Monday, October 22.
The morning dawned… thundery. Steve was still back down at the beach for sunrise, such as it was. I was in bed, coughing.
We had been thinking of leaving a little later in the day in the hopes that it would clear up and we’d get one last swim in, but the bus ride was reported as being a little on the long side (five hours or so to Fethiye) and the weather didn’t appear to be co-operative, so we decided to head out of Cirali on the early side, and asked Saban to get us on the dolmus going up the hill at just after 10 am.
Next thing we knew, we were lock stock & barrel (including my bag of wet laundry which hadn’t dried due to the thunderstorms) loaded onto a dolmus (for which we paid our 5L each without quibble) and were whisked up to the highway.. in the sun. Yes, the sun came out and we could have maybe managed a last swim, but it was better to be on the way. We had been anticipating a long and warm wait on the side of the road waiting for the bus to Fethiye to arrive, but there it was, parked on the side of the road, waiting for us. Apparently the dolmus driver had called the Fethiye bus to let them know that us and the other couple in the bus were wanting a ride. Awwww!
The bus stopped first in Kumluca, then in the little town of Finike, just past Kumluca, where we had driven through on the way to Myra on Friday. We had pretty much written Finike off as condo hell. If the Beatles had written that the boxes made of ticky-tacky were all the same but painted pretty colours, it would be Finike. I stepped off the bus and found a little shop where I got two ice-creams, two simits, some juice and fruit. We still had the pomegranates in our packs from when the young man had given them to us on the road down to Cirali. We just hadn’t had the chance to eat them!
We were back on our way after a short stop, but it didn’t stick. We were on the milk run, which is why the trip was going to take so long. By my estimate, if you drove, it would be more like three-four hours. We managed (ok, I managed) the windy bit between Finkike and Demre by virtue of a 1/4 Gravol. People were let off all over the place: bus stations, gas stations, side of the road.
It was quite exciting to pass Demre and into uncharted territory. Inland, we were faced with endless rolling hills, greenhouses, partially built-houses, fully-built houses with solar panels, and mosques and minarets soaring above every little village. It was a lovely drive, and we found ourselves sorry we hadn’t stopped for a night or two in Patara, where a few people were dropped off. It was a beautiful area, and, having driven through a thunderstorm, it was also sunny. Next time! We gently envied the couple who got off there.
By the end of the ride, we were envious of pretty much anyone who got to get off the bus.
Pulling into Fethiye at 3:30 in the afternoon, we jumped off the bus in the lovely sun where we stood for a minute, and blinked a bit, and were immediately accosted by a… let’s call him a gentleman… who really, really wanted us to stay at his hotel. He was very, very pushy, though Steve bore the brunt of it as I raced for the washroom. Part of the problem was that, truth be told, we didn’t actually have reservations in Fethiye. We had gone there without a place to stay, thinking we could easily enough find ourselves a place to stay. Our first planned stop was the tourist information booth, but first we made the unplanned stop of lunch: running the gauntlet of aggressive hotel guys and insistent taxi people, we went across the street to a little greasy spoon. We were the only tourists there and the waiters seemed more than a little puzzled by us, though they agreeably took us over to the kitchen and pointed at food stuff.
To play it safe, we got a set of pide and a salad, all of which were delicious. The best of restaurants: ocooz & nefis (cheap & delicious)! We also got directions to the street where we could catch the dolmus into town. It was one block to the gas station and then we were on the right road… but where to catch the bus? This was our first experience with a wild dolmus, as opposed to the captive ones that run only on one road. We captured our bus by standing in front of a blue sign with a white “D” on it, and waving it down. We were most surprised to see a huge dog on board, but we paid our few kurush, patted the dog, and took a seat. Most of the other passengers who found the dog were less happy about the situation: most passed their money up to the driver, avoiding any contant with the kopek; others refused to get on the bus at all. We ascertained that it was most unusual to see a dog on a bus.
The dolmush only took maybe ten minutes to get into town proper, and it let us off at the tourist office which was right on the main drag. Incidentally, the maps in the Lonely Planet seem to cover much more ground than they actually do. Just as Turkish kilometres seem longer than Canadian ones, the blocks seem shorter. Or something. In any case, it took much less time to walk anywhere in Turkey than the map indicated it ought to, and no time at all to get to the tourist office.
