My Workaway Experience.

For the past two and a half weeks I’ve been sitting pretty in the most beautiful part of Turkey. When planning this trip I had the first two weeks set out with B and K joining me and then I was flying solo. Short in money but still wanting to stay in Turkey I looked at my options at how to stay longer. After doing a bit of searching, trusty old Google led me to Workaway, which solved all my problems.

Workaway is basically a site for free work exchange. So in other words, you work for a set amount of time each day in return for accommodation and food, plus other bonuses. Seemed like a pretty sweet deal. I signed up and paid the yearly subscription of $25 and I began my search. There are hundreds of places looking for volunteers, all around the world. I got carried away a bit and started searching places in Africa and India and then remembered my budget and time restriction so settled back for Europe. I wanted to stay in Turkey and spend some time down by the Mediterranean coast so I filtered my search to these preferences and Waallaahh! I found my exchange!

Okay, it was a little more tricky than that. While there are hundreds of places looking for volunteers, alot of them plan their rosters way in advance. Especially for the peak season, so trying to find a place to volunteer for August at the last minute was a little difficult. I got quite a few ‘Sorry, we’re full’ messages but Lady Luck showed her face and led me to The Shambala.

The view from Shambala. Was pretty hard to look at this everyday!
One of the stunning views from Shambala. Was pretty hard to look at this everyday!

Situated in the Kabak Valley, about 30 minutes from Ölüdeniz, Shambala perches on the side of the mountain overlooking the Lycian Sea. The drive there is a little hairy, with the windy dirt roads that climb up the mountain. Whilst the scenery was spectacular, the moments where the tyres are inches from the edge of the cliff are a little heart attack inducing.

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Sunsets from the beach in Kabak Valley
Sunsets from the beach in Kabak Valley

I had no idea what to expect from this place, as I didn’t even know where it was on the map. Though my expectations were exceeded two fold by Shambala. The beauty, location and staff were just plain awesome. Our work hours were five hours, either a morning or night shift. As the meals were served buffet style, we were in charge of setting up and clearing away, taking drink orders and just general front of house duties. The rest of our time was spent as we pleased, which afternoon spending a few days exploring I settled for lazing about the pool and dropping off into total relaxation.

Enjoying the view at Shambala
Enjoying the view at Shambala
Exploring in my copious amounts of free time
Exploring in my copious amounts of free time

I had a great two and a half weeks at Shambala. If I had more time, I would have stayed there longer. That’s the great thing about Workaway, you can stay as long or little as you like. I totally recommend checking it out if you’re looking to stay in one place for awhile, experience something a little different or just feeling extra helpful!

Of course, like everything over the Internet, make sure you do your research pretty thoroughly. I did hear some horror stories of volunteers made to work 16 hour days, or given the lowest of low accommodation. But the majority of the time, its places genuinely looking for help and are happy to offer you a great deal in exchange for your help.

Check out www.workaway.info for more info and maybe your possible next workplace!

J. x

Boating To Butterfly Valley.

With the end date of my time in Turkey approaching quicker than I’d like to, I’ve been forcing myself off my sun bed and into some more clothes than just a bikini to explore a bit more of the area.

One of the highlights along the Lycian way is Butterfly Valley. Situated below Faralya, the ‘village on the cliffs’, the valley is well known for its beautiful canyon and waterfalls and of course the hundreds of endemic butterflies that flock to the area.

I went on a boat trip to Butterfly Valley with some guests of Shambala, including two Aussie girls whom I’ve become good friends with. The boat left Kabak Valley around 5pm and the rather rocky and exhilarating ride took about 20 minutes to reach the valley. The views along the way were of course, spectacular. Huge, dramatic cliffs lined the sea, where the dark blue water smashed angrily against the rocks, leaving a white foamy reminder.

On the boat towards Butterfly Valley
On the boat towards Butterfly Valley

We reached the bay and was in awe of the place. Somewhat reminiscent of Thailand’s beautiful coves, Butterfly Valley is overpowered by the large cliffs that surround it, yet the peaceful little bay holds its own with the hippie vibes and island inspired huts. We walked along the pebbled beach and up to an outdoor shower which we couldn’t resist having a go at.

Butterfly Valley from the water
Butterfly Valley from the water

Continuing the ‘clothes are overrated’ trend which I’ve seemed to follow this past couple of weeks, we hiked the path to the waterfalls in our swimmers.

Butterfly Valley - a beach bum's paradise!
Butterfly Valley – a beach bum’s paradise!

The walk took about twenty minutes and was an easy hike compared to the one I did last week to reach the waterfalls in Kabak. However this walk was much more exciting as the ochre coloured canyon enveloped us as we delved further in. We climbed up to reach the waterfall, where we washed ourselves with the fresh, cold water. It’s such a nice change from the sea water, makes you feel so clean. Unfortunately, we were there at the wrong time to see the butterflies, with the best time to see them being May.

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The canyons that surrounded us.
The canyon that surrounded us.

Staying there for awhile, revelling in the silence of the canyon except for the calming rush of water falling from the cliffs, we were reluctant to leave this little oasis.

I found a little slice of heaven!
I found a little slice of heaven!

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Heading back to the boat, we headed off for another bumpy (and slightly scary) ride through the rough waters to another secret cove, where we jumped off the boat into the the clear, sapphire coloured water. While I’m not afraid of the ocean, I was always a little wary of the deep waters because of the great and wonderful unknowns lurking below (thank you Australian waters). However the Mediterranean has changed that in me, the ocean is so clear and empty, I’m happy to leap off the boat way out from the beach. No scary Jess-eating sharks or jellyfish to hurt me!

Love jumping off the boat into the big blue! :D
Love jumping off the boat into the big blue! 😀

After our swim we headed back for Kabak Valley, where the two Aussie girls and I stayed down at the beach to watch the stunning sun set beyond the ocean. As I’m working nights for my last two days here in Kabak, I was thankful to witness this beautiful sunset. I’ve truly been lucky to stay in this wonderful part of Turkey for the past two weeks. It’s been nothing short of incredible.

Incredible sunset to finish the afternoon.
Incredible sunset to finish the afternoon.

 

J. x

The Blue Lagoon – Not Quite What I Expected.

Alright, if you read my posts a bit (and ginormous thank you if you do!) then you will know that I’m a little bit of a Pinterest lover. I do get a lot of my travel inspiration and ideas from there and it is also the sole reason why I have such high expectations of certain places. The Blue Lagoon in Ölüdeniz is one of these places.

Pictures of sapphire blue water, snow white sand and absolutely no people laying on the beach flooded my Pinterest feed whenever I searched ‘Blue Lagoon Turkey’. So as one would, I gathered up high hopes that I will witness paradise and total tranquility. Unfortunately, the Pinterest curse strikes yet again.

The Blue Lagoon is a small inlet bay connected to the beach of Ölüdeniz. Now don’t get me wrong, the beach and lagoon itself are some of the prettiest I’ve seen. The water truly is a combination of aquamarine and turquoise, and the white pebbles reflect in the sunlight.

Ölüdeniz and the Blue Lagoon.
Ölüdeniz and the Blue Lagoon.

It’s just the masses and masses of tourists that flood the lagoon which are the biggest turn-off. Of course, I came in the middle of peak season. Hotels are booked out, restaurants are overflowing and prices are double to what they usually are. I expected this. However my experience with the Blue Lagoon left me a little salty.

After reaching Ölüdeniz from Kabak Valley, I walked to the right (facing the ocean) about 200 metres where I reached the entrance gates to the Blue Lagoon. After waiting behind a large group of British folk, I paid 6TL to enter. Like I said before, I was expected it to be busy, I just didn’t expect it to be this busy. The path goes from the entrance gate right around the inlet and its about 300 metres to the point of the inlet. In this stretch, hundreds of people were rushing about, trying to find an empty sun bed, which was no easy feat, even though the sun beds were lined up side by side and about five sun beds deep. The place was a madhouse.

This was the start of the umbrella packed lagoon. It got exponentially worse.
This was the start of the umbrella packed lagoon. It got exponentially worse.

Not wanting to pay the extra Lira for a sun bed, I kept walking hoping to find a spare bit of space to park myself. No such luck. Every inch of the Blue Lagoon’s pebbled beach was covered by human flesh. I made my way down to the water, stepping over a few children and bags and looked for the paradise that Pinterest promised me.

Realising I wouldn’t find it here, I walked back down the path, out of the inlet, past the restaurant and the banana boats, to where there were only a few sun beds and about half the people. Dripping with sweat by this stage, I dropped my bag close to the water and dove in.

They weren't lying about the water colour.
They weren’t lying about the water colour.

To be fair, it was beautiful. Despite the hordes of tourists, the view beyond was pretty amazing and the water was still had that crazy clearness that I couldn’t get over. Babadag and the other huge mountains loomed over the bay and the sky was and endless amount of blue.

From where I sat, between the Blue Lagoon and Ölüdeniz.
From where I sat, between the Blue Lagoon and Ölüdeniz.

I stayed for a little while, before the scorching sun got too much and headed back towards the busier Ölüdeniz to take refuge in some shade.

What I Suggest For The Blue Lagoon:

  • DON’T GO IN AUGUST! Unless you enjoy enjoy playing tinned sardines with other tourists
  • Go early to beat the crowd and the heat.
  • Don’t go right into the Lagoon. The water is just as pretty outside on the other side of the inlet, with slightly less people.
  • Enjoy it from above. Check out my paragliding experience for a big fat reason why 🙂

J. x

Paragliding in Ölüdeniz.

If theres one thing I like to do when travelling, its finding the biggest, most popular, adventure touristy thing to do while in a new place. In Tromsø it reindeer sleighing, in Cappadocia it was hot air ballooning and now in Ölüdeniz, it’s paragliding.

Ölüdeniz is famous for its Father Mountain (Babadag) where people from all corners of the Earth come to launch themselves off the top of the mountain. It is regarded as one of the best sites for paragliding in the world due to it’s unique panoramic views of Ölüdeniz and the Blue Lagoon. Having seen photos upon photos of the magnificent views and rave reports about paragliding, I couldn’t resist signing myself up for it.

Seriously Turkey. Why have you been hiding this for all this time!
Seriously Turkey. Why have you been hiding this for all this time!
Ölüdeniz and the Blue Lagoon. Absolute perfection.
Ölüdeniz and the Blue Lagoon. Absolute perfection.

I organised my paraglide through Gravity Tandem Paragliding (http://www.flygravity.com)  who were excellent in accommodating this blondie off a mountain. My first paraglide was supposed to be scheduled for the Friday before. However due to strong winds they had to cancel, which gave me four days to work up a massive amount of nervous energy and anticipation.

Tuesday rolled around and I caught the two buses to Ölüdeniz from where I was staying in Kabak Valley and met the Gravity team at their shop. There was about twenty other people in the office as well and after quick wait we were herded down to their headquarters, where we were put into groups and taken up the mountain in a mini-van.

The drive up was spectacular and windy as we drove higher and high heading for the clouds. We were told to pick from a deck of cards to determine who our flight guide was and I picked Apo, a tough looking Turkish man who wore a bandana and rode a motorcycle. We were dropped off at the launching point which was pretty much an area that was concreted down to the edge, where we had to run off. There was also a restaurant there, but no time for coffee with a view, I had jumping to do.

Part of Mount Babadag, the best point for paragliding in Europe
Part of Mount Babadag, the best point for paragliding in Europe

Apo harnessed me up (in a non S&M way :O ) and we were hooked up to the parachute, ready for launching. There were others around me who were already running off the cliff and watching them race for the edge made my heart race. The nerves definitely were sinking in! Much like the morning sky in Cappadocia filled with hot air balloons, the sky was filled with colourful parachutes. Apparently around 150 flights are made each day in the peak season, with each paragliding guide doing at least three to five jumps a day!

Apo informed me it was our turn to run so I obliged and started jogging towards the edge. Its sort of difficult to run with someone strapped behind you, as well as the parachute so I just moved my feet while Apo pushed me forward until we were dangling in mid air.

Flying high above the mountains -
Flying high above the mountains – excuse the dorky blonde person sitting in front.

Before I knew it, we were soaring high above Ölüdeniz and the mountains surrounding the glorious beach. It was surprisingly peaceful flying this high up, despite only being strapped in by a couple of straps! If there was ever a time in my life that I felt like a bird, this was it. Oh the freedom they must feel!

I'm like a biiiiiirdddd! I wanna fly away!
I’m like a biiiiiirdddd! I wanna fly away!

Apo asked me if I wanted to do any acrobatics and I scoffed, of course I would. He told me to hold on and spun us around and around, dipping from side to side. The G-force was incredible, I couldn’t even lift my arms up.

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We settled back into soaring and spent the next few moments in silence, admiring the view and wiping the tears that had accumulated in my eyes from the fast winds of the acrobatics.

Gravity Tandem Paragliding http://www.flygravity.com  My pick of paragliding companies, very good!
Gravity Tandem Paragliding – http://www.flygravity.com
My pick of paragliding companies, very good!

We soared further over the beach and the royal blue waters, which sparkled in the sunlight. I could now see why it was the best place for paragliding, the view is nothing short of epic.

This view, I cannot even..
This view, I cannot even..
Excuse the dorky helmet, that was just the 'safety precaution' for take off and landing.. Gotta love Turkish safety regulations!
Excuse the dorky helmet, that was just the ‘safety precaution’ for take off and landing.. Gotta love Turkish safety regulations!

We glided further down towards the beach and the busy streets of Ölüdeniz where we did a few more acrobatics before preparing to land. The funny thing about paragliding here is that the landing spot in right in the main walkway of Ölüdeniz. Every few minutes you’ll hear ‘Landing!’ and a few Turkish boys running towards an incoming paraglider, all while tourists duck out of the way.

The landing strip - AKA the main walkway of Ölüdeniz
The landing strip – AKA the main walkway of Ölüdeniz

I asked Apo if he had ever run anybody over, he just smiled devilishly and said “Just a few”.

The landing was a lot smoother than I had anticipated and I didn’t fall over like I thought I might. I’m pretty much a pro now! Now on land, I felt like we only jumped off five minutes ago, when in fact it had been about 25 minutes. I was itching to go again, but settled for watching the other paragliders in the sky.

After Apo packed up his parachute, we walked to the headquarters where we showed me my pictures and videos of the flight. I wasn’t intending on buying them, buuuuuut as I like to say ‘When in Rome!’, unfortunately my credit card starting to disagree..

Paragliding is definitely a must when visiting Ölüdeniz, or even anywhere in the south of Turkey. You can’t beat the views and its one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences that you’ll never forget! There are so many paragliding companies in  Ölüdeniz that you can choose from. Most of them are pretty open to giving you a good deal, however you’re looking at around 200-280TL for a flight. Do it! It’s absolutely worth it!

J. x

 

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls.. Because you will get lost.

Just to catch up on the past week (which I will write more in depth about later), I have been residing in the hidden but glorious part of Turkey, known as Kabak Valley. Because I thought two weeks wasn’t long enough to spend in this fascinating country, and I wanted to get my moneys worth for my visa ($60USD for 3 months, whaaat!) I said goodbye to my gal K and caught the bus from Bodrum down to Fethiye.

Another two buses later and I was walking into my new home for the next two and a bit weeks – The Shambala. I found this little slice of paradise of http://www.workaway.com, where in exchange for a few hours work a day I get free food and board. Not bad right! Anyway, I will elaborate on my Workaway experience closer to the end of my time here.

Today however, after spending a few too many days lazing about in this little piece of heaven, I decided to do some exploring. There are some great waterfalls about an hours hike from Shambala, so with my free morning I decided to go and find them.

Now I’m admittedly not the best at directions. North and south mean absolutely nothing to me. I’m a landmark kinda navigator. However when every tree and damn rock looks the same, it was only expected of me to get lost.

I had some basic directions from the staff at Shambala and what I briefly Googled. I figured it couldn’t be that hard. Its a popular hiking trail, surely it must be like Australia and very clearly marked, right?

Wrong.

I started off around 9:30am, feeling fresh and good. I walked down to the beach and up to the cross roads, where the hiking paths begin. There was a signpost with three signs all pointing in different directions, all written in Turkish. I vaguely remembered something about the waterfalls being to the right so I took a punt and headed off in that direction. The rocky path, sometimes indicated by red and white spray painted stripes, led me uphill rather steeply, winding through bushes, over rocks and out of breath. I paused after about 15 minutes, searching for my next red and white striped indicator but couldn’t see anything. I continued along the path which was slowly becoming less and less established. 10 minutes later I hit a dead end. The beaten path just stopped, I didn’t know where to go next.

Views of the glorious Kabal Valley
Views of the glorious Kabak Valley

Sweaty, puffing like a overworked race horse and slightly worried, I tried several different directions that looked a little bit like a path but decided to turn back because I didn’t want to end up in ‘Castaway, The Sequel’. Walking back down, retracing my footsteps until I reached the crossroads, where I asked a Turkish woman which way to the waterfalls. Of course, like most elderly Turks, her English was very limited. With lots of nodding and hand gestures I was sent off in another direction, with hopes there was a waterfall at the end of the track. This track was more clearly marked, this time with red and yellow stripes, and I was feeling more optimistic. About ten minutes into my hiking, I met another hiker. A Turkish man, who certainly looked the part of the hiker exchanged greetings and he asked if I was headed for the waterfall. His English was just as bad as the lady before, so the hand gestures came out again, until we agreed we were both searching for these elusive waterfalls.

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We hiked, him in front by about 20 metres, for awhile, clambering over rocks, in a steep ascent. By this time the sun was starting to really give it to us and the sweat was pouring out. We continued to hike uphill, and I was thinking this so called ‘moderately easy’ hike was severely underestimated. We walked along the edge of the mountain, only inches between our path and the rocky descent below. There is no such thing as safety railing in Turkey. If you want to be crazy and hike up a mountain, do it at your own risk! We reached the mountains corner, where we had a breather. The view was AMAZING.

Best view despite being in the absolute wrong. direction
Best view despite being in the absolute wrong direction. Photos just don’t do it justice!

 

The water below ranged from baby blue to aquamarine and the white pebbled beach glowed in the bright sunlight. Across the bay I could just see the wooden bungalows of Shambala, hidden amongst the green topped trees that clustered on the mountains edge. The severe white and grey mountain faces looked Photoshopped against the clear blue sky. Even though there were no waterfalls in sight, just seeing this view was enough for me.

Obligatory selfie with the best view in Kabak Valley.
Obligatory selfie with the best view in Kabak Valley.

We saw another sign post, with absolutely nothing indicating a waterfall. The Turkish man luckily had a mobile phone with reception. He called the camp site he was staying at and even with the lighting speed Turkish being spoken into the phone, I could tell we were in the wrong spot. Crestfallen, we decided to head back to the starting point.

After jumping down rocks, using trees to balance and walking slowly where path was slippery we eventually made it back to the starting point. I was almost ready to ditch the waterfalls and lay on the beach for the rest of the day. The Turkish man pointed in the direction of the camps and indicated waterfalls. He kept saying ‘Follow, follow’ and pointing towards the bush. I was a little hesitant to join him, every horror story of stranger danger flashing through my mind. I did want to see the waterfall though. .Sizing him and his skinny arms up, I reasoned that if worst comes to worst, I could definitely hold my own against him (sorry Mum). I let him walk ahead a bit, keeping an eye out for any big sticks.

We walked along what seemed like a dried out creek. Pebbles of all different sizes made for difficult walking, but it was nice not to be trekking in a severe ascent. We walked for 15 minutes or so, with me debating with my conscious as to whether I should turn and run. When suddenly we heard voices up ahead. Ah! At last, other people! And English speaking people, heading in the direction of the waterfalls! Feeling safer, we made some quick introductions and continued on our way. A funny group of Turkish, English and Australian, the six of us followed the red spray painted arrows, with hopes of a refreshing discovery. Of course, the way we were heading was the shorter, yet more dangerous way. Free rock climbing as they called it, we pulled ourselves up rocks, waded through creeks and ducked under trees, with hopes of getting closer and closer to our destination. I had taken my joggers off and found my bare feet were better than any shoes at climbing up rocks. Surprised at my strength, I easily climbed up rocks and feeling a bit like Bear Grylls, I got excited as the sound of rushing water was getting louder and louder.

Finally, after one particularly scary climb up a huge rock with not much to hold on, we reached the middle waterfall. These waterfalls were a set of several different terraces, with little ponds of crystal clear, icy cold fresh water. Ripping off my sweaty shirt and shorts I jumped into the frigid water, losing my breath at the sharp shock of coldness. It was so nice to be in fresh water after so long swimming in the sea. I felt clean and refreshed.

MADE IT! The icy cold fresh water was so worth it!
MADE IT! The icy cold fresh water was so worth it!

We hung about the waterfalls for awhile, chatting and laughing about our little adventure. There was another terrace higher up which the others wanted to climb to. I was running out of time, as I had to be back at Shambala for my shift. So after a long while, I pulled myself out of the fresh water, said goodbye to my new friends and headed back off to play Bear Grylls once again.

Making new friends and bonding over the wonders of the selfie stick
Making new friends and bonding over the wonders of the selfie stick
One of the beautiful fresh water terraces
One of the beautiful fresh water terraces

The climb back was equally as hard, as I had to jump down the rocks we had clambered up early. Thankful for all the push-ups I forced myself to do at the gym, I found it easy to use my arms to lower myself down, instead of just jumping onto the hard ground. I managed to find my way back to the campsites, with only a few moments of ‘where the hell am I?”

I reached the beach and bought myself an iced tea and bottle of water to quench my hard-earned thirst, before trekking up the steep hill to Shambala. I got back to my tent, exhausted but happy. I had found the waterfalls and met some lovely people. Just goes to show what happens when you trust a few strangers and don’t give up!

Next time, however, I’ll do a bit more research as to what way I need to go :p

J. x

Boatin’ and Beachin’ in Bodrum

So far my trip through Turkey had been a whirlwind of travelling, tourist attraction visiting and doing copious amounts of eating. So as K and I headed south towards the coast, I was keen for a few days of being a lazy ass and slothing it out on the beach.

We arrived into Bodrum around 1:30pm and made our way to Bodrum Backpackers, our accommodation for the next few nights. Bodrum Backpackers is surprisingly the only backpackers hostel in Bodrum, and they do their darnedest to make sure travellers get cheap accommodation. This may mean sleeping on the couch out on the deck or flooring it with a spare mattress, but if they can squeeze you in they will! We walked in and there were bags everywhere, phones charging at every spare outlet and writing all over the walls. It looked like a 20-somethings flat, who had about 50 friends crash for the weekend. There were two Scots running the joint, who welcomed us in like old pals and we were shown our room. Somehow despite booking the double room, K and I ended up in a single room, with a spare mattress for the floor.  A little apprehensive, we YOLO-ed (sorry, but we really did) and shoved our stuff in the shoebox sized room, put on our swimmers and made a beeline for the beach.

Bodrum, was to put it nicely – nothing like what I expected. We were told it was a chilled out little beach town, so I had visions of a place similar to Byron Bay or even one of the Gili Islands off Lombok. But no, Bodrum was equivalent to say, Thailand’s Patong Beach or Kuta in Bali. The beach was lined with beach chairs occupied by slowly darkening Euros, the shops sold tacky souvenirs and fake Dre Beats and fake Converse and the restaurants boasted about their ‘Full English Breakfast’ or ‘All day cocktails!’ There seemed nothing Turkish about the place at all, except the currency. Though I will admit, I wasn’t overly fussed – I just wanted some sun and salty water.

We made a perch at Cafe Del Mar, which was the regular jaunt for Backpacker Bodrum guests. After finding a lounge we raced for the water and splashed about the the remarkably clear water. We spent the afternoon between swimming, reading and chatting with other people from the hostel who had joined us. With every intention of checking out a bit more of Bodrum, we ended up spending the entire afternoon lazing about. And to be totally honest, it was perfect.

Around 5:30pm we packed up and had a look around the streets in search of a (very) late lunch. We managed to find a Turkish kebab place which was tasty, but nothing compared to the food we had been eating in other places. Heading back to the hostel for a shower, we booked a boat cruise for the following day and had a few drinks at the hostel bar, chatting with other travellers (predominately Aussie of course) until retired to bed, tired and red.

Sunsets over Bodrum Beach
Sunsets over Bodrum Beach

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The following morning we woke up and sought out some breakfast as the hostel didn’t offer any. We had until 10:30am until our boat cruise started so we wandered the streets, looking at all the shops before making our way to the cruise harbour where we would take off from.

For just 30TL, we were taken around five different coves and swimming spots, given lunch and an entire top deck to sun bake on. Deal of the trip – abso-freaking-lutely! The day was utter loveliness. K and I sunbaked, swam, read, napped and just enjoyed the fun of sailing.

Sailing in Turkey - a must do!
Sailing in Turkey – a must do!

I can’t emphasise how much you should do a gulet cruise in Turkey. Its the best way to see the beauty of the Turkish coastline, and it’s a day of total relaxation. I won’t go into too much detail, well because theres no much to tell. You sail, swim and relax. How much more convincing do you need!? More? Okay, heres’s some photos to tempt you..

Docking for a swim.
Docking for a swim.
Crystal clear waters
Crystal clear waters
Jump off the boat
Jump off the boat
Get some serious beach hair (and serious sunburn!)
Get some serious beach hair (and serious sunburn!)
Blue, Blue, Blue!
Blue, Blue, Blue!
Ain't no filter for this water. It's this damn blue and clear!
Ain’t no filter for this water. It’s this damn blue and clear! Don’t mind my terrible GoPro-ing abilities

We docked back in Bodrum around 5-ish and took our sunburnt, relaxed bodies straight back to the hostel. Its surprising how tiring doing nothing can be! We stayed up for awhile chatting with new travellers who had arrived (more Aussies) before calling it a night, ready for our next spontaneous adventure.

Stay tuned for where we are randomly heading next!

J. x

The Ancient City of Ephesus

Much like Gallipoli, the Ottoman Empire and Turkey in general, I was a little uneducated in the history of this wonderful little country. While I know I should have probably done a little bit more research than just looking at pictures on Google, the entire trip has been full of little surprises and facts that I can keep for a little bit of trivia. For example, the ancient city of Ephesus – famous for one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis – has a beer named after it. Efes, which is the Turkish translation for Ephesus, is the most popular brand of beer in Turkey.

We had a bit of a sleep in before being picked up for our Ephesus tour. As the ancient city is just 3km away, we didn’t have to leave until 9:30am, however K and I still managed to run late anyway. On the way, our tour guide gave us some basic information about Ephesus before taking us to our first stop, the House of Virgin Mary. This was believed to be the last home of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Our next stop was the main centre of Ephesus and what we had all come for. Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC and was ruled by the Romans in 129BC. Due to this, the city has a distinct Roman feel. Even from the ruins left today, you can see how the wealthy lived hundreds and hundreds of years ago. We started at the Magnesia Gate which would take us down hill through the ruins. Our first main sight was Odeion, an indoor theatre which seats about 1500 people. Having seen a few photos of Ephesus and the large theatre, I was little disappointed, thinking this was it and how underwhelming it was. However I was to be totally proven wrong as we went further into the ruins..

Odeion, the indoor theatre that seats 1500 people
Odeion, the indoor theatre that seats 1500 people

We continued down past the Basilica and the façade of the Temple of Hadrian, as well as the believed site of a brothel, which was very popular back in those days. Walking past the Terrace Houses, it was hard to believe how well the buildings had been preserved, as well as how lavishly the Ephesians lived.

The
The statue of the Goddess Nike , who personifies victory. Also the inspiration for the sportswear brand Nike. 
Perfectly preserved ruins
Perfectly preserved ruins

As we walked further down, we reached the Library of Celsus, my favourite. The grand two storey façade is in almost perfect condition and stands importantly at the foot of the hill. The Library was built by his son as a monument and grave for Ephesus governor Celsus, after he died in 106 AD. Beside the Library is the Market Agora, which then leads to Marble Avenue, which takes you to the Great Theatre.

The beautiful Library of Celsus
The beautiful Library of Celsus
Walking down to the Library
Walking down to the Library

Now, the Ephesians weren’t kidding, in fact calling in the Great Theatre is putting it mildly. This HUGE theatre is what we had been seeing in the photos, and it is about five times the size of the Odeion, the first indoor theatre we saw at the start. With the seating capacity of about 24,000 people, the Great Theatre was initially used for drama productions but as the Romans took over, was used for gladiatorial combats. We entered at the stage of the theatre and were swallowed up by the mere size of the theatre. Pretending we were rock stars, K and I did some impromptu dancing for our pretend audience before hightailing to some shady trees to catch our breath.

The Great Theatre
The Great Theatre
The grandness of the Great Theatre from the shade of the pine trees about 100 metres away
The grandness of the Great Theatre from the shade of the pine trees about 100 metres away

We met up with the rest of our tour guide and were taken to lunch before visiting the Temple of Artemis. Now I’m no history buff so excuse my ignorance here, but the site of the ruins was downright disappointing. Of course I wasn’t expecting the Temple to be sitting there in perfect form, but the swampy, rubbish filled area, with a lone column as the remainder of the Temple, was a little underwhelming. Nonetheless, it was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and with the help of the picture book one of the hawkers showed me, it was possible to picture what once was there. We didn’t stay too long there, partially because there wasn’t much to see and partially because we were utterly drained by the heat.

We were dropped off to our hostel and had a quick rest before catching the Dolmus bus down to Pamucak Beach. Before this though, we indulged in some baklava and ice-cream which pretty much turned my cranky, sweaty mood right around. If you do stay at Boomerang Hostel, definitely order this (especially with caramel ice-cream, droooool)

Best dessert ever! Baklava and caramel ice-cream :)
Best dessert ever! Baklava and caramel ice-cream 🙂

Just a 10 minute bus ride away, K and I were dropped off and we dove into the water, letting coolness sweep over us. Washing away the dirt from the ancient city we floated in the water, soothing our walked out feet and history overloaded heads. It was a wonderful way to finish the afternoon.

A local travel agent named Albie had told us we had to visit this restaurant which served the best gozleme in Turkey. Not one’s to shy away from food, K and I took up his offer to take us out to dinner. Askerin Yeri was a local secret right near Ephesus, which was a big open plan restaurant decorated with large pillows to seat on and brightly coloured lanterns. We shared several different types of gozleme, all absolutely delicious. Especially the sweet one, that had filling that tasted like peanut butter! It was a nice finishing touch to our time here in Selçuk.

Our next stop is Bodrum for some real holiday time by the beach!

J. x