Turkey — Day Eighteen — Kayakoy and Selcuk

October 25, Kayakoy to Selcuk

Thursday morning we woke to an intensely blue Mediterranean sky, and there was heat in the air even at 8am.  We were up on the terrace for an early breakfast — early enough that the woman had to head out to the store to get the bread.  After she returned, and we ate, she offered 1/2 in English and 1/2 in charades to go down to the town with me and look for a carpet bag like the one leaving today for Antalya with the English girls.
The girl and I, whose name I wasn’t able to figure out, walked briskly down the pier into the little pedestrian-only shopping area which was a maze of touristy shops peddling real and fake designer duds and shoes.  Some advertised their realness but that wasn’t, frankly, all that reassuring.  Much to my surprise, I was led to a purse shop full of what may well have been real Tod’s, Chanel and Prada… nice, but not quite what I was looking for.  I was then taken to a shop that had the carpet bags, but the littlest purse was the 150L I was looking at spending on a luggage-sized piece.  The man was very convincing, and the bags were lovely, but it was too much for me.  She took me then to a succession of bag shops with cheaper and faker bags — to give her credit, she did try to find me a bag, but there just wasn’t the bag I wanted at the price I wanted.  Mind you, I was Very Tempted by one of those Tod’s bags.  I felt badly, as no doubt there would have been a commission in it for her had I purchased, but at least I gave her a justified excuse to hang out and smoke cigarettes and eat pastries on the clock.
Despite my lingering, I was back at the pension in time to get packed up before checkout at 11.  We made arrangements to leave our packs at the pension while we tried to get a trip to the ruined Greek town of Kayakoy in before we had to meet our bus to Selcuk at 4:30pm.
We knew there was a dolmus leaving from the dolmus station near the market area in downtown Fethiye, but my lingering did, unfortunately, prevent us from making that bus.  In a fit of not disappointing Steve from seeing Kaya, I suggested we quick march up the high road over the theatre and meet the bus on it’s way up the Kayakoy road.  We set off in the already hot sun up the upper road.  Did you catch the use of the word ‘up’? Yeah — uphill, at a brisk walk.  Did you see that it was a hot day? Yeah.  
We passed the Horizon Hotel, which had been our choice for hotel.  It would have had an amazing view, but we had heard from somewhere (completely unsubstantiated) that the reason the tourism office didn’t recommend it is because some of the rooms come with girls.  
Anyway, we went up the hill past the slightly lame Ottoman castle, and found the Kaya road, and we should have been in time to meet the bus.  It didn’t come during the space of time that we stopped to catch our breath, and it didn’t come in the time it took to start breathing deep of the hot pine-and-honey scented air, and it didn’t come in the time that we gave up waiting for it and started walking up the hill.  It’s only seven kilometres, we thought.  Did I mention we started walking? Up the hill?  Yeah.  
After not too long, a slightly decrepit older sedan came by, and I guess we must have looked mighty hopeful, because the driver stopped for us.  We told him we were going to Kayakoy, and he looked briefly concerned before uttering a torrent of Turkish that we didn’t understand.  We would have agreed to almost anything that involved wheels at that point, and he gave us a bit of a look and beckoned us into the car. We were in in a flash and were astonished at the sheer number and steepness of the switchbacks that old car swooped us up.  Just over the crest of the hill, he pulled to the side of the road and guestured us to get out.  We thanked him very much as he turned off into a driveway.
We walked a few minutes down the hill towards the valley and were so pleased to see a little cobblestone road heading off the paved road to the right.  We looked at each other and thought what the heck? and left the main road.  
The cobble road wound down the hill through a wooded area for almost a kilometre — one of the nicest kilometres we spent in Turkey.  The pine scent along with honey and dust and heat hung heavy in the air.  The greens of the forest were deep and intensely Mediterranean.  We could see little glimpses of the verdant valley floor and, in the distance, a crest of hills dotted with the white houses: what could only be the ruins of Kayakoy.  
