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On Tour 24 – Drama in Turkey

On Tour 24 – Drama in Turkey

After spending a good part of the day wondering around Gallipoli we headed to Eceabat to catch a short ferry ride across the Dardanelles to Cannakkale a town of around 60 000 to do some grocery shopping, often a highlight, sometimes just hard work.

We lashed out and bought a tiny little BBQ, complete with kindling, charcoal, tongs and a fan for 13.50 YTL, a bargain. Then asked the helpful guy in the deli for his best selection to throw on it and he sold us some great cuts of lamb for 4.50 YTL, yep cheap, and they were very tasty, makes us very happy.

Next stop Assos (Behramkale), this tiny town was every bit as good as the glossy brochure suggested if not better. It is a friendly, lively, bohemian fishing town. The cafe lined, paved streets were barely wide enough for the trusty Renault to squeeze through and the main (pebble) beach was lined with laid back, casual, bar / cafe / dinning / basic accommodation all on the water front.

With the addition of colourful deck chairs, hammocks and big soft cushions to laze around, free internet and cold beer. Free camping was out of the question as this was a tiny town with not much spare space. We ran into an English chap on the way in and he sent us about 200m out of town to a campground called Oz Camp. Despite all our best efforts the Renault refused to make it up the gravel driveway, so we paid the guy 10YTL to park out the front of his house, it was the end of the road so there were no problems and included the use of his deck chairs on his little pebble beach.

We avoided the bathroom facilities and stuck to the solar shower and van potty, definatley cleaner. It was so enjoyable here we spent two nights, we highly recommend it for a laid back Turkish getaway and the more we travel the more we think it is a gem. While we were there they were digging a big hole in the side of the hill to create more parking, unfortunately for them they hit a wall, that they believe to be from the Roman era, they managed to dump a fair hunk of it into the ocean before it got the better of them.

Last we heard they were in a quandary as to wether to tell archeologists or to try to knock it down, despite the fact that it was probably an amazing piece of history particularly as it was waterfront crazy stuff. Poor blokes are just trying to make a living and come across yet another bunch of ruins.

We were having trouble finding a road map of Turkey, they couldn’t even sell us one at the tourist information on the border crossing. After asking at every possible opportunity we came across a service station and after communicating our needs, with some difficulty.

The guy at the servo got all his mates who were sitting around having tea to check in there cars, when this failed, he was going to rip a page out of the back of one of there diaries that had a map of Turkey. We insisted that although a kind gesture, it wasn’t exactly want we wanted. Yendi Foca and Foca (unfortunate names really) were our next destination, you may well ask where the foc is that?

Foca was a quaint reasonable sized fishing village with dining and shops around the protected harbour. The coastline between the two towns was stunning. We came across a designated free camp site, but like many public places in Turkey it was fairly run down and not very clean, so we opted for a deserted bay, which looked like it had once been a campground.

Again it was full of litter but with not many options, this place was looking pretty good as we could find grass instead of dirt to park the van on. From Foca to Pammaukkle to see the Travertine Pools. Driving into town we were flagged down, by people trying to get us to stay in there campgrounds and chased by scooters, then people camped by our Van while we were checking out the sites and accosted as in the car park of the pools.

We opted not to stay with any of them, but rather just camped in the car park, with a stunning night view of the travertine pools and the township of Pammakkule. I took it upon myself to feed the stray dogs David’s breakfast, in return they took it upon themselves to guard the van sleeping under it, which was fine except that if any one came into the car park or near the van there was a frenzy of barking as they chased the offenders away and diligently protected us.

By the end of the night we could identify each dog by its bark, needless to say we’ve had better nights sleep. The following morning we sadly fare welled our protecters, but not before I’d fed them David’s lunch. The Travertine Pools were quite amazing and unique, I don’t believe there is anything quite like them in the world. Natural springs of water full of minerals cascades down the side of the mountain and forms pools, as it dries it leaves a layer of stark white mineral calcification over the terrain resulting in a spectacular site.

Unfortunately the Turks have diverted most of he water into (we guess) the pools of the hotels in the valley below, at night they divert all of the water. They are potentially destroying something very special, it was completely different then when David was here a number of years ago when none of the water was diverted. While at the Travertine Pools we met a couple of students studying in Texas, Kelly & Matt who were traveling around Turkey using the local bus system, which sounded like and experience in itself.

They were heading to Ephesos and Kusadasi the following day as we were so we offered them a lift, they pitched in to the fuel costs, which was fantastic as surprisingly petrol is pretty expensive here, in fact its on a par with the U.K. We had a great time with them wondering around Ephesos and then meeting up with them for a beer in Kusadasi. The English speaking company was a welcome break and we sadly said goodbye as they were heading to Germany the next day.

