Woke up to this view, as seen from the balcony from my room.
Calm, flat waters and perfect weather. Today was the first official day of the Swimtrek tour (but I count yesterday as being day 1 – the Swimtrek arrival day). I think I was still jetlagged and woke up early. Or maybe it was out of habit considering the early starts that I had been having. There was going to be no sleep-ins this week. We had to be up early every day. I was sharing a room with a fellow female swimtrekker for the week. The tour is booked based on twin share, so I had been paired up with a roommate. You can pay extra to have your own room, but I was on a budget and didn’t want to fork out a week’s worth of single supplement, and was happy to share a room. The men however were inclined to get their own rooms. Jetlag, body clock adjustments, and the blare of the morning call to prayer from the local mosque was enough to awake me up. I was generally awake between 4am-6am everyday, but laid in bed until about 7-8am. We had to meet at 8am anyway for a compulsory pre-breakfast swim. Donned my cossies and headed down to the decks along with everyone else.
Our first ‘mini’ swim was only about 300-400m out in the bay in front of the hotel. This was a swim so the guides could assess our swim skill and speed. Based on this swim, they would put us into speed groups for the week. The hotel had its own private entry into the bay, via a ladder off the decks. The water was chilly. There was a fresh cold water spring right from the cliffs we were on. Patches of cold, patches of warm sea water. Swim completed. Breakfast on the deck. A buffet spread of fruit, bread, savouries, turkish condiments, cheese, olives, preserves, yoghurt etc. Had to restrict myself from going nuts on the buffet breakfasts so as to avoid getting bloated and drowning. A big meal, not a great idea before swimming. By about 9:30am we were all bundled up into a van and transported an hour’s drive away to Ucagiz. On the way to Ucagiz:
Our swim for the day was taking place over that part of the coast. Ucagiz is a pretty little sea village.
We boarded our “home” for the next two days – a gulet (a turkish yacht). Super nice. Seating, table, a small kitchen. a toilet, and plenty of sunbeds – all your mod cons.
We set sail and enjoyed the water views, a little nervous about our first upcoming swim.
Day 1 and there was no mucking around. Literally, thrown into the deep end. First up, a 3.5km coastal swim! Prior to each swim, there was a ritual of lathering ourselves in suncream, and greasing up with vaseline (to prevent chafing – a common hazard swimming in saltwater). I was in the yellow-cap middle group, which was fine by me. There were six of us in that group. The orange caps were the fast group, and the pink caps were the slower group. Each group was staggered and each group was accompanied by either a swim guide or the boat captain with an escort boat. Mr swim guide A (aka the hottie) was mostly designated to our yellow group. Suffice to say that I had a wee crush on Mr A. And by “wee” I mean major. Geez, he was easy on the eyes. I may not be tall, skinny or pretty. But I ain’t blind. And I liked what I saw. He was fit (and knew it, too). Enough to make you want to drown just so he could perform mouth to mouth. Wait. I was on a swimtrek. That wasn’t going to fly. Damn. Given the fact that were indeed on a swimtrek, it meant that I got to see him wear nothing but little swim shorties all week! I could get used to this. Hehe. A little holiday crush is normal, right. Who hasn’t gone away on holidays and had a crush on their tour guide, cruise director or their ski instructor. Anyway, enough of my gushing… The first swim was magical. The water was warm, blue and clear. Relatively flat and calm as well. Very decent swimming conditions. The sea water was really salty which helped with buoyancy. Wasn’t going to drown in this water, even if I wanted to. I was as bouyant as a helium nugget. Try sinking one of those. Near impossible. We swam a tad over 3.5km. Each swim over the course of the week was always escorted. We’d stop for drink breaks during the swim where drink bottles were thrown to us from the boats, and we’d tread water, take a little drink break and then onwards to our destination. Once we had reached our end point we climbed aboard the gulet. First swim done. And I had survived. We sailed to Kekova for lunch – Kekova is the largest of the Turkish islands.
The boat was anchored into a little cove, where there were some goats nearby.
The clarity of the water was stunning. I suppose this is why this west coast of Turkey is called the Turquoise Coast, also known as the Turkish Riviera..
Time here was spent sunbaking, getting to know each other, mingling, taking photos (maybe that was just me), and more importantly, eating.
Our skipper barbequed chicken off the back of the boat for lunch.
He even tried to catch us some squid. We could see a couple of squid but they weren’t biting. Lunch was a nice spread. A veritable feast of salads, bread and chicken.
After lunch had digested, it was time for the video shooting. We had to swim a short course, one by one, and be filmed twice – once above water and an underwater video. Our swim stroke technique (or lack thereof) would be analysed later. Here’s me with a couple of fellow swimtrekkers:
Then it was time for our afternoon swim of 2km. I struggled a little with this swim. I had already done 3.5km in the morning. I was ready to call it a day. The afternoon was a little harder because the water was choppy and bouncy – not as flat and calm as the morning had been. Day 1 alone and we had racked up about 6km. Back on the boat and we sailed to Simena/Kalekoy – a tiny island, home to an old castle ruin.
We had some free time to explore the castle and the views from the top, and/or some sarcophagi tombs. A handful of us chose the castle ruins (Entry – 8 Lira). We had to hike a bunch of steep stairs to reach the top of the castle. The views were absolutely worth it. But you be the judge…check out the views:
Wow. Who knew Turkey was so beautiful. Bliss. There was even a little amphitheatre – perfect scene for a cheesy photo pose.
I also loved the Turkish flag – it was everywhere! They’re a patriotic bunch. Such a simple understated flag – a moon crescent and a star. A flag as awesome as that, I’d hang up it up everywhere as well! Why wouldn’t ya!
On the way back down – spotted: a cafe with an awesome name. I’ll spare you the cheesy photo pose that I took here as well. Yes, indeed a photo was taken here. How could you not?
This holiday was truly turning out to be amazing. Beautiful water, stunning location, delicious food, great eye-candy. Geez,these guides had it hard. This was their “office” – not a hard life at all! Back onto the boat, and we sailed back to Ucagiz, and then a bus back to Kas. We got back to the hotel around 6:30pm and we had about an hour to shower and freshen up. It was a great first day. About 6km of swimming in one day. A group dinner had been planned for the night, so we met just before 8pm for dinner at a local restaurant where we enjoyed some wine and mezzes and some fresh Mediterranean cuisine. I could totally get used to this!
Dinner – well earnt after a long swim day.
Some other photos: A cat sleeping in a basket on a window sill (lots of cats running around in Kas).
I was physically tired by the end of the first day – a combination of jet lag, sleep deprivation, sun exposure, and oh, swimming 6km! Physical exertion alone was tiring. It was a great first day of swimming. Was on a total high. Met some great, friendly people. And was totally in love with the locale. Photo album link. 5