Anzac Day At Gallipoli

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Planet View: N40°14.463’ E26°16.901’
Street View: N40°14.463’ E26°16.901’

Temperature: 8°C (46°F)

Lisa, ET and Sally at the bus drop off on Anzac Day eveET organized for the four of us to spend Anzac Day at Gallipoli on an organized tour with Intrepid.  We caught a 12:00PM Intrepid bus (that ended up being a 1:30PM Intrepid bus) from Istanbul out along the Gallipoli Peninsula through Eceabat for dinner and onto Anzac Cove for the night.  For those of you reading this that are unaware of the significance of Anzac Day: on April 25, 1915 Anzac Cove in the setting sunthe Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) soldiers stormed the beaches at Gallipoli in an attempt to take the Gallipoli Peninsula for the Allies and force Turkey (then a German ally) out of World War One.  Gallipoli was a key strategic location along the peninsula protecting the thin strait of the Dardanelles, a narrow stretch of water that marks the only seagoing path to Istanbul.  What was anticipated to be a short campaign and easy victory for the Allies turned into a nine month battle resulting in the loss of more than 100,000 Allied troops and more than 200,000 Turks.  Ultimately, the Allies withdrew and ceded to the ferocious Turkish soldiers.  The battle has resulted in a strong bond of respect between Turks, Australians and New Zealanders and in recent years thousands of Aussies and Kiwis have been making the pilgrimage to Gallipoli for Anzac Day to remember those lost at the site. 

Sam and ET in the grandstands at Anzac CoveSally and Lisa in the grandstands at Anzac CoveWe arrived at Anzac Cove around 7:30PM on Anzac Day Eve, walking the 800 meters from the bus drop off to Anzac Cove to join crowds for the nights in the grandstands and lawn area.  The total number of attendees ended up being a little more that 7,500.  Anzac Cove is actually quite small but the combined efforts of the Australian, New Zealand and Turkish governments transform the national park into a well organized event with food stands and sometimes quite moving documentaries that ran through the night on big screens.  It was probably the coldest night of my life; Lisa and I borrowed a large blanket from our hotel for the night, Sally and ET had a sleeping bag each with them so didn’t feel the chilly 8°C (46°F) night air as much as we did as we huddled together. 

The crowd getting ready for the long night in Anzac CoveThe crowd getting ready for the long night in Anzac CoveThe dawn service was a welcome start to the day as we’d sat there all night waiting for it, the Australian Army band performed renditions of WWI marching tunes and the various countries’ national anthems as a supplement the service, which was actually quite moving.  We ventured to the food stands at around 7:30AM and shelled out for a chicken doner (similar to a gyros [yiros]) each, at the time that doner tasted like the world’s best item of food combining meat and starch!  After the dawn service was complete we walked the three kilometers to the Lone Pine service to commemorate the Australians who fell, then further up the hills to the final memorial at Chunuk Bair (N40°15.143’ E26°18.494’) for the New Zealand service.  The Australian service at Lone Pine was excellently done, the rendition of Waltzing Matilda by the Australian Army band very emotive.  A stirring feeling to sit there and think that 94 years prior thousands of troops had perished at the area in which we were seated.

The ride back to Istanbul was a little trying, after getting only a couple of hours sleep the night before and sitting in the hot sun all day our bus ended up being one of the very last buses in the queue to retrieve us from the pickup point.  Considering that there were more than 400 buses to transport over 7,500 visitors this meant we waited for around three hours to make our way back onto the bus for the six hour trip to Istanbul.  By the time we arrived at our pansiyon in Istanbul we were all pretty beat, to say the least.  The trip was was quite an experience and even though the night in the cold and crowds were a little trying at times I think it’s something I’ll look back on and be glad I was able to witness.  If I ever do go again I’ll be sure to take a sleeping bag next time!

Sam and Lisa rugged up in the grandstands at Anzac CoveSally had the right idea when it came to clothing for the nightThe beginning of the Anzac Day Dawn Memorial Service The sun making a break over the cliffs and shedding some light on the serviceThe sun making a break over the cliffs and shedding some light on the serviceThe Australian service at Lone PineThe memorial at Lone Pine Sally and ET at the Australian service at Lone PineThe Australian service at Lone PineLaying wreaths at the Australian service at Lone Pine Lone Pine memorial plaquesOne of the many cemeteries on the road from Lone Pine to Chunuk BairLisa, Sam, Sally and ET at Chunuk Bair with the Gallipoli Peninsula in the background

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Turkish Culture

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Water heating systemThroughout our travels on foot and via bus across Turkey, I have noticed some common cultural themes that are very different to what we are used to in the west.

The national male pastime: backgammonWater Heaters: The water heating system consists of two metal barrels stacked on the roof which are attached to solar heating panels, the water is stored and heated and then transferred back into the homes.  This has been interesting in our accommodation because it takes a while to get the hot water but when you do, it is scalding and hard to find a comfortable temperature.  There are often many of these barrel systems on one roof to accommodate entire apartment buildings. This picture is also showing satellite dishes for TV.

Backgammon: When we were in the Bahamas last year, all of the older men sat on the corners and played dominos all afternoon.  Here, the pensioners sit around and play backgammon (although much more quietly than the Bahamians played dominos).

Tractors on the roads are common throughout TurkeyDriving: We could write an entire essay on this.  The short description is there are no rules.  Four grown men on one scooter (none with helmets), plenty of little kids in the back and front seats of cars, none of which are in baby seats or seatbelts.  There are very few painted road lanes, you just go for it and many times if there is a lane, a car will straddle it and consider it a third lane.  Huge buses passing smaller buses, work trucks or cars on a two lane road with oncoming traffic approaching.  Tractors are often seen driving with large trailers through very narrow streets in the middle of a bustling town.  The photo shows a tractor holding us up while on a bus trip in Selcuk.  If you are walking on the side of the street, you had better keep your ears open and move out of the way because cars will not stop and wait for you like they do in the states. Honking and cutting-off merging cars are very common.  It is always an adventure and surprisingly we have not seen any accidents.

Bodrum local dogBreakfast: The breakfasts seem to always be included with our pansiyons and consist of the same things: sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, olives, fresh bread, cheese (usually like a feta), and sometimes a hard-boiled egg or a strange processed meat that tastes like bologna.  The locals like to snack on what looks like a giant round pretzel covered with sesame seeds.  I’m not sure what they are called, but they’re sold on every street corner in the morning.  We tried a piece of one that the owner of our pansiyon offered us and found it to be very dry.

Animals: Cows, goats, sheep, chickens, cats and dogs.  Many of the homes in the small towns between larger cities will have a cow, goat or sometimes a donkey tied up in front of their dwelling.  We have even seen goats tied up on the median strips of busier roads.  Also in the small towns there are many sheep and goat herders, standing guard of their flock to make sure they don’t venture onto the busy roads.  Many local dogs and cats roam the streets, you can tell the local dogs versus stray dogs because they have been tagged in their ear (indicating they have been neutered).  The cats tend to look a bit more scruffy.  Chickens are seen everywhere scratching the dirt.  It seems the dogs, cats and chickens don’t bother each other.

Turkish toiletWC: Otherwise known as restrooms, toilets or bathrooms.  The public toilets crack me up.  You must pay to use them by giving your lira to an attendant who sits in a glassed-in box (prices range from 0.50-0.75 YTL).  The attendant will then unlock the turnstile and you may enter (like entering a theme park).  If  you are lucky, you will find what we consider a ‘normal’ toilet but at times there is just a hole in the ground with two spots where you put your feet (but it is tiled).  You must stand back when flushing this type of toilet because water shoots out everywhere.  I was clued in by another Aussie passenger on our bus to check all of the stalls in the WC because sometimes there will be just a couple of ‘normal’ toilets at the end of the row.  Learn as you go.

Turkish tea: chaiTea: Chai is consumed all day long.  Large groups of men sit around smoking and drinking chai out of small clear glasses with a saucer.  You will often see a man or boy walking down the street with a platter full of cups of chai delivering them to the shop keepers or street vendors.  We have enjoyed drinking the chai as well and for 0.50-1 YTL, you can’t beat it.  One shop keeper told us it is common for Turks to drink up to 30 cups of chai per day.

Sunflower Seeds: They are massive!  The sunflower seeds are sold in bulk by street vendors or in the corner markets along with many other nuts including almonds, dried garbanzo beans, hazelnuts, pistachios, and peanuts. I had to buy some seeds to give them a try and they were pretty tasty.  Dried apricots and dried figs are also very common and the figs are delicious!

Mosques: We are often woken in the early AM (5AM-6AM) by the morning prayers of each town.  There are many mosques in the towns, easy to identify because they usually have a large domed roof and next to it a tower that is encircled with speakers.  We think that the same prayers get broadcast across all of the mosques in a given town simultaneously because it’s very loud everywhere (although we don’t know the language so it is hard to confirm).  The mosques also announce prayers throughout the afternoon and usually late evening around 8:30PM or 9PM, we think there are five per day.

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Selcuk and Ephesus

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Planet View: N37°56.915’ E27°22.079’
Street View: N37°56.915’ E27°22.079’

Temperature: 28°C (82°F)

TurkeyThree buses and about four hours up the Aegean coast took us from Bodrum to Selcuk, the quaint country town a couple of kilometers from the famous ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus.  We only had one night in Selcuk, mainly to visit Ephesus, so we had Alibaba the owner of the local carpet shop and brother of one of the owners of our pansiyon give us a ride to the southern end of the ruins.  Ephesus is an absolute tourist mecca, luxury buses from the nearby port town of Kusadasi (one of the interchange points for our dolmus Colonnaded street at Ephesusride) transport holidaymakers from cruise ships to walk through the ruins for the afternoon, so even in the early high season the place was packed.  The tour guides speak seven languages, we felt like we were solidly on the tourist trail for the first time while we were visiting the ruins. 

The ancient city of Ephesus (N37°56.704’ E27°20.342’) if the best-preserved Roman city in the Mediterranean.  In its prime it was the trading and cultural center of the cult of Cybele, an Anatolian fertility goddess.  We overheard one of the tour guides explaining that a lot of the intricate stone carvings in the city signify freedom of sexuality.  When the Romans conquered over the area and declared it part of Asia, Ephesus became the Roman provincial capital.  Ancient baths at the ruins of EphesusWhile the city has had a number of different societies call it home over the past couple of millennia, the main portion of the ruins were constructed by the Romans around the second century AD. 

A walk through the ruins for the afternoon really gave us a feeling of what it would have been like during Roman times.  Extensive colonnaded streets, an amphitheater with capacity of 25000, a huge central marketplace with a road leading to the city’s inland harbor, the city was a sight to behold.  Perhaps the most publicized ruin remaining is the front wall of the Library of Celsus (Lisa and I are pictured sitting in it below), the facade is still in very good shape and the intricacy of the writing carved into the stonework was great to see.  Unfortunately the city’s harbor and stadium are permanently closed to tourists, but our two-and-a-half hour walk certainly was a fun trip back in time.

Entrance to Ephesus' odeumLisa in the entrance to Ephesus' odeumEphesusLisa figuring out the ruins at Ephesus Inscriptions in the Library of CelsusSam and Lisa in one of Ephesus' main attractions: the Library of CelsusOne of Ephesus' main attractions: the Library of Celsus Imagining just how much waste has gone in these toilets over the last few thousand years!Ephesus' agora (market)Sam and Lisa in Ephesus' main theatre Ephesus' main theatreOne of the entrances to Ephesus' main theatreOne of the entrances to Ephesus' main theatreThe main street leading to Ephesus' harbor Poppies along the street leading to Ephesus' harborOnce of the more intricately carved sarcophagus in EphesusThe street leading down to Ephesus' main harbor Sam in the Church of MaryLisa in a gate leading to the baptismal baths in the Church of MaryThe Church of MaryThe Church of Mary The Church of MaryGenuine fake watches?The entrance to Ephesus' stadium (we could only view it from the road because the ruins were closed)

Our Ottoman-style room at the ANZ Pansiyon in Selcuk An afternoon beer with some dried figs in the Selcuk museum park As most of the visitors to Ephesus seem to flock from cruise ships and luxurious resorts on the coast, Selcuk (which is only about two kilometers away) remains off the beaten path and thus retains its welcoming Turkish culture and fantastic food.  There are a few pansiyons and up-market guest houses about the place, catering to holidaymakers and backpackers alike, but for the most part the people we saw in the streets were Turkish.  It’s a fantastic little town, the start of the line for the train into the bustling metropolis of Izmir to the north, the town center is a mix of trinket shops and a strip of eateries surrounding a fountain.  We stayed at the ANZ Guest House which is run by an Turkish Aussie who moved to Turkey after growing up Down Under (who was actually a bit of a tit) and his more-than-friendly partner Murat (Alibaba’s brother).  On the recommendation (again) of the Lonely Planet we ate dinner at Edjer Restaurant, it’s probably the best meal we’ve had in Turkey so far!  Fried eggplant, sarmas (very similar to Greek dolmas), lamb shish and our first sampling of Turkish yoghurt, the food was just to die for.  The family running the place were great: the father takes care of the meat, the mother the vegetables and the boys comprise the wait staff.  Next stop: Istanbul.

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Bodrum and a Turkish Bath

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Planet View: N37°2.357’ E27°25.614’
Street View: N37°2.357’ E27°25.614’

Fisherman pedaling their wares in the marina at BodrumBodrumAnother bus, another post…  We’re on our way to Selcuk to see the ruins at Ephesus at the moment, so a little more downtime to write about our two nights in Bodrum.  Bodrum is located on the Aegean Sea northwest along the coast from Fethiye, the main drag runs along two moon-shaped harbors filled with multi-million dollar Turkish yachts.  It reminded me a little of the harbors in Nassau, except here the boats are almost exclusively wooden while the mega-yachts in the Caribbean are made from sleek fiberglass.  In-between Bodrum’s main harbor is the main archaeological attraction: a medieval The marina and town of Bodrumcastle perched at the end of a spit that was supposedly the most impenetrable stronghold in the Mediterranean in its time View of the Bodrum castle and beachfront restaurants in the eastern bay(how it was conquered in the fifteenth century is a little confusing, though!).  As well as being an attraction in itself, the castle holds the world’s most extensive underwater archeological museum.  The waters around Bodrum hold some of the world’s most well preserved and extensive wrecks, all are closed to public diving in the interest of archaeology but the tour booklet we received at the museum stated that the government is considering allowing access to a limited number in the interest of tourism.  The main attraction of the museum is the display of an excavated boat from the 14th century BC, the condition of the artifacts were astounding.  The trade routes between Egypt, Africa and the Mediterranean civilizations meant the boat had a wide array of cargo from three continents, from simple amphoras used for transporting wine and oil to intricate Egyptian scrolls and cosmetics.  Really an interesting exhibit.

