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.