"It is the most beautiful coast in the world; the cheerful
and good-natured crew do all the work; and Demir takes charge of
all the problems -and solves them. It's a vacation from reality"
A veteran from Durukos I, II, III, IV, V and now Durukos Aysegul.
Mr. David Fromkin, New York
"All the Rothschild Team, Family & Friends, Very, Very
Happy - Many Thanks"
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, Paris
"Never two without three (French proverb), many Thanks"
Mr. Alain Chastognol, Mr. & Mrs. John Wells, Paris/London
"We enjoyed an unforgettable voyage on the Durukos with the
most kind and thoughtful crew. We look forward to our next trip
to Turkey and more cruising and exploring. Thank You."
Mrs. Yvette Minieux Ruby & Mr. Howard Ruby, Los Angeles
"To navigate the coast of your beautiful country on the Durukos
Aysegul is something we shall remember with great pleasure"
Baroness Marta de Villavecchia, Barcelona
"Without doubt, our cruise was the best holiday we have ever
had. We were very comfortable on the boat, the staff was so nice
to us, and the food was amazing. We looked forward to every meal.
We enjoyed every stop for swimming or sight-seeing and our only
disappointment was that the trip went by so quickly"
Ms. Susan Bloomberg, New York
"Unforgettable, Unforgettable, Unforgettable, Unforgettable,
Unforgettable, Unforgettable Weeks"
Mr. Alvise de Rubilante, Florence
"Thank you for a wonderful week on board this very comfortable
and happy ship."
Mr. Michel Guy, Paris
A&A TURKEYACHTING IN PRESS:
CRUISING THE COASTLINE OF THE GODS, by David Fromkin.
SATURDAY. BODRUM."Let it happen": elsewhere merely an
attitude, here on the seacoast of Turkey, a way of life. "Actually,
I prefer not to have lunch," says the ship owner when a sign
on the door of the restaurant I had chosen says that it's closed.
"In this heat..." he says, gesturing towards the quay,
bathed in midsummer midday sunshine. We board Durukos V, the yacht
I've chartered from him effective tomorrow morning, and sit in the
shade of an awning covering the aft deck. A breeze coming off the
sea cools us.
"I brought this from Istanbul," says the ship owner,
producing a tin of fresh caviar-evidence of the flourishing Turkish
barter trade with neighboring Iran and Russia. The ship owner-his
name is Demir Duru- piles mounds of the large grained caviar on
crackers, and we munch intently. Soon, big though the tin of caviar
is, we've emptied it. We turn to watch the passing scene. Tourists
of all nations crowd the docks, the open-air restaurants, the cafes
and the covered Oriental market where the members of my charter
party are now on a shopping expedition.
The ship owner finds tall glasses and puts ice cubes in them. From
a cupboard he takes a bottle of raki, the anise flavoured Turkish
spirit. "I never drink during the day," he says. "This
isn't drinking; it's saying welcome aboard."
We watch the ice transform the clear liquid into a milky fluid.
Raki here, anis in Spain and France, pastis in France, ouzo in Greece,
cousins all; not identical but the same in essence. Communion: a
sailor at a Marseilles bar, a fisherman in a Greek island cafe,
a fashion model in a millionaire's villa in Sardinia-around the
Mediterranean, in a shared moment we lift the same drink to our
lips. Cheers, everybody.
The crew brings us bowls of ripe figs and slabs of goat cheese.
The richness of the fruit and the pungency of the cheese are bound
together by the licorice of the raki. "Eating during the day
makes me feel heavy," says the ship owner, "it's better
that we didn't have lunch."
From below deck, steaming bowls emerge. The captain, a restaurateur
in earlier days, does the cooking aboard; and remembering my tastes,
has made melemen , fresh eggs scrambled with onions, peppers and
tomatoes. The ship owner opens a chilled bottle of the flinty local
white wine. Later he and I each have a second bowl of the melemen,
then mop the bowls with crusts of bread. "You see how much
better not to have lunch?" he asks. "Eating and drinking...
in this heat?"
"I found these in the market," he says, putting lush
peaches in front of us. "But there's no more wine on ice. Will
you mind Champagne?" A bottle of Bollinger emerges from the
icebox and pops. We drench ourselves in Champagne fizz and peach
Over aromatic Turkish coffee , our conversation turns to the dry
nut cakes in the bazaar. We could send the crew to buy some, and
some pine honey from the hills to pour over them, which we could
have with the next bottle of Champagne...
