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Janet’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 26 Jun 2007

Location: Selšuk, Turkey

MapHiya people! For those in Aus I hope you are all surviving the horrid weather. Just thought İ'd point out that it is a heatwave here in Turkey, with temps regularly over 40 degrees. Certainly brings with it a whole new appreciation for deodorant (and those who use it!)

İ cant post pics up at the moment so will do it when İ get to London. Also please excuse the odd typo - Still havent completely mastered the Turkish keyboard - hope you get the drift anyway.

Have had an excellent time over the last few weeks. The people on my tour are excellent - a good mix of young and older people from Australia, America and Ireland. My trepidation concerning any form of organised travel has certainly been mitigated. İ have spent the time oscillating between learning about this part of the world and indulging my silly side. I have literally laughed myself stupid every day, which rocks!

So - a really short version of what İ have been up to:

- İstanbul - did lots of cultural things like visiting the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia, Topkapi Palace, the bazaars etc. The city is just phenomenal. İ love that so much of the world's history is here. From tracing the development of different civilizations, complete with details of relevant cultural perspectives and traditions, to unbelievable artefacts, art and architecture - it certainly makes Australia seem infantile (and relatively unplundered) in comparison. Another thing - the place has beautiful gardens and flowers everywhere. Perhaps it is just the time of year, but İ have been so surprised by this. İ thought it would all be arid land with nary a green frond to be seen anywhere. And İ love that the Turks seem to have quıte a relaxed attitude... many of them seem to personalise their Muslim faith...ie they love their wine (hooray), and the call to prayer does not mean that everything stops dead five times a day. They are very friendly and İ have felt very welcome here.

- Cappadocia - stayed in a sweet town called Goreme. We visited loads of the eery rock formations (also known as fairy chimneys, which were created after a volcano eruption thousands of years ago). Loved how they are being well-utilised by the area's residents as homes, hotels etc.
Visited the Underground Cıty and did a long hike through the countryside to a little village where we stayed in a private home.
One day İ hired a mountain bike and nearly killed myself riding on the hills - especially the cobblestoned bends. Another day we hired scooters and went for a long ride around the area. İ drove and didnt have even a slight brush with danger! İ am pleased to report that my driving has significantly improved since Croatia last year, when İ nearly burnt the brakes out on my poor bike.

- Mt Nemrut in Eastern Turkey, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. It is a collection of colossal statues built between 64 and 38 BC on top of a 2150m mountain. ıt also houses the temple and tomb of King Antiochus (the man was a megalomaniac!). We got up at 3am to hike the mountain (quote of the day was 'This had better be f%^?ıng worth it) - which İ am pleased to report it definitely was.

- Then down to the Mediterranean for some boat and beach trips:
(Silifke - swimming out to the Maidens Castle, playing backgammon and breaking out the spontaneous dancing)

(Antalya - went to a great hammam and the excellent museum which housed lots of sarcophogi and interesting Lycian, Byzaninian, Ottoman artefacts etc). And of course, tempered all the consumption of culture and history with a few beers overlooking the water.

(Kas - My favourite town so far. İt is so relaxed! Did a fabulous boat trip to see the sunken city, went swimming in the crystal clear Mediterranean etc etc. We also all had a big night in Kas which included drinking raki (evil evil stuff) and dancing to Turkish music. And (even more than usual), lots of laughing.

(Fethiye - hiked through the eery abandoned Greek village of Kayakoyu. It was forefully vacated pretty much overnight in an exchange agreement between Turkey and Greece in 1924. İ found it tremendously sad - the Greeks thought they were coming back so buried their possessions and walked out with only what they could carry. Upon arriving in Greece they were ostracised... so they couldnt come back and they couldnt really start a new life either. For many reasons the Turks wouldnt live in the the abandoned town so it remains as it was, but in ruins.
We then hiked over the coastline to Oludinez (the beautiful blue lagoon). İ was all ready to go hangliding but the wind was up and they wouldnt take us. İ was super-disappointed..it could have rated up there with my Fijian skydive with a one-legged man! But İ guess İ will just have to do it another time.

- Then up to Pamukkale (visited the beautiful travertines and the Roman ruins, of which the necropolis provided the location for inexplicable star-jump photos).

Am now in Selcuk, and İ visited Ephesus yesterday. Blown away by the monumental library and the amphitheatre. It is wonderful to see how much has been preserved. There is still lots to be excavated, so provides another reason to come back one day.

Visited Seringe today, a tıny village which seems to thrive on sellıng wine made from unexpected organic matter (ıe quince and peach....which to me tasted like something the Body Shop would also flog). Each to their own İ guess. Planning on going to another hammam tonight. This is where you sit naked in a steam room and they belt you with a teatowel (or something similar). What people will do for fun!

Next up is Cannukale (where İ am really looking forward to visiting Gallipoli) and then a few days back in İstanbul to travel on the Bosphorus and visit a few different areas before heading over to London and the (probably) inevitable drudgery of 9-5. İ am sorely tempted to go and find some random place in Europe to live for a few months, but İ think London is going to be the next phase of this adventure. Will just have to see what happens, I guess.

And so İ will leave it here. İ will update all the Turkey stuff sooner or later but its hard to spend time in an internet cafe when there is so much to do. Hope you are all well!

Jan xxx