Day 61 & 62
We had a super relaxed day. Emily and I did some shopping, Jordy played Pokemon and Mum and dad sorted out tickets to Pamukkale and then to Marmaris so we can catch the ferry to Rhodes. I took Emily to the hamman where she also bought a towel and now is well and truly one of the gang.
We also had a really funny experience when dad got a haircut. Emily, mum and I walked in halfway through and soon after he was getting his ear hair and nose hair trimmed! It got more bizarre though! The barber lit a flame and waved it around dads ears really closely and singed off what he had missed! Then the other barber gave us all massages because he had nothing to do. As a true Turk he pulled at the lemon hand sanitizer and used that as the massage oil on our faces, hands and neck which was just a little overpowering (to put it nicely!).
The next morning We caught a bus to Pumakkale, only three or so hours from Antalya
We didn’t have any troubles until we stopped at Denizli where the bus finished and we were stuck because the bikes wouldn’t fit on a dolmuş. It was almost looking like we’d have to hop back on another coach and head straight to Marmaris until one friendly man found somewhere we could stash the bikes.
At Pamukkale we had a pension booked (the son of the owner was on the bus from Antalya) and had a friendly man squash us all into his little Astra and give us a lift.
The family that owned the place were great and the grandfather drove us up to the ruins of Heiropolis that were great. The necropolis and the amphitheatre were the stand outs.
What we were most looking forward to was the travertines and they didn’t disappoint. Turquoise water cascading hills that looks like they were covered in snow was stunning its just a shame our photos didn’t work too well with the setting sun behind us.
Our very last cycling day in Turkey today!
We had another ripper breakfast and then got straight into it with a 10km steep climb out of Çirali.
The scenery as great along the ride but so much traffic! Weirdly enough there were also so many people on road motorbikes that we haven’t seen before here just hooning along and being obnoxious (one gave us the bird as they rode past!). There were also heaps of roadworks which sucked but it was still pleasant riding until lunch time.
We stopped at Kemer for lunch and sadly had out last trusty roadside pilau/çorba/bain marie combo at a little family restaurant that had the most adorable little girl. We gave here a kangaroo and a 50 cent coin.
The second half of the day wasn’t as nice because the heat had risen dramatically and the roadworks and traffic worsened.
Dad provided us all with a good laugh when he not only ran into one witches’ hat in the middle of the road as he looked down at his gears but did it a second time. They are fluorescent orange and silver for a reason Michael! We started calling him Leanne because she walked right into a reflector post at Gallipoli.
We had endless freeways and tunnels into Antalya that was the pits. We had to walk through many of the tunnels and it was still scary.
We somehow survived and met mum and Emily with a hotel booked and some freshly squeezed orange juice- perfect!
We had a swim and and a slightly stressful dinner with too helpful waiters but it was a great end to our last leg in Turkey, next stop Athens!
Our tourist day at Çirali was brilliant.
We had a sensational breakfast with his home made cheese, yoghurt and fresh milk again with fresh bread and his home grown tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, mulberries, apricots, loquat jam and honey. We even had an omelet with eggs straight form his chickens.
A short walk and we were at the ruins of Olympos which were so serene, tucked away in a forest just removed from the busy beach. We certainly weren’t the only ones there but it was so peaceful it sometimes felt like we were completely alone. They weren’t very intact but walking around narrow little tracks and climbing thought the overgrown trees was great. (just a shame about the semi naked, rotund bodies that we ran into occasionally who’d come straight from the beach!).
We spent the rest of the afternoon basking on the beach and in the warm water. The surroundings were beautiful; a little stream trickling in, rocky mountains to the right and a really long stretch of beach with brilliant turquoise water. A great first day of summer!
We had dinner at a little family restaurant with the best stuffed capsicums and cabbage leaves of the trip. The waiter was lovely and gave us little evil eye pins that his mother makes.
