Back to Göcek for our last meal with the Turks and off to St. Tropez

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Once again, during the night, we sailed back to Göcek, Turkey; so by the time we wake up, we’re already anchored in one of Göcek’s spectacular natural bays. It’s a bittersweet day today; we are leaving for the South of France this afternoon and leaving my Turkish family behind is always a tough nut to swallow. After my morning breakfast on the deck, it’s packing time before a few last hours of lounging and sunbathing. Both Raffi and I get our last massage from the talented Jasmine and a long swim before lunch. Today we are going to the magnificent reservation of the Datça Peninsula, where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet, to have lunch at the famous Il Riccio restaurant from Capri (www.dhotel.com.tr/en/dining/restaurants/il-riccio.aspx), that recently opened it’s doors as part of the super luxurious D Hotel and resort (www.dhotel.com.tr/en/home.aspx); there, all of our Turkish friends are joining us for the last supper: including the beautiful Burçak Sayilgan, Selim Sayilgan, Mr. and Mrs. K, Feti, the fabulous Endar, etc…

 

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Someone is getting a massage

 

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Someone is pole dancing…

 

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Goodbye home away from home!

 

Il Riccio is one of the most famous restaurants in Capri and always a favorite with the rich and famous clan; the food is always very good but they are well known for their dessert room where you find the most amazing selection of desserts enough to satisfy the most difficult of palates; furthermore, the room is decorated in the most beautiful fantasy of marine blue and white that just ads a whole new element to the whole experience. Clearly, this new Riccio franchise, has recreated the signature “Dessert room” of the original restaurant behind the dining room; not quite the same WOW factor as the one in Capri, but definitely good enough for this little dessert monster…me, that is! The food was also not as good as the original, but not bad at all. As a restaurateur I’ve learned that it is close to impossible to re-create the same cuisine of one country in another country and expect it to be exactly the same. Ingredients change flavor from country to country, from the basic ingredients such as water, spices and flower all the way to vegetables and meats. The place is stunning though, not easy to compete with Capri, but this location is beyond beautiful, right on the beach with the most mind-blowing natural views of the bay with its white sand beaches.

 

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Arriving at Il Riccio for our last lunch before heading off to Istanbul


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Outdoor ding area at Il Riccio

 

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Bar at Il Riccio

 

IMG_5568Our table at Il Riccio



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Menu at Il Riccio

 

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The amazing dessert room at Il Riccio

 

IMG_5572More…

 

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Switzerland, Turkey and Canada united over dessert!

 

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The last supper with two of my favorite people in the world

 

IMG_4971Our helicopter is arriving to pick us up at Il Riccio

 

After a big lunch, a case of Domaine Ott Rosé, 6 desserts and lots and lots of laughter, it’s time to say goodbye to my amazing hosts and dear friends: Mr. and Mrs. K. They have arranged for a helicopter to pick us up at the resort hotel we are at and fly us to Istanbul where we will connect on a flight to Nice and another helicopter to St. Tropez. I know…how glamorous is that???? If it was up too my budged, we’d be paddling on a rafter all the way to the South of France. After many, many kisses, hugs and tears, we jump on a Golf cart with our luggage and climb the hill to the helipad where our Augusta Helicopter is waiting to take us on the two hour journey to Istanbul.

Taking off on a heli, gives you a totally unique prospective over this incredible region; both Raffi and I couldn’t stop taking photos of this magical landscape. It’s quite noisy on a helicopter, so they provide you with headphones that are connected to one another so you can speak to each other, while blocking the outside noise. Two hours seem to go by in a second and, once again, the view of Istanbul, its bridges and palaces like you can only experience from a helicopter, is breathtaking; I don’t want to get off!

Like all good things…this too must come to an end and we must face our own reality now and reluctantly, board an incredibly ordinary commercial jet as the pedestrians we are…sigh! I’m just kidding…I don’t care how I get anywhere as long as I’m going somewhere all the time!!!!!


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That’s the way we roll…

 

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Robert Kass serious Heli pose

 

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Robert Kass and Raffi’s stupid pose

 

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The amazing views of Goçek from our helicopter


IMG_4982More…

 

IMG_5021Arriving in Istanbul

 

The rest of the trip is quite ordinary so I’ll catch up with you possums tomorrow morning when I wake up in “Cheese ball City” St. Tropez for my quick, 24 hour visit.

Au revoir ma Turquie, au revoir mes amis…à la prochaine!

 

Off to the Land of the Gods for some crystal waters and more amazing food

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After going to bed last night, around 3AM our captain set sail to Greece so that by the time we all wake up for breakfast, we have arrived to our destination. It is a standard practice for yachts to travel during the night so guests don’t have to be bothered sitting around doing nothing while the boat is traveling on a long distance destination. Greece is truly a spectacular country and one of my favorite summer destinations; often called the birthplace of Western civilization, it consists of 2 mainland peninsulas and thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas, one more beautiful than the other. Turkey is it’s closest neighbor to the east and just 6-7 hours from it’s closest island. Our first stop is the island of Marathi, where we will have our first Greek meal! I loooove Greek food, it is so simple and delicious; their Greek salads are perfection and their basic ingredients like tomatoes, olive oil, oregano and especially fresh sea foods are second to none.

 

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The many, many islands between Turkey and Greece mainland

 

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Off the the land of Gods

 

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Leaving Turkey behind

 

Marathi is a tiny little island with something like 20 inhabitants, alongside 6 goats, 2 black cats and a chicken. Pantelis Marathi, the only restaurant on the island and a real treat for local fair and amazing seafood, fresh from the ocean; big group luncheons are a must in these areas and the atmosphere is loud and lots of fun. We start with a selection of appetizers including grilled octopus, Greek salads, hummus, mussels, eggplant and then their signature dish: Grilled lobster with tagliatelle. It’s a feast worthy of the gods and we certainly don’t shy away from stuffing our faces, not to mention, the many, many bottles of rosé that seem to be a must anywhere in Europe during the summer holidays. After lunch we are off to the island of Symi.

 

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Arriving at Pantelis Marathi Restaurant

 

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Nothing better than big groups for a summer luncheon

 

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Grilled octopus

 

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Classic Greek Salad

 

DSC00528The delicious medley of Mediterranean appetizers served in most restaurants in Greece


DSC00548The famous Lobster Tagliolini


Symi is known for its beaches and its colorful neoclassical houses that adorn the whole facade of the island. Here we walk around for a little shopping and stop at my favorite spice store where you can buy the best Greek spices such as oregano, wild sage, paprika and oh yes…sex tea (Some weird concoction that supposedly enhances your sexual experience…those horny Greeks!). Symi is really tiny, like most Greek islands, and you only need an hour to look around after which we take the small speed boat to go around the island looking for the most amazing natural beaches with the clearest blue waters you will ever see for a little water and sun action. By 4PM, it’s toy-time again: Sea-Bobs, Water-Boarding, jet skies and the whole lot. Let me tell you, unless you are 20 years old, after a few hours of this testosterone demonstration, you are completely exhausted and yours truly is ready for a siesta before dinner at the small port of Symi.

 

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The beautiful island of Symi

 

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More Symi

 

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And more Symi

 

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Stavros’ Spice shop

 

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All the many local spices at Stavros’s Spice Shop

 

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Paolo taking me back to the boat after a little shopping in Symi

 

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One of the stunning beaches in Symi only accessible by boat

 

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One of the many stunning natural beaches only accessible by boat

 

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Robert Kass channeling Bond…James Bond

 

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Raffi water-boarding at dusk

 

Around 8PM, Raphael and I decide to go to the port before the rest of the gang for a drink at the popular Harani Bar: when I say popular, I mean it’s the only place in Symi that has more than 3 tables and therefore, somewhat of a crowd, though most of them are tacky tourists with 21 flowers on their back, a fanny pack and a camera…my favorite! Even so, it’s a beautiful thing having a cocktail at this ancient sea village, surrounded by ancient buildings, under the stars at a stifling 95-Fahrenheit. One cocktail turns into 4 each and before you know it, we are crawling over to the other end of the port to join the rest at Ristorante la Vaporetta, the best Italian restaurant in Symi.

