Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Summing up the remainder of our trip as I very slowly return to fitness!

Update One
While in Turkey I contracted a nasty virus which has laid me off training for several months. I am slowly on the road to recovery but by no means fully fit yet in any way. I am running very slowly and hopefully will become faster with time. Because there was such a sudden stop to my blog I have decided to copy and paste some emails which Mr B wrote while we were overseas. This way there is a record of our journeys and I will return to training blogs as soon as possible.

So here we go back to 15 June 2012 - Cappadocia Turkey
Well, I guess you get what you you pay for ....

Our hotel in Kappadokya (Turkish spelling) does have some good points - it does have a bed and a bathroom, and most things work, and there are some nice traditional furnishings on the wall. And the people running the place seem to be lovely

But on the other hand ...
- the Muscara Cave Hotel in Goreme turns out to be the Anitta Hotel in Cavusin - no cave, and up a very narrow alleyway so impossible to find without guidance
- no air conditioning, with the days in the high 30s - and no fans either ...
- bed is hard and the pillows lumpy
- door handle is falling off, though at least it locks from the inside
- no room servicing, so no sheets or towels changed
- no shower screen or curtain so the bathroom is flooded each time you use the shower - mind you not much hot water either so showers are quick
- the taps are the wrong way around - red for cold, blue for lukewarm - and the bathroom fittings all seem to have lean on them ...
- a 10 minute gurgle each time you flush the toilet as the cistern refills
- only one channel on the TV, great if you want to watch the soccer, in fact I can hear the excitable Turkish commentator through the wall now ....
- mustn't complain too much about the Internet connection, as it now actually works ....
We were the only guests on the night we arrived, so were given the "best" room, so hate to imagine what the others are like .... But the the people running the hotel are very friendly and obliging, and I'm not sure I have the heart to tell them.  They did come out at midnight on our arrival night to help us find our way.

But putting all that aside, Kapadokya is the most amazing place - it well and truly lives up to everything you might have seen or heard.  The scenery is a veritable moonscape, with the plunging canyons and valleys, sparse vegetation and the vertical rock outcrops known as "fairy chimneys", or sometimes as " rude boys" due to their shape ....  The rock faces, and even some of the chimneys, have been excavated to provide living accommodation, something that goes back to hundreds of years BC - mostly abandoned these days, but occasionally they have been rebuilt into hotels or restaurants.

The ultimate manifestation of this living in the ground is the underground cities - apparently over 30 of them have been discovered, though only a handful are open to the public.  We visited Derrinkuyu, which goes 8 stores into the ground and accommodated up to 10,000 people - not a place for the claustrophobic, or the unfit given the many stairs, and easy to get lost in the maze of tunnels and chambers.  They were built to provide respite from the heat of summer and cold of winter, and as protection from invaders - you can still see the massive round stone doors that were rolled across the entrance tunnels.

It was a long trip from Istanbul to here - 12 hours, due to a two hour traffic jam on the Istanbul ring road, and an hour stop at factory outlets.  The freeway was pretty easy once outside of Istanbul, and even the country roads were often dual carriage and not much traffic.  There does seem to be a lot of road construction going on and road surfaces are sometimes a bit rough but driving here seems pretty straightforward .... so far!

25 June 2012
Well, I may have been a little premature about the the Anitta Hotel (that's to say I may have been, as it were, wrong ... ) - seems they did have proper cave rooms, nice and cool on hot days and with proper modern bathrooms.  They were located in the basement and someone didn't think to ask ... We discovered this on our day of departure when complaining to new Brisbane friends about how hot our room was, and they couldn't understand what we were on about.

But I stand by my comments on the door handle, it still fell off in your hand....

On to Kalkan, a holiday town on the Mediterranean coast.  An overnight stop in Konya on the way, an unremarkable city in middle Turkey, then over the mountains and down to the coast.  Much of it on good driving roads, a chance for a bit of "proper" driving ... Some of the roads are three lane, and, nominally, the upwards direction would have priority use of the middle lane.  In practice, however, it paid to watch carefully and be prepared to squeeze over if need be ..... According to the car temp gauge it reached 47 degrees, and it certainly felt like a furnace when you stepped outside of the air conditioning.

