A Travellerspoint blog

A Bucket List Item

Hiking The Lycian Way

semi-overcast 22 °C

It's nice to have things on one's bucket list. Helps to set goals, the anticipation as the opportunity comes up and of course the ultimate act of crossing the item off are all neat aspects of a bucket list. It is important I think, to sit back and savour the moment and to measure the propriety of actually having the item on your list. This is what I have done with hiking the Lycian Way, an activity crossed off our list yesterday.

Did it deserve being on my list? Please read on.

We started off just after breakfast, drove our rented car to a pebble beach near the trail head and found a "free parking" area. No sooner had we parked, then a lovely old Turkish lady came hurrying out of her house and invited us in for tea. We graciously declined but recognized that we would likely have to drop buy for tea after returning from the hike.

We started towards the trail and soon caught up with a group of German hikers who looked to be outfitted for an ascent of Everest. Squall proof umbrellas, GPS, hiking boots that look like they cost as much as a car and hiking poles that resembled a navy seal tool being replete with compasses and flashlights. We smugly strode past them, armed only with our Tilly's and Teva's, promptly took a wrong turn and quickly appreciated the GPS and the deep throated voice directing us dummpkoff's to "go up here yah".

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Feeling slightly less smug, we thanked our new trail mates and hurried on. The trail soon narrowed to a single lane for hiking and we slowed to appreciate the significance of being on a trail that dates back to the Lycian period. The idea was to hike along the coast line to a tiny village called Limanagzi, and then to take a water taxi back. We followed the coast line stopping here and there to appreciate tiny houses, amazing sea views and to appreciate the beautiful butterflies, birds and insects that we spotted along the way.

Suddenly Brad spotted a Lycian tomb majestically sitting on some flat rocks just above us. OMG, it was a wonderful sight to see! What a special moment! After taking some pictures, we moved on and soon came to a fork in the trail where we had to decide whether or not to choose the cliff trail or the seemingly safer hill trail. Of course we chose the cliff trail.


Almost immediately, the trail got more difficult. First up then down then up and down all over again as we edged closer and closer to the cliff...the precipice really. Finally we started a steep descent, one that was so close to the cliff edge that we had to use the well tied ropes to lower our selves and to keep us tight to the cliff face. Once again, Brad (who was leading) spotted a tomb right against the cliff face. We were able to step inside this one where Sue offered a short prayer for the person who once occupied the tomb.

We finished traversing the cliff face and worked our way to the tiny village. Of course the Germans were already there and were swimming in the Mediterranean. They were pleased to see us and asked us about the cliff trail and we asked them about the "easier" hill trail. Turns out they enjoyed their hike but did not see any tombs and did not traverse any cliff faces. Of course we felt superior once again. We called it Canada 2 (tombs and cliff face) to Germany one (the GPS correction).

Feeling a bit tired, we worked our way out on the dock and approached what we thought was the water taxi only to find out that the only boats there were private charters and we were going to have to charter our way back. We didn't have a lot of bargaining power as we did not want to hike all the way back to Kas. We grudgingly paid the ransom, jumped on the boat and started back towards Kas when we remembered that we were actually parked at the pebble beach just outside of town. The crew happily agreed to drop us at the beach there...all was good.

As we approached the beach head, we soon noticed that there was no dock there. As the bay leading up to the beach amplified the wave action we were soon in 6 foot swells approaching the beach. The beach also had a big drop off and I soon started feeling like we were approaching the beaches of Normandy. My back pack seemed to get heavier by the minute and the waves seemed to get bigger. After a few moments of tense consideration, the boat crew decided to approach the rocks on one side of the beach and selected a small landing area about two square feet in size. The water was very deep in front of the rock and with the boat bouncing up and down, I knew that if we did not make an accurate jump from the boat to the rock then we wre going to be in 9 or 10 feet of water and in 6 foot swells. Not a thought for the faint of heart. To make matters worse, a large gorgeous dog belonging to the beach house owner, was beside himself with curiosity and chose our tiny jump to rock as his personal watching platform. I went first, lept with full leg power and, using the upswell motion of the waves and landed right beside the curious canine. I grabbed onto him to avoid falling backward into the churning sea. The dog was strong and helped me reagin my balance. I was safely ashore!


