Sunday, September 11, 2011

Traveling Turkey (Part II)

(Village of Sirince, near Ephesus)
With the help of a travel agent recommended by our friend, we booked a six-day side trip from Istanbul down to the Mediterranean coast.

Again, we relied mostly on public transit to get us from place to place--taking planes, trains, and automobiles. We rented a car for a short while but gas is extremely expensive in Turkey so we didn't drive ourselves the whole time. At moments we were glad to be at the mercy of bus drivers who knew their way around windy mountainous roads; other times--like the five hour bus ride I spent next to a really stinky chain smoker who kept making smacking noises with his mouth--I would have rather been walking to my next destination.

Each place we visited was like a different country in itself, with varying geography, climate, culture and people.

(Breakfast at the Nisanyan Houses--yum!)
The Nisanyan Houses in Sirince (a small village on a mountain above the ruins at Ephesus) was a pleasant surprise. While the ride up the side of the mountain on the minibus was terrifying, and the hike up to the hotel strenuous, it was a beautiful little retreat up there. They also had the best breakfast ever with fresh fruit, jams, bread, olives, and cheese.
("The Library," ruins at Ephesus)
(Pamukkale; looks like snow and ice, but it's warm mineral pools you can walk in)
Our next stop to see the calcium pools of Pamukkale was by far our most difficult excursion. The buses going to/from were few and far between. The Richmond Hotel was hot, stuffy and outdated, and the people there only seemed to view tourists as big, walking dollar signs. The ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis and the "cotton castle" were very cool sites, it's just too bad everything around them was not.
(Ancient tombs at Hierapolis in Pamukkale)
We quickly discovered that the Turkish coastline is a major summer destination for England; local workers told us it's rare to see American's there. We enjoyed our time at the Kano Hotel on the river in Dalyan and at The Oyster Residences right on the beach in Olu Deniz. These were our couple days of "relaxation," though Tommie might still be scarred by our walk (that quickly became a sprint for fear of blistering) on the scorching hot sand which he likens to walking across hot coals. I guess that enjoying our swim in the calm, warm sea water could be considered our reward.
(River boat taking people to the beach in Dalyan; above are ancient tombs carved into the cliff)
(Driving down to Olu Deniz)

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