31 May 2010

Kaş in Turkey

For the leg from Cyprus to Turkey we need 36 hours (2 days and 1 night) and from far at sea we can see the high mountains that form the south coast of Turkey. In Kaş we find again a very busy fishing harbour where they really need the new marina under construction to be opened next year. Every day is a coming an going of 'gülets', beautiful wooden sail/motorboats that charter along the coast with groups of 8-10 passengers for a few days. There is hardly any space for 'normal' yachts to anchor, but we are lucky and the harbourmaster helps us to moor 'Alexandra' on the quay 'mediterranean style' (drop your anchor in the middle of the harbour and come slowly backwards to have two mooring lines from the back of the boat to the quay). We can use our aluminium gangway again after so many years and that is an easy way to come from the boat to the shore.

Kaş is an charming little town with squares, crowded streets and a lot of shops and restaurants. In the evening you hear live music and it is easy to come into the Turkish atmosphere. Very close to town is an old amphitheatre in very good condition and it happens that on one of the nights there is a musical performance. Unfortunately in Turkish, so we can't completely follow the story, but the songs and costumes are good and interesting. Looking over the stage we can see the sea and the stars that are getting more bright into the night. A beautiful experience.

Slideshow Kaş

25 May 2010

Cyprus

The first stop in de Mediterranean is the small town of Paphos on the westside of the island of Cyprus. We just fit in the small fishing harbour and we are surprised by the amount of tourists that daily come to have a look at the boats. After all it's not too bad to sit down on one of the terraces and enjoy the fresh seafood and the colourful views. And whatever souvenir you want to take back home, you definitively can make a choice in one of the many shops along the quay. We also discover a lot of history in Paphos: the fortress in the harbour itself and the archeological site where they've found the ruins of the houses of some rich Cypriot's from about 2000 years ago. Specially the floors are reasonably well preserved and show colourful mosaics of both fantasy patterns as of pictures from the Greek mythology.

Slideshow Cyprus

16 May 2010

Suez Canal

The last miles before the Suez Canal we sail along the impressive hills of the Sinai peninsula. Near the coast there are many oil platforms and oil-rigs with activity of tugs and tankers. In Suez we enter the anchorage for yachts to do paperwork (and payment) for the passage through the Canal. We get a 'pilot' on board and the first part of the passage is a bit disappointing for us: we sail along erected sand dunes where we see every few km's pontoon bridges on the shore ready to launch in case of war to transport men and material to the Sinai side. At the end of the first day we reach the 'marina' of Ismailia, an obligatory stop-over for the yachts. Ismailia turns out to be a nice place and we stay a few days to visit Cairo and the pyramids of Giza.

The second part of the passage offers more variation on the shore. Our 'pilot' tells us there are seven checkpoints of the Canal authorities where they have to report to during the trip. And again we see lots of military observation posts. But also some small towns and several ferryboats to carry people and cars to the other side of the Canal. Most impressive are the big container ships and tankers that either come towards us or overtake us. The Suez Canal is too small for the big ships to pass each other, so there is a strict scheme for the ocean-going trade to leave in convoys. The north- and southbound convoys daily pass each other on the Great Bitter Lake or via a side channel.

Port Said at the end of the Canal is a big and busy city where many boats are moored and tugs and ferryboats speed through the harbour. Once away from the bustle and the shipping lanes the Red Sea and Egypt are behind us and under sail again we see the sun set into the Mediterranean.

Slideshow Suez

14 May 2010

Cairo and the pyramids of Giza

We leave the boat in the marina of Ismailia, halfway the Suez Canal, and it is a bright sunny morning when we see the three pyramids of Giza (being in a suburb of Cairo). They are huge triangular buildings that stand already there for over 4000 years. They serve both as a tomb and a memorial for the pharaohs that had them build. Over the years still thousands of tourists show up daily to get impressed and admire the pyramids. Most make a ride on a camel around them. Great and intriguing is also the sphinx, a more than life size statue of a man's head (or is it a female head?) on a lion's body. They suspect it is the head of the then ruling pharaoh and the lion symbolises the extra-human powers. Still very mysterious.

The Egyptian museum in Cairo was founded in 1835 to prevent the robbery and export of the finds of the archeological sites, to bring an order into the valuables and to exhibit them to he public. There is so much to be seen now as you walk among mummy's, jewelry, sarcophaguses, eating bowls and all other trinkets that have been found in the pyramids and graves. All is reasonably well ordered by time period in different rooms. Highlights are still the richness's found in the tomb of Toetanchamom, esp. his pure golden death mask. Inside the museum we are not allowed to make pictures but the outside is interesting enough to give you an impression.

Slideshow Cairo

6 May 2010

Luxor on the Nile

From Port Ghalib we make a land trip to Luxor on the Nile, the old Thebe where the rich pharaoh's have held their court for a long time and have built enormous and luxurious temples. On the east bank of the Nile we find the extraordinary temple complex of Karnak with sanctuaries, kiosks, pylons and obelisks dedicated to the Thebean gods and the greater glory of the pharaohs. A confusing but interesting and impressive experience. Luxor temple is in the heart of the modern town itself, a graceful monument with impressive statues and relief's on the walls. In the evening we return to Karnak for a sound and light show about the history of Thebe.

The river Nile still is very important for Egypt and the Egyptians as a means of goods traffic by water, irrigation of land to grow food and to carry the tourists to the historic places. Many cruise ships are moored in three rows along the quays and also small Nile barges with triangle, latin rig, sail are waiting daily for their passengers. While all the bustling life is taking place on the east bank, the pharaohs also made their extensive preparations for a pleasant after life, and they understand this should be on the west bank, the place where the sun is going down and where they can expect a next life. In the then uncultivated area they had made hidden underground well decorated corridors and chambers with food and richness's, and their tombs. Many graves have been found and restored as in the 'Valley of the Kings'.

At the foot of dramatic rugged limestone cliffs that rise nearly 300 m above the desert plain lies the temple of Queen Hatshepsut that blends in beautifully with the cliffs from which it is partially cut. Nice views from there over the Nile valley, the only 5% of the land of Egypt that can be used to grow food. There we see green plants and light coloured farmhouses with people working on the land. The papyrus plant that also grows along the Nile is the basis for making rough sheets of paper. The alabast is another treasure of nature from which craftsmen make fine vases and plates.

Slideshow Luxor

4 May 2010

Port Ghalib marina complex

The first real harbour along the coast of Egypt is Port Ghalib. This is a very modern and new complex with apartments, hotels, big palm trees, restaurants, a 'souks' with souvenir shops and a marina under construction. The first super yachts are anchored already (Mediterranean style, stern to), most of them owned and operated by dive companies with all-in dive tours. After Malaysia this is the first time we have ample fresh water, so we clean Alexandra thoroughly and flush all the sand and dust away (for as long as it lasts).

We have a pleasant stay here and frequent and interesting meetings with the other yachties. We also get to know Diny and Peter van Eijk from the Netherlands, who enjoy a holiday here to meet their son and his friend on the Dutch yacht 'Pegasus' who are sailing a special trip around the world. They don't succeed to catch up together because of too strong northerlies against 'Pegasus'.
More info about their adventures on www.thegreenmiles.nl

Slideshow PortGhalib