Turkey has long had a reputation for being a place where Eastern cultures meet those of the West, often with cataclysmic consequences. This is a country that could be described as enthralling and astonishing in equal measures, and exploring it for the first time is as bewildering as trying to work Windows 8 for the first time.
While folks often discuss the hustle and bustle of Istanbul, it is important not to neglect the beautiful coastlines, which showcase many miles of natural beauty. This is where the fun is happening. From spontaneous beach parties to thriving markets that are still provisioned with goods straight off the ships in the harbour, just as they always have been.
And as we're speaking of traditions, easily the most common vessel you'll see is the sailing Gulet, a two or three-sailed ship that has become iconic in coastline towns such as Bodrum and Marmaris. Constructed with wood by highly skilled craftsmen using skills passed down from man to son, there is no better way to explore this vibrant and exciting destination.
This is the vessel you'll be boarding when you start your cruise with us. Fully air-conditioned and with spacious comfortable cabins, you'll want for nothing during your trip.
But enough about the Gulet – what of the towns and cities you'll be visiting? Thanks to the vessel's smaller size, our itineraries are able to encompass a wide selection of thriving towns and hidden beauty spots that might be inaccessible to a larger cruise ship. One such programme has you first enjoying a night market in Bodrum before taking the plunge into turquoise waters around the isolated Orak Island the very next day.
A nation of contrasts
Thanks to its East meets West reputation, Turkey has acquired a reputation for being a nation of contrasts. It's something we try to accentuate on our cruises here. One moment, you might be on a deserted beach, the next in the middle of Marmaris, surrounded by people and enjoying the nightlife.
Other must-see spots include the Yedi Adalar, seven islands, a stunning spot of outstanding natural beauty that is located just off the coast. A favourite spot of regular cruisers to drop anchor, it is absolutely famed for its unspoilt views of the Turkish countryside. Of course, there is the opportunity to take a dip here, or else take a windsurfer or canoe out to take advantage of the flawless ocean.
The East meets West comparisons don't cease when it comes to describing the gastronomic delights of Turkey. Described as a fusion of pretty much everything under the sun – Mediterranean, Balkan, Caucasian, Central Asian – there is a vast array of specialities to try here. But while commentators may try to categorise and define it under other cultures, one overwhelming fact emerges – Turkish cuisine is very much in a league of its own. Favourite dishes differ vastly from one region to the next. By the coast, you can expect to sample plenty of seafood, often dragged up the beach and freshly prepared before being served.
Exploring Turkey in a traditional Gulet cruise vessel really is the only way to get a snapshot of this wonderful and varied culture, which extends far beyond its oft-used label of East meets West. So what are you waiting for? Book your holiday now.