Turkey, Spring 2005

Bodrum Travel Blog

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In general, they use Turkish lira (about 1.3 for each US dollar), we used the bus to travel through the country, don't think the rail way is quite so developed.  In general things are fairly cheap, compared with Europe and the US anyhow.  If you go to a tourist area though, it will be more expensive, just like anywhere else in the world.

 

Turkish people rock my world, they are the friendliest people I've ever met.  The first place we found to stay, the guy showed us how to make tea if we wanted any and made us some to welcome us.  And the tea is good!!  We started our trip in Greece and went to Turkey by way of some of the islands.  The first stop was in Bodrum on the West Coast.  Beautiful place!

 

BODRUM

We came in through the port where there is this incredible looking castle fortress.  While there, it was one of the places we had to check out, once inside you have free reign.  You can walk up along the walls by the port, feed the peacocks, etc.  If I remember correctly, there was also some type of aquarium or underwater type thing near the entrance to the castle, we didn't go inside there but it did seem fascinating.  Also in Bodrum we learned is the ruins to a mausoleum, which just happened to be one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World.  Naturally we checked that out, and indeed the entire place was completely in ruins and they can only guess as to what it actually looked like.  It must have been impressive because as we later learned, the castle fortress by the port is made of the stone that had been used for the mausoleum. 

 

Other points of interest were the amphitheater up on a hill overlooking the entire town and port.  What an incredible view!  Downtown I remember most of the buildings being white and the streets were covered with plants, imagine a garden where they grow overhead.  It was the same idea here, only with the entire street being covered.  If I had to guess I would assume it was to keep the heat out of the streets.  It was beautiful.  Keep in mind this is downtown.  Once you leave downtown, they are just regular streets, not so attractive.  Bodrum is well worth the visit.

 

 

 

FETHIYE

After leaving Bodrum, we took a bus to Fethiye.  (Pronounced Fay-tee-yay) I can remember only random moments from this city.  The best being we took a bus just outside of the city to the Blue Lagoon.  It's this natural area where you can just lay on the beach, or go swimming in the super clear lagoon, where you can see the bottom no matter how far deep you go.  And it is also extremely salty which means you float instead of actually swim.  We walked along a boardwalk passage and stopped at a place to eat and sampled a few Turkish dishes. 

 

Inside Fethiye, I remember having monster bug bites from here.  Some guy who worked in a store saw only on my hand and took us inside and made some sort of oil remedy that relieves the itching.  He also let us sample some Turkish tea and Turkish delight for free as long as we were there.  Fethiye is also on the coast and had some amazing scenery!  It was mountainous clear blue beauty!

 

 

 

Next, we took a trip to Olympos, a little further south, but naturally still on the coast.  There are two ways to get there, one would have taken too much time but sounded amazing and we wished we had time for, was the cruise.  It lasts about 3 days and has a couple stops along the way to beaches, there was an underwater boat wreck you got to stop at and explore!  We wanted to go soooo badly, but couldn't, so we opted for the bus ride instead.  This I wrote a huge journal entry about, since we missed adventure on the cruise, it got made up for us on this little bus ride.  This is what I wrote before:

 

The Turkish Minibus
Getting up to date first, still in Turkey, currently in Istanbul until Saturday morning when we are headed back to Greece. We started Turkey in Bodrum and made our way south stopping in Fethiye and Olympos. It was just this morning when we arrived in Istanbul from Olympos (or Antalya which was the closest big bus station)

We were going from Fethiye to Olympos which is a 5 hour bus ride. The bus left at 3 so the "dolmus", a van or a shuttle, had to come and pick us up at our hostel around 2:30 so we could arrive on time. We made it back to the hostel just in time but it hadn't arrived yet so the guy told us we could wait and he'd let us know when it got there. So we waited and we waited, for only about 20 minutes before we were panicking since the bus was gonna leave in only 10 minutes!

I went downstairs and had the guy call and find out the status for us. He called and the dolmus arrived 5 minutes later. We ended up arriving for the bus 10 minutes late, it's a good thing we had him call cause they held it just for us. Now, I dunno why, but they only had a little minibus scheduled to leave for that time and it was full! We got on and kids were sitting in parents' laps already, there was not a seat left. So what they did was put two tiny little plastic stools in the aisle for seats. You know how there are two doors to a bus, one at the front by the driver and another by the back so people can get on and off easier...well, they just threw the seats on near the back for us and we sat near the door which normally would be fine, it gave us a bit more leg room, BUT we had already found out from our first experience on a minibus that they like to keep the door open even while in motion so people can hop on or off the bus at the last moment. Just in case. Let me tell you that sitting on a wobbly little plastic stool next to an open door on a moving bus was not exactly at the top of my "to do" list, but this is why you need to be flexible when you travel.

But, this experience was far from over! Luckily for us the bus makes stops along the way so at the first stop about an hour later, people got off and we got a real seat. In the mean time, some Turkish dude had started talking to us, conversation was VERY slow because of the language barrier, but we still got a decent amount across. Well not long after the seating had evened out, we made another stop and more people got on than off, so instead of sitting on stools, these people just decided to stand in the aisle. Turkish boy took advantage and let one of the people take his seat while he stood, right next to us of course.

After another few minutes though we stopped again, no one got off but 3 ladies wanted to get on. This would've been simple if they were traveling light, but this is a fun bus ride story and anything normal wouldn't be interesting. Each one of these ladies had this enormous bundle of sheets and blankets about the height and length of a good sized coffee table in addition to a couple of regular sized duffle bags apiece. This being an already overcrowded minibus, the only part that would fit underneath the bus was the duffel bags. That means that those 3 sacks AND the 3 ladies were all gonna fit somewhere on the bus.

Luckily there was a spot just about that big right at the feet of the people next to us, only it was full of other stuff. I have no idea what became of it all, but they got everything together and stacked those 3 bundles all on top of one another and they made them fit. They had to roll them through the door and into place, but they fit.

So let me explain the current setting. There are 5 seats at the back of the bus where we were. The family of 3 sitting in 2 seats to our left, the little girl on her mom's lap, Carrie, me, another guy to my right, with 2 Turkish dudes and 3 gypsy ladies standing all around us. The little girl was munching on pretzels and decided to share. We didn't want to be rude so we accepted and took out Carrie's guide book and looked up how to say "thank you" in Turkish. They didn't understand on the first try but one of the gypsy ladies did and she corrected us. So we repeated but at that point they're now all interested in the guide book. So we passed that around, the little girl's giving us more stuff to try and hear us speak some more, the Turkish guy wanted our attention back so he started talking again. He ended up asking the guy next to me where he was from since he was an obvious traveler too. He replied France and the Turkish guy had at least understood "France" from us earlier, so he figured we should all know each other or something. So I started talking to him in French cause I was excited to actually converse with someone.

A few minutes later we got to a big stop and lots of people got off including the nice family next to us and the Turkish guys. One of the 3 ladies sat next to us by her stuff and when we started going again she was interested in all us foreigners but didn't know a single word of English, so in came the sign language. We had a decent conversation for not a single word in common, she asked if we were married or had kids and we all said no. But since I had been talking to the French guy (who was ironically from Brittany) she motioned that he and I were gonna get together and fly back to wherever we were from and live happily ever after.

We tried joking around with her and saying she'd be invited to the wedding since she arranged it but I don't think she understood that and she eventually fell asleep and French guy got off at his stop. Once alone Carrie and I just started laughing, that is by far the most RANDOM experience of our lifetimes, we joked around and said the only thing missing was a crate of live chickens. But talk about straight out of a movie...funtimes!

 

 

 

OLYMPUS

This was another quick stop well worth while.  The cruise I mentioned before ends here in Olympus which is obviously then right along the coast.  There are several places here you can stay, but the interesting thing is that it is a natural preserve so there is no cement allowed anywhere.  Since it is a popular tourist destination and there is no cement allowed there are no real hotels.  You get to stay in tree houses.  J

 

The place we stayed at was at the end of the long line of various tree house places, which was great cause it made it the closest to the beach.  Now, for some reason I am thinking you are supposed to pay a small fee to access the path to go to the beach.  But we met someone who was working there and we just walked in with him and didn't have to pay.  Very easy to get around. 

 

The other thing that first attracted us to Olympus was the proximity to this flaming mountain.  The mountain has natural gas leaks and someone thought it'd be cool to light them?  Anyhow, they take you up to the mountain at nighttime, which makes it hard to see, especially going up a mountain, and difficult to take pictures, but it is soooo much nicer at night cause you get to have like 40 bonfires.  Naturally, they are all different sizes, some as small as a lighter and some as big as a huge bonfire for several people to sit around.  You have to seriously watch your step here cause if you trip and stumble along the rock you might end up at the foot of a mini fire you didn't realize was right around the corner.  It is one of the coolest things I've ever seen!

 

The place we stayed at was super cool, everything was outdoors, they had hammocks, outdoor meeting places with tables in the middle and pillows all around so you had to take off your shoes in order to sit at them.  Picnic tables for dinner which they cook, bonfire for everyone to sit around at night and just talk or compare experiences, and a bar. 

 

 

ISTANBUL

What trip to Turkey is complete without stopping here?  So we did.  We took a long overnight bus ride to Istanbul in the north and along with everything else, loved the city!  We went to two mosques while there, the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, both of which I'd highly recommend.  We went to some palace, were able to see the Bosphorus Straight from where we stayed.  Two other things you must do!

 

The first is the Grand Bazaar!  It is this huge covered market that has one main passage and many, many smaller passages that deviate off the main line in both directions, curves, and circles.  You will get lost.  There is store after store after store of anything you can possibly want from jewelry, to carpets, scarves, rugs, leather, etc.  It's an amazing experience and the people are pushy, they want you in their store, they will offer you tea, anything to get you there!  Go in just to say you went, chances are, you'll have quite a story to offer upon your exit.

 

The second one was a 300 year old Turkish bath that we just happened to stumble across while we were looking for the Grand Bazaar. You're allowed to walk in and see the inside a little bit, that wasn't the women's facilities but it was the same idea. People like Cameron Diaz and Cindy Crawford have gone to this place. You'd think it cost like, super mega bucks to go to then right?? Well no, not exactly. You can choose what you want, but we ended up paying the equivalent of about 20 euros, that's nothing especially when you consider the cost of a massage in the US! Well, we came back the next day (the first day we just kinda checked it out) while it was raining out and decided to give it a shot. I recommend this to EVERYONE! My skin was smoother than a baby's backside, we went in and there was this big heated marble table right in the middle of the room that you lay on to get it done, there were all sorts of running fountains on the side that were overflowing right to the middle. They have people do exfoliating for you while you lay there and they take your hand to show you all the dead skin they just took off. I didn't even realize that's what it was at the time, I thought it was some sort of exfoliating thing they were using, I can only imagine what my face looked like when I finally realized it! It was great! I've decided that I wanna go back right before my wedding with all my bridesmaids. I told that to Carrie and she said, I'm coming right??? Absolutely cause I'm gonna marry someone rich that can fly us all there in his private jet and afford the sultan treatment. That's my life goal now. :)

 

 

Yeah, I loved Turkey.  Even after 10 days, when we left, we were still stuck wanting to go see more!  There are a few additional places we heard of while there that we just didn't have the time to go see.  (We would've cut ourselves short in Italy)  But I also want to go see Ephesus, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, and Troy.  And those are just the things I've heard of, I'm sure if I did a bit more research I'd come up with much more that I'd want to do and see.  So, there you have it, all I know about Turkey!

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photo by: wanderingluster