HiFly 2000 catalogue team at Alaçati Windsurfers' Paradise

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So you think, "legendary windsurf hot spots always have to be thousands of kilometers away, and have waves rushing into Caribbean bays", right? Then think again, because there are actually some great windsurfing spots within close reach, so you don't have to sit in a plane for days!

A few days ago I called Thorsten Indra to plan a windsurf-trip together. This time, we came up with three possible destinations to choose from - the Canary Islands, Greece, and Turkey. I had a few days to think about it, and it slowly became clear where we should go. Greece would be windy, but the islands are overrun by tourists at this time of year (July). Canaries did not sound too exciting, since I had been there often already. I hadn't really been to Turkey yet, though - that would be something new. But I had hesitations: would not the Ocalan situation makes it unsafe? Whatever, I thought, I have windsurfed amongst sharks and whales - this thing shouldn't stop me! So I get back in touch with Thorsten and my windsurf buddy Axel Reese to let them know: Turkey is on. Then I remembered that Harry Nass, an old racer friend of mine, runs a Windsurf Center in Alacati, down the coast from Izmir. A while ago he had left me his business card and I promised him to stop by sometime - and now seemed to be the time. I send him an e-mail, and we were on our way.

We left from Munich. The airplane was packed with Turkish families returning home for summer vacation. At least we won't get bored, with kids, pets, and parents running up and down the aisle. Finally we landed - and I actually expected throngs of people and baggage carriers to hassle me in Izmir. But I was pleasantly surprised to see things running smoothly, people doing their job, and all of our luggage arriving on the belt. Oliver, the surfschool manager, picks us up on time, complete with an old, battered, but functioning truck for all our gear. The trip takes about an hour. Oliver fills us in a bit on how things work in Turkey, and gives us a few tips which proved very useful during our stay. Right from the beginning, Oliver took good care of us, put the surf station at our disposal, and was a great guide to the secret spots and the restaurants in the area. The landscape passing by outside the dusty truck window is very dry with only few plants. That same unique smell I remember from Sardinia hits my nose again - until then, I hadn't found it anywhere else in the world. We finally arrived at the Surf Center. I was surprised to find an extensive grassy area surrounded by 3 surf-centers and a cute restaurant complete with an open terrace overlooking the sea. There was even a beach volleyball court and many lounge chairs just waiting to be used for soaking up the sun and relaxing. All the buildings are made of wood, giving them a look that fits right into the natural surroundings.

Spot

The main windsurf-spot is a U-shaped bay with side-shore wind from the left (the northwest "Meltemi"). The wind blows through on its way out to sea and gets reinforced by the venture effect as it passes between the mountains. But there is no hint of danger - the inlet is about three kilometers wide. In front of the Surf Center is a 500 meter wide and 400 meter long natural "swimming pool", chest-deep, where standing is easy. Outside this shallow area the water color turns to a deeper blue as nice as the Aegean sky. In the morning, Alacati is an ideal spot for beginners, and advanced sailors who want to improve on their jibes. As the land warms up toward the afternoon, the wind kicks in, and everyone looking to try out or refine freestyle moves is on the water. The absolutely flat water in the "swimming pool" and the steady wind make for an ideal playground to practice your maneuvers. You can fully concentrate on your sailing without worrying about choppy water throwing you off. People, try out whatever you like: duck jibes, 360°s, helicopter tacks, spin loops... Here you'll learn fast and have a blast while you're at it. If you are into catching some air, just cruise out to the dark water, where you'll find choppy water similar to that of Lake Garda - ideal conditions for all air tricks - willy skippers, volcans, etc. While I was there I used sails sized 6.2 - 4.5qm- 20 out of 21 days!! Not bad, heh!? And don't forget that I left Munich at 8am and was on the water by 2pm! Alacati is definitely the most consistently windy and safest spot in the Mediterranean Sea. From June to September the "Meltemi" blows steadily. In April, May and October, the "Poiras" wind blows from the opposite direction and gives Alacati even a bit of waves that can reach 2 meters in the bay.

We stayed in a hotel about 7 kilometers from the Surf Center- a very nice facility complete with swimming pool and tennis courts. The grounds lie directly on the sea in the bay of llica. The Meltemi also blows here - onshore, but that makes for a bit of beach break at least. Only disadvantage: the many swimmers and vacationers. An great shuttle service was provided 3 times a day between the surrounding hotels and the windsurfing beach. The locals: The people we met were extremely nice and very ready to be of assistance. Their helpful attitude comes straight from the heart, and the locals are immediately offended when someone refuses their hospitality. Tips are unheard of, and no one is pushing you to buy some random souvenir - quite contrary to what we experienced in Egypt. Concerning the Ocalan situation, we weren't affected at all. And the earthquakes, We left just in time. What is there to see? Cesme - the capital of the so-called Donkey Peninsula, llica, and Alacati are all important centers for tourists. Cesme is situated in a very beautiful bay about 10 kilometers from the Surf Center. Here the ferries from Italy and Greece pull in. Filled with small shops that pour out onto the streets, the town caters to tourists. In the evening, the town is alive with live music in the main square, and locals and tourists alike crowding into the local pubs inside the city wail.

Ilica translated to English means "thermal bath". Here in the bay are the sources of over 16 warm water springs that originate deep underground. In the harbor, you can relax in the thermal waters that can reach 42° C. Ilica is also where you will find most of the big hotels, as it offers a long sandy beach with warm water for swimming. Alacati is worth a closer look. Time seems to have stopped here. Evenings, the women knit on the front steps of old houses that line narrow alleys, while the men go to the local pubs to play a game sort of like dominos and drink the native Turkish coffee and teas. The Saturday market there is a must - mountains of fruit' vegetables, spices, and fish tempt the eyes and nose. Of course, you can also get great deals on clothing and linens.

Turkey offers more than just windsurfing, It is rich in culture, and some of the places to see are Istanbul, Troy, Ephesus, Antalya, and Pamukkale. We chose to visit Ephesus. This ancient Greek and Roman city is amazingly intact and gives a real taste of how people in the early AD's lived. Just two hours away from Alacati, it is well worth the time. All in all, I can say that I enjoyed Turkey and I think I'll make it there again sometime. So, windsurfers, I know that you like white, sandy bays lined with palm trees, breaking waves, and day-long flights, but you should check out Alacati - you won't be disappointed. Words of a Freerider!

In short...

Flights
Friday from Munich

Language
Turkish, but German and some English is also understood.

Currency
The value of the Turkish Lira fluctuates drastically, as inflation ranges from 60 - 70%. During our trip, 220,000 Lira equaled 1 DM. Be prepared to be faced with many zeroes, otherwise you will be immediately shocked by the 6-digit bill from the waiter. Best is to bring small bills in western currency (DM, USD), and exchange to Liras in the hotels or banks.

Hotels
The hotels are very clean and well-kept. Recommended: a room with air conditioning, or a can of mosquito repellent!

Car Rental
Renting cars is no bargain. Plan on spending around 70DM per day; best is to arrange rental out of Izmir. Or opt for a Scooter - just 25 DM per day.

Gas
A bargain.

Food
If Turkish food is new to you, you will need to quickly get used to a spicy, well seasoned variety. For a change, try the pizzerias or the local fish restaurants.

Climate
Dry and warm. The refreshing wind makes the Donkey Peninsuia one of the most pleasant places in Turkey, especially in the Summer. Nights are cool, and, when the wind dies down, bring mosquitoes.

Water
                                    Don't drink the tap water. Water in the hotels is outrageously marked up.

Telephone
GSM worked without a problem.

Windsurf Equipment
The three windsurf centers are well stocked with the latest equipment. Fanatic/Art Center (Surf & Action Company), F2/Neil Pryde Center (Happy Sun&Fun) and Mistral Naish Center (run by Locals).

Text: Harry Negri
Translation: Sarah and Thorsten Indra
Photos: Thorsten Indra

This article was written when Harry Nass was stationed at Alacati Windsurfers' Paradise.

© HIFLY, Images published under HiFly 's kind permission.

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TURKEY

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