, or chatting and saying Kalimera (Good Morning) to all the locals that would walk past. Quite often, our neighbour Maria, who was about 80 years old and spoke very little English would come out for a chat and a joke. One particular morning, Alex and I were awake earlier then the others, so were having a chat and a coffee very quietly on the steps. Alex pointed to quite a large bumble bee who seemed to be playing with a chicken bone that we had left out for one of the stray cats. We watched as this bumble bee buzzed and gnawed at this chicken bone.We were both quite amazed, as we did not think that bees ate chicken, but apparently in Greece they do. You can imagine our horror, when eventually the bee picked up the chicken bone and buzzed away with the whole thing in its legs…We were gobsmacked! But I do think that bee would have been hailed a hero in its little bee community…

gre6

Anyway, so each morning we would share breakfast, say hello to the stray cats that we had named, (Big Balls and Aidy were my favourite)  and then either read, watch movies or go to the beach. To get to the beach we would wait on the side of the road and hitch hike down the hill. Interestingly, we never did go without a ride. Everyone in the town was just always so friendly and happy to help us down the hill saving a very long 4k walk in the heat.

gre4 gre5

Living in the town for a month was a great experience which I guess a lot of travellers don’t really get to do. We really did get to immerse ourselves in the Greek culture. As the town was on the hill all the houses basically faced each other and the locals stood at their front door and yelled at each other in order to communicate. Although these conversations were obviously in Greek we did kind of understand what was going on through dramatic hand gestures and found these interactions quite humorous. It was almost like this village had never heard of mobile phones or the internet!

gre9gre10

Whilst we were up at the local gyros tavern one night called Sylvia’s, Jess and Alex got talking to a man named Emmanuel who was from Adelaide but had family history and a house within Asklipio. Emmanuel, who was now retired, spent the summers over in the village and was in the process of renovating his holiday house. As it was getting close to the end of the season, and all his friends had gone back to Australia, and so Emmanuel kindly offered to drive us around Rhodes Island to visit some of the other villages and landmarks. So the next morning the four of us climbed into his old beemer and spent the day exploring Rhodes. Emmanuel was one of the nicest people I have ever met travelling. He had travelled with his wife when he was quite young and so understood the backpacker mentality. We had heaps of great conversations over frappes, (that he then kindly purchased) and he then proceeded to drive us around various landmarks on the Island. We got to climb a small hill to a church with great views over the Mediterranean, visited a tiny village which was famous for Suma, a clear liquor made from grapes, similar to Raki and about 50% alcohol. He took us to a place called the seven springs, which was a tranquil, peaceful haven for local Greeks, where we dined on traditional Greek food and cooled down in the running springs. Emmanuel then briefly showed us his fathers village, before stopping at a great little bay for a swim stop and a beer before returning to Asklipio. For the rest of our time in Asklipio, Emmanuel became one of our closest friends, and we would quite often meet up for a beer, or he would invite us to the different beaches with him. Never have I met someone so genuinely friendly, who just really wanted to show us a great time in his ancestors country. Even though we constantly tried to give him money for fuel or the various drinks and lunches he bought us, he wouldn’t have a bar of it, and simply stated that a lot of people had given him a hand when he was a backpacker and he was now in a position to give something back to someone else. Unfortunately, in today’s world its not often that you meet someone so willing and giving of their time, and as much as Emmanuel made our trip in Rhodes, he really restored my faith in humanity.

gre7 gre8

This mentality was really reflected in the whole village. Wherever we walked people would yell out “Yassu” (hello) and ask us what we were up to and if we needed anything. Even if the elders could not speak English, they would still try and continue to talk to us in Greek. Our lovely neighbour Maria, would constantly make coffee for us and offer to wash our clothes. She baked us a delicious honey Greek cake one afternoon and bought it over for us to enjoy. Jessica and I got to sit in her kitchen and help her make dolmades with the leaves from the vines on our verandah. When they were ready she gave us the whole batch to eat, not even eating one herself. Words cannot express how delicious these morsels of happiness were. As it was summer there were a few celebratory festivals on in the village and we were always invited and encouraged to participate. One Paniyiri festival was so massive that the locals were still up and dancing at 5am!

