Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

Turkey III Part 3 - Onward to Olympos!

   Now, I'm not sure any of you actually read the previous day's entry, Love Is A Treacherous and Desolate Chasm, which was full of exciting adventures and Dr Seussian real life things like a man who lives in a giant tooth shaped rock, but anyway, continuing...

Friday, August 23rd - The Leaving of Göreme
   The thing with waking up in a cave... as I mentioned in the last entry, is it's pitch black, and frigid. And now I had roommates, the two Italian guys, and, predictably, they seemed intent on sleeping till 1pm. Porco deo!
   So I gathered my things in the frigid darkness sometime around maybe 10am and took it up to the office to check out. Then I trotted back down to the bus station, which in Göreme is merely a broad cobbled parking area with the little offices of half a dozen bus lines lined up beside it (seen on right in the below picture).
   Went from office to office saying "Olympos?" until at the last one they still had seats on a bus leaving that day, at 10pm. I was kind of surprised everything else was sold out, but I guess it was a Friday after all. My bus would take me to Antalya, where I'd have to change buses to get to Olympos, but that's entirely on the way anyway. I think it would work out to be about 13 hours.

   But first I had an entire day in Cappadocia. I still feel a little guilty that I should have adventured to the max! and packed this bonus day with seeing the sites of Cappadocia, but I was about ready for a bit of a more relaxed day, and anyway, getting anywhere further than walking distance costs money and I was trying to maintain a shoestring budget. So I spent much of the day chillaxing in the shade. The hotel/hostel I was staying in had a lovely balcony that was shaded by a trellis covered by a vibrant grape vine (loaded with plump grapes). Also explored the canyons back behind Göreme.

   That evening I had dinner at my friend Tolga's restaurant again. This time, as I was eating, who should happen along down the street but Jen the Canadian Photojournalist From Denmark, whom you probably don't recall I met in Istanbul. She joined me with her own new hostel friends, who consisted of a fellow who had just published a book, and a guy who was disappointed to have the most "boring sounding" job of us, a mere engineer!
   After dinner I was off to collect my things and catch the bus! While I was waiting for the bus the bus office attendant asked me about my travel plans. I told him I was thinking of going on a "Blue Cruise" after Olympos and he excitedly said he had a connection and could get me €25 off if I let him make a reservation for me right that minute. I was already pretty sure I wanted to do it and the price he quoted me (€200) was as good as any I'd seen in my previous looking into it so I said sure. How convenient when bus station attendants will eagerly book your future travel plans for you while you're sitting on the curb waiting for the bus! More on the pros and cons of forking out 200 euros to float about, when I can do that for free at home, when we get to that episode in the narrative here (spoiler alert: best decision evar!). But I feel I should mention at this point the epitaph that seemed to be attached to Blue Cruises whenever they were mentioned -- "Australians love it!"

Saturday, August 24th - Journey to Olympos
   Since I wasn't on one of the premier bus lines such as Metro, my bus wasn't quite in top top shape, and the AC didn't seem to be working quite properly, and despite having fortified myself with a glass or two of Cappadocian wine before departing, I wasn't able to sleep very well. In the morning I found us driving down curvy switchbacks in a mountainous area, with the Mediterranean Sea in the distance ahead of us. Arriving at the bus stop in Antalya I was a bit concerned that I'd be able to make the transfer easily, but I asked the first station attendant I could find "Olympos??" and showed him my ticket and he hurried me across the fairly busy station to a waiting minibus that was just moments from departing.
   That minibus took me winding down the coast for another two hours or so until it deposited us at what appeared to be a cafe in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by steep forested mountains, overlooking a precipitous valley descending down to the sea. I had been advised of this though, that from Antalya we'd be taken to a juncture where we'd have to catch another bus down to Olympos, by the sea. Here there were a lot of people waiting, and I was a bit anxious because I didn't know when a shuttle bus would come. In the little kitchen of the cafe women were making fresh handmade flatbread and people were ordering what looked like pretty good plates of food. I was reluctant to order, suspecting that I'd get an order in and at just that moment the shuttle would turn up.
   I finally gave in and ordered something, trying to point at something someone else was eating to indicate thats what I wanted. For some reason what I got looked nothing like what I had tried to indicate (I don't even remember what I was trying for but I got the standard doner kebab wrapped in a flatbread like a burrito, good but boring, compared to the more interesting thing I had hoped for) ... and naturally no sooner had they handed it to me than a shuttle bus showed up.
   I tried looking hopeful and saying "Olympos" to the driver but he seemed intent on ignoring me and I decided maybe he was just collecting specific people who had already made reservations, as a bunch of people were readily clambering in. Finally when it was just about full he motioned for me to load my stuff and board. Kebaburrito in hand I clambered aboard.
   Anxiousness was not to be completely discarded with yet though, since I didn't actually have anywhere specific in Olympos in mind. I'd looked online at the list of best reviewed hostels in the valley, but I didn't know where they were in relation to eachother and from where I was standing in the crowded mini-bus I couldn't see passing names very well. I think the driver tried to ask me where I was bound but I of course had no hostel name to tell him. I was glad I didn't just get off at the first one though, because it was miles away from the bottom of the valley. Rode the bus to the end, and on disembarking (and paying just a couple liras (fortunately, UNlike Egypt, you don't ever have to worry you'll be surprised with an exorbitant price at the end of a journey in Turkey)), I was relieved to recognize the name of one of the top two reviewed hostels, Bagrams, and went in and booked a bed.

