Day 4: Swimming Greece to Turkey

Around day 4 we all start to get a little tired ! Lots of swimming, sun, dinners out, talking , walking, not to mention the odd Gin & Tonic. It all adds up.

In fact, instead of Swim Trek, Ali and Helen call it Gin Trek! Love it.

Sensibly, Swim Trek have built in a rest half day. Knock us out with a big swim in the morning, great lunch, then an afternoon off.

Perfect.

Our goal today was to swim from Greece to Turkey. See the map above.

Looking out from Kas, in the distance you can see an island. It’s actually a Greek island and we are going to swim from it towards Kas. Two crossings from island to island then along the coast to a lighthouse.

We set off at 8.30 and the conditions were perfect. Calm waters. Barely any chop. We motored across from Greece.

Pink group first, then the mighty orange group followed by the yellows ( the fast swimmers!) The idea is we all catch each other and finish together.

Off we went. We touched the rocks of Greece and set off. It was perfect.

The swim went according to plan and we all more or less finished together. What an exhilarating feeling.

But not everyone rested!

Free diver Diana gave B1 a lesson on how to free dive. She’s amazing in diving deep. Pam lost her googles overboard and Diana was the only one able to go deep enough to rescue them.

Today we had not only a beautiful lunch but a beer ! No swimming this afternoon.

Eoin produced a brochure for a spa not far from the hotel. Who was going to have a Hamam? A Turkish spa treatment! Yes said 9 women.

Something to look forward to.

After arriving back at the Marina, Betty and I walked to the Friday markets. Good idea, until we got a little lost and walked further than we should in the searing heat. Finally we found it and were impressed by the variety of beautiful coloured fruits and vegetables.

I bought a Turkish towel and some Turkish delight and we made our way back to the hotel to prepare for our 3pm spa Hamam.

Four of us left together Sth African Pam, US Betty, Irish Noirin and myself. The others were coming later.

The spa was in a modern building near the marina. We were greeted and shown to the change room and then into the sauna wrapped in striped Turkish towels. Ten minutes was more than enough for me.

Next was the wash room. Two marble slabs awaited Pam and I. Onto the slab in the buff and the exfoliating began. She had on what looked like a pair of Brillo gloves. It was harsh! Then came the cream wash and lots of buckets of water. Next was the bubble treatment.

Not us! Photos from the brochure.

A large bag was filled with water and then swung around and emptied onto you until you were covered with bubbles. The massage continued until ……… I felt her grab my ankles and pull. Wow. I was as slippery as an eel and flew along the marble slab. I thought I’d end up on the floor. Then she pushed and back I flew the other way. This happened three times. I screamed I’m not sure why! But it was fun! And scary.

Next step was being helped up and sat next to the fountain and having containers of water sloshed over my head.

Next Pam & I were shuffled out under a bucket of icy water which was tipped all over us. Brrrr.

Recovery time on a lounge wrapped in a towel was a treat from the trauma.

Next up a great massage and face mask. Much more restful though she found my poor aching swimming muscles.

What an experience. When in Turkey try a Hamam. You will be refreshed and entertained all at once.

An hour of recovery time at the hotel before regrouping and heading off to a beach bar for dinner.

Last swim day tomorrow

Ancient Treasures by the Sea

Our usual start to the day then a slightly longer Boat run to our swim spot.

We were swimming another coastal route ending at the remains of old city.

Notice all the little blue fish

Stunning swimming made over 3km seem easy. Fish darted around us as we swam along at a fairly leisurely pace and we in our group we have three eco warriors. Tiny Betty dived quite deep to pick up a very large water bottle. Only problem was it was full. How she swam back up with it remains a mystery! My hero! Or heroine!

Then B1 and Pam did a clean up – swimming to shore, gathering a few water bottles discarded in the water and on the pebbly beach.

Our stop for lunch was in front of the remains of an ancient city. The walls of the city remain and some of the houses and even some tombs by the waterline. A group motored over to explore the area and climb up the hill to the highest part of the remaining wall.

It was very hot and a swim was needed at the end to cool down. Some discarded clothes and walking shoes and swam back to the boat.

Lunch was delicious. This time BBQ fish. And several salads. We are so spoilt. I’ve forgotten to mention the afternoon tea after our last swim. Platters of the best fruits and Turkish tea.

There were fun and games today. Effie the boat owners son was showing all his tricks. He can dive down, lay horizontally facing up and blow out air rings. One….. then a second and with perfect timing they join to one circle. Amazing. Others had a go but no one could match Effie.

