Our final days in Turkey have arrived, and so has winter's fury. Weeks ago I believed it never got very cold in this area - how wrong I was. Yesterday, a storm swept down from the north and what started as an overcast, mild day turned downright frigid in an hour or less. First came the thunder, then a ferocious hail storm, which soon turned to pelting rain. Then the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. We were climbing during this maelstrom and stayed under the overhangs to keep dry, but when the lightning started ripping the sky directly above the cliff, I got a tad nervous about hanging off the wall covered in metal carabiners. The incredible claps of thunder left a lasting impression on Elise, who was hunkered inside her tent. We endured until 2:00 pm (the only other climbers out there were Brits, go figure), but we just got too cold and couldn't take it any longer. We went to the campground restaurant (Josito's) and had hot chocolate around the wood burning stove and played with the cats, much to Elise's delight. The temperature on the car's dashboard read 3 degrees and I could see fresh snow on the ridges about 500 feet above us. So much for my complaints about the heat.
Snowline above Josito's...
Hike on a sunny day before the storm.
Pam and Elise on an alpine ridge hear the ski area, Saklikent. There was no trail, but the terrain was excellent for off-trail hiking. We saw fossils in the limestone and Elise placed a stone in the cairn on the ridge top.
The climbing area (Geyikbayiri) from the highway above.
Jeff and Josie have gone home and so will we in three days. We really enjoyed our time with them and finished our visit with a great dinner at another yummy Turkish restaurant (we've found a few). It's hard to believe, but only 6 days ago we spent a nice afternoon on the beach snorkelling with them before heading to the tombs of Myra for the evening. How quickly the conditions can change! We also enjoyed touring the Karain cave, about 15 km north of Antalya. This cave is apparently the oldest one on earth that has seen continual human habitation since the early Palaeolithic era and its been heavily excavated. Again, we really enjoyed Geoff and Josies' company on this outing and Elise was especially sad to see Geoff go home at the end of their trip. She really bonded with him.
Elise with pottery shards. She loves collecting things.
Tombs and ruins around the ancient city of Myra.
Most recently, we toured the Antalya museum (without our friends). It was recommended in the Lonely Planet guidebook and it was well worth the visit. The displays or Turkish and Roman artifacts (complete with the artifacts from the Karain cave) were truly incredible and Elise stayed fully engaged for over an hour, until we were suddenly informed that the museum was about to close and we had to leave. Surprise! We were really disappointed because we were only halfway through. Try complaining to a museum director that only speaks Turkish. Trust me, it doesn't work very well - we were sent on our way with a stern look and nothing else.
On the climbing front, my shoulder has improved somewhat and I've climbed for the past week. Maybe the rest I took was helpful - it's hard to say. The joint is certainly not 100%, but it seems to be allowing me to push a bit, and that's more than I was expecting at this point. I'm glad I got to do some more climbs. I was starting to prepare for the worst. Elise and Pam remain healthy, and both have continued to climb (Elise on climbs she has named herself, her favourite being "Lemon Jewel Frog".
We spent an afternoon at the carnival. We did this activity with Geoff and Josie and Elise had a GREAT time. She especially loved doing the bumper cars with Geoff and I. We couldn't believe what a beating she was taking, but she just cackled and screeched with glee evertime Geoff slammed into us. No kidding. This would not have been allowed in North America, I'm sure.
When we fly home, we have to lay over in Istanbul for one night and have made preparations to stay at our previous hotel, the Best Nobel. The airport hotels were just too expensive so we've opted to take a train into the city for our final night. At least we know the area so we won't feel so lost. We have to get up at 3:00 am to catch our flight, though. There's going to be nothing pleasant about that. We arrive home on the afternoon of the 16th (if all goes well) and are preparing for more wintery weather.
We will miss the fruit. It grows everywhere, is excellent and is free for the taking.
How was the trip? It's been nothing short of interesting. The climbing didn't quite live up to my expectations, but getting hurt halfway through has tainted my ability to be objective, I think. We've seen the most amazing ruins and artifacts - more so than on any other trip - and that's been a real highlight. The mountain terrain is beautiful, but hard to explore because the country is just not set up for adventure tourism. Most of our hikes have been off-trail or on logging roads, but fun, nonetheless. The beaches were very nice and I really enjoyed snorkelling (for real) with Elise. We had some grand water adventures. We also had some grand adventures driving in this country. The Turks are the worst drivers I've ever experienced, and that's no joke. I just hope we get the car back to the airport without getting into an accident. There have been too many close calls. The food was great, the service was so-so and the pushy vendors were just too much after awhile. It will be interesting to see what we all remember in the years to come.
Fishing boats at the Kaleci marina.
Two more days of climbing (one sunny and one stormy) and then we head out. We hope you are all well and look forward to re-connecting.