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DESTINY DIARY 2011, Part 2.

The Thousand Mile Cruise or Three War Zones in Three Weeks - Continued.

Our next visit was Beiteddine. We took the wrong road going through Beirut and so we had to go over the mountains again and passed a few military checkpoints. Beiteddine is a palace built in the 19th century by Emir Bechis Chehab II, on the edge of a steep valley. A classic Lebanese architecture with decorated ceilings, marble floors, Turkish baths, and a beautiful garden. In the stables are a display of mosaics from a nearby Roman Villa. After independence in 1943, the palace became the summer residence of the president. There were very few visitors; we were told later that it was not recommended for foreigners to visit due to security in the Bekaa, we later concluded that security was the reason that they rented us the old Chevy - that way we didn't stand out.
Beitadine Beitadine Beitadine
The Beitadine Palace. The Sultans Bathroom. The Harem.
The following day it rained and John suffered from a cold! John was still concerned about the fuel transfer pump not working properly so he dismounted the transfer filter and sent it for cleaning, we refitted and it seemed to improve a bit. We spent our last day visiting the small town of Jouneih.
We loved Lebanon, a country of contrasts, people as well as scenery. On the coast it's mainly Christians - its all wealth, big cars, big shops, big houses and the interior are all small villages or Bedouins tents. But everywhere you are made welcome, they are so happy to see tourists. There are a few places in Lebanon where tourist are told not to go (Don't go North they said, or South, and definitely don't go East! - ed). There are security concerns, but if you are sensible, there are not normally any problems - apart from the odd kidnapping. We liked the country and its people and hope to come back again one day.
We had contacted the marina in Haifa, informing them of our visit and they in turn had contacted, on our behalf, the Israeli Navy, who had emailed us advising us of the entry procedure, which included radio contacts and an entry waypoint. N.B. The Israeli's don't mind if you come from Lebanon, but you can't travel from Israel to Lebanon - unless you have a serious sense of adventure!
It was time to move on. On September 25th, We had decided to take advantage of the price of fuel and moved to the fuel dock to buy 900 litres for 1000$ and get our passports back. We went to bed for a few hours, planning to leave at 11PM, so that we could enter Israel in daylight hours, but at 10 o'clock we were awaken by explosions and shooting noises, there was a wedding, and they were firing fireworks over the top of us (yes, we were still on the fuel dock - but nice to have a send off), there was no point trying to sleep anymore and so we left the marina. After the fireworks we had lighting from big thunder storm over the mountains - definitely time to go. Oscar Charlie called us, for a chat, and we had to say that we were en route for Port Said - Politics, diplomacy or cowardice, take your pick.
Israeli Navy Insolite Haifa
Israeli Navy Escort into Haifa. Dentist - Israeli style!
We had a quiet crossing, the UN and then the Israeli navy contacted us on the VHF for the usual questions of where and who and we were given an entry position into Israeli water. A patrol boat came by, but didn't stop. At 4p.m. we arrived in Haifa and a small navy patrol boat (with a lady driver, and a big machine gun on the front) escorted us into the harbour for customs and police clearance. We were directed to the cruise ship quay where a committee waited for us, John was asked to step ashore and was politely interrogated. Then, two customs officers came on board and checked through the boat. We were handed back our passports and that was it, we were in Israel! Everything finished, the navy boat kindly escorted us to the Carmel Yacht Club, located at the far end of the port, beyond the commercial dock, in the middle of nowhere! Yves, the yacht club president, who had arranged everything for us met us on the quay and we had a beer and a chat.
The following day we took a taxi to visit the town of Haifa and were dropped on Mont Carmel, above the Bahai Shrine and gardens overlooking a beautiful view of Haifa. Funnily, there isnt a center as such, in Haifa. We bussed down to the bottom of the hill to visit the 'German Colony', an area built by the original colonists,who were 'Templers', a religious Protestant sect formed in southern Germany.
Haifa Bahai Shrine
Seagull's view of Haifa. Baha'i temple on Mount Carmel.
As usual we had arrived in 'holiday time', first off, it was Rosh Shana, or Jewish New Year and the choice was to be stuck in the Carmel YC with no facilities or go on to Herzilya (near Tel Aviv) marina. We had to arrive before midday, so on 26th September we got up at 4 am (a lot of early mornings in this job!), and left Haifa. We called the Navy but had no reply, they'd lost interest in us, and although we monitored the VHF, they didn't contact us again all of the time that we remained in Israel. It was a nice trip down, and we reached Herzliya by 11.30 am, where we met Yael who is in charge of the marina customer service. Herzliya marina is the complete opposite to Haifa; the marina is surrounded by apartments and includes a big shopping complex with lots of bars and restaurants, and 100 times quieter than Alanya! The only let down were the shower and toilet facilities.