In the tourist office, we met a lovely woman who was surprised as heck that we had any Turkish words at all. We picked up a map, and some interesting pamphlets on Turkish food, and chatted about hotels. We had been thinking to stay at the Horizon Hotel, which seemed to have decent reviews from the LP for the hotels that seemed central to the main part of town (though the reality is that everywhere would have been central). The woman in the tourist office seemed a little reluctant to recommend it, though we weren’t sure why. She suggested walking up onto the narrow road that went above the tourist office (accessed by stairs beside the Roman theatre) and see if we liked any of the hostels in that area.
We took the stairs and found ourselves on a little alley absolutely full of cats. The kitties were charming… the little Tan Pansiyon not so much. We walked up the stairs and knocked on things, and yelled ‘hello’ in English and Turkish, and waited. And waited. And a man came out into the stairway to advise that he was a guest, and the older owners were either asleep or away, but it was a nice place and cheap. We were personally getting a bit of a squiffy feeling from it that was not alleved by the 25L per night charge, and decided to walk on a little to see if we liked anywhere else better.
Half a block down the street, we found ourselves at a crossroads, and just up the hill we saw the Ideal Pension, which had also been noted in the LP as having a retired schoolteacher owner who was very eager to please and provided lots of extras for longer stays. Sure! we thought — we’ll take a look. We walked up the hill and up the stairs, and I was some short of breath by the time we reached the top floor terrace where our host was sitting, smoking. He showed us a room on the second floor, at the front western corner of the building with a double bed crowned by arched window and muslin curtain, and a tiny little patio all to ourselves. I suspect it was the nicest room in the house, based on the glimpse I got of the room next door, which was much darker and had no view.
The room was nice, the terrace had an amazing view, and the price was only 30L per night. plus I was coughing and wanted to get a room so we could go out find some cough syrup. Sold!
I took the wet laundry from my backpack — that was a long, hard slog up the hill with the weight of wet laundry — and spread it all over the chair and table on the nice breezy balcony. I also took the coat rack from the room out to act as my impromptu line.
The bathroom in this room was really quite bizarre: the step up into the bathroom was easily two feet tall, which was too tall for comfort even for Steve. In the bathroom, which was all tiles and about 3′ by 3′ total, the showerhead sprayed right down onto the toilet, which you would have to huddle over in order to wash in the spray. Excellent!
We went and chatted to our host, who may have been newly-retired and eager to please when that entry was first made in the LP… now he was still very nice, but older, and tired, and was not able to arrange any tour to the Saklikent Gorge or Tlos for us, as it was too late in the season. We were pretty sure we’d be able to get a tour through one of the travel agencies down by the tourist information place, or rent a car there if we chose. Besides, we weren’t in any hurry as Tuesday was earmarked for the Fethiye Market, which Lisa (whom we had met in Goreme) had said was great: really ethnic and tribal. Cool!
In the face of an impending thunderstorm, we headed out on a mission for dinner and cough syrup. Just down the hill and down the street, after passing a carpet shop with a rather nice selection on the front steps, we found the wharf. We walked down the wharf, passing stray dogs, beautiful wooden gullets and fishermen mending nets while sitting on wooden boxes. It was charming. A little further down, we found a grocery store where we bought some extra t.p. (what was on offer in the bathroom was not particularly heartening), some tissues, a knife to cut our pomegranates, some visne suyu in glass bottles and some Magnums. They did not have a pharmacy, as I found out while frantically flipping through the phrasebook, but there was an eczane across the street and down a bit.
Over at the pharmacy, we were delighted to find out that the pharmacists knew the words for ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ coughs, and immediately pulled out a box containing a rather formidible-looking cough syrup for only 6L. We were told later on that pharmacists in Turkey have much more power of perscribing medications without a doctor’s script than Canadian pharmacists. The couch syrup wasn’t thick or overly sweet, and tasted nicely of vanilla. Mmmm! Thus fortified, we went to find dinner.
By this time we were much more tired than we should have been, given our level of activity. We found a random restaurant on the pier (I think it had orange chairs) and sat down for a very adequate meze and shish. It was all very ok, but we were hungry. We saw on the news on the tv that the US was in trouble over something: we’d caught wind of the situation in Goreme but hadn’t had much contact in Cirali, given that my wireless internet didn’t work there.
After dinner, we ambled back to the hostel in the rising breeze and were delighted to find that all my clothes were dry. Mind you, my polarfleece jacket smelled a little funny, but oh well. I brought the plastic table from the balcony into the room so that we’d have somewhere to stash our stuff, opened the window above the bed (which made the curtains float in the breeze like some romantic novel), and went to bed.