Tired, we went for a quick walk back in to town to look at the castle during the light of day. The streets were empty, but it was 10AM and the heat was rising. Not surprising, the bars looked so much more dodgy during the day without their neon lights to hide behind.
We only walked as far as the lower walls of the castle, complete with an imposing octagonal tower. Just outside the walls was a small and quiet beach that was enjoyed by a couple of families. It was strange to see the canons that were still behind the walls – maybe the pirate boats make sense after all. I don’t usually think about castles being ‘modern’.
The tour boats that we took a brief ride on last night were back in the bay and doing business. The music was pumping (Gangnam Style no less) and they were walking the plank and swimming in the beautiful water in the harbour. It was certainly the right weather for swimming.
We had returned to the hotel for a much needed swim before checking out just before 1PM. Before we left Alanya, we made a quick trip to the castle in the car – we didn’t want to walk up the hill in the heat). I think it was a good choice judging by the looks of exhaustion on the red and sweaty faces of the tourists doing it on foot. The streets were old and narrow, and we eventually had to pass through a gate in the castle wall. We had no idea where to go once inside, and ended up at a dead end by a mosque. It’s hard to believe that people are living here inside the castle walls – it would be nice, but a pain to get to on a daily basis.
I knew where I wanted to go, but it was hard to find the right paths to get us there. We followed a few that didn’t seem to get much traffic. It felt like we were explorers rather than regular tourists as we made our way through overgrown gardens and poorly preserved ruins. It took a while, but we made it where I wanted to go – somewhere I could climb up onto the walls.
It was very reminiscent of The Great Wall in China, though on a much (much) smaller scale. The walls were so narrow that there was only room for a single person to walk/stand as it was little wider than shoulder width. The view was amazing, and definitely worth the time and effort (even with the pain of doing in thongs/flip-flops).
As we were leaving, I found another section of wall that I could climb up on for another view. It was a little more challenging getting to the top, involving a climb up a rusty ladder that was spanned across a large drop above the inside of a tower. Obviously I survived.
The sprawl of Alanya seemed to go on for an hour as we finally left the town. I was still amazed that there was this much demand for accommodation here. It’s nice enough, but there are much, much nicer places in Turkey – though, they have been much harder to get to. We went through a couple of tunnels and the highrise apartments were replaced with banana plantations – and thousands of them.
Keeping things interesting, we made an 18km detour to Sapadere Canyon along the usual narrow winding mountain roads. On the way we passed by some truly spectacular gorges, but the tourist 4WDs (that were shuttling people from Alanya) raced straight past. It’s amazing how many of these beautiful gorges we unintentionally drive past here.
It was 9TL ($4.50) entry each, and from the car park/giftshop/café it was a 750m walk along an elevated walkway inside the canyon. Uphill. It was scorching when we’d left Alanya, but here in the shelter of the shadows deep inside the giant walls of the canyon it was cool and fresh.
Inside the canyon there was a small river raging its way down, carving a path as it went. The sound was deafening. The trail eventually ended in a small waterfall falling into a deep pool. To be honest, this was probably more impressive than yesterday’s waterfall.
It was possible to climb down and swim in some of the larger pools. I wanted to, but the sound was too much here for Risa, so we made our way back down and instead swam in another smaller (and calmer) set of falls. The water was too cold for Risa, so I was left to take the plunge solo. I’d accidentally forgotten to bring my board shorts (well, to be honest I didn’t expect to be able to swim in the pools), so I had to swim in my underwear. Charging in to the water took my breath away and sent my heart racing. Putting my head under the water started an instant hammering pain in my head. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as the café was using the very same water to chill their drinks. I tried to swim towards the waterfall, but the current was too much for me in this cold. I was feeling hot and tired before the swim, but felt awesome and energised afterwards – and it lasted all the way back to the sweltering car.
We had heard from a few people that the roads towards Anamur were slow and dangerous, but I had no idea they’d be quite this slow! They were major roads, but they twisted and climbed like the small mountain roads. There were loads of trucks and busses, as well as cars in your lane as they tried to pass them. The buses were so out of place that they had to use both lanes to get around a lot of the corners, making it very difficult to pass (without rolling the dice). At least it kept me awake and alert! It did look like they were building a new bypass road, complete with tunnels and bridges, which should make it much quicker and safer.
Just like the past few days, there was an abundance of beautiful coves between each of the passes. There were still loads of banana plantations, as well as stands selling them. They looked a little green, so we didn’t bother buying any. Yet.
Actually, the Anamur area is famous for bananas. There were HUGE greenhouses filling the plains around town. As we drove down towards Anamur, the town looked white from all the glasshouses.
There were no cheap hotels listed on Booking.com, which wasn’t surprising as I don’t imagine too many tourists make a stop here. The one cheap hotel in LP was full for the next couple of days. It was 7PM and we started to get a little concerned… We drove around looking for hotels, and the one that we managed to find was €60 a night ($180). Luckily we managed to find a dirt-cheap pension tucked away in a side street that was only 40TL ($20). The little old lady owner didn’t speak any English, but lucky for us one of the other guests spoke a little and helped us make a booking. We had to double check the price, as it was easily the cheapest place we’ve stayed yet – though, it didn’t include breakfast.
It was a short drive a few blocks down to the ocean side. There were loads of tourists, but they seemed to be exclusively Turkish. For once, we were aware of people staring at us. We were the only white people, which was very different to anywhere else we’d been.
Dinner was a semi-local special, tantuni kebab, which was not quite what I was expecting (Lonely Planet described it as like a Turkish fajita). It was fried meat, peppers and onion inside a bread roll. It was simple and exceptionally cheap 11.5TL ($6) for the two of us, including drinks, but not particularly exciting.
We also finally tried Turkish style ice-cream. There were loads of shops in Istanbul doing tricks with the serving, but this place was no frills, served inside a wafer sandwich (with honey inside the wafer). We would see the people in Istanbul folding and banging the ice-cream and wonder what they were doing. It had a very interesting texture, very gelatinous and sticky, though still very much like ice-cream. Risa could taste ginger. Also awesome it didn’t melt very easy (bonus considering it was still over 30˚C). We sat down to eat our snack and watched Colombia beat Ivory Coast over a couple of cups of Turkish tea. And then had to pay for parking, which came as a surprise for such a small town…