Then it was Sue's turn and she nimbly stepped up to the bow and in a graceful jump also landed precariously by Mr Curiosity. Brad and Heather soon followed and with us all safely ashore, the captain quickly backed out of the bay and waved goodbye.

We returned to our car, there was no sign of the sweet old lady so we we drove back to our hotel. Thinking back, we met some nice people, had an amazing hike, saw some very cool Lycian ruins, had a boat ride and had a dramatic landing.

Was it worth it, did it belong on our bucket list....Oh Yeah!!

Another amazing Turkish experience.


Posted by hbwatson 11:55 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

And Then There Was Mustafa

Sixteen hour days

sunny 27 °C

It’s my turn now to describe our encounter with Mustafa and his family. Mustafa is 27 years old. He runs the Yoruk Restaurant in Cirali on the Mediterranean coast along with his mother, father and uncle.
He worked for a number of years at other restaurants/hotels in the area, saved his money and was able to open this restaurant that he has built all by himself. He is very proud of his new kitchen and the creative touches he has added throughout the restaurant.

Sue, Wayne and I had a lunch here on our way back from touring the Olympos ruins one day. The meal was amazing, fresh pide (Turkish pizza) made in the fire brick oven,
homemade chicken soup and very fresh Farmer’s salad – tomato, cucumber, onion, olive oil and fresh mint,...yummy. Mustafa was most attentive, checking in with us, answering our questions and happy to point out all the details of his restaurant. Although their English was very limited, both of his parents made sure that they came and greeted us as well. His father is in charge of preparing the freshly squeezed orange juice and his mother makes the gozeleme (Turkish stuffed pancakes made on a round griddle).
When we paid the bill, Mustafa pinned a little evil eye ornament on each of our shirts – such a sweet touch and very meaningful for us all.

That same evening, Brad and I headed back there for dinner. Mustafa seated us in one of his raised table areas – remove your shoes and climb on in amongst Turkish carpets and cushions. It was very cosy.

He brought us fresh flat bread from the brick oven along with a selection of cold mezes (Turkish appetizers) that were all so seasoned to perfection; yogurt like you have never tasted before.
As we asked Mustafa more about himself and his business it was easy to see what a hard worker he is. He was trying to explain what the name of his restaurant ment ‘Yoruk’. Between our lack of Turkish and his limited English we were struggling to work out the meaning. But have no fear, google is here! Mustafa ran off and got his laptop, brought it to our table. He went to Wikipedia and there was the definition – Yoruk means nomadic people of Turkey. It is a way to describe his family’s life, as in the summer they live near the beach in Cirali and in the winter they live 10km away in the mountains.

Well, one thing led to another and before you know it, we were explaining all about Trip Advisor to Mustafa. He was so interested in learning. Of course there were no reviews about his restaurant but we were able to show him some of his competition. We told him we would write a review about his restaurant for him. He was so pleased and so were his parents when he told them. We were given a very warm farewell; including Turkish cheek greeting and big hugs from them all.
The next morning we returned to take photos to post on trip advisor. They were all ready and waiting to be photographed, polishing the restaurant to perfection – so proud that they soon would be seen on the internet. Sue and Wayne were waiting patiently for us on the other side of the bridge in the car, ready to start our road trip to Kas. Of course, we were served a cup of tea (I had to bolt back Brad’s as well as it was too hot for him!). Mustafa had been thinking a lot about trip advisor overnight, as he wanted to make sure we gave very good directions to his restaurant. Both of his parents were most grateful, his mother giving me a posy of carnations when we left.

I look forward to seeing where our ‘internet relationship’ leads. Heather

Posted by hbwatson 12:13 Comments (1)

The Real Hidden Treasures of Turkey

Kindness & Generosity at Every Turn!

sunny 26 °C

We did not know what to expect of the Turkish people. Would there be some animosity of our status, our lack of speaking Turkish, or our ignorace of their Islamic religion? We had heard some feedback from some other friends who have travelled to Turkey about the friendliness of the people, but until you encounter it yourself and compare it to other places you have travelled to, only then can the friendliness & the generosity of the Turkish people be put in to perspective. Well it did not take long to find out.


We have met many people who have gone out of their way to help us, give us outstanding service, and bring a smile to our faces. We have kept a list of all of these people who have touched us in this special way. We would like to tell you about 4 people in particular, who, whenever we say their names, a big smile comes to our faces and we think to ourselves “what an incredible human being”. The first blog entry on these amazing people will be about our good friend from Goreme, in the land of the cave houses...


