Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey 6 - It's All Fun and Games Until...

We have two weeks left on our trip. How time flies by... The last couple of weeks we have enjoyed the company of our friends from Vancouver, Geoff and Josie. Geoff is a guide and we roomed with him while Pam was finishing her teaching degree at UBC. Elise has really taken to Geoff because he's funny and he entertains her crazy comments/ideas. I told her, "Geoff is full of baloney", and she's run with this comment, reminding him of it constantly. We've had some nice day trips with them where we all cram into one car and go sightseeing.

My climbing was going fairly well on this trip until two weeks ago. I was attempting (successfully) a project climb that I'd been trying for many days, and tore my left rotator cuff (shoulder). This was in injury to my good shoulder, not the one I'd been nursing for the last two years. Without going into full detail, suffice to say this put an abrupt stop to my climbing and I've been off it ever since. This was not the trip outcome I was looking for and I'm very disappointed, to say the least. It's feeling somewhat better after a 10-day break and I may try some light climbing again soon. Other than that little set-back, everyone is doing well and we are enjoying exploring the area and doing lots and lots of hiking to burn off my excess energy. The weather is still (!) warm and we are doing our best to revel in it before our return to the worst winter weather I've seen in BC in over a decade.

We did a day trip to Side with Geoff and Josie. It's a beautiful coastal town and we enjoyed windy weather on the beach, shell collecting, touring ruins and strolling the narrow streets. Elise was overjoyed - there were cats everywhere!

We returned to the Saklikent ski area to hike to the summit on a gorgeous day. The skies were crystal clear and it was cold in the alpine. We tried to go to an observatory at the very top, but guards turned us back. It's a government/military facility.

Pam hiking down the observatory access road.

We've snorkelled some more at Phaselis beach. There were ducks around one of the beach bungalow areas, which had some very odd red facial features. I saw a very large iridescent blue crab, which was a highlight for me. Elise did some more snorkelling with us, but got cold fast. The sea is cooling off and it's hard to stay in for long. She loves collecting shells, though, and this keeps her busy for some time. Hawaii should be lots of fun this year.

We hiked to ruins above the climbing area. It was a 45-minute uphill hike through a beautiful pine forest. We really enjoyed it and the walk was great exercise (especially with Elise on my back). The ruins were amazing, as always, and not often explored. We found many sarchophagi (sp?) scattered throughout the forest, explored caves and alcoves on a hilltop castle and found ancient lettering on a basillica's walls. Here, Elise shoulders the kid pack.

We did another hike to the shoulder of Mount Olympos. To access the trail, we had to hike through an active logging block and it was very interesting. The loggers are essentially Turkish families that set up camp in plastic "tents". I watched entire families stripping the bark from the pine trees - by hand! Pam's comment was, "labour might be cheaper than machinery". Could be true. We had a vicious dog rush us and I had to threaten it with Pam's ski pole to get it to back off. This left quite an impression on Elise (and us).

On the way up the mountain, it started to rain and got quite cold. We huddled under this huge juniper tree and lit a small fire, which was the highlight of the outing for Elise for some odd reason. She just seemed really excited. The sun eventually returned and we continued our hike until we tired.

View of Mount Olympos from the village below. We went nowhere near the summit. We just walked through the forest toward the alpine. I think we were on the "Lycian Way", an ancient route of travel through this part of Turkey.

Elise and I want to "Mini City", an odd tourist attraction in Antalya. It's comprised of dozens of miniature replicas of famous sites in Turkey. The highlight for Elise was playing in the park afterward, of course.

Most recently, we drove to a gorgeous mountain gorge with Geoff and Josie. It was a semi-alpine area that reminded me of the hills in northern Spain. We enjoyed relaxing by a narrow gorge and then drove up to a 2,000-year-old city, Selge. When we arrived, the villagers swarmed the car - I thought one lady was literally going to through herself under the front of the vehicle. It turns out, they make their entire living from tourism in this remote place and wanted us to buy their crafts. Women followed us on the hike with bundles of goods they tried to push on us. It was somewhat annoying, but also part of the cultural experience I guess. We did learn a fair amount about their way of life through Josie, who speaks German and translated stories from a villager who spoke German as well.

Can you imagine having this in your backyard?

Elise was obsessed with trying to reconstruct portions of the ruin. Here she is with Geoff fitting chunks of marble together.

Lunch by the river.

Josie wearing a scarf that Geoff bought from the villagers.

Family portrait at the ruins.

Elise petting goats at the beach.

We had a nice dinner out in Antalya with Geoff and Josie. The meal was good, but we are slowly becoming somewhat cynical about how we are treated as tourists. Everyone wants to sell us something, and they can be very aggressive. In restaurants, food is often brought to the table without us asking, and then we are charged for it afterward. We've found we have to be extremely careful communicating what we do or do not want in order to get a bill that matches our expectations. For example, if one person at the table orders a salad, suddenly a giant bowl of salad may appear and we'll all get charged for salad instead of the one person that ordered it. You could chalk this up to a language barrier, but after numerous variations on this kind of situation, we've decided it's not an innocent error. Time will tell... Here's Elise, fading to black around 9:00 pm.

We return on December 16th. We look forward to connecting with friends and family. I'll try to make another post before we come home. Until then, enjoy the winter.


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