Road Trip – Part Trois

With a big tick in the “We’ve Been To Cappadocia” Box, it was time to hit the road. And the road we hit was the famous old Silk Road that passed through Cappadocia on its way to Konya. There were Caravanserai every 30-40km, roughly the distance your average Camel could cover in a day. We stopped at a couple of impressive Caravanserai, with their big courtyards and bedrooms around the sides on our way back to Konya.


DSC_0576On the way to Konya we also decided to veer off the main highway and head out to the World Heritage site of Catalhoyuk, where they have dug up a whole Neolithic Town. Theres a small museum and a couple of giant sheds covering two extensive archaeological excavations, but as far as building something interesting to look at the Neolithics were way behind the Romans and Greeks.

We arrived in Konya at about 5pm and went straight to the Restaurant where we had the best Lamb Tandir Kebab. This time there was no holding back as we ordered 300gm each and enjoyed every mouthful of it.

Back on the road again, our plan was to head towards the Taurus Mountains and stop for the night after an hour or two. We got to Seydişehir thinking that it’s a reasonable enough size to have a decent hotel or two. However nothing looked promising and so we decided to hit the road again.

As we headed up the Taurus Mountains the rain started again and the towns thinned out. Tripadvisor was telling us there was a reasonable hotel at Akseki so that’s where we headed. Never believe what you read on the internet but at least it was a bed for the night.

Next day we headed down the mountains to the sea, popping out just East of Side. We drove in there for a quick look at the harbour and a coffee. Decided the ruins and the cute seaside town required further exploration by boat and pushed on.

Next stop was Aspendos, known for its Amphitheatre, which is one of the best from the Roman world. Attaturk decided it would be done up and used for live performances – something not everyone agreed with at the time but I must say it makes for a spectacular setting. Other than a few nice Aquaducts (what have the Romans ever done for us?) , it was all about the Amphitheatre and not much else.


Whilst we were in a ancient ruins state of mind we decided to check out Perge as well .Perge is where Apollonius of Perge hung out, a bit of a Grecian mathematical hero of the times. Evidently Kepler hooked into his work when Perge was rediscovered during the Renaissance and this helped Kepler develop his now famous laws of planetary motion. Well there you go. Perge is chockers full of ruins – city walls, sports stadiums, marketplaces, the full box and dice.

Then it was time for lunch and a swim at one of Antalya’s many beaches. Antalya’s a big, big city and it took us a while to drive through it. After the swim we headed to the old town and walked down to the old port. In season, it’s almost impossible to get a berth here but we intend to come back out of season and see a bit more of Antalya.


It was getting late in the afternoon as we left Antalya and headed towards Olympos. We wanted to see the famous Chimaera and the best place to stay to do this is Cirali Beach, just up from Olympos.

We made it there just before dark and did our usual canvassing of hotels before picking a nice one at a bargain price. This gave us just enough time for swim and a bottle and a swim on the beach before heading off to dinner at one of the beachside restaurants. This took us all the way to 10pm when we drove to the carpark at the bottom of the walk to the Chimeara and set off along the 2km walk in the dark – along with quite a few others.

DSC_0669Homer described the chimaera as a fire breathing monster who was slain by a local Greek hero; and the fire that comes out of the rocks is the eternal breath of the monster. Hate to disappoint but there are no monsters, just a continual stream of methane gas coming out of several spots in the rocks. We wandered around looking at all the spot fires before settling on one to roast our marshmellows. The Turks had a go at trying to claim the Olympic Torch relay originally came from Chimaera but they got shot down pretty quickly. Still,, it was pretty damn cool!

Next day, it was time to drive back to La Mischief after nearly 2 weeks on the road. On the way back we called into Finike and caught up with Sherrie and Shaun on their Catana, who we last saw in Santorini. We also called into Demre and saw the Church of St Nicolas, which was buried below ground until it was escavated, and Myra which is another A Grade set of ruins.

Then it was back to Kas where La Mischief was waiting and off to Smiley’s Restaurant to thank him for looking after her.

For photos of our Road Trip, click here.

Cappadocia – Apologies in Advance for the Verbal Diorrhea

By the time we were on our way to Cappadocia, it seemed everyone had got there before us. Which was great for us as we’d plucked everyone’s brains and got a bit of an idea as to how we would tackle one of the world’s most fascinating places. You can’t find Cappadocia on a map – it a sort of region bound together with a whimsical fairytale landscape that seems to have been transported there from the moon. It’s both odd and beautiful at the same time with its towering boulders and honeycombed hills where erosion has formed caves, clefts, pinnacles, “fairy chimneys” and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock. All this is wrapped up in some fascinating history. People have long utilised Cappadoccia’s soft rocks, seeking shelter underground and leaving the countryside scattered with fascinating troglodyte-style architecture.


Firstly it was the Hittites but really the region is famous for the early Christians that settled in these caves and underground cities. Cappadocia even gets a mention in the Bible (evidently).

We started our Cappodocia adventure by driving to Goreme and going on a bit of a hotel selection expedition. We wanted a cave room with a view and a pool. We quickly gave up on the pool as they tended to be indoor or very small. After much walking around we settled on Lalezar Hotel, which had been recommended to us by a couple of different friends. We managed to negotiate the top floor suite for 150TL a night. Was a really spacious cave with a great private balcony out the front overlooking Goreme. Perfect.

Next morning, we were up early to check out the 200 or so balloons as they came past. We watched a few go by from our balcony and then headed up the top of the hill behind the town to get a really good look. 200 balloons – that’s probably 2000-3000 people a day, every day over peak time. What a sight.


After breakfast, we hooked up with Red Dot (real name Vedat), a Uni student in Cyprus who was helping out at the Hotel (which his Dad owned) and went exploring. Red Dot acted as our guide as we started to get a handle on Cappadocia. First stop was Cavusin, where Red Dot took us on a windy narrow road up to a lookout behind the town with some cool churches, cave houses and a cave hotel. After a quick stop to look out over the top of Rose Valley, we headed across to Love Valley. Looking down on all the phallic symbols, we got the gist of the name. The Turkish are evidently far less subtle. Hopping back in the car, we drove into Love Valley and had a walk around the bottom of the phallic playground.

At this stage we were getting hungry so we headed for Red Dot’s favourite restaurant in Avanos. Lunched up, we then headed over to Monk’s Valley in Pasabag. Pasabag valley contains some of the most striking fairy chimneys in Cappadocia with twin and even triple rock caps. Whilst perusing the chimneys, we also found out this is where Red Dot used to take his girlfriend for some after hours activities.

Our final stop of the day was Uçhisar, with its natural rock citadel forming the tallest point in Cappadocia, visible from just about everywhere we had driven. Interestingly enough, Rd Dot hadn’t been up the castle before so we treated him to something new.

That was just about enough for Day 1 so we headed back and booked our balloon trip for the next morning. We checked out a few companies and settled on one Red Dot had recommended. The trick is to get one with a medium-sized basket (about 12 people) rather than the 25 people baskets. It cost us a bit of dough – 250 Euros from memory, but it was my first time in a balloon and what a way to start.

There’s two takeoff times, the first just before dawn and the second, just after it. We were on the second and we took off just behind the Zelve Outdoor Museum, which we got a great look at from the air as we flew low over it.

From there we popped out over the range and looked down into firstly Red Valley and then Rose Valley. We then headed over to Love Valley and our captain expertly dropped us down inside the valley amongst the giant phallic symbols. After 50 minutes it was time to land and our pilot amazingly used a small valley to get back (against what was a light breeze higher up) to our landing spot. After the obligatory champagnes, it was back to our hotel in time for breakfast. What an experience.

Then it was time for more exploring. We took off down the road to Goreme Open Air Museum.

Yet another of Turkey’s Unesco World Heritage Sites (one of the two oldest in Turkey) that we visited on our Road Trip, the Göreme Open-Air Museum is a walk through an important Byzantine settlement that contains the finest of the rock-cut churches, with beautiful frescoes still showing after all these years. It was pretty impressive as we walked through and in a cluster of monastic Byzantine artistry with its rock-cut churches, chapels and monasteries. As Michael said (having been there a year before), it was a walk through early Christian history.

On the way back to the car park we passed through a cluster of tourist shops and of course the guy peddling the expensive camel ride. What started with Dee wanting to have her photo patting the camels became a sit on the camel followed by a ride on the camels.

With 20 million camel shots now on my camera’s memory card, we got back in the car and headed for Ortahisar Castle. Not quite as impressive as the one at Uchisar, it was still up there on the Morgan scale of Castles and worth a look. What’s even better was the wine cave at its base. Cappadocia looks barren but the soil is quite productive and it is a major wine growing area in Turkey.

Wine caves visited, contents sampled and purchase made, it was off to Urgup. Nothing really to report here – pleasant little town with some possibilities but we didn’t stop and explore much after calling in at the tourist bureau and having lunch in town.

