Hello to everybody,
We left Datcha heading towards Fethiya. On the way, we called in at Marmmaris, which was the largest center for yachting on the Turkish coast. We also got out and stretched our legs at another smaller harbour called Goceck.
We hit Fethiya and it was another English seaside resort destination. Looking remarkably similar to Bodrum and Kusadasi. Although quite nice, we decided to push onto a beach we had seen pictures of, not far away, Oludeniz. We arrived to find the government had turned the peninsular into a National Park and were going to charge us 15YTYL to park and then boot us out at 8pm. (The YTL is about 1 to 1 with the Aus$).
It was getting late in the day so we settled on a campground at a whopping price of 21 YTL without power, ouch, big ouch, in the dust average facilities. Again the English throwing around their pounds pushing prices up. Turkey has been way more expensive than we ever imagined. We almost gag on the price every time we do a grocery shop and we have only eaten out once, due to the cost (which is something we were really looking forward to) and the cost of petrol is out of control about 2.50 – 3.00 Aus$ per litre.
We also constantly feeling like we are in a ‘rip the tourist’ off situation. The English plates on the Van don’t do us any favours either. In many of the smaller towns, the little coffee shops have car showers, basically a running hose that you can drive under to rinse the dust off. We have driven through these a few times, always asking permission first, with no problem.
We went through one in a small town, when we were under the shower, a guy and his daughter starting washing the van, we figured the Van needed a wash so it wash no problem. When he tried to charge 10YTL for less then about 3 mins work it became a problem. After a heated debate we gave him a 20YTL note not having anything smaller. We drove off to count the change to find he had short changed us over 5YTL and had to go back and insist on the correct change – ‘rip the tourist off.’ It’s wearing thin.
We’ve ordered basic take away meals at roadside cafes agreed on a price, had it written down to avoid confusion and then when we go to pick the food up, they’ve tried to charge more than double. From Oludeniz we headed to Kas, which was still a relatively small seaside town, lacking the big resorts and much more to our liking.
We checked out the local campground again they wanted to charge 20YTL to park in the dust, so we settled on a spot in the lovely little marina, about a 1 minute walk to the centre of town. Before parking up for the night we headed to the a fantastic bar perched over the rocks and sat back in the lounge chairs to soak up some sun and drink a few beers.
We smuggled the odd one down from the Van as they were 5YTL a hit. We then took turns practicing our height, distance and style off a nearby dive platform into the crystal clear water. It was a great afternoon all round. We moved onto the marina for the night as we sitting out on our chairs enjoying dinner and a glass of wine David noticed we had reversed up to an electricity box, after a quick inspection we discovered power points.
Perfect free camping with power. In our attempt to hook up David managed to flick the main power to the marina on and off a few times before we realised what was going on! Oops. After a few more attempts we achieved successful hookup!!! The locals here were actually friendly, stopping for chat while we were having dinner, one guy gave us a bag full of cocoa beans, we think.
Although we now avoid restaurants and most shops. The drive from Oludeniz to Kas was beautiful especially between Kalkan and Kas, Turkey has some amazing coastline. Matt & Kelly, had told us about Olympos, a town where a couple of hippies decided to build a few tree houses, it has now grown into a hangout for a funky, younger, international crowd, with most of the available accommodation still in basic tree houses.
After taking two wrong turns and driving on the worst roads we had been on yet we arrived and headed straight to the beach to cool off, to find we had to pay to use the beach, whats happened to Turkey? We paid our dues and walked the 500m to the pebble beach and hung out for a couple of hours to make sure we got our moneys worth.
Olympus was actually a pretty cool place. It was located in Valley with steep mountains on either side and river running down through the valley which was dry and we guess flows in late winter and spring as the snow melts. The tree houses lined the river bank down the length towards the beach. At one point you cross the river over the river bed, which is also used for parking. Late in the afternoon we headed towards Kadir’s as we had heard this is where most of the Aussies hang out, and we weren’t disappointed.
We had a great night sitting around swapping travel stories drinking beer and sharing a Shisha, a traditional Turkish water pipe, for smoking weak flavoured tobaccos, such as apple and mint. Leon a Aussie manager of Kadir’s even let us join the line for a free feed, which we were enormously grateful for.
We would have loved to stay in a tree house, except they were 30YTL each so we opted to free camp in the van in the beach car park. After a lazy start to the day and a hangover threatening we headed towards Side, our last coastal stop and most eastern point in our travels before heading back towards England and home.
Side wins hands down as having some of the best ruins, mostly for the fact that they were quiet extensive and you could drive through them. We’ve decided the only way to see ruins is out the car window. After driving down a goat track (through the ruins) we found a small bit of elevated, level cement overlooking the beach to park the van up for the night and a short walk (through the ruins) to the marina and shopping area of Side.
Not more than 5 minutes after arriving a traditional dressed Turkish guy, with a heavy odor, only one gold tooth, turned up for a curious look at the van. He then left returning 5 minutes later with a huge bunch of branches of clove leaves for us. He then disappeared again returning with another bunch of herbs picked from the ground. He then much to our surprise climbed into the Van making himself right at home around the settee.
We discovered that he owned five camels that you could pay to tour around the ruins on. He was pretty harmless, but with almost no English not the best conversationalist. The dilemma was how do we get him out of the car, without appearing rude, so we could check out Side. Eventually he did leave, but checked in on us at a regular basis.
