Friday, 24 June 2011

On the road again... Back to Istanbul

After hot air ballooning we had another yummy b'fast, and then it was on to Ankara, Turkey's capital. Here we visited Ataturks' mausoleum and museum. We arrived just in time to see the 'changing of the guards'. they way the walk really isn't practical, that's for sure! After lunch we went to the museum of Anatolian civilization.

A mass of colour in the grounds of Ataturk's Mausoleum

The roof of the mausoleum
We then had about 4 hours to spare in Ankara before we had to catch the overnight SLEEPER train back to Istanbul - It was great that this was included in the price of the tour, and not an 'optional upgrade'. We even had a whole sleeper carriage to ourselves! I shared a room with 'mum'. After arriving back in Istanbul we had breakfast on the top of Camlicca Hill, which gives great views of Istanbul and the Bosphorous. We then crossed the Bosphorus Bridge, travelling from Asia back into Europe.

After checking in, me and 'mum' had a rest, then went for a walk to get some lunch. then we caught a tram to the Blue Mosque, which was AMAZING!! We then went for a walk to find the Grand Bazaar which was packed. After the bazaar we went to the Spice Bazaar, which was awesome. It got some nougat, and delicious dried apricots - YUM!! All in all a good last day in Istanbul - the next morning me and 'mum' basically just got up and headed for the airport, to return to London, and ready to do my photography course, which I will blog about next :)
 The outside of the mosque

Inside - Beautiful!


My alarm was set for 4.30am, as we were getting picked up at 4.50 to see sunrise over the Cappadocia region. Once we arrived at the take off point we had some tea/coffee and biscuits/cakes to nibble on. While we were eating we got to watch the balloons being inflated. We finally took off and went were the wind took us. It was amazing to see how many balloons there were, and how high some of them got! After about an hours flight we had to prepare for landing. There is no designated landing space, as you can not steer a balloon. The landing was quite smooth, and we had some bubbly and O.J. afterwards, and each got a certificate, though I did have to write in my own last name!! This is mainly a photos blog. I had always planned on going hot air ballooning in Turkey, before I even went to Egypt, and while it was pretty amazing, and the view was great, now that I've done it, it's not something I'd rush out to do again - I would rather spend my money on more travelling! :P

Beautiful Cappadocia

On our way to Cappadocia we visited the Mevlan Museum, the mausoleum of a Sufi mystic and also the lodge of the Mevlevi order, better know as the whirling dervishes. Next it was on to the Sultanhani Caravanserai - a roadside inn, where travellers could rest for the night. We were supposed to pay an entrance fee to see this place, but there was no one guarding the door...
Mevlan Museum

We were supposed to visit an underground city that afternoon, but got there too late and it was closed. We did go and visit Uchisar Castle, which is carved out of the rocks in Cappadocia's highest point. That night we went out for dinner to a restaurant that cooked the food in clay pots, from the clay that is famous in the region. The dinner was delicious, but I was stuffed by the end of it, as they gave us HUGE amounts of complimentary Turkish bread - about 1 metre long loafs between 4 of us. On top of that I also had dessert :P The next morning it was amazing to see all the balloons. Breakfast at the hotel- which had been built into the rock caves, and had beautifully decorated rooms - was also good. We had lots of fresh and dried fruits YUM!


We continued our tour of the Cappadocia region by see the phallic-like structures that have formed naturally from various volcanic eruptions and erosion from wind and water. Funnily enough they are commonly called fairy chimneys! Next we went and saw the Goreme open air museum. As the fairy chimneys are formed of soft rocks, they have been carved into houses, churches and ministries. In the afternoon we went to a pottery shop and had a demonstration on how a piece of pottery is made from the clay. It was amazing how quickly an item is made - about 5 minutes for a teapot!

Some of the group had fun taking pics of this one :P

A carved out dining table

From this...

.. to this

Add caption
That evening we met up with a couple who had been on the 8 day tour, but since then had been doing their won thing. It was really great catching up with - it was like catching up with old friends. We went to the same restaurant for dinner, but did not get nearly as much bread. It was then back to the hotel for an earlyish night, as we had an early morning the next day for HOT AIR BALLOONING!!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Onwards, and somewhat backwards...

