A Travellerspoint blog

October 2014

Syros, Greece

An apartment to relax in

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I'm afraid this is quite a short blog entry because we got lazy on this island, Syros.

We stayed in a beautiful apartment; full kitchen, breakfast bar, two balconies with sea views and sofa to chill out on. Although we were paying a little more for this place (25 Euros) we decided we would save money and cook for ourselves everyday. I loved it; we made a full chicken roast dinner with roast potatoes and veg, then this was enough for a further nights meal and chicken orzo pasta on another day. We then went down to the local market and got ourselves a fresh fish (we're not sure what it was) and served it with baked leeks, tomatoes and feta. Delicious! I even made homemade cherry bread and butter pudding to satisfy Jason's sweet tooth. It was a nice apartment to chill in, write some blogs, edit photographs and plan our next stint in Japan, especially as the weather was a mix of sun and showers. Unfortunately, this meant that we didn't explore a lot of the island.

Syros is completely different to the other islands we'd visited. It is the most populated of the Cyclades, and yet one of the smallest islands. It's got a major port that is central to industrial distribution around the Greek islands and the old town is steeped in history and culture. There are none of those cute, small white painted houses, instead they're grand mansions with ornate balconies and ceilings. For such a small area there are plenty of museums to visit (we only visited the archeological museum), grand town hall and beautiful main square. The square, Plateia Miaouli, feels more Italian than Greek, lined with trees and cafes. As you climb the many steps to the top of the hill, entering a town area called Ano Syros, there's a large church Agios Giorgio's that dominates the town and has views out to sea.

The only other thing we did on our 5 night stay on the island was head down to the rocky, man made bathing area on the edge of the town. Although it wasn't the prettiest of beaches, it did have perfect swimming conditions and a view of the coast line with those huge mansions lining it, most of which are now luxury hotels with posh terraces.

Sorry we couldn't tell you much more about this island, but we do now feel a little more planned for Japan and well rested to meet our parents in Istanbul in a few days time...can't wait!

Posted by bloorsontour 13:00 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Naxos

Our favourite restaurant so far

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We'd already spent one night in Naxos when we were getting a morning ferry to Amorgos and knew that it was somewhere we wanted to explore more of. It's one of the biggest Cyclades islands and most mountainous so we were hoping to have another different island experience.

We were staying in a nice little room with our own small kitchenette, cheap enough and right in the middle of the old town walls. Naxos old town is quite cute, but I imagine in peak tourist season it gets very busy as there are lots of restaurants, cafes and hotels. For us, yet again, it was lovely and quiet. I really enjoyed wandering around the old town; there were plenty of cafes, jewellery shops and pretty hidden alleyways to keep me occupied. Our room was right at the top of the old town and next door to the castle ruins. The castle has a little exhibition room and hosts musical events in the evening (we didn't need to buy tickets to the concerts because we could hear the traditional music from our room). You also get a panoramic view from the terrace at the top too.

We decided to hire a scooter for two days. To be honest, on the first day we only drove to a secluded beach and back, but the beach itself was so worth it. It was backed by sand dunes and had crystal clear water for snorkelling (it was also a nuudist beach too, but I chose to keep my clothes on). So we didn't get up to much else but sunbathe... Oh, I did get to practice riding the scooter for the first time because Jason says I need to learn before Malaysia so that he can have his mum on the back of his scooter when she's backpacking with us (so Debbie, I hope you're ready for some scooter time?!). I actually quite liked it and think I could get the hang of it. Other than this pretty beach to spend a few hours on, we only really saw a couple of large beach resort areas that were shut for the winter period.

The next day we set out early and drove straight to the central village area of the island. We got to appreciate the vast mountains that make up the island, it was a beautiful drive. The weather had turned a little, although it was sunny it also had a bitterly cold wind so we were really wrapped up for our scooter ride. We called in at Halki village, which was really quaint with outdoor cafes, art gallery, local photography exhibition and a lemon liquor distillery. We had a little tour around the distillery, called Kipton, that makes Naxos liquor from the leaves of a lemon tree...a very nice tipple! By the time we'd reached the next village, Moni, we were in need of a hot drink to warm us up and the only place open was a little Greek cafe filled with old men playing card games and most probably putting the world to rights.

