Kekova, Demre, & Olympos

Trip Start Jun 08, 2011
Trip End Jun 19, 2011

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Flag of Turkey  , Antalya,
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Heather has decided she would rather sleep in the car than in the hotel bed…these mattresses are ridiculous. The split system wall hung HVAC unit is also no bueno. I wake up 3 times a night, first time because it is too cold so I turn off the air, then it’s too hot so I turn it back on, and 1 last time to turn it off again because Heather is too cold…I sweat from there. Think we’ll try the window open tonight. Another Turkish breakfast again today…getting really tired of hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, and cucumbers; where’s the BACON!?!?!?

Sure-fire business plans for Turkey:
-Central HVAC
-Pillow top mattresses
-Self serve gas stations

Loaded up to head East from Kas, planned to hit Kekova and Demre to see the Church of St. Nicholas, then head back to Kaputas beach; the day turned out a little differently. The road to Kekova is very scenic and its only like 20 km, but it’s a switchback road that takes almost an hour to do. Kekova is a quaint little fishing village far off the beaten path for tour buses…or so we thought. I was just saying to Heather, “well this will be nice, there won’t be any tour buses this far out,” as we pulled into the town square, there sitting in front of the harbor are 8 tour buses! I’m shell shocked, but it all turns out good because Kekova is a launch point for day boat trips and all the buses were there for that and had already departed so we had the town to ourselves. There are some nice Lycian ruins right on the water, we checked them out and snapped a few self photos using the tripod and time-delay setting of the camera. I made Heather stand on the edge of a 20’ wall (I helped her get there) and I ran back and forth between her and the camera like a mountain goat to reset the camera. After the ruins we walked around the town (takes about 5 minutes) and visited a couple of shops and street vendors. Heather picks one of the old Turkish ladies selling jewelry on a fold out table…for the next 10 minutes all we heard was, “this is nice, this is good, this is similar, this is handmade, this is good price, this is nice, this is good, this is handmade, this is good, this is nice, this is similar….” I wish I had the video camera out, this crazy old lady showed Heather every piece of jewelry she had on her table, and she had a lot!

We left out of the Kekova and took the split towards Demre. Arrived in Demre a short while later (11:30) and drove up to St. Nicholas’ Church. St. Nick, and in Santa Claus was actually a Turkish Bishop of the early church and he did good works, specifically dropping gold coins down the chimney of young women who didn’t have a wedding dowry. There is an awesome little church with Lycian style tombs and a bunch of frescos. We couldn’t have timed it better, there were like 2 other couples in the whole place so we were able to tour it all without worrying about who would be in the background of our shots. Right as we were leaving, 30 minutes later and coincidently right at the end of lunchtime, here came the hordes of tour bus riders. 3 buses worth of people coming spilling through the turnstiles following the flag and up and over the metal stairs protecting the original threshold marble. Heather and I stand to the side and let them pass and watch them scatter like mice in a maze through every portal and path. Perfect timing. Back at street level we see some good postcards for sale, we pick up 2 and ask the guy how much, he tells us 7 for $2 lira…huh? Who the hell needs 7 postcards? There was another American couple next to us at the time so we talk it over and decide 3 for them, 4 for us and 1 lira each. Best deal we’ve found in Turkey yet. We stop in a kebap restaurant on the corner and get 2 chicken kebaps to go from a guy that speaks Turkish, English, and at least Italian all blended into one language…even harder to communicate with him than someone that only speaks Turkish. The kebaps would have been good if they hadn’t have been smothered in the world’s strongest parsley…no joke, this stuff is potent.

And here’s where the agenda changed. I get it in my head that we should go check out Cirali beach at Olympos. I’m not really sure how far it is so I tell Heather and hour…its more like 2 and it’s a long 2 when all you want to do is be sitting on the beach. We finally get there, park, and walk down to the beach. The path to the beach is through the ruins of an ancient Roman city. Its pretty neat, what other beach do you walk through Roman ruins to get to? And when I say walk through, I mean you are literally on the stone road and between the stone walls and houses. This is backpacker country and is in the furthest corner from any airport, its an equally long distance away from everything else. Its not high season yet, I’m not expecting more than a few tenacious backpackers who are getting an early start on summer…boy was I wrong! We walk out on the beach and around the big rock outcropping with the hole in it that is the most awesome photo spot you could imagine, except the hole is plugged with hippie back packers. And I can smell them from 30 yards away. Who sets up camp in the photo spot? Who does that? Backpackers. So we walk around the rock outcropping and find a hundred backpackers layed up all over the beach. Damn it’s crowded here. How is the most remote beach the most crowded? Well it was a 2 hour drive and there are no other beaches around so I guess we’re staying. We post up between so relatively clean looking backpackers just to discover later that they were the loudest talking, inconsiderate people on the beach…so much for napping on the beach. This is another pebble beach and would be a fairly nice beach (water isn’t as blue as many others but there are dramatic rock outcroppings and ruins literally overlooking the beach) except the backpackers have absolutely trashed it. There are as many cigarette butts as rocks on the beach and leave trash blown up against the rock outcroppings and vegetation line. Then there are the backpackers themselves…some haven’t seen a shower in at least a month and even the salt water doesn’t help with the stench. Heather and I went out to the water which has no waves so it was the first water Heather could get in, but we’re perplexed as to what is going on with the water…there is some kind of weird film or something in the water…in the end, we decided that is it backpacker grease…don’t drink the sea water!

Near sunset we pack up and head out, but we’re hungry so we stop at one of the panysions to eat. Except they don’t make food to order here, this is communal backpacker living, they eat buffet style. And this isn’t American backpacker country, no one in this place speaks a lick of English. We get the general idea of the buffet will be at 8 and it’s $15 TL per person. We decide to hang around (there aren’t any McDonald’s in this half of the country) and see what the food looks like before we commit. It actually turns out to be quite impressive. They set out about 15 cold meze dishes on these huge platters (big enough to feed 75 people) and had 4 hot food servings as well as fresh cut watermelon and bread. We pay our money and join the communal line. I devour the food, trying one of everything and going back for seconds of my favorites. Heather found a dish that tasted like cole slaw, some fried potatoes, coush coush, and she picked the chicken out of one of the hot dishes. We thank the manager and head out for the long drive back.

It’s a full moon tonight…or so we thought. The moon comes up over the mountain as we get back to the main road so we take a few sweet photos. As we start driving I comment, “damn that’s weird, that cloud keeps covering the corner of the moon, I thought we’d be past it by now. Oh well, the moon ends up being behind us and we forget about it. When we come down the other side and spend some time working our way through the coast road’s turns, Heather comments, “something is wrong with the moon, it has like a blemish on it.” “WTF?” We’re having a lunar eclipse! Turns out to be a full lunar eclipse, who knew this was going to happen?!?!? We pull over in the middle of no where on the coastal road and set the tripod and telephoto lens up to take photos of it. Really neat, neither of us have ever seen a full lunar eclipse. The drive back takes right at 2 hours (not including the stop for the lunar eclipse).

The guide book says not to drive at night in Turkey and especially not down the coastal road…what a bunch of whimps. It really was a piece of cake.
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