gre11 gre12 gre13

In between all the eating and drinking and reading and relaxing, Jess and I escaped to another part of the island for a day trip to spend some time together. We spent the morning shopping before enjoying the afternoon lying on the beach with a few drinks. As I said previously, I haven’t spent much time with my sister as she has enjoyed 2 years travelling and working in Canada and the Americas, and before this time we lived in separate cities. I found it interesting at how our relationship had evolved over this time, years ago we would have probably been fighting and talking about boys, and today our conversations lean more towards travel, marriage and babies. It was special to have that day together as now we are both travelling through Europe and the UK and it may be a few years again before we are reunited.

gre15

As the summer season ended and the tourists disappeared, Clinton and I were left wondering what to do next. Getting tired from always being on the road, we knew that our travelling days were numbered and it was getting close to being time to pull up shop for awhile. We slowly started to plan the next 6 to 8 weeks of our time which would take us through to the end of October. We enjoyed the empty beaches of Rhodes for a few more days, and then it was time to say goodbye to the fam, pack our bags and head for Athens….the Acropolis Awaited!!

gre17 gre14 gre18

36. Fethiye // Olympos // Fethiye // Turkey

Keeping with our end of boat trip traditions (of which we had previously done one,) we organised to meet up with Dean & Ruth and Dan & Fi again that night in Fethiye. Fethiye was our final destination for the cruise and we had booked two nights there to recover. It’s predominantly an English tourist spot so it didn’t take long to see menus advertising English breakfasts everywhere. Even though we stayed in a hotel several kilometres out from the main area, it just so happened Dean & Ruth were also staying just around the corner from us. So we shared a cab, went to our respective accommodation and made plans to meet up again that night.

Dan & Fi were in the middle of the town so it made sense for us all to meet up back there, considering that’s where the noteworthy fish market was. After some afternoon bevvies and a few laps in the pool to escape the heat, we met up with Dean & Ruth and headed towards the water taxi where we joined a boat full of English-speaking English and departed for the port. Thirty minutes later, we were back on land and the six of us were seated with an Efes in front of each of us.

The fish market sits in the middle of a circle of restaurants, each with a waiter hawking out the front for business. You can either eat from their menu or, as we all did, pay them 6 Lira each ($3 AUD) for a salad and for them to cook the fish you had personally selected and purchased fresh from the market. Brilliant! I’m sure it’s probably all owned by the one guy or something and the competition is just to make it appear attractive but it was a cool concept regardless. After selecting the freshest ingredients we could find, we were soon ripping into numerous plates of octopus and prawns and picking away at large morsels of snapper. Incredibly delicious. The night progressed exploring some laneways and shopping districts before we next found ourselves sitting in a large Turkish garden bar, at a table with a Scrabble-like board and countless chips with coloured numbers on them. I can’t remember the name of it but Dean and Dan claimed to confidently know how to play. Despite the waiter looking over our shoulder a few times with a confused expression on his face, Dean and Dan explained we were using a mix of Australian and New Zealand rules and thats why it probably didn’t make sense to Turks. Halfway through we abandoned the game, resigning ourselves to the fact we seriously had no idea how to play and were instead playing something that incorporated elements from uno, dominos, scrabble and cheat.

We thought the next day we would get some more time to hang out with Dean & Ruth since they had booked themselves 4 nights in Fethiye. However, as keen divers, they shared our sentiment that Fethiye was nothing more than a beach holiday for bogan English and decided to head back to Kas where they hoped some diving would come to fruition. We said farewell and spent the rest of our time by the pool in a very relaxed sort of position.

Going back almost a week, Olympos had been so relaxing that we decided prior to leaving that we’d book some more time there and head back after the cruise. We were to catch the bus pretty early that morning but were keen to capitalise the fact English breakfasts were everywhere here. Up until then, we had not seen any bacon at all for the simple fact that Turks don’t eat pork for religious purposes. That morning, we hurriedly sat down to an empty cafe and chowed down some bacon and eggs with gleeful smiles before we rushed back to collect our bags and catch the bus.

