Turkey
Home Up Route Us and Yacht Cruising Life Horror Stories Destinations Resources

Journal
Istanbul
Med Coast
Central Turkey
Eastern Turkey
Bekahs Visit
Contact Us
Poems
Site Map

 Search

[Istanbul] [Med Coast] [Central Turkey] [Eastern Turkey]
Turkey has been another wonderful surprise with the friendliest people since Thailand and a mixture of modern Western-style development and Middle- Eastern history.
Turkey - the country

Turkey is truly the bridge between the Middle East and Western Europe.  Although mostly Muslim, it is a secular country where all visitors are welcome and many viewpoints are tolerated. Merhaba is the greeting you will normally hear - the "Gooday" of Turkey.

We visited for two years, staying at marinas on the south coast during the winters and venturing inland by bus and motor-home when the weather warmed. 

We were reminded more than once that 'history' depends on your viewpoint - signs at several historical sites discussed the Latin Wars.  We finally understood that the event being described is known in Christian counties as The Crusades - different views of the same wars.

Read on or pick a spot to explore our trip.

Brief History

Until the end of the 19th century, Turkey was the heart of the Ottoman Empire.  During WWI it was aligned with Germany and following the defeat of the Axis Powers, the Allies tried to carve it up while Greece invaded to claim the western part of the country.  Kemal Mustafa, later to be known as Ataturk who had led the defeat of Britain, Australia, and New Zealand at Gallipoli rallied the country, overthrew the Sultans, and defeated the invaders. 

Ataturk then went on to introduce the western alphabet and numbers, a secular government, outlaw the veil in public buildings and set the country on a path of modernization. Now, 70 years after his death, Turkey is negotiating for entry into the European Union - a vastly different path than that followed by its neighbors Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

Istanbul

The largest city in Turkey, this cosmopolitan city of 6 million people is a reminder of the glory of the Ottoman Empire - with beautiful mosques and palaces.  Straddling the Bosporus, it guards the eastern end of the waterway between the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Much of it is just a big, sprawling city, but the heart of the city has cozy cafes, the wonderful Grand Bazaar, the Top Kapi and Aya Sofia palaces, and of course the Blue Mosque, the prime mosque in Turkey.

We visited Istanbul several times and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of this great city at the boundary between Asia and Europe.  On one stay we were guests of the premier Atakoy Yacht Club and parked our motor-home in a prime spot with views of the Strait - a privilege costing the locals thousands of $$ per year.

Mediterranean Coast

On the eastern and southern coasts of Turkey the Mediterranean is a beautiful blue sea with a backdrop of steep mountains, sometimes green and lush but mostly dry and brown.  We cruised along the southern coast from Antalya to Datca over a 2-year period.  Other cruisers ventured further, sailing north along the east coast, sometimes as far as Istanbul and the Black Sea.  This entire coastline has many bays and protected anchorages and is the best cruising ground we have found in the Med so far.  The towns ashore such as Ephesus, Troy and many others were settled thousands of years ago and Roman ruins can be seen everywhere.

One anomaly of the coast is that ALL offshore islands are owned by Greece, remnants of agreements made after WWII.  For the cruiser, this means that one cannot hop from mainland to island, even though they are only 5 or 10 miles away - they are also separated by paperwork, bureaucracy, and clearances fees.  Some cruisers choose to ignore the niceties and officials often turn a blind eye, but that is a little risky.

Central Turkey

Inland, much of Turkey is a mountainous plateau with hot summers and bitterly cold winters punctuated with a few fertile valleys and green farmland.  We saw much of it from our motor-home or one of the comfortable coaches that crisscross the country.  We visited the capital city of Ankara, very important in recent history, Cappadocia, a fairy-land of bizarre sandstone formations, Amasya, a beautiful riverside city with ancient tombs and many places in between. The people were friendly and most towns were based on agriculture.  Farms appeared to be well equipped and productive.  The mountains often were sterile volcanic rubble, suitable only for scrub or sparse grass.

Eastern Turkey

Eastern Turkey appeared to be less prosperous and more conservative than other parts of the country.  Many towns had a large military presence and a large unemployed population.  We spent several weeks on buses traveling east to the Iranian border along southeastern Turkey and returning via the northeast.  Towns such as Sanli Urfa seemed very Biblical and Middle Eastern and then on hilltops we would find Greek statues of Hercules or drive by a modern hydroelectric project - truly a land of contrasts.

Summary

Turkey has turned out to be one of the major surprises of our trip so far!  The people have been very friendly, the officials very agreeable, it is easy to bring a yacht into Turkey for extended periods (5 years) with no hassle or cost, and the cost of marinas, travel, and living are very reasonable - what's not to like?  And on top of this, you get to experience a major cultural crossroad with thousands of years of interesting history. 

Check our Journal for May 2005 to relive our trip through Eastern Turkey.

 

ŠThe contents of this site are the copyright property of the authors.  Visitors may read, copy, or  print any material for their own use, free of charge.  No material printed or copied from this site, electronically or in any other form, may be sold or included in any work to be sold without explicit permission from the authors. Most maps have been extracted from Microsoft Encarta, Encyclopedia Britannica, or Google Earth and we thank them for their use