Following our stay in Cappadocia we took another domestic flight to Antalya. Domestic travel is cheap in Turkey, so it made up for long days at the wheel. However, to get to everywhere we wanted, we would have to drive around the southwest coast. On exit of the airport, we had our first experience of some Turkish city driving. This generally involved others cutting you off and forcing spaces without indicating. We saw one family of five on the motorway sharing one scooter! It was good to see the ocean again as we headed south to the town of Cirali, a small hippy settlement with treehouse accommodation near Mt Olympos. After a cool refreshing swim at the local beach, a famous haven for Loggerhead turtles to lay their eggs, we hiked about 4km up to the Flames of the Chimera. The Chimera flames are coal seam gas fires that have burned “eternally” earning the name of Greek Chimera legend. The place was full of activity, with a few hippies were cooking potatoes and playing flutes around one flame while another one Russian family was toasting sausages and dancing around another. A distinct Australian accent pierced the air “Ros, what was the name of that place we stayed in near Kas?” asked a character as he adjusted his fanny pack. In a few days we would be hearing much more of it at Gallipoli…
Driving around the peninsula we passed Kas and the tiny Kaputas beach. Settling in Kalkan for breakfast. At Patara Beach we had another swim and explored the nearby ruins of the ancient capital of the Lycian Peninsula. Largely abandoned when the once prosperous harbour silted up. Patara is famous for being the birthplace of St Nicholas, more commonly known as Santa Claus.
Later, we made a detour to the small delta town of Dalyan past Fethiye. At the roundabout coming into town we barely had enough time to read the first line of the sign saying, “Beware of the scooter drivers”. After a short while we found out what it was about. Several scooters started tailing us and driving around our rental, trying to directus into some location. After avoiding one manic rider and finding a park, we later found him on proudly aboard a ship. “I’m Kaptan” he exclaimed as he thrust his weight off the boat. “You do tour”. We weren’t so convinced. After telling him we weren’t interested we walked on to view the Kaunos tomb cliff carvings. Daylan is popular for its turtle population in the delta, unfortunately at this time many weren’t present and we weren’t banking on the boat ride with Kaptan being too successful either. Speaking of turtles, Mitch later had to swerve to miss a turtle in the middle of the highway.
Sara took over for a turn at driving as we approached Kusadasi. We were a bit disappointed with the place, mainly because it was a British resort town. Choices were limited to English breakfast, Irish Breakfast all typical pub fare. All the comforts of home… The place we eventually settled on for dinner had a crazy waiter who told terrible jokes and a manky cat that begged under the table.
Escaping from Kusadasi didn’t take too long as we headed inland to Ephesus. After getting a bit lost due to construction works, we arrived and found a park. As we pulled up a local helped direct us the last 3 feet into our park and promptly gave us a story that, he would take us to the other end of the Ephesus ruins (so we could walk back to the car) in return for a visit to the local Carpet Museum. For some reason we all felt a bit adventurous, cramming into his small car at the same time being very cautious at the persistent talker. The museum was actually really interesting. A modern building where we saw Turkish rugs being woven and silk worms spinning. We got given the “tourist treatment” where rugs started getting thrown at the ground in front of our feet. It was then we realised we needed to go as we definitely couldn’t afford these. True to their word, we made it to the top of the ruins to begin our walk down.
Ephesus was large, with a population at it’s peak of around 50,000. The harbour here silted up too and with the decline in trade, the city fell into ruin and disrepair. The impressive Celsus Library and large theatre have been largely reconstructed and a feel for the grandeur and scale of the place can be easily gained.
En route to Pamukkale we managed to stop off for a few strawberries and a look at some poppy fields, At this time of the year, these are common and grow roadside throughout the peninsula. Pamukkale (the name means “Cotton Castle”) is famous for its large white terraces of hot springs and travertines. These pools were teeming with people and proved a popular tourist attraction, glaring in the hot sun. It gives you some idea of what the Pink and White Terraces of Lake Rotomahana were like in New Zealand.
Dropping the car off at Denizli Airport, we flew back to Istanbul, ready to begin our ANZAC experience