© 2016 By Polaris Overland

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Turkey, Thank You For the Memories We Love You

June 8, 2017

 

After a lot of discussions and looking at the weather we both decided we wanted to head inland and see the Lakes around Egirdir. For us the touristy areas around the Med Coast were a little too busy and a little too commercialised with us both preferring the country and the agricultural side of Turkey plus the weather was forecast to be marginally better so the decision was made.

 

 We packed up and headed off. Perge was en route so we headed there first. Perge is a very large and very interesting city full of ruins in great condition. Surprising how far you can walk on the old roman roads bordered with magnificent pillars.

 

The journey to Egirdir is amazing once again climbing high mountain roads through high passes. We initially planned to camp in a campsite at Egirdir but on arrival we decided to give it a miss. Instead finding a quiet secluded (or so we thought) spot on the side of the mountains overlooking the lake.

 

Setting up camp we first heard the goat bells then a young girl appeared followed slightly later by an older woman we were to find was the young girls mum.

Neither could speak English but Dave offered them both a carton of orange juice from the fridge.

 

 

 

They in turn offered us a dozen free-range fresh eggs. With lots of sign language we managed to understand each other to a point. We made coffee and offered them both a cup and in return the young girl brought a young goat over, we think to pet and not to bbq. A very nice family and before they left it started raining so they offered us to sleep in their house but we explained we were fine in our tent.  We think the young girl said she wanted to sleep in the tent with us.

 

After they left we cooked up some of the eggs and enjoyed a great omelette before the heavens opened and we headed to bed.

 

After an early start at 7am we packed up quick as we could see the rain coming again.  We first drove around the lake sadly not as pretty as we were expecting maybe due to the weather and time of year but were glad we took the time to see.

 

So we headed for Pamukkale where en-route we experienced our first police check which seems to happen on many main roads but up to now on seeing our foreign reg they had waved us on. This time they stopped us. Using a translator app they asked where we had been, wanted to see a passport and driving licence and were happy and sent on our way. Not quite the UK style of police stop though as military and a lot of weaponry on show.

 

 We arrived late afternoon and found the campsite Tepe Camping right at the top of hill above Pamukkale. A nice spot and very quiet but like most campsites so far not really fully open. We camped up and chilled then made a curry for tea and sat in the evening catching up with journal and photos plus a few beers of course.

 

We woke up to a lovely day, so got some washing done and hung out before heading off to explore Pamukkale.

 

 

 

Pamukkale is famous for its hot springs / travertine and Hierapolis the ruined city around it.  After dipping our feet into the water but not our whole bodies like some we headed to explore the ruins. After walking up and down the roman streets and visiting the museum with the odd ice cream mixed in it was time to leave, as we needed to get supplies (beer & wine) in nearby Denizli.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We headed back to the village of Pamukkale surprised at how few restaurants were open so prompted for a Chinese.

 

Next day we decided to visit Laodocia, which wasn’t too far.  Arriving at the entrance you wouldn’t think that there was much to be seen but once we started to walk around it was quite large, not as impressive as some ruins but still enjoying the history.

 

 

We sat and enjoyed our lunch before heading off to our next site Aphrodisias.   When we arrived at the gate we weren’t allowed to drive down to the site and had to take a little tractor/trailer, which cost nothing, but to park the car 10 TL. 

 

This was a real gem where we thoroughly enjoyed, as there were lots of areas with good ruins with the sculptures off some of the walls all in the museum. This was a new factor as the statues they had taken from the ruins had been kept on site where as a lot of other sites send them to other museums many miles away.

 

We would highly recommend here, shame it isn’t as well documented and advertised as some of the other sites as it puts many others in the shadows including Hierapolis and Pamukkale in our opinion.

 

Our way back we decided to take the scenic road which took us over the mountains off the motorways and the views were amazing and you could see the local habitants lifestyle more and the depth of hardship they face daily to survive.

 

Back to campsite we met a Dutch couple who are doing the Silk Road Route on motorbikes, we all sat together chatted about routes, places etc and exchanged information.

 

Rain is on its way and we hope not too heavy a night.

 

Sadly it rained all night with high wind and was still raining when we eventually got up.  This was a day when visiting places would be miserable, the owner of campsite put on a wood burner stove for us and we were happy to chill in the room and pass on stories with the nice Dutch couple.  