We’ve already explained Olympos to you in the previous blogs but to reiterate, if you’re ever in the area, it cannot be missed. Despite having already passed through here, we came back for four more nights with the sole purpose of doing absolutely nothing except eating the incredible food and laying in the hammocks. And then, when that came to an end, we stayed for two more. It was pure bliss and suited me just fine.

photo (21) photo (20) oly3

One day, however, we did manage to peel ourselves out from the tight mould of our arses that had formed in the lounges and agreed it was time to leave Turkey to head to Rhodes. We found the easiest way for us to get there was to again head back to Fethiye and catch a catamaran to the Greek island. Of course, there was a small temptation to catch the Blue Cruise there again but sensibility took over and we grabbed a bus. We couldn’t stay in Fethiye without eating at the fish market again so we returned to the chaos and did Fethiye Fish Market x2 minus everyone else. Up until this point, we had also forgotten to have a Turkish Shisha.  Something we couldn’t leave Turkey without doing so we found a beanbag and shared one of those to say adios.  Early the next morning, we waddled off the harbour to find our boat, went through passport control said farewell to Turkey and its incredibly diverse land and people, its insanely delicious food and the memories it had given us. I will say I find it ironic that we had to travel by boat instead of car to a place called Rhodes.

oly2 oly1

And this will by far be the worst blog I have ever written.

35. Blue Cruise // Turkey

Desperate to relive our amazing week on Sail Croatia, we booked the Blue Cruise. They say this is a must do if visiting Turkey and involves three nights sleeping up on deck under the stars and sailing by the South West beaches. Sleeping, swimming and sailing are three of our favourite S’s. We started off pretty relaxed, resting on our Turkish lounge at Saban Tree Houses until the pick-up bus (just 20 metres down the road) decided to come and collect us so that we didn’t have to strain ourselves too much. A two hour bus ride later, we arrived in Demre, a small town 5 minutes from the port where we could switch with the group before us and who were on their way to Olympos. What do you know? Alex and Sal whom we had met in Cappadocia were getting off that very bus! They gave us a few quick pointers, such as smuggle water on there if you can and to tally one wine on the board whenever you have two. Clearly they were travelling a little tighter than us but shame on me to say it didn’t take long before I too was employing this tactic.

blue3

The Blue Cruise was a lot smaller than our Sail Croatia experience, a lot quieter and a lot more relaxed. The clientele was more level-headed and there to chill and not so much to party. So that worked quite well for us. Apart from the Captain, the chef and his deck hand, we spent the next three nights travelling with our new group of friends. So let’s meet the gang:

blue6

Dean and Ruth are from Darwin and are possibly two of the nicest people we have ever met. Dean seemed to have previously done a H&M shop prior to the trip as well and so it was often difficult to tell us apart in our matching singlets. Their travel route was also not too different from ours and if you go through their photos, they’ll probably look almost identical to ours. You’ll also probably be accused of being a creep if you go through their photos because that’s just weird if you don’t know someone.

Dan and Fiona are two top notch Kiwis and are now living in London. So it’s imperative I speak highly of them here to win brownie points. Like me, Dan gets to experience the joys of working for an insurance company. But unlike me, he gets to use his university qualification as he does so, using his expertise on geography to conduct risk analysis. He also has one of the worst playlists I’ve ever heard and savaged us with this one tranquil (formerly) afternoon on the boat. Fiona is a practicing journalist. As someone who has completed their degree but done nothing with it, I always love meeting people who are actually pursuing the vicious world of media and hearing what life could have been.

We had the luxury of experiencing the trip with three lovable Irish girls who had literally travelled everywhere in the world and could not be understood when they got stuck in their million-words-a-minute leprachaun style conversation amongst themselves. They had crazy names like Collette (not so weird), Breed and Eafer. Except they spelt them in even crazier fashions like Collette (still not so weird) Brid and Aoife. Spin out. They reminded us again of the meaning of the phrase “Good Craic.”

We had a few Turks on there too, which was great. Olly and his mum (whom I’ve unfortunately forgetten the name of) were priceless value. Both live in Istanbul. She works in medicine from memory and was fantastic to discuss Turkish lifestyle with. Olly is the most charming 21 year old you’ve ever met. With a long ponytail and a Justin-Bieber like body, we’d often not be able to un-anchor in the morning until he returned from a 2 hour swim. When someone spotted him on the horizon, we’d patiently wait while he swam with fatigue towards us, often getting off course because he failed to look up, until his flailing arms eventually dragged him back to the boat.

