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TURKISH DELIGHT

Turkish Delight is a wonderful chewy, stick to your teeth confection that is sold everywhere in Turkey–think “gummie bears” and you’ll get the picture.  It is somewhat addictive, and may account for Kent needing to see a dentist when we return to Bodrum.  However, we are discovering that there are many “Turkish Delights” to savor, and some are calorie free.

How sweet is sunset over Castle Island!

A sweet sunset over Castle Island!

Castle Island and its near neighbor, Snake Island are about 38 NM east of Bodrum near the eastern end of the Gokova Gulf, and have the same addictive quality as the candy.  The islands bear the remains of ancient civilizations, and glorious crystal clear water along rocky shorelines. 

Approaching Castle Island, Cleopatra's Beach is prominent

Approaching Castle Island, Cleopatra's Beach is prominent

Having a shallow draft means Destiny can tuck in close to Castle Island

Having a shallow draft means Destiny can tuck in close to Castle Island

You can anchor in a tiny harbor—along with dozens of other boats, including many large day trip boats.

Did I mention that the anchorage is crowded during the day?

Did I mention that the anchorage is crowded during the day?

The island is a park and is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily under the supervision of a caretaker and numerous roosters that can be heard crowing at all hours.  You can tour the ancient ruins on shore and swim off Cleopatra’s Beach—for a mere 10TL per person (about 5 euros).  

Welcome. . .that will be 10TL

Welcome. . .that will be 10TL

The best time to be at Castle Island is before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. when the only boats remaining are a few die hard cruisers who are willing to endure a little roll coming around the point from the afternoon breeze.  The first day trip boat doesn’t arrive until about 10 a.m. which leaves two hours to explore the virtually empty island.  The island  is meticulously maintained with walking paths throughout leading from various of the archaeological sites on the island.   Although you can’t go ashore after 6 p.m. the anchorage is tranquil–if you don’t mind the hum of the generator for the caretaker’s cottage.

We arrived on shore before the first tripper boat

We arrived on shore before the first tripper boat

. . .while Destiny enjoyed the quiet harbor.

. . .while Destiny stood by in the nearly empty harbor.

One of the most interesting aspects of the island is “Cleopatra’s Beach”, so called because fable has it that Cleopatra once occupied the island and imported the sand on this small beach from Africa for her lover, Antony to sunbath on.  The sand beach is now a “protected” area and it is FORBIDDEN to remove sand from the beach or even to sit or walk on it.  In fact, the beach is roped off and you are required to shower with fresh water when leaving the sea to ensure that no sand is inadvertently carried away.  There is actually a guard stationed at the beach’s edge who blows a whistle at children (or anyone for that matter) who should step beyond the rope cordoning off the beach from the water.  He also blew his whistle at us when we approached too close in the dinghy the day before.  Although I didn’t see him blow his whistle at anyone who failed to shower the proximity of his perch to the shower seemed to ensure compliance with that rule.

Cleopatra's Beach is rather small

Cleopatra's Beach is rather small

Before the crowds arrive. . .

Before the crowds arrive. . .

and after the day trip boats arrive.

and after the day trip boats arrive.

The ancient ruins are evident all over the island and include a 2,500 person amphitheatre, a chapel, a basilica and various commercial buildings that date back to Byzantine times.  The island was called “Kedreai” in ancient times and was reportedly occupied by the Romans in 129 B.C.

Remains of 2,500 person Amphitheater--hard to imagine so many people on this tiny island

Remains of 2,500 person Amphitheater--hard to imagine so many people on this tiny island

Artisans handiwork. . .in ruins of Basilica

Artisans handiwork. . .in ruins of Basilica

. . .date from the 1st Century A.D.

. . .date from before Christ.

All that is left of the Isthmus Church

All that is left of the Isthmus Church

If what is left is this impressive, imagine it in its glory

If what is left is this impressive, imagine it in its glory

Not much remains of Apollo's Temple

Not much remains of Apollo's Temple

. . .except the amazing view.

. . .except the amazing view.

The snorkeling around both Castle and Snake Islands is the best we have seen in the Med.   There were large schools of very small fish–and some larger ones that looked very much like the sea bass I had for dinner the night before.  More interesting were terracotta fragments of pottery washed into the sea and now incorporated in the rock formations.  In some cases you could visualize the actual size and shape of the vessel, now broken in pieces by wave action over many centuries.

Day trip boats also anchor off Snake Island just across the channel for snorkeling

Day trip boats also anchor off Snake Island just across the channel for snorkeling

Ruins on Snake Island sit close to shore

Ruins on Snake Island sit close to shore

Being one of a handful of people to enjoy sunset and sunrise in this magical setting makes us appreciate how fortunate we are to be on this adventure.

Day break

Day break

Day's end

Day's end

We’re off to find more Turkish Delights!

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