Saturday, October 12, 2013

Turkey: Oludinez, Kaya Koyu and the Blue Lagoon

On the second day in Oludinez we decide to drive out to Kaya Koyu in the morning. Our guidebook suggests we could walk it from the town as a half day hike as well.
Kaya Koyu is a ghost village whose Greek Orthodox Christian inhabitants, according to the Lonely Planet, were forced to leave their homes in the compulsory exchange of populations between the newly created Republic of Turkey and Greece in 1923.
It had been a population of 3000 inhabitants arranged in tiers up a slope. The roofs are all missing which always begins the slow decay of structures.
While the Greek inhabitants were being shipped west, Macedonian Muslims were sent to occupy the abandoned buildings.
Most of the new inhabitants chose to leave rather than stay, considering the land too poor. Above you can see the remains of a fireplace and chimney in the corner.
Although we can't enter the church due to restoration and recently discovered cracks that make it dangerous, the above is a photograph of what the inside of this 17th century high church now looks like.
The view from the outside that we can see.
Today the local inhabitants live in several hamlets in the valley below the ruins.
Although the land in the valley below is fertile, tourism has been on the rise and the main attraction in the area have been the ruins. Above you can still see some of the blue paint on the plastered walls.
Nigel amongst the walls.
We survey the sprawling village and decide to meander to the far side.
Another view of the church from our climb.

Partial stairs remain.
I come across several large concave structures that look like cistern water collections. Here is one that is still holding water.
On the far side we spot a small chapel high on the hillside. It looks like it might have a great view.

Sure enough, from one side of the hilltop we overlook the valley and the old town.
On the other side we see out to the Turquoise Coast.
A view from the window inside.

The little hilltop whitewashed chapel.
We then ascend and climb the fort at the opposite end of the village before deciding to head back to Oludinez.
on our way back we drive a bit further past Oludinez and get a view from the side looking down.
Further up the coast you get a view looking looking back.
We drive through the pine forests on a road that has been carved out of the mountain on a cliff edge at times.
These cliff edges stop further development in the small villages ahead where the only tourist market are in camping huts, a more bohemian, hippy place to stay. (although some of the guide books balk at the pricier cost of staying in such limited accomodation). Above is pictured Butterfly Beach which looks like it might get mostly shade in the day due to the high cliffs on both sides.
We head back to Oludinez town and decide to visit the beach the town is famous for, the iconic sandbar that lies across the mouth of the Blue Lagoon. It is in Oludeniz Nature Park which costs 5 Turkish Lira to enter. Above is the path in the park that leads to the lagoon.
An arial photo stands on a billboard at the parks entrance.
it is a lovely afternoon. Mid September to October is an ideal time to travel to Turkey because the weather is not scorchingly hot and it just skirts the highest tourist season. It can get a bit chilly in the shade, but I am feeling like my body temperature is higher than normal these days anyway. Yes, those are my feet relaxing on a lawn chair.
Another shot of the beach from my lounging position. Coming from North America I was not aware of European beach rules. There are lawn chairs and umbrellas for anyone to use. You sit yourself down on one and someone will come along and give you the rate for the day or half day. You pay and the chair is yours. You can come and go and no one will take it as long as you leave something on it like a towel.
I do go for a swim. It really is the shoulder season now and you have to lie in the sun to be warm, I notice. Nigel gets chilled in the shade.
I am looking from the tip of the lagoon's sandbar towards the mainland.
Above I am looking at the sandbar's tip. The tree bit is not connected.
We spend several hours here. We are not really beach people or lie-in-the-sun-and-tan people, but if we were this is a lovely place. The long beach right on the town front is also lovely.
We head back and have a nice meal at Buzz Bar and Grill Restaurant. I need a simple meal that will digest easily tonight and opt for the pasta which was delicious. It is a nice restaurant (more elegant that most here) with nice food and a quiet atmosphere.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Turkey: Oludinez (Turquoise Coast) and Tlos

After a day and a half of Istanbul we set off on our journey through western Turkey. We fly to Dalaman (internal flights are very cheap in Turkey), rent a car and drive down the Turquoise Coast (named after the colour of the water) to the little resort town of Oludinez.
The drive is beautiful and we pass through many pine forests. 
I learn that this region is known for its pine forest honey (which our next hotel has in abundance at the buffet breakfast. I consume it as part of my regular diet here).
Nigel has booked all our accommodation in advance and finds a great little place just on the outskirts of the tiny town Oludeniz called Symbola Oludeniz Beach Hotel. Our balcony is pictured above.
It is a little place set in the pine forest hill that overlooks the water and the town. It is only a 5 minute walk into the town and a nice little walk up the hill again to get back. Above is our room. I must say the staff here is so nice. There is a buffet breakfast every morning. You can also eat lunch and dinner here, everything made for you by the chef as you order.
The town of Oludinez is a fun beach tourist destination full of British tourists on package holidays trying to catch the last rays of sun before winter. It is quite a contrast to Istanbul. It is also telling that all the restaurants serve an English breakfast.
The town is a world ranking spot for paragliding. It sits in a small valley surrounded by mountains which the paragliders launch themselves from. After a 45 minute float they land on the beach. There are plenty of places that will take you paragliding if you so choose.
The night time is alive and full of bustle, bars, and restraurants  There is also a lot of tourist tat to be bought but thankfully we find that a number of places sell lokum (Turkish delight) so we can keep our blood sugar levels high.
The town feels like a bunch of beach huts that have grown a bit into a town. This makes sense as not so long ago it was simply a hippy destination for camping on a beautiful undeveloped beach.
The town is well located for a number of activities in the area which is why we rent a car. These are also all possible to do on tours as well which can be booked in the town. We wanted a bit more control and to come and go as we like. Oludinez is also located near the start of the Lycian Way walking trail (a long distance trail that runs parallel to the Turquoise Coast and will take about 5 weeks to complete the entire thing. One can do short sections in the area we are in.)
We plan to take in a nearby attraction everyday and find ourselves on our first full day at the ruins of Tlos, among the ancient and important Lycian cities dating back to 2000 BC.
Above is pictured the seating for the agora, a central spot in ancient Greek city-states. The literal meaning of the word is "gathering place" or "assembly". The agora was the center of athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of the city.
At the top of the hill sits the acropolis (a settlement, especially a citadel, built upon an area of elevated ground frequently a hill with precipitous sides, chosen for purposes of defence).
Nigel stands in the shade of an olive tree on the way up.
The view from the top looks out over the whole valley.
Most fascinating at this site is the extensive necropolis, a large ancient cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments. They are carved into the rock faces and have a temple feel.
They are fascinating to explore.
The carved fascades are hand chiselled out of the rock face.

Looking down at the Agora.
The view of the amphitheatre from the top of the necropolis.
The tombs on the side of the acropolis.
I took a hidden trail around the corner and found another set of tombs.
I climb up and look inside.
We walk up and get a closer look at the amphitheatre dating back to the Roman Period.
Just down a trail we find the temple style Tomb of Bellerophon at the hill's northern base. Its facade was carved with columns, a pediment and 3 carved doors. A relief on the left wall of the porch represents the mythical hero Bellerophone (from whom one of Tlos' ancient ruling families claimed descent). 
We drive back through small Turkish towns towards Oludinez.
Driving through the larger town of Fethiye (where we find a great bakery that keeps our supply of baklava up).
We begin the descent into the valley of Oludinez.
Back in the town, barbequed corn is a popular roadside snack both here and in Istanbul.
We wander down to the beach front and watch the paragliders land and re-inflate their kites with air spending the next while untangling the strings from the ground.