Touring the South Coast Of Turkey
20.09.2002 - 12.10.2002
There comes a time in life with children when only 1 is left at home. This one is now a Teenager and absolutely does not want to come on holiday with parents alone. So, deciding to go on a trek of Turkey for 3 weeks, we asked Son if he would like to bring a friend.
So follows a story of 3 weeks in a jeep with 2 teenage boys.
Dalaman to Fethiye:
We landed at Dalaman and our Jeep was dutifully waiting for us. Piling the bags in and two nearly 6 foot tall boys was a task in its self.
We arrived at the airport very early morning, and the boys crashed all over the bags, a pile of legs and bags everywhere.
The road from Dalaman to Fethiye then was over the top of a mountain and down the other side. Having arrived just as dawn was breaking, meant we could at least see the road going up and down. These days there is a tunnel through the mountain, which avoids the heart stopping journey we used to take.
Arriving in Fethiye at the Harbour, we pulled up in front of the Hotel we had previously booked, as we did not want to be driving around looking for somewhere to stay at that time of the morning.
No one was in reception. We rang and rang the bell, and eventually a sleepy receptionist appeared.
Apparently there was now a problem, as the AM and PM time had been misunderstood (when is anything understood here) and therefore our rooms were still occupied! We were shown into a lounge and the boys, who had just about opened their eyes, crashed on the sofas. Hubby and I tried to settle in the remaining two chairs, but it was impossible. Just after dawn, we headed into Fethiye to get breakfast, leaving the boys sleeping in the lounge. Upon our return, we were told the rooms were being cleaned, and would be ready in half an hour.
The rooms, when we got into them, were small, but comfortable and finally we managed to get some sleep. Short lived sleep as the Hotel was coming alive, and our room fronted the main road into Fethiye. Eventually we gave up and retired to the pool. The Boys had found second wind, and wanted to explore.
I was totally against the idea of them walking around Fethiye alone, as I still remembered vividly that my son had once been kidnapped in Tunisia. (Another story)
So my husband reluctantly agreed to go with them, leaving me to do what I do best, relax with a book.
They returned a few hours later, wanting to change and “do the Bars”.
Thus ended our first nights stay. We rolled back to the Hotel, exhausted, with two teenagers still raring to go.
We left them in the Lounge playing Pool and chatting to the staff.
The following day we had booked a boat trip, which is what this area is famous for. You get to travel around the small islands dotted of the coastline with a meal thrown in for the price. It is excellent value for a day out. We all had great fun, swimming in the clear pristine waters here. Also it is a great way to tire two teenagers out!
Up early the next Morning, as we had a drive ahead of us, trying to drag them out of bed was eventually accomplished, and they rolled into the jeep, and fell asleep again, legs everywhere.
Did I mention Teenage boys are like Owls. Awake all night and sleep all day. This was going to be a trying trip
From Fethiye our plan was to drive to Antalya, with stops on the way.
We detoured to Saklikent Gorge for a couple of hours. On the road to Saklikent the numerous small cafes have large overhead hosepipes that constantly run with ice cold water into the road. It is possible to drive through these “car showers” to clean the dust of your vehicle. My son was fast asleep in the back, but his friend was fascinated by these. My Husband looked at me and winked. Oh God he was going to drive us through in an open top jeep. Sure enough he swerved quickly into one and my poor son nearly had a heart attack, being woken from a sleep with an ice cold shower. I sympathised, but his friend and Father were hysterical, as were the owners of the café. We stopped to let him dry off, and grabbed a coke. He refused to speak to us for quite a while, and back in the jeep submerged himself under a towel, in case his Dad decided to do it again.
The gorge used to be a quiet relaxing place to chill and grab some lunch. These days it is full of coach loads of tourists, and almost impossible to hear the peace there.
Back then, it was still a quiet place, and the Boys had great fun in the Ice cold water that bubbles up from underground. Great place to cool down.
Lunch and frolics over we took the jeep across the river bed, which is really only a trickle of water in some places during the summer. There is a variety of mud here filled with salts, which are great for your skin. Very softening, and supposed to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Leaving the river we set off again for the road to Kas.
