28
Aug

London Farewells

By: muttler
the monument at monument

the monument at monument

The last few days have been ones of travelling, breathers, and farewells. So I’ll wrap them all up in one post.

On Tuesday we made our way to Istanbul airport for our flight back to London. I read that Turkey is now the 6th most visited country with regards to tourism, and we certainly saw evidence of that around the country. It seems though they haven’t quite got their busy airport running smoothly quite yet. It wasn’t chaotic by any stretch, but it seemed that at every check point (baggage scan entering the airport, checking in, and going through security) lines moved painfully slow (even when there were very few people in line) and ended in free for alls. Luckily we gave ourselves plenty of time to get through and in the end we only had time for a little rest before boarding our flight.

We were delayed by almost an hour, it seemed due to some Turkish Airlines seating issues, but in the end off we went, and an uneventful flight got us to Gatwick. A train ride in to the city and we were checked in to our hotel in London, this time in the Monument area (just east of St Pauls). The monument in question is the monument to the great fire of London, and it greeted us each time we jumped on the tube (as you can see at the top).

We only had time to quickly drop things off before catching up with Kate’s aunt and uncle for a last visit. It was great to see them, and all going to plan will see them at the end of the year on the big day, so it was not as much sad to say farewell, but exciting to think we would see them again in a few months.

big cannons at the war rooms

big cannons at the war rooms

Wednesday was Kate’s only full day in London before she was to fly home. She had a plan, and that was to visit the newly reopened Imperial War Rooms. They had recently refurbished to open their new World War One display, so off we went. It was packed, and we had to get timed tickets to the WW1 exhibit. But that was OK, as the entire museum takes hours to properly check out.

While I didn’t think the WW2 exhibits were that great, the WW1 exhibit was incredible. After an hour and half we were getting fatigued, but both felt we could have spent more time in there. Well worth a visit.

The rest of the evening was spent deciding whether to catch a show. We tried to get cheap tickets for Book of Mormon through their nightly ballot, but alas we missed out. So we opted just for a lazy dinner and night in. An early morning greeted us, so it was all for the best.

So this morning (Wednesday) Kate and I wandered out to Heathrow to say our farewells for the moment. Kate was on her way back to Melbourne, and I would be heading to Helsinki tomorrow. We were bummed out, but it had been an amazing last 6-7 weeks in the UK and Turkey, so we couldn’t feel too down.

obey

obey

Kate went through the security doors and I was left to myself for the rest of the day. I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. I decided to visit a couple of record stores to see what had been happening. I hadn’t visited Rough Trade for ages, so it was nice to go there again. I noticed a Shep Fairey mural nearby which was cool, and a very large Invader (although I’m not sure if it is a real Invader or not).

dali at the tate

dali at the tate

 

a gorgeous frampton at the tate

a gorgeous frampton at the tate

I also decided to wander the Tate Modern, since last time I was there I didn’t check out the permanent collection. It was mostly as I remembered it, so got to see some cool things, as well as some things that I will never understand.

That took me to dinner time, where I had a quick bite and retreated to the hotel. Time to pack and prepare for my Finland adventure.

28
Aug

Last Minute Bazaar

By: muttler
bazaar records

bazaar records

Sorry for the dead air everyone! It has been a few days of transition so the updates haven’t been forthcoming. But here is a couple of rapid fire ones to fill in the gaps.

Monday was our last day in Istanbul and Turkey. But like the previous day, we didn’t feel the need to achieve much. We were still fairly exhausted from our travels, so we just spent the day doing some more wandering and some last minute shopping.

Since it was closed the day before, we decided to spend more time exploring the Grand Bazaar. We really only spent an hour or so last time we visited, so we felt we really needed to dedicate a bit more time to it. Not that we really had anything particular we wanted to buy but we just wanted to see everything it had to offer.

During our wandering, we found basically more of the same… clothes, carpets, jewellery, lamps, hats… you name it, we found it. I even found a record store (of sorts)! But nothing besides a few small trinkets really jumped out at us. I wasn’t even tempted by the ubiquitous calls of “Sir! Interested in any genuine fake watches?”.

creepy little dudes

creepy little dudes

We also did a bit more wandering about the Spice Market and really just enjoying our last day in Istanbul. Nearby was the textiles area. Super creepy little mannequins were everywhere!

