Sometimes travel is the chance to explore a new culture, to get active, try something new and push your limits.
Sometimes though, a girl just needs a break and I was in desperate need of a relaxing trip. For me, the idea of staying in a resort makes me mentally retch, so, I decided to head to Turkey’s Turquoise Coast and take a 4 day gulet cruise.
What’s a gulet, you ask? Why would you ever want to ride one? Here’s the lowdown:
- Gulets are traditional Turkish sailing boats but my boat, and the majority of the vessels that sail the “Blue Cruise” route, are now motor powered.
- The “Blue Cruise” goes between the towns of Fethiye and Olympos on Turkey’s south coast – although you don’t get on or off at Olympos, but a port about a 90min bus ride away. I caught an overnight coach down to Fethiye from the bus station (“Otogar”) in Istanbul for 75TL, arriving the next morning in time to have a day wandering around the town, and a night in an actual bed, before embarking the following day.
- You can buy tickets through many outlets on the ground or in advance from home like me; V-Go is the biggest operator and if you book with companies like Intrepid or Busabout you’ll be on V-Go boats.
- Most people sleep on deck at night – on cloudless nights the sky is clear enough to watch the milky way and shooting stars, and cabins downstairs can get stuffy and close. Especially if you’re traveling solo and haven’t paid a single supplement. They don’t mix genders within cabins, but if I would’ve slept in mine I would’ve been sharing a double bunk with a stranger. I preferred the stars!
- You can’t bring booze aboard, but you can buy it (and soft drinks) on board ship. You keep a tally of what you’ve drunk, so be honest and make sure you have enough cash to cover your tab!
- It’s useful to take a couple of towels with you – one for sunbathing on and one for drying off with. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to jump in and swim/snorkel, and you’re discouraged from lying out on the sun-mattresses wet since people sleep there too. If you just take one towel, make sure it’s a microfiber, quick-drying one!
- Don’t flush toilet paper, put it in the bins. The result of turbulence at sea and a blocked sewage system is NOT worth contemplating!
- Activities along the way aren’t included, so take cash when you go ashore. The view from the fort is worth it, Butterfly Valley (off-season at least) really isn’t.
- The Fethiye/Olympos route has a night at the “Disco Island” Smuggler’s Inn – a speedboat comes round different boats to pick up anyone up for some partying and takes you to an island bar. My crucial top tip here is to make sure you know the name of your boat so you can get home no matter how hard you party.
- You’ll get fed three square meals a day, plus afternoon tea. If you’re a snacker, make sure you bring supplies to keep you going between meals!
All in all, a gulet cruise is a great way to relax, unwind, and see some incredible sights along Turkey’s coast. What about you?
Have you ever taken a gulet cruise?