A balmy Indian summer in Bodrum beckoned us to go exploring, and our destination was Astapalaia the western most Dodecanese Greek island before the Cyclades Islands begin.
Due to her remote location, this butterfly-shaped island has often been excluded by sea-farers since antiquity. Her striking Venetian castle and whitewashed lanes are stunning, and ''downtown'' is actually on the rim of the island with infinite views.
Astipalaia (population 1300) can be incorporated into a Blue Cruise with advance planning, and it's one island where you probably will not encounter any other gulets, even during high season.
Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for a sample 7 day itinerary that includes this unique venue, and view our photos from this week on our facebook page.
Our first full season as the central booking agent for 32 meter Oğuzbey was extremely successful, and enquiries are already in for 2016. Oğuzbey is one of the very few gulets which offers a luxury experience for up to 26 people in the Greek Islands. She's perfect for family reunions, weddings, corporate functions and offers a full array of water sports. Her crew of seven are young, dynamic and her chef repeatedly receives excellent feedback from our guests. Her charter rates vary from 2400 to 3300 Euro per day.
As of 24 July, 2015, Yesil Marmaris Lines will introduce a new direct ferry service between Bodrum and the Northern Dodecanese Greek island of Leros. The ferry is ''Kartepe'' with a passenger capacity of 430 persons. The trip duration is approximately 45 minutes at a cost of 57 Euro return.
Of course, reaching Leros on a private gulet is far more fun!
For more information, email email@example.com.
Southern Cross Blue Cruising has wound down the 2014 season with great fun. October brought a high school reunion cruise on board Why Not, followed by the Bodrum Cup, various weddings and military send-off festivities.
On the left, our colleagues Istanbul native Baris and Kos-native Ayser tie the knot in Kos, bringing the bond between Bodrum and Kos even closer. What a wedding!
A beautiful Greek island like Symi is a magnet for summer restaurateurs who serve pricey good food for three months of the year and return to their home countries for the winter.
We were in search of ''Symi Shrimp'', a pink, stir fry of delicious, crisp, crunchy, salty baby crustaceans which has been the local food rage as of late. Trying to avoid the commercial venues along the main harbor, we ventured to a sleepy, lone taverna behind the clock tower and sat next to the lapping Aegean.
Baby-faced waiter: Yes please?
Four middle aged ladies: Rosé house wine, please.
Baby face disappears inside and returns five minutes later: Sorry...
Four middle aged polite women: OK, no problem - white house wine, please.
Baby face: Ok! (eventually brings out a small carafe of warm, cloudy, yellow vinegar)
Sound of females choking
One middle aged witch: Can we please have the fish roe starter?
Baby face: Sorry...
Another middle aged witch: Symi shrimp please ?
Baby face shuffles: Sorry....
Blonde (w)itch: Surely you have some octopus?
Baby face wrings his hands.
Girls get up to go: No offense please - Maybe some other time - thank you.
Baby face chasing us down the dock: But you have to pay!
We then relocated to the chic Manos, initially snubbed because it is very much the ''in'' place in Symi whilst we had been searching for the underdog. True to the reviews and feedback, the Manos staff were excellent with our snacks, including saganaki, tarama salata and a well done pink Symi shrimp, and the rosé was perfectly chilled. We continued with an excellent nightcap at Pantelis with a large, stuffed calamari and squid in black ink washed down with a very lethal honey-ouzu home brew.
We receive a lot of requests for Blue Cruises to Santorini, the poster child of the Greek Islands. Unfortunately, the distances involved make the journey only suitable for 14 day cruises, and even then, delays are possible due to the strong meltemi winds.
Nisyros, on the other hand, is only about 15 miles south of Kos and easily included in a Southern Dodecanese Blue Cruise. An active volcano, the island boasts just three towns, of which Nikia is perched directly on the rim of the caldera. On the southern side of the village, there is a breath-taking view of Tilos and Symi floating silently on the deep blue sea. Walk a few steps away and you'll come to the drop-off directly into the caldera of the volcano. For more photos, check out the latest album our Facebook page.
The best boat is your friend's boat, right? Well, with Southern Cross Timer on the hard, we were landlubbers until good friends Jennifer and Mathias Dubulier invited us to stay on Phoenix, their Hans Christian 33, wintering in Réthymnon, Crete.
Even in late December, access to Crete from Bodrum could not have been easier. We caught the morning ferry to Kos and had a feast of grilled pork before catching a taxi to Kos airport and boarding Sky Express to Heraklion for only 55 Euro per person.
Crete is a fascinating island full of mountains, beaches and remote villages. The weather was warm enough to wade in the sea on Christmas Day, and Réthymnon town was full of university students, cafes, chic boutiques and a vibrant energy. This large island is a great pre or post Blue Cruise destination, and we can't wait to return.
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