It's the middle of the afternoon when the others come aboard. We
hear tales of their shopping in the covered market: the pazar .
Turkish rugs. Brass tables. Bargains so great they practically paid
for the trip. ("Why, in New York the leather would have cost
six times as much!") Smells, sounds and sights of the Moslem
East, the kneeling camels above all. "And how about you?"
they ask. "Where did you have lunch?"
"We didn't," I say. "The restaurant was closed,
so Demir and I skipped lunch."
WE TOUR DURUKOS V. SHE IS A TWO-MASTED MOTOR-sailer, though the
sails are used only occasionally. She cruises at 11-12 knots, and
has been known to go up to 14-15. Wide (21 feet) and riding high
out of the water, she is 83 feet long. She is built of the local
yellow pine and gleams in the sunshine. Her deck is enclosed by
a wooden balustrade. An outdoor dining table with chairs, under
the awning, dominates the aft deck.
The typical Bodrum-built boat is called a gulet . Its aft deck
is rounded and encloses foam mattresses, forming an enormous playpen
for the lolling passengers. To increase space below deck, Durukos
V is built differently: the rounded rear has been sliced off, so
that there is a flat high wall in back, making it look like a galleon
in a pirate film.
You see the difference when you go below. A typical gulet of this
size has six "double" cabins for passengers ( roomy enough
only for single occupancy, in my view) each with a cubicle for shower
and w.c., and here's the point each identical. No problems of one
person having a better cabin than another.
Durukos V has four such cabins -but in the rear, assigned to me,
is a fifth cabin: a master stateroom such as you might find on an
ocean liner. The w.c. is like a real toilet. There's a dressing
room, a table and chairs, benches on which to lounge. Shall I feel
guilty about having a room more luxurious than the others? No.
SPEND TONIGHT ABOARD, ADVISES THE SHIP OWNER, TO GET an early start
in the morning. So the others, with the help of the captain and
three-man crew, go to bring bags down from the hotel. Remaining
aboard, I survey the harbour scene. Bodrum is a yachting capital
of the Asia Minor coast, and in her enormous harbor hundreds of
vessels ride at anchor bumper-to-bumper, their thrusting masts forming
a forest in the sea. In high season, why are so many in port ? Why
aren't they sailing away to hidden coves and high adventures?
SUNSET. DRINKS ON BOARD. WE ARE OPPOSITE THE MASSIVE 15th-century
crusader castle that dominates the skyline. From it, Bodrum spreads
out along the sea in both directions. The castle is European and
Christian; the port is international; but behind the seafront, as
the muezzin's call from the minaret reminds us, lies the Middle
East. We enter it after we debark to dine ashore. We wander in the
dark through narrow, winding lanes. The ship owner, our guide and
host, finally stops in a dark passage between high walls, and knocks
on a wooden door. The door is opened, and to our surprise we are
led into a garden restaurant of considerable sophistication, where
we dine on a dozen Turkish hors d'oeuvres followed by grilled meats
and fresh fruit.
Midnight. We are by the sea at the open-air Halikarnas disco, a
fantasy out of Hollywood or Disneyland. A white, marbly temple with
columns and balustraded winding staircases to the balconies, lit
by moving laser beams flashing on and off, with floats overhead
, and the illuminated crusader castle in the background. Family,friends,
Cabinet ministers and provincial governors fill the tables and stands
above, while the action takes place on the dance floor below. There
the young of all Europe, and Turks as well, gyrate, prance, jump
and shout to music of the `60s, '70s, and '80s in rites of summer
that might seem not unfamiliar to the ancient gods and spirits who
once inhabited this coast: Pan, Dionysus, Priapus, Bacchus, and
nymphs and fauns too many to mention.
Durukos V anchors just offshore, positioned to carry us away. I
see that she isn't alone-and now understand why so many luxury yachts
stay in harbour. The wealthy come down from Istanbul to charter
them for a ringside seat, anchoring them each night next to Halikarnas,
to sit from midnight till dawn, listening to what were once their
songs, and watching the writhing bodies of the young.
The Blues Brothers appears on an enormous screen. Young people
of all nationalities throw arms around one another , swaying together,
singing "Every-BODY NEEDS some -BODY." Rick,one of our
passengers, plunges into a crowd of whirling English girls. Everyone
is drawn in. It's not my thing, but it's the thing to do; I find
myself on the dance floor doing what should be done in the go-with-it
spirit of the coast.