After a quick change into warmer clothes we walked up to the Chimera, the legendary fire breathing mountain of Greek and Roman mythology. It was pretty incredible to see flames just coming out of cracks in the rocky mountain. We were there early enough to see it in the light and stayed until dark where the effect was quite eery. It was funny to watch other people too. One German family had a whole barbecue going on complete with marshmallows and different sausages they were cooking over the flames!
From Demre we cycled to Olympos along a sensational road.
We left early with a stop over at St Nichloas’ church where we picked up a third team member, a spotted terrier that was remarkably fit. It followed us more than 16kms, just stopping a few kilometres short of Finike. Instead of the Big Pineapple or Big Lobster Finike had the Big Orange.
A quick 20kms to Kumluca we met up with Mum and Emily for astroll around a huge produce market and had great döners and fresh fruit slushies that were great in the heat.
Straight out of town we were confronted with the hill we were warned about. It wasn’t too steep at first but got progressively more so and spanned a good 14kms.
At the summit we had a brilliant view and were invited in for a cold drink by the local fire brigade which was pretty funny.
Crushing down the hill was great because the mountain range and ocean scenery was stunning. We stopped for directions where a man gave us no fewer than six rounds of applause for cycling, cycling from Demre today, cycling the Kumluca hill, cycling from Ankara, cycling carrying packs and a big clap when we said how much we liked Turkey.
Zooming downhill we turned off to Çiralı, a town just near Olymos to find the organic farm we’d organised to stay with. With some less than clear instructions and a few phone calls we eventually found it.
It was a beautiful place, set in a valley between great rocky mountains and full of lush fruit trees.
They had a little bungalow for us and a welcome bucket of their fresh fruit; loquats, oranges, cucumbers, apricots and these bizarre little fruits that looked like a Japanses lantern on the outside and when you peeled it away was like a cross between a tomato, a fig and a plum.
Hidayte was the farmer and his mum made us a delicious dinner where everything had come from their farm. Beans, salad, boiled wheat, cheese, yoghurt and fresh pomegranate juice.
We were picked up early in the morning with all our gear and driven to Uçağiz,a little town 20kms from Kaş just near the sunken city.
We had to wait a little while for the boat to depart but had a great breakfast on the harbour sitting in the sun.
Our first stop was a little way down the coast at a tiny village where there was a castle that has the world’s earliest and smallest amphitheatre carved out of a single rock in the mountain. There wasn’t much detail left but it was great to see it nestled in the castle’s courtyard. The walls of the castle were great too because they were topped with three different block designs from the Lycians, Romans and Byzantines. The Lycian had triangular ones, the Romans has curved one and the Byzantines had one that looked like an M.
I befriended a museum worker and he showed me around the church with a great big bowl for baptising that is filled with wine and the local primary school. It only has one teacher and 5 pupils but a great view from the playground!
Further up from the village was a Lycian necropolis with really well preserved tombs. One had great lion’s heads sticking out.
Back on the boat we sailed to the island of Kekova to see the city. It was interesting because of our guide but wasn’t quite as impressive as we’d imagined. The contrast between the Lycian and Roman architecture was good to see though. It’d sunk during an earthquake and separated from the mainland which meant that because it’s so hard to get there it was still like it had been for centuries.
We had lunch in a beautiful little harbour where we got taking to a lovely Canadian couple who shared some hot tips about Rhodes and Santorini and some great stories of some amazing adventures like a 9 month trip from the north of Africa right down to the south. We might have inspired them to bike ride though Europe similar to our 07 trip because the wife had been thinking she’d like to do a cycling trip somewhere. I think dad’s got some competition though because the husband will be ’74 years young’ when they do it. Dad still has a few more years of cycling ahead now!
Back at Uçağiz at about 6:00 we rode to Demre just 25kms away. We had a brilliant ‘dangerous mountain rode’ ride through a couple of great, traditional Turkish towns. It was comforting to see that not everywhere along the coast here has been commercialised and package tourist-ised! The terrain was still hilly but the views made up for it all. We were so glad to have heard about this and not had more highways. We were escorted through one town by the local ten year old bicycle gang with many ‘Hellooooo! My name is Ali!’s.