Our second swim was along the prettiest coast line. Lots of fish, underwater rock formations, rock shelves and caves and after 2.5 km ended at a narrowing inlet to a sandy beach. So beautiful.

Meet my orange group swimmers: next to me, USA Betty, George from NY, Lesley, Helen and Alison all from England.

Steve’s yellow group: B1& B2 Jeff & Barry, NY Vanessa, Aussie Janty and Steve.

As we headed back to Kas, Mustafa dipped a fishing line in. He held the reel to his ear and phoned the fish telling them to jump on his line!

Lo and behold they listened.

Lots of cheering and smiles from us all. Three more fish followed. Tuna for dinner for Mustafa and the family.

Me holding George’s little black bear ! He’s well travelled.

We all enjoy getting back to our hotel at the end of a long salty day. Another 6km today and it’s catching up with us. It’s very tiring!

We all spend time in the aircon until it’s time to head down to town for another delicious Turkish dinner. This time grilled chicken and lots of green salad!

Our evening was over and tomorrow one big 5km swim a crossing from a Greek island into Turkish water arriving at a lighthouse near Kas.

The orange group enjoying a drink break. Our boat. So big and comfortable.

Day 2. Perfect Day Perfect Swims

We’re getting into routine. Up, dressed, sunscreen on, breakfast – which includes fruit, yoghurt and lots of vegetables and cheeses – we would consider lunch but here it’s breakfast. And delicious.

Then the walk down through the town to the boat. It’s a very different atmosphere in the morning. Very sleepy. All the party people are still asleep.

US swim buddies Zippy Bazza and the Silver Speedo, now B1& B2 keep up the banter of jokes and everyone is starting to relax and get to know each other. They are an interesting talented bunch of people. And some seriously good swimmers.

Taking advantage of our swim instruction from last night we all worked on our stroke as we swim along the coast. Especially Rachel! She has improved so much already. Ali, our fish lady, is a keen fish spotter and keeps us informed.

But it’s the bat cave that gives a thrill. In we go with the wave behind us. It’s a deep cave with enough light to spot the bats flying around above us. I don’t think they enjoyed being disturbed.

The 2.5km swim finishes in a perfect bay. While lunch is prepared we scatter around the boat, chatting or reading or taking an extra dip.

Today – yet another delicious selection of salads this time with little beef patties. It’s such a treat.

More rest on the sunlounges. Mustafa points out a turtle which gets a few back into the water. John gives Rachel another swim lesson. Effie plays around with Eoin. Altogether we very restful.

We tackle a 3km Swim in the afternoon but it’s easy swimming, especially compared to yesterdays 7 island crossings – which are always a little tougher to swim. Check out the map of the crossings.

By 4pm we are back at the Marina and into the restaurant to order ‘takeaway’ Turkish style. (We’re going to pick it up later on our way to the amphitheater ) Of course that involved a beer and lots of chat.

Tonight John, our guide, suggested a visit to the amphitheater, right on dusk to enjoy the view It dates back to 1st century BC. It is magnificent right by the sea. It’s hard to imagine enough people living in the area to fill it.

We climbed to the top, the cheap seats and enjoyed the view and the food – though B1& B2 went off for their own dinner. A boys date? We wondered. Swim Tactic talk? Planning their song for the concert perhaps ?

Yes, John wanted us all to perform. As night fell the stars came out. And I’m not talking in the sky. John first. He performed a Ballad followed by Irish Eoin who sang a traditional song and was quickly joined by Noirin who has a strong lilting voice. Next the Aussies. Not shy, but unsure what to sing. After waltzing Matilda we offered up Kookaburra Sits in an Old Gum Tree. For those who don’t know- that is a fun Aussie song about our famous bird. It comes with a strange second verse.

The concert continued with the USA’s B1& B2 who sang up a storm along with Betty who provided the real talent. She followed up with a ‘hand on heart’ performance of America the Beautiful.

Others sitting in the amphitheater either left or decided to join in. A trio of Young Turks got going with a traditional song followed by a hip swivel song and dance and dragged Betty in to join them.

The English were hesitant but warmly encouraged and the South Africans had us drumming.

The night was in full swing. What the locals thought ? We didn’t care. We were having fun.

Day 1 Swim Trek Kas.

An early 6am start for an orientation swim set us up for a great Turkish breakfast. We scrambled down some rocky stairs to pebble beach – a narrow cove with pebbles of all sizes. And three tents set up with sleeping bodies. We were way too early for them.

