How I Came Aboard A Turkish Boat For 8 Days
My blog had brought me many great things, but this must be the biggest one yet.
Sometime in May I received a short email. Inside is an invitation to join a Fitness Voyage in the Mediterrranean. Now I receive dozens of emails per day, and at least a dozen email every day just from PR and Media people who contact me in relation to this travel blog and my book blog, but really most want me to do something for them rather than offer something. (I’m not sure how that ever worked for them, but okay.) So I do skim emails a lot, some go straight to the bin. For some reason this one caught my attention. The email was a paragraph short with a single link to MDFVoyage.com.
In the weeks that followed I exchanged a lot of emails back and forth with Cynthia/Cyndi, the founder of the company, and Ali, his partner. I asked many questions and Cynthia kindly responded to all my emails. I don’t know about you, but if someone just contacted you out of the blue about an invitation for a week-long sea voyage, with no ties (I can share my experiences however I see fit) and all expenses paid (for Mee AND guest), I’d think that one could get a bit skeptical, wouldn’t you? Is there a kind of scam that promises you such wonderful trip and then kidnap you on a boat, I wondered?
Apparently our situation was a bit unusual (for them). My passport allows me to go anywhere in Europe anytime, but my Mr Mee needs a Schengen visa to go from the UK to mainland Europe — the fact that we still can’t get over until now. So my correspondences with Cynthia and Ali went further than most people that they’ve dealt with – who are mostly Europeans and Americans, as the visa people require tons of documents, to the point that I had to request for their copies of passports and boat license. They both were very committed thankfully, and Mr Mee got his visa ONE DAY before our flight to Rhodes.
We both had never been on a sea voyage. The longest I had stayed on a boat was one night back in Halong Bay many years ago and one night in Gibraltar. In fact, Mr Mee didn’t realize that we’re going to stay on a boat until the last minute. The conversation went like:
Mr: We’re going to stay on a boat?
Mee: Yeah. You didn’t know we’re going to stay on a boat? I told you we’re going to stay on a boat. (By this point everything has been paid for: tickets, visa)
Mr: No I didn’t know.
Mee: So you just said yes to all without knowing what it’s about?
Mr: Pretty much.
Mee: … (lost for words) …
(sipping my tea)
I wonder if we’re gonna be sea-sick staying on a boat that long.
Bless him for trusting it all to me. With the tickets to Rhodes, Greece and return flight from Marmaris, Turkey (Dalaman airport), I reckoned the worst scenario is for us to stay in those 2 places for a week. (You can take ferry between Rhodes and Marmaris – 90 minutes one way)
Before we flew out, we received this lovely booklets in the post, each printed with our individual name, containing the itinerary and travel tips. I thought it was a very nice touch to make people feel special. I did :)
I was so unsure that we’d be able to get the visa on time and that everything would go nice and smooth that I hardly told anyone about this trip. I mean really, the last time I told everyone we’d go to Eastern Europe, we went to Morocco instead.
I told a couple of friends: “Cross fingers we won’t get kidnapped by Turkish pirates.” I completely did not know what to expect. But it ended to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I can’t be happier that I didn’t miss that email, that I grabbed the opportunity when it presented itself, and that with a bit of trust we jumped into the unknown.
I didn’t meet Cynthia, who didn’t go with my particular voyage (the company runs a few voyages in June and September), but I finally met Ali, who is such a lovely person. In fact, the whole crew of six people were so lovely and huggable-bear-like. I was so touched with their attentiveness and politeness and their joy of working on the boat. In the last couple of days before and after the trip, we kept thinking about how much we would miss the crew, and whether we would ever see them again.
After traveling for quite a bit, I discovered that you do find certain people or certain culture to click more with you more than the others, and we found once again that Turkish people are definitely somewhere on the top for us. I have written a few posts about our travel in Turkey in early 2014. We loved the people then, we love the people now. I have no doubt that I will go back to Turkey again and again in the future. It was a bit odd to see Turkey again so soon after our last travel, as this boat trip was totally unplanned, but we were delighted to see all the things that are familiar to us.
Now to find people that will get me to explore Eastern Turkey… :)
In the next post I will write more about the details of the route and the boat. Any questions just throw them in the comment!