Some nice boats there :)
 29th April we drove to Fethiye. For a 'free day' it was very scheduled! We went to the town centre for lunch, where some of the boys got a cut throat shave, and even eye-brow threading lol. Lunch was quite slow, so we didn't get to do anything else.
Razor sharp!
 After lunch we went to Oludeniz Beach, which was quite nice, except for the fact it was a pebble beach and hurt your feet! I do miss the white sandy beaches of Australia :( The water was also quite cold, so it took me a LONG time to get in. However, it was good that the water got deep REALLY quickly - not even 2 metres from shore and I couldn't reach the bottom any more!

The next day we left our accommodation and drove to an ancient site called Tlos. Here I went to change into my sandshooes, as I was just wearing thongs, when I realised my suitcase wasn't on the bus!! Oh no, I left it in the hotel reception. I think I though, for some stupid reason or another, that the bus drivers would take it from reception and put it on the bus for me! Well I learnt a lesson that day - Always watch your gear go on the bus! Although, I will admit my suitcase wasn't the only thing to be left behind, and I have many items of clothing scattered throughout Turkey :P I left my bikini and board shorts in one hotel bathroom, a pair of pj's in another hotel, and I'm sure I left my QLD State of Origin jersey and hooded vest (without the hood lol) on the bus, but it went missing overnight :S Anyway, Yalcin made a few phone calls for me and my suitcase was put on a bus, where I could pick it up after we left Tlos.

The view from Tlos
 At Tlos we had to walk along this thin path on the side of the mountain. It was quite slippery and bushy in some parts - remember I was only wearing my thongs!! I did get stung my a stinging plant, but luckily it didn't sting for too long. We also had to climb up this make shift ladder to get up over a rock ledge to see a carving of the winged horse Pegasus. We also had a close up look at some more rock tombs, and some free time to explore the rest of Tlos.
If you look closely you can see the carving of Pegasus

Some more rock tombs
 After a fresh OJ, we continued on to Saklikent George, where we went for a short walk and had lunch, I played around with my camera, trying to get that soft flowing look of waterfalls.

Where we had lunch, and a lie in the hammocks :)
On the drive to Olympos, where we were staying the night we drove along the cliffs next to the Med. The was was absolutely amazing! I hope the water is as nice when I go diving in September- although I do hope it is slightly warm :) We also stopped off at Myra, the city where St. Nicholas lived, and his church and tomb are here. Only a couple of people went into the church, as it was a bit expensive, and apparently not worth it. There were some mulberry trees, with tiny little green mulberries growing in the streets (as well as orange trees and eucalyptus trees - they smelt really good :P) and I was very disappointed not to go to Turkey during  mulberry season. Next time I will definitely go a bit later in the year, and stuff myself on mulberries YUM!! and hopefully figs too, as they also grown in Turkey.

Statue of St. Nick
We finally made it Olympus in the early evening, where we were staying in 'tree houses' for then night. Really, they were more like log cabins, very small but still nice enough. I went for a walk with Lorraine, my 'Turkey mum'. We went for a walk past the archaeological sites and a small creek to the beach. Here we saw lots of frogs playing what looked like kiss-chase. It was soo funny :P

Another waterfal picture :)

This frog was facing away from me to begin with, but then
turned and let me take his picture - he was a poser that's
for sure!!

Some brightly coloured flowers - so pretty
On the way to Egirdir, we stopped at a waterfall in a national park (Dogayla Dost Olalum, according to the ticket). We then continued on, not stopping at Antalya, as as it was Labour day, and there were marches or something going on. we got to  our accommodation in the evening, and me and 'mum' went for a walk where we saw some pretty weird marble sculptures. Dinner that night was mixed - the starter (soup) and dessert (baklava and strawberries) were very yummy, but the main was horrible. We had cold chips (as in they had been stored in the fridge), barely warm rice and flavourless meat... How can they get some parts of the meal so good, and the rest so horrible?!?!

Well a bit of a long blog this time, but the good news is I have nearly finished blogging my Turkey trip! Only a couple more entries to go and I will be done :) For those who are still reading, thanks for sticking with it :P You'll be happy to know that I did cut some bits from my diary, and also so photos, so it could have been even longer than it already is!!