Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lounging in Olympos

It's happened a lot on this trip. Sometime, fairly early on, we'll talk to a travel agent to get, say, bus tickets, and they will try and sell us on a pre-packaged trip for our entire stay. After India, we've learned to say "Thanks, but no thanks," but we also usually find out about some place we hadn't initially considered for our itinerary. For Turkey, that place was Olympos, a sleepy town on the Aegean, with tree houses to stay in (they're actually more like small rustic cabins) and a nearby beach and ruins. So while we neared the end of our stay in Goreme, we decided to check it out as a place to get some R&R.

Though it took a 12 hour night bus from Goreme to a town called Antalya, a 1.5 hour bus from Antalya, and yet another bus to get to the hostel, it's lived up to the promises. It almost feels a bit like staying in a grown up's summer camp. They feed you breakfast and dinner, you can lounge about at picnic tables or on cushioned, covered platforms, and the beach is 500 meters away. And there's not much there as far as Olympos the town is concerned. No banks, no post office, not much of anything except guesthouses, so you don't feel the least bit guilty lounging about all day.

The walk to our own personal "treehouse" amongst orange trees

Our first dip into the Aegean!

It feels novel, really, to feel like we're on vacation rather than "travelling." With travel, I guess I feel like we need to see certain sights, be on the move, experience the culture and people. Whereas with vacation, having no plans other than beach (check), lounging (check), maybe some beer and dominoes (check) and then more lounging (check) feels perfectly acceptable.

On our first night, we did check out the other thing in town to see--the Chimera lights. Along with many other tourists, we took a bus at 9PM to climb about a kilometer up a hill to see the ancient fires. Flames appear to come out of the earth due to methane leaks, and it's fascinating to see the fires that have no fuel source and have been burning for centuries.

The first chimera we encountered, with others flickering in the distance

Many flames among one set of rocks

As much as I have gotten into photography on this trip, this was one site where I almost wished photos were banned. Rather than be taken in by the image and considering how it must have appeared to ancient civilizations, most visitors spent most of their time trying to get photographed with the flames or taking photos or waiting for other people to get out of the way to take photos. It's been a bit of a back and forth for me on this trip. Sometimes taking pictures helps me notice details and "be" in a place more or even connect with people. Other times, I just can feel caught up with something between me and what I'm trying to experience, blocking my full appreciation and enjoyment. This was one of those times when I had to put the camera down to better engage myself.

The next day, we made our first foray to the beach. Only on the Mediterranean do you walk past ruins dating from the 2nd century BC and give them mostly a passing glance on your way for a swim.

Views of Olympos on the way to the beach. There are some ruins on the hill to the left.

Remains of Roman baths on the way to the beach

We had initially planned to stay in Olympos for two nights then catch the night bus to Selcuk, where you can visit the Roman ruins of Ephesus. We'd been anxious to get to that part of the coast to set up a ferry to Croatia. A traveller we'd met in Egypt had done a boat trip from Croatia to Turkey, so we knew it was possible, but nobody in Istanbul or Goreme could help us, so we'd decided to try and wait until we got closer to the ferry system to make arrangements. But I decided to do a little research on the internet and found that it's too expensive to take the ferry, even more expensive to fly, and too much trouble to try to take trains (it'd involve three different lines and more hassle than we want near the end of our travels). So we went back to the drawing board. We think the plan now will be to spend a little more time in Turkey, sail over to a Greek island, then try and fly home from Athens. Somehow it seems fitting to still be picking an all new route for our last few weeks! And, frankly, much as I give Tyler a hard time for complaining about the night buses, even I was growing weary of them since we'd been on one every three to four days. It was another good excuse to spend an extra day lounging about Olympos.

The lounging in Olympos ends tomorrow, but then we're off for more decision-free days on a four day sailing trip along the Aegean coast, so we'll be incommunicado for a few days. We'll report back on things like an ancient sunken city, lagoons, a butterfly valley...and hopefully nothing about Tyler smacking his back on the water again like in Halong Bay!


Anonymous said...

Belish! Cronfoidy djont vraggin auf der liederhozen

Anonymous said...

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Rick said...

Sailing the Aegean sounds very idylic! I am glad to here you are giving youselves a break from the overnight bus rides. When I came to Turkey I came via Greece and the island of Samos, which is only a mile or so off the Turkish coast. From there you can catch small freighters between the islands, be sure and check out Delos, all the way to Athens.