Leaving behind the cave-filled phallic-shaped wonderland that is Cappadocia, we departed via overnight bus (thankfully a regurgitation-free trip, unlike almost every South American voyage) for the coast of Turkey. Arriving early in the AM into the city of Antalya, we were met by our future mode of transportation - a dent-filled, scratch-heavy 2010 Hyundai Accent. With the advice of our rental agent to "no call unless big accident," it was inevitable that driving was going to be quite the "experience."
Now, while I consider myself fairly well-versed in the art of "foreign" driving (a year spent navigating the landscape of Southern Africa was quite helpful), nothing could truly prepare me for what can only be described as the "art of Turkish driving." This art, unable to be taught by words alone, can only be learned through experience (and by experience, I mean constant accident-avoidance). However, if I may take a stab at summarizing this "art", I would narrow it down to 3 key lessons:
1. Those small lines in the road (aka "lanes") are for decoration purposes only. The majority of time, driving should be spent either on top of this line or swerving around it. In addition, in the event of an approaching turn, it is always best to veer exactly one car-width in the opposite direction of the turn (regardless if this places you into an already-occupied adjacent "lane"). It is the responsibility of other drivers in your vicinity to veer as well, either onto the shoulder or oncoming traffic, as to avoid your carefully-planned maneuver. This lesson is typically learned extremely early in the driving experience.
2. Traffic circles are free of any rules and regulations. Go, stop, yield. It really is of no concern to those accompanying you on the road. It is inevitable that you will be cut off, so best keep driving in circles until a clear path reveals itself. The right-lane is also strongly recommended for those attempting to turn left. The further right the better!
3. Maintaining a constant speed for greater that 30 seconds is strongly discouraged. It is highly recommended to vary your speed by multiple fractions, as to ensure the vehicles behind you have absolutely no idea what the hell you are doing. Example on 55 MPH road = 55 --> 75 --> 30 --> 50 (of course ensuring that no lane is adhered to during these shifts in speed).
With these key lessons in hand, we commenced our 200 mile trip along the Turquoise Coast of Turkey (aptly named either due to the color of the water, or because apparently 'Turquoise' means 'Turkish' in Old French -- whatever the hell Old French is). With each destination along our route providing an ample mix of relaxation activities (sleeping, reading, talking about whether to sleep or read) as well as non-relaxation activities (walking, walking, walking some more), I leave you now with the abbreviated highlights of our past week:
Termessos - The first of many ancient ruins visited over the course of the week (ancient = I am unable to recall from which culture they originated). Termessos in particular was by far the most scenic, as it resided 5,500 feet above the valley floor below, hanging along the edge of dramatic cliffs. Good for photos now, bad for the "go find good rocks" workers 3,000 years ago.
Olympos - A mecca for those seeking out solitude or even with hopes of mastering the art of laziness, Olympos provided us with 2 days of exactly that. With one expedition to visit the overgrown ruins & backpacker-filled beach, the rest of our time was spent recovering from such an arduous journey.
Chimaera - It is places like Chimaera where the logical/scientific explanation of events is much less interesting than imaging how ancient culture's once perceived, what is now a 2,500 year old fire, burning from the depth of a mountain. Methane is the current explanation. Some badass fire god had to be the previous one.
The Sunken City of Simena - With images of Atlantis coming to mind, the sunken city of Simena reminded me more of the time I dropped my cell phone in a cup of water. It was still clearly visible, although I was a relatively upset that it was probably lost forever. Thankfully the "rice technique" brought it back to life (although i don't believe this option is very "village compatible"). Nevertheless, that would be Simena - The flip phone of sunken cities.
Kas - I imagine if the Golden Girls were to travel to Turkey, this would be their spot. Enough nightlife/activity for Blanche, enough relaxation for Dorothy, plenty of whatever the hell Rose liked, and of course enough antics for Sophia to complain about. And yes, I did just use a Golden Girls reference.
Ölüdeniz - Listed as one of the top 10 beaches in the world, Ölüdeniz did not necessarily live up to it's reputation (lack of sand tends to be kinda important beach rating guy), although it did provide the most memorable moment of our coastal voyage. While we initially assumed our unknowing stay at a "single's resort" for 60 year old British travelers who partied until 5AM would be the highlight of this blog, that award actually soon transferred over to our experience in attempting to turn on the A/C in our "air-conditioned private double." Below is in excerpt between myself, the local owner of the hotel and a expat British lady working at the hotel on a semi-permanent basis:
Me: "Hi, I can't seem to get our air conditioner to work."
British Lady: "Oh yes, you have to pay extra for that."
Me: "Hmmm, but our reservation says right here 'Air-Conditioned Room'"
Local Lady: "Yes, room IS air-conditioned. But you pay to turn it on."
Me: "Ummm, what?"
British Lady: "I can see how an American would think this would be included for free, but unfortunately it is an added cost here."
Me: "Ummm, what?"
Local Lady: "You must pay to turn on."
British Lady: "Yes, while it does say 'air-conditioned,' and that in America, you would expect to receive this because that is what you have been told, that is not the case here."
Me: "I'm pretty sure that is not the case anywhere."
British Lady: "I'm really sorry. I completely understand where you are coming from as an American. However it is still extra to turn on."
Me: "So with that reasoning, you could rent us a bedroom, but we would still have to pay extra for the bed?" (good one me, I know)
British Lady: "No, it is not at all like that."
Me: "Um, ok, it kinda is. Thanks anyhow."
Only later that evening, did tensions rise, yet not involving ourselves, but the local owner and the British expat. Here are a few additional excerpts from their "heated" 30 minute discussion (provided at a volume audible enough for 1/2 the hotels around us to share in the enjoyment):
"You are the dumbest f*cking idiot in the world. No, I am not an idiot. You are an idiot. A dumb f*cking idiot" (Strong words, yet precise and to the point).
"You don't have a brain. You don't even have brain cells. I have brain cells. You don't." (Valid argument if you really put it into perspective).
"How can you run a business like this. They are going to go back to America and write a terrible review about your place. That is what Americans do. They write bad reviews." (Correct, anti-American lady)
Despite the arguments, and about 17 threats of quitting (which were strongly encouraged and accepted by the local owner), in the end, it turned into what is probably just another Thursday evening for these two lovely ladies.
And on that note, onto the pics: