Saturday, October 4, 2008
The ride itself was ridiculously scenic, going up and down the Toros Mountains. The Scottish hills that I left a few days ago with the heather and the sheep has given way to rural Turkey with scrubby rock hills and goats. The bus stops every few hours for a quick stop at a roadside restaurant complete with squat toilets. You have to have good aim. When everyone goes out to stretch their legs, the bus get hosed down and the windows cleaned courtesy of various men in wellies. Around midnight we get pulled over by the 'jandarma' who board the bus, collect our passports, inspect them, and wave us on. I'm told it's to check for illegals mostly. The stewards turns on the telly at the front, and most the bus moves up to the front to watch the football for a few hours. We cruise on through the night for a grand total of 17 hours reaching Gaziantep at 9am.
I walked the 6km from my hotel to the Otogar on Wednesday afternoon to catch the coach to Gaziantep(where I am until Monday). Now rather sunburnt, but it was a nice walk. The Otogar in Fethiye is slightly more sophisticated than it's Dalaman equivalent. There's about 15 different bus operators with its own tout by the door, calling out destinations to tempt would be travelers in to their office. Relieved of both 50 lira and my pack(I love it when other people get to carry it), I then was escorted to seat 29 by the bus steward. Each bus has a steward for the duration the trip, always a boy, that goes about serving tea, nescaf, water, and hand cleanser, among his other duties.
Fethiye is a mecca for pleasure cruising on the little wooden boats that are everywhere. There's at least 50 or 60 different boats offering a 12 island day cruise which lets you stop off along the way for a swim and stroll before heading off again, for about 10£. Otherwise, if you ask nicely, some fishermen might take you along if you're up early enough
The harbour is the heart and soul of Fethiye, stretching the whole length of the town(about 15 or so kilometers). The view is absolutely fantastic with the Toros mountains across the bay. The cafes lining the sides are very pleasant, some even have giant beanbags to sit on. Vendors with giant silver platters of huge fresh pretzels walk about the cafes hawking their goods. I was sitting at the side of the harbour in between some boats, dangling my feet above the water when an enormous, hugely enormous sea turtle swam by(about 5 or 6 feet long!). He put out his head out of the water, made a noise at my feet, which I had hurriedly pulled up, and swam away. Very strange...
My first few hours in Fethiye started off with a traditional Turkish breakfast, which generally consists of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives, big chunks of white bread, sour yogurt, a few kinds of cheese, something similar to salami(not pork though), boiled eggs, and honey with Turkish tea, Nescafe, or orange juice to wash it down. Afterwards I retreated to the relative peace of the room and passed the hours watching Turkish dubbed films(Bridget Jones 2, and Tarzan).
My Fethiye hotel was the Mediteran, secured for 3£ a night(about 6$) for a sea view double with breakfast thanks to www.travelrepublic.com. It was reasonable mediocre, but no complaints at that price. Fethiye is placed on a bay, and the Mediteran is on the West side overlooking the yatch harbour with the boat building sites just behind. It smells of fresh wood shavings as you walk along. At the hotel itself, it's a typical expat scene with the British camped out at the bar. The resident dogs were frolicking with two of the men, who alternated between playing fetch and sipping their beers.
My first few days in Turkey were spent in Fethiye, a lovely town on the sea. Brits make up 60% of all the tourists so English speakers are well catered for, and there's even a few cafes that will do you a proper fry-up. After arriving at the Dalaman airport, about 60 kms away(this is at 12am) I had to wait 6 or 7 hours at the arrivals for the shuttle buses to start running. I managed to make my way to the Dalaman Otogar(bus station) just before sunrise. The first sign of my being in Turkey was the call to mosque as I sat waiting for the coach to Fethiye. It was absolutely hilarious when all the town dogs started howling along. All the animals roam completely free in the streets: I saw several dogs, a few cats slinking into alleyways, and then a couple roosters actually crowing the oncoming dawn. First time I've ever heard that with my own ears. Quite exotic. The Otogar itself is just a series of wooden huts, one for each bus operator, in the village square. I managed to find one to Fethiye, but the whole way there I kept falling asleep and barely made it off at my stop. The photos are the square opposite the Otogar before and after sunrise
I'm at a Turkish wedding in Gaziantep. Very strange story as to how that came about, but I've been here two days with two days more to go, it's been fantastic, but totally surreal. The posting will have to wait until Aleppo on Monday.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Made it! The great Middle East odyssey has begun I suppose.
The flight with First Choice was completely non-eventful, they played Indiana Jones 4, had a very good duty-free selection, and in-flight scratch cards. Most of the passengers were on package holidays and it showed haha. The plane itself was perfectly fine, but the seat were a sickly teal, and the poor flight attendants got to wear ill fitting polyester skirt suits in a very garish shade of pink. Arrived in at Dalaman airport at midnight, and paid a princely 40£ or 80$ for my visa, ugh. Very jealous of the British who got off with a 10£ visa.