Our hotel in Kalkan was a cut above, with a pool and bar and decent restaurant.  All of the other guests were middle aged English couples, out to work on their early summer tans - their days seemed to be big brekkie, laze by the pool, big lunch, laze by the pool, a G&T at the bar, then the big effort of the day would be a gentle stroll into town for a big dinner at one of the harbour view restaurants before catching a taxi back, and a nightcap at the bar.  Borek, the hotel owner must have made a fortune from the meals and drinks ... And they didn't seem to understand why they generally took on the proportions of beached whales ....

Then one day, in blew Brookie, a stunning 24 year old from Melbourne in advertising, traveling around Europe by herself .... She had all the men eating out of hand, her typical approach was to chat up some young English speaking local who would offer to show her around, after which she would take him out to dinner.  Seemed to work a treat, there must have been broken hearts all over Spain and Italy, and now Turkey.  She had tried water skiing, jet skiing and paragliding off a cliff, and spent thousands on clothes, shoes and handbags, she was someone who wasn't going to die wondering....

We did spend one day at the local beach, a stony affair with lovely cool water great for swimming.  We hired a wicker umbrella and beach loungers, on the theory that the umbrella would protect us from the sun.  It did not, and as a consequence we both ended up with a severe case of sunburn.  Not sure if it was the sun or something eaten, but that night witnessed a major chunder on my part ....

One day in Kalkan we went sailing in a gulet, a traditional wooden Turkish yacht (not that they used the sails or even had any ..)  Most of the gulets had names with a nautical connection such as Bermuda, or Albatross, or Baba Dogan, but ours for some unfathomable reason was called Dennis.  So we went sailing in Dennis across the blue blue sea, stopping here and there to jump off for a swim, viewing the ruins of the sunken city at Kekova and eating a big lunch.  Most of the other passengers were Turkish and there was no English commentary, but a lovely day none the less.

My big treat in Kalkan was a Turkish shave and haircut, and massage and general groom, at a kuafor (or barber) called, as it happened, Sweeney Todd .... So there was some trepidation, but all went well.  Until he lit a taper and abruptly stuck it in my ear, that being the method for dealing with the unseemly presence of ear hair .... felt very relaxed and smooth afterwards,

Then we stayed in Marmaris for a couple of days, a holiday town with all the class of the tacky end of the Gold Coast, full of package tourists, many from Russia and its former satellites these days.  Its interest for us was as a base for a day trip to the Greek islands, more particularly the island of Rhodes.  Over on the high speed catamaran, a bus tour around some of the main sights ... "on the left the high court, on the right the city hall, on the left ... on the right ... " almost as bad as watching the tennis.  And a stroll through the old town. Made a welcome change from things Turkish, though not as picturesque as some of the other Greek islands.  Also a reminder that things are a bit more expensive in the euro zone than in Turkey.  The Costa Fortunesca, a sister ship to the one that sank off the Italian coast a few months ago was in port, and we could see that the crew was assiduously practicing their lifeboat drill, just in case ...

Now we are in Kusadasi, another seaside resort favoured by the big cruise ships.  We are staying in a restored caravansarei, built in the 1500s to provide protection and shelter for traders on the old Silk Road from Asia.  A massive square stone structure built around a central open courtyard with the rooms opening off the upper colonnaded terrace and carpet shops and eating facilities down stairs.  Something like it must have been in its heyday, but without the smell and with all mod cons .... 

 To be continued::


  1. FANTASTIC to have you back blogging! Even better to have you back regaining your health and fitness! Can't wait to catch up on Fri for brekkie with you and Cathy :)

  2. Yes, it is great to see you blogging again :-). I hope the recovery goes smoothly and you are back fit and faster super soon :-)

  3. I second the above remarks, and will see you at another run sooner rather than later.

  4. Wow! You're back blogging. Woohoo!