Our plan was to drive around the north coast of the island as it's supposed to have a scenic coastal road, but that trip was abandoned because our scooter broke down. Bummer! The thing was, we both had a feeling something was going to go wrong with the scooter because it was the third scooter that this Greek guy was trying to give us, the other ones had all got dodgy brake lights. We were kicking ourselves... why did we take the third scooter knowing that it was obviously a dodgy company?! Anyway, we think the bike's engine overheated on inclines...we left it 15 minutes and tried to start the engine on numerous occasions, but the bike was having none of it. So we free wheeled back down the hill and pushed it to the nearest village where a lady in a local cafe rang the motorbike man to come and rescue us. We sat outside this cafe for about an hour when an old Greek man walked past and started messing with the bike and through perseverance got it started again. By this point we were cold and worried about it breaking down again and us not getting home, so our day exploring was cut short and we headed back to the old town. Nevermind, we'd still had a good day.

We took George's advice, the wine man on Santorini, and visited Maros taverna for our evening meal...we went there three times in total. The food was proper homemade and the portions massive. We sampled slow cooked lamb, beef in lemon, beef in tomatoes, pork stuffed with feta, mousaka, zucchini balls and spinach pies. It was all amazing! We liked it here too because at the end of your meal you got a complimentary 0.5 litre of wine and desert. The slow cooked beef in lemons was to die for!

To draw comparisons to the other islands we've visited, I'd say that this one has the potential to be very touristy in peak season and that we got it at its best. It's had the best food of all the islands. The scenery is very different to the others; it's not volcanic like Santorini and is more mountainous than Amorgos with a lusher green landscape. It's a lot bigger than the other islands and so there's probably enough to keep you busy for a long summer holiday. Yet again, felt very different to the other islands we'd visited and had its own unique feel.

Posted by bloorsontour 10:14 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Amorgos

Traditional Greek island life

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We really didn't know what other islands we wanted to visit... maybe Crete, maybe Karpathos, but those islands meant that we would have to go back on ourselves and the ferries didn't run everyday because it was the end of the season. So instead we caught a ferry to Naxos and had a very brief one night stay there so that we could catch an early ferry to Amorgos.

We'd done our research and knew that the campsite at Aegiali was still open until the end of October. There are two ferry stops for such a small island; Katapola is the main one and Aegiali is the smaller one in the north of the island. When we got off the ferry there was a mini bus waiting to take us directly to the campsite. We were the only ones camping, but there were other guests staying in the Askas Family's pension attached to the site. The camp was well suited for us; a short walk from the beach, kitchen so that we could cook for ourselves, tent in a shaded area amongst olive and orange trees, hot water and clean showers. It was good to know we could make use of the tent again and that Jason wasn't just carrying it around for nothing.

The island basically has one main road for cars that runs from north to south, and then numerous donkey footpaths that wind through the mountains so that farmers can tend to their goats. These also make great walking paths too. So on our first day there we decided to walk 17km around the northern spur, which takes you through a beautiful village called Lagarda, then onto a path that takes you to the top of a small mountain so that you get a view of Aegiali Bay and then through olive trees and herding goats. Jason was desperate to get back to doing some proper hiking, I suppose we had been having a lot of beach time. As a reward after the walk we sat at a beach side cafe and had a Greek feast; white wine, fish, Greek salad, zucchini balls and tomato balls.

Like I've mentioned in previous blog entries, we have been impressed with the local house wines, and especially their price. My favourite time here was spending the evening on the beach, watching the sunset, working our way through 1.5 litres of red wine for the cost of 4 Euros (£3). Not just from an alcohol point of view, but because of the setting too.

