Turkey Budget

Goal pp/d: $30 CAD (Entrance visa was budgeted outside the daily budget.The visa was $70 CAD for 3 months).

We realized quite quickly into our time in Turkey that $30 per day was just not going to be enough. We saved a significant amount of money each on rebooking a flight later in the trip so we decided to average this money out over our 37.5 (our last day was spent between Turkey in the a.m. and Jordan in the p.m.) days in Turkey to increase our budget from $30 to $34.81. It seems like an insignificant increase, but it made all the difference. We successfully managed to stick to this budget.

Actual expenditure per day: $34.81

Things that were expensive: Lodging was more expensive than other countries as they only have hostels in Istanbul and Goreme, other than that there are pensyions throughout the country which are all private rooms and usually included breakfast in the price. This made the budget a bit hard to stick to as the pensyions didn’t have cooking facilities available to guests. Booze is very expensive for obvious reasons.

Things that were cheap: The bus system in Turkey is incredible and very cheap per km. Very comfortable coach buses are used for long-haul rides and for shorter distances the minibuses will get you anywhere you need to go for basically nothing. Hiking was very cheap as the accommodation each day included breakfast and dinner and was incredibly reasonable.

Turkey: Part 4

Picking up where I left off; The apartment we planned to stay three nights turned out to be quite pathetic and dirty. It was advertised as having a fully equipped kitchen but there was one hot plate, two bowls, two plates, one fork, one knife, and two spoons. The kitchen was also filthy, which turned us off wanting to cook even if we had the proper supplies to do so. We decided in the morning to leave as it was really not acceptable for the price we were paying. We moved to a beautiful new hostel which was very clean and comfortable and included breakfast. As it was Chris’s birthday we decided to pick up a few beer and head to the local park to enjoy the sunny weather. We had a wonderful time people watching and lapping in the sunshine. After a few hours Chris noticed a Turkish family trying to take a group photo so he offered to take it for them. They were very happy with this and 15 minutes later they said they wanted to take us for a tea. They were such a warm and welcoming family and we had a wonderful exchange of information about our countries. Chris even pushed one of the little girls on the swing! When we were leaving they offered for us to go to their house for supper, and even stay with them. Had we not already had plans it would have been a fantastic experience.

We headed to a nice restaurant that evening for Chris’s birthday dinner. We had a bottle of wine, a quail starter and both had the duck confit for our main. The food was delightful and the total bill was only $89 CAD including taxes and tip. We were very impressed with the quality considering how cheap it was.

We planned on taking a night bus the following night to Goreme but they were all sold out when we arrived to the office in the morning. That meant we had to take the afternoon bus and spend the 9.5 hours on the bus during the day. We arrived to Goreme at 11:30 pm and were very happy the hostel we had booked was 50 m from the bus station. However, when we were brought to our 6 bed dorm with attached bathroom we were shocked at the state of the room. There was mold covering the entire bathroom ceiling and halfway down the walls, and the mold was around the edges of the ceiling in the main room. As it was late we decided to go to bed and deal with it in the morning. The air quality was so bad it felt like we were suffocating. The following morning we asked to switch rooms but they stated all other dorm rooms were full, despite there being plenty of openings on hostelworld. They acted as if they had no idea what we were talking about when we mentioned the mold. We asked to be refunded our money for the nights we had paid for in advance, and luckily they had no problem doing that. I do not recommend staying at Hostel Terra Vista if you are ever in Goreme. We found another hostel online and Chris went to view the rooms and ended up working a deal with the owner that we paid the same price as the other hostel but the quality was 1000 times better. We moved over immediately and I am so happy we did. We have never had to leave a place before, and then we left two in a row! Hopefully that trend will not continue.

Our new hostel/hotel, called Garden Cave Hotel, only opened 5 months ago and is an incredible place. It is a legitimate cave hotel, not just a hotel built around a rock cave, meaning we slept in a cave room. The room also had a wonderful heater (many others in town do not) that was welcomed on the many chilly nights we experienced.

The biggest reason I wanted to visit Goreme and the Cappadocia region of Turkey was to experience a hot air balloon ride. I forget where I originally discovered a picture of the ballons in the air over the region (let’s be honest, it was probably pinterest) but it has been on my bucket list ever since. We had heard it was best to sign up for a ballon ride immediately upon arriving to Goreme as they often get cancelled due to bad weather so it is best to have backup days. We had a full week in Goreme so I wasn’t overly concerned about it, but we signed up our first day just in case. The following day was booked but we were schedule to fly the day after.

We decided to use our first day to hike the Pigeon Valley. It is a short hike originating in Goreme and hiking to Uchisar which is a neighboring town. The scenery was amazing so we went at a leisurely pace.