Onwards and upwards it was to the Zelve Open-Air Museum, which once housed one of the largest Christian and Muslim communities in the region. We walked through this amazing cave town, honeycombed with dwellings, churches and mosques. The Christians were forced to leave the Valley because of the exchange of minorities between Greece and Turkey in 1924, and the Muslims were forced to evacuate the Valley in the 50’s when life became dangerous due to risk of erosion.


Back in Goreme, we enjoyed a bottle of wine on our balcony watching the sun go down, it was time to check out Topdeck Cave Restaurant, the best of Goreme’s restaurants according to Tripadvisor and who were we to argue with them. The name’s a bit confusing as it is in a small cave (tick) and the guy who owns it has a nickname of “Topdeck” from his early days of driving buses in London. It turned out to be a great restaurant, with beautiful food and great staff. We finished off the night by drinking some Cappadocia red with Red Dot and a group of his University law friends from Izmir who had come to visit – why not when your friend’s dad owns a hotel.

Next day, it was time to head underground. Cappadocia has 36 underground cave-cities, that were started way back in Hittite times, and expanded over the centuries as various marauders came through in search of captives and plunder. At 85m deep, the one is in Derinkuyu is the deepest of them all and that’s where we headed.DSC_0395

It took us 30 minute to drive and unfortunately we got there a bit late to avoid the hordes. So it was a bit claustrophobic down there with all those people. But very interesting as we saw stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churches, wineries and school rooms.

Descending vertical staircases we saw the deep ventilation shafts that also doubled as wells. Really interesting were the carefully balanced moving stone doors, resembling mill stones, which could quickly block the corridors in the event of an attack.

Since we were on a bit of a road trip on our road trip, we decided to keep going and visit Ihlara Valley. We parked the car and descended the 100m into the canyon. It was a nice walk along the side of the river, past all the churches carved into the rocks. We stopped at a cute little café for fresh OJ with day beds built out across the stream itself – very Turkish.

Our last stop of the day was the Sunset Stop at the top of Rose Valley. We got there a bit before sunset so we walked down and had a look at the top of Rose Valley, before heading up top and checking out the sunset.

Next day we were checking out, but before we did we wanted to do a walk in
Rose Valley. After hunting around to see how close we could park the car we found that “not that close” was the answer. So it took us 15 minutes to get into the Valley proper. It was well worth the walk and it’s a pity we didn’t have more time. We met a lot of walkers doing it one way from Goreme to where we’d parked the car – obviously with a tour that picked them up at the other end. But for us it was “backtrack time” as it was time to pick up our luggage from the hotel and leave the fairy tale land of Cappadocia.


For more photos of Cappadocia click here


Road Trip – Part Deux

Ankara is the capital of Turkey, but except for two or three must see items, its pretty much the Canberra of Turkey.


Our first impression driving into Ankara was just how big it was. Negotiating the traffic via Google Maps was challenging, and after a few wrong turns we made it to Attaturk’s Mausoleum in Anıtkabir. Attaturk is a bit of a hero of mine and it was great to wander through the extensive museum and see how one man’s will and determination created a whole modern nation, including a new alphabet and written language, surnames, a legal framework and a modern education system plus a heap of other stuff. They don’t call him the Father of Turkey for nothing. Definitely a must see.

Our second destination was the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations – also a very impressive museum, impressive enough to have won the European Museum of the Year. The Museum uses the catch phase “Turkey – The Biggest Outdoor Museum in the World”, with which we would have to agree. If you haven’t been to Turkey you should definitely do yourself a favour! The museum was mostly old stuff – you know – 3000 years ago or so; plus a little bit of much newer stuff from the days of Alexander the Great and the Romans. Anatolia was one of the cradles of early civilization and the museum was chocker block full of amazing Hittite statues, wall friezes and pottery. Great museum. The museum was also just below the old castle; so we stretched our legs and headed upwards. On the Morgan scale of Castles, this one rated a “‘Medium” – but we are getting picky these days. We walked along the castle ramparts and got a great view of Ankara stretching out into the distance.


Our visit to Ankara was a hit and run exercise and we were soon on our way to Safranbolu, a wonderfully preserved traditional Ottoman village. It was a very interesting drive through the rolling hills as we continued to make our way North. The drive into Safranbolu is equally as impressive as you drop down into the valley where it is situated. We had the choice of quite a few quaint hotels, old stone mansions that have been turned into boutique hotels. The old caravanserai from the 14th century has also been turned into a very impressive hotel. From the 13th century to the advent of the railway in the early 20th century, Safranbolu was an important caravan station on the main trade route from the Orient to the West. Nowadays, Safranbolu is a UNESCO World Heritage site with the Old Mosque, Old Bath and Süleyman Pasha Medrese all surviving since 1322. The streets come alive at night with small traders and restaurants adding lots of colour and movement. Another highlight of our road trip and well worth the effort to go up there.


