2nd October 2020
The 3 days after our beautiful outing in our minibus where spent relaxing and doing domestic things like grocery shopping, writing blogs, sorting pictures, cleaning, doing crochet, editing, reading etc.
On Monday the 5th October we started our day early to get a few things done in town. With Greece’s borders still closed and us not really feeling ready for any big crossings our best option is to apply for a short term residency visa in Turkey and all fingers crossed it will be simple and smooth as we are still traumatised from our visa dilemma in Greece.
First we met Catie Bushell who just arrived in the marina the night before. She had given us lots of tips online on what to do where and its always nice to meet the cruising community in person. Catie and her husband have a contract in a beautiful little marina in Fethiye and she shared some more of her knowledge with us. After our chat with Catie we went to town to find a photographer to take photos of us all for our visa application.
Once that was done we went in search of the biggest and bestest wool shop Jaynee had told us about. With Nina’s and my crochet obsession growing by the day we wanted more supplies for the colder winter months when snuggling up with a cup of tea and a bag of wool seems just the right thing to do. Luckily while wandered around aimlessly we bumped into Jaynee and David sitting in a cafe and Jaynee offered to take us over to the wool shop, which was just tucked away in a side street not far. Nina and I where immediately in heaven. I choose some beautiful cotton threads to make Nina a blanket for Christmas. The colours where stunning. Nina choose a wide selection of multi coloured acrylic wool and we both bought a ring to make a dream catcher and got some more needles and stitch counters and other bits and pieces.
Luca and Tim found us and it was time to move on to find a music store. Luca had wanted a guitar for a while and we agreed for him to have one if he promised to practice. Thanks to google we found a cute little store with an old man in a tucked away side street and Luca choose his guitar and a strap and was very happy indeed. We will see if you all get to enjoy some of Luca’s performances soon.
On the way to the next stop we found a little household shop where I got a stainless steel pan. On the boat we just have the teflon coated ones that came with it and I really don’t like cooking in that toxic stuff. So I was super happy with my wool and pan!
Meanwhile our friend Birgul had helped up to locate a local Turkish private health insurance agent via phone and she messaged us where we had to pick up our policies and pay for them. With google maps in hand we went on a wild goose chase to find the office with no avail until after a few more phone calls we figured out it was in an apartment on top of a bakery with no signage on the road. We paid and thanked the agent for the insurance, which we need to apply for our Turkish extended visa. Exhausted by then walking round and round in town we went to find the photo shop again to pick up our pass photos and made our way back to boat.
Tim and I snuck back into the little marina and had a long shower in their facilities and had a drink at their bar after, which all felt rather luxurious. The kids had wanted to stay on the boat after the long day, so Tim and I had a shower / drinks date for 1 hour. In the evening David & Jaynee and Birgul & Freddie came over for sundowners to exchange our stories from the day.
The anchorage was convenient, but had very dirty water, meaning we couldn’t make water or swim. So the next day we moved on. We had a pump out of our holding tanks at the big marina, got some more petrol and stocked up on groceries on the dock. We had looked up a beach nearby, called Serenity beach, but on arriving we realised the water was way too deep for us to anchor safely, so we decided to move on another 10 nm to Gemiler Island, which sounded lovely in the Cruising guide. There was not much wind, so we motored most of the way.
It turned out we had landed in one of the most stunning anchorages we had been in. The water was so clear, we could see every rock and fish in the water and we tied up to the island stern to to a row of pretty, romantic ruins. After we had secured the lines a little boat turned up with an older couple making Turkish pancakes called Goezleme on their little boat. Tim ordered one with Spinach, Cheese and Chili and one with Lemon and Sugar. They where so yummy and such fun to watch them make them right there and then. It was already evening by then so we had a drink, and relaxed, the girls doing crochet and the boys watching movies or reading.
We had read that the island is also called St. Nicholas Island. Gemiler Island means Island of Boots. St. Nicholas was the Patron Saint for Sailors as well as children, prostitutes, thieves, brewers, merchants, unmarried people. Mhhh that’s an eclectic mix of duties as a saint. St. Nicholas is also known as Santa and it is said that his original grave was right here on this tiny island. You can read more in this article here.
The island is so small but has ruins of 4 churches, over 50 tombs and a long procession archway, which is still partly intact. There are also signs of shops / residences along the shore, which we suspect might have been catering for the pilgrims coming to the island. Some of the ruins are under water.
We have seen so many ruins and ancient things in the last few months, but this was my highlight so far. Some of the ruins are still well preserved with the procession archway still partly intact, some of the arches and windows and domes still standing. They date back to the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries. We videoed some intact mosaics which are all exposed to the elements. It never ceases to amaze me how underfunded these incredible sites are. Which is amazing for us as tourists, as exploring is so much more fun than in highly managed sites. I guess there are just so many ruins and ancient sites here that it would take so much care and management to look after them all properly. After a few hours of exploring tombs, churches and archways clambering over ancient artefacts we returned to the boat for some food and drink and a swim in the stunningly clear water.
In the afternoon Jaynee and David arrived and we all settled in for dinner and quite time.The next day Tim and Nina played tour guide for Jaynee and David and explored the island again, while indulged in more crochet and audiobook action. In between I baked a banana cake and later Paul and Lorie arrived. Nina decided it was a good night for a pot luck dinner, so we all met up on Polly and shared our dinner and stories.
The following day Tim cranked up the generator, we made some water and I dealt to our huge washing basket, doing wash load after wash load transforming our boat into a Chinese laundry while Tim did some editing of videos, as his computer uses so much power that we pretty much have to have the generator going for him to do work. I saved lots of the washing water, which is used for several cycles to give our filthy, salty boat a good scrub. So every liter of water is used several times. Polly looked so good and clean and tidy and it felt great to have all that clean washing done and dusted.
Freddie and Bigrul arrived that day and Nina was clambering all over the boats visiting our cruising friends. First she helped Paul repair their toilet, but he had to promise to learn crochet if she did. Surely he kept his word and crochet a little round eye patch under Nina’s careful watch. He didn’t have the patience to make the whole round for a beer coaster. Then Nina went over to Jaynee’s boat to do friendship bracelets. We barely saw her all day. Luca agreed to scrub the hull of the boat for some good pocket money and he did a great job of it. Its such a tough job and I sure wouldn’t want to do it, as my diving skills are pretty much non existent.
The day after Nina played tour guide for Lori and Paul, showing them around the island, while Tim taught Jaynee how to make the village bread. Tim took some video of the “watersports” boats that dragged the screaming tourists with the yellow floaties behind. The kids had said for weeks that they wanted to do it, so this day they got the chance to also be dragged and scream and hold on for the life of them. Both of them had lots of fun and sore arms, hands and shoulders the next day. One thing to cross off their bucket list I guess.
We just had a relaxing day and in the evening Tim and I went for sunset walk up to the top of the island to get some more photos and footage from the drone. We got another hour of peace and quite, as Luca decided to stay on the boat and Nina was socialising with the other cruisers having sundowners.
It was decided that tomorrow was the day to move on and I was a bit sad, as it was such a beautiful place to be. This pretty little island will always have a special place in my heart – it somehow touched me with its magic spell.