Speaking of Hell, it was the worst night sleep in a very long time. We spent the night searching for and killing mosquitos, even with all the windows and doors firmly shut. Risa even wrapped herself in a blanket and slept inside a protective cocoon and still got bitten…
The hotel, Ali Baba’s Hostel, is pretty run down, and the manager’s abilities are questionable. We wondered if he found the place and is squatting and renting it out. Our wifi was actually from the property up the hill from us – I wonder if they know we’re using it. The guy was probably drunk – he was definitely opening beers at 9AM while making our breakfast (not that we really care).
Still in spite of everything we’ve said (apart from the mosquitos) Ali Baba’s Hostel is kind of cool… There are loads of fruit trees. While we were waiting for our breakfast, we reached up and picked super ripe plums. The grapes however, not so ripe. The property also has olives, lemons, limes and probably lots of other fruits.
A little after the town of Kaş we saw loads of cars parked on the side of the road. I could see what looked like a canyon, so thought that was why they were stopping. Not wanting to miss out we pulled over too… and then we saw what they were really stopped for! The amazing cove at Kaputaş.
It was impossibly beautiful. Sure, it was a small beach and there were a few other people there (including a very lucky boat), but it was still amazing and worlds apart from Patara beach yesterday that LP talked so fondly of.
I really do need to work on my vocabulary, but if you can think of another adjective for beautiful, stunning, breathtaking, heavenly, picturesque, spectacular, then feel free to substitute it here. It was perfection – the sky, the beach, the water, the coastline, even the colourful little umbrellas. Perfection.
And, of course we went for a swim! You’re dried up inside if the sight of this doesn’t make you want to go for a swim. Once again, the water was crystalline. It looked like Risa was floating in a pool, not in the ocean. Our only problem was our lack of sunscreen, so we couldn’t stay too long (for fear of mutating into lobsters).
We had wondered where the beach that is featured on the front cover of the Lonely Planet since I first lay eyes on it, and now we knew! Almost the same conditions for us today, too.
The drive today was also amazing. Australians talk about how fantastic the Great Ocean Road is, but this was another level. It snaked along the coastline for most of the day. It was hard to concentrate on where I was driving as I was too busy looking at the coastline. My only criticism was the lack of safe places to pull over to take photographs. That and the fact that we weren’t in a convertible supercar with the roof down. Heck, I’d even settle for a Mazda MX-5.
Today’s detour was to Kaleköy and the ruins of Simena. LP said that you had to either walk for 45 mins, or catch a 10-minute boat ride. So, we caught a boat (Risa was feeling the heat). As soon as we entered town, we were approached by hawkers. After a bit of discussion, they arranged for an old man to take us there and back, and to wait 90 mins while we explore for 50TL ($25). They also gave me advice to avoid paying for parking in town, so that was worthwhile. However, after arriving in Simena I am pretty sure that you can actually drive most of the way there, as I saw a car park from the top of the castle… Oh well, at least the ferry ride was pretty…
The ferry putted along like a tractor, expertly guided by a man who has done this countless times. Again, we’d forgotten that we were in Turkey, until we saw the white minaret of the mosque as we were leaving the harbour. I’m glad we took the boat, as it was amazing to turn the corner and approach the town from the sea. The island is surrounded by remnants of a past civilisation, but is dominated by the castle that sits proudly on top of the hill. There are even some submerged ruins, however they are only visible (and accessible) by a kayak tour.
It was a steep climb up to the Castle on the summit, weaving through alleyways that were only just wide enough for the two of us to walk side by side. The houses were beautiful, and if we had the time (but mostly the money) it would be a beautiful place to spend a night. It certainly would have been preferable to Patara last night.
There was a 10TL entry fee to the castle. Again, there was very little information or explanation, so it was lucky we had our Lonely Planet to read about the finer details. Considering its age, the outer walls of the castle were quite well preserved. Oh, and not surprisingly there were amazing views from the top, complete with a welcome breeze too.
Other neat details were the tiny arena that has been directly carved into the side of the rock. The arenas in Ephesus and Heiropolis were monstrous and seated upwards of 20,000 people, however this cute little one was said to fit 300 people – which would have been a squeeze!
There was also the old stone bathtub, which just reminded me of the ones you would see in cartoons with cannibals making stew. It was probably just a bathtub…
And, like all the other ruins we’d seen, there was an extensive necropolis that stretched for some distance from the town. I’m still impressed by the size of the sarcophagi that were created and transported to these places. Sure, they’re probably miniscule compared to the building blocks of the pyramids of Giza, but they would have still required considerable effort. Not so impressed at the damage from all the grave robbers throughout the centuries.
Down by the harbour we could see the footings of some of the older sections of town under water. There were some kids walking out along the paths in the shallow water and I would have loved to have joined them.
Leaving Kaleköy the roads got even better, with even more amazing coves further on. But, the sun was starting to set and was now behind the mountains casting dark shadows across the land (which made them less photogenic). Since we were already running late for our next adventure, we didn’t bother stopping.
It was an early dinner in the town of Finike at a random roadside restaurant, Petek. There were giant signs advertising meals for 15TL and included bread, meze, mains and water/tea. I was certain that there was going to be a catch, but there wasn’t. Risa went for grilled calamari and I got a beef casserole (et guveç), both of which were surprisingly good for the price ($15 total).
That adventure that we were rushing off to was a night in Olympos to stay in a ‘tree house’. While there are actual tree houses, they were a little basic for Risa who wanted an en-suite (and protection from mosquitos) tonight. So, instead we stayed in a bungalow instead – think of a small wooden shed with an en-suite and a double bed. Sadly, most of the places included dinner and breakfast in their prices, so if we had waited we could have had dinner included in the price… Oh well.
As soon as we’d checked in (8:30PM) we headed for the next valley over to see the hell fire of Chimera. As the crow flies it’s not far at all, but for a car it took a little over 45 minutes to drive, plus another 20 minutes of hiking up a steep and rough trail (in the dark – don’t forget a torch!).
It was odd seeing flames naturally burning on the side of the mountain. I would be much more amazing to see it in the peace and quiet without crowds, but I’m not motivated enough to make a journey up at 3AM to see it solo. From a distance it just looked like a series of small campfires, but under closer inspection the fire was seeping out of the cracks in the rocks. You could imagine the amazement and wonderment of ancient civilizations to these magical fires.
Modern people though… We saw people throwing trash into the fires, others blowing them out and then re-igniting them, some were blocking them with stones, and there was one lady roasting sausages (or at least that is what it looked like) in the flames. It was a little out of control and sadly really took away from the magic of this place.
It was also very hot (surprise), so after a little while sitting by our humble smoke-free camp fire, we made our way back down and back to Olympos to get some sleep (it was now 11:30PM). As we were descending, a most amazing orange moon rose over the mountains. We were in awe for a moment or two, watching it fully rise and brighten to a giant yellow ball. When we first saw the first slither, it looked like another fire on a distant hillside.
And so ended yet another packed day, full of mini-adventures and exploration. I do feel guilty sometimes that we rush around so much, but at the same time, I’d feel guilty doing nothing and missing out everything there is to see and do in a place – I can read a book at home.