The next morning we had our breakfast and got packed up to go to the Alaturka office where an Australian named Rebecca had helped us earlier getting all our plans sorted for the next week. When we arrived, of course we were the first ones and sat waiting for others to arrive on time.
In came a family and about 10 kids and I immediately thought, oh no, what have we gotten ourselves in for? Luckily, they were on another boat and not ours.
Eventually, others started to trickle in and it seemed like an interesting mix of people.
We bought snacks and food to have in case the food wasn’t enough and I am thankful we did. A vegetarian breakfast and lunch with meat for dinner did not fill me up with energy. I honestly don’t know how vegans or vegetarians are able to derive enough energy from leaves.
Anyhow, we were shown aboard and got situated in our gulet, an old turkish wooden ship with sails. It reminded me of the goonies ship that they sailed, yet ours was engine powered and much much smaller.
Our room was cute. It was with two twin beds, a working hot shower and toilet with bidet! It was plenty of space though tight. They said we would be sleeping outside anyways so we wouldn’t be in our rooms much because of the heat.
As we set sail, everyone started introducing one another, and it was a great mix of people of all ages, countries, and professions/life stories. The fun thing is how we all quickly connected through this fun adventure through the southern coast of turkey together.
The blues of the water gave new meaning to turquoise, royal blue, and aquamarine. I’ve seen a lot o oceans, seas, and bodies of water that have various colors, but these waters rivaled those of the Great Barrier Reef, yet had such different terrain surrounding. You could look in the water and see straight down to the bottom of the ocean floor, no matter how deep. It was really amazing scenery.
Making friends on the boat was easy, and of course, travelers tend to click with one another quite easily. There were people from Australia, Canada, US, Turkey, England, Scotland (living in Spain), all together doing various activities and enjoying each other’s company. We would stop at various inlets and swim for a while, playing with the floats, jumping off the boat into the fresh cold water, and chat at our heart’s content laughing, joking, and living. These moments are those that I cherish with other travelers, those moments where you can’t keep track of time because you’re engaged in a camaraderie that feels like nothing can break the bond. We quickly formed this bond, and it lasted our entire trip and even after the boat ride with dinners and random meetups. I’m confident I will see most everyone again in some part of the world, and hopefully several in Austin :)
Our first night, most everyone slept out on deck, but I wanted a good rest so I went into the cabin and slept like a baby until hearing the breakfast bell the next morning. The rocking and engine noises of the boat kept me soundly asleep which is incredible, because usually I am such a light sleeper, any noise would keep me awake.
As we approached the blue lagoon, an offer came aboard for us to paraglide off one of the highest mountains, over 1900 meters tall, you would be running off the 1800m runway. As we watched tons of paragliders dot the sky like ice cream sprinkles covering a cone, Robert and I decided we would take the plunge and go for a ride of our lives.
We were taken off the boat while they were anchored, and sped us to the beach where we got into an unmarked van full of strangers. Against all rules of the book :) As we were slinging from side to side climbing up this huge mountain on treacherous roads with no guardrails, we were told to pick a card, any card. I picked the Ace of Hearts, and happened to be sitting next to my pilot for the jump. He didn’t say much, but I did find out he had been flying since 1998 and his schedule is 7 days a week, 5 times a day, 4 months a year. This made me feel pretty confident in his abilities to land me safely back to the ground.
We finally made it to the top after about a 40 minute drive, and quickly were strapped up with a backpack that our pilots then attached to us. We weren’t really told anything, and before I knew it, the Chinese girl had already run off the mountain with her pilot, and I was thinking, wait, are you going to give me a countdown or something? We continued to wait which was starting to make me nervous, and as I turned to Robert to see how he was feeling, he looked very relaxed (maybe just comatose looking at the mountain runway to nothing below). We were apparently waiting for wind to pick up, and suddenly, the other paragliders got back into the van and drove off to a lower landing. That made me more nervous, but my pilot said wind would pick up soon.
Before I knew it, Robert was running with his pilot and they were off. I was the last one left behind, and my heart was pumping. Then he said run run run run! And my camera turned on, and watching the playback now, it’s hilarious as it shows my little feet trying to run without traction until we are finally airborne. Catching wind and lifting off is exhilarating and while I was really uncomfortable with feeling insecure of where to put my hands and how to hold on, etc, as soon as we were flying I began to relax. I was watching Robert’s pilot and suddenly, his glider started spiraling down. We then basically followed along for the next several minutes. The pilot then got out the GoPro camera and started taking pictures and video, and I’m so glad I got them as they really turned out incredible.
While filming, he started a spiral himself that put such gforce upon me from us falling that I was almost breathless from the pressure. It was like a rollercoaster, one that I didn’t need to ride again, but was fun nonetheless. I really enjoyed the peaceful calm of floating back down with the incredible blue waters and onlookers that looked like tiny ants crawling around on the white sands below.
After a good half hour of our descent back to earth, I was given instruction number 2. When I say stand up, stand up. As we coasted back to the beach, I was looking for a place to land, and they were landing literally anywhere they fell. People walking on the promenade were watching us come in for landing, and my pilot was skillfully aiming for a clear spot on the beach. I then heard him yell stand up stand up and my feet touched the ground with no pressure whatsoever. It was amazing–I watched the paraglider behind me, and as they land, they landed on top of a trashcan making my pilot laugh saying he wasn’t as experience. I’m really glad I drew the Ace of Hearts.
We then landed in KaÅŸ where we had lunch off the boat (because I needed to have some meat), and walked around this quaint town. We enjoyed the scenery, took some pics and were back on the boat within a couple of hours.
Getting back on the boat, we recounted our story of the float down and looked at our photos and video to share with everyone. That evening,Â I wanted to learn Backgammon, and the Turkish guy on board taught me. It was an interesting game that I think I may start playing if given the chance.
Each night we danced on board with great music, and this night especially, we all jumped in at the end of the night, again enjoying everyone’s company.
The cruise was definitely a highlight and when it was over, we were sad to leave everyone and we all connected on Facebook so we could post pics and be in touch afterwards. Traveling with facebook is definitely different than I traveled as a student years ago, and it’s great that you can now keep in touch with all these people around the world so easily. Afterall, you never know when paths can easily cross again.