A Travellerspoint blog

Blue Cruising up the Coast.

Burning rocks, treehouses, gulet cruising, paragliding, parasailing, hiking and a bit of lounging around....

sunny 34 °C

From Cappadocia we headed south to Olympos on the Med coast. We were here to stay in the tree houses and start our Blue Cruise on a gulet (Turkish yacht).

Olympos is more a destination than a township. Essentially it is a collection of hostels either side of a dusty little road at the bottom of a mountain range on the coast. The idea is that you stay in a 'treehouse' though there are very few actual treehouses- most places offer little shacks neatly lined up in rows. It had a bit of a school camp feeling to the place - but is certainly a nice place to chill out. The beach itself is pebbly but pretty spectacular, and there are ancient Roman ruins on your way into the beach.

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Bayrams at Olympos - purpose built for chilling out.

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Olympos Beach

A local attraction worth visiting is Chimaera- the burning rocks. This is a natural phenomenon due to leaking methane gas seeping out of the ground.

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Chimaera

From Olympos we jumped on our yacht, Marmotte - our accommodation and transport for the next 4 days. This was certainly a highlight of the trip - the water was immaculate, the food on the boat was great, and the boat itself was sensational.

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Shorty and I walking the plank

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The Sunken City

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Kekova

Video of the Blue Cruise passing by Kekova (Sunken City). You can imagine how tough 4 days of this was...

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Sunrise from the Gulet

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Marmotte, second from the left

Our boat trip took us from Demre (they don't actually start from Olympos- you get picked up from Olympos and driven 1 hr further down the coast). Our first night was spent tucked into a quiet bay. Shorty and I went parasailing here. Awesome fun!

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Kaş

Next day was past the Sunken City and onto Kaş - a pretty little village full of cobbled stoned streets and BLOOMING bougainvillea.
A Turkish haircut was an interesting experience in Kaş. My barber was a 13 year old boy, who spoke a little bit of English, and actually did a great job. 15 Lira got me a haircut, face massage, and a special ear hair removal using a huge, flaming cotton bud (q-tip). My barber, clearly enjoying this part of his job, advised me this is known as a "Turkish BBQ, HAHA!"

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Turkish Haircut

Unfortunately due to large swell, we weren't able to make it via boat all the way to Fethiye. Instead, we finished in Kalkan and bused to Fethiye. From here we went south back to Kabak. This place was a real highlight. We extended our stay here to 4 days as soon as we arrived. The Olive Grove is the nicest place I have ever stayed at - anywhere. Bugalows set in a remote location overlooking an amazing coastline, owned by Chef Fatih who cooks the best meals in Turkey - with ingredients from the surrounding gardens. Amazing.

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The Olive Grove, and the beach below, Kabak

During our time in Kabak we went paragliding in Oludeniz, hiked a bit of the Lycian Way, visited Butterfly Valley (and climbed out of it!), and Shorty managed to adopt a teeny tiny kitten and teach some locals how to feed it...

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Lara Croft climbing out of Butterfly Valley

Paragliding Oludeniz

From Kabak we moved North to Selcuk, the closest town to Ephesus. Ephesus lived up to the hype, though was overun with tourists.

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The city of Ephesus

From there it was back to Istanbul for the last couple of days of the trip. We spoiled ourselves at one of Istanbuls best restaurants Mikla. An epic meal and highly recommended - the rooftop bar was the best we found.

From here it was home and back to the grind.

Thanks for reading and your comments.. until next time.

Posted by goodwillh 04:42 Archived in Turkey Tagged landscapes animals boats turkey sun olympos Comments (1)

Flying through Fairy Chimneys...

Hot air ballooning, underground cities, and riding scooters through Cappadocia.

sunny 35 °C

After leaving Kemal and Turkey Tummy behind in Malatya, we continued west on another mammoth bus trip to Cappadocia - the land of the rock phallus

(or fairy chimneys for kids..)

Arriving in Goreme, the 'hub' of Cappadocia was a culture shock in reverse. We've now gone from being the novelty to being just another 'yabanci'.

Tourists come here in droves with good reason though. What an amazing landscape. Rock cocks everywhere! I'm no geologist, so I'm not going to explain how or why, but the landscape is dotted with rock formations and cliff faces, which have been used by the various inhabitants since BC to carve out their own little cave houses/churches/monasteries. Some of the churches of the Byzantine era are amazing for their pillars and artwork, and the fact that they're tucked away hidden in the rocks makes for a giant adventure playground...

Thankfully we'd booked a cave room - despite no A/C, this was one of the coolest rooms we've had all trip. No mean feat given it was 42C on our first day. We can recommend Nirvana Cave Hotel. The pool was a requisite here.