We waded in and set off at a comfortable pace. It’s hard to tell who the fast swimmers are at this stage! Except for College boys!

After breakfast under the purple bougainvillea our swimming party headed off for for our first swim.

The boat is amazing. So big and comfortable. The best we’ve had.

It takes a while to settle down and find a rhythm. My orange-cap group of 6 swimmers kept together often led by crocodile-eye George or my wing-woman Betty.

Video session time came around and, although I don’t think there’s much hope for change, I did the swim for the camera.

Lunch was prepared by Zeynap while husband Mustafa barbecued the chicken. Delicious. Best swim trek food ever. About 6 different salads and grilled chicken.

Following lunch it’s rest time and there’s plenty of room on deck to stretch out. Comfortable blue mattresses.

We are very well looked after by Zeynap, our Captain’ s wife and their son Effie. He’s 15 and obviously loves playing around with Eoin our guide.

We swam along the gorgeous coast line around 2.5km in the morning and a 7 Island series of crossings in the afternoon. Quite a challenge for the first day. Around 6 km!

We had a drink in the evening to prepare ourselves for the video analysis! It’s scary seeing yourself on the big screen. My video followed the two College boys, Zippy Barry and the Silver Speedo. They were zippy with perfect strokes and I was ……. well not so zippy and not so perfect. But John the guide was kind and others didn’t laugh. So all is good and I’ll try to take the comments on board when I swim tomorrow.

So a good dinner in the village and off to bed!

Kas Turkey. Let the swim Begin

Getting to bed at 2.30am doesn’t make it easy to get going in a new place – but we were up and enjoying breakfast on the terrace of the Linda Hotel by 9am.

Most of our fellow swimmers had arrived. It’s always exciting to meet the people we’ll be sharing our swimming week with. There’s 16 all up and two guides.

John we met in Montenegro a few years ago and he’s great, and the other is lovely Irish Eoin who is on his fourth season. He has the biggest smile and a beautiful accent!

These guides move from location to location over the summer season. They have to love it because it’s very full on for them. They look after all aspects of the trip including us. But on this trek they don’t do the lunch! Lucky them.

We were a little apprehensive meeting some of the others. There are 7 who went to Milos in Greece last year and got on so well they are repeating it.

Swimming attracts a certain kind of person. The love of swimming is the first thing – being relaxed and happy is another and this group looks great.

It’s a bit like a new class at school. There are the jokers, the shy, the quiet, the caring, the mothers, and encouragers but no complainers thank goodness.

Betty, our friend from our Galapagos trek let it be known I write a blog! So people are worried about how I describe them. I promise to be kind!

We had ‘instruction’ time followed by a ‘get to know you’. It’s interesting hearing a little about each person. There are some who are taking up a challenge, those who are pushing themselves after health issues, some getting away from busy jobs, reenergising after relationship problems or simply choosing a holiday involving exercise.

There are two guys from the US who are great friends, great stirrers and fabulous swimmers. They swam for College in America. Currently getting medals at Masters swimming. Enough said!

Zippy Barry and the Silver Speedo are going up keep us on our toes both in the swimming and the stirring department. Then there’s Alison – the fish; Noirin – a surfer girl from Ireland; Lesley – a swim teacher from England; New Yorkers Vanessa and George; South Africans Pam and Adrian; English Diana, Helen and Rachel; another Australian Janty – but no Germans this time!

Dinner in the village was absolutely awash with holiday makers. It had a great atmosphere – restaurants packed with tourists both local and from afar. Seafood featured on the menu. We ate well and cheaply and made our way home up hill!

Tomorrow the swims begin.

Scenes from Kas! Not bad at all.

Lovely London

The first day of any holiday is exciting. Things to discover, sights to see.

We had a good night’s sleep on the 8th floor of the Victory Services Club – off Edgeware Rd near Hyde Park Corner.

It’s a big old club, quite grand from the exterior with good sized rooms and a very good breakfast for about 150 pound – quite a bargain in expensive London.

Steve headed off early to find a laundry to wash our travel clothes and I went walking. We are staying near Connaught Place and the little village nearby had some beautiful shops and fortunately the summer flowers still remain.

After breakfast we crossed Edgeware Rd and explored Marylebone and Fitzrovia before heading toward Regent St and popping into Liberty.

This is always a must when visiting London. We found the coffee shop on level 2 and thoroughly enjoyed our $15Aus cup of coffee each!

London is looking good. It’s clean and despite the woes of Brexit and the cricket not going well, it seems happy. Lots of tourists.

At midday we made our way to Rovi.

https://ottolenghi.co.uk/rovi

Check it out.

It’s an Ottolenghi restaurant- one I’ve been keen to try.

Back in 2012 we were in London staying with friends in Islington. We went to dinner at their ‘local’ restaurant. I hadn’t heard too much about Yotam Ottolenghi then. But I loved the restaurant, the food, the atmosphere and have been a fan every since. He’s from Israel and does fresh Mediterranean style of cooking.

He now has several restaurants in London and ROVI is in Fitzrovia. It’s very stylish. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and the food is designed to be shared.

Today we were sharing with Nick and Yumi Young. We’ve known Nick since he was a little boy – he’s the son of good friends in Brisbane.  He and his lovely wife are living in London after a few years working in banking in Oman.

We started with a cocktail – for me a Rovi with Pink Gin and a few lovely ingredients. Then it was onto the shared plates. Mussels with chilli, beef carpaccio and burrata – all done well and so tasty.

Next it was a lovely Pinot to accompany a shared beef and a salmon dish. All delicious.

The afternoon slipped by until it was time to walk! And we did ….. down to Covent Garden, which was hopping. I checked out The Petersham – a superb garden shop and cafe. Beautiful things everywhere.

https://petershamnurseries.com

We wandered across the Enbankment Bridge to The Archduke and met up with swim trek friends Bill Murie, Lexie and Betty – my swim buddy from LA who is coming to Turkey with us for a week of swimming.

Here we shared some wine and lots of stories and felt pleased that our swimming adventure in Galapagos, a few years ago, has given us such wonderful friendships.

By now quite late we felt we’d had a great first day of our holiday. No time for jet lag. My advice …. Just hit the ground running. Preferably taking in a little sun!

First stop Sydney

Welcome back to my travel tales.

We’re off again!

This time London , Turkey and back to London.

But first a mini stay in Sydney as Steve has a board meeting before our flight tonight.

Last night we met up with my sister Catherine and David, nephew George and niece Helen.

Today a gorgeous ferry ride to Double Bay to visit my sister at her school, Double Bay Primary, where she works as a teacher librarian. So no lunch with her!

Then lunch with nieces Pip and Clare and little Max. We were so busy talking I forgot to take a photo.

But the ferry ride was wonderful so lots of photos. It’s a world beater ride. The views in the sunshine are breathtaking.

I haven’t been to Double Bay in years. It’s still has it’s Village feel but there are as many Beauty bars as espresso bars.

The little beach next to the ferry wharf is a beautiful place to chill.

The public Library is another place to spend time. It’s so inviting. Libraries are not dead!

I’m waiting on the ferry back to Circular Quay , meet up with Steve then out the airport. A Qatar flight to London.

So follow along for the next few weeks as we rediscover London and swim along the coastline of Turkey. Another swim trek based in Kas.

Sight & Sounds of NYC.

Finally made it to The Whitney Museum. It’s at the start of the High Line walk in West Village.

Unfortunately 3 floors were closed due to installation of the Biennial due to open on May 16. Get there if you can.

Having limited floors to cover actually allowed us to take our time and really enjoy the exhibitions.

So what we saw were 2 great exhibitions:

I love the work of Edward Hopper and Georgie O’Keeffe and they both featured in the ‘Where We Are’ Exhibition.

Leaving the Gallery we headed uptown to Mykonos Blue in 29Street. We met friends Lynn Sherr and Lois Dubin from our Galapagos swim trek two years ago.

Such great ladies who have become great friends. Both still involved in their professions – Journalism and Landscaping. Lois did the landscaping on Roosevelt Island several years ago. It’s worth a visit.

Walking down 29 street we noticed many trees and flower shops. Turn out it’s one of the main wholesale place for larger trees and planets. The hydrangeas the lillies and the orchids were fantastic. There was also every accessory imaginable for arrangements. Ribbons, vases, coloured sands. Etc etc.

NYC is great for walking if you have the stamina. It’s set out in a grid system so easy to follow and you just count how many blocks you have to walk. We decided to walk back along to the High Line. It’s like a spine running along the east side of the city for about 20 blocks. The sun was out and so were the walkers. It was crowded.

We started at the Hudson Yards. It’s newly finished with it’s new sculpture feature. The Vessel.

It an amazing honeycomb type gold copper type material. It has steps going up and down like a maze. It reflects what is going on around it.

We didn’t climb it. 2.500 steps if completed it. That would be too many! So we viewed it from the new shopping centre. It’s all shiny and filled with big brand names.

We enjoyed the walk in the sunshine and couldn’t help but comment on the building projects and street works going on.

We are staying right near Chelsea Market so got off there and explored the markets. Lots of great eating places and great little shops. It’s an interesting area to stay if you’re wondering where to base yourself in NY. It adjoins West Village another terrific area to stay. If you watched the TV series Friends then this is where the apartment is set. And Magnolia Bakery is here. It’s smells delicious!

In the evening we made our way to Time Square. We all had tickets for the The Temptations. We collected the tickets and had a drink nearby. We got back to the theatre and found like all the theatres here, there is no real foyer area so the line forms outside on the footpath. Somehow everyone gets into their seat on time.

We had great seats in the balcony but so close there was no room for legs!

The show told the story of how the Temptations formed with all their ups and downs. There were something like 42 guys making up the Temptations over a 25 year period!

Interval came and we decided on a quick trip to the restroom and boy did we get a laugh out of that. The queue went zig zagging up and down stairs with at least 100 in it.

Elizabeth and I decided we were chatting anyone so we’d try our luck. The lady who we christened the ‘toilet monitor ‘ was directing with all the energy and authority of a NY Police officer. Perhaps more because you wouldn’t want to cross her!

Sure enough they managed to get everyone through when the bells rang. Perhaps it works the other way round. They don’t ring the bell to return to your seat until all the ladies have been through the restroom!

The night finished with us all dancing and singing all the way home.

Staten Island, Brooklyn and the East River

You need to plan your days in NY. There are so many things to do and see.

Today we made our way down to Battery Park. The Lady Liberty looks small from the park so we decided to get the infamous Staten Island ferry for a closer look.

If you are wanting to take this ferry you’re in luck. It’s free! And it only takes 30 minutes over and 30 back. You have to get off the ferry at Staten Is and then re board it. It’s a good way to rest the feet!

We arrived back and walked along Water Street then Fulton’s Wharf area towards the Brooklyn Bridge. there’s some great street art.

We walked through Dumbo and stopped at the little beach near the children’s playground . It’s an oasis.

Wandering around this area is always interesting but we thought seeing it from the river would add a new perspective.

The East River commuter ferry came along so we jumped on and continued up the river towards Williamsburg.

We had 5 stops before getting off just near the United Nations at 34th St.

And then we walked. Through mid town and across town past Union Square and into Chelsea. We only just made it ready to go out for dinner!

Jordan has booked Buddakan. https://buddakannyc.com

If you’ve watched Sex and the City, it’s the restaurant that Carries and Big celebrate their engagement.

We had a beautiful dinner. It’s Asian fusion style and our group of 6 had the $75 pp banquet. It was delicious.

It’s big and showy and very dark!

There’s a big stairs where you can make a dramatic entrance- and hopefully not fall down it and really make an impact.

Elizabeth & Peter McGregor and Pippa

Three of the desserts!

A little Shopping and Sights to Behold!

As were were close to some shopping (how can you not be in NY?) we thought it was a good chance to do some whilst checking out of one hotel and into the next.

So off we went. Headed for Macy’s as they have a huge selection and always discounted. Steve has a thing for shopping. He does it maybe once a year and just goes crazy! I don’t. I tend to take too long and feel I’m wasting time.

So we separated and decided to meet up back at the hotel.

I walked to the New York Public Library. I’ve been to NY several times but never to the Library.

It’s magnificent.

The inside is massive and marble and so welcoming. Take a peek.

The reading room has gold lights where Boston had green.

Spring is finally coming to NYC! And the plantings are everywhere.

We met up and moved to our new hotel in the Meatpacking area. The Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel. It’s great. Just near Chelsea Markets and the High Line walk.

We have a great room overlooking 14th Street. It’s a pretty trendy place! And they upgraded our room as I said how disappointed Steve was to hear the pool was closed for maintenance.

We got settled and waited for our friends to arrive. Elizabeth and Peter McGregor from waterpolo days are here with two other couples staying in an apartment a block away.

We met for a drink on our rooftop and then we made our way down Bleeker St for dinner with Rob & Jordan. We were joining in their traditional “West Village Wednesday” dinner. They eat somewhere new every Wednesday!

Tonight it was Loring Place.

https://www.loringplacenyc.com

The food was great , particularly in the small plates section. Gorgeous asparagus, charred spiced cauliflower, ricotta with greens. So many lovely veggie dishes.

It was so good for Rob to meet up with his waterpolo mate Sam’s parents again. He shared a flat with Sam back in Sydney Uni playing days and played together for about ten years all over the world.