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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blissful Days on the Mediterranean

It took us a long time to reach Cirali, literally our next port of call, on the Mediterranean coast from Pamukkale; first a ride to the local bus company office from our hotel, then a dolmus to the nearby town of Denizli, then a intercity bus to Antalya, the 'big city' near the coast, then had to hunt down another dolmus to the Cirali main junction where we got dumped out on the side of the highway, then yet another dolmus for the final 7 km ride to town. At some point, Steven asked 'Why did we (he meant me!) pick this place to come to since it's taking us so long?' I couldn't blame him for asking as I was also thinking the same thing!
View of the mountains surrounding Antalya from the dolmus.
The dolmus 'bus stop' on the side of the highway!
I'd read that Cirali is a great place if you just want a couple of days on the beach and/or some time on a boat plying the sometimes navy, sometimes turquoise colored waters of the Mediterranean. But both of us were disappointed by the village itself as the one road is one massive mud puddle and the stores are small, dark and not places you want to spend either time or money. But the village is wedged between tall mountains and the Mediterranean so a stupendous location.
 After checking into our rather dumpy hotel, we walked down a muddy path bordered by olive and orange trees as well as chickens scrounging for food in the dirt to the beach.

How beautiful is this!

Steven and I are so used to Florida’s sandy beaches that are also a shell collector’s dream. Cirali’s beach though had no shells at all but instead some pretty large boulders and then millions of smaller rocks and pebbles to walk on. It was not a beach you wanted to lie on but just a few feet up from the beach, restaurants lined the ‘road’ and each had set up their own chaise lounges and tiki huts one could laze in and drink and eat to one heart’s content.

It had been a long day so we turned in early after grabbing a bite to eat. The next day, October 15th, we both wanted to go on a boat cruise up and down the coast for the day and were easily able to pick up tickets 20 minutes before the 10:30 departure as it was late in the season and therefore fewer tourists than in the summer.
The tour company offices! My hair was slicked back having just gotten out of the shower and not having had time to air dry it yet.
Photos from our great day on the Mediterranean:

 Shortly after we left, it began raining so we all scampered from our comfy cushions above deck and hovered together in the cramped quarters below trying to escape the rain.

The water really was exactly this gorgeous color.

A Turkish flag in the middle of rocks in the Mediterranean Sea! Where aren't there Turkish flags, I wonder as Turks appear to be the most openly patriotic people?

I was constantly amazed at how the crystal clear water changed color dramatically from a deep navy to a lovely shade of turquoise and then back again and again. I don’t ever remember seeing water those colors before.
I had gone with a number of the others in the small motorized dinghy to a small cove on the beach to walk in the warm waters of the Med while Steven decided to stay on board. We were told the boat would pick us up again in about 30 minutes but I think the young man in charge had little sense of time as I and others were ‘stranded’ on the beach for more before being picked up. While waiting on shore, I chatted with a charming couple who were on their honeymoon: she’s an atheist and half Finnish, half Swiss and has spent time in the tiny burg of FinlandMinnesota with her stepfather. She met her husband, 13 years ago when she was only 16 in BaselSwitzerland; he’s Muslim and half Swiss and half Turkish.

My photo of Steven looking quite happy on board while I was 'stranded'on the shore!  

This man was from Germany like a number of people on board; he’s 73 and makes a point, he said, of swimming as often as he can in Berlin’s many lakes. He loved swimming in the coves every time the boat stopped and had no hesitation changing in and out of his swimsuit in front of everyone, much to the consternation of one young Muslim woman!

Steven and I spent most of the day having a great time chatting with Chris, a former F5 Fighter pilot from the US and his witty and charming wife, Ann, a midwife originally from Tasmania, Australia who left home at age 18 to go backpacking and never returned to live in her home country; they met in the Middle East and now live in Bakku, Azerbaijan with their 9 year old son, James after working all over the world. They’re in the process of trying to decide where they want to live ‘permanently’ after he retires from the US government in a few years since they’ve been expats for so long and no place they call ‘home.’ The world is literally their oyster and they’ve seen so much of it – Ann for instance is part of the Travelers' Century Club, having been to over 100 countries – but trying to narrow down their choices of where to live for at least a few years must be tough, especially when you have a young son’s schooling to consider.

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Our last stop was near a cave where Ann as much as dared me to get in and swim with her, Chris and James to see it up close. Steven elected to stay on board and took over the photographer’s duties instead! The water was fairly warm and not at all choppy then but it was much further to the cove than I had thought and I’m not a strong swimmer.  I was glad to get back to the boat where Steven had one of our ultra lightweight, tiny towels ready to ‘wrap around’ me. 

The 2 man crew served baked fish, fried chicken, pasta and salad about 2ish to the hungry passengers and later Turkish tea and Petit Beurre biscuits with orange slices. Luckily neither Steven nor I suffer from sea sickness but unfortunately 2 strapping men in their late 20’s or early 30’s were looking greenish and very much worse for wear from the choppy waters and the rocking boat and could not wait until we got back to terra firma after 5pm.


Breakfast supplied by the  hotel was enough to fortify us for the day!
Another beautiful day dawned in paradise so we walked down to the beach with swimsuits under our clothes looking for the nearby ruins Chris and Ann had told us about the day before. Had a blast walking in a sort of jungle at times looking at the extensive ruins of Olympos.
Walking to the beach on the now much drier path.
Pomengranate tree

Our first glimpse of the ruins from the beach.

Photos of the Olympos ruins:

Remember my saying we had sucha blast traipsing throught the ruins? Well, it wasn’t such a blast though treading ever so carefully over this rickety footbridge made of large twigs!

This scene made me think of the children's book 'Make Way for 7 Ducklings' or something like that!
Then the beach beckoned so we headed back to the tiki huts and chaise lounges put out by the beachside restaurants. One restaurant employee kindly said we could sit for free on his chairs which we did for 2 and a half  hours but we ended up buying a bottle of water for about triple the going rate which was worth it for him and us since there was only one other group occupying the 25 or so chairs..

Suellen: I thought of you and Ron in terms of your love for seashells but there were none to be found, only millions of beautiful rocks in all sizes and as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Steven thought I had rocks in MY head when I began picking some especially beautiful but small ones up to bring home! I still have them but whether I’ll chuck them because of the extra weight before we get home, remains to be seen!

Finally dragged ourselves from the beach around 3:30 to take the same convoluted way back to the Antalya bus station: first the town dolmus to the main road 7kms away, then another dolmus to the Antalya bus station an hour away, then a fairly long wait before the city bus left for the Antalya airport about another hour away. Oh well, it wasn't like we’re in any sort of hurry as our flight back  to Istanbul didn’t leave til 3:40AM and our connecting flight from there didn’t get into Nevsehir Airport in the Capaddocia region til 8am.