 An array of amphoras at the Bodrum underwater archaeological museumThe age of one of the amphoras inside Bodrum's museum of underwater archaeologyThe chapel inside the Bodrum castle Door to the Codrum castle's chapelOne of the Bodrum castle's bathsOne of the inhabitants of the Bodrum castleLisa walking between the upper towers of the Bodrum castle The Bodrum castle's English towerThe Bodrum castle's English towerThe Bodrum castle's English towerEgyptian hieroglyphic stamps from the main attraction at the Bodrum underwater archaeology museum The stairs down to the castle's dungeonsView of Bodrum's westerm marina from the castleLisa exiting the castle's snake tower 

The Turkish bath we visitied in Bodrum We thought about exploring some of the beaches surrounding Bodrum in the afternoon, but it was a little cooler yesterday and mostly overcast so we decided instead to do something that was recommended to us by a number of people: take a Turkish bath.  There are two main hamams in the area of Bodrum in which we stayed, Lisa was (understandably) not so keen on visiting the one that required separate bathing so we ventured to Bardakci Hamam for our experience because it allows mixed bathing.  Bardakci is the oldest hamam in Bodrum, constructed in 1749 and in operation ever since.  It was quite an experience, so I’m going to go into some detail here so we don’t forget it…  We were escorted into a small changing room and each given a pestemal (a small cloth shown here on me) to change into.  Lisa was asked to wear a bathing suit under hers while I was told to completely nude-up for my experience.  We were escorted into the marble camekan (a domed steam room), in the center of which was a large square marble slab about half a meter Sam about to head into the Turkish bathtall about three meters on either side (a meter is  about three feet, Brooke).  The slab was heated in the center, where it was excruciatingly hot, and then cooled-off slightly toward the edge.  Even toward the edge, though, it was almost too hot to touch, we had to ease ourselves into lying on it over the space of Lisa cleansed after her bath with one of the masseuse's daughtersa few minutes.  The steam room was very hot and extremely humid, both of us were dripping with a mix of sweat and water within a few minutes but after 10 or so we got used to the environment and started to relax as our pores opened.  About 20 minutes into the experience our masseuses entered and started their work.  The first portion of the bath involves being rubbed with an abrasive glove which has the texture of a fine grit sandpaper, the glove removed any trace of dead skin from our body.  We were both amazed at just how much dead skin was sticking to us after being sandpapered for 10 or 15 minutes (the amount of skin was actually quite gross!).  We were then rinsed of dead skin with cold water while sitting on the marble slab, only to lay back down on the superheated rock again for the cleaning portion.  Our masseuses (by now dripping with sweat themselves) used a cloth bag dipped in soapy water to lather us each in a cocoon of soap bubbles, probably the most silky smooth soap I’ve ever felt.  Once lathered we were cleaned with more vigor that I thought possible, for a good 20 to 25 minutes we were lathered and rubbed all over while laying on the marble slab.  Lisa’s masseuse was a little more reserved than mine (I think because she’s female) but mine cleaned everything.  I mean everything.  He even cleaned up my nose, in my ears, in- Lisa enjoying on of her favorite mezes: olives wrapped in anchoviesbetween my toes.  And remember this whole time I’m nude with my boys out for the world to see.  Before being escorted out of the steam room we also had our hair (and my beard) washed vigorously, Lisa’s hair ended up in a large blonde dreadlock by the time she was done!  Once clean (and by now we are really clean) we were wrapped in towels and escorted from the steam room to cool off outside.  This also gave the masseuses a chance to cool off and relax a little, the amount of effort they put into the experience was amazing, they have some seriously strong hands and forearms.  At this point I was so relaxed I actually fell asleep for a few seconds in my chair, while Lisa was the complete opposite, exhilarated and very awake.  The final part of our bath involved an oil massage, Lisa’s from a woman this time, with  aromatic oils for about 20 minutes.  The whole experience took about an hour and a half, we’re glad we decided to do it, something neither of us will ever forget!

Grabbing a bite to eat in BodrumThe one unfortunate aspect of Bodrum is the influx of British package holidaymakers the town receives.  The strength of the British pound results in everything being between double and triple the price we’ve experienced elsewhere in Turkey (and even elsewhere we’ve still stuck to relatively touristy spots).  In addition, the restaurants cater to the much blander British taste bud: instead of spicy rice, fired onions and peppers, and a One of Lisa's favorite mezes: olives wrapped in anchoviessalad of pickled cabbage with dill and tomatoes to accompany our food we instead received plain white rice, unseasoned meat and French fries!  While the food we ate in Bodrum was still good it was a far cry from the scrumptious fare to which we’ve become accustomed elsewhere on our trip.  Otherwise, the town was a great spot, another picturesque stop on our way up the coast, and we’ll never forget that hamam!