That ended up being as far north as we got. It was time to head towards Cappadocia – but first we needed to get a little Bronze Age action along the way. So we headed for Hattusa, the ancient capital of the Hittite Empire. It was a long drive, through some thunderstorms to Boğazkale, where we camped the night at a great little Hotel with virtually no other guests. Had a great chat to the owner over a bottle of red and dinner and called it a night.

Next morning, we headed into the museum in Boğazkale, where a lot of the bits and bobs from Hattusa are displayed. There’s a couple of very impressive stone sphinxes, originally found at the southern gate in Hattusa – one of which was returned from Germany in 2011, after much postering and numerous requests. Having got a bit of a feel for the place from the museum, we hopped into the car and drove to the actual archaeological site of Hattusa. The first thing you see is a very impressive fort that formed part of the wall that went around the whole of Hattusa, courtesy of some fairly good slave power I imagine. Hattusa is a huge site, so you actually have to drive around it and see it all. There’s an impressive tunnel that goes quite a way under the city wall and lots of remnants of buildings that show the extent of the place. We finished off our visit to Hattusa with a short trip north to the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya, with its interesting and very old rock carvings.


With our knowledge of the Hittite civilisation greatly enhanced, it was time to head south east towards the famous and mythical area of Capadoccia.

For photos of our Road Trip click here.

RoadTrip – Part 1

After leaving Randy and Toma we’d headed up to Gocek to get our Christec battery chargers removed and sent back to France for reprogramming, ready for when our newly ordered Victron Lithium (LIFePO4) batteries arrived to Sanli from Modayacht. The house batteries that Lagoon supplied weren’t very good and their days were rapidly coming to an end. The cunning plan was to get Sanli to remove the Christec units and send them off, whilst at the same time ordering all the parts from Victron, whilst we fill in the time waiting with a nice little roadtrip.

On the way to Gocek by boat, we had called into Kalkan and saw Peter, an American guy who we met in Kas and who lives in the hills behind Kalkan. He’s been a textile trader in Turkey and had lots of suggestions on where we should go. He also invited us to stay the night at his beautiful house just outside a little village with great views down to the coast near Kalkan. We swam in his lovely pool and got to know his dogs. He then cooked us a great meal whilst we enjoyed the view. Next day we took him out sailing – only for the day as he had some dog business to attend to – he’d been looking after some strays and the lady from the dog refuge was coming to see him.

Boats are a great way to see a country, but sometimes its great to get a hire car and check out what’s beyond the coast. As you can guess, we organized to leave La Mischief under the watchful eye of Smiley in Kas for the great bargain of 70TL a night. We had to go stern to the wall with our anchor right over the other side of the harbour, well away from the chain that ran down the middle of the harbour. In this case, the chain was a godsend as it allowed us to take a belts and braces approach and pay 100TL to a diver to attach a rope around this chain and back to the boat. La Mischief was going nowhere whilst we were away.

Smiley also organised our hire car for 90TL a day – another bargain. By the time we’d finished getting the diver organised, it was into the afternoon as we headed towards Kalkan.

With our map marked up with a combination of Peter’s suggestions, lonely planet recommendations and stuff off the net, we headed inland. It was a great drive through some interesting scenery. As it started to get towards dark, we found ourselves not far from Sagalassos. Lonely Planet describes it as “the very antithesis of the ‘Ephesus experience’, Sagalassos is rarely troubled by tour buses or crowds; sometimes the visiting archaeologists or sheep wandering the slopes outnumber tourists”. Sounded like a visit.



So off we headed hoping to find somewhere to stay on approach. We drove through one small town that didn’t have a hotel in sight. I was pessimistic as we drove through the countryside, but Dee as usual was upbeat and sure enough there was a sign that said “ Sagalassos Hotel and Spa – 200m ahead. Bingo – 5 star hotel for about $70 a night, which we nearly had all to ourselves.

After enjoying a bit of luxury, it was off up the top of the mountain to check out ancient Sagalassos, one of the Med’s largest archaeological projects. As promised, we pretty much had the place to ourselves as we wandered around some pretty impressive ancient ruins. It still had running water, which flowed through the ancient Roman water fountains in the square. Nice.

Back in the car we continued to head inland through the lakes district. Next stop was a town called Eğirdir on a lake called Eğirdir. It was on the must see list but after stopping and having a stroll around we decided we needed a new must see list. Nothing to write home about.

DSC_0593Next stop was one we would have never have got to if it hadn’t been for Peter suggesting we go there. It was the Hittite moment at Eflatunpınar, which means  “lilac coloured spring”. The spring have been directed into a rectangular pond with a high wall of reliefs with the Storm God and the Sun Goddess with winged sun-disks above each. The most amazing thing about this is that it was built 3000 years ago, well before the Greek empire came into existence.

DSC_0602next stop – Beyşehir on lake Beyşehir was very impressive, mainly due to an extremely old wooden mosque. Dee got accosted by a lovely old lady who helped us cover up appropriately so we could go in and marvel at the wood work.

The last stop of the day was Konya, a religious centre and home of the whirling dervishes. We got there at 5pm and drove through the centre of the city, marveling at the very impressive Mevlâna Museum, which is the mausoleum of Mevlâna Jelaleddin Rumî. Rumi is one of the world’s most read poets. The Mevlâna Museum is Turkey’s second most-visited tourist attraction after the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Rumi was a mystic, a Sufi saint who loved all religions, and whose own religion was love.

Konya was the capital of the Seljuk Turkish Sultanate of Rum. The Seljuks built numerous caravansarays along the Silk Road between Cappadocia and Konya, and beyond. Seljuk architecture is outstanding, and the Mevlâna Museum was a very impressive example of this architecture.


Konya is also the place to get Tandoor Lamb, with a night view of the stunning Mevlâna Museum and joining Mosque. 13 hours of slow roasting produced the best lamb I have ever tasted. It was so good , we returned later on the way back from our road trip and pigged out on 300gms each.

As luck world have it, we rolled up on a Thursday, which is when the Whirling Dervishes put on a free display. These followers of Rumi lose themselves in trance and dance, spinning like tops for hours on end. There’s lots of tourist destinations throughout Turkey where you can go and see the Whirling Dervishes but Konya is where they come from and the best spot to see them by a country mile. The Sema ceremony, which they perform is really a prayer, totally memorising with 22 Dervishes whirling away under the direction of their leader, backed by a singer and an accompanying band of traditional musicians. The performance itself is the closest a tourist can get to watching a genuine Whirling Dervishes performance.


Next morning it was off North to Ankara.

For photos of the road trip click here.


Smiley – The Happiest Guy in Turkey

DSC_0754The motor sail back from Kekova to Kas was into the wind so more motor than sail. We did a few tacks and ended up going quite close to Kasterlorizo so Randy and Toma got a bonus look at Greece.

We decided to pull into the town harbour at Kas, as this was quite reasonably priced (280TL for 3 days).DSC_0470 The harbour is really busy in summer with a steady stream of gullets coming and going, along with a splattering of yachts. This was where we first met Smiley. Smiley owns Smiley’s Restaurant (which after all is quite reasonable) and he’s a permanent fixture on the wall as each new yacht pulls in. He helps you find a spot, yells out anchoring tips and helps every yacht tie up. Then he proceeds to make you feel right at home. A local Kas icon and all round good guy.

Of course we ate at his restaurant that night! Its right by the harbor as you walk out so its impossible to miss. It even comes with a bonus set of catacombs under the restaurant. Not quite as impressive as the ones in Istanbul but quite interesting none the less.

Smiley’s also came with a really nice waiter called Junith…. who went head to head with Dee drinking Raki. He came and had some beers on La Mischief during one of his short breaks…he only gets a couple of hours off on each of the seven days a week he works. They all work long and hard during the tourist season.

Our other favourite hang out was Multu’s bar – Mumi’s, which is round the corner from Smiley’s, built out over the crystal clear turquoise sea. The sea is really refreshing as there are a lot of cool freshwater springs that flow directly into it…same ones as you find in all the catacombs underneath various restaurants on the water front.

We really love Kas and Randy and Toma loved it too. The streets light up at night and the window shopping is great. There’s Lycian tombs directly behind the town and one slap bang in the middle.DSC_0425 the highlight of our stay was a Turkish shave and massage in the local barber’s shop of which there are many. Randy had never had a shave from a straightedge before so it was a real experience for him. And me too.

Then it was time for Randy and Toma to hop in a taxi and head for Dalyman Airport – 90 minutes away. It seemed like they had hardly got here where they had to leave. It was good to hang out with some of Dee’s friends and we had a blast.