Turkey – visiting a friends wedding
As soon as we had left the Rivercafe in Montenegro, secured with 10 mooring lines and extra fenders, there was no more time for new travel reports. We were very glad that our winter plans took us away from the unpleasant weather in Tivat. It got cold (single digits), a storm every week and endless rain. Our heater, unused for the last three years, became the most important feature on board. Not really nice conditions for living on a vessel. Our travel reports will be without any sailing stuff until April.
After 22,500 km travelled in the last 3 weeks, I am writing from Spain today. A lot has happened, so this will be a multi-part report.
Our plan is not to return until March. The destinations of our trip made it the most difficult luggage ever: 4 months travelling, content for wedding, job and leisure. Temperatures above 35 degrees (Celsius), temperatures below zero and snow. And that with 23 kg per person. Our mobile luggage scale proved to be the perfect purchase.
We left Tivat in the direction of Podgoriza, the completely unremarkable capital of Montenegro. The almost 2-hour journey took us through amazing, mountainous landscapes. Podgoriza is probably the only capital city in the world that doesn’t signpost its airport. But you will find it eventually if you drive in the direction of the aeroplanes taking off.
Our destination was Kas, in Turkey. The second southernmost town in Turkey, 2 hours car drive between Dalaman and Antalya and 300 kilometres south-east of the sailing destination of Bodrum. We were looking forward to the wedding of our friends Arzu and Emre, who crossed the Atlantic on board their Amel at the same time as us in 2020. We later spent a gruelling time together in the Virgin Islands, but that’s another story.
Turkish Airlines objected to us attending the ceremony and cancelled our flight from Podgoritsa to Istanbul while we were at check-in. It turned out to be a dreary day in rainy Podgoriza at the expense of Turkish Airways. We missed the ceremony and only just made it to the party the following day, 28 hours late. Incidentally, it was a party where I didn’t know a single piece of music. But it was all very groovy and danceable with lots of hand turns.
Kas – coastal town in the south
Kas (pronounced Kasch) is a beautiful, small and lively coastal town. Very friendly and not overcrowded in the off-season. However, the town is suffering from the Russian war against Ukraine. You hear more Russian than Turkish on the streets, as many Russians and Ukrainians have fled to the Turkish west coast. This is not at all good for the city, as they are upsetting the previous balance. Teachers and doctors paid by the state earn little by our standards, but the previously very favourable cost of living allowed them to live comfortably. Now the new arrivals, who have much greater means at their disposal, are disrupting the structure. Rents alone have multiplied since the beginning of the war. The locals can no longer afford the rents and the city is beginning to fall apart. Perhaps Emir E. should reconsider his close friendship with dictator P. after all. It’s not doing his people any good.
Our hotel view in Kas, Downtown, bay of Kas
The good humour and friendliness of the Turks cannot even be affected by their unpopular Mr E.. What a contrast to Montenegro. The Turks are the opposite of the unfriendly and bad-tempered Montenegrins. When you stroll through the streets in the evening, you can only be in a good mood. We enjoyed the dinners with our friends, although I am not a big fan of Turkish cuisine. However, it’s a different story with the Turkish breakfast, which we both think is great – even though we’re not really breakfast eaters. Inspired by the culture, I started drinking tea in the usual cute glasses. And that as a coffee junkie. We had to leave this wonderful piece of land and humanity behind after 5 days, as well as our newlywed friends.
On the way back, we made a short stop in Istanbul. A crazy city and always worth a visit. Almost 20 million people are said to live in this megacity. The official figure is 15 million. The south-west and Istanbul have nothing in common with the bad image that some Turks living in Germany create. And even in Turkey, Turks living in Germany do not have the best reputation, as we learnt in several conversations.
Blue mosque, sunken palace
Shortly before our visit, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the state was celebrated and the whole country was decorated with the likeness of Kemal Atatürk. For Erdogan, it must have been scary to realise that Atatürk, who lived 100 years ago, was much more cosmopolitan and many still mourn him today. It is a difficult time for the country, which certainly can and deserves more.
Turkish delight – thats fine art
When you visit Istanbul, it is not unlikely that you will spend most of your time in a taxi, or more precisely in a traffic jam. Taxi drivers must be the most patient people in the world, as even short journeys can take hours. As we only had a short time, we booked a taxi in the European district of Fatih. From there we could walk to the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), the Hagia Sophia and the Sunken Palace. We had already visited all but the latter. We enjoyed our time in the sunny weather and had tea in the street cafés in between.
Remarkable were the pro-Palestinian demonstrations, mainly by Muslim women. Israel was fervently denounced, but there was no mention of Hamas.
After our short visit to Turkey, we made our way to the warmth of Thailand. And that’s another story. / Holger Binz