Thursday, June 07, 2012

Thursday, June 07, 2012

After a week detached from the rest of the world – figuratively speaking – stay in the enigmatic town of Siwa Oasis, I’m back again in Turkey.  My feet is itching, that means, it’s gonna be an exciting travel around the country!  At least after a couple of days rest in Istanbul.  

I was scanning for the cheapest airfare online on any destination in Turkey and surprisingly I came up with a TL57 to Antalya by OnurAir ( which is even cheaper than the cost of a bus ticket at the Buyuk Otogar that ranges from TL60 to 65, in a lot less travel time.  And the good thing about it is, the flight is departing at the Ataturk airport, not from the farther Sabiha Gokcen where most of the budget airlines are flying or landing.  I immediately grabbed it, it’s a sweet deal, how could I let it pass?

The airline have a free shuttle bus, although it’s heading to Alanya not Antalya centrum.  Check their website for the free shuttles, here:

Upon landing at Antalya Airport I took the red big Antobus right in front of the airport terminal that goes to the main bus terminal of the city.  I paid TL2 although the trip from the airport is quite long.  From the Otogar where the Antobus stopped, I took the public bus onto Antalya centrum at TL1.50.

Kaleici at night.

What a luck! (or not) I missed my bus stop and have to take a taxi and there was a sudden electricity blackout when I arrived at the Kaleici, the old part of the city where I’ll be staying.  The taxi went on asking people where the hotel is. We found it after meandering around the narrow streets, it was so dark that I have to stumble in the dark onto the stairs, found the reception and in a couple of minutes and while chatting with the receptionist, the electricity went on. Smiling he said, “You brought goodluck, welcome!”.  I know, right?

I’m not much into big touristy cities and I was actually avoiding Antalya but I wanted to go to Olympos and I don’t really want to travel at night to there, I don’t have pretty much choice do I?  So I might as well wander around the city for a couple of days but perhaps not the crowded beaches, Olympos has it anyway, and more secluded.

Antalya is Turkey’s 8th most populous city and one of the most visited city in the country with a big influx of foreign tourists.  The city is believed to be founded in 150BC by Attalos II, the King of Pergamon.

The hotel I stayed at is one of the old wooden mansion converted to hotel within the charming historic city center of Kaleici, it was fascinating walking along the small streets with old ottoman era mansions, ancient mosques, the Hadrian's Gate, and the beautiful quayside.

One of the neat cobblestone street of Kaleici, Antalya.

After two nights of wandering around Antalya, I took the tramvay to the main bus terminal, jumped on a minibus on the way to Olympos.  I was dropped off a roadside café and waited for the dolmush (shared van) to take me to the main town.

The ride from the main highway to Olympos took about half an hour and it stopped exactly in front of the the Olympos Orange Pension where I’ll be staying. Most of the pension houses line up the street that leads to the Olympos ruins and the beautiful beach.

Ruins along the river in Olympos.

Olympos town is down a valley and is pretty much a laid-back relaxing place.  It exudes a hippie vibe, no big hotels or resorts, just wooden bungalows and tree houses and most of the tourists who come there are the more adventurous type.  It is an environmentally protected area and it is along the famous Lycian Way trail.  There are three main (among many) activities to do in Olympos - meander inside the forest and get lost amongst the scattered ruins of a once ancient city, the pebbled beach beyond it is absolutely beautiful and not crowded, and an evening climb at the continuously breathing flames of Chimaera.  

I’m still hesitant in coming back to Istanbul, I felt like my vacation or travel is short-lived, it's barely two weeks and I'm not used to a short travel.  But where do I go next?

I don't really want to stray out of the path and the next best candidate nearest to the Dalaman airport where I’ll be taking off is Fethiye.  So after four tranquil days at Olympos, I headed to the town of Fethiye and I was glad about my choice.  

Ancient amphitheater overlooking the marina of Fethiye.

Tombs of Amyntas carved on the side of the mountain.

Apart from the fact that Fethiye is not an expensive place, it is loaded with remnants of Lycian civilization like the amphitheater near the marina bay, the ancient walls on the mountain, the Lycian tombs of Amyntas and the unusual sight of tombs along the streets.

I made a side trip to the turquoise beach of Oludeniz also known as the "Blue Lagoon" and did some hike up the mountain along the highway above the beach.  The view there was spectacular, although Oludeniz is a touristy destination during the summer months with mostly British tourists, it wasn't that crowded during my visit which is still considered a cold month.

Oludeniz beach.

I received a call on my second day in Fethiye, a former work colleague from the middle east and his family just arrived in Istanbul for a week vacation and I have to tour them around the city so I have to end my travel in Fethiye and fly back to the big city.


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