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Arriving back in Goreme we headed to Cafe Safak, which we had discovered the day before, for a bowl of the best red lentil soup we have had to date.

The next morning we woke up at 4:45 am for pickup at 5 for our first attempt of ballooning, as they give you breakfast before flying for sunrise at around 6. We weren’t picked up until 5:40 am and shortly after being picked up the driver received word the balloons wouldn’t be able to fly so we were brought back to our hostel. We knew this wasn’t unusual so we went back to sleep for a few hours.

When we woke up we decided to tackle the Rose and Red Valleys on foot. I definitely enjoyed these valleys more than the Pigeon, I thought the scenery was better and they are waymarked better.

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That night we tried lamb pottery kebabs at Cafe Keyif. The pottery kebabs are very traditional in this region. They slow bake the contents in the pottery for 4 hours. It tasted a bit like stew! It was a nice way to warm up after a chilly day hiking.

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The owner of our hostel told us not to bother waking up the next morning for the balloons as the weather was suppose to be very bad for flying. Sure enough, we woke up to find snow flakes flying through the air and a very, very cold day. A very lovely Swedish couple were staying at our hostel with 2 friends and invited us to tag along to visit an underground city. Local transport was very easy to navigate and we arrived to Derinkuyu Underground City within an hour. Thankfully it was much warmer underground than above. We opted for a guide as we were told it is beneficial, and we were a group of 6 so it was cheap. The city originally was 13 floors underground, but only 8 remain today. It had the capacity to hold 20000 people and was used by different groups throughout the ages. Our guide was hilarious and sprinted through the maze of floors in a very animated way. We enjoyed visiting the city very much, I would recommend it!

The following day we again woke up for 5 am and this time made it all the way to the breakfast cafe where we were continuously delayed until finally at 7 am they cancelled all balloon flights. We were told that there would be a flight at 3 pm, and we should take that one as otherwise all companies were booked for morning flights for the next week. After a nap we spent the rest of the day waiting for the afternoon flight. Again it was delayed by an hour and a half, then cancelled. We were very disappointed as we thought that was our last chance. The hostel owner felt terrible and was on the phone for the rest of the day trying to get us on a balloon. He said it didn’t look good, but again he would try in the morning.

He woke us up at 5:20 am and said that we would be leaving in 10 minutes. We quickly dressed and when we met him outside he was angrily speaking in the phone. It didn’t appear we were going to fly. We then walked down to the main road and the details of what happened next were lost on us until after our flight. All we knew at the time was our hostel owner started speaking with a guy from a balloon company who had a small van, not a minibus like companies usually have, and then the man told us to get in and we were racing through town at top speed. He apologized numerous times and said the balloon was waiting for us. Sure enough, we peeled up to the launch site and people were boarding our balloon. We hopped out and hopped into the balloon basket and before we knew it we were in the air. Door to balloon launch was under 15 minutes. The 60 minute ride far surpassed my expectations and it was worth the previous failed attempts. We were the second or third balloon in the air and were up before sunrise. The pilot was very skilled and able to dip low and fly high. He turned the balloon so everyone was able to have the best views. It was perfect.

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We found out after the flight that the balloon company was waiting for 2 other guests at a different hotel. 5 minutes after we left the guests emerged from their room to find no one waiting for them anymore. Essentially, we stole someones ride. However, you know what they say, you snooze you loose. The balloon company (Rainbow Balloons which I definitely recommend) differentiate themselves from other companies by guaranteeing to be up by sunrise so that 5 minutes makes a big difference. Needless to say, our hostel owner is a legend!

After napping we dropped laundry off, grabbed beers, and headed to sunset point to enjoy the sunshine and 17° weather. Balloons were able to fly that evening as well so we watched them and the beautiful sunset to cap off a perfect day.
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That evening we headed to TopDeck Cave Restaurant which is rated number 2 on trip advisor. A very lovely girl from Colorado was staying in our room and joined us for dinner. We split feta and parsley fried borek to start, a slowroasted lamb shank with orange citrus sauce, slowroasted chicken wings and legs, and a lamb stew as mains. The food was incredible and the price unbeatable. Alina, the girl from Colorado,had baklava for dessert and Chris and I split a traditional dessert called aside which tasted almost like the top of apple crumble with pecans as a topping. All for $17 CAD each.

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The next day we took it pretty easy and just walked around Goreme. Later in the afternoon Alina joined us for some local red wine. We shared this with one of the hostel workers and it came up in conversation that we had not tried the Turkish Raki yet and it was our last real night in Turkey. We made plans to try some that evening.