At 3a.m. I lead us to the boat. With no moon to guide us, Durukos
V slips out of the harbour, cruising for an hour through the inky
darkness until we reach a deserted cove. We anchor.
Wearing a robe, I come on deck and head for the ladder. I pass
two English girls, seated uncertainly in deck chairs and looking
not quite sure why they're here. I say: "I want you to promise
me something. I want you to promise that you'll never tell anyone-ANYONE-that
I went swimming without clothes." They nod solemnly. They promise.
They look away . I throw off my robe and go naked into the sea.
Morning. I'm first on deck for breakfast. From somewhere in the
vicinity of Rick's quarters, the English girls emerge draped in
impromptu sarongs, the one in a bedspread, the other in a tablecloth.
They join me for coffee. I ask whether they're coming on the cruise
, but they say they have jobs in Bodrum. If only, they say, they
had met us a week before, they could have made arrangements.
After breakfast Durukos V returns to Bodrum harbour. The girls
go ashore in a dinghy.They wave to Rick from the pier as we leave.
Sunday. Mersincik. We've crossed from the northern to the southern
tip of the Gulf of Kos. The ship handled well, and it was a smooth
ride. We hit one patch of rough sea, and rolled side-to-side rather
than backwards-and-forwards; so I can see why they unfurl the sail
as stabilizers in bad weather. But the turbulence subsided quickly.
And now that we've arrived here, the sea has put on a look of wide-eyed
innocence, as though denying that it ever could be wild. Water bluer
than I've ever seen and vodka-clear to depths of what must be a
least 40 or 50 feet.
Winds and waves sometimes dictate the path yachts must follow,
but not to us today. We have gentle breezes and a waveless sea:
therefore, the luxury of choice. There are three marvellous itineraries
along the Turkish coast. From Bodrum, we can do one of two five-to-seven
day trips: either a circuit of the Gulf of Kos returning to Bodrum,
or else a voyage south along the coast to Marmaris, debarking there.
The third itinerary, taking a bit longer perhaps a week to ten days
is from Marmaris, heading farther south and east to Antalya.
The sheltered Golf of Kos is the easiest trip and closest to civilization,
but I choose the voyage to Marmaris because of the variety of secluded
anchorages along the way, offering the best swimming in the world.
Although it's the Marmaris-to-Antalya trip that has so many wild
shorelines and ancient sites to see, we will have at least one such
experience too: at Knidos.
Monday. We round craggy, windswept Cape Krio, where a mountain
range juts out into the sea, and anchor in what 2500 years ago was
the commercial harbour of Knidos. Across a narrow bridge of land
lies what in those days was the military harbour, and in antiquity
there may well have been a canal through the land-bridge enabling
ships to pass from one harbour to another, avoiding the perilous
rounding of the Cape.
Knidos, rising like an amphitheater from both sides of its double
harbor, was one of the major cities of classical antiquity. I was
here years ago when the American archaeologist Iris Love was excavating
its ruins, and so can guide the others up to the heights where Iris
discovered the long-hidden round temple of Aphrodite, goddess of
love, whom the Romans called Venus. Here, on a pedestal uncovered
by Iris, stood the most beautiful work of art of the ancient world:
the first nude female in the history of Greek sculpture, the naked
Aphrodite of Praxiteles.
Descending to the sea, I enter the little cafe by the beach and
bargain for a Knidian specialty: the succulent lobster-like but
clawless cigales de mer that are found only in these waters, and
a few others. After much bargaining I buy two of them and a langouste.
I start back toward the boat but am stopped by one of the guards
at the site who remembers me from Iris Love days. He has a gift
for me , he says. He takes me back up the road about a hundred feet
to a stone furnace, where his wife is cooking bread over a wood
fire. He gives me a bread out of the furnace. I carry it on board,
and we chew hot, grainy bread on deck as we motor out of the harbour.
A gift lovingly given ; a gift from the city of love.
Tuesday. Bencik. We're now at the eastern end of the Dorian peninsula,
of which Knidos is the western tip. It's the peninsula's narrowest
point; from here it's only a few miles over the hills to the Gulf
of Kos on the far side.
This is the scenic highlight of our voyage. Rick says it's like
cruising through the Alps: as though Switzerland were flooded and
only the peaks of the highest mountains remained above water level,
with us sailing the high waters between them.So twisting and indented
is the coastline that from many points I don't see the way out,
and it's as though we were on a lake surrounded by mountain peaks.