Whereas they both spoke English, the other couple of Turks didn’t. There was a guy (who we got to know as Baba) and his son (who we got to know as the kid who was always saying Baba) who seemed to be on there for a father-son fishing trip. This was always amusing as they’d kind of just throw some hooks and line over the side of the boat with no bait and, surprisingly, never caught anything. I felt a bit sorry for them. To speak Turkish in your own country, to catch a Turkish boat in your own country and then to be ostracised as the odd one out because you speak Turkish just seems fundamentally wrong. But he was good value and seemed particularly excited when I had a Raki with him and he shared a plate of melon with me (as was the custom) on the last evening.

Lastly, we were joined by Celia and her daughter Tabitha. Celia was from Brisbane but owned property out near Dalby and was telling us how after 3 years she had finally won a settlement through the Ombudsman for a claim back during the floods. Tabitha was currently living in Istanbul but had previously lived in Paris and we got to hear of her experiences living in both.

The captain was the only member of the crew who spoke English and there was no hiding the fact he was having a fair crack (different sort of craic) at Collette on the last night after quite a few wines. The chef was a remarkable cook and clearly took a lot of pride with his dishes. He was also a vastly superior fisherman to the other two on board, albeit via questionable methods. His tactic seemed to be to drop a line through a school of fish and then aggressively rip it back up through the water to latch a fish that way. Baba’s son seemed to be particularly enthralled by this though – I guess as a result that his Baba hadn’t caught anything at all up until then.

So it was with these people our trip began. Sometimes on these tours, chefs sell out and serve a poor example of western cuisine to keep people happy. However, these guys were Turkish through and through and served some of the best food we had eaten in the country. Albeit, I will say the Turks love to drown everything in oil which contributes to both the amazing flavour and the “Oh I feel so sick” feelings. After an amazing lunch to begin the tour, we commenced the stitches by going for a swim way to early, and followed this up with a cruise past and OVER a sunken city, known as Kekova. This had once stretched across the mile or two width of the channel but now, all that remained was the jagged remnants on the coastline. We also spotted a few turtles swimming by around these parts (think Crush from Finding Nemo size) but, despite Dean and Dan’s eager swimming, they could not get themselves to catch and ride one.

Another chilled afternoon followed, and then another amazing meal before we pulled up and anchored in a still and quiet harbour. Some genius has set up a bar near here to capitalise on all the boats and so we spent that night dancing in this dusty wooden hut to some of the worst tunes I’ve ever heard. The drinks were beautifully marked up to welcome the dollars in our wallets and it was the DJ who looked as though he was having the most fun. The best part was the water taxi which came to collect us from our boat. As we all piled on, we then drifted off into pitch black waters with no light and no sound, slowly going around from boat to boat to pick up other Bar-goers. The bar was dead quiet as we pulled up and it wasn’t until the moment they realised a taxi had pulled up that all these lights and music suddenly turned on. I suspect the moment we all left at once several hours later that the complete opposite happened. My absolute favourite moment was when Olly was at the bar. There was a South African girl serving drinks that night and as she was grabbing Olly’s, I told him that “Footsak” means “Thank You” in Africance (except that it doesn’t – it means “Eff Off” and is quite offensive) and he should say it to her when she returned. So full of confidence and with these big, brown puppy dog eyes, he looks at her with an infectious smile and says “Footsak” when she hands him his drinks. It was no surprise when she looked at him horridly and he was completely speechless as I watched on and pissed myself laughing. From then on, I called him Footsak.

