New Mersin, Turkey, to Latakia, Syria, Ferry Launched

2007 UPDATE: The ferry has returned in 2007. See the 2007 dates, schedule and prices.

I thought this ferry service would never begin. I hope I have the opportunity to take it at some stage this summer. I wonder if I can receive a Syrian visa upon arrival like I can at the land border.

The impact, if any, this ferry will have on Mersin will be interesting for sure. Arabs are already the main tourists here.

In my 6 trips to Syria I never went to Latakia (alternative spelling: Lattakia, in Turkish: Lazkiye), one of Syria’s two main ports (Tartous being the other).

Mersin-Latakia sea line launched
Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A new maritime route between two important Turkish and Syrian ports is expected to stimulate tourism and trade relations. The ferry will make the three-and-a-half-hour trip twice a week.

MERSIN – TDN/Referans

The first seabus departed Mersin port on Monday, launching the Mersin-Latakia ferry and reinvorating tourism and trade between Turkey and Syria.

Speaking at the inauguration Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MTSO) Chairman Kadri Şaman said they had been working on this project for two years. “With the leadership of the MTSO and the Chamber of Shipping [DTO], a maritime company named Merlat Denizcilik was formed with the participation of 40 corporations and various individuals. We overcame difficulties hand in hand. This maritime line will contribute considerably to the tourism sectors of both countries,” he said.

The seabus will run twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

“If we have as successful a turnout as we expect, then we will increase the number of trips. This initiative can also be developed further to include other Middle Eastern countries that have coasts on the eastern Mediterranean,” Şaman said.

The new line would enable the city to develop tourism, Mersin Governor Hüseyin Aksoy said. “This link to our neighboring country Syria is important in terms of the expansion of Mersin tourism. This line will not only contribute to the tourism dimension but also to trade, economy and culture. What lies ahead is a process starting with tourism and developing into many other areas,” the governor said.

Mersin Mayor Macit Özcan said they were always in favor of developing relations with Arab countries. He added that there was a standoff in the relations between Turkey and Syria. “We will overcome the standoff with these kinds of initiatives to eventually get rid of it totally. The two countries need each other,” he claimed.

The first Mersin-Latakia seabus took off from Mersin with 210 passengers on board and arrived at Latakia after a three-and-a-half-hour trip.



PRICES: the ferry costs $48 one way and $96 return. With these prices it is cheaper but more hassle to cross to Syria overland via Antakya.

SCHEDULE: The ferry runs Mondays and Thursdays, departing Mersin at 9 AM and returning from Latakia at 2 PM.

My Current Most Important Possession: Hand Held Blender

My blender and its Efes glass drinking partner

If I was asked what was my most important possession at this point of time I would have to say my hand-held blender. Drinking the smoothies I produce with this blender give me great joy, particular whilst the spring/summer fruits are around. Almost all the fruit-based smoothies are unique as I base the recipe upon the ingredients I have in the fridge at the time.

Below are some example recipes. The instructions for all are: Prepare fruits into manageable pieces; add ingredients to a jug or large glass and blend until smooth. For a colder drink, add ice, either before or after blending.

mint (dried or fresh although fresh is best)

roasted skinless peanuts
vanilla essence

vanilla essence

Almond Magnum (icecream)
Baileys Irish Cream (or similar liqueur)
optional: vanilla flavoured vodka for that killer-touch

The last recipe is one I first drank at Adelaide Casino after winning some money. Like a casino, the drink is very rich, although somewhat classier.

World Cup: Australia Versus Brazil

In less than an hour I will be at Peter, Cansin and Michael’s place watching Australia play Brazil in the soccer World Cup. As the only Aussies in town we hope Australia win. To be honest, I would be ecstatic if Australia even draw.

I didn’t watch Australia’s victory over Japan as I had a few urgent jobs at work. After work I walked from to Peter’s house with my large Aussie flag drapped around me. I got a few looks from the locals. A bakkal (shopkeeper) I shopped at thought I was American!

If miracles occur and Australia beat Brazil, Peter, Michael and I will hoon around Mersin in a car tooting the horn and flashing our lights with the Aussie flag flying out the window, just like the locals do. I’m only disappointed we didn’t have a chance to beat Turkey!

