Saturday, January 18, 2014

Turkey - Connecting the Dots

The transit time in Turkey was well used, writing posts. And there was quite a bit of transit time. But we got to start at the beginning right? We had thought about Turkey quite a few times, but we wanted it to be a Christmas-y plan. Then, someone mentioned it snows around that time and we threw the December plan out of the window. We like warm places. As is evident by my extremely long stay in Chennai. So, one of those nights when S and I were randomly checking ticket prices for random dates, October and Turkey clicked and we booked. Just like that.

Itinerary

Istanbul -> Cappadocia -> Antalya -> Kas -> Fethiye/Oludeniz -> Pamukkale -> Ephesus -> Izmir -> Istanbul


I have already written a lot about Cappadocia here. It is amazing and an absolute must visit. Rock formations like nothing you have seen before. Even the pigeon cages will inspire you. If you have 110 euros to spare, do the air balloon ride for sure. We were on a tight budget as usual. There are three kinds of tours there - red, blue and green. We did the red tour, but I'd suggest do the green tour which covers maximum places. Our guide was named Chengez and he was mostly wonderful, except for the times when we would roam astray and mess up his plans. Goreme open air theater was pretty good, but the best bit was this small ruin we had stopped for a bit (atleast that was the intention). Against the electric blue sky, it was nothing short of striking. We climbed up the ruins and found the cafe which served amazing orange and pomegranate juice, that I had talked about in the earlier post. The calm there was beautiful. Like we were the only ones in the world at that point of time. After the tour, Chengez took us to a river side coffee shop for Turkish coffee. And then he did some ominous fortune telling with the remnants of my coffee. I really hope he is a sucky fortune teller! Oh we stayed in Falcon Cave Suites here. Looks almost like a cave hotel from inside. Huge rooms, excellent bathroom and pretty cheap. 

Inside Goreme Open Air Theater

Fairy Chimneys

The ruins we stopped at
Falcon Cave Hostel

From Cappadocia to Antalya was supposed to be 8 hours by bus, so we took an overnight. This was the only bad road experience in Turkey. We ended up changing 5 buses! And no kidding, no one beat up the bus guys. No one even raised an eyebrow! Such is our prowess in sleeping in odd conditions, that we managed to catch a shuteye even in between the multiple stops and changes. Reached Antalya early morning and checked into The Room Apartments, very close to the beach. Osaidi joined in the trip here and the rest was history. That day should have been an inkling of the craziness which was going to be the rest of the Turkish trip! We didn't see much of Antalya. Supposed to be party central, but we had our very own thing going on in the apartment, which didn't leave many of us able enough to go out and party. There is this entirely hilarious bus story which I shall not write about. Lets just say that life came a full circle that day and I didn't have a clue! :P Anyway, Antalya is a pretty big city. One of the starting points of the very awesome Lycian trail (the other is Fethiye). The Konyaalti beach here is beautifully blue. Turkish beaches have more pebbles than sand; not very comforting for resting your back sides. :) Overall, Antalya was okay-ish. I would suggest skip it for this small seaside town called Side which has more travel character, if you know what I mean. Just a couple of hours from Antalya.

So from Antalya, our bay side leg started about which I wrote here. Those two posts pretty much cover the beachy leg of the journey. I would probably go back to Turkey just for the Lycian trail and camping in Butterfly Valley. Left a part of me right there at that Rock Bar. :)

So, picking up from where I left off. Next was Pamukkale. We stayed at the Artemis Yoruk hostel. Decent rooms and a very good looking swimming pool. The small sleepy town is famous for Travertines - limestone hills with flowing warm mineral water. We woke up early to catch sunrise there, but the darned place opens only at 8 am. There is one gate open on the other side of town but the chill got the better of us and we waited it out. From a distance itself, the chalk white hills are quite a sight. As you enter, you are asked to take off your shoes. In the morning chill, walking barefoot through luke warm water was super. As we climbed up, the travertine pools became visible and only pictures can explain what we saw. What a view! Quite a few hours were spent there watching, clicking and taking a dip in the warm water. These travetine pools were the thermal spas for the Romans since second century BC! Roman ruins of the Hierapolis is located right behind the travertines. The amphitheater is the most impressive of the lot. 
Travertines from a distance


Travertine Pools

Hierapolis Amphitheater
From Pamukkale, we left for Ephesus, around 3 hours away by bus. Reached Ephesus around 4 pm and just had enough time to walk through the ruins. The place is famous for the Temple of Artemis; not much of it remains today. The Library of Celsus was quite awe inspiring. Ephesus deserves atleast 5-6 hours of walking around with an audio guide. We were too late for the audio guide. So, the stories were lost on us. And the place looked promising. Many a Roman lives had definitely left their footprints there. From Ephesus, we went to Izmir and crashed in the airbnb apartment we had booked. Izmir was just a overnight stay before we flew out to Istanbul. 

Library of Celsus
Istanbul deserves one post. So, more on that later!




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