Kusadasi itself was pretty awful. It was impossible to walk the streets without being accosted by every restaurant and shop, it was a nightmare. Kelly and Matt said Istanbul didn’t have anything on this town. Restaurants were full of promises and as we found out didn’t deliver. It was a pretty negative experience, but we were grateful for Kelly and Matts company. Although with some heavy bargaining

David did manage to negotiate a pair of genuine fake Oakleys from 65 YTL to 15YTL,, The pushy shop guy not satisfied with one sale, practically had David by the arm, trying to get him to buy a watch. We parked just out of town in the grounds of a beach bar / cafe for 10YTL, they guy took our money up front, which was pretty unusual.

We found out why in the middle of the night, when the beach club next door cranked up its party around midnight and kept it up until about 6-am we had a lousy nights sleep and couldn’t get out of Kusadasi quick enough. Kusadasi to Bodrum. Bodrum was like being in a English seaside town, they were everywhere, which was actually quite nice as we enjoy the English speaking company.

Bodrum was quite a nice harbour full of traditional Turkish boats – Gullets and it lacked the pushiness of Kusadasi. Although all the shops and restaurants were looking remarkably similar to Kusadasi. After spending the afternoon driving around the Bodrum peninsular looking for somewhere to free camp and finding nowhere satisfactory, we decided on a campground in a place called Gumbet a seaside Resort town only a 10 min Dolmuch, Turkish mini bus ride to Bodrum.

There are two types of beaches in most of these towns. Crap ones that have been cleaned up as best as they can been by the restaurants / hotels / bars that front onto them and then every inch is covered in deckchair, because there is no way you would what to lie in the dirty sand. The other beaches are just us crap, usually next to a drain and have no hotel / restaurant / bar fronting onto them and therefore not groomed and covered and I mean covered in litter. In a lot of Turkey that we have seen so far is covered in litter (except the groomed beaches) even the trenches at Gallopoli seconded as rubbish dumps.

We were lucky enough to get into Bodrum on Market day, we really enjoyed wondering around taking in the sites and chatting to any English person that was happy enough to stop and have a yarn. We meet a nice English couple over for the day from the Greek Island of Kos, only about 20 mins by ferry. We learnt that they were paying full prices in the market and not bargaining at all. Ouch no wonder the prices were going up. At around 2 pm we headed back to campsite to get out of the searing heat and enjoy the beach.

David left me for no more than 5 mins and I was cornered by some sleazy old Turkish guy. David came to my rescue, the guy still insisted on buying us three beers each. Although generous, we didn’t really want to spent the afternoon talking broken, busted English to a 65+ Turkish guy in budgie smugglers (speedos) telling us how much he enjoyed perving on English women. He offered us more drinks and even to buy us dinner, but we extracted ourselves from the situation as politely as possible and went back to the Van for a BBQ.

England was playing ….. in the soccer world cup, so the English were out in full force, unfortunately they were more interested in watching the game rather then talking to us! Every bar had there Tvs tuned to the game and you could walk down the beach getting it in stereo and not missing a moment of the game.

We plonked ourselves on a comfy couch where we could get wireless for the cost of beers and also plug in a charge the Mac and have another attempt at loading the website and catch up on some news from home. The couch just happened to be under a large screen TV, so we also got a front row view of the English watching the soccer.

The couch was so comfy I feel asleep on Davids shoulder. The campground was located directly behind the beach bars which played loud techo music all night, combined with the heat and mosquitos we had another two nights of lousy sleep.

We were driving over a mountain pass to Datcha, there was car traveling in the same direction as ours but on the wrong side of the road on a straight stretch, downhill, when a women we guess in her mid 20’s bailed out the back door. She was rolling down the road directly in front of the Van, fortunately David was able pull the Van up.

As you can imagine she was pretty messed up. The other people in the car tried to put her back in their car. We tried to stop them and tell them to call an ambulance, but with no Turkish there was little we could communicate. Fortunately other cars had stopped by now and a well dressed Turk, called an ambulance and took control of the situation.

All we really felt we could do was provide some shade and privacy with blankets out of the Van and the use of the first aid kit out of the Van. The ambulance arrived in 15 mins basically picked her up and put her in the back, no fluid, painkillers, stabilisation. We got back into to the Van quite shaken only to cop abuse from the Turks for not moving on quick enough.

Selfishly we were glad no police turned up, as we didn’t want to get involved in anything we didn’t understand, we were also surprised the police didn’t show up. We were both pretty distressed and when we arrived in Datcha we had a drive around then found a reasonably clean pebble beach in Karakoy, not to far away and had some quiet time. We went to bed, pretty homesick, travel weary, melancholy and with a whole lot of unanswered questions about the incident and the Muslim religion in general.

While we were at the beach (pebble) in Karaykoy and interesting group of Turkish women were having a picnic in the shade. They finished there afternoon meal, got up and left all there rubbish lying on the beach, to lazy to walk to the dumpster no more than 50 m away. I guess they will be content to sit in there own rubbish next time they use the beach. It really is pretty disgusting and seems to be normal behaviour.

All for now, more soon.

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