Saturday, January 10, 2009

Winter in Finike, Strawberries and Snow

Finike from above

The blog update is a little overdue, as we were waiting for a rainy day. Well today it has rained, so there are no more excuses. Finike is surrounded by mountains, and today the tops are dusted with the first snow of winter. Heres some pics of a mountain walk before the snow ( no we didn't actually walk to the top!)

It is very strange to see snow, as at the weekly market we are now buying fresh strawberries, tomatoes and bananas, all locally grown, cheap, tasty and plentiful (2€/kg of strawberries). The market is a foody heaven, the streets crammed with fruit and veg, spice stalls, nuts and dried fruits, loose tobacco at a fraction of the cost of packaged stuff, smelly cheeses are sold in goat skins, sweetcorn cooked on little hotplates and nuts roasted in huge ovens. The trout man brings a whole tank of farmed fish to the market, and for just under £2 we can buy two flapping fish, which he scoops out of the tank, donks on the head with a hammer and makes them oven ready for us, while the local cats look on hopefully waiting for scraps.

The 'trout man' with hopeful moggy below the tank

The cost of living is incredibly low here, and we are very grateful that we chose to winter in Finike, and particularly not in Greece or elsewhere in the Eurozone, while the British pound dives deeper and deeper. In Turkey marina prices, tools and chandlery are priced in Euros, so we can't quite escape the problem, but at least our money goes a long way when buying anything locally produced.

Alcohol is heavily taxed by the islamic government, so our bad habits are substantially curbed. We're very pleased that our stocks from Greece are still lasting well on board.

The marina has an interesting mix of cruisers from the UK and Germany, with a few Russians. Many have cruised east like us, but just as many have come up from the Red Sea, almost at the end of their circumnavigations. It is great to sit and listen to their stories and adventures from all over the globe. One lady who lives on her yacht on her own is nearly 80. She has not long arrived in Turkey after spending some years in Indonesia and Thailand. She runs the keep fit at 8am every morning !!! Pete, in his early 70's, organises the mountain walks. So we are in good hands!

The marina built a new clubhouse this year, called The Porthole. Every day there is something organised by us cruisers for our entertainment - film evenings, quiz nights, games evenings, pot luck suppers, Pilates sessions, art classes and Turkish lessons, and diesel engine maintenance lessons. Stu and I were in charge of outdoor sports so we have acquired and set up the table tennis, badminton, volleyball and a game called 4-square ( a little like volleyball the other way up) and so we are doing our best to keep everyone fit and active. After last year in Italy, it is great to have a central meeting point for all to meet up and share the fun, in between the necessary boat jobs.

Christmas fun at the Porthole, can you guess who the blonde ugly sister is?

Cinderella is on the right. Isn't she lovely? Oh no she isn't!

At the moment we have cleared the forecabin and are completely stripping and revarnishing it, to make it a bit more clean and homely for guests. We're so busy we don't know how we found time to go to work.

Arykanda baths complex and theatre

This Turkish coast and mountains is peppered with ancient Lycian sites, many within easy reach by bus. Arykanda is a site in some ways comparable to Delphi in Greece, with an exceptionally well preserved theatre, stadium and remains of shopping arcade and baths with huge bay windows, overlooking the peaceful views of a wooded valley. The bus was an experience by itself. At the bus station, once the 'controller' has established where we want to go, he shepherds us onto a bus, carefully arranging the men, women and young people so that no men are sitting next to women who they are not married to. It's as much a reflection of this tradional society as their religion. After that, we were all encouraged onto the bus until not one person could move an arm or toe, or breathe in. Not for nothing are these little buses called 'dolmus' which literally means 'stuffed'.

On 6th December we visited nearby Demre, the birthplace of St Nicholas, the original Father Christmas or Baba Noel. I'm afraid to say his tomb is there too, so he won't be visiting any chimneys this Christmas. St Nick is also the patron saint of Russia and mariners. There is a saying in the Eastern Meditteranean countries to those departing on a sea voyage ....'May St Nicholas hold the tiller'.

The 3 faces of St Nick, the 3rdC benevolent bishop, the orthodox saint, and commercial Santa.

The church where Nicholas the Bishop sat on his 'throne'

St Nick was born in the late 3rd century AD and was later appointed bishop of Myra (Demre) when Turkey was part of the Holy Roman Empire.
Amongst other good deeds of charity, he is credited with throwing three purses of gold into the house of three poverty stricken daughters left without a dowry. This enabled them to find husbands instead of selling themselves into prostitution.
The saints feast day is 6th December, and many countries, for example The Netherlands where his other name Santa Claus comes from, celebrate this date instead of 25th. It is also celebrated by Russians, as St Nick is an important figure in the Russian Orthodox church, hence the strange blend of cultures pictured here:

The nearby ancient city of Myra is host to splendid rock tombs and a huge theatre, with well preserved theatrical stone masks which adorned the entrances to the theatre.

At Christmas we are visiting Kate and Davy at Marmaris for a very authentic Christmas meal of Indian curry takeaway! After that, Stu returns to Finike, and Steph gets to visit chilly Blighty to visit family and stock up with all sorts of supplies that have been hard to find in the last year.