Thursday, July 11, 2013

Maldives - Last but certainly not least

I have worked for the same company going on ten years in September, seven of those in the US. I have traveled a bit for work in the US and use my corporate Amex which accrues points. I'm not always a good points spender but this was well worth 2/3 of my points :).  

I did a four day cruise in the Maldives with the Four Seasons last August and it was a complete splurge on myself. This time around, I was trying to get home from Turkey, thought I could stop in Singapore on the way back and what is between Singapore and Turkey? The Maldives. Well, sort of. :) Plus, my friend Stephanie (living in Singapore) hadn't been before and wanted to go. My miles covered my flights and hotel. Add in Stephanie's super status at the hotel and we got champagne, free breakfast and free happy hour each day. Don't worry, we still managed to spend a lot but it was soooo nice :). 

Our villa had an outdoor shower and giant tub/jacuzzi that looked like its own gazebo. The room was glassed in but with a remote for blinds. You could see from the shower through the room out to our patio. The patio had its own set of lounge chairs and them a small s-curve path to our private beach area with two more chairs and an umbrella. So crazy. We started our first afternoon there, swimming in the water. Then headed to happy hour. We did some snorkeling around the island reef as well as a day trip. We did the paddle boat between the two islands and swam in the pool in the ocean. Good fun!

Here are some pics:
The main island that is uber Muslim conservative. Not much to see/do here. 

The Conrad islands

Super cute idea of a coconut on a stick to wash your feet of sand. They had these all over but mainly at entrances. 

Shower and tub

Patio and beach

Room with outdoor bathroom across the way. 

Free breakfast (we snuck food out to hold us through lunch and until dinner because meals were so expensive)

Fish at the house reef

Swimming in the pool that's in the ocean. Awesome. 

Stephanie's having fun in her tube also!

My fat butt almost bit it here. 

Paddle boat fun

Snorkel excursion!!

Good to go

We saw lots of turtles but this may be my best shot. 

Swimming with the turtles.

Finding Nemo (that's our guide)

A friendly shark ;)

Big trigger fish

...and that's all folks!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cruisin' the Med

After my heavy duty sightseeing, I decided to relax on a three day gullet cruise along the south western coast of Turkey. I started in Marmaris and ended in Fethiye. A gullet is an older looking sailboat type thing:

There was a captain, cook, crewman and a boy along with 14 guests. There was another solo German lady (but I actually think she was bunking up with the captain), me, two girls who just finished university exams in England, an older Danish couple, middle aged Australian couple, two middle aged Turkish couples from Istanbul (one spoke English) and a retired couple from New Zealand (the man was from Seattle originally but has been in NZ the last 30 years and is now a NZ citizen). So we were a mixed bunch but greatly enjoyed each other's company. 

The sails never actually came out and we motored everywhere. The weather was perfect! Warm with a cool breeze and slightly cold water. The water was cold to me as I'm use to the warm, bathwater-like waters of Bali, Thailand and the Maldives. Yes I know, I have no right to complain about anything :). The water was really blue and clear but not a whole lot of fish to see. We sailed, ate, swam and read. The Danes did teach us a new card game, Plump. I quite enjoyed it. I also got a great restaurant recommendation from one of the guys from Istanbul. I had two days back in town before I flew out. It was amazing :)! 

The cook on the boat was good too. I've never eaten so much eggplant (aka aubergine) in my life. I think he worked it into every meal and I enjoyed it. He was selling some rugs his mom made and so I got one for about $40. I haven't figured out where to put it at home yet though. 

It was good fun and a nice restful three days. And that sums up my time in Turkey.  Here are some pics from the cruise. 
At the bus station waiting to leave for Marmaris.

We stopped at a beach for an hour or so one day. So nice. This side was a rock beach but the pebbles were so soft and smooth. I brought home a few of those as souvenirs too. 

The crewman who shuttled us off the boat. There were lots of gullets docked wherever we went but it never felt crowded and I was surprised to not see any pollution from the tourists. 

We hiked on one island to see some church remains from before the twelfth century. This corridor is from the eighth century. Some of the others were from the fifth century. There were like 8 churches on this one little island. 

Hello :)

My cabin

Remains of a church

Beautiful views 


Lunch or dinner

You can see the rocks here. We think this use to be a building or village or something and then the water level rose. Up towards the shore, you could see piping that was similar to the irrigation or sewer pipelines we had seen in Ephesus. It was really interesting.