When we arrived back from dinner the hostel workers had a few friends over to share the raki with. They brought tons of snacks (as they say you cannot have raki without food and vice versa) and we had a wonderful evening exchanging stories (via the workers as the friends did not speak english). The raki tasted like black liquorice, and interestinly they drink it with water. When you add the water to the liquor it turns white and they refer to this as lion’s milk. After a few drinks one of the friends of the workers presented Alina and I each with a beautiful gift. They were handmade metal ornaments meant to be hung on a door. Mine had butterflies, Alina’s had elephants. The girl said she wanted us to have something to always remember Cappadocia by. She had never met either of us before, it was incredibly touching. It was the incredible “cherry on top” of hospitality that we have experienced all throughout Turkey.

The hostel owner then took us into town for live music by a traditional band. We all had a few drinks and when we went to leave, the hostel owner had paid the whole tab! It was totally unnecessary, but he said that we are now not only his guests but his friends.

Our last day in Goreme was spent a little under the weather, but we were able to go out for our last dinner at TopDeck with Alina and an Australian who checked into Garden Cave. After dinner we had to catch a night bus, and as we said our goodbyes at Garden Cave it really did feel like we were leaving family, not just a place we stayed.

I sat on the bus last night and reflected on our 38 days in Turkey. It has been such an enriching experience, I feel blessed to have been able to spend an extended amount of time getting to know the people and the culture. The hospitality and kindess we were shown throughout our entire trip will stay with me forever. Chris and I are better people for having experienced Turkey.

Don’t believe everything CNN tells you. This country is something special and I encourage everyone to experience it for themselves.

Turkey: Part 3

Hello Everyone!

We planned on staying in Kas for only 2 days, as mentioned in my previous post, but ended up staying 4 as we were at a lovely pansyion (Meltem’s Pansyion which we highly recommend) and were enjoying the small town of Kas.

Our first day was spent wandering Kas which, admittedly, is a rather touristy place. All of the shops are full of typical tourist trinkets, as well as swim and dive gear as it is popular in that area, and every second shop is a tourist agency. Despite it all, it is still a charming small town on the water. We meandered among the shops, treating ourselves to a (delicious) burger at Dude’s Pub (loved the name) and then stumbled upon a hair salon that specialized in womens hair. I have needed a cut for a few weeks now but have only been able to find barber shops for men. I was thrilled to find this shop, and even more thrilled when they were able to speak a bit of english. It was a male hair dresser and I explained what I was looking for and he said no problem. Interestingly, he had an assistant who gruffly washed my hair and brushed it out, and then he stepped in for the important duty of cutting. He asked if I wanted “steps” which meant layers, but I was rather terrified how it would turn out so I declined. I blinked, and the haircut was done. He simply took several inches off all the way round, and that was it. No thinning or texturing, literally just a chop. His assistant then stepped back in to blow dry it, and he took over at the end to add a few curls. All in all it took about 15 minutes. I cringed thinking what my hairdresser Maryann would think of the cut, but I found it too entertaining not to photograph. This one is for you Maryann!

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I am now living with my truncated, thick hair but it does feel healthier and it is better than before. Meaning, I don’t consider it a total failure. It could be much, much worse.

After my haircut we headed to the amphitheater and several ruins that were located close to our pansyion.

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The next day we met up with Sean, the irish gentleman we had met in Fethiye, to hike from Kas to Phellos on the Lycian Way trail. As we were heading out of town we came across a sneaker on the road. We almost fell over laughing when we realized we had seen this sneaker before. It was the Russian’s sneaker. It was the exact model, and had holes in the same places that the Russian’s did. We had a good laugh over it.

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The first hour of the trail is a very steep uphill climb, which was only tolerable due to the incredible views of Kas and the greek island of Meis it afforded.

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We planned to hike to Phellos and take the dolmus back, but it turned out there were none running. Or there was, but none of us spoke Turkish so we couldn’t ask anyone. It was therefore a 24 km round trip hike, and we were happy when we made it back to our pansyion.

The next day was a laundry and catch up day. We were long overdue, and with another stretch of hiking coming up it was inevitable.

The following day we did a sea kayaking tour to the sunken city of Kekova. We thoroughly enjoyed being on the water and think it is a much more fun alternative to the typical glass bottom boat tours. We do think it was overpriced, but it was a fun day. We met a lovely polish couple who have tons of traveling under their belts and are an absolute wealth of knowledge. We met up with them that evening to watch the sunset from the amphitheater and supper. We exchanged info and hopefully some day our paths will cross again!

