On the night we decided against using our tickets to Kyrgyzstan, Rebecca brought up the possibility of going on a Blue Cruise. When we booked our spots on a 3-night, 4-day boat tour along the Mediterranean coast, I had no idea what to expect. A cruise ship? The pirate ships so popular in Alanya? A sailboat? Without expectations, though, I couldn’t be disappointed.
After an awful two hour minibus ride from our hostel, during which none of my tricks for dealing with car sickness helped relieve the lurking need to chunder everywhere on the bus, Rebecca, Charlotte, and I climbed into a small-ish gullet with 14 other travelers. We did a bit of the ice-breaking get-to-know-you stuff before throwing off our everyday clothes and changing into swimsuits to splash around in the water. There were squeals after seeing a sea turtle, the bell ringing to alert us to dinner, the click of the sunscreen bottle closing. That was all the sound disturbing the calm until exhaustion and excitement set in, and our trio was out-of-control hyper on a boat with the rest of our more well-adjusted group. Eventually, we calmed down – that’s the effect of no internet, no cell phone service, and no electricity, really. There was absolutely nothing to do all day but swim, read, eat, lounge, swim, eat, and lounge.
Each day, we made stops along the coast at fishing villages, pirate islands, Lycian tombs, and castles. Making the trip to the site was optional, and the captain of the boat even encouraged swimming to shore as our mode of transportation. One afternoon involved climbing to the top of a castle, playing with cannons, admiring the view, and eating the most incredible ice cream ever – a mix of banana, pistachio, and strawberry. Another afternoon, we wandered around a fishing village and bought see-through dresses. The most anticipated daytrip: a jaunt to BUTTERFLY VALLEY. Supposedly, this valley is home to hundreds of thousands of butterflies. We expected to have butterflies land on every open spot of our bodies. Thus, it was a bit of a disappointment when, in total, we saw three butterflies in the valley. What wasn’t disappointing, however, was the climb up a waterfall that required taking shoes off and hoisting oneself into a rock crevice holding onto a rock. It was a bit reminiscent of Survivor and high school gym class, but at the top, the view was incredible. We weren’t even that upset about the butterflies by the time we made it back down to the beach.
In the mornings, I would wake up when I could no longer ignore the sweat rolling down my skin, despite the early hour. To wake up and clean off, I slid into the water and floated around until the bell rang, triggering a Pavlovian response to Hakan’s delicious cooking. There really is nothing better than a good Turkish breakfast – tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, honey, feta cheese, and – of course – half a loaf of bread. Despite gorging myself on olives and bread, I still managed to have room for gözleme, similar to pancakes. On our last day, a man and woman would float up to our gullet in their small boat, the man shouting, “Pancakes! Pancakes!” When he realized we could speak Turkish, he gave us a deal on Nutella/banana-filled gözleme, and we had no shame to gobble down several along with breakfast and in the afternoon as a snack. The gözleme man fell in love with Charlotte, and we joked for a long time that she would have to marry him and become the apprentice of the old woman who sat and rolled out the dough diligently. For some reason, she scoffed at this suggestion.
We were sad to get off the boat. After only a few days of being crammed in a tiny space, we really got to know everyone well. The couple from Seattle, the teacher from Minnesota, the Aussie twin sisters and their friend, the other Aussie sisters, the other Aussie couple (see a pattern here?), the super attractive French and Italian couples, Hakan and our captain… As we passed around a paper with our email addresses and contact information, I felt a bit as though I had been transported back in time to the day in middle school when yearbooks were released to everyone.
As Rebecca and I boarded our 10pm overnight bus to Istanbul, we knew that even if we would not be comfortable for the next 11 hours, we would have the memory of the sun on our faces and gözleme in our hands. And also that night on the pirate island.