Anyone who knows this area will be aware of the infamous Kas road. This journey of ours was taken before they widened and secured the road.
The Kas road in those days was a windy, narrow one with steep drops into the sea one side, and cliff faces on the other.
Still not used to travelling the roads here, and totally mistrusting of every other vehicle on the road, this was an uncomfortable journey for me, much to my Husbands amusement. There were a couple of occasions where I actually closed my eyes and prayed, one in particular when we met a huge Tourist coach on one of the narrow bends.
I was so pleased when we arrived safely in this beautiful place. Kas is one of my favourite places in Turkey.
We drove along the front looking for somewhere to stay and found an upmarket hotel, with good views and a great pool. The boys were now awake and hungry.
We showered and changed and walked down the hill into the centre.
After eating in one of the open restaurants on the front, we sedately walked up the hill, through the shopping area. Here we were tempted into carpet shops and souvenir shops by touts with endless supplies of tea.
Foregoing the carpet shops, as we had our fill of those on previous trips, my son found an antique shop. Inside was full of treasures, including all manner of guns and swords. This began the first argument with beloved son. He wanted a sword. We tried to explain that Customs would confiscate it, and he would not be allowed on the plane with it, hampered by a keen shopkeeper telling him wonderful ways of getting it through customs.
Eventually he stormed (You have to have a teenager to know what this means) out of the shop and up the hill, refusing to speak to anyone. We left him to stew and got back to the hotel. Here we bought some drinks and took them out to the pool terrace. My husband and my sons’ friend dived in the pool. Therein followed a huge argument with the Hotel Staff, as apparently after seven o’clock it was illegal to use the pool. I dragged my Husband and the boys, back to the rooms, and fell asleep listening to a ranting Husband.
We checked out very early!
We drove down the front a little bit, and checked into a small pension (bed & breakfast) with no pool, but a great view of the sea.
Opposite us was the sunbathing rocks area. There is no beach to speak of in Kas.
The weather can change quite dramatically in Turkey, and this day was no exception. We were all sunbathing and swimming from an area on the rocks, which belonged to the pension. My son is a strong swimmer, and I had asked his friend if he could also swim well, to which I was assured he could.
From our vantage point we could see a swimming raft a little further down the coast. The weather became overcast and windy with some rain, but still very warm.
My son decided to swim out to the raft. The sea was choppy but I felt confident of his ability. Then his friend also decided to follow him. We watched them swimming and soon my son arrived at the raft. I began to realise that his friend was struggling. My Husband also became concerned and dived in to swim over to him. I watched while my Husband hooked up with him, and they arrived at the raft together. I was to learn later, that the Boy was indeed struggling very much and was panicking so he grabbed my husband and nearly drowned the pair of them.
I watched as they sat on the raft and the large sea swells lifted it up and down. Eventually my husband and the boy swam to the nearest shore and walked back to me. My son swam back.
Lesson learnt..never trust a teenager who tells you he can swim well.
He also learnt a big lesson, and had respect for the sea after this.
He was exhausted and had swallowed a load of ocean. He was actually shaking and quite ill for a few hours.
We ended the day quietly having a meal at a small restaurant, with an early night.
We had decided to visit a small place called Ucagiz (Translates into meaning three mouths)
The road down to Ucagiz is terrifying, consisting of a very windy steep drop from the mountains to the sea. There are no barriers, and very little space. I wanted to take photos, as the views were incredible, but I could not let go of the roll bars.
We passed through a plain at the bottom where there were hundreds of goats roaming everywhere. The road became wider, and finally I breathed.
We came around a small bend, over a small hill and dropped into Ucagiz.
Immediately we were invaded with people trying to sell us things, and wanting to take us to boats, hotels, restaurants, and all manner of other things.
This is actually a very tiresome thing that happens in Turkey.
My Husband had no patience for these things, and so pulled up as soon as possible next to a small stone house in the shade of a huge fig tree.
We had just turned the engine off when a small elderly man came out of the house and started chatting away in Turkish, and a little broken English. He had a small boat which we could rent for the day to go to see Simena, the sunken city, for around £30.
Wanting to escape the madness surrounding us, I said it sounded lovely, but we had suitcases and bags. He immediately started unloading them and carrying them into his small kitchen. We understood we were to leave them there, and they would be very safe.
We then followed him down to the harbour, where on the way he bought ton of fruit and some bread and cheese.
The boat was lovely, with a small glass bottom area. We had it to ourselves.
He took us to a small bay with crystal clear water, which was filled with multicoloured fish. We spent some time here, swimming and relaxing.
Then he took us over the ancient Lycian sunken city of Simena. In ancient times Simena was a small fishing village and was later an outpost of the Knights of Rhodes (formerly of St. John). The half-submerged ruins of the residential part of Simena were caused by the downward shift of land by a terrible earthquake in the 2ndcentury AD. Half of the houses are submerged and staircases descend into the water. Foundations of buildings and the ancient harbour are also seen below the sea.
You are not allowed to swim here anymore due to many people taking artefacts away from the site. It was amazing to see the village below us, with so many things still intact. The ancient city of Simena once consisted of two parts - an island and a coastal part of the mainland.
We stopped and he prepared a lunch of cheese, bread and fruits.
We then travelled onto the mainland to the charming fishing village of Kalekoy ("castle village"), its buildings mingling with ancient and medieval structures. The top of the village is dominated by a well-preserved castle built by the Knights of Rhodes partially upon ancient Lycian foundations. Inside the castle is the smallest amphitheatre of Lycia. At the eastern end of the village is a Lycian necropolis with a cluster of some very nice sarcophagi overlooking the sea and surrounded by ancient olive trees. Near the harbour of Kalekoy is another sarcophagus, popping up from the water.
Here we decided to walk in the sea. It is very shallow and clear all around the edge of the village, and was a wonderful place for a dip. After this it was suggested that a walk to the top to see the castle would be a good idea. Not for me. The thought of climbing anywhere in 40 plus degrees left me almost in shock. So off they set. I sat in one of the harbour front small cafes and watched them ascend.
Upon their return, we had another swim and set off back to Ucagiz.
We found a small but wonderfully clean apartment room overlooking the bay.
There is very little to do in Ucagiz, as it is a very small village, with just a few restaurants. In the evening we sat on the balcony and played cards.
We had heard that there was sea kayaking here, and the boys wanted to have a go. My Husband was also up for this, but I decided to give it a miss. I really wanted to find somewhere quiet I could swim and read, as there is no beach in Ucagiz.
So off they went to get kitted out, and I walked along the harbour front. Here I hitched a lift to one of the small islands in the bay, where I was informed there was a swimming area.
There was indeed a small concrete platform area where you could relax and swim. Unfortunately I soon realised I was not alone here, and there was an old man around the corner who decided I needed Company. So after swimming some, and giving up on the lazing with a book bit, I watched the Kayaks for a while, and then my lift returned. Back at the Harbour I made my way to the Kayak station café and waited.
The first thing I noticed when they came in was my sons mood. Things had not gone well obviously. It turns out that he was not feeling so well and really struggled against the sea, not helped by a Father and friend teasing him for lack of strength.
Another sulky evening.
We left the boys to it, and found somewhere we could relax for the evening with a beer or two.
In the morning we started the Journey to Antalya.
Upon reaching the sign on the road for Olympus, we decided to drive down and have lunch there.
We didn’t know at that time that there are actually two parts to Olympus. They consist of the Beach at Cirali, and the area where the wooden Tree Houses are. Cirali as it is known by the locals or Olympus, became famous due to young people or budget travellers who overnight at small camping sites, consisting of wooden huts, or small bed & breakfasts, or in their tents.
It was an important Lycian city by the 2nd century B.C. The Olympians worshipped Hephaestos (Vulcan) the god of fire. No doubt this sprang from reverence for the mysterious site of Chimaera, an eternal flame which still springs from the earth on top of the Mountain not far from the village. This is caused by Methane Gas seeping through the cracks in the Mountain.
We pulled into the most famous of the tree house camps then called Kadirs.
When we went it was still a rough and ready back packers haven. These days he has air con in the rooms and more mod cons.
