From Symi to Ancient Knidos
Vasco da Gama
Wed 24 Aug 2011 15:34
Our passage from Symi, heading north west, took us back to Turkey. We left early after making way for the water tanker, which arrived at sunrise at the mouth of the bay looking like a leviathan, with horns and whistles blowing to warn all the smaller boats to get out of its path. Our route was to take us to Datca, the main port on the Turkish peninsula, where we had to check out of Turkey, but we found ideal sailing conditions and carried on for several hours of sailing to the charming small harbour of Palamut.
We stayed in Palamut two years ago on the way East. It was September and very quiet. This year it was full of holiday makers, but it's very inaccessible, so people either come by boat or by driving down miles of twisting mountain roads. The people come from Istanbul, Izmir or Ankara to enjoy the quiet fishing port, rather as in England city dwellers like to visit Cornwall for an escape to an earlier and more simple way of life.
I walked along the beach passing rows of palm roofed huts containing little shops and restaurants. In the shops the country women, dressed in baggy flowery trousers with scarves wound around their heads, baked bread or cakes, or sold dried flowers and tablets of olive oil soap, while other women sat by the side of the path, cracking open piles of almonds, or selling jars of pickled olives. Almonds and olives are the main crops of the country area. The restaurants on the beach were all packed, with waiters running across the road carrying trays of food and tea in tulip shaped beakers, or foaming glasses of beer. Nobody was observing Ramadan, unlike in the old city of Jerusalem where we were during Ramadan last year. There we saw Arab boys looking parched and famished, swaying outside their shops in the souk, as no food or water is allowed during the daylight hours. Even swimming is forbidden to a strict Muslim, as water must not enter the mouth; an edict cheerfully ignored by the Turkish holidaymakers.
From Palamut we had another brilliant morning sail. The sea was deep indigo in the deep water where we were sailing, but azure in the shallower patches in the bays nearer the coast. We headed for Ancient Knidos, so called because it was the site of an important port in ancient times, built at the end of a peninsula, straddling two natural harbours. All that's left now are piles of stones, but you can identify two theatres, a market place and the terraces on which the city was built. Two years ago we were in a storm which raged overnight in the larger harbour, but this year it was a perfect and safe anchorage.
Knidos and other ancient sites on this coast were explored and plundered by European archeologists in the nineteenth century. The lion of Knidos, a magnificent marble beast, ten feet in length and weighing about 11 tons, once stood on top of a tomb built outside Knidos, but now stands on the ground floor atrium at the British Museum next to the Information Desk. I have visited him many times since learning of his existence two years ago. When discovered by the archeologist Charles Newton in 1858, he was half buried on his side after being neglected for perhaps two thousand years, so I tell myself he is happier in London, although it seems like a cage after the quiet mountainside. Ian thinks a replica should be made to stand guard on Knidos harbour.