The following day we left Kas to start our next stretch of hiking. The owner of Meltem’s offered to put our big bag on a bus to Antalya whenever we needed it, which was a huge help for us as it meant we would not have to return to Kas to collect it.

We caught a bus to Kumluca, where we thought we would be able to get a dolmus to Karaoz. Unfortunately when we arrived to the bus station we were pointed a few hundred meters down the road to catch a city bus to Makivent, which is about 10 km from Karaoz. No problem, surely there would be a dolmus from Makivent to Karaoz. The city bus driver stopped in the middle of a junction in the road and gestured that Karoaz was to the left and made the universal sign for walking. An unexpected 10 km walk on the road in the blistering heat was not what we were looking for. We strapped on our boots and started out, and decided we would try our hand at hitchhiking. After about 3 km a very rich man pulled over and was thankfully headed to Karaoz. As he was driving a very nice car and dressed to the nine’s I wasn’t worried, we looked like shmucks compared to him! He dropped us at the front door of our pansyion, it was fantastic! The lady running our Pansyion was so warm and welcoming, and the room was spotless. The view of the ocean was incredible, and it is still low season so we were the only people staying there, and one of the few staying in the town. She brought us tea and a small snack before we headed to the beach for a swim. We ate at the only restaurant open in the town, and the food was good but a bit overpriced. Chris had brought a can of tuna to give to any stray cats we encountered, and there was quite the herd begging for scraps of our dinner so he ran and got it and gave them a feast.

We spent the evening playing backgammon and watching the sunset. We felt like we had our own slice of paradise.

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The owner brought us tea and another delicious snack after the sun went down, and we spent some time stargazing. It was a difficult place to get to, but it was so worth it.

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Breakfast the next day was the best we have had. Homemade marmalades, turkish pancakes, fresh veggies, bread etc. She even gave us a fresh loaf of bread to take with us on our hike! If you ever find yourself in Karaoz, stay at Oz Lykia Pansyion. It was a real highlight for us.

It was our earliest start to hiking, at 7:45 am, due to the long 24 kms ahead of us. The hike from Karaoz to Adrasan is suppose to be one of the most remote, and isn’t recommended for novice trekkers. It started out along a beautifully flat and wide trail, almost the entire way to the iconic Gelidonya Lighthouse.

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After the lighthouse it was a tough uphill climb in the heat. I was beginning to understand the warnings about this section of trail. However, the views while climbing were amazing so it made it worth it.

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We made it to Adrasan in 6 hours, which was a good pace for the incline of the trail. We checked into On Hotel, which again had immaculate rooms. We rehydrated and relaxed for the afternoon as it was a really long day of hiking. We had an incredible supper for a very reasonable price, and even splurged on dessert at a small store that Chris had stumbled upon it earlier in the day and said it looked amazing. We split a chocolate almond cookie and baklava. Both were delicious!

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The next day we got an early start hiking as again it was quite a bit of uphill climbing, 700 m of altitude to be exact. The uphill was totally fine, it was the downhill that was excruciating. The trail was very narrow and maze-like, and I walked through 100 or more cobwebs. I am a certified cobweb destroyer now. There were tons of mosquitoes that of course loved me. And there were absolutely no views! We were hiking through the forest. All in all it was an unpleasant hike for us. We made it to Olympos around 1:30 pm and checked into Bayram’s Treehouses. Our treehouse was very clean and there is an incredible hangout area near reception with tons of relaxing benches and hammocks. We spent the rest of the day relaxing.

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The next day we woke up at 9:00 am (big sleep in for us!) and leisurely ate breakfast. Around noon we headed to the beach and spent the day soaking in the sun and swimming. It will likely be our last beach bumming day for a while so we made sure we savored every moment. The evening was spent chatting with other guests at Bayram’s and then heading to checkout the Chimera (eternal flame) at 9:00 pm. We opted to have transport to the bottom of the Chimera, as it otherwise would be a 12km round trip hike in the dark. The hike up to the flames was rather eery as we had nothing but torches lighting the way, but once at the top there was tons of light from the flames. One of my “must-do” things for Turkey was to roast marshmallows on the flames, so earlier in the day I bought a bag at a local store and brought them up with me. It was really fun to have them as we were able to share them with the group we went with, and also with a German guy who had never roasted a marshmallow before. In typical German fashion he was very methodical about his roasting, and refused to put it all the way in the fire. It was the slowest roasting I have ever witnessed, it was very entertaining.

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We decided we were done hiking the Lycian Way. We originally planned to hike to Kemre, but after our last day of hiking we decided it would be better just to take the bus to Antalya. We plan to do alot of hiking in Cappadocia so we didn’t want to get burnt out.

