Archive for June, 2010

Turkey week 2

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I am writing this post from Winterthur, our one day stop on the trip back to Canada.  So this is it.  The last post from an amazing eight and a half months in Europe.  Enjoy and Claire and I will see you all soon!

We just finished one week in the south of Turkey in the town Fethiye.  Our family friends Tom and Robyn have a place in the city and invited us to stay there.  This was actually one of the deciding factors for our trip to Turkey.  Being surrounded in Europe by places that we have never been, having a location with a home base and a good recommendation went a long way.

The bus trip from Marmaris to Fethiye was a painless 3 hour trip.  We arrived and were picked up by the Tom and Robyn’s caretaker – a real privilege for us hard-line budget travelers!  She drove us through town, pointing out destinations that would be important, like the fish market, minibus station and restaurant district.  We arrived at the apartment and as we walked in the door, my jaw dropped at what a wonderful place we had been offered.  After a week of hostels (and 8 months in a shared apartment) we had a place to ourselves, with a large, fully equipped kitchen and wrap around deck that overlooked the town of Fethiye, the bay and the mountains behind.

p6070374.JPG Claire on the deck looking north at the cloud shrouded mountains.

Fethiye was far more to our liking than Marmaris.  Marmaris was a rich town, with very little in the way of authentic feel left.  It was glitz and glamour and most of the tourists looked like they arrived by yacht.  Fethiye on the other hand had a much more down to earth feel.  While it is still very touristy, but it didn’t have the 25 m all wooden yachts lined one after the other, and most restaurants didn’t have food at 30 lira a plate (as a comparison, the normal kebab price is 3 lira).

p6100427.JPG Seth wearing an “authentic” shepherds hat.  I don’t know how you could watch a flock through this thing!
p6100412.JPG An improvised dock at the ship yard.  Three sunken boats tied together.
p6080383.JPG A really cool natural sculpture from eight small trees.

Fethiye hosts a market every Tuesday and Friday.  The Tuesday market is veggies and “stuff” (like knockoff purses, t-shirts, etc) and the Friday one is just veggies.  We walked through the Tuesday market and found the the majority of the ‘stuff’ to be very, well, kind of crappy.  Many of the prices were marked in British Pounds, and as a result were way too high.  On top of that, it looked like it was all made in China.  Needless to say we bought nothing.  The veggie part of the market is another thing entirely.

Turkey has some of the most wonderful and delicious fruits and vegetables that I have had in a very long time.  Claire and I splurged and spent 25 Lyra and ended up with more as much food as we could carry.  Eggplant, peppers, onions, potatoes, peaches, strawberries, fresh figs, tomatoes, cucumbers, the list goes on, but it was all local and some would have been hard to find in North America at all.

p6080379.JPG A view of about 1% of the veggie market.  Yum, yum!

We had only a couple days where we did anything of note (I love holiday), but one of them was a “12 Islands Boat Tour”.  We booked with a company called Popeye and took the Olive Oyl to three of the islands and steamed passed the other nine.  The boat was 28 Brits, two Turks, and us.  We spent the day just messing around in confined quarters, sunbathing, and swimming.  Overall it was quite pleasant, with a tasty lunch and friendly staff.

p6090394.JPG Claire standing at the bow of the Olive Oyl.
p6090400.JPG The ice cream man makes his round of the yachts.
p6090396.JPG One of the sailors on our boat prepares lunch on the on-board bbq.

The other thing that we did that is worth mentioning was a hike along the Lycian Way.  This is a multi-leg, multi-day trip along the southern coast of Turkey and is the first trail of its kind here.  We did a pretty short section from Faralya to Kabak Valley.  It was a three hour hike and that seemed like plenty in the nearly 30 deg temperatures.  The landscape alternated between pine forest and open, terraced farm land, that was at this time of year dry and unused.  The views along the coast and down into the amazing Butterfly Valley were breathtaking.  The gem of the hike though was the end.  We arrived at Kabak Valley and expected to find another tourist beach, but what we found instead was closer to a secluded hippie commune.  There were about 15 people at the beach with 4 rustic sun huts that were free to use setup along the sand (compare to previous post).  It was deep in a valley and not a single person offered to sell us anything while we were there.  This was the Turkey that Claire and I had hoped to find.

p6100418.JPG What are you hiding under here?
p6120440.JPG Claire standing over Butterfly Valley.

