Istanbul to Tuz Golu
We began our journey in Istanbul in a lovely hotel whose room allocation antics would have made Faulty Towers proud, but there’s nothing to break the ice like meeting in the wrong room half naked in the middle of the night! Istanbul is a fantastic city though, a real mix of a modern bustling metropolis and the past echoes of the jewel of historic Ottoman and Byzantine empires. From the half hidden frescos of the Aya Sophia, the ancient underground Cisterns, mojitos on roof terraces over looking the blue mosque to guys fishing off the bridge over the Bosphorous. From Istanbul we took a sleeper train to Ankara (my first one which was very exciting – not quite the orient express but good enough). From Ankara we travelled to the salt lake Tuz Golu and on to Cappadocia.
Our first views of Cappadocia were approaching a town intertwined around a bizarre series of rock formations, ancient volcanic ridges of rock streched out behind, very surreal. Before sunset we visited a valley full of “fairy chimneys” where the rock had eroded leaving columns of white and grey rock. We spent the next few days walking through the valleys and along the ridges through stunning scenery, visiting long abandoned churches hidden in the rocks, through haphazard orchards of apples, pears, vines and quince. Our final night in Goreme we went to see a night of Turkish dance, belly dancers, whirling dervishes and plenty of audience participation. En route back to bed Ugur, Darren, Joedi and I got side tracked into the “Libra Club” to drink Captain Morgans and dance to Cold Chisel until the early hours, well we were on holiday!
Antalya to Phaselis & Olympus
After leaving Cappadocia we travelled to Konya, the home of the Mevlana who founded the Whirling Dervish sect. From Konya we bused south to Antalya where we boarded our Gulet (Kasapoglu 3) and set off motoring along the coastline. We spent the night in a bay in Phaselis and first thing in the morning anchored in the beautiful bay of Olympus and visited the ruins tucked away behind the bay. And then we had an arduous few days of swimming, eating, playing backgammon and drinking Raki!
Most of us were sleeping out on the foredeck, we fell asleep under a clear beautiful starry sky and woke up to torrential rain! It cleared up for long enough to climb up to Simena, a castle overlooking Kekova. Bays stretch in on both sides, small jetties dotted with saling boats and Gulets stretch out into the bay overlooked by the ancient walls of the castle, a truly stunning view. In the evening we headed onto land to the Island bar for Efes and dancing until dropped back to the Kasapoglu 3 by motor boat under the stars.
It was sad to leave behind our Gulet and life of swimming and relaxing but we were soon on a bus headed north to Pammakule and the calcified limstone waterfalls and magnificent Hieropolis that overlooks the falls and the valley. Then we had our final sleeper train back to Istanbul. It was Joedi’s birthday so in the absence of champagne (of which we could find none) we woke her up with surprisingly acceptable Turkish sparkling white wine on the train. For the final evening together everyone went to a great fish restaurant for a birthday meal complete with local musicians and a thoroughly decadent chocolate cake and chocolate flavoured cigars!