In my two previous posts, I talked about Hedonism as the first word and History as the fourth word to describe Blue Voyage in Turkey. Today, I will talk about the next word: Nature. The other word: Culture+Food will follow this post.
James Cave’s post on Huffington Post, August 23, 2014, is entitled 5 Scientific Reasons a Beach Vacation is Necessary for Your Health. The post is about a book by Wallace J. Nichols’ titled:
After 10 years of research, Nichols describes five reasons/theories why being near water and blue color really is necessary for our health:
Water returns us to our natural state
We are more relaxed around the coast
Looking at pictures is good, but real water is better
Water rejuvenates a tired mind
The book goes into scientific explanations of how all these five reasons/theories really help our health. But, nothing beats living in these “reasons and theories”, and personally experiencing it. This is really related to invigorating all your five senses: smelling of the sea, tasting the salty seawater in your mouth, feeling refreshed with the gentle touch of the water on your body, listening to the laps of the little waves on the rocks, enjoying the view of the all the shades of blue (especially turquoise blue) of the crystal clear waters reaching to the horizon.
The term turquoise refers to the blueish-green color. The first use of the stone dates back to 3000 BCE, but the first use of turquoise as a color dates back to the 1500’s. The word is derived from an old French word for “Turkish”, because the turquoise (blueish-green) mineral was first brought to Europe from Turkey.
It is really hard for me to put down everything about the nature we encounter during a blue voyage in this blog post. Spectacular landscapes, all shades of green and blue, cooling waterfalls, perfect sunrises, calming sunsets, and incredible night sky are very hard to put into words.
So, I decided to simplify what I include here. Back to Geography 101: Nature, of course, involves fauna and flora.
As far as the fauna goes, you are always reminded of being one of the species amongst the butterflies in the Butterfly Valley, endangered Caretta Caretta turtles (average weight is about 250 pounds) at Iztuzu Beach, bees buzzing around the boat, goats bleating on the rocks, and sheep grazing around the villages.
Flora changes every season. In early Spring, bright colored anemones and pinkish-white almond blossoms paint the mountains as if getting ready for a spring wedding, daisies and poppies make a perfect Turkish carpet on the hills underneath the olive trees or almond trees.
When summer hits, purple, white, red, orange bougainvilleas hang over the rooftops of white-washed houses while white jasmine fills the air with their intoxicating smell. Unfortunately, blue jasmine does not have any scent. But, they are so perfectly blue amongst the purple bougainvillaeas, you just forgive them.
Every pot, every olive oil tin is filled with summer flowers, especially begonias and geraniums. Every house, including every boat, has a pot of spicy bush basil with strong-scented tiny leaves of basil to keep the mosquitoes away.
Real beauty comes when we deal with culinary flora. If you time it right, you can join the villagers collecting capers just before they bloom into beautiful flowers. You can collect thyme, sage, or mountain tea almost anywhere you go on the coastline. In June, you encounter hundreds of mulberry trees and gorge yourself with the freshest of the white or purple (it is so dark, it is called black) variety. Just make sure not to wear white. The juice from the mulberries will make your hands look like they are covered with henna for days.
Going into the summer, you can enjoy the apricots, peaches, and my dream fruit: figs (either white or purple). These figs are three times the size you buy anywhere else and the taste is incomparable to anything.
When fall comes closer, you can enjoy a pomegranate the size of a pomelo, and grapes of all variety hanging down from the pergolas.
Many times, you do not need to pay for these, because villagers will offer you their produce as a welcoming gift. Or, the trees just happened to be growing on sidewalks or at ancient sites as in Ephesus and Troy.
There is a unique orchid called Orchis (Orchis Mascula and Orchis Militaris). Salep (or Sahlep), a very popular winter drink, is made from the tubers of this orchid. It became an alternative drink of choice during Ottoman Empire times and was very popular in England in the 17th and 18th century. In order to find it, you need to have a keen eye and knowledge of this orchid when you hike the Taurus mountains.
You sometimes hit two birds with one stone. In one of the blue voyages, we took a tour of the Dalyan River Delta. Not only did we have a chance to see the endangered Carretta Carretta Turtles at Iztuzu Beach, we also had a chance to visit Caunus, 4th century Lycian city and its royal rock tombs carved into the rock cliffs. This is one of the many places you see during your blue voyage where ancient sites and nature continue to live side by side.
And you have your turquoise-blue Mediterranean never leaving you for a moment during your blue voyage. Have a blissful one!