Jason's Birthday!!! He woke up in his tent to open his one and only card from my brother and Nicola (it was a great idea you two, to pack those few cards for us to open on special days we're missing at home). J decided he wanted to spend the day exploring the island on a motorbike... he is desperate to do his motorbike licence now that he has had so much practice since we've been away. The weather was perfect, bright blue skies with a slight breeze. First stop was Katapola, which was really cute. Quite a few harbour cafes and restaurants within a beautiful bay, which we later returned to to have lunch and cake (Jason's birthday cake was a cherry cheesecake). We stopped to have a little stroll around and give my bottom a rest from the bike. After this stop we went to the main village of Hora where there's a monastery built into the cliffs edge. You have to go just outside of Hora itself to reach it and there are a lot of steps that lead you up to the main door, but it looks pretty impressive, white washed with nothing but dark cliffs around it. Jason was a bit put out at first, he was asked to wear a thick denim pair of jeans, which after the steep climb and then narrow doorways proved extremely hot. But he was soon won over when after you visit the main monastery alter you get led to a reception area where the priests offer you complimentary honey raki and Turkish delight. You certainly don't get that offering in other religious buildings we've visited. The final part of his birthday exploring was finding a perfect secluded beach; it was a small pebbled cove with refreshing clear blue water. We managed to pass away most of the afternoon here, it was perfect! Jason reckoned the only thing missing from his day was going out for a few beverages. So...we spent the evening sitting in a bar by the sea near our tent, learning how to play gin rummy, whilst working our way through Greek beer, Fix. I'm sure he'd say he had had a good birthday.

We really enjoyed our stay on Amorgos, for us it gave us a sense of traditional Greek island life. There's no airport on the island and we went at the end of the season when there were hardly any foreign guests on the island, so it made our visit extra special. The scenery is beautiful, there's tonnes of walking routes to do, loads of hidden gem beaches, quaint villages, stunning harbour side, amazing food and it gets the best of the Greek sunshine. As much as I love Santorini, it is undeniably a Greek tourist destination, whereas Amorgos is a local island unspoilt by tourists. I love them both for different reasons (Jason preferred Amorgos).

Posted by bloorsontour 08:41 Archived in Greece Comments (3)

Santorini

Sunsets, wine and the best bakery

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We had no idea where to head to next, so when Jenna and James dropped us off near the airport we went straight to the nearest ticket desk and asked what ferries were leaving that evening. There happened to be a ferry to Santorini in two hours time, so we quickly bought them and dashed for the nearest bus into town where the port was.

It was quite a long ferry, taking 8 hours to get there and so we didn't arrive at Santorini until 1am. We had no accommodation booked, but luckily there was a local travel company that gave us a lift to a cheap room for the night. We were absolutely shattered; what with a fun packed week, late night from the wedding and a fair bit of alcohol consumption, we needed our bed.

We had planned to camp as much as possible around the Greek islands, however it seemed that the camp site on Santorini, Perissa Beach, had mostly shut for the season. It was deserted, with a little sign requesting any other customers to ring a number to book into the site...but it was going to be 17 Euros for us to camp or 20 Euros for a clean and basic ensuite room. I managed to persuade Jason to go for the room option. The lady that looked after the few rooms in the complex we were staying in was lovely, one morning she even made us complimentary coffee and tea with traditional rice pudding and cinnamon. It was delicious! This room also happened to be near the best bakery we found. To Jason's joy it was also open 24 hours a day. In 3 days he managed to sample numerous spinach & feta pies, ham and cheese pie, orange cake, baklava, pizzas, olive bread, and that's just the stuff I know about...I'm sure there was more.

I've been to Santorini before, 4 years ago with my friend Rach Suttorini, but it was Jason's first time. I'd raved on about my holiday with Rach so much that he had high hopes. We rented a scooter for a couple of days so that we could explore the island at our own leisure. We called in at a couple of vineyards and did some wine tasting, which was nice, but didn't buy any because we've found that the cheap house wine has been delicious so far and for half the price... we are on a backpackers budget after all. We got chatting to a really nice guy, George, that was doing our wine tasting at Bulvari Vineyards and he has recommended a few things for us to do when island hopping. He's recommended we visit Amorgos Island and a restaurant on Naxos for a good cheap eat...we will see if we can fit them in.

On the whole Santorini was quiet; beaches empty, hotels shut and restaurants to ourselves. We quite like it this way, but we had been told that in peak season a population of 12,000 increases to 750,000...it must be packed! When exploring we stopped at quiet little bays to top up our tans and swim, wandered around village lanes to take in the scenery and called in at cafes for wine and cake...perfect sunny holiday days. The only place on the whole of the island that felt remotely busy was Oia at sunset. This is what the island is famed for; spectacular sunsets over the caldera of an erupted volcano. It's the place that is on all of the postcards, white painted houses in cave type structure with blue dome roofs. There's some seriously expensive and luxury accommodation here, where you can watch the sun go down everyday from your private terrace away from the crowds of tourists. We, on the otherhand, had a Greek kebab, grabbed some beer and sat on a wall to watch the sun go down. It had really been a fab few days exploring the island again... I love it here. The only downside was the breezey cold drive home on our scooter in the dark once the sun had gone down to the other end of the island...freezing!

You know me by now and I must end with a food update...unfortunately it wasn't a Greek type of food that got my attention on this island...it was a Mexican salad. George, the wine man, told us to visit Tempranillos Restaurant near our accommodation in Perissa and order a salad. We ordered one salad between the two of us...massive doesn't cover it, the plate was bigger than our heads put together. It was filled with chicken, beans, parmesan, onions, sweetcorn, peppers, tortilla chips and a gorgeous dressing. We only discovered this place on our last day and wish we could have sampled more of their salads.

The ferry leaving the island sails straight through the caldera, where you get a completely different view of the island's volcanic formations and white houses lining the top of the orange rocks. I'd definitely recommend a boat trip from the island because the view is amazing (you can also visit the hot springs from there too).

Taking more of George's advise, our next island is Amorgos.

Posted by bloorsontour 06:50 Archived in Greece Tagged santorini Comments (0)

Lindos, Rhodes, Greece

The Wedding

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For those of you reading this blog for travel information about Rhodes or Lindos, I'm afraid my entry is more about a group of friends getting back together for a Greek wedding. It's been a fab week with plenty of laughter, sun galore and loads of catching up.

We were greeted by Rachael screaming and running across the carpark as we got off the ferry in Rhodes old town. I was so excited, I hadn't seen her in months and couldn't wait to see her get married. We were the first of our friends to arrive at the villa and me and Rach were itching for everybody else to arrive. It did mean that we got to pick the best room in the villa; and after 3 weeks in a tent it was bliss! Our room had two balconies, huge bed with a seaview room.

We only really got to scratch the surface of what Lindos had to offer because I'm afraid most of the week was spent chilling around the pool, chatting with friends, the odd drink or two and general wedding planning. I was dead chuffed that the girls were impressed with my tan when I got there, I was defo the most tanned bridesmaid (it'd only taken me 4 months to do). Everyone in our villa got to see what I have to contend with travelling with J for the last 4 months...they couldn't believe how much Jason does in a day. He can't keep still. While most people were relaxing and drinking, Jason had itchy feet and went out on numerous runs and swims at the beach. On one occasion he went for a run with Sam, a professional boxer who trains everyday at home...Sam arrived back from their run without J...I think he'd been put through his paces. I have to say that Jason's continued swimming practice is going well, in fact I'm now worried he's better than me. He's a much more confident sea swimmer than me... I get panicked by what's beneath me. Our villa was a short walk from Navrone Bay, a beautiful quite beach with turquoise water and perfect snorkeling & swimming for us. We tended to head down to this beach at some point in our day, making a change from our villa pool.

Lindos is really pretty. Whitewashed houses and narrow alleyways wind their way up to the acropolis that sits magnificently perched at the top of it all. Lots of tourists visit in the day and take a donkey ride up to the acropolis, but at night time it's really peaceful with pretty rooftop terrace restaurants to spend your evening. We went out a couple of times... I love Greek food! Mezze, feta, fish, souvlaki, salads, baklava, wine...delicious!

Amongst all this fun in the sun there was a hen and stag party to organise. The best man, Hilly, arranged a day of what most boys love best...football, beer and dressing the groom in a pink mankini & tutu. The girls had a toga party, cocktail making class, quiz night, Greek meal and dancing. We all donned our bed sheets and hit Lindos town...I don't think people knew what to make of us all. Me and Jason had spent the last couple of weeks writing a poem for me and Jenna to read out on the hen party about Rachael (there's a sneaky peak of this at the end). It was a brilliant night! Hope you enjoyed it Rachael?!

For the last two nights of our week we moved out of our villa and checked into Hotel Melenos, the wedding venue. It was just beautiful; a small boutique hotel that looked out over Lindos Bay, each room was slightly different, bubbly on arrival, fresh fruit in everybody's room,the most comfy mattress I've ever slept on and the view from our room terrace was amazing. Breakfast was an absolute feast; pastries, cereal, homemade cakes, eggs any way you liked, cooked meats, cheese and ham platter, fruits, yougurts, salads, you name it and they had it. We definitely made the most of our stay there.

The wedding day!!!!!!!!! It was a red hot day, described by locals as being unusual for October. The boys headed down to the beach for a refreshing morning dip in the sea that included being towed around in a rubber ring by a speedboat. The girls opted out and instead beautified themselves. It's always nice getting ready together the morning of a wedding; there was bubbly, tears, reminiscing...I loved it! Rach's sister, Charlottte, helped her into her dress and we were all gobsmacked...Rachael looked stunning! The perfect bride. With a deep breathe we left the hotel and negotiated our way down the cobbled alleyways, being careful not to drop the dress into the donkey poo and to shade Rach under the parasol. Loads of people wished her well and took photographs of us all wandering down the streets to Lindos square. We were all excited now!

The ceremony took place at a chapel by the side of a beautiful bay. I held onto Jenna for dear life as we were wearing heels and attempting to walk down a steep cobbled path to the aisle whilst being accompanied by a violinist. Terry's mum and Laura, bridesmaid, both read beautiful readings at the ceremony. But I have to say that the best readings were done by the bride and groom; their vows had been written themselves and they had totally summed up what they mean to each other. After the ceremony and photographs, most people were surprised by the champagne boat ride along the coast back to Lindos Bay (a few of us knew and had been keeping it a secret from the rest of the wedding party all week). Luckily our friend, James, survived the boat trip and his sea sickness medication worked! Unfortunately we didn't take our camera to the ceremony or boat ride, but Rach has let me put a few of the official wedding pics onto the blog so you can see.

Rach must have spent ages making all of the crafty DIY bits to decorate the wedding venue; there were glass vases, bunting on each persons chair, wooden alphabet favours, pearl beads, crafty table numbers, and much more. The venue looked gorgeous. We all sat down to a banquet meal; ouzo aperitif, mixed mezze plate, orange & parmesan salad, lamb chops and sorbet. Despite all the apprehension and worry, everybody's speech went down really well... I love a good speech! And we all danced the night away on the roof top terrace. An absolutely beautiful day!

The end of the wedding day meant one thing... goodbyes :-( Jenna and Rach always get emotional at goodbyes, whereas me and Laura take it in our stride and are the shoulders to cry on. I'm not sure when I'll see those girls next...but I know for sure that we'll be friends forever.

A Poem for Rachael Green

We are here to celebrate the wonderful Rachael Green.
Recently absent and little seen.
Our friend, we feel closer than ever
and staying in touch is never an endeavour.

