A gulet is, by definition, a large traditional Turkish wooden sailing vessel, made with 2-3 masts that sails the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Our boat was the lovely Casa dell’Arte, which is also the name of one of Brandy’s villas with Tuscan Travel Group – so it seemed serendipitous as soon as we saw the name. We arrived at Bodrum Bay, located along the Western coast of Turkey. Having never been to Greece, we imagined this is what Greek coastal towns look and feel like. Whitewashed, lively, a perfect 75 degrees and a warm breeze tapping the sails of all the gulets in the marina. We really had no idea what to expect for this portion of the journey. We knew a gulet was a sailboat, but I think we all had visions of hoisting our own masts, fishing for dinner and sleeping in confined bunk bed type rooms while be tossed around uncomfortably. Not the case here. The boats are huge (ours was about 100 feet long), beautiful and magnificent in size and stature.
Bodrum has been likened to the Italian Riviera or Greece Isle towns, but seemingly on a much more intimate scale. The town of Bodrum is made up of mostly shops and restaurants that cater to tourists and residents of Istanbul who summer here to get out of the city heat. The main marina hosts a number of gulets, with a number of power boats and yachts. We were there in October, so we did not see it in the midst of the mayhem and summer glory, but we were told Bodrum comes alive during the summer season.
We set sail around 5:00 pm, so we could arrive and drop anchor at our first cove by sunset. It was a magnificent sunset. The sky went from yellow to orange and a burst of rich red just before the sun plunged into the sea. We took more photos than we needed to, but it’s one of those moments you want to try to hold on to and catch every moment of the sun’s departure. As the sun finally set, we turned around to watch the moon rise over the horizon to light a perfect yellowy path for Brayden and Brooke to take out the kayak for a moonlit paddle. The water was black as night, but the moon was full and beaming in the sky like a flashlight lighting the path for the kids. They were in heaven. They giggled the entire time paddling around the boat, and yelped when the water splashed up on them.
Since you don’t dock your gulet into a marina or harbor at night, you simply throw in the anchor from the bow of the boat and tie the stern of the boat to a fixed point with heavy roping. This keeps the sailboat steady through the night winds and wave currents. We had an incredible fish dinner with traditional sides of aubergine (eggplant…a side or main for just about every Turkish meal), olives, cheese, sweet tomatoes and delicious, homemade breads. We learned later that our chef is normally the chef at the hotel Casa dell’Arte in Bodrum, so the food was fantastic. We headed off to bed shortly after dinner feeling peaceful and relaxed and were sent to sleep with the sound of gentle waves lapping against the boat.
The next morning was not quite as peaceful…we knew we were pulling out around 6:15 AM to head to the next bay, while the seas were calm, but we did not fully realize just how close the automated anchor was to our heads. It’s similar to someone coming into your bedroom in the early hours of the morning with a jackhammer and starting their work as close to your head as possible. That was an interesting start to the day, but that was the only downside to the entire journey. Brad went upstairs to catch the sunrise in the coolness of the morning air. Spectacular!
One of the best parts of our time on the gulet was the dedicated world-school time. So far, through our travels, it has been challenging to find enough time in the day for Brayden and Brooke to both have their study time with Ryan since we are out with full days learning, exploring, seeing mosques, museums, historical sites and experiences we’ll never forget – so it’s hard to find several uninterrupted hours of focused study per day (we cram it in on flights, boats, cars, lunches, dinners, even walks – and Ryan has been amazingly responsive and adaptable to educate whenever and wherever). Our study time on the boat was uninterrupted, peaceful and productive. We’ve been reflecting on all the places the kids and Ryan have had their world classrooms and this one is near the top, for certain.
Our time on the boat moves between anchored playtime, where we launch the kayak, grab our goggles and fins, and try our best flips off the back of the boat. Brayden kayaked his way around one of our first stops for about an hour or so. Brad got his exercise swimming laps around the boat and ending with a ceremonious float blessing the heavens above for this sensational adventure. Brooke paddled to the nearby beach where she awaited Pappa for her favorite pastime of being lunged into the air before splashing on top of the crystal blue water. My personal favorite moment was when Brooke swam back to Brad and said, “Pappa, would it be ok if we just hug for a minute before you throw me again…I’m tired?” She loves to play, but also loves to express her love at the most magical and surprising moments. We, of course, took a few moments to shoot one of our lacrosse videos (brayden flip!), which came out incredible. Check it out at http://strohworld.wpengine.com/lacrosse-world/.
We spent these four gorgeous and serene days blissfully relaxing, recharging and reflecting on this adventure we are on. We are embracing every moment we can on this lifetime journey. We feel exhausted and drained at the end of most days, but times like these days aboard the gulet give us the re-boot we need to prepare for our next adventure, which will be to Amman, Jordan.