We met Hassan, the owner of the Vineyard Cave Hotel in Goreme. Hassan is about 50 years old and runs this hotel with his equally gregarious wife and 2 nieces. Their children help out when they are not in school. Hassan grew up in Goreme in one of the original cave houses that date back hundreds of years. He built the Vineyard Hotel over the last two years. It is a beautiful boutique hotel with breathtaking views overlooking the town and the mountains from the terrace.
When we arrived, Hassan greeted us, with a bigger than life smile, and offered us a cup of tea stating “this is now your new home”. He packed all of our luggage up the long flight of stairs by himself, including Sue and Wayne’s 50lb, “big blue Bertha”. I was not feeling well, in the middle of a nasty cold and Hassan asked if he could bring me some fresh mint and lemon tea with grape syrup that he made himself. The tea arrived along with 3 little bowls of fresh hazelnuts, almonds and peanuts. The next day there was a gentle knock on our door and there was Hassan delivering me breakfast in bed, along with a mint tea and he said, “you will soon feel better my friend”. Later that day, without any request, more complimentary tea and nuts are delivered as I am reading on the terrace. He then invites Wayne and I to come upstairs later that evening to watch the Turkish national championship soccer game with his friends and family.
Hassan & I had some amazing conversations. I would ask questions about: how he built this hotel, what a typical work day is like (he works 14-16 hour days), politics and religion. He answered all my questions with sincerity and honesty. I learned so much about this amazing man and the Turkish culture.
Next day we asked about booking hot air balloon rides and again he went beyond the expected with no monetary reward as he called many companies for us, managing to get us a nice discount with the company we chose. He requested no money up front and simply trusted us to pay for the balloon rides before we checked out and he would relay the money to the balloon company later.
One evening, he stood in our room and told us snippets about his life – how he met his wife, and some of his other joyful life events. He had Heather and I laughing and saying “wow” many times.
On our departure, he gave us a Turkish kiss on each cheek, a big hug and told us we were now considered family. Hassan once again flashed us his ever present, light up your world smile, and said, “ you are welcome to my home always”. I think we all had a tear in our eye as we pulled our suitcases to the car.


Posted by hbwatson 06:20 Comments (0)

The Pigeon Valley Hike

A Man and His Dog

sunny 24 °C

In the Goreme region of Cappadocia there are many wonderful hiking hills and canyons. We decided one day to go for a hike in the Pigeon valley. We asked for directions and then headed off for the bus station. After a short wait, the bus arrived to take us up the 5K steep hill to the town of Uschisar. After getting off the bus, we wandered through the town for a bit and then started asking directions for the trail head. It took several tries for two reasons...English is pretty much non-existent up here and two, it is a difficult trail head to find. Many of the locals were more comfortable in French so after a few tries, we found what we were sure was the trail head and started down a steep path to the floor valley.

When we reached the valley, we immediately noticed that is was quieter and cooler down there. We started walking along a well marked trail lined with beautiful trees (including apricot and walnut), babbling brooks and singing song birds. The valley cliffs were full of caves (on both sides of the valley). All of these caves had once been homes for families that lived in the valley.

We hiked for several kilometres where on our left, way up the steep hillside was the town of Uschisar and on the other steep side were abandoned caves that were all now homes to thousands of pigeons.

Along the way, we bumped into Denis and Lou, a couple from Montreal. We immediately got along with them and they soon were leading the way. At this point Heather spotted a man way up at the top of the cliff side above us. Impossibly, he was descending the steep cliff side largely by using his jeans as brakes (along with his backside).

Assuming that he must be a desperate carpet salesman hoping to pounce on a couple of trapped tourists, we picked up the pace. Moments later, we came to an impasse, an complete precipice type drop to the continuation of the trail below us. It looked like our only option was to hike all the way back and look for a way out of the valley. Shocked once again,we now realized that the man who had descended the steep cliff side had now mysteriously appeared right behind us. Nervously, we huddled together to start our way back.

The man pretended to be checking the leaves on some olive trees near by and as we started to pass by him he offered that it was a long way back and that some people had died trying to descend the precipice from where we had just turned back. Heather asked him how to get back on the trail and he offered to show us. He introduced us to his beautiful canine companion called Sarkozy who looked to be a border collie cross. Very skeptically, we agreed to let him show us the way...and so our real adventure began.