Once down in the valley floor, we walked in what seemed ought to be the right direction, past a few lovely little pensions, orchards and farms.  We got a bit of a glare from one elderly person in a field, but it wasn’t enough to ruin our enjoyment of the beautiful day.  The back roads and fields were exquisite and we wandered and looked and frequently consulted our LP map, which was not incredibly helpful in this situation.  After an hour and some, we found ourselves in a little village area, and turning left here, we approached Kaya itself.  
Kayakoy was a predominantly Greek town and when the Greek-Turkish population exchange occurred in the 1920s, the Turks that came decided not to settle in Kayakoy, which ended up completely deserted.  Over time, the wood from the roofs and floors were taken by the valley dwellers for their purposes, and then there was an earthquake in the 50s that partially destroyed the town.  A lot of it is still standing and there is an air of quiet contemplation among the whitewashed ruins with their hints of blue paint. 
After purchasing our tickets for 5L each as well as a little explanatory booklet for a few more lira, we wandered through some little roads to the Lower Church, which was in very good shape (it had been used as a mosque until the 1960s).  It was really lovely and full of light that spilled onto the arches and domes, and onto the faded icons and cracked mosaic floors.  We were tempted to linger in this spot, but we knew we had limited time — the walk through the valley had taken longer than we thought, and we did have to be back in Fethiye to catch a bus in the afternoon.  
We decided to climb up the hill to the observatory and then through the town to the other side, then perhaps to get some lunch in one of the charming cafes we had seen on our walk, before going back to town.  As we left the church, a friendly kopek joined us on our walk in a very nonchalant fashion so typical of Turkish dogs.  You’re going on a walk? Excellent.  I’ll join you.  Tesekkur ederim.
We walked up the steep and stoney paths towards the top of the hill.  I was finding myself a little out of breath and coughing, so decided to forgo the no-doubt fabulous view of the ocean that would be on the other side of the hill.  Steve and the kopek walked the rest of the way while I hung out on a flat stone in the sun, watching the birds and lizards and resting my lungs.  It only took 20 minutes for Steve and the dog to return to where I was sitting and we continued along across the top of the hillside, through lovely, sad ruins of broken houses.  
Every so often, we would see a hint of the relative immediacy of the former inhabitants: a painted design, a worn tread on a stair, the overgrown remains of a herb garden.  You could see where Louis De Bernieres got his inspiration for the gorgeous “Birds Without Wings” which tells the story of a fictionalized village with both Turkish and Greek inhabitants, right up until the population exchange.  I could just imagine a priest and an imam passing each other on these narrow tracks, exchanging a friendly “hello, infidel.”  
We learned that it was actually very difficult after the Greeks left as the Greeks generally were the professionals — doctors, lawyers, engineers — and when they left, Turkey was left with a bit of a knowledge vacuum for a while.
We made our way over to the Upper Church, was was large and impressive with a beautiful mosaic floor with designs made in black and white pebbles.  It was still very nice, but lacked some of the charm of the smaller Lower Church, but that may have to do with the Upper Church crawling with tourists.  We emerged into the courtyard and saw an older, rather quaintly dressed woman.  It seemed charming until she demanded, in very broken English, money for the privilege of looking at her.  We didn’t pay, which might seem harsh as she was adding to the general atmosphere… but she was rude, and I don’t pay for rude.
Walking back down into the occupied lower part of the village, we passed a restaurant.  Since it was getting on, and Steve was anxious to reach town with enough time to get our bus, we asked when the next bus left.  Most surprised were we to find out that it was going in less than ten minutes and the next one wouldn’t be for an hour or more!  We hoofed it down the road and ran up to the bus stop just as the dolmus was pulling up.  We climbed on, paid our few lira, and settled back for the magical mystery tour.  
