Turkish delight


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travel 49 this week’s destinations 2

3 KOS

Why sailing the seductive seas with strangers is an ideal holiday

Old and new meet on the small but perfectly formed Greek island

2 LINDISFARNE A visit to Northumberland’s Holy Island offers history and spirituality

PLUS bargain breaks

The Agora ruins on Kos

PHotograph: ANNE MCCAW

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1 AEGEAN CRUISE

The Nemesis on unbelievably blue waters

Turkish delight A week kicking back aboard a traditional yacht on the Aegean Sea provides the ultimate stressbusting break for novice sailor Ashley Davies

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here’s something about watching the land disappear behind you as you float off into the watery distance that dissolves stress in the time it takes to enjoy a full-bodied yawn. And there’s something wonderfully mysterious about how you can spend hours and hours staring at

the sea around you as your grateful brain empties itself. It’s like a kind of meditation – one that results in a fabulous suntan, some recipe inspiration and a clutch of new friends. We spent a week on board Nemesis, a traditional Turkish gulet that’s big enough for 14 passengers and four crew members. When

there’s enough wind, the engine is turned off, the sails go up (this is handled by the expert crew members, but if you want to get involved you only have to ask) and all you need to worry about is whether you’d prefer to be on the sunny or the shady side as your vessel bounces gently over the Aegean Sea. I have to be honest: before coming on board there were a couple of things gnawing at me. The main one was worrying about spending a week at close quarters with a dozen or so other people I didn’t know and, in a way related to that, I was concerned about feeling claustrophobic. My nerves on both fronts were unfounded. There’s a lot more

space on board this 24x6m classic yacht than you might imagine. The highly varnished wooden cabins, admittedly, are understandably snug, though they do have a lot more storage space than you’d think (do bring luggage in soft bags – it’s easier to stow). We were in a cabin with two windows that can be opened, and a double bed. The person sleeping closest to the window has to climb over their partner or get in first. The twin cabins might be easier to negotiate for some, but we got used to our arrangement in no time. Each cabin has a compact bathroom, with a shower and basin, and a toilet that flushes a little like an airline loo. This noise can be heard by your neighbours, and you can’t flush any toilet paper down there, for obvious reasons. There is a socket for charging devices but the power usually only comes on twice a day when the generator is on. The same goes for hot water. On deck there is plenty of space for lounging around – horizontally or otherwise. As well as more than ten padded sunbathing areas in the middle of the deck, there are soft seats at both the bow and the stern, so you can choose as much sun or shade as you want, and you never feel squashed in with anyone. There’s also a dining area inside the boat, a useful spot if you need to do any paperwork or use a laptop (the Nemesis has free wi-fi, which generally works when the generator is on). We took pretty much all of our meals at the dining table on deck, and the crew members worked miracles to provide a mouthwatering array of fresh food, nearly all with a Turkish flavour. Fresh

“There’s plenty of space for lounging” tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, yoghurt dips, olives and leaves complement the hot local dishes that include baked chicken, fish and meatballs, as well as a truly tasty selection for vegetarians. It was all very healthy and colourful. It was during meal times that we 9 August 2014

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began to get to know our travelling companions, who came from all over the world. I was nervous at first that sharing so much time with others while on holiday might not be as relaxing as chilling out alone with a partner, but it was actually lovely. Everyone was warm, friendly and solicitous, but instinctively knew when to give each other space. One older woman on board, travelling solo, was on her 22nd sailing cruise with this company, SCIC (pronounced “Chic” and short for Sailing Cruises in Comfort) because she’s such a fan of the friendly, relaxed approach and the attitude that people have towards each other on these trips. Loes Douze, who runs the company, with its small fleet of gulets, likes to get to know her customers and adapt trips to suit their tastes, so it’s very straightforward to let her know if you’d prefer to be with a quiet or more jolly crowd. Children are very welcome too. By the fourth day, to coincide with the full moon, our crew organised a “white party,” which meant we all dressed in white (the unprepared improvised with toilet paper headdresses and togas) and spent hours dancing on deck with people who by now felt like old friends. My only moment of seasickness happened to be a green morning after the white party, when the combination of overindulgence and some bigger swells of the Aegean made me feel persecuted by the sea. Once you dive in, though, all is forgiven. Whenever we fancied a swim, the crew pulled a stable ladder down the side of the boat and we immersed ourselves in the refreshing salty water. There are also a couple of canoes on board, and snorkelling gear to borrow. The route you take depends on where those on board want to go, and what the weather is doing. While our sister gulet (Naviga) sailed to some Greek islands, we visited various spots along the south coast

of Turkey, and docked overnight at quiet bays or harbours, including English Harbour, where we dined on land one evening. We visited the fascinating little island of Sedir in the Gulf of Gokova, where, legend says, Cleopatra had sand from north Africa transported so she could swim at the perfect beach. Locals are so protective of the sand you have to wash it off your feet before you leave to prevent depletion. The island is also home to many very comely chickens, and an ancient amphitheatre shaded by olive trees. One evening we climbed up a small hill on an island at Yedi Adalar (Seven Islands) to admire the sunset, and when we got back down to the water the crew had set up the prettiest picnic on the beach, with lanterns hanging from driftwood. We all cosied up on fat cushions and tucked into a fabulous barbecue. Another excursion took us to the ruins of Kinidos, a fascinating ancient city, and a wonderful market at Oren, packed with fresh fruit and vegetables, herbs, plants and nuts. As well as being a seriously relaxing treat of a holiday, a week on board a SCIC gulet is amazing value. The price includes all meals – apart from two dinners on land – and alcohol and soft drinks, not to mention incredibly attentive service from the crew. The yachts set sail on Saturdays from Bodrum, and easyJet flights from Edinburgh go out and return on Mondays and Thursdays, so you’d need to stay on land for four days on either side of your trip if flying from Scotland. You might be able to negotiate a shorter trip. Chances are, though, you’ll want to stay on board for months.

The cruise includes an excursion to the ruins of Kinidos, below

Wholly relaxing Lindisfarne isn’t the only gorgeous part of Northumberland guaranteed to make the spirits soar, finds Alison Gray

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here is so much to do in Northumberland you could easily fill a week, or even a fortnight, with day trips, beach fun and visits to historic sites. On a short weekend break when you might have to prioritise what you would like to do, Holy Island and a trip to Lindisfarne Priory would probably appear somewhere on most people’s lists. Once safely across the causeway you can either amble around, taking in the unique mix of historic buildings co-existing with modern

life – around 160 people live fulltime on Holy Island in jobs mainly linked to tourism. Or you can choose to visit Lindisfarne Priory, which is run by English Heritage, and famous as one of the most important centres for British Christianity in existence. Founded in AD 635, the priory was the home and original burial ground of St Cuthbert, who lived on Lindisfarne until his death in 687. The story of the saint lives on in another way as he has given his name to a long distance walk, the St Cuthbert’s Way, which links Melrose

bargain breaks The best deals

kit hire and access to the gym, pool and spa facilities, this package includes two-nights’ accommodation, breakfast, a guided wild swim and a 25-minute deep tissue massage, from £325pp, based on two sharing. Call 015394 38062 or see www.brimstonehotel.co.uk

One week on board the Nemesis starts at 925,50 Turkish lira (£738). For more information tel: 07583 001766, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.scicsailing.eu Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) flights from Edinburgh to Bodrum start from £160 return.

SOL PURPOSE Fly from Glasgow to the Costa del Sol on 26 August and stay seven nights at the four-star Mainare Playa Hotel in Fuengirola, half-board, from £393pp. Call 0843 104 1000 or see www.easyjet.com/holidays

WILD SWIM, CALM TIME Brimstone Hotel, on the Lake District’s Langdale Estate, has teamed up with wild swimming company Head to the Hills – Swim the Lake District to offer a Wild Swimming Escape, available until the end of September. As well as free 9 August 2014

malta worship From just £667pp (saving £260 per couple), stay for seven nights at the four star Qawra Palace by Salina Bay in Malta. The price, based on two sharing, includes flights from Glasgow on 19 August, return transfers and admission to a selected Maltese attraction. Call 0845 604 0035 or see www.maltadirect.com

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in the Scottish Borders, where he started his religious life, with Holy Island, 100km later, having taken in the Eildon Hills, Reivers’ country, the Cheviots and Wooler along the way. We saw some walkers on Pilgrim’s Path heading across the sands and wondered how they were feeling, with the end in sight. It’s hard to imagine a more spiritual location for their quest to finish. If castles are your thing, a short stroll away from the priory you’ll find the National Trust-managed Lindisfarne Castle. This Elizabethan fort was converted into a private Edwardian holiday home for Edward Hudson, founder of Country Life magazine, by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, who also designed a cottage on the island, which you can rent from the

National Trust. There is a charming walled garden in the castle grounds designed by his friend Gertrude Jekyll in 1911. Alternatively you might want to sample a glass (flagon?) of mead and you can do so at St Aidans Winery. When the weather closed in (such are the penalties for holidaying at home) we were happy to hot foot it back to The Boathouse, one of around 100 properties managed by Crabtree & Crabtree mainly in the Scottish Borders and north Northumberland. This fishing lodge on the banks of the River Tweed would be a luxurious bolthole for any fisherman or woman, but you don’t need to be a waders wearer to appreciate the cosy country style of this property, which sleeps eight. Three double bedrooms, with one on the ground

floor, and each with an en suite plus a twin room and a family bathroom, means a comfortable night for all. There’s also an annexe with a large drying room downstairs and en suite accommodation overhead, with space for a further two guests. Pets are welcome, although not on the sofas or in the bedrooms. In the main lodge there’s a large formal lounge and a smaller cosy one with a TV hidden away in a wooden cabinet. A splendid dining room seats ten people, and for more casual occasions, there’s a traditional pine table in the kitchen. Having taken up residence, however briefly, in such a hospitable house, it would have felt wrong to go to the pub, rather than cook in. Fortunately, fantastic local ingredients are not hard to come by in Northumberland, even in a

