Extract

Between the Taurus and the deep blue sea

Sailing to Cilicia

Few travellers to Turkey enjoying the hedonistic delights of Mediterranean cruising venture east of Antalya, capital of Anatolia’s Turquoise Coast – intimidated perhaps by rumours of a wild hinterland that even Alexander the Great found hard to tame. But those who dare to leave the crowds behind will discover an awe-inspiring landscape of cliffs that drop sheer to the sea, epic castles and remote Byzantine retreats. Kate Clow and Jacqueline de Gier joined ten other guests and a lecturer for a twelve-day voyage of enlightenment aboard a traditional gulet

  • Kate Clow admires the view along the coast

A spectacular point of view, by Jacqueline de Gier

This southern crook of the Turkish coast, from Antalya to Mersin, is perhaps not as easy to enjoy as the picturesque bays and harbours of the Turquoise Coast to the west. Dominated by the Taurus Mountains, its beauty is in its austerity. Its wild, often deserted unpredictability no doubt explains why it was a favourite hide-out for pirates, priestesses, oracles, nuns and heretics. It lured the most eccentric men and women, as, in an odd way, it still does… The moment I saw our lecturer (a former classics master and deputy head of St Paul’s School, London) take to the water off our twenty-six metre gulet and swim in his panama hat, any reservations I had about the trip wilted. He also carried an old-fashioned parasol to protect against the fierce sun…

Journal: Coasting into history, by Kate Clow

Day 1
As the sun rises over the old Selçuk walls of Antalya harbour, the Arif Kaptan B slips past the Roman watchtower, out to the open sea. Four hours’ sail takes us to Side, running eastwards with the imperceptible tide. The wide coastal plain and the heat haze almost screen the grey silhouettes of the Taurus Mountains. Above us, the two masts reflect the sun, while the guests recline in the shade, beers in hand, accustoming themselves to the endless swelling motion. My stomach is somewhat relieved when we slip easily into a vacant berth at Side, alongside the seafront disco and bars. In the museum, the plain vaults of the Roman bathhouse show off the worn and polished marble statuary to advantage – Hercules catches the light across his muscular shoulders; a dog peeps around a sarcophagus looking for his lost owner. The museum garden is fragrant with thyme and sea smells, and roses grow over a long frieze with mermaids and naval battles.

Day 2
As dawn gleams on the temples of Apollo and Athena – which is which? – the photographers slink off the gulet to capture the changing light. Sunrise on a Medusa’s head; silence in Side’s heart. We set sail for Alanya, another few hours away, where the anchor rattles out under the sheer cliffs of the citadel; we plunge into the clear waters, exploring a shallow phosphorescent cave. Seeing silver glints below, the youngest passenger gets out his fishing rod. On Alanya’s citadel, a dizzying descent down a narrow staircase below the Bedesten, or covered market, leads us to cavernous cisterns where we wander at will, tracing previous water levels on the walls. Then in the han above, we trace the levels in our beer glasses as we watch the sunlight dancing on dusty saddles, guns and saddlebags.

Kate Clow, Jacqueline de Gier and Julia Guest travelled with Westminster Classic Tours

To read the full article, purchase Issue 23

Issue 23, 2001 Haute Ottoman
£8.00 / $10.77 / 38.26 TL
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Issue 23, 2001 Haute Ottoman
£8.00 / $10.77 / 38.26 TL
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