Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Turkey 2013


Arriving at our pension (our room is upstairs on the corner). At the top is a third century castle.

After a long four hour bus ride, one that retraced the route that we had driven just days earlier, we arrived at the tiny fishing village of Ucagiz. Since the pension where we were staying was on a peninsula with no road to it, upon arrival we were to call our host, after which he’d come and pick us up by boat. To our surprise, it all went off like clockwork. Soon we were on a skiff captained by our host, headed into the azure Mediterranean waters. We sped through rocky islands with ruins and tombs, places that were inhabited by the Greeks and the Romans over two thousand years ago.

Our host taking us to the pension

It only took ten minutes to arrive at the dock of the Sahil Pansiyon, where after unloading our luggage, we were shown our tiny and rustic, but waterfront room. After having a cool Efis, a candle-lit dinner was served on the dock consisting of freshly caught fish, a tasty salad, fries and bread. A nice way to end a long travel day.

Breakfast and dinner is served under the umbrellas at the end of the dock.. 

A typical Turkish breakfast.

Kekova is a very sleepy village dating back from 300 B.C. Here one is surrounded by ruins on land as well as in the water (apparently, the water rose nearly 30 feet over the years and left the remains of cities underwater). One can view columns, tombs and other ruin remains from atop the water.

View of the castle and Lycian tombs.

Goats do roam.

We stayed in Kekova for two lovely days with not much to do other than relax. We took some hikes to see the remains of a third century A.D. castle, climbed around Lycian tombs, went kayaking and swam.

Today we are moving on. Our gulet (Turkish sailing vessel) is coming by at noon for a four day cruise along the Turquoise Sea. Life is good.

Early morning view of harbor from our balcony.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Turkey 2013


Hadrian's Gate built for the Emperor's visit in 130 A.D.

Driving in from the south, we could see Antalya from miles away. As we approached the city we could see one of the mega cruise liners in port. As we weaved through the streets, it wasn’t easy finding and getting access into the old walled city where our hotel was awaiting our arrival. But with some skillful navigation and with the help of a couple of friendly locals we managed to get in and find our hotel.

The Atelya Art Hotel is an old refurbished Ottoman house built out of wood, straw and clay. Inside, the rooms have high ceilings and dark wood floors all decorated with antiques and many colorful carpets and kilims (a thinner, woven carpet, that resembles the Mexican serape).

Atelya Art Hotel

One of the things Diane and Jill wanted to experience was a Turkish massage in one of the old Turkish bath houses. I too was up for it, but Rich opted to enjoy some peace and relaxation along with some Efis beers. So the three of us headed for a six hundred year old Turkish bath house that was near to our hotel.

Upon entering, it was very apparent that the bath house was historical. Diane and I were assigned to an old, wooden changing room, while Jill was in another one next to us. We disrobed and were given a cotton piece of cloth to cover our bodies. We were then taken to one of the hot marble sauna rooms. It was steamy, to be sure. And within ten minutes we all were breaking a good sweat.

The next process was the scrub down. A masseuse came and got me and took me to another room. There he set about to scrub me down with a rough mitt-like cloth with soap after which he used a towel with warm water in it, to roll over my body. The process was finished with a massage, also using soap. Very relaxing. (Apparently, the ladies got the same treatment.)

The last step was a massage with oil. By the end of the process one definitely feels relaxed. All this for about thirty dollars.

Men socializing just outside the walled city.

Backgammon is popular.

Jill and Rich were ending their Turkey trip in Antalya and dropping the car off at the airport. So the following day, after we said our good-byes Diane and I were then on going to depend on public transportation.

The following day, after our traveling partners left, Diane and I managed a thorough walk through the old walled city and had an Efes beer in the lovely harbor setting. We also got talked into stopping in at a couple of carpet stores, in which endless numbers of carpets were paraded in front of us while we sipped hot apple juice. We did buy one runner that we could not resist.

On Sunday morning, after packing, we said good-bye to Atelya Hotel and took a taxi to the main bus station. Soon we were on a bus to Kesova.  

The harbor in the walled city

Diane enjoying a yummy ekmek

Carpets galore

Spices are displayed  in various artistic ways.

Turkish sweets look very enticing.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Turkey 2013


We arrived in Dalyan in the latter part of the afternoon after a fairly long drive from Pamukkale and checked into our hotel. As we drove through Dalyan's center, it looked a bit sleepy with not much activity.

Dalyan is known for its ruins of the ancient city Caunos that date back to 3000 B.C. Although you're supposed to be able to reach them by foot, we just appreciated them from across the river as we strolled around town.

On the left is our hotel

Along the river boat tours are offered

In the evening, we had a superb dinner next to our hotel. We all had different things to eat, Jill having the clay pot dinner that’s actually more typical of Kapadokya cuisine. More on that when we get to Kapadokya. 

The next day we drove to Fethye, probably best known for its great harbor and marina. But above the town there lies Telmessos, a place from antiquity with numerous Lycian rock tombs and ancient buildings cut into the face of a cliff.

We walked around the town’s marina area and were soon off to Kas (pronounced Kash). The road to Kas resembles Highway 1 around Big Sur. It runs right along the water with steep, rocky cliffs on one side and on the other, the sparkling turquoise sea of the Mediterranean.

The harbor in Fethye

The ubiquitous carpet shop

Kas is a touristy village that has been around for centuries. Physically, it’s very quaint because it is the quintessential Mediterranean town that lies on a hilly incline with a small harbor. Originally built and inhabited by the Lycians, over time it was ruled by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans and finallyTurks.

We stayed in a small hotel right on the water. No beaches though, only rocky shorelines. There were swim ladders built into the rocks for those wanting to go for dip. I took advantage of it. But finding the water temperature a bit nippy, it wasn’t long before I was out toweling myself dry.  

Looking down on Kas

The view from our hotel room

Early morning walk through Kas

A Lycian tomb in Kas

Enjoying the view from our balcony

We had a difficult time deciding whether to stay one more day in Kas or move on to  Antalya. Jill and Rich had more of a schedule to keep - they were flying out of Antalya in two days. We took the less risky route and chose to get closer to Antalya.

Mosaic inside St. Nicholas church in Demre

This church and the saint it was named after is where the notion of Santa Claus originated.

Demre was an important stop mainly because it was known for having the church of Saint Nicholas - yes, the one that old St. Nick (Santa himself) originated. Also known as Myra or Kale, Demre was the capital of the Lycian province in the 5th century A.D. and played an important role in the religious authority of the period. Today it is a sort of a dusty, non-descript town and isn’t known for much other than the church of Saint Nicholas,

In spite of some rebuilding that went on due to an earthquake, it remains one of the best examples of architecture from the Middle Byzantine period. Although what remains (and what has been reconstructed) is just a small part of the church, you get the picture of what it once used to look like.

After another beautiful drive along the rugged coast we came to a large marina and the town of Finike. Although the city isn’t even mentioned in our guides, we found it to be an attractive beach city, with inexpensive hotels and friendly folks.

In front of our hotel in Finike

The beach in Finike

That night we decided to eat in our rooms. So Jill and I went scavenging for food. We came back from the hunt with store bought bread, olives and cheese and two orders of lamb shish kebabs from a mom and pop restaurant. It was all delicious.

The next morning, after enjoying our typical Turkish breakfast of bread, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, jelly/honey and hard boiled egg, we headed for Antalya, to the old walled city of  Kaleici, where we were staying.