While we were exhausted, and overwhelmed by the number of people, we felt very fortunate to have visited Istanbul. Time to get a good nights sleep before heading back to London.

24
Aug

Cruisin’ the Bosphorous

By: muttler
views from the bosphorous

views from the bosphorous

Kate and I were both well and truly exhausted by the end of the tour. I don’t sleep that much at the best of times, but combined with lots of adventures, having a cold/flu like illness for the past week, I was feeling pretty exhausted. Kate was also lacking her fairly regular 10 hour sleep days, so we had a very lazy start to the day.

That was OK though, as we had already spent 3 full days in Istanbul, and we had ticked off the major things we wanted to do. So our last 2 days here would be pretty relaxed.

Today we decided to jump on a ferry ride on the Bosphorous for a couple of hours. Istanbul is a remarkable city in that it is split amongst a number of bits of land separated by a few bodies of water. The Bosphorous is one, that leads to the Black Sea. So we decided to have a relaxing trip up the Bosphorous, not quite to the end.

palace by the water

palace by the water

We just sat back and chilled out, seeing some more sites of Istanbul from the gentle ferry. There was no commentary or guide, so we had to rely on our trusty Lonely Planet to fill in some gaps.

mosque with a view

mosque with a view

On the way we was landmarks like Dolmabache Palace, Ciragan Palace, and a number of Mosques. Talk about a picturesque place to worship.

forts keeping an eye on things

forts keeping an eye on things

The turn around point was the Faith Bridge. It is flanked by two small forts, the Rumeli Hisari and the Andalou Hisari. I guess just in case there is any influx of dodgy folk again.

watch out bond!

watch out bond!

On the return we also saw a small lighthouse called Kiz Kulesi which according to our guidebook was in The World Is Not Enough. Seems Bond loves Istanbul.

By this time we pulled back into dock and our trip was up. Kate and I just decided to spend the next few hours wandering about. We made our way back through the nearby Spice Market, not too tempted by all the tasty treats that lie within. Maybe it was Turkish fatigue setting in, that ordinarily I would be all over that sweet Turkish Delight, but right now was happy just to soak up all the atmosphere and leave the delight for another day.

We also visited one of the small markets near the Blue Mosque for a peruse, where Kate found herself a very cool silver coffee pot that will look good in our place.

Otherwise that was the extent of our day. After such a hectic last couple of weeks, a low key day was nice. We met up with some of the remaining folk from our tour (Bec, Cathy and Leesa) for a nice dinner, and said goodbye to one more member of our tour. With one final day to spend in Istanbul, I imagine it would be the same tomorrow… another relaxed day to soak up our last time in Istanbul and Turkey.

24
Aug

Gallipoli

By: muttler
ANZAC Cove

ANZAC Cove

Today was pretty much our last day of the tour. While we technically would all be finishing up tomorrow, the reality is that some of would be staying on, some would be heading out on another connecting tour, and others would be flying home. So today was the last day really being spent with each other.

It was fitting that the last day us Aussies would be spending together would be a visit to Gallipoli. We started the day in Canakkale, leaving the hotel nice and early so we could catch a ferry across to the other side of the water (technically back into Europe) and have the short drive to the Gallipoli peninsula. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since it is an important site for both the ANZACs and the Turks who were fighting each other.

the original beach

the original beach

We first arrived at the peninsula, and Ibo gave us another history lesson, this time much of which was know to many of us. We first saw the beach where the allied troops were supposed to land (a much more hospitable piece of land), before making our way up to ANZAC Cove, the site of the actual beach landing.

an imposing site

an imposing site

ANZAC Cove is exactly the opposite of the first beach… an unpleasant, steep climb up the side of rocky and tree-lined terrain. It is no wonder it was a bit of a doomed mission.

the first of many cemeteries

the first of many cemeteries

There are a number of memorials around the area, with about 5 or 6 cemeteries dedicated to the allied troops (predominantly ANZACs). The range from quite small, up to the main one at Lone Pine.

paying respects

paying respects

ANZAC Cove is the site of the ANZAC Day service here and has the serenity you would expect. All you hear is the water in the background, and you see a simple memorial recognising the site. It is touching and a but surreal all at once.

lone pine

lone pine

 

lone pine, the main memorial

lone pine, the main memorial

The Lone Pine cemetery is the largest to the ANZACs on the peninsula. A single tree surrounded by graves and a memorial marks the site. A few hundred ANZACs who lost their lives are buried. Even though the memorial is the largest of the ANZAC sites, it is still very modest, and a fitting tribute.

trenches still intact

trenches still intact

We kept making our way around the site. Still present were many of the trenches dug by both the ANZACs and the Turks. The ANZAC trenches were much more haphazard, owing to the nature of the circumstances under which they were being dug.

turkish memorial

turkish memorial

Near the top of the area is one of the only Turkish memorial sites. While this is of extreme significance to the ANZACs, it is also significant to the Turks who we were fighting against. There was much at stake, and this site was an arm wrestle for the 9 months or so in which battles were being waged.

