This September I boarded a beautiful Turkish gulet, the Muhtesem A, for a week of heaven in the Mediterranean. For someone who’s pretty well travelled, I’ve discovered the beauty of Greece and Turkey late in my travelling life so I’m soaking up every moment of these wonderful countries – trying to make up for lost time, I guess. And there’s no better way to do it than on this ultimate get-away-from-it-all voyage.
My Mediterranean Delights Fitness Voyage (MDFV) took us from Rhodes in Greece to Marmaris in Turkey (more of the actual route in a later post). From the instant I stepped onboard in a very rainy Rhodes (my flight had been delayed for a tedious 17 hours) I felt like I had come home. My heart leapt with happiness as I discarded my shoes (no shoes to be worn onboard at any time) and was shown to my lovely cabin.
I mean seriously lovely…a huge double bed, plenty of cupboard space to unpack into (always a good thing) and a spacious bathroom with large shower. And three portholes. Actual portholes that I could leave open to let in that Mediterranean sea air. The bed was amazingly comfortable and combined with the boat’s gentle motion led to lots of restful sleep.
The MDFV voyages offer a combination of fitness with yoga, hiking and swimming, healthy (and delicious) eating, cruising to fabulous places and a chance to absorb local culture.
Days unfolded at a leisurely pace and I very quickly grew into my new life. For pre-breakfast (yes, I know, pre-breakfast) I soon developed a voracious appetite for Turkish tea with Turkish honey, sipped while looking out over shades of blue. The perfect way to wake up.
Then it was time for yoga. I’m always up for a bit of fitness, love walking and swimming and haul myself off to the gym fairly regularly. Yoga…not so sure. I did try it once many years back (I think I was 17) and remember the instructor laughing at my beginner’s efforts. Let’s just say it didn’t encourage me to keep going, although I was open to try again now this opportunity had presented itself.
Our yoga instructor Jen hailed from LA – Santa Monica to be exact – the perfect California Girl. And she didn’t laugh at me but offered encouragement and easier options when the going got tough. I miss those yoga sessions, I could feel the good they were doing me even after a week, I feel more yoga in my future life.
Itineraries varied, depending on our destination, with a mix of exploration, hiking, swimming or snorkelling and even a bit of shopping – plenty of time to soak up the local culture. All led with style by our knowledgable Tour Director Ali Yalcin.
Meals were all served on board. Captain Aytekin Karayigit is also in charge of the menu, and ably assisted by the lovely Ayla, produced healthy, tasty cuisine all using fresh local ingredients. For breakfast, plates of fresh cucumber and tomato, cheese, eggs, cereal and bowls of olives. Bowls of olives with everything, don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many olives consumed!
Lunch was a wide range of vegetarian dishes – salads, peppers, beans, courgettes, aubergines, spinach, amazing potatoes and rice dishes, yogurt in many forms, traditional pastries. A table of delights every time, showcasing the wonderful flavours of Greece and Turkey.
More local specialities for dinner, often with the addition of a meaty plate, including the best meatballs, fabulous chicken pieces and kebabs. And the best thing ever – whenever we sailed the crew threw lines overboard and usually caught quite a lot of fish (often mackerel). And that would be our dinner – barbecued upfront on a little barbecue cleverly bolted onto the front of the boat. Fish doesn’t get fresher than this and boy could you taste it.
It sounds like we ate a lot, and I guess we did but I felt the healthiness of it all – no worries with getting your five-a-day here, and it felt like a pleasure rather than a chore.
Okay, back to the boat and my favourite place on it. Up the steps to the top for the upper deck. Covered with plenty of plump mattresses it made the perfect sunbathing chill-out spot and as I soon discovered, sleeping spot, too. When I could tear myself away from the comfort of my cabin, up the steps I went armed with my pillow and the huge fluffly blanket supplied which I wrapped myself up in for the perfect night under the stars. The ultimate in peaceful sleep, with an awakening by the sunrise and the gentle sound of goats bleating on shore.
Journeys don’t get better than this. From the wonderful boat and its many comforts, to the joy of jumping into the balmy, azure sea daily (at least) for a swim and snorkel, to exploring out-of-the-way places and picturesque towns, to the simple tranquility of it all and yes, the yoga, too. And the crew – knowledgable, friendly, fun – making for one of the loveliest holidays of my life. My love affair with Greece and Turkey continues.
You can find out all about next year’s Mediterranean Delights Fitness Voyages by clicking here.
Next time I’ll tell you all about the places we visited. Like magnificent, dreamlike Symi. Watch this space.