We are now in Antalya where we are staying in apartment. Tomorrow is Chris’s birthday so we wanted to be able to cook a meal and celebrate in our own space.

Cheers!

Turkey: Part 2

I failed keeping my promise to have 2 posts done yesterday, today will have to do. I will continue where I left off.

We arrived to Fethiye and caught a free shuttle from the bus station to a hostel/hotel called V-Go. Turkey’s transportation infrastructure is remarkable- that is the second free shuttle service we have taken advantage of since being here.

Our first full day in Fethiye was suppose to be a planning day, unfortunately there was a massive power outage throughout the country which made planning rather impossible. I wasn’t feeling well so I spent the day reading, while Chris befriended the hostel workers and even helped with repairs!

Our second day we awoke to find the most stunning view (see the picture below) and happily ate our breakfast on the terrace taking the scenery in. We managed to book a one day gulet cruise to the twelve islands for the following day, organize our Lycian Way Hike, buy a turkish sim card, and get groceries for our hike. We ended the planning with tea and backgammon at a restaurant overlooking the bay while the sun set.

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We then headed to the fish market for a fantastic meal, much better than my adventure in Croatia. The market is set up in the middle of a building, where you can buy any and every type of fish. The market is surrounded by restaurants, and each vendor works with a restaurant. Thus, you buy your fish and for a very small price ($3 CAD) the corresponding restaurant will cook it for you and provide you with salad and bread. We went with prawns to start that were cooked in a garlic and chili sauce, and sea bass as our main meal. It was only slightly more expensive than my meal in Croatia, and about a thousand times better. It was a fantastic experience that I highly recommend.

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The next day we were picked up and brought to our boat at 10:00 am and set sail around 10:30. Unfortunately the crew did not provide much information about each stop, just how long we had and if we could swim or not, so I cannot provide much background info, only details of our experience. I think it is very much worth it to get out on the water as it is a beautiful area, but if you are prone to seasickness I would be wary. We had a calm day and it felt as though we were on rough seas, so I can only imagine if it actually was rough seas! The swimming was amazing, the water was around 18°C even though it was only the start of April. The lunch that was included was great, there was a choice of chicken or fish and plenty of sides. We got back around 5:00 pm so it was a full day.

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My honest opinion about a one day cruise vs. multiple day cruises is I personally think I would be bored after several days. One day was a perfect amount of time!

The next day we stored our large bag at the hostel and headed out with our small bags to start our hike. To be honest, we had only a rough idea of our itinerary, but we knew our first two stops so we had booked accomodation in those places. We set out from downtown Fethiye, joined by a lovely Irish gentleman who was hiking the same way, with our first stop being the ghost-town of Kayakoy. It was a good uphill bit to get out of Fethiye, but after that it was mostly flat to Kayakoy. The trail was waymarked very well and we only lost the trail once for a few minutes before finding it again. The ruins of Kayakoy were spectacular, an abandoned greek village which the Turks did not want to re-settle. We hiked through the centre of the ruins and easily found the official Lycian Way signs for Oludeniz, the blue lagoon, which would be our final stop for the day. After another uphill climb away from Kayakoy it was flat, and then very much downhill, to Oludeniz. We had our first views of the beautiful Mediterranean coast which we were to have over the next 5 days. Approaching Oludeniz we were rewarded with stunning aerial views of the beautifully colored lagoon. Again, the trail was waymarked very well and it was quite obvious where the trail went. In total we hiked 15 km and made it to Oludeniz by 2:00 pm, where we quickly checked into our hotel and changed into our swim gear so we could end the day with a dip in the beautiful water. There is no better way to end a day of hiking in the heat, I can promise you that! That evening we had a lovely supper of kebab and fries, and sat on our balcony lapping up every minute of sunshine. We were exhausted after hiking and were asleep very early.

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Our second day of hiking started with an incredible breakfast, including a full sized omlet which had peppers, mushroom and onion in it. (A very rare treat!!) We stayed at Akdeniz Beach Hotel and paid only $15 CAD each for a beautiful private room with ensuite, including the breakfast. This was significantly cheaper than anything we could find in the area, and it was great value. Highly recommend it!