Amazingly, we noticed that Achmed, our new guide had loafers on. Even more amazing was the fact that the loafers had no backs on them. And yet he was as sure footed as a mountain goat. He started to lead us on a maze of trails..trails that appeared out of nowhere and so we climbed first up and then down. I was walking behind Denis and he asked me "Wayne, are we crazy to be following this guy?" I really didn't know how to answer as I was really nervous about being led in a direction towards which we would be completely dependant on Achmed. I kind of figured that we had him out numbered but then I remembered the ease with which he traversed the mountain and figured that Denis and I would give him no fight at all. We decided that we would trust the women's intuition and so we trudged on.

Achmed led us on the most interesting of journeys. Turned out that he knows the valley like the back of his hand. We traversed narrow path ways with steep walls on one side and sharp drops on the other. At one point, we entered a tunnel that was so long and narrow that I started to feel claustrophobic. Remembering the theme "there's an App for that, I pulled my trusty Iphone out of my pocket and used the flashlight App to light my way.

After hiking for 30 minutes or so, Achmed led us to an Oasis of sorts, right smack in the middle of the Pigeon Valley.

It was here that we met the wonderful and charming Hassan. We were invited to sit in the shade under some walnut trees and soon we offered drinks. Hassan made freshly squeezed orange juice (we watched him squeeze the oranges) and for others he made delicous tea.

Both Achmed and Hassan were charming hosts and loved hearing about Canada and about how much we loved Turkey.

They especially loved Sue's name as su means water in Turkish.

At one point Hassan showed up with a bag the contents of which we could not see. Looking back guiltilly now, I remember thinking that he was goine to try to sell us some stuff. He surprised us by asking us to participate in a Turkish quiz. Imagine our surprise when he said that he had a prize for each correctly answered question. Hassan said the none of us could win twice and his question selection ensured that each of us would win a prize. His first question was "what is the name of the first Turkish prime minister...Heather quickly thundered out the correct reply of Attaturk. Her prize was a Turkish figurine. Sue one the next figurine and and after a few minutes we each had a nice gift from a man who's only possessions were a tin roofed shack and a couple of chairs (and and orange squeezer). It was time to leave so we said goodbye to Hassan after giving him some money.

Achmed led us down the trail again and after a few minutes, he was pointing us in the direction of Goreme. After giving Achmed a substantial sum for helping us we proceeded on without our guide. We had to climb down a steep hill to the trail below and when we looked back, Achmed was waving to us with Sarkozy at his side. It is impossible to imagine that such a thing would have happened to us. Clearly Achmed was looking for a guide opportunity but he really did help us out of a jam and gave us the most superb experience in doing so.


We won't forget Achmed, Hassan and Sarkozy for a long time.


Posted by hbwatson 12:03 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

The Hammam

Heaven and Hell

Blissful is the best way we can describe our hammam experience. We were handed a pair of underwear in a fancy little bag, a fresh scrubbing sponge and a crisp clean pestemal (turkish towel) large enough to cover everything. We were then escorted to a change room, with individual changing stalls - if you so desired- and lockers. From here we were led to the resting area where freshly cleaned women were gathered to rest and sip delicious juices and tea. We were greeted by two short (even shorter than Heather) smiling attendants, both dressed in similar fashion to us.

Then the journey began. We were shown where to lie on the large heated marble stone in the middle of the room. Lying on our backs we looked up to the ceiling to see natural light filtering through the artfully carved stone ceiling. The stone was the perfect temperature; not too hot, hot too cold. As we laid there, we found ourselves drifting into a meditative state. All around were other women at various stages of bathing.

Completely relaxed, our attendants returned and starting gently pouring warm water over our bodies. It was a bit shocking to open our eyes and see rather large pendulous breasts within inches of our faces - but somehow it made us feel as though we were all sharing in the experience together. First was the scrubbing with the exfoliating mitt; front and back. If felt invigorating and not painful in the least. Although, we were astonished to see the amount of skin coming off.