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Our hotel from above.


Some photos of cave houses/ churches etc:

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You can literally crawl through tunnels and caves 1000s of years old - big kid's dream come true!

Shorty and I hired a scooter and explored the region. There are underground cities south of Goreme, developed 6/7th BC by the Byzantine Christians to escape the Persian and Arabic armies coming to vanquish (great word) the Christians. These housed upwards of 10000 people plus their livestock if need be. Amazing stuff!

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We got so caught up watching the world go by that we forgot to watch the fuel gauge... just made it into Urgup before getting stranded!

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Tough guys wear hair nets

A highlight of the Cappadocian experience though was hot air ballooning at dawn. Along with about 50 other balloons, we drifted silently over this strange landscape, watching the sunrise over fairy chimneys. Experience of a lifetime. I've got some video footage but dodgy internet connections mean that uploading these files will have to wait until I'm home. Until then, here are some photos:

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Bit of a crash landing never hurt anyone...! Pilot assured us it was normal to topple over.

From here it is off to the coast for some treehouse/ hammock/ yachting action.

Posted by goodwillh 23:15 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

South Eastern Anatolia

Land of Kurds, Castles and Apricots...

sunny 40 °C

From Istanbul we flew into Van, in far south eastern Turkey - a stone's throw from the Iranian border.

Very nearly didn't make the flight though... the curse of cheapo secondary airports got me again, and I had us heading to Ataturk airport rather than Sahiba (about 120km in the wrong direction). When I realised this, we had to get that far in less than an hour.

At no stage for the next 52 minutes did I think we would make the flight, but thankfully we stumbled into the fastest taxi driver I've ever had the pleasure to meet. He must've picked up on our error due to the heated discussion in the back seat, and without needing to find the Turkish for 'quick,' we hit 150+km/h on Istanbul's ring road and made check-in with 2mins to spare.. not a word of a lie...

Van is a great, dynamic city. We certainly weren't in the tourist hub of Sultanhamet anymore... it felt nice to be a novelty!

Van is situated next to a huge lake (Van Golu), dominated by a Castle and surrounded by huge mountains around 3000 - 4000m. It was hot and dusty when we were there, but apparently is under snow in the depths of winter. We made our way out to Akdamar Island on Van Golu - this Island houses Akdamar Kelisesi, which is a well preserved Armenian palace/monastery/church built in 921.

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Boat trip to Akdamar Island

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Akdamar Kalesisi

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Turkey Tam in Akdamar Kalesisi

Day 2 we ventured down towards the Iranian border on the local dolmus (bus) to check out Hosap Castle - built by a Kurdish chieftain in 1643. The local guide wouldn't accept our money after taking us through and pointing out in broken English the various remains... apart from him, we had the whole place to ourselves. Was an eerie experience and certainly felt like we were racking up the adventurous culture points with the Iranian border in view.

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Hosap Castle

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Turkey Tam at Hosap

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The front door at Hosap - our guide pointed at this bullet hole, saying: "Kalishnikov, no problem."

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From the rocky outcrop of Hosap Castle you can see into Iran.

More culture points gained when after a short wait for the dolmus back to Van, we accepted an offer from a local bloke for a ride back instead (not even sure if he was planning on making the 70km trip..!) He challenged our aforementioned taxi driver for Turkeys fastest rev head, on some pretty hairy roads. We came across a truck that had very recently lost control on a steep descent and crashed on its side, spilling oil across the road.. everyone seemed ok with driving straight through it, oblivious to the quite obvious risk of death by combustion. Not to worry though, the Turkish army were quick to roll up with tanks and AK-47s at the ready. We made it back into town safe and sound, our ears ringing from turkish trash-house/pop. Once again, he seemed affronted when I offered payment. And he even bought us Fantas mid-trip. Legend.

In the afternoon we went out to Van Kalesi (Van Castle), where we were quite the novelty. We were asked by all the local kids we passed to either take a photo of them or get one with them.

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Day 3 started with sampling what Vans most famous dish: Breakfast! (khavalti) For 12TL ($7), Shorty and I had Turkish coffees (thick with cardamom), honey from the highlands, baked eggs with sausage, local cheese, olives, pide, cucumbers and tomatoes. Fancy pants cafes of inner Melbourne got nothing on this:

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Van Khavalti

From Van we took a bus to Malatya. The roads in this part of Turkey are far from great, so 500km took close to 11hrs with stops. No aircon in 38 degree heat made for quite the hell ride... After that we've known to ask for 'klima' (aircon) everywhere

Malatya was a nice place though. It is famous for apricots, and when we bought some in the market 'just a few' became about 600grams. Unfortunately we weren't able to enjoy them all though - somehow we ended up with 'Turkey tummy' (actually nothing to do with the apricots) and needed some serious recuperation time.