   First off, I know what you're thinking, and no, this is not THE Olympus. It turns out there are six mountains by that name in Greece, three in Turkey, one in Cyprus, in addition to at least eight in the US and one on Mars. One of them is decidedly "THE" Mt Olympus and apparently nibot (my grinch-like brother) has that one covered already.
   But that's not to say this Olympos isn't without legendary history of its own! It was from this mountain that in the Odyssey Poseidon apparently looked out to sea and saw Odysseus and decided to fuck with him. The city was a pirate haven for a brief time in the first century BC until a Roman commander, accompanied by a young Julius Caeser, defeated the pirates and added the city to the Roman domain. Wikipedia notes that "The pirate Zenicetes set fire to his own house and perished" -- I assume there's a story here.
   The extensive ruins of the ancient Roman & Byzantine town are still very visible and interesting. As you can see from the above picture, they're surrounded by dense foliage some have described as "jungle."
   Most exciting of all, and the reason I'd been looking forward to visiting the place really, is that nearby is the home of the legendary monster the chimera! The Chimaera is still about, and I was determined to meet it!

   Also it has a "nice" beach. The water was lovely, but the beach was all a-pebble. Hordes of backpackers seemed to love it though, so maybe I'm just tremendously spoilt by having grown up near the beaches of Southern California and then more recently lived not 100 yards from miles of gorgeous sandy tropical beaches in Australia.
   Olympos valley is a national park, which means permanent buildings cannot be constructed there, apparently. As such, hostelliers instead construct crude sheds and market them as "treehouses!!" as if it's an exciting and novel opportunity. I guess some are actually up in trees but I didn't see them. Bagrams was just a series of these shacks. Mine had six beds crammed in it, and if you turned off the AC it quickly became stifling, but there was no reason not to run the AC any time you were in there, and it worked well. Bagrams, like most of these "treehouses!" hostels, has a large common area with many divans and hammocks, in the dappled shade of trees or under canopies, where backpackers lounged endlessly all day drinking Efes.

   After getting sorted out and booking (through the hostel front desk) a chimera expedition for later in the evening, I explored the ruins for awhile, and then went swimming. The gravelly beach may not have impressed me but the water was delightful and boy was it hot out. I am NOT big on cold water -- the oceans of So Cal I usually consider too cold to frolick in, but when the water is inviting, as it was, I'm all about it. I swam around the point on which the ruins of a Genoese fortress stood and back.
   Back to the hostel, and the delicious complimentary buffet dinner which the hostel provided as a matter of course. All the hostels in Olympos apparently offer this, and as they don't check to see that you're actually from that hostel, I had run into some people earlier in my trip who said they'd eaten at a different hostel every night to compare. Breakfast incidentally was also complimentary (omelettes made to order!), but lunch was not ... and as dinner didn't come out till 9 or so (Europeans!) it could be a long wait for those who were trying to avoid paying for lunch.

   After dinner those of us who were going Chimera hunting all boarded another little minibus and trundled off into the night. One has to go at night since, you know, the Chimera is a fire breathing monster, so you need to go while its dark so you can see the flames. I think we just went to the next valley over, but as this involved going back up to the main highway and winding back down again I think it took around 40 minutes. I found myself surrounded by Australians.
   From where we were deposited it was a fair bit of a hike up rough stairs on the side of the mountain in the dark (fortunately we were provided with flashlights). I don't know, half a mile? Glad I had good hiking shoes. I wish I could tell you about our surroundings but it was dark, all I know is there were trees.
   Finally up ahead we saw the yellow orange glow of flames, and heard the screams of the chimera's victims we had arrived!


Ruins of the city destroyed by the fire breathing beast???

Tags: mythical beasts, travel, travelogues, turkey, turkey iii

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