Fethiye: Scrubbed up the right way
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
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After a change to a super-comfy bus we were zooming through the rugged countryside. I swear that everywhere I've been in Turkey there is a large hill or mountain in view and this area was no exception - first traversing a wonderful scrappy boulder-scape for many a kilometre, then moving into vast areas of productive fields, which in turn were surrounded by rings of darkened mountains under an overcast sky. Such a resource-rich country it seems.
I thought the trip was only an hour or two but it morphed into more than four, giving me time to calculate future plans and work out that we were already running out of time to fit everything in. Dalyan sounded nice but Mystery had already been there and could confirm that apart from the baby turtle kept especially for tourists, it wasn't likely that there had been any nesting on Iztuzu beach for years. So on the spur of the moment we stayed on the bus for another hour and went direct to Fethiye - there would be no dallying in Dalyan unfortunately.
Fethiye could be described as another Bodrum (which you may remember I passed through about a month ago) but with a larger, more commercial and more accessible port (to the mere mortal anyway). It's a major cruising hub on a large and quite beautiful bay and it's where you come to organise yourself a coast ride on a traditional Turkish Gulet.
Fortunately that was a lot easier to do than the Feluccas in Aswan. There are a handful of companies cruising to the Olympos area on a 3 night/4 day itinerary, all costing the same price and offering roughly the same service. Only one however was leaving on the right day, so within a couple of hours we had signed up and the rest of the day was ours.
Like Dalyan, Fethiye also has some Lycian rock tombs so despite my promise of 'no more ruins', I dragged Mystery up the hill to see them. Sorry mate, thanks for your patience. Quite reminiscent of that which you see in Jordan, these actually pre-date Petra by a few centuries and were carved in the period to the 4th century BC. With a stylish cut and great view over the Hellenistic city of Telemessos it looks like the big-wigs of the province did pretty well in the after-life department.
I went up to the largest and highest tomb (above left) in the cliff face, that of Governor Amynthas. The tiny alcove at the front is apparently a fake chamber and is on the whole not very convincing - you'd have to think there would be more to the internals after all that effort was made carving the facade. Oh well, I got in for free so shouldn't complain too much, especially when on my way out another turtle crossed my path (see Athens). That is becoming a bit of a freaky but quite pleasant and regular occurence around here! I trust that they are a good omen...
After all that climbing it was only natural to experience my first Turkish bath, or 'Hamam' in the local lingo. Hamams are a bizarre institution that seem to be on the wane in contemporary Turkish society with the advent of modern sanitary facilities in most homes, but were once an integral part of daily life and maintenance of the social order. In tourists towns they are now mainly mixed-sex baths used by foreigners to get boiled, slapped and tickled although I expect there would be more traditional single-sex versions in towns and cities where tourists fear to tread.
Basically the process is to lay on a flat marble slab for ten to twenty minutes, turning over occasionally and generally stewing in your own juices whilst the pores open in preparation for the onslaught. Then a hairy, towel-clad Turkish bloke (no women work in the bath) appears with maniacal grin and a large kitchen mit-like glove, which actually feels very much like sand-paper as it is grated over you to remove a surprisingly thick layer of dead skin cells. After that and a quick head-to-toe hot water drenching comes the soaping.
Bogdan the bath man slings around a thin cloth sack for a while before squeezing it through a fist, resulting in a ball of sudsy soap being dumped all over you. From there a detailed, partially chiropractic massage of both front and back ensues, where sockets pop and his iron-bar fingers are remorselessly thrust into helpless calf, bicep and lumbar muscles. Whilst you are giggling, yelping and drooling with pain, he will often use his hairy beer gut for leverage, contorting and bending you well out of shape in the process of this violent wash cycle (which is the same for women or men).
Finally you get a hair wash and last rinsing before being led outside and swaddled in towels for a soothing Turkish tea. Despite so many supposedly contrary assaults on your senses I actually emerged with a grin of contentment and appreciation. And I would definitely recommend it to others - give it a go if you can.
Fish and chips with a large beer rounded off a good day. Four days of sailing the Med from tomorrow should be even better. More on that later...
Next entry -> Gulet styleee...
Great Brands of the World - Turkey
I don't need to see the rest of Turkey to declare this the winner.
Obviously the founder of this bus line has never travelled south to where the camels run free and has no plans for overseas expansion where his company name might cause grave offence.
I'm sure it's pronounced completely differently than how it looks but it will always be Camel Cock to me...