Sunday, February 3, 2008

Seas and straits.

hen I was trying to come up with the name of this blog, it was images of the turquoise colored waters around Turkey and Croatia that inspired me. The beautiful spectrum of blue and green shades provides a stunning backdrop for the surrounding landscape.

As I started reading up on the places that I would want to visit on this trip, I kept seeing references to places bordering the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Black, Marmara and Aegean Seas. Then there mention of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles which I had originally thought were rivers but are in fact, straits. Two countries borderd by 5 seas and two straits! I'm a city girl who is water girl at heart so short of spending my life living on the beach, getting to go to places surrounded by water is the next best thing! Somehow I didn't expect to enjoy so much waterscape in either Croatia or Turkey so I'm pleasantly surprised and thrilled!

If you look on the map, pretty much all of the west coast of Croatia lies on the Adriatic Sea. The Adriatic Sea separates the Italian and Balkan peninsulas and is a part of the Mediterranean Sea. We'll get to enjoy the Adriatic coast when we visit Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik. I'm looking forward to some fantastic views of the azure blue waters and since the Adriatic lies to the west of Croatia, some pretty phenomenal sunsets as well.

Geographically, Turkey is unique in that it is bordered by 4 seas - the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean to the south, the Aegean to the south east and the Marmara to the east. The Dardenelles and the Bosphorus connect the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean and Black Seas.
The Black Sea is one of a handful of inland seas, the largest of which is the Caspian Sea. Some say that the Black Sea is so named because of an extremely high concentration of microalgae which causes the darker colors of the water.

The Black Sea is the world’s largest meromictic basin meaning that the deeper waters do not mix with the upper layers of water that receive oxygen from the atmosphere. As a result, over 90% of the deeper Black Sea water is depleted of oxygen.

The landscape of the region of Turkey that borders the Black Sea is mountaineous, lush and vibrant green - a surprise to me as I had thought Turkey was more Mediterranean in geoclime. The humid climate and fertile soil encourage cultivation of a variety of crops including tea, tobacco, corn and hazelnuts.

Turkey's southern coast lies on the Mediterranean Sea, the 2nd largest sea in the world. The Mediterranean Sea is sub-divided into a number of smaller seas, each with their own designation (from west to east). In accordance with international treaties, the Mediterranean is sub-divided in to several, smaller seas that include:
- the Adriatic Sea between Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina , Montenegro and Albania
- the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey and,
- the Sea of Marmara which lies between the Aegean and Black Seas.

The Aegean Sea is the arm of Mediterranean Sea that lies between Turkey and Greece. The Aegean Sea gave its name to surrounding region which has a typical Mediterranean climate; summers are warm dry and winters are rainy but not cold. The Aegean Sea was once known as "Archipelago" - a word which means "chain or cluster of islands"; a very fitting name because there are approximately 3000 islands in the Aegean Sea, most of which belong to Greece today. Turkey only has very few small islands and two mid-size islands near the entrance to the Dardanelles; Bozcaada and Gokceada. While the islands and their bold elevation lend a beauty and a picturesque look to the Aegean Sea, they also make navigating its waters extremely difficult and dangerous though that does not seem to deter people from sailing its waters.

The Sea of Marmara is the inland sea that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea thus separating the Asian part of Turkey (Anatolia) from its European part (Thrace).

By definition, straits are international waterways. The Bosphorus is the strait that connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea and the Dardenelles is the strait that connects the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea. Istanbul is situated where the Bosphorus meets the Sea of Marmara.

While in Istanbul, we'll get to see the Bosphorus and hopefully, ferry cross it to see the European side of Istanbul - supposedly it has a very different vibe to it than the Asian side. Spending a couple of days in Fethiye will give us the opportunity to sample Turkish life along the Aegean Sea. I'm looking forward to lots of sun, surf and beautiful turquoise waters!