My husband says I chose “the perfect anti-pandemic vacation.” We’re on a private boat in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Turkey, in a Covid-safe bubble (the crew is vaccinated, and our interaction with them is almost entirely outdoors). When we anchor in a new harbor each day to check out a beach town or fishing village or ancient ruin, our exploration is always in the open air, and social distancing is easy. Our pre-trip Covid worries have evaporated. I believe our international flight was safer than nearly all domestic flights, since the passengers boarding our plane had to be vaccinated or have tested negative within the past 72 hours. Friends at home are cancelling trips because of Delta variant fears, and I just wish I could teleport them all here! I believe there’s always a travel solution, even during Covid, and if you could use one, The WOW List is here for you. In the meantime, enjoy photos from my trip on a gulet along the Turquoise Coast. It’s a “cruise” option you may not have thought of, and it’s safe, easy, and spectacular.
We made it to the Turquoise Coast!
Before our flight to Turkey, Tim and the boys and I sat down and had a talk about whether we should let the Delta variant cancel our trip. After researching the Covid situation in Turkey, we all agreed: We’re still going! The parts of Turkey on our itinerary are the parts with low virus caseloads and high vaccination rates. Turkey’s tourism workers are all vaccinated. So are we, and we’ll be spending almost all of every day in the open air. So, 24 hours later, here we are in Turkey, fighting off jet lag with sea breezes and reinvigorating dips in the water. And trying out Tim’s new drone; check out the aerial shots!
A family milestone
Today the boys did their first-ever Open Water dive together (now that all three are PADI-certified). The water in this part of the Mediterranean is surprisingly clean and clear.
Discovering under-the-radar villages
Each time we anchor at a beach town or fishing village or ancient ruin, we’re the only Americans there. Sometimes we’re the only tourists there. We anchored in Bozburun and took the dinghy into town for sightseeing and again for dinner at the Bozburun Yacht Club. We made a lot of friends there, probably because there was a piano for Doug to play. (He’s played many a piano in many a country, and it’s always a great way to meet people.) Here’s what else we found in Bozburun, on Turkey’s Aegean Coast.
On a gulet, the market comes to you!
They row up to your boat, make small talk (“Where are you from?”), toss you their wares so you can try them on, reduce their price even though it didn’t occur to you to bargain, then wish you well and row off to the next boat. They’re polite and respectful—none of the hard sell you might find in a touristy spot.
Special private access to a “museum hotel”
This Ottoman mansion and “museum hotel” is Mehmet Ali Aga Konagi. It’s been closed because of the pandemic, but WOW Lister Karen Fedorko Sefer was able to get us in! Deniz Ikizler showed us its treasures and treated us to “plum sorbet” in the garden, and Doug found another piano to play—an historic C.J. Quandt, Berlin.
Exploring the historic ruins of Knidos
In the ancient Greek city of Knidos on Turkey’s southwestern coast, there were more goats than people. We also were not far from the wildfires. We’re lucky to have a boat to go back to where cooling off is easy: Just jump in the water. If you’d like to contribute to the relief effort, I’m told good places to donate to are Türk Kızılayı (Turkish Red Crescent) or Turkish Philanthropy Funds.
A beach town almost entirely to ourselves
Sailing into a new harbor is like waiting for a gift to be unwrapped: What will we find? In Datca we found a beach lined with restaurant tables almost up to the water’s edge for toes-in-the-sand dining; streets of boutiques and bakeries and artisan gift shops; an Old Town of winding cobblestone alleys, car-free and dotted with outdoor cafes for coffee and ice cream; Ottoman mansions and olive farms a short drive away; and barely anybody there to enjoy any of it. Datca has everything except tourists. It’s also the biggest beach town in my memory where there are no American chains—no Pizza Hut, no McDonald’s, no Starbucks.
So many yachts are converging on Bodrum that berths at the marina are hard to come by. Check out the narrow slot our boat squeezed into, right in front of Bodrum Castle. It’s hard to say goodbye to our trusty captain and crew, but it’s time to fly to Istanbul. Görüsürüz, dear new friends!
Transparency disclosure: So that I could experience Turkey’s Aegean Coast on your behalf, WOW Lister Karen Fedorko Sefer arranged for a reduced rate on a gulet. Everything I did on my trip is accessible to every traveler who contacts Karen via my WOW questionnaire. Thanks to my WOW system, you’ll get marked as a VIP traveler.