 

IMG_4907Symi’s happening scene: Bar Harani

The place is so charming and you get to sit right on the water with the twinkling lights of the port as a backdrop. After the best tomato and feta cheese I have ever had in my life, it’s once again, a culinary journey of Greek-Italian fusion dishes that are just beyond amazing. It is so hot tonight and I can’t wait to get back to the boat for a refreshing swim in the ocean and perhaps anther movie on the top deck with a bowl of Paolo’s deadly Truffle popcorn and more Rosé.


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Arriving at Ristorante La Vaporetta

 

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Ristorante La Vaporetta

 

la-vaporettaLove the menu with so many notes and corrections


11034065_1600734156871483_193423952_oWhy is he so unhappy and not the lobsters?


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Beautiful sail boat at the port of Symi

 

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Back home for a late night swim

 

It’a really hard not to think of all of us as a bunch of alcoholics, but when I tell you that there is not much you can do on board of a boat but eat and drink, I ain’t kidding!!!! Another popular activity on board with this group is karaoke! Not the kind you have in mind, more like blasting rap music through the boat system in the middle of the ocean while lip sinking along and trying to move and shake as true rappers. Nothing better than a bunch of Europeans whitees on a yacht trying to be rappers from the hood.

I swear, another week of this and I’ll look like “Jabba the Hutt” and will not fit in any of my clothes…Luckily, it’s Greece and I can always just throw a Pareo around my waist and call it a day. Tonight, after bedtime, we will be sailing through the night back to Turkey for our last day in the South before Raffi and I head over to St. Tropez in the South of France.

Have I mentioned how blessed I am? I am always truly grateful and humbled! Peace out.

Jetting to the South of Turkey for a week of “Yachting”, on a dime…of course!

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Good morning everyone!!!! I’m so ready for a little boat action in the beautiful South of Turkey (actually, more like a big boat action). After the waterfront breakfast ritual…this time with the house pet: the totally “Bonkers” Lillie the Kitty, who today decided to join me for breakfast…more specifically, decided to wrap herself around my neck, like a Stole. One last scrambled eggs with Sukuk (the lethal Turkish sausage) and it’s time to pack…BTW I have no idea who’s cigarettes are those by my side…bad kitty! By late morning a caravan of sedans with myself, Raphael and Nibbles’ family make way to the airport for the fairly short flight to the South of Turkey, specifically: Göcek. Göcek is a stunning ocean village that has not yet suffered the claws of tourism and over development, as it’s neighbor Bodrum has. The natural layout of islands and coves in this large and secluded bay makes it a perfect place for the yacht set. Furthermore, in 1988, Göcek was declared a Registered Area of Special Protection, so multi-story buildings are not allowed, this has literally killed all plans to over-build and develop, making it renowned as a much more peaceful and exclusive settlement than some other tourism areas.

 

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Last Turkish breakfast on the Bosphorus…with Lillie the Kitty

 

After a delightful flight on a Falcon 900 private jet, we arrive in Dalamal Airport and into a new caravan for our final destination. At the marina, our dingy is waiting for us to take us to our fabulous yacht where we will be spending the next week, cruising up and down the Turkish coast and across the Mediterranean to a few Greek Islands. At the boat, the fabulous staff, lead by the charismatic head steward Paolo, greets us with cocktails and nibbles; It’s really hot in Göcek and both Raffi and I can’t wait to get in the water. After settling in our guest suites we all meet on the deck for more drinks and to visit with our dear friend Burçak, who is herself, on her boat a few bays away. I’ve known Burçak for many years and it’s always such a pleasure to see her and her husband Selim. One of the features of these Yacht populated micro systems, is that you make friends with neighboring yachts and before you now it, you become part of this exclusive posse; you are going from party to party, to dinner to dinner, cocktail to cocktail…all on yachts of course. If you suffer of seasickness…well, then you should consider another glamorous form of transportation. The thing about yacht life is that there are only three things to do: eat, drink and, for the more industrious: water activities. I happen to enjoy all three equally, so after a few welcoming cocktails, a few local raw nuts and 3 glasses of Ornellaia, I’m jumping in!!!!!

 

 

IMG_4722Boarding the Falcon 900 for our trip to Göcek

 

IMG_4740Someone is very happy…

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Someone is very tired…

 

The water is warm and crystal clear and the view of the untouched, natural plush landscape is riveting; after a few Esther Williams laps around the boat, it’s time for toys! This boat happens to have all the toys a kid or a immature, adult as I am, could hope for; it’s Disneyland on the water and between me, Raffi and Nibbles’ kids, it’s a never ending race on who can out due the other. I’m into the new See-Bob, a submergible that propels you under water like a submarine; all you have to do is press a button and hold on for dear life and this thing will drag you under water for as long as you can stand it. There is a lot of seawater drinking at the beginning until you get the hang of it. Raffi, on the other hand, is going for Fly-boarding, a very popular contraption that you wear on your feet and with the help of an altered jet sky; it will lift you out of the water through water jets. Last time I tried this I fell on my face 23 times until I finally raised from the waters like a water angel…so I’ll tackle that tomorrow. Nibbles opts for a good old classic waterskiing session behind a very powerful See-Doo. After swallowing half the bay of Gocek behind my See-bob, I decide to go back and have a Leonardo moment: “King of the world” at the front of the boat before joining the rest of the gang for cocktail hour #3.

 

 

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The Russians have arrived. They always have the biggest boats…Hummm

 

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Grandma’s spectacular 1920′ steamer yacht

 

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The head steward on the boat, the lovely Paolo

 

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The beautiful Burçak Sayilgan with Robert Kass

 

IMG_4896A very traditional Turkish snack: raw almonds and walnuts on ice

 

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Jesus juice…Ornellaia

 

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The Canadian getting psiched-up for “Fly boarding”

 

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And he’s up…


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Robert Kass channeling Leonardo di Caprio

 

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This one never takes a bad photo…we will call her “Cover girl”

 

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“Cover girl” mono-skying in Göçek

 

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Raphael Tessier enjoying the warm waters of the Mediterranean

 

One of the many unique things about Gocek is their amazing restaurants on the sea that you can only reach by boat; tonight we are going to one of my favorites that specializes in Mediterranean foods who’s name escapes me…I know, ridiculous! I spent 1 hour on the internet looking for the name of this restaurant but that’s how exclusive it is…You can’t find it!!! You can only get here by boat and the food is fresh and delicious with the usual Turkish specialties and my favorite: Linguini with fresh lobster. There is not a sound around you but the restaurant activities, the water is now flat as a mirror and there is this sense of peace that i can’t describe. Looking out form out special table on the sand, you can see the many little green islands disappearing into the night and the silhouettes of the yachts anchored for the night. It’s time to go back to the boat for a late movie on the top deck under the stars and Paolo’s bed-e-buys nightcap before I hit the bed: Grappa and black cherries…when in Rome!

 

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Arriving at one of my favorite restaurants on the beach

 

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Our table…right on the water

 

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“Cover girl” strikes again

 

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The charming “Al fresco” dining

 

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Dusk in Göçek



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Our floating home at Dusk

 

IMG_4842 Paolo’s idea of a night cap: black cherries and Grappa

 

Yacht life is exhausting!!! I know…shoot me!