3 am. In the cockpit a cold land breeze is held at bay – only just – by our aged side curtains. Jupiter is up and about, shining bright, but apart from the barking dogs the little town, the rows of fishing boats and my crew sleep.
Rosie has befriended all of those dogs. As her departing present she has doubtless brought armies of fleas, lice and other nasties on board Tainui, but for me it will have been worth it. Such is the power of a daughter over her adoring papa.
I am sipping hot coffee in the cockpit with head torch and Ian M Banks open on my lap, contemplating today’s adventures.
Dikili is a delight. Cafes line the watrefront and locals sit in the sun and sip tiny cups of tea. No tourists. Fishing boats come and go, their unmuffled 2 cylinder Turkish engines raucous in the harbour. I couldn’t work in one of these little boats. I have wondered whether there might be an opening here for a muffler maker, but no one seems to mind the noise.
Our bus trip from Dikili into the crowded and narrow streets of Bergama traversed land hallowed by millenia of human activity.
On a mountain above the town sits the Acropolis of Pergamon, a jewel of a site, whose rich history defies belief. We wandered among the parched white corinthian columns in the Sanctuary of Trajan and looked across the steep, 10,000 seat amphitheatre to the vast panorama of rolling hills and valleys beyond Bergama.
From the town itself there rose 50 simultaneous calls to Muslim prayer in what an sound engineer could only describe as acoustic mud. Eerie and very moving it was. There were few tourists and we wandered for hours through the ruins of this extraordinary place.
Slightly more prosaic is my continuing pursuit of a working mobile phone. I got and activated a Turkish SIM card in Bartin, as readers well know. But the good folk at the Vodaphone shop there neglected to tell me that I had to register my iPhone with the Turkish government. This is a separate activity requiring a visit to a Taxation office and the payment of 150 TL, receipt for which must then be brought back to Vodaphone for processing. They did not tell me either that my failure to do all this within a week would mean that my phone itself would be blocked throughout Turkey. The barely credible reason given for phone registration is prevention of telephone theft.
For the last 4,000 miles we have been using our phones for access to GRIB files (downloadable weather maps), email and website posts. For convenience you just can’t beat it. As I say, I was not told about the need for phone registration, and a week after my triumph in Bartin my phone stopped working. So did the iPad. So did Rosie’s phone. It took visits to 4 Vodaphone shops in Istanbul before we found out what was wrong. Of course, once a phone is blocked it takes 10 days to reverse the process. And just try finding the tax office in Istanbul. In Dikili the Vodaphone centre is closed on weekends. Dispirited but determined I trudged back there on Monday morning while Pasha, Tatiana and Rosie enjoyed hotel showers. No, Vodaphone told me, the nearest tax office is in Bergama. You will have to go there.
So our Pergamon visit was combined with a Vodaphone exploration. But in my fine tradition of galloping senescence I forgot to bring my passport. So a day born in high hope was tarnished. A phone will have to wait. Pergamon was a fine consolation prize though.
Later this morning we say goodbye to gorgeous Rosie. Another hole in Tainui – why this fine vessel doesn’t sink, I don’t know!
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