Herzliya Marina.jpg Herzliya Beach
Herzliya Marina Party Night - Herzliya Beach
We had come to Israel to visit my family. My father lives in Ashdod and my sister in Tel Aviv. Her daughter was married this year but we couldn't make it to the wedding. I was looking forward to seeing them, but in the end, because of the holidays, we didn't see them for very long. We tried to go to Tel Aviv marina but they were full. On Yael's recommendation we took the train to Caesaria and visited the old town, built by Herod the Great as a deep sea harbour. It had been an important city and today you can still see the remains of storerooms, markets, baths and temples to Rome and Augustus. There is also a Roman theater and of course the chariot racing circus. On the other side is a Crusade Castle and Cathedral, and a minaret (something for everybody them - ed). It is a beautiful site on the sea shore which has been rebuilt with the help of the Edmond de Rothschild foundation. But the highlight was the ice cream parlour that we found - the best ice cream in the middle east. But I lost my folding hat from Singapore :(
Handsome Extreme Beutifull
Another country conquered What's a country? Ain't she luvly!
We were trying to find a way to visit Jordan and Petra (by land, it's not on the coast), but in the end we gave up, impossible to arrange anything until after the holidays. On October 4th we decided to go south to Ashdod and visit my father. We left at 9.30am and arrived at half past one, with the wind increasing. We were met by Yoram, the very friendly harbour master.
Ashdod marina is a bit better than Haifa, but not much more - it's not yet finished, unlike Haifa, which is not yet started! It is quite a long way out of town, but the most surprising aspect were the charges - they wanted 950 shekels for 3 days, (about 60/night) I negotiated that down to 600shk - still expensive. My father was waiting for us on the quay and we spent some time with him. We had lunch with him the following day and John went through the tools that my father wanted to give him!!! Most of them, we couldn't take on the boat but we still ended up with a lot of new tools, including about 500 drill bits (what can you do with masonry drills on a steel boat?) and a 25Kg Kangoo (electric Masonry drill - how were we supposed to get that back to France).
Whist in Ashdod we were expecting a package by DHL, but because it was Friday, it would not be delivered until the following Monday, but we could go and get it from the airport. So we asked for a taxi and met the worst taxi driver in the world. He didn't have a clue where to go and when he asked (many times) for instructions he still did not have a clue where to go!! But eventually we got to DHL. When we arrived back at the marina, he had the temerity to ask if we would need him again!!! Some people just dont realize how incompetent they are!!!! The other thing that happened was I lost my phone. I looked for it everywhere and eventually resigned myself to its loss. Then, that evening we were having a beer with the harbour master in the cockpit, when a man brought it back after he'd found it lying on the pontoon! I couldn't believe my luck.
Ceaseria Hippodrome
Ben Hur, eat your heart out - The old chariot racing circus in Ceasaria
We didn't really need to stay in Ashdod and another holiday was due, on 7th October we left Ashdod, tried again for Tel Aviv but ended up in Herzliya once more, for the Yom Kippur holiday the only day were everything is closed, no traffic, no people, no shops, nothing - dead quiet! We had a nice day cleaning and sorting a few things on the boat and I went swimming from the beach, the sea was still so warm - delicious.
At 9 O'clock on Sunday we took the bus to Tel Aviv where we met with my sister, Jacqueline and my father to visit my mother in Jaffa, she is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and is being cared for in a home it was a very sad time! Afterwards we had lunch with Jacqueline, and had a short walk around Tel Aviv.
Next day ththey changed the clocks - Israel changes to winter time a month before the rest of the world and nobody told us! That was it for Israel, time to leave. Just as a note, you may think that we didn't do much on this trip to visit the sites, but John and I have visited Israel on many occasions, so we'd 'done' the tourist bit before. We left Herzliya and returned to Haifa marina, with some dolphins as company. We went in to Haifa again and from Mt. Carmel we took the underground funicular railway which is a single track tube with 6 stations descending very steeply down to the port. We walked through the town and finished in a small restaurant where we had a simple hummus salad with fresh pita bread and chips delicious!
We checked the GRIB files (internet weather) and forecasts and decided to leave for Farmagusta (N. Cyprus). At 10.20 am, having finally cleared customs we left Haifa. We had a nice crossing through the day and night with a full moon. We met with 3 big ships, half way across, who all waanted to be in the same place as us, at the same time; it was on Johns watch, so no problem! The UN called us up on the radio for the normal questions, no problems until he asked John to spell Farmagusta phonetically. With current and wind with us we sailed at up to 7.7 knots, it was exactly 10 am when we entered Farmagusta, the Turkish side of Cyprus.
FarMagusta.jpg Karpaz Gate marina
'Far' or 'Gazi' Magussa - as you prefer. Karpaz Gate - The marina at the end of the world.
Farmagusta, or as it is called in Turkish Gazi Magussa, is a commercial harbour with a small fishing harbour pontoon, where we got squeezed in between two fishing boat. We had to check in at the ferry terminal building a bit of walk around the corner. We knew bad weather was on its way and wanted to get to the Marina of Karpaz Gate fairly quickly (about 10 hours away around the long tail of Cyprus), so we negotiated that we would leave that afternoon and anchor along the coast for the night. We obtained a pass and visited the town for a couple of hours. A very nice old town with some vestige of its important past, the Lusignan palace, the remains of a Venetian palace, the Cathedral that has been converted into a mosque (quite amazing), but all the other churches are in ruins. Once we got back to the boat, we decided we were to tired to move on, so stayed put for the night.
On Saturday 15th October we left Magussa at daybreak, with the sun rising, we had a nice cruise, no wind and a bit of current with us. We rounded the tip of the island at 1am cutting through between the rocks, rather than going the long way around and arrived in Karpaz Gate Marina at 4pm. This marina only opened this year, the few boats moored are either on free mooring or half price for the winter but we had to pay full price : 63/day! We made a first mistake to pay for 2 days in advance because the bad weather was due to come through. We should have left on the Sunday, in n the end we got stuck in this marina for 5 days, because the bad weather came through later than expected. It the most expensive mistake of the season. The marina is located in the middle of nowhere, the nearest small town being 4km away. I tried to find it, but took the wrong turning and arrived in a village called Sipahi. Along the road I found the ruins of AY. Tras Basilica, it looked like an old Roman house with mosaics. I didn't find any shops in the village, but it was sad seeing the Christians houses abandoned and used as barns.
We finally left on the 20th, grateful to get away, though we had met some good friends on a boat named 'Souris Rose'. It was not ideal weather to start with (read, bloody rough), but it settled down and we arrived in Girne at 3.30pm. Delta Marina was the first marina to answer our VHF call straight away, the staff were friendly, but the mooring ground line got caught in the propeller, half way into the berth and the skipper had to dive to release it - the water was cold but clean! This marina is not as big or modern as Karpaz Gate, but it was lot friendlier and we paid only 25/day.
Girne Old Port.jpg Girne Sea View.jpg
The old port at Girne (Kyrenia). Marina view from the castle.
From Girne (Kyrenia in Greek) we took the bus in to Nicosia. These days it's possible to walk across the 'border', through 'No-Mans_land' to the other Cyprus, so we went to south Cyprus for lunch! It was very interesting seeing the difference between the Turkish side and the Greek. In the 'no-mans-land' zone between the two halves (only a couple of hundred meters) the buildings have just been abandoned in ruins,yet another reminder of the stupidity of mankind! The Greek side is very much European, with shops recognizable from any high street, whilst the turkish size is, well Turkish, with a lot of small local shops and souvenirs from Istanbul. We wandered around on both sides of the border and on the Turkish side we walked through the old town and visited the Byk Han, the largest caravansary which has been completely restored. Nicosia is a odd place, with either no identity or two identities depending on how you look at it - I don't think I'd like to live here.
Girne Castle Girne Castle
'The castle at Girne with the mountainous backdrop. Girne castle, courtyard.
Back in Girne, the old castle is well worth visiting, with all the old walls that you would normally expect but also a restoration project for a ship dating from something-BC. It's interesting when you consider the cargo of oils and barrels and stuff that it carried and presumably a half dozen crew and yet it's only slightly bigger than Destiny - makes you think. Whilst in Girne, we were told about a great restaurant, just around the corner from the marina, off the tourist track, but well known by locals - 'Peanuts', if you ever visit Girne, it won't disappoint.
Finally the wind calmed down and it was time head home, so on Monday morning 24th October, we cleared customs and at 7.45 we left Girne for the mainland and Alanya. We had a pleasant crossing; the current was with us so we arrived 2 hours before schedule and at 9.OO pm we were safely moored in Alanya. So there we are - just under a 1000 miles or three war zones in three weeks - and we weren't shot at once!
So now the boat's all wrapped up and put away out of the water in Alanya and we are writing this in the depths of a French winter. Next year, well the plans move and change as always, but hopefully, we'll have a longer season (we plan to get back to Alanya in April) and then go to ................. in .................
Madona in Lebanon Camels
'The Madonna of Harissa overlooking Jouneih. Camel Crossing!
Day out in Turkey Sunset East Med
'A day out in Turkey, or Turkeys on a day out. The End.
That's all folks............ Be back next year.
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