 

We had decided we were leaving today whether it was raining or not and luckily when we work up it was dry, so we packed up and set off to our next destination the Antalya coast.

 

Our journey was going to be about 272 kilometres.  It was a long day driving up and down mountains and through valleys and again we were in awe at how beautiful a country Turkey is.

 

 

We decided to visit Telmessos on our way to save us coming back on ourselves and to give us a break from driving. It was all up hill so not so enjoyable and showed how unfit we were but eventually after arriving at the top we are sad to say it was a bit disappointing We think earthquakes or just with time it had mostly fallen to rack and ruin with the only part that was truly recognisable was the theatre. Location and popularity mean it has not been excavated or protected like the more popular sites.

 

We continued our journey towards Antalya unsure where we were going to camp. We were looking for a campsite as the busy areas like Antalya make wild camping difficult. Again the TOMTOM took us to places saying there was a campsite and there wasn’t there.  We tried one in a lovely bay but not suitable for a car never mind a Land Rover and Trailer. The day was getting on and we were both tired so found a campsite called Andriake.  At first impression we thought basic and very hippy camping but with no other options we would stay one night.

 

Got all set up and decided to eat at campsite as it was now 8pm and we were exhausted and hungry.  We ordered food and a few beers and chilled in an open room, which had hammocks and lounging chairs. When the food arrived we were pleasantly surprised, a set menu of soup, meat, couscous, salad, ratatouie and vegetable all very nice, homemade and really tasty.

 

Off to bed about 10.30pm to sleep but not for long the wind got up and never stopped the whole night, worst we had encountered yet and at 4am we were up re pegging parts of the tent.  The whole night and morning it kept blowing.  We had set up under a rock face so were a bit concerned what was going to fall down on top of us. We survived the night though. 

 

We woke up to wind but also sunshine.  Wilson needed his weekly check ups and a few other extras to be looked at, so Dave got busy with that whilst Angela decided to catch up with washing etc, since it was sunny, windy.

 

 Once all done we decided to visit Simena / Kokova a village which was only a few miles away and is partly sunken. 

 

A little fishing / harbour area with lots of tavernas and boats to take you around the area and above was the ruin which we needed to climb over to get to the village as the village is only accessible by boat.

 

The views from the top of the ruins were great and this was followed by lunch in one of the tavernas in the village by the water edge. 

 

We headed back to camp for a few beers and BBQ before an early night.

 

Moving day again today to Kas a little fishing village. On arrival we had lunch at the campsite then headed into Kas where we were pleasantly surprised, a very pleasant harbour with a more cosmopolitan scene but not too busy. We wandered around get the feel of the place, enjoyed coffee and watched the world go by, before ice cream finalised the visit and some shopping for food.

 

 

Next day we decided to head back to Phaselis ruins well lorded in our Lonely Planets Guide, so we travelled 2 hours drive to get there and to say it was a bit disappointing is an understatement. A lovely beach if you wanted to stay and enjoy it but it was the ruins we wanted to see and at best we probably spent about an hour to go round. We felt a little cheated.

We then headed to Chimera, the road down to Chimera was very pretty in a valley, we had lunch on the beach, lovely bay and just along was Olympos ruins, we decided not too bother a bit disheartened from Phaselis.

 

Travelling back to Kas we decided to drive around the peninsular with nice views and some lovely houses had coffee back at campsite.

 

Tonight we wanted to have diner in Kas. We sat in square and enjoyed a wine and watched the world go by before we found a restaurant in one of the back streets (Cinalar) and recommended on Tripadvisor, which was very good.

 

 Another day and another chance to visit some more ancient ruins. Xanthus is a world heritage site and we were expecting good things but sad to say were very disappointed as there was nothing much to see and what there was needed tidied up and more information available. Then we headed to its neighbour Letoon but again disappointment and didn’t even bother to get out of car as we saw it all, what little there was from the road.

 

It was starting to feel the further West we came the less impressive the sites and ruins. Maybe we have been spoilt up to now but certainly neither of us was inspired by what we had seen recently.

 

We decided to carry on and explore a little more. Patara was next and it was a breath of fresh air. The ruins had in some areas been rebuilt showing exactly how they would have looked and once again we were in awe at the detail and skill of the ancient artists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small area of water we got to watch Terrapins sunning themselves on a rock. Again like Tortoises we had never seen these in the wild or even thought about where they come from.

 

Patara was the high light of the day as we enjoyed our time here. On the way leaving we enjoyed some coffee and Chi in a local village shop before heading back to camp.

 

Leaving Kas today we were headed for Dalyan to break our journey before going to Datca the next day and meeting up with Angela’s friends.  Eventually we found the campsite (Olympos) and once again the campsite not quite ready for visitors even though it says it is open all year round. 

 

 We got all set up and went to the bar, which overlooks the river, enjoying a couple of cold beers and watching the water taxis sail by. This was nice to chill with views across the river from bar to the Lycian Tombs cut into the cliff faces.

 

Since the campsite was at the edge of town it was a chance for Dave to enjoy a few beers without the need to drive so we walked in at night for a meal and a few drinks.

 

Next day up and organised and ready to set off to Datca where we were visiting friends of Angela’s, Heather and Harry who have lived in Turkey for many years.  The drive down the Datca Peninsular was amazing and at one point the Mediterranean on one side and Aegean on the other separated by a small sliver of peninsular.

 

We met Heather in town on arrival at Datca and she took us to see her house, which they have renovated over the years, and it was lovely.  We had decided to stay in an apartment whilst in Datca to give us a break from the camping. Heather had organised a studio apartment through a friend on the top of a hill in town, with lovely views over the whole town and bay.

 Then Heather and Harry took us to meet Patricia and Jamal who owned the apartment. Really friendly and who made us feel very welcome. Patricia was a character and had had a full life and she told us many captivating stories over the few days we were there.

 

Whilst in Datca we were introduced to many of Heather and Harry s friends in the local pubs where we enjoyed a few beers and a meal. It made a nice change to be amongst a bigger group of people and we had a good night.

 

Next morning Heather and Harry picked Angela up in the morning to take her to the local market for fresh veg while Dave stayed and took the opportunity to look over Wilson and Lara, make sure no drips or spills and tighten up pretty much every nut and bolt Dave could get a spanner on.  Dave was collected at lunchtime and we all headed into town for lunch and a couple of beers. 

Sleep was catching up on us both so we enjoyed a nap later in the afternoon before heading out for diner in the evening to a local fish restaurant and a couple of drinks. 

 

Another day and a chance to get some washing done and hung out to dry Patricia our landlady had invited us for brunch with an old friend of hers, Hugo a scholarly and eccentric type. 

 

She put on a lovely spread of local foods and we all sat on her veranda overlooking the small harbour chatting and listening to stories for almost 5 hours.  

 

Heather and Harry called and invited us to join them for drinks at the harbour with Harry’s sister and friends who had came out the day before on holiday. All from Aberdeen so it was a good laugh

 

Heather and the golden girls were going to Marmaris for shopping today so Angela joined them while Dave went with Harry to Knidos ruins.  By all accounts everyone seemed to have had a lovely day.

 

 Later we all got together again at a local winery for wine tasting and local food we came away with a few bottles to consume at a later date.

 

Next it was back Harry and Heather’s house for the evening where more wine and beer were consumed and ended up a great evening.

 

Today we had decided to leave and carry on with our travels even though Heather tried to persuade us to stay longer. It seems now that after a few days in one spot both of us are itching to get moving again.

 

Datca had been lovely with great hospitality from Heather and Harry and we had both enjoyed ourselves immensely but we had travels to continue and it was time to move on.  Our thanks to Heather and Harry for making us so welcome.

 

So we said our goodbyes and headed off to Bodrum, arriving there about teatime.  The campsite we stayed at was in the centre of Bodrum which was probably not the best suited for us, as music played loud until early hours of morning and Angela slept with her earphones on and music playing to drown out the din. 

 

Bodrum is not really for us too busy and very commercialised so off we went on our way to Ephesus.  We found a campsite a bit away from Ephesus where we planned to stay 2 evenings so we could explore the area. 

 

 On our way there we stopped off at Didyma and the Temple of Apollo where we were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed our visit looking around the ruins.  The campsite we stayed at was Dereli, which could be a very nice if they tidied up a bit more but it was by the sea and nice and quiet so we were more than happy.

 

Today is Ephesus, so we were up and washing done before heading off.  We went to the lower gate as recommended by Lonely Planet to miss all big bus tours, this worked well and we would recommend it too.

 

 We wandered around the ruins for hours looking at everything Ephesus had to show. We enjoyed going into the excavated terraced houses, which were undercover, and had numerous mosaics all protected and preserved.

 

Ephesus was very busy and this is early season so we wouldn’t like to visit when it is the height of season.  It was a very interesting and enjoyable ruin to visit, but again we felt it was a bit over hyped up in comparison to some of the other sites we have seen.

 

We searched for Temple of Artimis which we were told was bigger than the Temple of Apollo we had previously visited but we were very disappointed as hardly any ruins left to be seen especially as we had visited Apollo the day before at Didyma and it was much grander with way more of a wow factor.

 

By this time we were getting weary and sore feet so we headed for lunch and a chance to sit down for a while.

 

 Ephesus museum was next where all the artefacts from Ephesus are on display.

 

Amazing how they managed to find some of the items as they were so small like needles, pins, rings etc.  Then to the large sculptures, not as good as Aphrodisias there sculptures were amazing but certainly very impressive.

 

The skills of the guys who carved the marble and rocks continue to amaze us.

 

Next was St John the Baptist Basilica ruin we didn’t realise that the apostles from the bible were in Turkey.  Here St John seemingly looked after Mary, Jesus’ mother after Jesus was be persecuted and crucified. 

 

St John was buried in the Basilica with a fortress attached and a small church where it is said St John wrote his version of the bible.  Sadly much of the church is gone or re-used by subsequent conquerors and obviously being in a Muslim country not held in as much reverence.

 

 We visited “The House of the Virgin Mary”. Mary’s house, mother of Jesus where she lived after the death of Jesus. Again we didn’t realise she came to Turkey and always presumed Jerusalem was where most of Jesus and family were involved. The story says St John took Mary to Ephesus to keep her safe as her son requested just prior to his crucifixion.

 

The Turkish have made the effort to preserve the house and built a small church where lots of Christians go on pilgrimage. It’s only a small church but definitely worth a visit.

 

Our data had run out on the local Simcard so we headed into town to find a shop also to get some more shopping.

 

Back at the campsite Dave wanted to check over the Landy and Trailer before heading off the next day. Angela caught up with more washing then chilled at the beach and did a little drawing.

 

We were woken early by the noise from a tractor digging up soil on campsite; neither of us was impressed, as we had been given no warning. But it got us up so we decided to head off as early as possible to move forward to Troy. 

 

We wouldn’t make it in one day so stopped of at Ayvalic (Camlic Camping) just by the river very nice spot.  Mind you there is a theatre group here, which are performing at a festival near by, and there seems to be a lot of young Turkish people so it was a noisy night but a few vodkas helps us sleep better.

 

Not a great night sleep mostly due to dogs barking so we were again awake by 7 am and checked to see if it was dry as forecast was for rain. Happy to say the sun was shinning, so up and packed up and on our way.

 

 So on our way to Troy, which took us 2 ½ hours, felt a long journey as Angela was tired and was feeling it today after two nights of interrupted sleep and then noise first thing in the mornings. 

We decided to stay at the campsite near Troy but when we arrived it was a bit pricey and we didn’t feel right, so we carried on. 

 

Unknown to us the road at the campsite took us to Troy.  We thought we were here so let’s visit now. Thank goodness we didn’t travel further away to travel back the next day, as it was very disappointing. We had heard from others that they had found Troy disappointing and we could now see why.

 

Anyway after Troy we had to find a campsite so we found one in Geyikli (Domus Camping). It was a bit hippyish so we weren’t sure at first but once we settled in we found the people there really friendly and the bonus was the Wi-Fi was good, hot showers, washing machine and clean toilets. 

 

After a really goods night sleep which we both needed we awake to a lovely day so we decided to stay another day to catch up with photos and blog as Wi-Fi was good. The campsite has a really chilled feeling to it, a hippy feel and everyone is friendly.  The beer is cold and food good so it was win win all round. We caught up with more picture editing for the website and finished another blog to put up on our webpage.  They had chicks on the camp and one of them wasn’t too well and dying so Angela thought she would try some love and affection with some drops of water.  Angela sat with the chick wrapped in her t-shirt all evening keeping it warm and using a syringe to give it some water.  Her fingers were crossed hoping it would survive the night but sadly it didn’t, but at least it had had some cuddles and affection. 

 

We left Dolmus camp and decided to head more towards Yalova where Overland Anatolia were based and we were visiting them for the weekend.  We stopped at Erdek, staying at Kapidag Camping with its hot water, clean toilets and Wi-Fi.  We were right b