Fethiye is even more scorching than Istanbul, and after the 13 hour bus trip, we finally visited a hamam. All I can say is that it was a good and thorough scrub off and I felt very clean and exfoliated afterwards, which was needed after the rather uncomfortable bus trip. Another bonus of the hamam visit was that it was much hotter and humid inside than outside, so the weather outside felt much more bearable after we were cleaned.
Busabout and V-Go, the operators of our (budget) sailing trip, operates quite a few boats on the route we are sailing this week and they seem to put in a lot of effort in the allocation of the passengers to the boats, with our group of 18 (including a crew of four) on the V Go boat being one of the older groups traveling on the route this week. It was quite a relief for an almost 32 year old like myself, who had quite a few nightmares prior to this leg of the trip involving loud hip-hop, tequila and drunk 20-year-olds with stronger livers than me.
Each boat accommodates up to around 18 people, with en suite two and three sleeper cabins. The cabins in our 24-meter boat have AC, which stays off on budget trips like ours. It’s too warm to sleep inside the cabins at night, so everyone ends up sleeping under the stars on the deck, which I would have preferred to do that even if we had AC. Only one seasickness casualty so far, and luckily it’s not me, so I get to dig into the scrumptious breakfasts, lunches and dinners prepared on the boat. It does not take anyone long to jump into the water whenever the anchor is thrown in at any of the quaint little coves along the coast. The water temperature is amazing and the level of salt in it makes it practically impossible to sink, so you can float around with minimum effort as for as long as you please.
So far we visited Butterfly Valley (where Jurg saw a total of three butterflies), Oleduniz (also known as the Blue Lagoon, where I jumped off a cliff into the sea) and St. Nicholas Island, obviously named after St. Nicholas, who is also known as Santa Claus. Apparently Santa lived on this island for “some time”. It consists mostly out of ruins these days (mostly Churches), some of them dating as far back as the 700 A.D, which means I managed to visit an even older place of worship than the Hagia Sophia.
After watching the sun set from the top of St. Nicholas, I wandered off to sit on my own in the ruins of one of the churches on the island. I like the idea of knowing that people as far back as 700 AD also came to the same spot to pray or meditate. It was an opportunity to take stock of the past couple of weeks and reflect on why I embarked on this journey in the first place. It feels unreal to look back at the past 18 months, which consisted out of endless post MBA job applications which led to freelancing, the deterioration of the most significant relationship up to date and its subsequent end… All of these things culminated into the moment where I decided: Fuck this shit. I’m going travelling.
It’s amazing to sit on your own amongst the ruins of a church that was built over a 1300 years ago and snap out of a bittersweet, introspective frame of mind into the now, where you find yourself in the paradise of the Aegean coast. The uncertainty of what countries like India and Peru have in store, solo travels for 5 months, as well as the uncertainty of what will happen after I’ve ticked all the boxes and it’s time to go home, remains daunting.
Who knows – maybe Santa will guide me along the way.
More highlights from Istanbul: