Day 19 – Olympos, Turkey

Turkey has quickly become one of my favourite countries in the world.  Since leaving Istanbul 5 days ago, we have been slowly making our way towards Antalya where we are scheduled to meet up with Tom (who had some work related things to take care of back in London).  It’s a shame because he’s missed the best part of the trip thus far.  Istanbul was worth visiting, but it is the country’s small towns and natural beauty which define it for me.

The people have been incredibly friendly.  It seems like at least once a day someone offers us Turkish tea.  Today we were filling up at a gas station ın a town too small to be on my map and a gentleman came up to us and offered us tea.  He took us next door and we sat outside and had a conversation made interesting by the fact that he didn’t speak English.  Luckily Jerry’s German came to the rescue yet again (He’s used it throughout Turkey).

Yesterday we stopped to use the internet in a small town on our way to Pamukkale.  It was a hot day (we’ve hit our first 40 degree Celsius weather here) and we were immediately served water.  Someone ran home and came back shortly later with Turkish tea.  When we tried to pay for the internet, the young guy working there refused to take any money.  All he wanted was to get his picture taken with us.

We’ve been camping next to the beach almost every night (the only exception was Pamukkale which was in the mountains).  First we camped next to the Sea of Marmara, then the Aegean. and tonight the Mediterranean.  We’ve adopted a routine where we swim twice a day – once in the morning before breaking camp and once in the evening at around sunset.  We broke that today when we stopped for a dip in a crystal blue cove too inviting to pass up.  We stopped the bikes and made a run for the water.  Jerry didn’t even take off his riding pants, apparently unconcerned with possible chafing.

The other part of the routine is regularly get off our bikes to explore the abundance of ruins.  Today I felt like Indiana Jones as I hiked among the olive trees shading vine covered ruins on the hill that was once the site of Xanthos, the ancient capital of Lycia.  We’ve seen Troy, the Acropolis, Ephesus, Xanthos, and Olympos. 

We’re also getting used to starting our day with a Mediterranean breakfast consisting of meat, a variety of cheeses (now I know what good feta tastes like), sliced cucumber and tomato, bread and nutella or fig spread, and of course olives.  Again, now I know what good olives taste like.  Sometimes they even include an omelette.  And it comes with Turkish coffee which is so wonderfully strong it leaves a layer on the bottom of your cup.  Turkey has been about as much in the comfort zone as I have ever been. 

As a result of the proper breakfasts (sorry Tom, you won’t find cornflakes in restaurants here), swimming, and playing Indiana Jones we have averaged less than 300 km per day.  This is despite being up around 7 AM every day.  The days are not long enough to do everything we want to do.  Despite going at a slow meandering pace, we feel like we are leaving so many places way too soon.  For example, we didn’t even have a morning bath in the thermal pools of Pamukkale this morning.  Luckily we spent a good deal of time there the previous evening.  Pamukkale is one of those places that expands your imagination.  The white walled thermal pools on top of a mountain surrounded by Roman ruins with a spectacular view is not a setting I had thought could exist.  When the sun set, the light reflecting off the mirror-like pools floating above the valley below, with a mountain range in the background, I must have taken 100 pictures.

The road that took us along the Mediterranean coast today is my favourite of the trip so far.  The mountains plunge directly into the frothy blue ocean and the road feels like it ıs hanging above the water hundreds of feet below.  It was hard to concentrate on the road because the eye kept getting drawn to the coves which periodically appeared between the rock faces.  I felt like I should stop and take a picture at every turn – a feeling I’ve had ever since leaving Istanbul.

4 thoughts on “Day 19 – Olympos, Turkey

  1. You paint a very romantic picture of Turkey that makes me want to go there! I can’t wait for the Syrian blog and a description of the ancient city of Petra (or is Petra in Jordan?)…

  2. Sounds like you guys are having an amazing time! I’m getting my motorcycle license because of you folks. Say hi to Yarema for me and be safe!

  3. Tyson what in the world are you up to now Bud. You are one wild & crazy guy.Good Luck on your journey. Snap a lot of beautiful ladies, just for me, seeing I can’t make the trip with you.All Our Love,Tom, Alma and Boys

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