The dolmus didn’t take the direct, steep route to Fethiye that we tried to walk up… instead it went through the VERY BRITISH town of Hisaronu.  For example, looking out the smudgy dolmus window, I saw the Red Lion pub, more fish & chip shops than I could count, and a vast number of very disturbing stores which promised to wax everything.  Every sign was in English and every price tag was in pounds.  We rather wished that we had made the Kaya valley our base while in this area rather than staying in Fethiye proper.  Even Oludeniz would have been ok — even though it’s apparently very touristy, at least it would have had the beach.  We still thanked our lucky stars that we did NOT opt to stay in Hisaronu.  What a nightmare!
Back in Fethiye, we walked from the dolmus station to the Ideal Pension, picked up our bags and walked back down to the quay.  As we were tired and hungry, laden with heavy packs, and a little stressed about making our bus, we (ok, I) opted to have lunch in the Park Cafe, since it was very close to the travel agency where we’d be catching the shuttle bus that would take us to the big bus station.  
After a quick lunch and a quick argument (one of the only ones we had on this trip, and entirely the result of being overhungry from not eating in Kaya as originally planned), we walked over to the travel agency with plenty of time to spare.
The slim blonde girl who had originally helped us buy our bus and tour tickets was in the office.  When the shuttle bus to the otogar seemed a little late, she told us not to worry.  When it was quite late, she told us not to worry.  When it finally showed up and we showed some alarm at perhaps not making our bus, she told us not to worry.  Worried, we got on the shuttle.  Only thing was, it wasn’t really a shuttle — it was a dolmus.  We knew this, because it stopped at every dolmus stop to pick up people.  It was more than a little frustrating to be on the milk run when we were late, but about halfway into the trip, the dolmus driver was flagged down by another dolmus driver on the side of the road and appeared to be given royal heck for not getting us to the otogar on time.  The flagger-downer waved and smiled at us, and our driver put his foot to the floor.  
We pulled into the otogar and were met at the sidewalk in front by a bus guy who ran with us to the bus, where everyone was waiting for us.  I managed to gasp a tuvalet request and the driver took pity on me, and waved me off to the WC for a pre-trip pit stop.  
Really, we should have known the trip wasn’t going to go well based on how it started, but somehow we were surprised when the bus left late (later than our late arrival warranted) and dawdled at every stop.  Even though the day was baking, the heat was on full blast and the driver wouldn’t turn it off, even when I asked directly in Turkish using my guidebook.   By now I knew my accent was good enough that it wasn’t a matter of him not understanding me.  Mind you, we didn’t get stung by anything, but it was a hot, cramped, long and uncomfortable trip.  It was our second branch out from Nevsehir bus lines, which we’d taken for every trip but Cirali to Fethiye and this one, and we weren’t impressed.  
We rolled into Selcuk at just after 10pm, an hour later than we expected to be there.  When we emerged from the bus, tired and grumpy, we were greeted by a man who invited us to stay at his hotel.  Fortunately, we had the excuse that we were already booked, and we thought he’d go away.  Instead, he asked which hotel and, when we told him ‘Hotel Bella’, he disappeared for a minute.  When he reappeared, moments later, he told us that he had had the bus man call the hotel and they would send a car to pick us up in five minutes.  
It actually seemed more like two and a half minutes later that a van whipped up and loaded our bags in about a second, and deposited the bedraggled us at the door of the hotel about a minute later.  We were handed our key by a sympathetic looking Australian woman, and hauled our sorry selves into our room at the front of the hotel.  We weren’t so tired that we didn’t notice that the dark wood furniture was lovely, the lace curtains floating in the breeze charming and the tiled bathroom impeccably clean.  Even though we had booked a double, there was an extra single bed in the room, which was great for throwing down our bags on so that we could immediately slide between the crisp white sheets and fall into a dreamless sleep.

