Our first glimpse of the Mediterranean
Mahmet, our driver from Goreme,is a big burly man. He quietly offered the possibililty of driving us to the coast, when we went in to his travel agency to try to arrange air transportation. We looked at buses, flights and finally settled on accepting his offer. Mahmet is larger than life, with a huge love and understanding of his country, he chatted non stop on the long journey, sharing personal stories as well as historical and political perspectives of Turkey. We learned a lot from him, and the miles slipped away painlessly.
It was a really good decision to have driven from Goreme, we drove over the Taurus mountains, yes there was a bit of snow at the top of the range.
We drove along the old silk road, which is part of an historic old network of trade roads. The road was used to transport goods from the East to the West, and maybe vice versa?. Of course it is a paved highway now. Still it felt interesting to be driving on such a historic path. We stopped at an old Caravanseray, which has been turned into a museum.
In this one there was an open courtyard and then an interior covered portion. Mahmet explained this type of caravanseray could be used in the winter and summer. The silk highways were known to be perilous to tradespeople, and many robberies occured. These walled buildings made the journeys safer. As we left the caravansary we saw hand made rugs lying on the road for the cars to run over, surprised, we asked Mahmet what the rugs were doing there. He explained that the people laid them out on the road for cars to run over as this softened the wool and made them more pleasant to walk on.
Mahmet drove us through the city of Konya - the home of the Whirling Dervishes and Rumi's tomb. There were huge crowds here as it was a weekend and many Turkish families were travelling. We decided to press on but Mahmet did do a city driving tour for us.
He bypassed the large and bustling city of Antalya as we had asked and drove us to Cirali, a friendly little village right next to the old old village of Olympos. After stopping for a cup of tea, he left us by the pool of the Canada Hotel.
I guess it's called the Canada Hotel because Carrie is from Calgary. Her Turkish husband Saban and Carrie own the place. The Canada Hotel is set in the semi tropics, there are hedgehogs in the garden and palm trees and other tropical plants. There are bicycles free for the taking, and the area is flat and there are few vehicles so it is ideally suited to bikes.
Cirali is an ideal swimming beach, pleasant temperature, gradual slope, and no currents or tidal forces to drag us in or out.
Just down the beach are the Lycian ruins of Olympos. They are picturesquely located on either side of a beautiful river which leads out to the sea. We were early in our ruin viewing and so were overwhelmed with the leafy jungle silence covering the centuries old buildings. It seems the way of life has been consistant over the years. Each ruin we have visited has baths, for communal washing, an area for shopping, a church or religious building, and an amphitheater for entertainment - all of these can be found in the modern cities of today.
Even the details of the Roman gate still remain.
Today's Olympus itself is a one street village, with pensions and restaurants. We stopped for an orange juice, and headed back.
The Chimaera is a bit of a mystery. Imagine this. We got a ride to a trail head just outside of Cirili just after sunset. We started up a steepish trail in the dark for about one kilometer, the trail was very uneven and we had flashlights. There were many people on the trail despite the darkness and the quality of the trail; we could hear many different European and Russian tongues. After a while, we started seeing fires in the distance. Eventually we made it up to the fires. Apparently, rumour has it that the first olympic torches were lit from these flames. They have been burning unaided for centuries, and people told us that you can extinguish them temporarily with water, but they start burning again in just a few minutes.
Saban went out of his way to be helpful to us. He had several staff people, and all of them were so friendly and helpful too. One person that stands out was another man called Mahmet. We never saw him without a huge smile on his face, as our days progressed we started to learn about him. Like many people in the tourist trade, he comes from a different part of Turkey to work from April to November and then goes back home again. Brad and Mahmet had some extremely entertaining, competitive games of ping pong. Mahmet sheepishly confessed to being a city ping pong champion after he won! We have heard that some people leave their wives and children to work 14 to 17 hour days and occasionally, at the end of the season, if the profits are not good, the servers have to go home empty handed! This will not be the case for Mahmet and the other staff at the Canada Hotel. It struck us as a well run operation.
As we left Cirali for Kas, we hugged everyone goodbye. This is how Turkey is, so friendly and kind.