It's hard to believe it’s already December! With the holiday season fully underway, we’re featuring some of our favorite places to unwind in front of a fireplace this winter—hopefully with some of your favorite people. Speaking of winter, we’re highlighting a recent trip to the Scandinavian Arctic, complete with a viewing of the Northern Lights. Beaches more your speed? We’ve got the lowdown on some of the best hotels in Anguilla. From all of us at First in Service, we wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year. Cheers to 2019!
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
Our affiliate agent Loraine Gardner just spent seven days sailing the Turquoise Coast on a traditional Turkish yacht known as a gulet. These wooden vessels, which hold between 10- 25 passengers, are an intimate way to explore the natural wonders, azure seas and archaeological sites along the Turkish Riviera.
How would you describe life on board?
Sailing onboard a gulet has a sense of romance and adventure to it. Ours was upscale with comfortable queen beds, air conditioning, ensuite bathroom, even Wi-Fi. The gulet had plenty of lounging space, snorkel equipment and two kayaks. Our group of 15 was spoiled by our delightful and hard-working crew of five.
What kinds of meals did the chef prepare on board?
Scrumptious! Food was fresh with lots of grilled fish, vegetables, yogurt dishes and full breakfasts. The chef made sure there was plenty for vegetarians like me to eat. He even learned at lunch one day that it was my birthday, and by dinner he’d made a cake.
What was your itinerary on the gulet?
The itinerary will vary based on weather conditions. Our first destination was Rhodes, Greece, followed by various ports and islands in the Turkish Mediterranean. We visited the coastal town Fethiye, Gemiler Island (aka St. Nicholas Island), and Cleopatra’s Bay.
Tell about the archaeological sites you visited.
The sites were predominantly Greek, Roman and Lycian. In Rhodes we visited the old city, which is from Crusader days, and the Temple of Athena at Lindos. Marmaris has its share of Lycian tombs. En route to Antalya, we visited the sites of Myra and Patara, both of which have excellent Roman ruins including amphitheaters.
Why would you recommend this type of vacation?
Chartering a gulet is a popular way to see the Turkish Riviera and perfect for a special family/friends/reunion vacation. If you are going in July or August, which is high season, you’ll want to plan ahead for best choices. Gulet cruising is also incorporated into organized tours.
Did you get a traditional Turkish hammam treatment?
Yes, at our hotel in Marmaris the day before embarkation, and it was divine. I usually get massages when I travel and like the local style experiences. This treatment included four blissful parts: skin softening in the sauna, followed by a loofah massage exfoliation, then a sensational foam bath massage, and finally a regular Swedish massage.
What were the top highlights of your trip?
-The foam bath in my hammam treatment.
-Seeing an olive tree up close.
-Helping the chef prepare food. I’m not into cooking but I was so impressed by what our chef prepared that I was hoping to learn something.
-Jumping into the Mediterranean off the gulet.
What airline did you fly?
We flew Turkish Airlines Business Class and the service was excellent.