Turkey — Day Seventeen — Fethiye

October 24, Saklikent Gorge & Tlos tour

Wednesday morning dawned sunny enough. Not perfect, but sunny and cloudy and beginning with a delicious breakfast of muselix and yoghurt and honey from the mountains behind Fethiye. Amazing! The view from the terrace over Fethiye Bay with the light and shadow from the clouds was just astonishing. No wonder our host seemed to spend all his days sitting up there, smoking and looking.  

After our second entertaining attempt at showering in the little bathroom, we got ready to head out for our Tlos/Saklikent Gorge tour.  I was wearing my now-standard Turkish attire: my black capris and the 3/4 sleeve cotton shirt I had bought in Goreme. I never felt judged by what I wore, but I found myself a little comfier being mostly covered on at least one hemisphere, and, since I wore capris the most, I felt better being a little covered up on top. 
We walked down the hill and were at the travel agency (whose name has escaped me for now) before 9am, when we were supposed to be met by our bus. We waited and waited and finally, some 20 minutes late, a large dolmus showed up to take us to the big bus. There was a lovely British couple in their 60s on board already and we all reassured each other that if we were all supposed to be going to the same place it was quite likely that the bus was going in the right direction. We found many times that you just had to take things on faith in Turkey — faith that the bus would show up, faith that it was the right bus, faith that it wasn’t going to lead you astray. We were almost never disappointed.

In this case, we were driven out to the main highway going out of town, where we pulled into a gas station. A few minutes later, a big bus pulled up — like a BIG bus, like a big Mercedes highway-going bus, not the little dolmus we were expecting. We clambered onto the bus, which was almost full of octegenarians. Steve and I looked at each other and wondered if we signed up for the wrong tour! Hmmm…

After a short time, and another dolmus shuttle bringing people from the resort town of Oludeniz just down from Fethiye (and a quick trip to the very clean gas station bathroom), our tour guide (who had been outside smoking a cigarette) arrived at the front of the bus. He introduced himself as Atilla but advised us to call him ‘Ati’. He explained that when he called out ‘Ati’ that we were all to gather around him. This sounds a little strange, but actually he was hilarious and completely made the tour. On our way to the Saklikent Gorge, he explained that some people called it the ‘second longest gorge in Europe’ but they were wrong — it is in Asia! After a while on the road, wandering narrow roads through rural villages, he explained to us that we would stop at a viewpoint overlooking a river for a ‘Turkish minute’ which would be the unit of time it took him to smoke another cigarette. We all poured out of the bus, even the tottery tourguests, looked at the view and took photos and nearly got run over by a truck carrying bales of cotton. What fun!

Ati was done his cigarette in about five non-Turkish minutes and herded us back on the bus. Winding along the river road, we started to catch glimpses of a tall gorge heading into the mountains that soared about 1500m into the now-blue sky. It just looked like a narrow crack in the green hills and we were very excited to visit it. When we got to the entry area, we were given a big spiel about wearing water sandals or borrowing some cheap rubber shoes from the tourist people. Fortunately Steve and I were all prepared in shorts and Teva sandals. We were virtually the only people there who were so prepared. There was enough time for a quick pit stop before we started off on a narrow footbridge across the milky river, where we were joined by a very nice kopek. On the other side, we walked up to the entry turnstiles below the bus-bridge. This was the most controlled entry we’d seen; I guess they don’t want to lose people in the gorge!

Past the turnstile, we walked a wooden pathway suspended over the rushing water. It was very cool and felt very safe, as there were guardrails all over the place. The pathway ended at a little island thing that had a little cafe (closed for the season) and benches by the water. On the far end of the island was a white, rushing creek about 20′ across that met the pale trickle coming out of the narrow part of the gorge. The water was churned up to a glacial blue and it looked very, very cold. Ati gave everyone the option of going carefully across the torrent and then hiking up the gorge OR sitting on the benches on the side of the river. Almost everyone sat down…  Steve and I were already in the water. Ati started giving ‘how to cross the torrent’ instructions as we began to wade across. It was actually much less cold than we expected, but of course we’ve been bitten by truly glacial streams. The half-dozen people who followed us seemed to think it very chilly.

The water in the gorge itself wasn’t much over ankle deep and looked much like coffee when cream has just been added. When I bent down to take a closer look, you could even see the little curls and spirals of the sediment in the water, just like cream.

We wandered up the creek, walking on sandbars and wading through the water. In some places it got a little deeper and we were wading to above our knees. The walls of the canyon steadily narrowed until, in places, you could touch both walls at the same time. Being at the front, we had it almost to ourselves, especially given that not many people from our group were making the trip. Among them were a younger couple, the British couple we were first on the dolmus with, Ati and a few other intrepid souls. We seemed to be the only tour group going through, so the mud wasn’t too churned up. In places, trees clung to walls above the high-silt line. We were told it had been a relatively dry summer and given the evidence of how deep this place could be, we considered ourselves lucky to be coming through at low tide, as it were.

We reached a particularly deep section with a tiny waterfall at one end where Ati stopped us. We hung out there for a little while until another group came along. Ati conferred with the other guide and decided this would be our turn-around point. Left to our own devices, Steve and I would have continued on, but Ati gave us a stern eye and we reluctantly turned around. The landscape of the gorge was remarkable. When the other tourists passed out of sight around a corner, it was just magical — serene and cool and palely coloured. We were a little reluctant to leave, and might have dawdled a little… but we still made it out faster than one of the couples from our group.  I think the husband might have gotten lost, which is hard, given there are only two directions to go.    We got a little muddy on the way back, where some of the sandbars had been churned up as Ati chivvied us along. Fortunately we were all cleaned off passing back through the rushing water, where we went across one at a time I gave pointers (face upstream, that’ll help) and I took a little video of Steve.

After the obligatory time waiting around the entryway, buying and drinking overpriced visne suyu, we were back on the bus, heading towards a ‘carpet factory’ to watch a demonstration. Yeah, whatever. We were told all about how the women form a co-operative and work from home and have a very nice life. Steve and I were quite interesting in the brief demonstrations we saw, though they were much shorter than I hoped for. As we were being herded away (note a trend? we were herded a lot) from the carpet-weaving demonstration, I thanked the woman in Turkish and she turned and flashed me a huge smile. It made me wonder how many people from groups like this actually thank the ‘props’ on the tour.

After less than 10 minutes in the big, dusty ‘factory’, we were… guided into an even larger, slick wing of the building that had lots of lovely carpets hanging on the walls. Once in one of the many, many large rooms with benches around the outside, we were provided with a drink (cay for us), the REAL demonstration began! A team of young men got busy throwing out carpets onto the floor in a very flashy manner while the factory guide told us about the types and styles of carpets. It was interesting, but we were pretty sure prices where would be more expensive than elsewhere, plus we weren’t into being led around by the nose anymore. Baaaa-aaaa! I don’t think so.

At the end of the big demonstration, everyone was invited to walk around and look at the carpets on the walls. We noticed a pattern: if you stopped to look at one, a young man would appear at your elbow and ask you if you liked it. If you said yes, he would guide your unit (couple or single) into a private room and pull out a number like it. We saw a few we liked, but were quoted 1200L or more for what didn’t seem like an incredibly special carpet. We hauled out our favourite excuse, that we were going to shop for a carpet later in our trip, and were confronted with all kinds of offers for shipping. Since we had been guided into a fairly small and sparsely carpeted room, we figured they weren’t holding out a lot of hope on our purchasing power, especially when confronted with a bus load of well-heeled retirees. We used our next most successful diversionary tactic, and asked for the bathroom. After ablutions, and a few grumpy looks, we found ourselves back on the bus. After a few minutes, everyone was back on the bus, looking a little rumpled, but without any obvious carpets to their names. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally after some 20 minutes, one older gentleman was guided back onto the bus. He looked downright shaken, and I wondered if he found himself pressured into buying a carpet he couldn’t afford.

Off to lunch! Given our previous experience, we were fully expecting a cheesy tourist place, and we weren’t disappointed. We wound up into the mountains to Yakapark, which sounds worse than it was. It was a ‘trout farm’ which is to say that we didn’t see much of the farm, but it did have a cool bar with a trough in it that had live trout swimming in it. We felt a little bad for the trout as they were immediately harassed by the lone kids on the tour, but, well, they’re fish. They’ll cope. Steve got points for being able to keep his hands in the frigid water for minutes at a time, trying to tickle the trout. I’m not sure the trout were laughing, but he was told that if he could stand in the icy trout pond for five minutes, his lunch would be free! He was game to try, but frankly our lunch was already practically free given that it was included in the tour. We lined up for a buffet with fresh fried trout that was reasonably good, given its mass-produced nature, and it was very nice to settle on stone benches at stone tables under the cool trees and eat our fish. It even got a little chilly with all that stone and shade.  We paid for our drinks, thanked the waiter, enjoyed the view from the bathroom terraces and went back to the bus.

The bus swooped down the mountain road until it stopped on the side of the road. We stumbled off the bus at the amphitheatre at Tlos. 