The Boathouse, Norham, on the banks of the Tweed, above; one of the bedrooms, left

48 hours in Kos

have sheltered Hippocrates, the father of medicine, which would make it around 2,400 years old. Platanos (Plataia Platanou, tel: 0030 22420 28991, www.platanoskos.gr) has a decent lunch menu (from around e20). 2pm Walk through the ruins of the Roman Agora, where you can clearly see the street plan of the Roman city. 3pm Duck into the Archaeological Museum, for a peek at Roman sculpture and a fine mosaic. 4pm Browse the shops along Odos Ifestou for shiny jewellery, beachwear, and “designer” accessories. 8:30pm Elia (Apellou 27; tel: 0030 22420 22133, www.elia.gr) is a fine place to spend the evening nibbling mezedes and sipping ouzo for e25.

11pm Try Hamam Bar (Akti Koundourioti 1), for late-night snifters in the cool caverns of a former Turkish bath. Sunday, 11am Visit the 4th-century Nymphaion (history’s grandest public toilet), the 3rd century Casa Romana, a reconstructed Roman villa, and the Odeion (Roman theatre). They’re cheek-by-jowl on either side of Grigoriou tou Pemptou. 1pm Lunch at Olympiada (Kleopatras 2, tel: 0030 22420 23031). This taverna is as cheap, cheerful and authentic as it gets in Kos Town – with luck, there will be a goat on the spit. From around e15-e20.

The Aegean coast of Kos

Friday, 7pm Check in at the seaside Kos Aktis Art Hotel (Vasileos Georgiou 7, Kos Town, tel: 0030 22420 47200, www.kosaktis.gr; around £160 per night for a double room). 9pm The hotel’s H2O restaurant is probably the best in town so dine here, with your feet practically in the Aegean (e20-e40 per head). Saturday, 11am Walk round the Kastro Nerantzia, built by the pirate knights of the Order of St John. Midday Cross the road to Plataia Platanou, where a huge plane tree shades the entire square. It’s said to

tiny village like Norham. There’s a baker (James Ford & Son, tel: 01289 382248) and an award-winning butcher (RG Foreman & Sons, tel: 01289 382260, closed Mondays) who also sells fine wines and fishing flies. We picked up some streaky bacon as well as some very large eggs (huge, actually) and went a bit mad on local cheeses – Colston Basset Blue Stilton, Northumberland Cheviot and Berwick Edge were our top picks. For another excursion, the 18thcentury John Adam Paxton House is close-by and well worth a visit, although we spent about half an hour admiring the herd of Highland cattle, especially two adorable calves, before we got anywhere near the main building. Fans of historic interiors will want to see the Chippendale and Trotter furniture. Those partial to a scone and a latte will enjoy what’s on offer at the Stables Tea Room. The grounds at Paxton are particularly family friendly, with an adventure playground to blow off steam and quirky finds on the estate including an icehouse and a salmon netting museum. They say Northumberland is England’s quietest county, and it’s certainly true that you won’t struggle to chill out and relax, but don’t be fooled, there’s a lot going on. A week’s let at the Boathouse, Norham, starts from £1,000; for more information contact Crabtree & Crabtree, tel: 01573 226711 or see www.crabtreeandcrabtree.com; Lindisfarne Priory, adults £4.80, children £2.90, tel: 01289 389200, www.english-heritage.org.uk/; Lindisfarne Castle, adults £6.95, children £3.50, tel: 01289 389244, www.nationaltrust.org.uk; www.stcuthbertsway.info; Paxton House, adult grounds pass, £4, children under 16 free; tel: 01289 386291, www.paxtonhouse.com

3:30pm Bring your historical meanderings around Kos to a dramatic climax by visiting the Asklepion, the beautiful site of Greek and Roman temples dedicated to Aesculapius, god of healing. Robin Gauldie Fly to Kos from Glasgow with Thomson (flights.thomson. co.uk/) or Thomas Cook (thomascook.com/flights/). Juggling dates, you can fly out with one and back with the other for £150-£250. Or fly Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) from Edinburgh to Athens and on to Kos with Aegean Air (www. aegeanair.com). 9 August 2014