We were a bit torn as to how to start our hike, the official start to the Lycian Way is in Ovacik, which is north of Oludeniz and would require backtracking, or taking a minibus. We didn’t feel like doing either, but the Lycian Way app we downloaded on Chris’s phone for free (The biggest piece of advice I can give to those who want to hike the Lycian Way is to get this free app. You don’t need wi-fi to use any of the app, and it works with your gps so you always know you are on the trail. It also give you a much more accurate distance than the signposts.It also has the accomodation along the way marked. It was a life saver!) had an “alternative” start point marked about 2 km down the road that looked like it joined the main trail after a bit of an uphill climb. Wikitravel said that it was a steep uphill climb, confirming what we thought from the app, but we also knew from Ovacik it was uphill so we decided we could live with that. It started out no problem, it was easy to find and certainly not unmanageable, but about 35 minutes into it we came to a shear rockface that was about 80° and there was a massive gorge below it. Sure enough we saw the “alternative” route waymarker smack dab in the middle of the rockwall!!!! As we had already climbed up for a significant amount of time we were not really keen on turning back, but it seemed a bit ridiculous to traverse the rockface. Stuck between a rock and hard place (literally) we decided to suck it up and go very slowly over the rock face. We made it no problem; but had it rained at any point in the 24 hours before we attempted it, it would have been impossible. I would not suggest anyone taking this route- start at the official start point and you will save yourself a lot of grief! Shortly after that adventure we did link up with the official trail, thankfully. It was another 2 hours of climbing, in addition to the hour we already completed, before we were graced with flat ground. The views of Oludeniz while we climbed were out of this world, so it did make it worth it.

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The first rule of hiking is what goes up, must go down, and so the second half of our second day was spent descending. We arrived to Faralya, our second stop, around 2 pm after again hiking around 15 km. We stayed at “George’s House” where both dinner and breakfast were included in the price of $26.96 CAD. All facilities were very newly renovated, so the entire place is spotless. It sits on the cliff overlooking butterfly valley, it is quite literally paradise. We had heard how amazing the cooking there was, but there are no words to really describe how amazing it was. There was 8 dishes, all but 1 vegetarian, bread, and dessert. It was all hearty and full of protein as well, the perfect fuel after a day of hiking. As we watched the sun set that evening we felt incredibly blessed to be able to be hiking this magnificant trail.

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Our third day of hiking was a short day, only 8 km from Faralya to Kabak. We wanted to see Kabak and enjoy it, as it was one of the top places I wanted to go when researching Turkey, so we did not feel guilty about the light day. I think it was a good thing as it allowed us to stretch our muscles, and we spent the rest of the day swimming which again did wonders. Kabak is one of the most incredible places we have been too; we slept in treehouses that overlooked the pristine blue water of the bay below. It was a 15 min hike down to the beach, and a 25 min hike back up but it was well worth it. For under $30 CAD it included breakfast and dinner, and again the food was fantastic. We also splurged (with the help of the Easter bunnies named Anne and Susan) on a few beer which capped the day perfectly.

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The Canadian, Justin, who we met in Istanbul and is a complete “beauty” as Chris says, also joined us in Kabak to hike the next day which was so much fun! We spent that evening sitting around the bonfire and chatting before hitting the hay in our adorable treehouses.

Day four was to be our hardest day, as it is a steep uphill climb out of Kabak, but we chose to go the mountain trail vs. the beach trail and found it to be challenging, but manageable. There is nothing better than a good hike and conversation, and luckily we were treated to both with the company of Justin. We made it the 7 km to Alinca, happy to have the hardest stretch behind us, and had just started back up from lunch when we encountered a very unusual situation.

A very distressed foreigner in the company of a rather cheerful turkish man jumped up from a rest point when we came over the hill and asked if he could use my phone. He seemed incredibly distressed and stated he almost just died, he had lost his friend, and needed to try to call him. From his body language I could tell it was urgent, so I obliged. Unfortunately, his friends phone was dead so he couldn’t be reached. With his hands on his head, he proceeded to tell us a very interesting tale. Apparently, his friend with little trekking experience, hiked ahead of him the previous morning. When this fellow arrived to a small camp, the locals told him that his friend told them he was continuing to Alinca. Fearful of his friends inexperience, the fact it was almost dusk, and that he had the tent and his friend had nothing, he set out to catch up with him. Loosing the light by every minute, and not being on the official trail, this fellow found himself scaling a large cliff. He realized it was a bad idea, and stopped for the night, but not before encountering a wild pig. When the sun rose the next morning he continued on, with the help of his scarves he used as ropes at certain points, until he was nearly at the top of the cliff. He at this point in time thought he was going to die, so he pulled out his video recorder, filmed a goodbye video, wrapped it in his clothes, put it back in his 30 kg bag, and threw the bag down the cliff 100 meters. He stated the bag was too heavy and was dragging him down. Unfortunately, he was only 100 meters from the top when he did this, so when he arrived to the top all he could think of was his bag. That is when we showed up.