There was a lovely restaurant with an upstairs set atop a huge tree, where we relaxed on the floor cushions and had a beer.
We stayed for a couple of hours letting the Boys explore, and then set off back up to the main road. This is a beautiful part of turkey, set in forested areas with a heavenly smell of pine everywhere, and surrounded by the most magnificent Mountains.
Eventually we came within sight of Antalya.
Approaching from the Kas road, you get a great view over the city, before dropping down into the City itself.
We knew that we wanted to stay in the old part of the City called Kaleici, which consists of historical ruins, and Ottoman style houses. It had remained the main part of Antalya City until after the Second World War. It is famous for its old walls and Roman Gates. Today, it is a protected area, and continues to be renovated back to the Ottoman period. According to tradition, in the 2nd century BC the Pergamon king Attalos II ordered his men to find "heaven on earth". After an extensive search, they discovered the region of Antalya. Attalos rebuilt the city, giving it the name "Attaleia" which later mutated in Turkish as Adalia and then finally Antalya. What we were unprepared for was that it is like a maze.
We turned off the main road down a side road and promptly realised we had no idea where to go. This is when the touts arrive. Before we knew what was happening we had a passenger on the front of the Jeep, gesticulating at all the traffic to move out the way, and one on the rear, asking where we were going.
We had the name of a small Bed & Breakfast we had found on the net and liked the look of because it had a small pool, which was a rarity in those days in Kaleici.
The tout managed to direct us there without mishap, but wouldn’t leave without a tip!
The hotel was comfortable, and central.
We stayed 2 nights here.
On our first night exploring Kaleici we stopped in a small café bar which had Nargile pipes. These are “Hubbly Bubbly” pipes and used to smoke different flavoured tobacco. My Husband and the boys wanted to try, so the waiter proceeded to commence with all the paraphernalia which accompanies your smoke.
The Nargile consists of a glass bottle, into which a metal pipe device is placed. The bottle is half filled with water, and a long flexible hose is attached to the pipe. Atop the pipe is a small metal tray to catch cinders and above it a small cup-shaped bowl to hold the tobacco.
A specially-formed plug of tobacco is placed in the bowl, and a glowing coal is placed atop the tobacco, igniting it. (The coal is a kind of charcoal.
The smoker attaches a mouthpiece to the flexible hose, sucks on it, and draws tobacco smoke down through the pipe device, through the cooling water, along the flexible hose and into the mouth.
At least that’s supposed to be what happens. What happened, in my Husbands case, was the waiter tripped on the infernal carpets that are strewn everywhere and the hot coals landed in my Husbands lap.
Did I mention how accident prone he is when we are on Holiday? We have never travelled anywhere without something happening to him.
It appeared to be a fairly serious burn, as it had burnt through his trousers and onto his skin, but did I also mention I lived with a macho man He shrugged it off, maybe due to the alcohol influence, but the waiter and other staff were mortified.
We never returned to that café, although looking back, we should have eaten for free every night there
Antalya did not really leave a good impression on us, as we were also robbed here.
The only time we have ever experienced this is Turkey.
Leaving the boys asleep in the Hotel in the morning, we decided to stroll down to the Harbour and have Breakfast there.
Walking through an open green area, I spied a young man carrying a tray of what looked like Bagels, on his head. He saw I was intrigued, and came over and gave me one.
I learnt they were called Simit. It is a kind of bread coated with sesame seeds.
As we had always experienced the Turkish wonderful generosity and hospitality, I stupidly assumed he had given it to me for free. As we walked away, he started asking for money. Then another young man joined him.
Not knowing how much a Simit was we could not argue when he said 5 lira.
Not being strangers to Turkey or its millions of Lira (as was then) my Husband took a 5 lira note out of his wallet. This is when it gets out of hand. One of the young men insisted my husband had not given the right note, and tried to take a 50 explaining it was a 5. My husband is angry now, as he understands the money very well. The young man is dipping his fingers into my Husbands wallet, who promptly gets very angry with the Waiter, and then ensues a bit of a slanging match, whereupon suddenly the boys left. My husband opened his wallet to replace the 50 that had been taken out, and realises the young man had stolen most of the money in it. They were clever and very quick with their hands, so I am sure they had done this before. We found the Police Station, but really the Police were not interested in us, and anyway it was hard to describe two young Turkish men- Dark haired and about 18 years old. That about describes half of Antalya!