We camped just near Demre, Andriake, at an interesting place where we think we were given one of the worker’s huts to sleep in because they had shirts and pants on coats hangers on the wall and a half empty bottle of shaving cream and a razor! Emily, Jordy and I had to pitch the tent to escape the mozzies though!
Because Patara beach is closed off in the evening and we missed our after dinner swim we delayed setting off to spend the morning in the water.
It was like an Australian beach; sandy and with waves just more topless sunbathers here.
It wasn’t until well after lunch time we set off so we modified the day to 45kms to Kaş.
Mum and Emily stayed behind so they could hike some of the Lycian way (and more probably so they could have another of Ayşe’s meals at the pansyion!)
The ride to Kaş was lovely, a coastal road with great view and not too hilly. It was easily up in my top 5 favourite 20kms of the trip. We met a group of Turkish men riding from Antalya to Fethiye together who warned us of a big hill out of Kumluca another day’s ride away.
At Kaş we found a great camping ground with their own beach and shady spot to pitch our tent.
We had a great afternoon swimming and drinking çay, a lovely dinner and the best baklava in turkey for dessert- it’s official!
As we were riding home we we talked into a boat trip to the sunken city of Kekova the next day that I was really happy about because I’d read about how great it was supposed to be.
Back at the campsite the lovely owners gave us fresh watermelon and home made lemon cake to try so it was a fantastic end to a brilliant day!
Because of a fair bit of disorganisation (and sleep deprivation from last night!) it was 10 before we left and hot.
The climb out of Oludeniz was worse than the one in. We had a few captain obvious observers along the way, ‘wow looks like a fair climb’!
Reaching the top was the best feeling, the downhill was pretty hairy with a lot of traffic and a terrible shoulder.
We turned off onto a little country the owner of the Chinese restaurant had put us onto which was brilliant, no cars just donkeys roaming the roadside. We stopped for çay at a little village called Esenkoy and watched a pretty heated battle of Rumikin that ended in one guy storming back to his tractor and leaving.
We continued on the little road for another 10kms until we hit a freeway that had us completely confused about our location. It wasn’t until we’d stopped for lunch and asked the waiter where we were on our map that we had any clue. We’re not at all sure how but we managed to go the wrong way but can’t work out where we even turned onto a wrong road. Either way we were left with 60 or more kilometres and it was already 3:30.
Half an hour later as we were riding a truck swerved onto the shoulder just in front of us and stopped. The driver jumped out and just started yelling at us in turkish. We had no idea until he began to mime putting the bikes on the truck. We said no it was ok about 10 times but he just wouldn’t accept that. He was so insistent he was pretty much pulling the bikes from us. He said the hills were way too hard for the next section and the head wind was too strong. Eventually it seemed way too hard to refuse so we loaded up and jumped in.
He drove us 30 kms (which really wasn’t that hilly or windy after all) telling us all about his journey to Adana to pick up tomatoes to bring back to Fethiye. It was really scary! Saying his driving was slightly erratic is like saying the pope is slightly religious! He was no hands, one hand with a cigarette, pulling drinks out of his little fridge, swerving all over the opposite lane and telling us that he has a 2000km return trip without stopping ahead.
When he finally dropped us off we were pretty relieved! We backtracked a bit to the ruins of Xenthos that we found pretty interesting because of the Lycian architecture that was the first of its kind we’ve seen. We read the city was once great but under the threat of Perisian invasion they had decided they were going to lose and so killed their wives and children, burnt down the city and committed suicide!
10kms further we stopped at Patara that’s famous for having the longest sand beach in turkey. We found a great Pension, the Akay, with the most amazing food and really friendly owner. (no thanks to mum though who lost our lonely planet today- she left it in a dolmuş!). It turns out the english cyclists stayed here too!
The hill first thing this morning must have tuckered us out though because we were like zombies by 9:00!