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Trip to Turkey September 2004
Monday, September 13, 2004

The campsite Dereli was wonderful enough that if we had more time we would have liked to stay, but we had other places to explore, so in the morning, our clothes were dry, we did our morning toiletries, had a wonderful Turkish breakfast at the restaurant inside the campground and got on the road.  This turned out to be our last good Turkish breakfast for a while because we were approaching an area in which restaurants don't normally serve breakfast.

Now we moved from flat coastline to hillier roads and started seeing a strange sight. The restaurants along the road had long horizontal pipes attached to the sides of their building, about ten feet up, which were spilling water onto the road in front of the restaurant.  We have no idea why they were doing this nor where they got the water from nor how they paid for it.  Some days later we saw a man washing his car under one of the pipes.  Maybe they were like fountains?  Maybe they draw tourists in who will ask.  We certainly would have had we not been full of Turkish breakfast and running low on cash.

By 11:30am we were on the back road to Kusadasi (Kooshadesuh - bird island).  We bought our 2nd blanket at a store just 3 blocks beyond the touristy market.  We found an ATM and replenished our cash.  Kooshadesuh is worth seeing but we didn't stay very long because we were feeling pressed for time. 

We soon realized the there were lots of restaurant/gas station combinations on the road (two separate buildings, but where you find a gas station there is usually also a restaurant).  We stopped for lunch at the outdoor seating of a restaurant associated with a gas station.  While I was using the washroom, a tourbus full of German tourists crashed into one of the gas pumps.  Tom heard a crashing sound, looked up, and saw the gas pump ripped out of the ground and tilted over, the front of the bus was dented.  Fortunately, there were no flames, property damage only.  The police were there within 10 minutes.  Slowly, the tourists exited the bus, a few at a time, looking dazed, realizing their schedule had just changed.  Some of them sat down at the restaurant to have a bite and regroup.

By 4:00 we had been on the road for hours and needed a break, so we drove through and stopped briefly in Mugla.  We saw people living in 14th century whitewashed houses and narrow curved roads intended for walking and a single house-drawn cart, or maybe a donkey carrying a load (both of which we saw plenty of all over Turkey).  We wondered if they had electricity or plumbing, and what kind of plumbing.  There was one other thing that was interesting about Mugla.  Almost everyone in this little Turkish town was wearing blue jeans (the exceptions being the women over 50 years old).

In Mugla we found a street bazaar or farmers market designed for the locals and not the tourists.  It contained almost none of the handicrafts and lots of plastic items.  Like other places in Turkey (no matter how poor), there was a large park/playground.  This playground had animals in cages (we have no idea what they were doing there - maybe a petting zoo?); bunnies in one cage, a pheasant in another.

We were now in mountainous country and the road took many switchbacks - we found these mountains more "breathtaking" (as in "gasping with fright") than the mountains of Idaho.  We wanted to make it down to the coast, but it was getting dark and a narrow road with potholes, wash-outs, landslides, minimal guard rails (at least one of which had fallen off the edge of the cliff) was not where we wanted to be driving in the dark.  We pulled out in a little town.

We slept at Gokoug campground so we could continue on the road to Marmaris in the morning.  We were the only campers at this campground in a town which seemed very self-contained and oblivious to tourists.  Here we found knowing a little Turkish was a life saver because even the hotel/campground owner did not seem to know any English.  Surprisingly, we had not yet left the land of western-style toilets.  There was one sit-down toilet (out of 3 stalls) in the Women's restroom.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

We made our first camping breakfast using the aygaz camp stove to make tea.  In addition to tea, we had olives, white cheese, watermelon, figs, pistachios, and bread.

