Even on the hottest July night it was refreshingly cool beneath the oriental sweet-gum trees. We had set out to explore the Gulf of Gökova, an azure blue fiord piercing deep into the mainland, its shores a labyrinth of bays, themselves interwoven with coves and inlets. Cevat Sakir, the Turkish novelist and short story writer who was exiled to Bodrum in the 1930s and loved it so much that he stayed for the rest of his life, counted 66 bays in the gulf, not to mention the coves within them. It was he who began the tradition of the Blue Voyage along this spectacular stretch of coast. Diving into the glittering blue water at every opportunity made my head spin, and the pine perfumed air was heady. I had no idea there were so many shades of green and blue. I gazed, breathed and swam insatiably. Our time was only too short and we were determined to visit as many of the lovely coves as possible. So we took the short but possibly most spectacular route.
Known in antiquity as Cedrai, Sedir has a legend larger than the island itself. It is said that Cleopatra came here with her lover Antonius, and to please him had ships bring sand from Egypt. The sand which inspired this legend is composed of spherical grains in a myriad colours that Sabahattin Eyüboglu described as 'the eggs of a fabulous insect.' More prosaically it is what geologists call oolithic sand. Marbled in everchanging patterns of turquoise, azure, sapphire and emerald, the sea at Sedir matches the sand in beauty. On the other side of the island are the ruins of a temple of Apollo, on whose site a church was later built, the remains of an ancient theatre amidst olive groves, an agora, and city walls. But on this occasion the seas spell of enchantment did not release me to wander in search of these. I would have liked to know the names of all the birds whose song I heard on this voyage, and of all the trees that gave us shade. Would I have felt closer to them if I knew their names? Perhaps.
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