He seemed to be in a state of shock, and adament he needed his bag. We questioned him if it was really that important seeing as he filmed a goodbye message at the point he thought he was going to die and then threw the bag, but he said it would be more trouble without it. Off he and the very helpful turkish man went to retrieve it, which they successfully did, and the turkish man even carted it up the cliff for him. It was honestly the size of the turkish man. This fellow then proceeded to rant about his laptop, and that it was probably broken, and then pull out the largest laptop I have ever seen from the bag. (Why did he have this???? I will never know). He asked if he could use my phone again, which I said sure. He again received no answer, and said his mom hung up on him.

…..Are you thinking what I was thinking? His mom? Where exactly was his mom?

So I asked his nationality.

This is the moment things started to make a bit more sense to me.

He was Russian.

I am yet to find out how much it costs to call Russia, but I am sure it will be a real treat to find out.

We encouraged him to not hike anymore for the day, which he would not agree to do. We then encouraged him to leave his monstrous pack with the Turkish gentleman if he was going to hike, which he was more agreeable to.

We left at that point, and were 100 meters down the path when his mom called back from Russia. I yelled to him and he came running, chatted in Russian for a few minutes and then he hung up. He had informed her of the situation, and was going to contact her further when he got to the next town. She continued to text me, and we provided her with all the information we could and even provided the number to the Russian Embassy in Turkey and encouraged her to contact them. (We did try to call as well, but they spoke only Russian or Turkish).

We made our way to our final stop, the town of Gey which made for a 15-17 km day. We were very exhausted from both the hiking and the situation of the Russian, and luckily we found a gem of a place called Beyram’s Pensyion and were given the royal treatment.

A little while after we arrived a larger group of Germans checked in, and I asked them if they happened to encounter a Russian while hiking. In fact, they had. I asked if he seemed distressed, again they answered yes. I asked if he was looking for a friend, again they answered yes. Finally, I asked where they had encountered him to ensure it wasn’t the same guy, and sure enough they had met him much further along on the trail, but in the opposite direction of where he had said he was going (Alinca). Meaning, they would not meet up that day. We hoped modern technology would allow them to connect after they both arrived to their guesthouses. That is the last we have heard of it, but at least we know both are okay. Something tells me some vodka (or raki) played a roll in the whole debacle. It did serve as a good reminder of the fragility of being in mother nature, and how proper planning is essential.

The meal that night at the guesthouse was by far the best meal we have had in Turkey. Hiking the Lycian Way not only provided the most spectacular views, but also the most spectacular food! We went to bed very happy.

The next day Justin had to head back to Kabak, and Chris and I continued on our way. We weren’t exactly sure how far we were going to hike, we were playing it by ear. We made it to our first potential stop, but there was only 1 guesthouse and it was only 2 pm, so we decided to continue on. We made it all the way to Pydnai, making it a 22 km day, and also brought us to Patara Beach, which was our goal destination. We stayed at Olzen Pensyion, which was definitely our least favorite place along the way, but it was a roof over our very tired heads, and that was enough.

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The following day we woke up and had breakfast, and headed towards the road to try to catch a dolmus (minibus) back to Fethiye. Not 2 minutes after we arrived to the road a dolmus came around the corner beeping its horn and heading to Fethiye! It couldn’t have been better timing.

We are now in Kas and are heading out tomorrow on a day hike of the Lycian Way to Phellos, and the following day beginning another 5 day or so stretch of the trail.

Phew, feels good to be caught up!

Turkey: Part 1

Hi everyone,

It goes without saying that I have been majorily slacking with the blog; I apologize. We have been moving at a rather blistening pace since arriving (excuses, I know) but before the day is out I will have two full posts completed (hopefully).

We arrived to Istanbul at 8 am from our short puddle jumper flight from Bucharest and easily navigated the public transport to our hostel, World House Hostel. I had heard about the Istanbul Card which allows you to travel on metro for half the fare each ride you take, but I didn’t think we would use the metro that much. I advise anyone who is going to travel using the metro, and do things independently (vs. with tours) to buy one immediately as it will save you money. We could have each saved $7 CAD each during our time in Istanbul if we had bought one as you can use them on the ferries, buses etc.

Our first day in Istanbul was spent walking around drinking in the sights and sounds of the city. It is one of the largest cities in the world, and spans both the European and Asian continents. It is literally where the East meets the West. It is nothing short of incredible.

We walked across the Galata Bridge where we watched the local men casting their lines into the Bosphorus. We walked to the Topkapi Palace and wandered its grounds. We sat between Aya Sophia and the Blue Mosque during the call to prayer. And then we hit the hay very early as we had been up since 2 am.