Now having a very bad taste in our mouths, we packed up and left Antalya heading for Egidir.
From Antalya we headed north for a long hot drive. We were headed for an area we had been told was equivalent to the British Lake District.
The drive there took us through some beautiful countryside, and through large fruit growing areas. It takes around 3 hours to get here.
We had planned to stay one night by the Lake. To say we were disappointed when we got there, would be slight understatement. We drove around for 1 hour, and decided to just continue our drive to Pamukkale.
Pamukkale is around a 3.5 hour drive from Egidir, through Denizli City.
Leaving Egidir, we passed through various Mountain ranges and valleys. Most noticeable was the Carving in the side of the mountain of the School of Commandos near Egidir. Just a reminder of the Military force here.
I will admit I really do not remember a lot about that journey. We were all tired, and disappointed, and the Boys just slept most of the way. Apart from the odd incident of having Toilet stops, and retrieving lost caps, it was fairly uneventful.
Passing through Denizli, I was impressed with how modern it seemed, the roads were good and signposted well.
The approach to Pamukkle from Denizli is over some fairly flat Terrain, and the first hint you get of this wonderful monument from Nature, is what appears to be snow covered slopes in the distance. As you drive closer it still eludes you as to what it actually is, until you are almost on top of it.
Pamukkale Village was very small with a few hotels. We were all exhausted having been cramped in the Jeep for nearly 8 Hours, so we jumped at the first decent looking hotel we saw.
It had an amazing pool, ok rooms, and ok staff.
Booking in we realised it was very quiet everywhere, and found out we were the only guests. This seemed a little odd to us, but we were tired and hungry, so we just showered, changed and drove into the village to eat.
The next morning at breakfast, we asked why the hotel was so quiet. We were then told it was an “overnight” stay hotel for the Pamukkale tour coaches. They drive to the cliffs in the morning, stay the day exploring and then around 6 o’clock check in to the hotel for a meal and a bed, only to depart early the next morning for their onward journey.
This was great news for us as we had this great pool to ourselves all day, with waiters tripping over themselves to serve us.
The next day we drove up to Hierapolis in the late afternoon as it was too hot during the day to leave the cold pool. There is a small entrance fee, and then the road takes you through an old Graveyard, with endless Sarcophagi. This necropolis is one of the best preserved in Turkey. Most of the 1200 or so tombs were constructed with local varieties of limestone.
We parked and began to explore the ruins.
Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century and later became a healing centre where doctors used the hot thermal springs as a treatment for their patients. There are two Roman baths, a gymnasium, several temples, a theatre, a main street with a colonnade and a fountain at the hot spring. Hierapolis became one of the most prominent cities in the Roman Empire.
Destroyed by various earthquakes over the years, it was lost until the 1890’s when archaeologists started to excavate. Today excavation is still ongoing.
We sat a while at the top of the magnificent theatre, and the boys walked down the many steps to the stage area. It was still all open to the public at that time.
And so for the finale; sunset over the terraces.
There were 3 or 4 upmarket hotels built here and they destroyed some of the limestone formations that Pamukkale is famous for. Fortunately the Turkish Government saw sense and the hotels were torn down. When we went you could still see the foundations and entrances left over from these hotels.
Just before sunset the tourists arrive. This particular evening it was mainly Japanese tourists.
You are no longer allowed to clamber over the terraces as they have finally acknowledged that it was destroying, in a very short time, what Mother Nature took Centuries to build. The pristine white pools were turning a dirty brown colour, and it was declared a World Heritage site in 1988.
Pamukkales terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs. This deposits Calcium carbonate which has hardened and formed the wonderful pools.
So we watched the sunset over the hills, which caused the pools to change into wonderful hues of pinks and reds.
Leaving the ooh ahhing Japanese to it, we made our way back to the hotel.