From the Mediterranean to the Aegean, the Turkish Coastline
Cappadocia and the rest of the Anatolian region was superb but it was lacking the ocean in a big way. Being one of the pastiest humans on the planet it was imperative that I maintained the mediocre (for a normal person but epic for me) tan I’d developed after a month in Croatia. Hence our next few weeks in Turkey involved a lot of beach time – nothing wrong with that.
Note: There’s a lot of photos in this post so I’m going to spread out the descriptions a bit between photos, just for something different.
Before we could hit up the azure waters of the Mediterranean we first had to get there. We decided to spend a couple of nights in Konya to get a real feel for conservative Turkey. Konya has been described to us as few times since as the Muslim capital of Turkey and that’s pretty obvious when you’re there. We were there during Ramadan and Konya introduced us to Ramadan drummers. The job of these guys is to walk around an hour and a half before dawn beating the bejeezus out of a drum to wake people up for Suhoo, which is the last meal they can have prior to dawn prayer and of course for the remainder of the day. These dudes don’t hold back, if you were asleep before they did the rounds you certainly weren’t afterward. So we endured that for the next month or so and it’s not something you really get used to.
Not that I’m complaining, the poor buggers fasting didn’t get to eat from pre-dawn until around 8pm, not even a glass of water. We ate all day. Their dedication is very admirable and the whole concept of Ramadan is pretty amazing, from what we could gather through talking to locals it’s all about teaching yourself empathy for those less fortunate. There’s a lot of misconception about the Muslim religion brought about by poorly educated media types who give the rest of the world a jaded view. There’s still parts of it that I’m not overly fond of, to me it still feels like women don’t have the same freedom in some ways as men but there could be a number of cultural influences that contribute to that, it’s not like there’s any feeling of severe oppression at all. I’m not an expert by any means but it was an eye opening time in Konya and in a very positive way.
We saw some pretty amazing stuff at Mevlana Museum. There’s a glass case with a small wooden box inside that apparently contains hairs from the beard of the prophet Muhammed which, considering the number of Muslim people in the world, must be a pretty significant thing for them. There’s a bunch of old transcripts and Qurans from something ridiculous like the 6th century that are perfectly intact. Impressive stuff.
We didn’t think we’d enjoy Konya but we did. It’s WAY off the tourist radar normally but it gave us a touch of old school Turkey.
The first touch of the Turkish coast came in the form of Antalya. Hello resortsville. Not really our scene but the old town is brilliant and there are some pretty spectacular Roman ruins close by. We stayed in a really cosy little pension in the middle of the old town where we actually met another Australian couple in Mike and Heather. These two old battle axes had ridden their bicycles from Melbourne, across the Nullabor to Perth, through pretty much all of South-East Asia, across China, Pakistan, Turkistan, all the other Stans, across Turkey and were working their way to London. They’d done WAY more km’s on their pushies than we had in all of our cars combined. We threw them in the car for a day and went out and saw a bunch of ruins, I think they appreciated sitting on a seat wider than a two by four for a change as much as we appreciated their company.
We were pretty keen to get away from the hordes of British and Russian banana chairists so we poked around the corner to a little village called Adrasan for Lauren’s birthday. Here we stayed at a magic place called the Arikanda hotel which sits on a river leading to the Mediterranean. Being a closet romantic I emailed the guys there asking if they could slip a cheeky bottle of champagne into the room before our arrival but my new mate Fell out did himself. Not only did he sort out the bubbly, but following dinner he brought out a bunch of flowers that the lads had clearly made out the back from whatever was in the garden, a wicked chocolate cake and a box of chocolates. Bloody legends.
Adrasan might be the current leader for clearest oceans I’ve ever laid eyes on. You couldn’t even tell the water was there is was so bloody clear, no matter how deep the water you couldn’t actually tell because you could see the bottom perfectly. We spent a lot of time in the ocean and a lot of time drinking beers in day beds and hammocks while feeding the local ducks population. It was also time for the State of Origin decider and we managed to stream the game live through the power of the interwebs. Fell, Bahrum and the rest of the lads from the restaurant sat down and watched it with us, causing them to renig on their earlier promise of rugby on the beach. I don’t think they realised that it wouldn’t be much fun on a pebble beach until they saw the game. We struggled to leave these guys as they were genuinely fantastic hosts and made us feel like we’d lived there our whole lives. Thanks gents.
Next stop, Olympos. Another excuse to sit on the beach and load up on vitamin D while staying a a tree house. There’s a heap of ruins right on the beach and plenty of fun bars in the village. It’s kind of like Adrasan with bit more of a party vibe – all the party boats that travel from Fethiye end up here as a result. We randomly met a really nice Aussie couple, Skye and Eamon, on the beach and ended up going for a drive up to a place called Chimaera where natural gas bleeds from the side of a mountain causing eternal spot fires all over the place. The story is that the mythical Chimaera, a monster with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a serpent who shot fire from her mouth lived on the mountain. Sounds feasible.
Anyway, Skye and Eamon gave us a tube of vegemite to say thanks for the lift. They could have given us a million bucks and I’d have been less happy. Bloody legends!
Next up, Kas. Without a doubt the best coastal location we found in Turkey. It’s a little touristy but it’s charming. We stayed in a hotel where we would walk out of our room, down about 15 steps and jump off a jetty into the ocean. It doesn’t get much better for about $30 Australian a night. We didn’t do much else there. Oh wait, we jumped off a mountain, swam in a 3,000 year old city that’s been absorbed by the ocean, watched goats head butt each other into oblivion, ate great food, drank too much and loved every minute of it. I want to go back to Kas.
Last stop for this post was Fethiye and although it’s a pretty nice little town I’d consider it more a place to base yourself for further activities rather than the perfect solo holiday destination. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty awesome but there’s so much to do nearby (especially if you’ve got wheels) that Fethiye itself becomes a little lacklustre by default. The highlight of our time here was without a doubt heading out to Saklikent Gorge where you hike straight up the guts of a river at the base of the gorge for a couple of kilometres. At times Lauren was up to her neck in the rapids (about up to the middle of my shins) as we climbed our way up the gorge. It was totally unexpected and would absolutely recommend going there for a look.