Tom eating Turkish breakfast, gypsy style on a picnic table next to the minivan

At 9:00 am we had left the campground but before we could get back on the main road (the word "main" should in no way indicate that it was wide or in any state of good repair) we found the most beautiful restaurant we had ever seen, on a stream, and we had to stop to take pictures.  The restaurant wasn't open (we had left the area where restaurants open at 8:00am for breakfast).  And the proprietors were sleeping in their clothes on the benches.  The restaurant itself was a beautiful mix of stonework and wood with a stone patio that extended half way into the stream.  There were ducks and the most wonderful sunlight skipped through the leafy bower of branches over the stream.

picturesque restaurant over a streampicturesque restaurant over a stream
picturesque restaurant over a stream
picturesque restaurant over a stream
ducks in stream

We meandered a little off road and found some ruins.  The sign said they had been previously mis-labeled as Lycian tombs but were now thought to be Roman.  There is a chance they were both.  Seems that in most places ruins are hard to date because the people who came next changed (defaced?) them and adapted them for their own use.  We found ruins ALL OVER Turkey.  Everywhere we looked.  If there aren't ruins showing on the surface, they may be below the surface.  The government is overwhelmed.  They have a hard time picking and choosing which restorations should get the attention of their limited resources.

Roman ruins - maybe a tombRoman ruins might be a tomb

As we were exploring the stone ruins, a tourbus drove up, parked, tourists popped out and began jumping and climbing over the ruins and making faces so their friends could take snapshots of them.  We experienced this several times in Turkey.  For many tourists, the primary function of the ruins is to serve as a backdrop for silly photos.

At 11:00 we reached the beautiful waterside town of Dalyan and saw undisputedly authentic Lycian tombs on the cliff over the water at the opposite side.  These ruins are undisputed because they are so hard to reach that none of the civilizations since have been able to change and adapt them.  We took pictures. 

Lycian Tomb clif over waterLycian Tomb clif over water
Ferry tour boat at Dalyan
cat asking to be invited to lunch

We also took pictures of a cat at our table in Dalyan.  There were skinny, wily, friendly cats at every fishing town; they wouldn't eat the cat food we bought for them because they didn't recognize dried cat food as food.  Most people in Turkey don't keep cats as pets.  That is, they don't let them inside their home, and they don't feed them on their doorstep.  However, some of the fisherman (yes, they are all men), save whatever sealife they have caught that they know people will not eat (worms, eels) to throw to the cats.  None of the cats have been altered or spayed.  They live by survival of the fittest and it is rare to see any cat over 7 years old.

By 2:30 we had reached Fethiye Olu Deniz beach.  Olu Deniz (Oloo Deneez) is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with its soft sand and warm, undisturbed salt water.  We could have stayed there for days, swimming, snorkeling, walking, sunbathing, watching the parasailers, hang-gliding, and ultralights.  However, even at that, we found it to be lacking something Turkish.  Maybe it was the lack of "call to prayer" which we had come to rely on to set the pace of our day, or maybe it was the badly made (not quite Turkish-style) and overpriced food, including bacon and hamburgers in the restaurants which played loud English disco music to attract customers.  It was also the only place in Turkey where they know how to cook French Fries ("chips") properly.  One thing I did welcome was the opportunity to roll down the top of my bathing suit so I could dry off better when I returned out of the water.  I know Tom appreciated the view from his beach chair.

Olu Deniz beach

Most of the European vacationers, mostly English package tourists, who frequent Olu Deniz, go there because it is "cheaper than the Greek Islands" (for a sunny beach).  Whatever Turkish idiosyncrasies they encounter are merely inconveniences to be endured for the sake of a sunny beautiful beach.  They haven't learned a word of Turkish, don't realize that the Turks have a culture based on being good hosts (and hence do not feel obliged to return the favor and be good guests), and expect everyone they encounter to speak their language (English, German, French - in that order - the few Spanish-speaking tourist groups we encountered seemed more respectful) and behave according to their customs.  In their eagerness to accommodate their tourist-guests, the Turks have gone overboard at the Turquoise Coast.

Created:  November 15, 2004
Updated:  July 25, 2006
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