Kind of amusing, kind of disconcerting, he later invited us to join him for a feed, not wanting to impose we declined. Side was again lovely, but similar to a lot of other coastal towns we had been to, also like many of the other resort towns, struggling with desperate restauranteurs offering free drinks just to get people sitting in there establishment.
Having already been burnt once we declined all offers. We left Side with a long dive ahead to the Cappadocia region, but not before camel man, parked in the Van for a while and then asked for sunburn cream for his boys. approximately 480 km, which doesn’t seem far unless you are driving on Turkish roads. Fortunately to our surprise most of the roads were pretty good.
We drove over a spectacular mountain pass around 1800m high onto a huge plateau that was about 1000m high, it was amazing for its vastness. The land was flat and very barren looking, but able to sustain wheat and potato crops. The tiny little towns, consisted of communities living in permanent tents or the more luxury quarters, of a small home built out of local stone and then mud rendered and many people still relied on their pony and cart as transport.
The other surprising aspect of this area was that both men and women were out working in the fields, not just the women. It was, dry and dusty with the amazing natural phenomenon of whirly winds picking up the dust and forming columns only to disappear in a puff a few minutes later. It was a surprisingly captivating area.
Traveling inland was also taking us away from the seaside tourist resorts and through more traditional, conservative towns without all the advertising billboards and trinket shops. The Renault has been a constant source of amazement to most Turks, particularly with the wheel on the ‘wrong side’ or is it us???
The further inland we go the more amazing it gets, its now almost impossible to get fuel without gathering a small crowd peering in the window often a little disconcerting, but I’m sure they are just curious. Since arriving in Turkey we have only seen 2 or 3 other ‘camping cars’ all German. The Cappadocia region is truly amazing, quite difficult to put put into words.
We arrived here late in the afternoon and after getting lost trying to find a town called Uschisar, we found a spot over looking a valley with volcanic formations, we paid our 2 YTL each asked if we could stay overnight and found ourselves a prime spot to watch the sun go down. A few tourist buses turned up for sunset, again we felt like part of the sideshow.
Especially as we had pulled our BBQ out and were cooking ourselves up a feast. A lovely Kenyan couple joined for a chat, highly amused that they had run into a couple of Aussies, having a BBQ with a beer in hand. They kindly gave us a couple of oranges. As soon us the sun dipped over the horizon all the tourists left and the 3-4 stands selling tea and souvenirs packed up and left. We had this amazing place to ourselves, that is until David started playing the banjo and Crazy Ali turned up.
Yep thats how he introduced himself – ‘Crazy Ali’. Truth is he wasn’t so crazy, but actually pretty interesting, with great conversational English, something we have found pretty rare. Crazy Ali grew up in the area, owns an antique shop, writes poetry and gets a mention in most of the know guide books. We guessed he was pretty wealthy and influential in his town and most likely owned the land where we were staying.
He kindly recited some of his poetry, in English, complete with movement, it was pretty captivating. We have been invited to his shop for a Turkish coffee, which we will probably take him up on. Crazy Ali left us to ourselves and I don’t think I’ve slept so well in a while, no heat, no bugs, no techo music, peace and quite all round.
We woke up to an amazing view of a spectacular valley and we had it all to ourselves. We had another lazy start, enjoying the view. We headed of on foot down the valley to explore and come across a quaint little coffee shop built into the land formations, we stopped for tea and dressed up for photo opportunities and payed a small fortune for a scarf.
We spend the next couple of hours walking around in the searing heat, from one valley to the next. It is truly spectacular and impressive. We finally make it back to the Van, cool of and head to Ortahasier to Crazy Ali’s shop. He is a kind and gentle man, with a twinkle in his eye, a ready joke and a hearty laugh.
After Ali buys us lunch and gives Melanie a necklace to bring good luck, he sends us on our way to explore the Ortahasier Castle and underground city of Kaymakli. At Kaymakli the underground city is amazingly intact. It was carved out of the rock or volcanic tuff, as they call it. You enter a low mound through what looks like a small cave which opens up into an extensive maze of tunnels and rooms.
This city had about 10 levels below the ground and apparently up to 10,000 people could live in it. It is believed they were originally built for a refuge for when enemies would rampage through the region. At the entrance point and at various place s throughout the city there were large stone disks that could be rolled into place to seal of the city from the surface.
There was evidence of communal cooking areas, food storage areas and barn type areas for animals to live. There were amazingly deep wells for water and they are currently trying to clear a tunnel that they believe goes to another underground city 7 km away.
People are believed to have existed in these cities sealed of from the surface for up to 9 months at a time while there enemy waited above and tried to find ways to force them to the surface. Fascinating! The following day we explored the valley of the Fairy Chimneys, amazing rock formations in the shape of a cone with a large darker coloured rock perched on top.
These are a result of the softer volcanic rock being eroded by the elements and the con is formed due to being protected by the harder rock on top. We spent the afternoon on free wireless internet in the village of Goreme, probably our favorite village in the region. It has not as yet caved in completely to the lust for the tourist dollar and still retains some of its original charm.
We were however still exposed to the sprucing restauranteurs try to entice us into there restaurants. We did eat out in a Restaurant that was decorated in a very traditional manor and it was disappointingly very poor.
All for now, tomorrow we head for Istanbul.