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The Lycian Way

Turkey 1 Comment »
Planet View: Trailhead at Kayakoy at N36°34.343’ E29°5.137’
Street View: Trailhead at Kayakoy at N36°34.343’ E29°5.137’ to the beach at Oludeniz at N36°32.856’ E29°7.232’ 

Temperature: 31°C

Lisa in the ghost town of Kayakoy with a 17th century church in the backgroundThe trail through the ghost town of KayakoyA Turkish poppy in Kayakoy (they were everywhere!)The Lycian Way is heralded as one of the world’s most picturesque hiking trails.  After discussing sections of the trail with the Aussie couple we met in Antalya who had just completed 287 kilometers of it, we decided to attempt a section today from Kayakoy to Oludeniz.  We wanted to visit Oludeniz whilst staying in Fethiye anyway, as a number of people had told us it’s the best beach in Turkey.  We caught a dolmus (small local bus) to the village of Kayakoy in the mountains south of Fethiye.  The dolmus system is great, they run very frequently and are a cheap way of traveling short distances.  They’re about the size of a minibus and have seating on one side, standing room on the other.  The only drawback is that when you get 25 or so people crammed into one in 31°C weather the aroma can get a little interesting, to say the least! 

Lisa hiking through the ghost town of Kayakoy The ride to Kayakoy took about 45 minutes, it seems that apart from farming the mountain plateaus the main income provider in Kayakoy is a ghost town of buildings perched above the village through which we walked to begin our hike.  The 2000 or so stone houses were abandoned by the mostly Ottoman-Greek inhabitants after WWI and the Turkish War of Independence.  We weren’t expecting such an interesting start to the day, but the relics were quite a sight, a completely abandoned city but for the most part still standing (minus their roofs).  Our first mistake of the day was to trust probably the worst hand-drawn map known to man that we photocopied from the guest book at our pansiyon.  The second mistake was to fail to completely read the set of instructions that went along with the map.  We hiked through the mountains and ridges overlooking the Mediterranean between Kayakoy and Oludeniz for about an hour before running into a local boy herding donkeys and, via a combination of sign language and pointing at our rudimentary map, figured out that we were a few miles on the other side of an impassable ravine from where we needed to be.  He did know a little English though: when we asked whether we could walk to Oludeniz from the location at which we’d found ourselves he gave us a forceful “no way” and looked at us the way Jarrid Bordessa’s dad looks at me when I get bogged on their dairy! 

Lisa hiking through the ghost town of KayakoyThe ghost town of KayakoyLisa hiking through the ghost town of Kayakoy 

Our savior: the Lycian Way markersSo, we trudged back up into the ruins of Kayakoy, dripping in sweat in the 31°C midday sun, and after a heated moment here and there managed to get ourselves onto the correct portion of the trail.  We quickly discovered that the Lycian Way is marked by very distinguishable markers painted on rocks every few hundred meters even in sections where there is no discernable trail.  The markers became our saving grace as we always knew we were headed in the right direction at the sight of the next marker.  The hike was majestic, through pine forests and across ridges with views of bays and islands, cliffs and mountaintops all around.  One section of the trail was a little treacherous, we had to scramble a few hundred meters down quite a steep rock face where there were no markers, I managed get a little ahead of Lisa but was reminded of her presence by some very loud hyperventilating as a meter-long snake slithered across the rock a few inches in front of her feet!  A mostly downhill route had us in Oludeniz about three and a half hours after arriving in Kayakoy, enough time for a quick dip before heading back to Fethiye in the dolmus to catch our bus to Bodrum.

A local we met on the path...Our first attempt at the Lycian Way (the wrong way!)View north from the Lycian Way (the inlet before the large peninsula is where we ended up the first time) View of Oludeniz from the Lycian WayOludeniz beach

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Fethiye

Turkey 2 Comments »
Planet View: N36°37.136’ E29°5.686’
Street View: N36°37.136’ E29°5.686’

Turkey Our room at Ferah Pansiyon Leaving Fethiye behind us now as I have a little more downtime on the four hour express bus to Bodrum.  On another Pamukkale bus, the ease of bus travel in Turkey is amazing, the buses are very well equipped and the 25 YTL ($USD15.60) includes TV headsets, snacks, soft drinks, water and chai whilst onboard.  Too cheap.  Anyway, we stayed at the Ferah Pansiyon just south of Fethiye’s harbor and main drag, another nice little pansiyon run by the  extremely helpful Tuna and his wife Monica.  Our first evening we traipsed about town after arriving from Antalya, the harbor of  The harbor and Turkish yachts in FethiyeFethiye is beautiful with its turquoise Mediterranean water and snow-capped peaks in the distance.  It has Fethiye harbor and the cafe we found for our first afternoon in towna very touristy atmosphere but the cafes and restaurants were still full of a pretty balanced mix of Turks and visitors.  We found a little bar on the water’s edge for a few half liter Efes beers at 2.75 YTL ($USD1.75) a pop where we whiled away a few hours and watched the fish fight over tidbits of bread thrown to them by bar patrons.  As we were walking through town late in the afternoon we stumbled upon the Presidential Tour of Turkey as the riders were finishing their leg for the day.  The main thoroughfare in Fethiye was blocked off for the race and all the locals were out to watch the pros come through Lisa knocking back an Efes with bread-hungry fish in the water behind herThe harbor and Turkish yachts in Fethiyetown.  A lot of European countries had teams entered, we saw Turkey (of course), Spain and Germany to name a few.  We found a spot 200 meters from the finish line and got to witness the lead pack of four or five riders sprinting to the finish line, as well as the main pack of more than 50 cyclists come in five or so minutes later.  A bit of a treat!  On the recommendation of the Lonely Planet we walked to the Pasa Kebab for dinner and were not disappointed.  We shared a lamb shish and beef pide, I think the pide is probably one the best pizza-like foods on the planet.  An elongated flatbread cooked in a wood oven with pickled peppers (capsicum), onions and grilled beef.  Amazingly good.  The lamb shish was pretty awesome too, lamb in general here in Turkey is fantastic, but the pide was out of this world, I think I’ll be ordering a few more during the next 10 days! 

The Presidtenial Tour of Turkey: the lead ridersThe Presidtenial Tour of Turkey: the main packThe Presidtenial Tour of Turkey: the main packThe local Turkish brew 
Sam with a scrumptious lamb shishA beef pide and green saladThe harbor and Turkish yachts in FethiyeThe harbor and Turkish yachts in Fethiye The harbor and Turkish yachts in FethiyeThe harbor and Turkish yachts in FethiyeFishing boats in Fethiye Bay with snow-capped peaks in the distance 

Lisa snorkeling at Aquarium IslandSam snorkeling at one of the Yassica Islands on our cruiseWe spent Friday on a 12 island boat cruise on the recommendation of Tuna, our hostel owner.  We were picked up at 10:00AM by the tour operator in her little Datsun 1600 from yesteryear and driven through town in another seat-of-your-pants ride for which we could have used racing harnesses in place of our seatbelts!  Lisa thinks I would enjoy driving in Turkey (I tend to agree).  The boat was an eclectic mix of tourists from all over the world: Denmark, Scotland, New Zealand, the States and a few Aussies.  We had a good chat with a guy from Woodville who was traveling through Egypt and Turkey for five weeks, the world is a small place these days (for those of you that don’t know the suburbs of Adelaide, Woodville is about 10 kilometers from where I grew up).  We cruised around the islands outside of main Fethiye harbor, stopping at five or six of them for sightseeing, swimming, snorkeling and some fun diving off of the boat.  The tour operator (our excitable driver with the Datsun) had a bit of a tough time pedaling beers to the backpacking crew at 5 YTL a piece, by the end of the trip we’d bartered her down to 2.50 YTL a drink, more in-line with what they’d be onshore!  For 30 YTL ($USD18.75) each we received an eight hour cruise of the Turkish islands around Fethiye, lunch, and pickup from our pansiyon.  Again, too cheap.  A pretty fun day, some beautiful scenery and temperatures around 30°C, what more could you ask for?

The Yassica IslandsSam diving off the boat for a dip in the MediterraneanTersane Island and its lighthouse A secluded bay on Tersane IslandAnchored for lunch on Tersane IslandOur cruise stop at Holiday Bay Sam contemplating a swim at Holiday BayOne of the deckhands showing us how it's done from the top deck of our boatOne of the deckhands showing us how it's done from the top deck of our boatOne of the deckhands showing us how it's done from the top deck of our boat 

Fethiye's fish marketIn the center of Fethiye is a fish market surrounded by restaurants: it’s setup such that once you’ve made your purchase from the fishmongers you can take it to the Fethiye's fish marketrestaurant of your choosing and for 5 YTL ($USD3.10) they’ll cook it to your liking, provide you with toast and a green salad.  We chose squid and for 10 YTL ($USD6.25) purchased four good-sized specimens which were turned into delicious calamari by the chefs at the restaurant we chose.  The restaurants themselves don’t really have a menu apart from a wide array of mezes (antipasti).  Lisa ordered olives wrapped in anchovies (Gail and Greg, she said you guys would love them) and we also sampled the hummus and a salad of chopped tomatoes, garlic and onions.  The hummus here is a little different to what we’re used to: it’s served on a plate as a solid cube with oil drizzled over the top, you then have to mix in the oil until it’s of a spreadable consistency.  Another killer meal, lucky we had a big hike planned for the next day!

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Termessos and the Karian Cave

Turkey 3 Comments »
Planet View: N36°58.959’ E30°27.902’
Street View: N36°58.959’ E30°27.902’

The Termessos amphitheaterTermessos' gymnasium and bathTermessos' gymnasium and bathWe ventured up into the Gulluk Dagi National Park yesterday to visit the lauded ancient ruins of Termessos.  First a bit of history and specifics…  The ruins are located in the Bey Mountains about 3300 feet above the Mediterranean.  The Termessans, a Pisidian people, we thought to be fierce people prone to battling invaders and were known to have fought off Alexander the Great as far back as 333 BC.  The Romans also respected the Termessan’s wishes to remain an independent society and treated them as allies in 70 BC.

The Termessos amphitheaterThe Termessos amphitheaterThe Termessos amphitheater

Termessos' gymnasium and bathTermessos tombs in one of the necropolisWe teamed up with a couple of Hungarian diplomats on vacation from their four year posting in Belgium, we ran into the girls at our pansiyon after breakfast, which was convenient as we split the price of the taksi tour between us.  The ride up into the mountains began with a by-the-seat-of-your-pants ride through the streets of Antalya with our Turkish taxi driver (who didn’t speak a lick of English).  The highway into the Bey Mountains is absolutely beautiful, the mountains stretch skywards with ski resorts and snow capped peaks as far as the eye can see.  Termessos itself is only around 30 kilometers from Antalya, then a 15 minute walk up a hiking trail to the lower city walls.  The ruins are perched in-between two adjacent peaks with a steep descent down one side of the city and cliffs on the other.  Its location no doubt made it a formidable location for invaders, we spotted quite a number of spots in the surrounding mountains where spots had been carved into the walls for lookouts and archers.  We Termessos tombs in one of the necropolisbegan our walk through the ancient city  under the cover of clouds, which quickly turned to blue skies, then rain, and back to clouds all within about two The Termessos amphitheaterhours, an almost alpine climate where we were glad to have dressed in layers.  The intricacy of the ruins really amazed us, considering that the city was constructed exclusively out of stone many thousands of years ago.  The 4200-seat amphitheater was a sight to behold and the complexity of the water supply and cisterns was amazing.  The city was complete with housing, a gymnasium, streets, a number of necropolis, baths and temples.  We also found a few areas of the ruins, especially down the colonnaded street, where sections of wall were engraved with writings in the Termessans’ ancient script.  The necropolis were quite a sight, too.  The northeast necropolis is the burial ground in which we spent the most time, the size of the tombs and the amount of time it must have taken to construct them is mind-boggling.  Termessos was really an awesome place to behold, we’re glad we made the trip.

The Termessos amphitheaterThe Termessos amphitheaterThe temple of Artemis The masoleum of MamastisThe tomb of AlcetasThe tomb of AlcetasAncient writing on blocks lining Termessos' colonnaded streetThe tomb of AlcetasTermessos ruins of an unidentified buildingTombs in Termessos' northeast necropolisTombs in Termessos' northeast necropolisTombs in Termessos' northeast necropolisThe Hadrian Proplaeum

The Karian Cave The Karian CaveOn the way back into Antalya we also ventured to the Karian Cave, about 12 kilometers from Termessos.  Excavation and study of the cave began in 1946 and it’s heralded as one of the most important anthropological history sites in the world.  It is thought to have been continuously inhabited for 25000 years!  The cave is located at the end of a dusty road that winds through farmland off the side of the main highway, a steep hiking trail took us to the cave opening where we were free to venture into the cave unsupervised and uninhibited from touching the ancient writing on the walls.  We both commented that we definitely wouldn’t be touching centuries old archaeological treasures in the States!  The cave is split into two large chambers, definitely large enough to house scores of people, although I don’t think Lisa could have lived in there as she couldn’t handle the smell (surprise, surprise…) even for the short time we were inside!

The Karian CaveThe Karian CaveThe Karian Cave

Walking to the bus from Antalya to Fethiye through downtown AntalyaOn our way to the bus from Antalya to Fethiye at the gates to KaleiciAt the moment I’m sitting on the bus from Antalya to Fethiye (location N36°58.262’ E29°47.835’), winding through the Bey Mountains as we cross the peninsula between the two towns.  Amazing views of snowcapped peaks in the distance and pine-covered gorges are visible out of both sides of the bus, just beautiful countryside and mostly uninhabited except for a goat herder here and there tending flocks in The bus from Antalya to Fethiyethe steep ravines.  The greenhouses we saw surrounding Antalya continued up in the mountains, we found out earlier today that Turkey supplies Europe with a significant portion of its tomatoes and it’s currently tomato harvesting season.  We met up with a nice couple from Perth at our pansiyon this morning who have just hiked a 287 kilometer section of the Lycian Way between Fethiye and Antalya.  Great to get some firsthand knowledge of the area to which we’re headed next.  They’re sitting across the aisle from us on the bus, today they’re off to complete a 1200 kilometer trek through Spain after flying to London and changing planes to get back to Barcelona.  The Lycian Way, which we hope to venture onto tomorrow or Saturday for a short hike, was just a warm up for them!