Tlos was one of the six principal towns of the Lycian region and was a very prosperous and large city in Roman times. We learned that the port city at the end of the Xanthos valley was not a safe place to leave goods that came in though the ship trade; to keep them safe, they were immediately brought up to fortified towns on the cliffs, like Tlos.  Tlos was also the reported town where the hero Bellerophon lived with his winged horse, Pegasus.  Of course the horse aspect was immediately interesting to me!
The theatre was lovely, though quite tumbled.  Further down the road, the baths were being reconstructed and were quite amazing, perched on the side of the cliff.  We were some of the last to leave the site (given the overall age of our tour-mates, we were pretty sure we could catch them up).  The older man who had been last out of the carpet factory lingered behind us.  We didn’t want to be forward, but for a moment, we were concerned that he might have been so over-carpeted that he’d fling himself off the edge.  We were relieved to see him tottering up shortly behind us. 
Along the side of the road, we saw lovely arches and fields of pomegranate trees, a broad flat expanse that would have been the stadium, with a ruined Ottoman castle behind.  We came across a few cafes meant to service the tourist trade, and about half the group decided to stop there and rest while the other half went and hiked up to the castle.  I lagged behind a little while I looked at a stall with little slate carvings of bais reliefs of Bellerophon.  My initial reaction was that they seemed a bit cheesy and mass-produced, until I realized that the woman behind the stall was actually carving them right there!  I bought one and a little carved pendant shaped like a Lycian kitty.  Well, a kitty, anyway — I don’t know if it’s Lycian.
Having taken a bit of time over my choices, I turned and realized all the group were halfway up the hill.  I jogged up the hill to meet them, and arrived just as Ati was giving the spiel about the Lycian rock-cut tombs.  They are shaped the way they are to mimic Lycian houses, which had large wooden beams holding up the roof.  Interesting!  I was suddenly glad of all those stupid hills we’d been walking up in Fethiye that let me catch everyone up so fast.
We walked the rest of the way up to the castle, and then up the worn and cracked stairs carved right into the outcropping of stone to the top of the ‘castle’.  One side of the stairs was cut off by a sheer drop onto the little plateau below.  No handrails, no ropes, no chains, no nothing.  I can just imagine that if a hapless tourist had fallen off, it would have been met with the ubiquitous Turkish shrug (UTS) of the ‘should’ve been more careful’ nature.
Steve and I were the last on the top of the keep, and I felt a little vertigo-y standing up unsupported to take his photo.  That said, the view was phenomenal and I’m glad we climbed up.  Back to the cafe, where Ati was taking a ‘Turkish minute’ and that gave me some time to buy two Magnums and jump back on the bus!  We were tired and a little gritty, but we had a great day.  Ati kept up his entertaining patter until we arrived back at the gas station, where we and the Brits transferred to the little dolmus and were whisked back to Fethiye.  
We felt like we arrived back just in time as the heavens opened up and the thunderstorms began again.  After cleaning up at the pension, we decided to head out for dinner.  We saw our host, who, upon hearing where we went for the day, pouted a little and said we should have booked the tour through him.  We refrained from mentioning that we had tried, and he said there weren’t any available…  
The young English girls had purchased a rather lovely carpet bag made of a kilim and trimmed with leather.  It was very lovely and I admired it, though I thought the price tag of 260L was a little steep.  After the girls left, the young woman who was the cook and housekeeper kind of rolled her eyes.  I was able to ask her if the girls overpaid, and she thought so.  She suggested a more appropriate price of 150L and I was quite excited about the prospect of getting a nice bag.  She said she’d take me out to look at bags tomorrow morning.  Ok!  
We couldn’t put off venturing into the downpour any longer as we needed to get to the eczane for more cough syrup before dinner.  Cowering under the little umbrella we had purchased yesterday at the market, we scampered back down the hill to get the syrup and then eat again at the Park Cafe, so conveniently situated and — most importantly — with a fireplace!  We sat right next to the fireplace and splurged on rack of lamb for some 16L.  Cok nefis!  
Finally we could no longer tarry any longer, and left the comfort of the fire for the cold rain and went back up the hill (!) to the pension where, once again, we fell asleep to the sound of thunder.