OK, so technically it isn’t the Mediterranean yet, but rather the Aegean Sea. Forgive me.
Not surprising considering how late we finished yesterday, but it was a struggle to get up in time for breakfast this morning.
There were a few sights we had missed in Selçuk, including the Artemis Temple, which was once one of the largest temples of the ancient world. Now however, there is only a single enormous column standing out of the original 127. That remaining column is now a home for a stalk. There were a few other piles of pieces of columns, but nothing that would give any indication of the grand building that once existed here. There wasn’t much to see, so I’m relieved that for once there was no admission fee.
We considered long and hard about going to Europe’s largest water park, Adaland, but thought we’d save some money and time as the reviews weren’t particularly glowing. I do love me a waterpark though…
As we drove south along the coast we passed through Kusadasi, which surprised us with the towering cruise ships and the thousands upon thousands of identical white houses and apartments.
The main attraction for today was to be the Dilek National Park. It was also to be our first taste of the Mediterranean (though technically the Aegean Sea). But, before visiting the sea, we made stopped at Zeus’ Cave, because with a name like that, how could you not! There were signs warning against swimming, but the people walking to and from the cave all had towels. Yes, this was no ordinary boring cave, inside there was a most fantastic pool to swim in.
Where to start. I don’t think I have ever been in such clear water. Period. It seemed clearer than pool water (probably because I could open my eyes underwater without pain). If it wasn’t so damn cold, I would have stayed for longer. If it wasn’t so damn cold, Risa probably would have joined me, too. There was something scary about swimming into the darkness, but it didn’t stop the local kids who were climbing up the ceiling and dropping into the water.
Entering the national park we decided to keep driving past the first beach. It looked reasonably busy (but not too crowded). We figured that the further we ventured, the more remote and peaceful it would become.
When we finally parked at the second cove, we were greeted by some unexpected guests – boars. I didn’t know whether I should be scared or not. They seemed placid enough, but some of the larger ones had some serious looking tusks. The babies were just the cutest, but they were messy like… pigs, ripping into garbage and generally making noise and mess.
I’ve never thought positively about pebble beaches (after all the amazing sand beaches we’ve been to in Australia), but without the sediment of the sand, the water here was positively translucent. The water was cool, but the day was hot and the sun was strong, so it came as welcome relief. It was hard to believe, but there were free deck chairs on the beach, so we lazed for a period while we dried off.
We skipped the third cove, but for no real reason and relaxed and spent time at the fourth cove. This beach also had deck chairs, but it had the bonus of shade, too. I would have fallen asleep, except they chairs were just too hard and uncomfortable. We nearly spent three hours there, just taking it slow and enjoying ourselves, which wouldn’t be a problem, except we had a date with the party town of Bodrum.
It was nearly two-and-a-half hours of driving to reach Bodrum, and then another 45 minutes to get to the hotel, navigating through sea of white houses and apartments along a maze of narrow one-way streets. It was chaos. But, after circling around a few times (and getting out and walking because it was easier), we found our hotel (Merhaba Hotel – 80TL). The hotel was clean, but nothing special. That is except for the views from the terrace. If only we’d been here 30 minutes earlier we would have been treated with a spectacular sunset.
It was 9:30PM when we finally left the apartment looking for dinner. The mega clubs were already pumping out their dance tunes, while the rest of the town were doing the same as us – stepping out of their hotels and searching for food. There were restaurants all along the shore, and they all looked nice (and expensive). There were also way more tourists than I was expecting, though strangely, many seemed to be Turkish. These bars and clubs that were filling the skies with music didn’t seem too busy (but maybe it was just too early).
Risa really wanted seafood, so we found our way to an area full of seafood restaurants. We were looking for an area that you could buy your fish from the fish mongers and have it cooked by the restaurants and had unknowingly ended up there. It’s a dimly lit photo of a less than appetising fish, but it was actually very, very tasty and we weren’t gouged too deeply for dinner.
After dinner we explored a little, and found ourselves in a small lane full of bars – I can’t emphasise that enough. It was a very narrow lane, and there was nothing other than bars, side by side and spilling out into the lane way. Each bar had their own sound system playing their own music, and it was disorientatingly loud. It was made even less pleasant by the sales people at each of the bars trying to get you to stop at their bar for a drink. It wasn’t just verbal, either. I guess because it was so loud, they had to reach out and grab you to get your attention. Their approach can’t be working too well, as most of the bars looked rather empty, but again, it was probably still early.
The old streets quickly turn into a mini market, selling much the same as the tourist merchandise that was for sale in Istanbul, only more expensive.
Our hotel was near one of the largest clubs in Bodrum, which happens to also be one of the largest clubs in Turkey. There were lasers, and giant spot lights outside, as well as cheesy dance remixes absolutely pumping out of the establishment and filling the entire neighbourhood. It would be a fun night out if you were young and with friends, but we’re too old and ready for bed by midnight, so we gave it a miss. Fortunately our hotel has double glazed windows so we slept quite well all things considered!