Here is a joke I found from the internet, reflecting Australia’s chances against Brazil:

It is just before Australia v Brazil at the next World Cup game.
Ronaldino goes into the Brazilian changing room to find all his team-mates
looking a bit glum. “What’s up?” he asks. “Well, we’re having trouble getting
motivated for this game. We know it’s important but it’s only Australia.
They’re shite and we can’t be bothered”. Ronaldino looks at them and says
“Well, I reckon I can beat these by myself, you lads go down the pub. “

So Ronaldino goes out to play Australia by himself and the rest of the
Brazilian team go off for a few jars. After a few pints they wonder
how the game is going,so they get the landlord to put the TV on.

A big cheer goes up as the screen reads “Brazil 1 – Australia 0 (Ronaldino 10 minutes)”.

He is beating Australia all by himself! Anyway, a few more pints later
and the game is forgotten until someone remembers “It must be full time now,
let’s see how he got on”. They put the TV on.
“Result from the Stadium “Brazil 1 (Ronaldino 10 minutes) – Australia 1 (Viduka 89 minutes)”.

They can’t believe it, he has single handedly got a draw against Australia!!
They rush back to the Stadium to congratulate Ronaldino. They find him in the
dressing room, still in his gear, sat with his head in his hands.
He refuses to look at them. “I’ve let you down, I’ve let you down.”
“Don’t be daft, you got a draw against Australia, all by yourself.
And they only scored at the very, very end!”
“No, No, I have, I’ve let you down… I got sent off after 12 minutes”

The Past 3 Months

Believe it or not, i came back to Turkey from my Australian holiday 3&1/2 months ago. I’ve been very slack with the blog updating. Here is a brief on some of the events since returned:

Pipes in the house between kitchen and Turkish toilet were replaced.
My neighbour below, the house owner, experienced intermittent problems of a filthy brown liquid dripping from her bathroom ceiling. Initially this was thought to be caused by our drains blocking. At the same time my kitchen and Turkish toilet ceilings were flaking due to moisture. Eventually, the problem area was excavated and rusty pipes were found to be the cause of both problems. When excavating a truckload (in the owner’s polite Turkish words) of sewerage fell into her place. I’m glad I was at work when this occured.

Bomb in Mersin
On 3 June a small bomb exploded near Mersin’s port injuring several people. I first found out about it when I read the news ticker on CNN TV. The likely suspect has been caught down the highway in Tarsus.

Da Vinci Code

I saw Da Vinci Code the movie at Mersin’s Metro Sinemasi (Metro Cinema). I had not read the book and found the movie to be all over the place plot-wise. The movie did bring up 2 thoughts:
1) I hope the movie inspires people to question their faith more.
2) I can’t imagine the protests and reaction in the Muslim world if Da Vinci Code was based on a Muslim sect.

Levent’s brother and sister visited
Levent’s family comes from Nusaybin, Mardin province, in south eastern Turkey, only a few kilometres from the Syrian border. I would love to visit Nusaybin and adjacent Syrian area one day. I havent seen Nusaybin or eastern Syria before. Levent has said his Mother and a few siblings may come to Mersin during summer. I look forward to some Mardin food 🙂

Natraj Departed
Natraj, my flatmate and workmate left Mersin to return to home in Bangalore, India. On the way he had a week in Egypt. Natraj’s farewell party was at ‘Bad-Lik Bar’, the rock pub we had spent many nights at. Unfortunately, it seems as though ‘Bad-Lik Bar’ recently closed. I’m not surprised as few people went there. The pub may be closed but the memories remain.

Natraj playing the air guitar at Bad-Lik Bar

Yachts Hit Mersin
For 2 days Mersin yacht harbour was inundated with dozens of international cruising yachts, including 2 or 3 from Australia. The luxurious catamarans looked particularly nice. The yachts were cruising around the Mediterranean as part of the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally.

VH1 Works
Unlike MTV (of which Levent’s TV can receive the German version), VH1 actually plays music videos, including those from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. I didn’t know we could receive VH1 until a month or so ago. I now watch it as much as I watch BBC World. Whilst writing this, a classic Jethro Tull clip is playing.

Mersin University Radio-102.8 FM
At work I now listen to Mersin University Radio when the reception is good. All employees were sick of the same repetitive music on Mix FM so the absolute variety on Mersin University Radio is a wonderful change. The station does not follow any format and I guess the music is chosen by whoever is programming it at that moment.