The ubiquitous Ataturk was a major figure here, and was also very responsible for making this site as a place of respect to both sides. A landmark speech is commemorated on a monument here, indicating that regardless of what happened in the war, that this should be a place of mourning for all.

kiwi memorial

kiwi memorial

There was also a nice monument to some fallen Kiwis who took an important hill for a couple of days during the fighting. It was nice and also quite strange in that one monument recognised the Kiwis that took it (along with the nearby cemetery) while there was also recognition of the Turks that took it back. Fascinating to see two sides of the story sharing the same stage.

All the Aussies were pretty quiet when it came time to get back on the bus. Ahead of us was about 6 hours of driving, to get to our official end point, Istanbul. With a few ice cream stops in there, we arrived thick into the Istanbul traffic which was chaos. Lucky it was a quiet Saturday afternoon.

Our night was pretty low key. Most of us had one last group dinner, with a handful kicking on. However it seemed most people were either sick or exhausted (or both), so for many it was sad farewells in the hotel lobby. It is always a weird time at the end of the tour. There are those you are super sad to leave, others not quite as much. But we had all had some amazing experiences together, and for that they will always be part of our Turkish adventure.

22
Aug

A Horse is a Horse

By: muttler
us and some random wooded horse

us and some random wooded horse

It was dawning on us all that the end of the trip was fast approaching. In only a couple of days our two week Turkey adventure would be all over and we would all be going back to whatever normal lives awaited. Well, some were heading to the other side of Turkey on another G Adventures trip, but most were winding up their holidays and heading home.

But today, another major archeological site was on the itinerary… Troy. Yep, that Troy. No, it’s not in Greece as many think it is, but rather just near the coast, near the seaside city of Canakkale. So yet another slow morning (which was alright by us) meant that we reached our first stop about lunchtime.

Troy was a pretty exciting one for most of us, given it is such a famous story. Even those that didn’t know all the detail at least knew the general gist of things… beautiful woman, big horse, fighting, Brad Pitt. So we were all geared up to explore the site.

the less spectacular ruins of Troy

the less spectacular ruins of Troy

Ibo was our guide and spent the next hour showing us the site and telling us all the stories. It was great that we had him, as unlike the ruins of the past few days (especially Ephesus and Pammukale), this was quite sparse. in fact there wasn’t really a whole lot to see.

a gate into Troy

a gate into Troy

The main path takes you about the site, and points out ruins from different stages in Troy’s history. There was in fact 9 Troys that have existed, all built on top of each other. As you go, different ruins are showing from different periods, but it was nothing like the ruins of the other cities we had seen.

troy parliament

troy parliament

It wasn’t that it was a let down, more anti-climactic. For a site with such a rich story, there is actually not that much to see. It was great to go to the actual site, but in terms of spectacle, we had been spoiled by this point.

that's a big horse!

that’s a big horse!

Of course there is a big horse though. What did you expect? Kate and I climbed to the top to get our cheesy photo.

clowns inside a big wooden horse

clowns inside a big wooden horse

We also took the opportunity to dress up in Roman garb and get some more cheesy tourist photos. Alas I don’t have them handy to show you sorry readers. You will just have to wait.

wandering the harbour

wandering the harbour

From Troy, we made our way into the city of Canakkale, what would be our gateway back to Istanbul tomorrow. But for the rest of the day we had time to relax and explore. Canakkale is a university town mostly, as well as location for ferries and more beach. Kate and I just wandered the waterside, looking for ice cream.

this one looks cooler, but alas, no place to climb in

this one looks cooler, but alas, no place to climb in

Also on the water is another wooden horse, this one actually a gift of Warner Brothers. Yep, it was the wooden horse used in the film. This one looked much cooler than the one on the actual site, although you couldn’t climb in it. I guess we are to assume the soldiers are still hiding in there.

Dinner time had arrived, so it was time for some more seafood, especially since it would be back to the city tomorrow. Many of us continued to hang out for the evening, heading to a live music bar called Hayal Kahvesi. It seemed everyone (except us) knew all the words to all the songs. But it didn’t matter, we all rocked out for a bit, enjoying our penultimate night together and then calling it a night in preparation for a long, busy, and emotional day tomorrow.

22
Aug

Time For A Breather

By: muttler
sea of umbrellas

sea of umbrellas

Hi everyone! A couple of smaller, quieter, posts for you all.

By this time we are on the home stretch of our trip around Turkey. Having just done the big historical sites, it is time to wind our way back toward Istanbul. Today was very much just a day of taking a step toward our final destinations of Troy, Gallipoli, and finally Istanbul. So all we really did today was spend a fe hours driving along the coast to the seaside town of Ayvalik.

Ayvalik is not really known for much, mostly just as a nice seaside village. So after a lazy start to the day, we arrived in mid afternoon at our nice little hotel, which was a converted family house. With small, share, bedrooms and communal areas, it was going to be the perfect place to just have a relaxing evening.

Rather than sit around, a bunch of us decided to head to the nearby beach. So we braved the public transport (reminiscent of some buses in Central America, where it is just “squeeze! squeeze!” to get on) and spent a sweaty 20 minutes on a crowded bus to arrive.

the not as nice beach

the not quite as nice beach

The beach was at Sarim Sakli, and I can’t say it was the greatest I have ever been to, especially with the spoils of the past few days. The beach area almost looks desert, with large expanses of dirty brown sand. The waterfront area was packed, and we secured some chairs and umbrellas and proceeded to hang out for the next couple of hours, swimming and relaxing.

pier shenanigans

pier shenanigans

The water was much colder than I was used to from the previous days, and the colour certainly wasn’t what we had on the boat. But I was swimming in a foreign country, so who was I to complain?

When we were done, we all headed back into town to visit the Farmers Markets to get some food for our dinner spread. Rather than head out to a restaurant, since we had our own kitchen we decided to go with bread, cheese, mezzes, baclava, wine, beer… all the essentials.

We had an awesome array of food and the rest of the night was spent nice and relaxed… eating and drinking into the night.

 

22
Aug

Now THIS Is An Ancient City

By: muttler
hanging out in ancient cities

hanging out in ancient cities

We thought we had seen a ruined Roman city yesterday? We hadn’t really seen anything yet. For today we were heading to one of the biggest and most well preserved, the ancient city of Ephesus.

wandering through the turkish countryside

wandering through the turkish countryside

On our trip from Pamukkale to Selcuk (our base for the night) we stopped in the small town of Sirince. This was a tiny little town in the hills, in part known for their wine. During our wandering of the town we tried some of the local wine, which most of us agreed really wasn’t that great. Turkey does a lot of things right, but not so much their wine.

being greeted at the church

being greeted at the church

One thing we found about the area is that it was a home of St John, and as a result there are some churches that are in his name. One small one is located in the town, and was quite quaint, although in not a very good state and even a bit vandalised, which was quite out of the norm for what we had seen around the country.

mmm... chilli

mmm… chilli

The rest of our brief time we spent wandering the small streets. It seemed to be quite the small tourist town as all the vendors tried to lure us into their stores. But we weren’t too interested, rather happy to have some lunch (mmm… turkish pancakes) before heading into Selcuk.

the tomb of st john

the tomb of st john

Selcuk is also home to a large church of St John, as well as a large well preserved castle. We only had an hour, but a few of us decided to visit these sites, knowing we wouldn’t have too much time to explore. The church site was quite huge. Sadly there wasn’t a real church building to explore, but the ruins were quite cool to wander through.

turkish castles are few and far between

turkish castles are few and far between

The castle in particular looked fantastic up on the hill. Castles like this were few and far between in Turkey, and Kate was obviously super excited to visit another castle (I think she had been having castle withdrawals since the UK).

a main street in ephesus

a main street in ephesus

We only had an hour as it was time to head to the main stop for the day, the huge ancient city of Ephesus. Ephesus was a huge Roman city that became quite large and powerful back in the day given its proximity to the sea and subsequent power in goods trading. The city is huge and we spent the best part of 3 hours exploring, with Ibo filling us in on all the history.

old rooms and houses

old rooms and houses

cool mosaics hiding everywhere

cool mosaics hiding everywhere

As we wandered we saw more amazing marble columns, ancient paved roads, huge facades, and beautiful tiled mosaics. For me, the most impressive areas were an amazingly well preserved collection of houses, still with mosaics in tact.

grand entrance

grand entrance

The other was the entrance to the city Library. A towering grand entrance if ever there was one.

ruins ruins everywhere

ruins ruins everywhere

 

time for some kung fu

time for some kung fu

 

kate's was much more impressive

kate’s was much more impressive

 

and the biggest amphitheatre

and the biggest amphitheatre

We kept wandering about soaking it all up. The last stop was actually the church of Mary, yep THE Mary. Given St John’s prominence in the area, it was of no surprise, and there was the ruins of quite a huge church in the grounds of Ephesus.

By this time it had approached 7:30pm and the sun was dipping down the and the temperature becoming glorious. We made our way back to the hotel, and with a little time to freshen up, we went out exploring Selcuk a little more as a group and off to enjoy some dinner. The town certainly had a pretty cool vibe to it, with everybody out having dinner and fun in the bars and restaurants.

A few of us continued on for a bit after dinner. We crossed paths with another G Adventures tour group which is always fascinating. We where have 8 Aussies, only 1 was in that group, with it being dominated by Americans. It is always interesting to see how groups can be so different from tour to tour.

Kate and I hit the wall about midnight, leaving the last diehards to continue on. We were happy to hit the hotel and have a sleep in before our next fairly easy day of travel.

22
Aug

The White Cliffs (Not in Dover)

By: muttler
it's about 35 degrees right now

it’s about 35 degrees right now

Sadly it was time to say goodbye to the coast for the time being and head back inland. But that was OK as it was time to visit some of the key geological and historic sites that Turkey has to offer.

me and one of the locals

me and one of the locals

We left delightful Kas on our way to the town of Pamukkale. Pamukkale is renowned for three key things: natural hot springs, amazing white cliffs, and ancient roman ruins. Oh, and roosters apparently.

After a few hours of driving, we arrived into town. Since it was the middle of the afternoon and as a result super hot and bustling with tourists, we had an hour or so to relax before heading to the sites to check everything out.

the old main street

the old main street

It is quite remarkable to see everything all together in the one site, almost like a big amazing coincidence. We started at the far end of the site to work our way through the ancient site of Hierapolis. They sure knew where to build the city back in early BC, as they had the luxury of having a site founded on natural hot water, and as a result being able to have some amazing hot roman baths.

ruins everywhere

ruins everywhere

Ibo gave us an orientation walk to let us know the main features of the site. It was quite a big area, and was split into a number of smaller areas, with nice warm pools scattered around to relax. We made our way to the cemetery to see many sarcophagi scattered about the landscape. It was pretty crazy to see so many columns still standing and so many ruins about that we were able to explore.

kate meets doctor fish

kate meets doctor fish

Given it was still super hot, Kate was keen for a bit of time to relax rather than keep running around. So what did she get up to? Why not have a bunch of tiny fish nibble at your feet for a while? Hhhmmm….

the amphitheatres keep getting bigger

the amphitheatres keep getting bigger

Not being my cup of tea, I decided to continue exploring. I made my way up the hill to the huge amphitheatre that sat atop the hill. Part of the the main stage had seemed to have been restored and looked quite amazing. Even though it was so hot it was quite relaxing to sit up above Pamukkale and stare out over the ancient ruins.

more photos with locals

more photos with locals

By this time Kate’s feet were nice and nibbled and we had just a little time so we popped into the museum part of the site. Much of the very well preserved statues and sarcophagi were taken from off the site and placed in the museum. This seemed like a good move as they were in immaculate condition. We even got to see some more Medusa.

scaling the cliffs

scaling the cliffs

Time was disappearing, as was the sun, so we decided to start heading back to our hotel. By heading back, we made our way slowly down the incredible white cliffs that tower over the town. We were able to walk right down them, as long as shoes were off. Even though there was warm water flowing all over the place, it wasn’t particularly slippery.

it was hard to get your head around

it was hard to get your head around

The cliffs are formed by hardened calcium carbonate, so they are always changing a bit. With the amount of water running down them, and the amount of tourists climbing the cliffs, I imagine they are always in a bit of a state of flux.

folks just relaxing

folks just relaxing

As we made our way down larger pools would be there to soak the feet. Some tourists took the opportunity to completely submerge in the pools, but Kate and I just did a bit of casual splashing about.

vogue

vogue

The white walls and dropping sun gave an opportunity for some more wacky photos. My shadow puppet skills were pretty lacking, so we just decided to strike some classy poses.

almost at the bottom

almost at the bottom

After an hour we reached the bottom, our feet feeling nice and supple from walking on cliffs and soaking in the water. After a quick bit of dinner, we had the opportunity to visit an actual real Whirling Dervish ceremony. Only about half the group decided to take part, but Kate and I were super keen.

Rather than a tourist show, this was an actual ceremony that is conducted each day. We took some seats in a dedicated space (that was pretty sparsely populated) and let it unfold.

getting dizzy

getting dizzy

We weren’t able to take photos during the actual ceremony, but it was actually really haunting. Two musicians played music and sung, and were then joined by 4 others, 3 of whom were performing the “whirling” part of the ceremony. One guy in particular had an amazing ability to have his dress soar around him.

hypnotic

hypnotic

After about an hour the ceremony wound to a close. We were all quite spellbound by it. To conclude the 3 whirlers came back to do a quick final bit where we could take photos. Sadly the pictures can’t capture the grace of it all.

And with that another day in Turkey came to a close. It seemed we were all now very sleepy and tired and looked forward to a good nights rest before our next day of adventure.

19
Aug

Lazy Days By The Sea

By: muttler
strike a pose

strike a pose

The call to prayer from the nearby mosque (yep, there was a nearby mosque) woke me briefly at about 4am, but then it was quickly back to sleep for another few hours sleep. The emerging light didn’t really worry me, rather the temperature starting to creep up and being on the boat’s roof meant that it started to get warm pretty quickly.

Oh well, that must just mean it is time for breakfast! Again our awesome crew put together a good meal for us and we sat and had our morning start as the captain drove us out to explore some more of the small islands. Quite quickly we moored and then it was swim time again! Who needs a shower when you have the Mediterranean?

A few of us spent the next hour or more just floating in the beautiful waters, taking it nice and easy. We spied another turtle doing his thing, but we left him alone and just floated on our pool noodles and soaked up our situation. Kate, myself, and the few others from the group that were floating together were all feeling pretty special.

But by this point it was getting to late morning and we had to motor back to shore. We said farewell to the boat and hello again to the bus. But it wasn’t for long as we went to a beach side restaurant to just hang out on the beach again for another hour. Now THIS was a nice pace to be traveling at!

This was a rocky beach like all of them, but there was hardly a soul around, so we all just claimed a deck chair and chilled out. I took the opportunity to spend yet more time in the water. I know that when I get back home I am not feeling sea/ocean water this temperature again!

Well and truly water logged we headed to our home for the night, the seaside tourist town of Kas. This is quite a charming little village… definitely more touristy, but with a charm of quaint seaside villages rather than big tourist traps.

sitting up top in the amphitheatre

sitting up top in the amphitheatre

After freshening up a but, Kate and I went exploring. Just a short walk from the centre of town was an ancient Greek amphitheatre that dated back to about 1st century BC. It had clearly had some restoration work done, but it was crazy to think it was just sitting there casually, for everyone to climb all over.

the view from the top

the view from the top

They did put it in a great spot though, with the audience being able to look out over the sea.

kate was happy to pose...

kate was happy to pose…

 

... while I just wanted to jump

… while I just wanted to jump

As there was really no one about, we took the opportunity for some fun snaps. Even though it was super hot and sweaty, there is always time for shenanigans.

The rest of the town was cobbled streets, cafes and tourist shops. We just decided to get some ice cream and sit down at the marina and enjoy the shade. Why shop when you can eat ice cream?

mmm... mixed seafood

mmm… mixed seafood

The lazy afternoon culminated in another group dinner, at another seafood restaurant of course. What else would we have? I had the mixed seafood grill, which was calamari, shrimp, and swordfish. Overall not too bad, although swordfish isn’t really my thing.

kas at night

kas at night

It seemed most of us had hit the point in the trip where heading out to have a drink every night wasn’t a priority any longer, and we were happy to find a nice little spot to just relax. A cool little tea house was discovered in a back alley and we enjoyed some chai and chatted until sleep was all we really wanted.

