Monday, June 8, 2009

Turkey – Living the Good Life on the Nirvana 2

Scott Andrews has always been a huge sailing fan and had been lobbying hard with his family to charter a boat and do the famous “blue cruise” on the Agean. Suzanne practically grew up on the water on family vacations and was interested in doing an all-inclusive trip. Plus, I had fond memories sailing in Turkey for a day (with my friend Athar during our post college EU whirlwind trip). So we decided to go in together to rent a Turkish yacht and live large. As long as we were already this close, we might as well splurge – for who knows when we might get another opportunity?!? Today was the day we had most been looking forward to; embarking for a 5 day Agean cruise on board a Turkish Gullet (a double-masted wood yacht that resembles a schooner). We had selected a beautifully preserved 30-meter (over 90 feet!) boat called the Nirvana 2, which came with a crew of 4 and had 8 private cabins. All meals were included and we had them stock plenty of beverages to keep our thirst quenched out on the water. As we arrived in the port of Marmaris and boarded the boat, we were speechless – this boat was huge, with plenty of cushions, outdoor dining areas, and decks for serious lounging. Plus, when the kids were playing up front, we could hardly hear them. The crew immediately took care of us, providing a great meal of pasta and turkish salads and plying us with plenty of cold beers to get us in the right frame of mind. As we left the harbor, all the previous fatigue of sightseeing and traveling left us immediately and we had no trouble adapting to the 24:7 service of a full crew. while we’ve certainly had relaxing trips before, this one was over the top! Basically, our 5 days on the gullet went like this: We would awaken in the morning at leisure with a cup of coffee on the deck. The crew would lay out a huge breakfast spread (homemade bread, fresh jams, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers) and we would eat before embarking to a new cove or inlet. There, we would anchor and swim, snorkel, sunbathe and play in the kayaks while the crew prepared lunch. The kids especially enjoyed hosting their own version of survivor and would build tribal camps at various beaches along the coves every place we anchored. After downing a few beers, we would have a big lunch and then the crew would pull anchor and head to our final cove for the day. This was then followed by more swimming, reading and exploring until tea-time at about 5 pm. After a few more hours of diving off “the plank”, racing kayaks at sunset, and several very competitive games of hearts, we’d have a late dinner and finish off the night with a few bottles of Turkish Red. It seemed that we were eating the whole time, but the food was so tasty and healthy, we always seemed to be hungry. And of course, we were never too far from “beer thirty”… I especially enjoyed the sounds of the water lapping against the boat as we shared stories and eventually drifted off to sleep. Then the process would start all over again the following morning. Ahhh…now THIS was the life! While this was certainly one of the most expensive vacations we have taken, it was perhaps the most enjoyable and relaxing. I think we are now forever spoiled!

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