We decided to head next door to Hassan’s, where we were looking forward to meeting the owner. Oh boy, did we meet the owner. I’m not sure if he had got out of bed the wrong side, if he’d just had some terrible news, or if he’d taken an instant dislike to us but he was the most unpleasant man we have met in Turkey. The exchange went something like this…
Alanya is an odd place for yotties to visit. On the one hand it is full of German and Russian package holiday makers, basking on the most stunning of sandy beaches (a rarity in Turkey). It lacks local anchorages, suffers sloppy waters and rarely hosts ‘good’ sailing weather, located in the lull that is Antalya Bay. Oh and it doesn’t yet have a completed marina. On the other hand it boasts some stunning views of the Taurus mountains and the ‘old town’ and castle are well worth a visit. Annoyingly it also has a great brewery, which I missed. How the hell did that happen?
Sometimes writing this log is exhausting but it means we really get to examine our experiences in different places around the world, and our time in Cyprus was a real eye-opener. It’s great to see Liz writing more of the log so I can spend more time taking pictures; we’re working well as a team to provide you with a bit of fun and entertainment.
At Platres we admired the colonial mansions left by the Brits and stopped to wander round Cleopatra’s, a mad shop full of tat and car boot sale memorabilia, run by a tiny ancient ant-like woman with the innate charm of a Lady and well-oiled diplomat.
I could have done with my wide-angle and portrait lenses. I’m still kicking myself for this school-boy error and secretly wish to sail back to Cyprus tomorrow to do it all again. Lefkosia is one of the most photogenic places I have visited to date
You’ll also get confused by the fact that none of the borders are sign-posted. One minute you’re driving along, minding your own business, admiring the view, and next you’ve driven into a checkpoint barrier. Probably manned by an angry Greek police officer.
Contrasts again. The richly self-indulgent road south of the line turns into a dusty careworn main road on the Turkish Cypriot side. No Starbucks, Top Shop or McDonalds to be found here. Stepping off the main drag we are in a monstrous slum of poverty and wasteland.
The once garish colours are now reduced to a uniform greyness; a 1970s monochrome war torn news report from the BBC frozen in time. The roads are strewn with detritus and weeds grow uninterrupted up through the asphalt and concrete, cocking a snook at man’s feeble attempt to control nature.
It’s a most startling and incongruous sight. In fact I found it impossible to suppress a slightly hysterical giggle at what had happened to this old monument to Catholicism. (During later sight-seeing forays I saw other, similarly changed, monuments of Christian worship, all of which triggered this irrepressible giggle.)
Famagusta is in the north of the island. Well, most of it is. Quite a large part of it is now sectioned off with barbed wire walls behind which can be seen the eerie no-man’s land of skeletal hotels, tumble-weed roads and literal urban decomposition…
When you’ve lived the life of a gypsy, on a boat, in southern Turkey for a couple of years and have had scant access to the delights of western commercialism in one of its purest forms, it’s a little disconcerting to find yourself in a shopping mall… at Carrefour… next to Debenhams and round the corner from Ikea.
It’s an exciting time for the manager of Delta Marina, who has doubled its berths to 80 in the last few years. With the borders between northern and southern Cyprus now open, hope for relaxation of trade restrictions and loosening of prohibited areas, the cruising scene is set to expand very quickly. “The Minister of Trade [who, incidentally, spoke at the rally reception we attended] has stated that tourism is Northern Cyprus’s number one priority. Key to this is sailing, which is one reason why they are building a new marina up the coast from us”.
Jim chatted about the town of Yeni Erenkoy: “It is one of the few remaining towns left in Cyprus that is still occupied by both Greeks and Turks”, he explained. “They live in harmony with no problems”. As he said this we drove past a mosque on our left and a church on our right, as if to prove his point.
More lazy days spent at anchor with nothing to do except swim, eat, drink, play games (Trish has every board game stashed away aboard ‘Dragon Song’) and explore. Concerned about getting their guest, Susie, back in time to catch her plane ‘Dragon Song’ left us, leaving Liz and myself on our own in the middle of nowhere. Not a building, road or person for miles. Not even a passing ship.
The ensuing scene could have been used for a remake of the film ‘The Exorcist’ as I swung through an 180 degree arc, like the hammock was made of elastic, jerking violently in every direction. Fortunately my head didn’t twist round and curse obscenities, and neither did I throw up purple sick, though I did feel like scratching ‘Help Me’ in my stomach. Like Linda Blair I didn’t get much sleep that night.
With Lebanon across the water and Israel a short hop eastwards, this was a far cry from the usual packed Turkish anchorage, to which we’ve grown accustomed.
The only constructive thing we did was visit the Apostolos Andreas monastery, a beautiful little building with a natural water spring and a couple of nuns. As the following photographs illustrate it is an extremely photogenic place indeed.