Trip Start Sep 12, 2005
Trip End Dec 12, 2005

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Next stop: Olympos, further along the Mediterranean coast. The bus was a smaller version of what we had taken thus far and it was hot and stuffy. (Don't think it's hot enough for Turks to feel they need the air con, but we Canadians were suffering!) It was definitely the "milk route" as we stopped frequently to take on/let off passengers. There was standing room only for the first part of the journey. We were glad we had seats!

I've changed my mind about Turkish drivers, at least in this part of the country. Given the smallest opportunity (even with oncoming traffic/no visibility), they seldom stop at stop signs and often try to force other vehicles off the road to pass. (We've also noticed that taxi drivers may or may not stop for red lights.) Margo warned us about Turkish drivers and Turkish laws. You can go to jail for being found at fault in a traffic accident. After seeing Midnight Express, that's enough to wean me of wanting to drive here!

The winding, mountainous roads brought back memories of New Zealand; the views from the bus were spectacular. As we approached various towns, we could see houses and buildings, but mainly large areas of grey. Once we got closer, we could see that these were greenhouses - and there are thousands of them along the coast. There are also lots of towns that have been on terraced hillsides built for tourists, each home with its own swimming pool. We speculated that not many Turks lived in those communities. There are many German and British people who live here year round.

This section of coastline is an anthropologist's dream and antiquity hounds come here from far and wide to explore ruins. There are hundreds - even thousands - of sites to visit and anyone who is really keen could spend months in the area.

Olympos is an ancient Lycian city dating back to the 2nd century BC that was vacated when the crusades came through in the Middle Ages. Now all that remains are the ruins and row upon row of guesthouses in orange and lemon orchards. Some of the guesthouses are the famed "treehouses" (are actually built around trees) and others are simply bungalows or cabins on stilts. We selected a quiet family-run place situated in the middle of a lemon orchard which was aptly named "Limon Pansiyon" (Lemon Pension). It was very quiet this time of year, but Olympos a real happenin' place in the summer - very popular with the backpacker crowd!

Because many of the guesthouses are quite secluded, the price of our accomodation included both breakfast and supper which happened to be vegetarian fare both nights we were there. The food was served cold, but was quite good. We were particularly intrigued by one dish comprised of fried potatoes, yogurt and hot peppers. Believe it or not, it was delicious! Vegetarians can survive in Turkey quite well.

The only other people at the Lemon Pension were Marc and Ann, a couple from Anterp, Belgium. He's a social worker and she sells advertising for a magazine. They had been here several times before and knew the family who owned the pension quite well. (None of whom could speak much English - we often had to ask Marc to help us out!) They appreciated living in Europe and how enriching it is to travel only 100 km and be in another country! Both spoke several languages.

Marc and Ann loved Turkey and had even purchased land near Bodrum, further west on the Mediterranean coast, but had run into some problems. Apparently the military has to approve the sale of land to any foreigners, and, before the sale was final, Marc went ahead and did some improvements to the property. Big mistake - the woman who was selling the land to him changed her mind. Now they are waiting for the courts to reach a verdict. It has been very frustrating for them, but they are hopeful that the decision will be in their favour.

People come here to relax - to walk among the ruins and laze on the nearby beach. To reach the ocean, you cross the ruins and can explore as you go. There's also a dry river bed that you can traverse to see ruins on the hillside; numerous paths snake through the thick bush. It's interesting to see the locals living there, right beside those old, old buildings and tombs. Combined with a quiet beach and crystal clear blue waters, it's an idyllic setting.

We spent one afternoon walking the length of the beach, looking up at the ruins perched high on the cliffs above. As we walked, I picked up some stones that caught my eye. I have this thing for rocks that stems from when I was a kid. My sister, Kris, and I used to go out in the rain and find pretty stones (some even glittered - we were sure they must be gold!), then we would display them on an old shelf at the back of the house. Unfortunately, when the sun came out and they dried, the rocks were no longer nearly as appealing! I still look for pretty stones and know that if they're beautiful when dry, they'll look even nicer wet! Someday I'll display them all in an aquarium or pool.

One evening we were in Olympos there was little to do so we went further down the road to another guesthouse. (We had to use our headlamps, that's how dark it was and there are no street lights.) Music from Peter Gabriel's "Passion" was playing (has a middle eastern influence) and a huge bonfire was burning. We watched the staff who work there cook corn over the fire and visited with a Turkish man now living in Dusseldorf who was on vacation. It was a magical setting - and a magical evening.
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