19 April 2011

The Icing on the Cake... [Turkey Part I]

I have arrived in Turkey! As the ferry got close I felt as though I had arrived in Jurassic Park. Huge mountains covered in massive, green trees. It looked untouched, pristine. Beautiful even.

I arrived in Marmaris about an hour later than I thought I would due to a slow ferry. I didn't even really want to be in Marmaris! I had planned my first stop in Turkey to be Bodrum, but because Peter and Nina (hosts in Athens) convinced me to visit Rhodes, I had to go - there are no direct ferries to Bodrum. When I got to the border I was expecting to have to buy a visa, but I thought they would have a cash machine or let you pay by card, so I used all my Euros in Rhodes. But there was nothing, you could pay by cash only. I looked at the list of countries that require a visa and New Zealand did not appear. I thought it was strange as Australia was... But I did not put much stock in the list as Canada wasn't on it either, and I saw a group of Canadians get turned around and made to buy a visa... I thought I would give it a shot... I am not sure weather it was because the woman was a rookie, or if I genuinely didn't need a visa, but she stamped my passport and I went straight through! I guess I will find out if I needed one when I try to exit the country.

I am not sure what I expected from Turkey, maybe something similar to Egypt or Morocco, but it is nothing like that. It is more like the Greek Islands; white buildings surrounding beautiful beaches, palm trees, resorts... Well, first impression anyway.

I made my way to the bus station and jumped on the next one to Bodrum. The buses are a little different in Turkey, it seems like the different routes are all run by different private companies. And they are all quite small. Not only in the size of the bus, but the size of the seats. Unluckily I was sitting next to the guy with the biggest balls in all of Turkey, who sat fully spread eagle, leaving me squashed in a corner.

I arrived in Bordum at about 10pm and had no reply from my host. I had tried calling and texting a few times with no luck. I was starting to get a little worried and wondering what the f I was going to do for the night. Luckily I tried one last time and got through. I met up with Ozge, an awesome girl - loves rock music and drinking beer. Pretty much the female version of me. She took me out to this awesome rock bar in Bodrum and sunk a pint faster than I could. Solid!

I only had one day in Bodrum, and I spent it just wandering around. One difference between Turkey and Greece I noticed immediately is how pushy they are. You can't walk past a cafe without someone coming out and telling you about all the amazing things they have. If you show even a remote interest in anything at all, they almost wont let you go. It is one step before tackling you to the ground and tying you up in the shop. This type of thing makes me want to buy from them even less. I am not a rude person generally, but in the end you have to be otherwise you will never get away.

Aside from that, Bodrum is a cool place. Very chilled, a nice beach, palm trees, and a cool castle that sits out in the bay. I visited the Castle (Castle of St. Peter) which now contains the Museum of Underwater Archaeology. There is a huge collection of recovered items from shipwrecks that occurred off the Turkish coast - some dating back to the 14th or 15th century BC! The inside of the castle walls is full of greenery and gardens, and from the outer walls you have beautiful views over the harbour and bay.

That evening Ozge and I went for a walk along the beach, where there were lots of cool bars and clubs, most with tables and couches out on the sand. The area is actually famous for its night-life, apparently ranked number two in Turkey, only second to Istanbul.

The following day I got up early and jumped on a bus inland to Pamukkale. It was about a five hour ride, and I was lucky enough to be seated beside a huge, smelly guy that kept falling asleep on my shoulder. Sweet! I arrived in Pamukkale, found some accommodation, then made my way out to see the headline act - the Travertines.

I had done a bit of research on Pamukkale, so I had some idea what to expect, but it blew them away! The Travertines is an area of calcium heavy hot springs... the water deposits pure white calcium carbonate all over the hills, forming natural terraces. It is really a breath taking sight, one of those things you have to see in the flesh. Kind of random, but to me it kind of looks like white icing on a cake?... Just me? OK whatever. And the bonus; hot springs!

There is an ancient city that was built at the top of the hill (Hierapolis). The area now contains some of the most impressive ruins I have ever seen, including massive baths, cathedrals and an enormous theatre.

In the area there is also a museum (which I did not visit as they closed so early) and some hot pools (which I did not visit as they were stupidly expensive).

That evening I met an Australian couple and we just hung out, had a few drinks and smoked a shisha. The manager from the hostel came out and chatted to us for a bit, and really helped me plan the rest of my trip in Turkey. I am now skipping a couple of cities I had planned to visit, and going to go 700kms in the wrong direction to visit Cappadocia. I have been told by almost everyone that it is unmissable. The problem is that I need to be in Istanbul by the 23rd to meet my friends from London. It is do-able, but is going to be a little more rushed that initially planned. But that is all good. And just to make things interesting; I am currently heading AWAY from Cappadocia, back toward the coast. I plan to spend a couple of days visiting the ancient ruins of Ephesus and Pergamon. Yes, if I had planned this better I would not have taken this route, but I guess that is what you get when you are winging it. Plus now I get to check out a few more cool places. I'm pretty much bi-winning!

1 comment:

  1. Seriously- I would just brush off Turkey but I think it's a place I'd like to see. Particularly the hot springs. Me with my geology nerd like skills. ;)

    And I love the picture of your new cuddle buddy. HA!


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