A Travellerspoint blog

The Last of Turkey

sunny 30 °C

The second half of the cruise just kept getting better. We explored Butterfly Valley, hiked St.Nicholas Island, found an old couple that followed us around in their boat and made us Turkish crepes and survived the watersports guys that I'm guessing didn't have any liability insurance. The crew took great care of us and the food was as good as any we have had here in Turkey. Nat hasn't done much previous sailing and is already planning a sailing charter around the Greek Islands!
When we arrived in Fethiye yesterday afternoon we were all a little worn out but had made some new friends and most everyone agreed it was the highlight of Turkey so far. A few people had to catch buses or planes, but the rest of us all spent the night in the same hotel and all met up for a delicious meal at a little restaurant tucked into the back of town.

After 27 days it Turkey, it is time to move on, so this morning we got up early to catch the hydrofoil fast ferry to the Greek Island of Rhodes which is where we catch our flight tomorrow to the Island of Mallorca, Spain. It's just a quick stay here, but we are staying in the old part of Rhodes Town and the winding cobble stone streets and the old stone buildings are definitely something to see. We are heading out now in search of some fresh fish and some tapas...we'll write again when we get to Mallorca.

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Posted by colincampbell 09:01 Archived in Turkey Comments (2)

Adventures on the High Seas

sunny 30 °C

From our tree house in Olympos, we went on a 4 day pirate adventure sailing up the coast of Turkey to the town of Fethiye. We have lots of pictures and stories, so we will break it into two blogs. We were picked up Sunday morning after breakfast at our treehouse with a busload of people, all a little unsure of what the plan was, from what we have seen of Turkey the brochure doesn't always match the outcome.
The two hour bus ride gave us time to meet the rest of the crew, plenty of Aussie's, a couple of Kiwi's, a Dutch couple and two Turkish ladies. It turned out to be a really great group of people which made all the difference for an excellent trip. Nothing happens too quickly around here, so it was mid afternoon before we were onboard, on our way and eating lunch. The sailing plan was pretty loose, apparently the captain would make the plan as he went depending on weather and the traffic of the other boats. Each day he found us great snorkelling spots, natural and historic hiking spots and a few little towns to explore. The first night it didn't take long for everyone to get comfortable as we emptied the beer cooler and managed to fashion some sangria out of whatever we could find in the galley. As the rest of the boats in the anchorage started turning out their lights, we turned up the music...I'm sure we didn't have too many fans.
Day 2 we ended up in a little town called Kas which kind of resembled St.Barth's with it's little shops and cobblestone streets and not too many people. Some of the guests ended up parasailing off the nearby cliffs, we ended up getting railroaded into a carpet shop by our new friend who wanted to show us the photos of the last Canadians he sold a carpet to, 20 years ago. His back patio overlooked the bay and the entire town, so when he brought out the wine and the appetizers, we were happy to look at photos and listen to stories about the town. He gave us some great tips for other things we needed to see. The most entertaining part was his ability to say "yes", even when the answer was clearly "no", for example, when Natalie asked if he had rose wine his answer was "yes...red or white". Clearly quite the salesman, but we managed to escape without any carpets.
Back on board, we were off again to the next anchorage for some snorkelling and a quite spot to spend the night. The boat we are on is about 75' long and 20' wide, with 8 good sized cabins for guests and some crawl spaces for the crew. It has 2 short masts, but has a huge engine, so I am guessing they have never really been designed to sail very fast which was good, because the only time it was windy was the middle of the night. The days are very calm so the passages are very comfortable and snorkelling was usually very clear. The second night included a bottle of tequila and plenty of captain and crew participation...very funny stuff, not sure if we can fit all the pictures here...