Next, it was on to the washing - suds were applied to our entire body and the women gently massaged and washed us from head to toe. Time for the rinse; several more buckets of warm water were poured over our bodies. We were then led to the basins where we had our hair washed and more warm water poured over us. To our surprise, we also has the opportunity to relax in a warm jacuzzi type pool. A little bit of heaven here on earth! Sue and I then rinsed each other off at one of the basins and headed out of the bathing room where we were handed a fluffy, warm towel.

We were offered a drink and relaxed and rehydrated with other women. We both commented on the strong and powerful female energies surrounding us. We can't wait for wine on our terrace and dinner out with our two men. We feel fantastic!!! Heather and Sue

On the other hand.......

From everything that we have read, a Hamman (turkish bath) is an experience that is not to be missed. The ladies of course were dead set on partaking while Brad and I were somewhat sceptical. On one particularly hot day, after we had already spent alot of time touring one of Istanbul's many fantastic sites, the ladies decided that now was the time to indulge themselves. We men tried to entice them othewise what with talk of wine on the terrace after a nice dinner etc. They were not to be dissuaded and stated that they were not going to delay but were going to experience the Hamman bath right away. So, we had to decide right then whether to join the ladies or to have a cold beer on the terrace. Not quite sure how we got there, but we ended up tagging along somewhat nervously all the while wondering whether or not this was a manly thing to do...especially since having a cold beer on the terrace was well within our comfort zone. The thought of being scrubbed by a man definitely created a" pucker factor' for us so again, I'm not sure how we ended up going with the ladies.

Ozzie at the front desk of our hotel confirmed a Lonley Planet recommendation and off we went to the Cemberlitas Hammam, one dating back to the 1500's. We paid the fee, kissed the ladies good bye and nervously huddled together towards the beckoning host. We were scurried upstairs into a small room, told to change (yes, down to buck naked), to wrap a towel around ourselves, and to present ourselves to the next host. We dragged out the undressing part for as long as we felt comfortable, wrapped ourselves in the facecloth that they called a towel, and gingerly left the safe confines of the change room.

Yet another host aggressivley waved us over, we were sent downstairs and into an enormous room full of hustle and bustle. Men were prostrate on a huge marble slab and sweating profusely. Some were being scrubbed vigorously, others (hosts) were cleaning the floors. It was daunting to say the least and it was very hot in there for sure. Wow was I missing that cold beer. We noticed that the scrubbers all appeared to be past members of the Turkish Greco Roman wrestling team.

We quietly found a spot on the marble slab and lay down. I immediately knew what a side of ribs feels like when placed on a hot Bar B Q. Squealing in pain, I hopped off only to be told to get back on there (by yet another muscle bound host). Soon the pain of searing heat morphed into kind of numbing agony. I started to sweat, just a little at first but soon there was a puddle around me that could have passed for a small lake. Again, how I missed that cold beer.

We tried to avoid being noticed but soon we were being yelled at..yes yelled at in turkish. Beckoning aggressively for us to come over, we hung the facecloth in front of us, and duck walked slowly over to the scrubbers. My guy must have been a gold medalist. He man handled me like I was a lump of dough. Threw a bucket of soapy suds over me and proceeded to scrub me within an inch of my life. I was trying to hang on for dear life. Long forgotten was the fact that I had chosen this over a cold beer. Now, I was simply trying to keep my kidneys below my waist line and my testes away from the mauling hands. More skin came off my face then I thought I had on my entire body.

My arms, my legs, my head, my back, front and almost everything else was scrubbed down at least two layers of epidermis. We were then thrown into the turkish rinse cycle. Blinded by the soap, suddenly, our heads were snapped backwards as bucket after bucket of rinse water was flung at our faces at warp speed. Finally he was done. I felt like an overcooked noodle.

Hoping to make a hasty retreat with my tail between my legs, I started to make a run for it but Hassan soon had me in a hold that rendered me putty once again. Then Hassan started showing us why he was also once a Chiropractic student. Bending me this way and that, I heard popping sounds that had me thinking someone had put popcorn in the microwave. This guy could beat the crap out of a grizzly bear. Man I was glad when he flashed a toothy grin and said "finish".

Barely able to move, he pushed us into the shower where we slowly resusitated. I must admit, I did feel alot better but found myself wondering why I had paid for this.

Brad and I met back at the room, changed and headed back downstairs to wait for the ladies.

Yet another amazing Turkish experience.

Photos not included with this blog for obvious reasons!!!

Posted by hbwatson 09:47 Comments (1)

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