Parting shot of Turkey
p6120452.JPG Claire resting from the sun in Kabak Valley.

Turkey – Week 1

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

We were finding it difficult to say goodbye to the good life in Europe, to return to unemployment (Claire) and thesis (Seth), so in order to delay the inevitable, we decided to take off to Turkey for two weeks.  Good family friends of ours generously offered up their apartment in the beach town of Fethiye, in the southwest of Turkey, and so we decided to spend one week getting there, and then a week there.

We started off like many visitors to Turkey, in Istanbul.  We followed advice from a friend and found a hostel on the ‘Asian side’, in what turned out to be a lively, local neighbourhood that seemed a bit like the Istanbul version of Kits in Vancouver.  However, there, instead of the coffee shops every 9 metres, they have tea shops, located in shady gardens, where you can play games like backgammon and dominoes while smoking apple tobacco.  It was a great neighbourhood to come ‘home’ to after the bustle of the touristy parts of Istanbul.

p6030325.JPG Our hostel in Istanbul was very ‘casual’ in its signage.  That means that there WAS no sign, just a little sticker on the doorbell.

We took three and a half days there to see the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, as well as some palaces and bazaars.  Two highlights were the corn on the cob vendors that we found on every corner, and the chewy Turkish ice cream.  Hard to describe, but we think it is due to the fact that the ice cream vendors stir and work the ice cream with big long sticks ALL day.  It is kind of typical for our highlights to be edible…


We also spent a lot of time wandering along the seaside, where Seth was fascinated by the life-size symbols designating the bike path.


Next we took an overnight bus to the beach town of Marmaris.  We had heard that overnight bus trips in Turkey were no picnic, and we still have some bad memories from our bus trips in Laos and Thailand, but we didn’t really have a choice as they don’t have train lines to the south and air travel is either inconvenient or expensive.  So we equipped ourselves with a travel pillow (Seth) and earplugs (Claire) as well as copious snack food, and set out.  Even with these supports, it was still a trial.  The bus was full, the trip lasted 13 hours, we discovered too late there was no bathroom on the bus, and the Turkish people were SO excited to practice their English, even at 3am.  Claire tried to make a subtle hint that it was a lot harder to speak in another language when you are exhausted, but the Turkish man replied, ‘But I will try!’…

We arrived here, and immediately felt that it was all worthwhile.  Our arrival coincided with the regional folk dancing festival, which was fun and educational, as neither of us knew what Turkish dancing was.  It started with a big parade, and finished with the ‘dance off’ in an outdoor amphitheatre.  The instruments were really cool, like a bagpipe that looked like it was recently a sheep, and the dancing was at times boring military marching, but at other times exciting, knife-wielding, river dance stomping extravagance.


Other than the festival, we have spent the time on scooters or bikes exploring the coast, swimming, and relaxing in the sun.  It is lucky that we have the bikes, because we have had to travel a distance to find beaches with room to put a towel.  Of course, any beach is public and free to use, so feel free to put your towel wherever you want, however if you want to use a sunbed you will have to pay!

p6060354.JPG One nearby beach…I guess you could put your towel under the chairs…


The highlight in Marmaris is, for once, not edible.  However, it eats a lot.  I think the picture will suffice.  Fat Cat.  The favoured pet at our guesthouse here.  It is worth mentioning that all the other 10 cats that hang around here have a combined weight that may be less than this one cat.


We will miss the cat, but are looking forward to having our own home in Fethiye, where we will be spending the next week.