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Posted by colincampbell 08:36 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Our Treehouse in Olympos

sunny 27 °C

The overnight bus wasn't as bad for Nat as she had first imagined it would be, of course she popped a Unisom minutes after getting on board so doesn't remember any of it. For those of us who do remember, it really shouldn't take 15 hours to travel 600kms unless you are pushing a moped. Our driver didn't miss any opportunities to stop for the customary Turkish tea which probably resulted in more stops for the bathroom. Regardless, two buses later we were ejected from the vehicle at the sign that said "Olympos - 11km", our confusion and questions as to how we would pass those last 11kms were no concern of our drivers as he sped off. Tea seems to be the solution to everything here so we sat at the little shack next to the sign and by the time we were finished ours another little van arrived and offered to drive us to our treehouse down the hill.
This area has been made famous for the fires of Chimera which have burned natural out of the ground for thousands of years. There are also some ruins right next to the beach. It seems to have become a stop on the local bus line that backpackers and younger Turkish alike seem to enjoy for a few days of R+R. For whatever reason, most of the accommodation here are called "tree houses", to us they look like little wooden cabins on stilts that remind us of summer camp. The fact that breakfast and dinner is included in our stay and each meal starts with a dinner bell makes it even more convincing.
There isn't too much to do here, we are resting up for our 4 day boat cruise that starts tomorrow, but we did manage to find a Turkish crepe. Nat prefers the banana and honey, but we have tried just about all of them. The ruins down by the ocean made for a good hike before a swim.
Tonight we hiked and saw the fire that makes Chimera special, hard to take pictures, but it was pretty cool. Apparently it used to burn bright enough that the passing ships could see it from the sea which must be about 5 kms away. Even now there are 10 - 12 outlets in the rock that are constantly burning.
Up early in the morning, our boat leaves at 10. I hope the sea is flat or I might have to put the Unisom to work again!

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Posted by colincampbell 14:21 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

The Last of Cappadocia

sunny 30 °C

It has been great taking a few days off hiking after such a hectic start to our time here in Fairy Chimney Land. The main attraction here, which we have chosen not to do, is hot air ballooning. The start time is 5am, it's a little pricey and it includes us being 2 of 16 people standing in a straw basket, next to a giant propane torch held almost 2kms above very hard stone...none of this adds up for us. But today I did manage to get up at about 6 to grab a Turkish tea and some photos of the nearly 80 balloons that dotted the sunrise skyline. I think my view was as good or better, I got an extra hour of sleep and there is no fiery ending to the story.

We have also discovered that all tours in our hotel leave by 9:30, so the best time to arrive at breakfast is around 10 when we have full access to the restocked buffet and no need to wrestle for table space. So by the time we were done breakfast it was almost time for lunch. Natalie had purchased a silver and turquoise ring from a local jeweler and it had been sized, so our one project this morning was to pick that up. Mission accomplished we went for lunch and snapped the photo of the VW bus with the Beetle sunroof which seems to live in the No Parking Zone on main street.

On our way home for an afternoon nap we met our new best friend Fatima. She spotted us eyeing her neighbours fruit drying in the street and invited us in for tea. The tea was served and a giant bag of dried apples arrived as well. She was very nice and enjoyed practicing her english as well as showing us her house and managed to sell Nat a nice new pair of hand knitted slippers. We were also invited to come back for dinner, which we have just finished and really enjoyed. For anyone who might be traveling this way, we now have her email and phone number and are in charge of turning her into a profitable B&B.

It has been a great few days, we are ready to head back to the coast and start our boating adventure this weekend from Olympos to Fethiye. Unfortunately no flights head that way so we are heading to the bus station for an overnight bus. Hopefully by noon tomorrow we will be in our tree house hostel in Olympos...we'll let you know...

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Posted by colincampbell 10:06 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Human Car Wash and Turkish Pizza

sunny 30 °C

Today was an extra day...Natalie immediately booked four nights instead of the original three when we arrived at our hotel and we are enjoying it to the fullest. Three days of hiking and exploration here have left us ready for a day off. So we woke up after everyone else had left for their bus trips and enjoyed a late, leisurely breakfast. Natalie is a recovering addict, for those who don't know, and every now and again she slips and we need to feed her coffee habit, so we went for an ice coffee and some backgammon. With no particular schedule we made our way back to the hotel to check out the new room they had moved us to and it is equally spectacular as our first cave.
We are learning that the highlights of Turkey are ancient ruins, tea, water pipes...and the Turkish bath. I skipped over our first experience with the Turkish bath in Bodrum, but now that we have done it twice, it is time to share it with you. The easiest description is a human car wash...you are showered, scrubbed with sandpaper, soaped to the gills in bubbles, rinsed again, and massaged in olive oil, all by hairy dudes wearing towels. It takes some stamina, but the results are pretty magical.
After todays event, we needed to recover so we headed to our favourite restaurant for some apple tea and Turkish Pizza. The pizza was a new one for us as well, and it was a hit...very little cheese, but amazing dough and fresh grill veggies and meat with a bit of spice.
Tomorrow is our last day here, we get an overnight bus to Olympos for our boat trip, up the coast to Fethyie...we'll try and post before we go. Stay classy San Diego!

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The town is a mix of old and new...the way they use the existing rocks is amazing
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Nat swallowing the whole loaf!
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Another picture of the underground city, the stuff they build almost 2000 years ago is unbelievable

Posted by colincampbell 13:21 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Fairy Chimneys to Underground Cities (and more amazing food)

sunny 34 °C

Today was the first day we gave in and joined an actual tour. We figured it was a small group with lots of sites to see, lunch was included and we figured we would get some good information about this unbelievable countryside. It turns out that no matter how remote an area you are in...a tour is pretty much the same sheep herding spectacle regardless. This area dates back 2000 years and for most of it it was a place for the Christians to hide from the Romans and whomever else was trying to kill them. The earth and rock formations come from ancient volcanic lava flows and the erosion that has occurred since. The combination of the two is the results we are seeing today; intricate caves cities carved into all levels of the geography from high up on the cliff faces to deep into the underground cave cities. The region is full of churches and monasteries as many of the missionaries that originally spread Christianity through Europe and Asia were trained here. I think we stopped at most of them...
We also stopped at a recently discovered city called Sobessos that is supposed to be almost as big as Troy when they uncover it all (4 square kilometers). They discover it in 2002 and have uncovered about 300 square meters...so we figured if we come back in about 100 years, it should be ready.
There are 40 underground cities in this area that were able to hold 500 people for at least 2 months at a time. We went to the deepest one that is open to the public called DERINKUYU and managed to get down 7 floors to about 55 meters underground. Again, none of these pictures do it justice, but we tried to give you an idea. Kitchens, churches, meeting areas, living quarters, connecting tunnels, air vents, and even stables...all carved deep into the earth to hide the Christians from the Roman armies.
It is really a lot of stuff to comprehend and imaging it all taking place can wear on you...so we need to eat. Food here is different than the other places we have been in Turkey. We are liking it as much or more, wherever we go the produce is so fresh because it is locally grown. The "clay pot kebab" is our new discovery, and aside from the waiter giving Nat a sword to get into it, it is amazing. The meat is mixed with peppers, onions, tomatoes and spices and put into the clay pot, the top is sealed and it is thrown into a fire to stew. The pot is designed for single use and we break it open when it gets to the table. Two nights in a row...two delicious meals...
A few people seemed concerned I have Natalie camping in a cave, sleeping on straw, if you want to check out our hotel, www.sultancavesuites.com - I really haven't learned how to backpack yet...

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Natalie about to slice open our Clay Pot Kebab
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Grapes grow everywhere here!
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We haven't figured out how to post vertical pictures, so turn your head to the left and you will see the arched ceiling of a cave church that was painted in the 3rd century with Jesus and friends.
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Down the stairs into the underground city

Posted by colincampbell 12:56 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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