The number and variety of anchorages confuse; a distinctive rock
formation off Bencik is all that orients me.
Our captain is a master at discovering coves that we can have to
ourselves. To remember: the most important thing in selecting a
boat to charter is the captain, who must know the coast intimately,
be likable, and speak English. Yet there is nothing in the brochure
the yacht charterer sends you that tells you about him- so ask the
charterer. You might even want to call and interview the captain
over the telephone- I've found the phone connections between New
York and Bodrum to be excellent . But in the end you're essentially
betting on the reliability of your charterer.
Wednesday. A deserted cove near Selimiye. It's 8 a.m. and, while
the others still sleep , I swim around the tip , out of sight of
the boat, where there is nothing of man to be seen: no houses, no
boats, only sea, cliffs , and sunlit, untroubled sky. The sea is
still, and there is no breeze. I hear something extraordinary: silence.
It strikes me that even when staying overnight in isolated countryside,
I've heard donkeys braying or cocks crowing. Here there's only the
occasional tinkle of a ripple in the water. When, I wonder, have
I last heard absolute quiet-not the silence of emptiness, but that
of peace and contentment? It's as though I'm alone in the sea in
the morning of the world.
Thursday. Dirsek, a full bay empty of people.
Friday. Bozburun. An agreeable place, but not strong on character.We
dine on shore.
Saturday. The ancient Loryma. A colony and trading post established
on the mainland by ancient Rhodians on the site closest to the island
of Rhodes. Fortified walls on the heights: Hellenistic, about 2300
years old. Good snorkeling: I find no treasure (though others have
here, from ancient shipwrecks at the bottom) but am happy enough
as is, delighted to transform myself into a marine creature, however
Sunday. Marmaris. Our port of debarkation. The others spill into
taxis on the quai to be taken to Dalaman airport. I am staying on
for a few days in Marmaris, a sprawling port town that rivals Bodrum.
The ship owner arrives by car from Bodrum . We sit together under
a yellow awning in a sun-flooded bar on the dock and sip ice-cold
draught beer. He is happy; he and his wife have just had their second
child. She and the children are with her parents in Istanbul. Durukos
V is to meet her next charter party in Antalya in a week. He hasn't
had a vacation in years, so will take one now by cruising from Marmaris
to Antalya. We discuss the route. Strange and marvelous Caunus,
hidden in its forest of marsh weeds; the ruins of Xanthus, with
its long sweep of sand beach; the charming port towns of Kas and
Kalkan; Kekova, a sailor's paradise with its dozens of islets, and
snorkeler's dream with its sunken tombs and the remains of an underwater
city; unexcavated Olympos, ruins hidden in a tangled forest; Phaselis,
where one walks the main street as the Emperor Hadrian did; and
Antalya itself, the splendid beach resort so close to the great
sites of Perge, Side and Aspendos.
For scenery, swimming and sailing , Asia Minor offers the outstanding
coastline in the Mediterranean-indeed, in the world- but it's more
than landscape: it's a voyage in time. Our civilization comes from
this coast and its offshore islands. Here lived Homer; here philosophy,
history, mathematics and medicine were invented; here ( the English
travel writer Freya Stark somewhere remarks) people first discovered
happiness. An encounter with the Turkish seacoast can offer more
than the surface pleasures, and I envy the ship owner his voyage
"Why don't you come along ?" he asks. "Of course
it won't be like a charter ; we can't linger too long ; we must
arrive in Antalya on time."
I start to stay that I can't: reservations would have to be changed
and appointments broken . But the point of coming to this part of
the world is to escape, however briefly, from the tyranny of jobs
and obligations. I don't want to be like the girls who waved goodbye
in Bodrum. The joy is in being able to say yes to the unplanned
and unexpected. I down my beer and say : "Yes"
So I bring my bags on board Durukos V. From shops and the open
market at the edge of town, the crew members have brought back a
rainbow of colorful fruits, melons, cheeses, fresh breads, imported
sausages, wines ... As we motor out of the harbor and head out to
sea, I sink down into a chair on deck . It's past midday.
"Demir" I say. "I'm hungry. Let's skip lunch again."
DAVID FROMKIN is the author of A Peace To End All Peace (Avon).
A history of the making of the modern, Mideast.