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Loving the heat/Turkey tummy combo

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Malatya Mosque. The novelty of being woken at 4am for the call to prayer has well and truly dissipated.

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Cherry juice backpack.

Again, hardly any tourists getting around in Malatya so we were a bit of novelty with the locals - especially the kids/teenagers who wanted to practise their English. Things got a little weird when Tam explained to the devout Muslim teenager that she was an athiest though.... hard to have that conversation with no knowledge of the local language. Instead it involved pictures of angels going to heaven (them) and demons burning in fire (us - especially Tam!!)

Despite all of this, we were still a hit. Tam was given baby sitting duties while her Turkish coffee sludge was read to see what her future holds...

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From Malatya we took the over night trip to Nemrut Dagi. Nemrut was rediscovered in 1881 by a German looking for road routes through the country (god knows what he was doing building roads through the most arid and unforgiving landscape in Turkey!). What the engineer stumbled across are these statues sitting on either side of mountain top of crushed rock, at an altitude of 2200m amongst a lunar landscape. It turns out an ego-maniac King (BC ~40) had the statues made up of himself and the gods - to whom he considered himself equivalent. Makes for a very interesting place to visit some 2100 years later!

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This part of Turkey is well and truly Kurdish, and these people (along with all oppressed minorities/populations I've come across) are some of the friendliest I've met anywhere. Some photos of them:

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Mortos favourite travel agent - Kemal. Unfortunately didn't get the opportunity to get wiped off the backgammon table Morto, but he was mighty helpful in organising our Nemrut Dagi trip and bus tickets onwards. Look this guy up if you come to Malatya. Everyone knows him, just ask around near the tourist office.

From Malatya we were on the bus again for the haul over to Goreme in Cappadocia. Looking forward to a pool and some hot air ballooning!!

Posted by goodwillh 00:20 Archived in Turkey Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises lakes people turkey sun van anatolia Comments (2)

Merhaba Turkiye!

Will and Tam in Constantinople

sunny 41 °C

Hi all,

After a few additions to the lads travel blog I've decided rather than boost their culture points I might prove achievement of some of my own.

For the uninitiated and/or those who may have forgotten - please refer to MOB for some entertaining globe trotting adventures ... It was fun while it lasted lads, but it just doesn't feel right to crash your travel party anymore.

Hopefully this will be the first of a heap of travel installments from me.

Starting with Turkey...

This trip starts with me meeting Tam in Istanbul - she left 4 weeks earlier for a 'working' holiday of Barcelona, Rome, Serbia (Exit music festival), Holland and Berlin. Tough job.

I hadn't heard a bad thing about Turkey prior to arriving - so was well and truly pumped to get here. And it hasn't failed to meet the expectations either.

I'm now writing this one week into the trip from Malatya in central Turkey. I'll try to do a few posts so that I can do the place justice - this one will cover just Istanbul.

I'll let the photos do the talking:

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Aya Sofya

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View from our Hostel Rooftop Bar (Antique Hostel- can recommend this one).

Introducing Turkey Tam - she has been mistaken for a local in this headscarf. This is outside the Blue Mosque:

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So day 1 was spent racking up some culture points at the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya. Given Turkey has changed empires, and therefore religions many times- it is one of the only places in the world where you'll find a massive Mosque right next to what was once a massive Church. The massive Church (Aya Sofya) was built in 537, then with the fall of Christendom in 1453, became a Mosque. Now it is a Museum and one of the most amazing buildings on Earth.

The Mosque was built in 1606 in an attempt to outdo the Aya Sofya. Pretty impressive, but the Aya Sofya gets the chocolates I think...

Istanbul sits in two continents and the Galata bridge joins Asia to Europe. The locals love fishing from it as much as they enjoy drinking OJ and wearing hilarious but also sensible hats.
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Day 2 was spent checking out the Bazaar:

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Turkish food is brilliant. It really is. The desserts are the best - this is a marsmallowy log thing with coconut on the outside and nutella rolled up in the middle. Yum.
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Before I sign off - I haven't forgotten my mob roots and happily give you Man Asleep in Chair, V. Turkey:
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From here we go west to South Eastern Anatolia and the Kurds.

Gule Gule folks.

Posted by goodwillh 11:41 Archived in Turkey Tagged landscapes people turkey istanbul sun Comments (4)

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