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The following day we headed to the Blue Mosque as it is free to enter. The inside is miraculous; I encourage everyone to visit if they are in Istanbul. Sadly, this was the only Mosque we visited but we plan to check out another when we return to Istanbul to catch our flight out. Then we went to the Grand Bazaar, with no intentions to buy anything, but just to soak it in. It is a labyrinth of a place, and we spent hours wandering the narrow alleyways looking at (much of the same) merchandise. We would have loved to buy a small backgammon/chess board that many places had for sale, but it is such a touristy place we knew it was better to hold off and buy it elsewhere. That didn’t stop us from having some fun asking several vendors for prices, which varied from 20 to 50 TL. We had a delicious meatball sandwhich for lunch and then headed back to the hostel via the spice bazaar, again to take it all in. That evening we were able to meet up with Mickey, our Australian friend we met in Romania, to smoke hookah and catch up.

The next day we caught the ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul to explore around that area. We had a fantastic walk along the coast, and then had a lot of fun wandering the streets comparing prices of things to the European side (it is much cheaper on the Asian side). The ferry ride was the best part of the day as it gave us a new perspective on how enormous Istanbul truly is.

The next day we purchased our first Turkish Delights, a sampler box, and headed to the park by Taksim Square to play cards and enjoy the sun. The turkish delights are unlike any other sweet we have had, we particularly enjoyed the hazelnut and original flavors. After a few hours we headed to the Pamukkale Bus Office to buy our tickets for the next evening to Selcuk. We learned there is a free shuttle that leaves from the office in Taksim to the bus station, as it is about a 30 minute drive away. Having sorted that out we headed back to the hostel where we met our first fellow Canadian, Justin, who had just arrived. We headed out to a local cafe to enjoy turkish tea, hookah and cards. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon!

The next day was our last day in Istanbul and it was over 20°C so we decided to join Justin and a Kiwi who were heading to one of the Prince’s Islands for the day. It was an hour and twenty minute ferry, costing only $3 CAD, and again it provided an incredible perspective of the city. We spent the day on Büyükada Island, and we felt like we were in an entirely different world. There are no cars on the island, mostly horse drawn carriages, and a slow pace of life that is the polar opposite of the virbant pace of life in Istanbul. We walked for a few hours around the island and it was very much worth the trip over. I snapped some fantastic shots along the way- check them out below!
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We caught our nightbus out of Istanbul at 10 pm and immediately felt a familiarity as it was very similar to our travels on buses throughout South America. Actually, it was one step above the buses in SA as they served hot tea and snacks twice during the 9 hour journey!

We arrived to Selcuk very early, and luckily our guesthouse allowed us to check in immediately and have breakfast, which had a massive fruit bowl that I demolished as we hadn’t had fruit in what seemed like ages! We headed to the Ephesus museum where we saw a ton of artifacts that had been excavated from the site. We also learned some of the history of Ephesus, unfortunately they wouldn’t switch the informational video from Turkish to English so we only understood parts. We spent the rest of the day wandering Selcuk and its various ruins within the town- and then were invited to learn backgammon from a very friendly shop keeper. As it is the national pasttime, and there are boards everywhere, we were very keen to learn. Luckily, it is a simple game to learn, but a tough game to master. We picked it up quickly and have been playing nonstop since! I also made my first purchase of the trip, a small purse with a wrist strap that is big enough to fit my phone when needed.

The following day we borrowed bikes from the guesthouse and biked the 3 km to Ephesus. We spent several hours wandering the grounds and marveling at how well some of the ruins have stood the test of time, and how well some have been reconstructed.

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As we began our bike ride back to the guesthouse it began pouring rain, and we were soaked and full of mud by the time we made it back. After a warm shower and change of clothes we decided to use the rest of the rainy day to practice our backgammon skills.

The following day was a planning day- for the upcoming weeks in Turkey, a flight that needed to be rebooked, and researching our car rental for South Africa. Very productive but not very exciting!

The next day we took the train to Denizli, where we stored our big bag at the bus station and purchased our tickets for that evening to Fethiye, before heading to Pamukkale (the place, not the bus company). These travertines are very famous, but sadly the beauty of the place is being ruined by the local hotels who pipe the water from most of the travertines down to their hotels for their own use. The pools that did have water were magnificant, and hopefully one day the place will be restored to its proper glory.
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At the top of the travertines you will find the ruins of Hieropolis, which were very impressive. We don’t know all that much about them, but they were incredible to wander through.

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We then made our way back to Denizli to catch our 3.5 hour bus down to Fethiye, the start of our Lycian Way Hike.

That concludes part 1, what a monster of a post! That will teach me for procrastinating. Part 2 will include our time in Fethiye and our hike.

Cheers for now!