Snow-capped peaks on the road joining Antalya and FethiyeYou always come across interesting words in other countries...Snow-capped peaks on the road joining Antalya and Fethiye

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New Experience: Green Almonds

Turkey 2 Comments »

Green raw almonds in huskWOW!!! Check it out, I am learning to blog… Last night we had a fun new experience.  We had seen carts along the street selling small green fuzzy pod-like things and had no idea what they were.   While dining at Hasanaga Restaurant the waiter brought out a fruit plate for dessert with the funny green fuzzy pods on the plate.  The waiter could tell we were puzzled and tried to describe in his best English translation what they were.  We figured out they were raw almonds.  From my days at Cal Poly I had learned about “amonds” (when almonds are harvested, the “l” gets shaken out of them) but I had not yet heard of eating green raw almonds.  So per the waiters suggestion, we chomped down into the mysterious green “fruit”. Have you ever tasted an apricot before it is ripe?  The pods were very tart and with a tough rind to them as well.  Sam was still not quite convinced that they were in fact almonds so he proceeded to try and cut one open with his knife and discovered that an unroasted almond is actually quite soft.  The chef was out in the restaurant, witnessed Sam’s slicing and immediately went back into the kitchen to fetch his own raw almond.  He stood at the end of our table (saying nothing) and chomped into the green almond to show us how it’s done.  It was pretty funny that Sam was busted trying to figure out this new “fruit”.  I can say we were both glad that we did not purchase an entire bag of these from a street vendor because after eating one or two we were done!

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Antalya

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Planet View: N36°52.914’ E30°42.319’
Street View: N36°52.914’ E30°42.319’

Temperature: 21°C

TurkeyWe have begun!  We got moving at around 3:30AM Monday Pacific Standard Time, starting our journey with a flight from San Francisco to New York City.  Even though we’ve both been eagerly anticipating this trip for such a long time and are very excited about our travels, we were both a little sad to leave the Bay Area.  Lots of friends and family that we’re both going to miss and even though we’ll no doubt have the time of our lives as we trot the globe it was definitely tough to leave our lives behind in California.  Anyway, after 21 hours of planes and buses we’re finally in Antalya, Turkey.  The ride was pretty smooth, no lost luggage (we’ve had a bit of bad luck with luggage on a few trips recently) and we both managed to sleep a little from New York City to Istanbul.  We also managed to get into Istanbul ahead of time, so View of Hidirlik Kulesi and Antalya Bay from the cliffs near our hotelfortunately were able to jump on an early morning Atlas Jet flight to Antalya and spend the afternoon down here on the Mediterranean Coast instead of killing time in Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport for four hours.

Our little room at Sabah Pansiyon in KaleiciThe descent into Antalya was quite breathtaking: the town of 600,000 is hemmed in by the Bey Mountains, which surround the town entirely on the north, east and west, while the turquoise-blue waters of the Mediterranean border the town to the south.  The plains surroundings Antalya are filled with glasshouses as far as the eye can see and the snow-capped peaks of the Bey Mountains in the distance really make for a heart-stopping view.  The dust obscured the view of the mountains a little for our first day here, but we could still easily make out the immensity of the peaks beyond Antalya Bay. 

View of Hidirlik Kulesi and Antalya Bay from the cliffs near our hotelAfter three flights, a bus ride from Antalya’s airport and a mile or so walk through the downtown district in what felt like 98% humidity we were both a little pooped by the time we reached our pansiyon (hotel) in Kaleici.  So we just took a stroll around the old town of Kaleici The Roman harbor carved into the cliffs at the base of Kaleiciwhere our pansiyon is situated and learned very quickly not to catch any of the street vendors in the eye unless you want them to practically wrestle you into their stores to peruse their wares.  It’s amazing how much was happening here for a regular Tuesday afternoon, it was absolutely bustling with activity.  At 5:00PM the sounds of the afternoon worship rung out across the city, it’s an almost eerie sound, but the Turks continued about their day without paying it much notice.  Lisa and I were quite easy for the Turks to spot as tourists as we traipsed about in flip-flops this afternoon: the requirement for men and women to be wearing socks to enter a mosque dictates that everyone wears shoes as they go about their day even though this afternoon it was an almost hot 27°C.  We enjoyed sitting on a bench watching the world go by next to one of the town’s main bazaars, the friendly locals appearing out of nowhere to serve onlookers hot tea with cubes of sugar for 50YTL (around $USD0.30) a cup was great.  An early night for us tonight, we’re going to try to get on Turkish time so we’re not so tired tomorrow and may venture up into the mountains to take a look at Gulluk Dagi National Park.

The Roman harbor carved into the cliffs at the base of KaleiciThe Roman harbor carved into the cliffs at the base of KaleiciThe street-side stalls in Antalya's old town Kaleici

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