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September 23, 2009

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Dikili, Turkey
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Yahsu from the Greek Islands! We left off last week from Seabourn's newest masterpiece the Odyssey where I told you all about this luxury 450-passenger yacht, which debuted in late June. Unfortunately, I didn't get to tell you about all the ports of call on our seven-day Aegean cruise so we'll explore the Turkish ports this week and the Greek ports next week. If you want to see some of Turkey's most popular destinations (including Ephesus and Bodrum) then you'd better grab your walking shoes, sunscreen and hat - we're going sightseeing Johnny Jet- style. To give you even a more of a feel for what it's like, we're including a dozen unedited mini videos. Let me know if you like them!

ISTANBUL TO DIKILI
Our first official port of call (besides Istanbul) was Dikili, Turkey. The distance from Istanbul to Dikili is 222 miles and we sailed throughout the night, arriving just after noon.



ANZAC DAY
All of the Aussies and Kiwis on board were looking forward to traveling through the Dardanelles near Gallipoli since thatís where the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) had their first major military battle during World War I. Anzac Day (April 25) is observed in Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga and is an important day of remembrance, similar to our Memorial Day.

SMOOTH SAILING
I woke up at 2am just as we were going through the busy passage. I donned my robe and walked out on the balcony and took a seat to take it all in. What a feeling it was to be cruising in Turkey! The water was as smooth as anything and there were lots of ferries and cargo ships keeping busy. The stars were bright and the warm air was a welcome relief from my heavily air-conditioned room. If I hadnít had a packed day of sightseeing ahead of me, I would have spent more time out there instead of forcing myself back to bed.

TENDERS
After having breakfast in the Colonnade, Natalie and I took one of the tenders to shore. Not every port required getting shuttled by a tender but when it did, Seabourn did an amazing job of running them frequently. We never waited more than 20 minutes. Inside the tender (lifeboat) was hot and stuffy but it amazed me how many people they could hold, though rarely were they crowded.

SEABOURN SERVICE
At each port, Seabourn set up a little camp with a tent, chairs and staff members who manned the fort and the drinks (mostly bottled water).

EXCURSIONS
Like all cruises, Seabourn offers a variety of excursions for a fee and the most popular ones in Dikili were centered on the Acropolis of Pergamon (a Greek city that thrived during the Hellenistic period) and Asclepion (one of the leading medical centers of classical times).

DIKILI, TURKEY
Fortunately, Natalie and I decided to pass on an organized tour and we later heard that they were kind of boring, especially in the scorching heat. So instead of jumping in a car and traveling 14 miles to Bergama, we walked around the popular summer resort village, filled with local Turks and no Westerners, at our own pace.

DIKILI BEACH
It was steaming hot on the Dikili beach and almost impossible to walk on without shoes. The dark gravel sand felt like lava. We walked along the dirt path situated between the beach and street, admiring the beachgoers with their wicker umbrellas and the beachside cafes, all playing a variety of western music from 70s disco to rap.

GOING FOR A DIP
When we couldnít take the heat anymore, I ventured into the public bathroom to change into my bathing suit. Yes, like a fool I didnít already have it on. But the public bathroom scene in Dikili is pretty sketchy. Not only were there some freaks hanging around outside but I donít think people bothered to use the urinals to pee Ė they might have just walked in and peed on the floor. I ran out of there with my nose and mouth covered like someone had dropped a smoke bomb.

PUBLIC CHANGE
I had no choice but to improvise. So I did something Iíd never done before (honest!) I asked Natalie if I could borrow her dress. I thought she was going to cry when I stretched her sundress way over my wide hips. But I needed to use it like a towel to swap my shorts for my suit. In California, using a towel to change is common practice but by the stares I received, I guess it was as foreign as me in Turkey. It was worth it. The water was an oasis.

DIKILI STORES
After going for a swim, Natalie browsed the shops and checked out the fruit and vegetable (loved the watermelon) vendors. There werenít many shops and the ones we saw sold cheap beach supplies like rafts, sandals, toys and 1990-style bathing suits. The shopkeepers spoke little English but were friendly so next time, Iíll ask to use their bathroom to change into my suit.

TURKISH SNACKS
The only things we bought were from street vendors (jewelry and magnets) and Turkish treats from the tiny grocery store. Oh yeah! I also had a tasty toasted tomato and cheese sandwich from a streetside cafť for $2.

DIKILI MARINA
Before getting back on the boat, Natalie and I walked around the other side of the port. We discovered a mini marina filled with fishing boats and restaurants. The highlight was when the vendors showed off their day's catch. TIP: Always ask if itís okay to take photos.

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Copyright 2009 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip

 

Dikili

 

Inside Tender

 

Dikili Street

 

Fruit Stand

 

Watermelon Stand

 

The Odyssey

 

Dirt Path

 

Dikili Sand

 

Natalie & JJ

 

Wicker Umbrellas

 

Dikili Street

 

Swimming

 

So Cute

 

Dikili Beach

 

Local Jewlery

 

Hot Cheese and Tomato Sandwich

 

Today's Catch

 

Back To The Ship

 

HOUSEKEEPING

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Natalie Bahadur
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