The allocated rooms below deck were insanely hot and too uncomfortable to sleep in. Although Dean and Ruth tried, the rest of us seeked solace above deck and slept beneath the stars that first night. I know. It sounds a little bit like a giant orgy when I say that but it was nothing of the sort. And apart from Baba snoring all through the night, it wasn’t so bad. That was, until the sun came up in the morning and everyone was trying to find shelter from the heat on limited sleep.

blue4

Our Sultan’s Curse had not yet left us and I don’t think the big oily meals were helping. Whilst Elisha and I generally played tag team with the bathroom so as not to dirty the waters, the rest of the group spent the morning swimming the hangovers off. Elisha failed to mention in the last blog that I had, for the very first time in my life, managed to learn how to float in Olympos! There is so much salt in the Mediteranean that even a hopeless swimmer like me was able to find child-like success in the water. And for hours on end (but probably more likely minutes – afterall I was still an amateur and was probably still sinking a little) I would float around on my back and whisper to myself “How’s the serenity?” Needless to say that in front of all these people I was eager to show off my new talents. So whilst Dan repeatedly did backflips off the side of the boat, I tried my best to ingratiate myself with everyone by floating around in the sea on my back (and sinking just a little.)

Our cruise took us to the town of Kas later that day where we were free to walk around for several hours and explore the township. We’d already stocked up on Shit Stopper tablets but we needed some Panadol and sea sickness pils for the rest of the trip so we mumbled some English to another guy mumbling some English who was able to point us to a pharmacist. Apart from that, we stopped at several bars and cafes so as to destroy as many toilets as we could in Kas. I believe that town has now also become a sunken city. We had a pretty quiet night that night and played some cards before calling it a night.

blue1

I couldn’t help but laugh the next morning when, at breakfast, Elisha came up to me to say “I think I might be getting a little better. Yeah, I’ve only had to go to the bathroom 7 times so far this morning.” Such was the severity of Sultan’s Curse. We were glad we had bought the sea sickness tablets for the next several hours we bounced up and down through rough seas towards Butterfly Valley. You can just imagine how much fun this must have been for Elisha in the cramped confines of a toilet on a violently rocking boat. We were all pretty relieved to finally pull up in the calm waters of Butterfly Valley. Whilst most of us were content to just be sitting on land again, a couple of the group made the treck to the valley. You’ll need to ask them for the photos but, again, that will probably imply you’re a creep for looking at a stranger’s photos. There was still some more rocky waters ahead though and we then set sail for the Blue Lagoon. No. No. This is not the location for the movie of the same name that was released in 1980 with a 14 year old Brooke Shields and of which my parents told me to watch when I asked where babies came from. This was just a lagoon. That was blue. Hence the name – Blue Lagoon. Our boat docked a fair way from the lagoon due to traffic. I was still only just coming to grips with my newly acquired floating skills and so, when the majority of the group left for the mammoth swim and took all the remaining pool noodles, I felt pretty helpless and was abandoned back on deck. Again, you’ll need to do the creep thing and ask them for photos. However, I doubt there’d be too many of them for who would swim with a camera . . . especially when your arms are full with pool noodles.

Our final destination that evening was St Nicholas Island. An old ruined town sat high up on the hill here and we were able to trek up to the top for some amazing views of the area and the sunset. We ran into several Busabout groups up here too which was a nice reminder of just how chilled and relaxed our group was. A bit disgusting to see fellow Australians leave empty beer cans up on a beautiful spot like that. However, when that rowdy lot had moved on (how quickly I change teams) our small group was able to sit peacefully with our beer tins and admire the setting sun that would also act as a timely metaphor for our tour.

blue8 blue7 blue5

We had one final night on the boat and so Dean and I attempted to teach everyone the card game Arseholes. This was all going well but takes a few hands to get the hang off. After finally getting everyone to understand the rules an hour or two later, we were ready to play properly. And to my utter frustration, that seemed to be when everyone felt it was time to go to bed!!

There was little to be done on the very last day but slowly make our way to Fethiye where we would disembark. However, it would be foolish not to stop one last time for another swim (this time I did snare a pool noodle) and one last helping to the amazing lunches provided by the chef. But with our bellies full and our arms tired from all the glorious swimming in the pristine waters of the Mediterranean Sea, we eventually docked and parted ways with everyone aboard. We hope to keep in touch with those we can – the Irish girls in less than a week and Dan and Fi several weeks after that in the foreseeable future. The one thing for certain is oceans can no longer keep us apart. For I can now float my away around the world . . . provided a pool noodle is nearby.

blue9 blue2