18
Aug

Playing With My Noodle

By: muttler
spiderman returns!

spiderman returns!

So what have I been doing over the last day or so? Well, not much really. Just hanging out on a boat on the Mediterranean and having a casual swim whenever I felt like it. Ha!

Sorry to gloat… that’s not fair is it? But it is not a bad way to spend a day I gotta say.

Anyway, we started out the day in Antalya and had a very lazy morning. I still wasn’t feeling 100% so took it a little easy, just having a casual breaky to start the day before we all jumped in the van to head to our proper introduction to the Mediterranean.

st nick welcomes us

st nick welcomes us

On the way we stopped at the costal town of Demre. There seemed to be two main things to this town. First of all it is the home of good ole St Nicholas. Yep, that St Nic. You didn’t realise he was from Turkey did you? Well he is, and his church is there to prove it. The other interesting thing about the town is that it is FULL of Russian tourists. So much so that every sign had Russian on it.

IMG_5732

i’ll have the brad pitt cut thanks

We only had a little time to explore so I didn’t have time to get a haircut. Although I have always thought I would look good rocking the Brad Pitt look, so I guess this is an opportunity lost.

lots of paintings all about

lots of paintings all about

After a quick bite, Kate and I went into the St Nicholas church. It was quite cool actually. Quite small, but the paintings on the walls were in relatively good nick (ha, see what I did there) and the whole building was looking pretty good. There were mosaics still about and even the resting place of St Nic was there.

inside st nicks

inside st nicks

By the many Russian tourists in there paying their respects, it was clearly a special place for them.

kate looking remarkably happy to be out on the sea

kate looking remarkably happy to be out on the sea

We didn’t spend too long in there, as it was time to head to our waiting boat to head out onto the water for the next 24 hours or so. Our first boat was just one to take us about some of the small islands and to moor somewhere for us to have a swim.

the beautiful blue waters

the beautiful blue waters

And man! The water was so amazingly warm and blue. It was gorgeous. While the water in Antalya was nice and warm, the colour had nothing on this.

tour mate ryan does his best bruce lee

tour mate ryan does his best bruce lee

The boats crew were very relaxed about our shenanigans and were happy for us to jump off whatever part of the boat we wanted. It meant I could recreate my Guatemalan spiderman leap (as you can see up the top of the blog post), but with the glorious Mediterranean as the backdrop. Tour mate Ryan elected for some flying Bruce Lee action which was most impressive. He seems to have a habit of jumping off everything he can find.

After a bit of time here swimming (were we saw turtles! woo!) it was time to jump on another boat, which conveniently pulled up just alongside, which was to be our accommodation for the night. Yep, we were going to cruise about for a while, do some more swimming, check out some ruins, then moor for the night where we would have dinner, play games, and sleep on the rook under the stars.

me and my noodle

me and my noodle

First order of business on the new boat? More swimming! Of course! Best feature of this boat was the copious amounts of pool noodles. While the sea is very buoyant, who want to use ANY energy when on holidays, am I right?! So with pool noodles in hand, it was time to simply float and relax.

After a bit more of a swim it was more time for sailing about and exploration. On some of the islands were old ruins of inhabitants from many centuries ago. Talk about waterfront views.

castle on the hill on the water

castle on the hill on the water

The main ruin though was the Sunken City Ruins of Simena. A significant Lycian site, it sits majestically overlooking the water and is also still in quite good condition. Most of us jumped of the boat and made our way up to the top.

spectacular group shot

spectacular group shot

While it wasn’t that many steps, when it is mid-30’s warm (feeling in the 40’s) it sure takes it out of you. But the view was spectacular and made for a great group photo.

not a bad final resting place

not a bad final resting place

Nearby were a number of sarcophagi of significant folk, that were very Nordic in design. The top was intentionally shaped like an upside down boat, so in the event of flood, they could all sail to the afterlife. Very cool.

With our fill of ancient ruins, it was back on to the boat and a short trip to drop anchor for the evening. A wonderful meal was prepared for us by the ships two crew, of course including some fresh fish. Mmmm. The rest of the night was spent lying on the front of the boat, staring at the wondrous clear skies. I counted 6 shooting stars although there were no doubt plenty more.

Some games followed for a couple of hours before it was time to hop up on the roof of the boat onto our makeshift beds and catch some z’s. Not the most comfortable bed, but when on a boat in the Mediterranean, who’s complaining?