Rach, you're our best friend, a friendship to treasure
and one which we know will last forever.
But enough of the soppiness and sentiment,
Let's talk about the hilarity and amusement.

6 physio girls, a house at Hallam University,
Many personalities but mostly without adversity.
That said, deadlines loomed and there would be tears,
But look now Rach, we all have careers.

To all of Eccy Road there was her skeleton in view,
And a hallway cluttered full of Rach's shoes too.
Sharing stories, clothes and house dinners,
Rach's fajitas were always winners.

Rach took the prize for messiest housemate,
Me, with my OCD, found it a little hard to relate.
Our mugs migrated to Rach's lair,
And over time they cultivated mould in there.

Rach is definitely a blond at heart,
Let's talk about my hen do for a start.
Onto her bag went some sparkling wine,
Unknown to us she'd thought "into the oven it'll be fine".

As the room filled with smoke,
We realised it was no joke.
Rach's bag had melted down,
And she still took the bag out on the town.

Uni had ended, but before we were parted,
Off on our trip to Thailand we departed.
Shock to the system, the chilli's were a trial,
But the charity work was totally worthwhile.

Time on the islands, buckets of Sangsom, glug glug,
I guess this is what gave Rachael Green the travel bug.
Twas not only drinking, but plenty of adventure too,
Like Rachael peeing on a python...good job it wasn't a number two.

Rach's demeanour changed, becoming extremely merry,
You can probably guess, this is when she'd met Terry.
A hunky lifeguard, Mr Wood,
A similar stature together they stood.

They had a lot...each other, a house, friends, but maybe there's more,
With all their stuff sold they were off to explore.
Mixed emotions, but stop her I would not,
For who shall help me now paint my next teapot.

Seeing the pictures, the stories, all of the places,
I'm chuffed that through it all you've got smiles on your faces.
You did the right thing, that is clear,
And it makes it all the more sweet to be with you here.

They've seen Everest, The Great Wall, pagodas and temples galore,
They've seen Uluru, Halong Bay, the Ganges, could there be much more?!
It's a mountain, it's special, it's Kinabalu,
It's only where they went and got engaged... Woohoo!

So here we are; Greens, Woods; friends and family of the two,
Guess it means a lot that so many are here for you.
That said, it's little hardship for us to be here in Greece,
We all want to wish you a lifetime of harmony and peace.

Posted by bloorsontour 03:31 Archived in Greece Comments (2)

Turkey's Mediterranean Coast

Stunning walks, great beaches and friendly people

DSC_0919_1.jpgDSC_0891_1.jpgDSC_0894_1.jpgDSC_0897_1.jpg5BEE15EE9FF11B2E1EBF3E94CD48A1B0.jpgDSC_0902_1.jpgDSC_0903_1.jpgDSC_0918_1.jpgDSC_0929_1.jpg5BF7A112AA2A6EAF0EDE13B6737FCA5A.jpgDSC_0947_1.jpgDSC_0954_1.jpgDSC_0958_1.jpgDSC_0974_1.jpgDSC_0981_1.jpg5C0D8BFED89D282AB4BF707FBE5892BA.jpgDSC_0992_1.jpgDSC_0993_1.jpg5C1256FEB561B6B204AE69911EEB5109.jpg5C13AC34D9CB8106D69069D73C76CAF2.jpgDSC_1013_1.jpgIMG_20140920_164655_1.jpgIMG_20140925_062042_1.jpgDSC_1014.jpgDSC_1024_1.jpg5C1896EF0FF53E9A3379BDDF51A74A9C.jpg5C1AEA42F59E78D60715DF09CCF0416F.jpgDSC_1033_1.jpg5C1CE414DEA73AC5301B4BE256614D23.jpg5C2CC3770AEF3A9A7DF8CFD8E74329AA.jpgDSC_1039_1.jpg5C2ECA86ECF8BC50F2594DA9AD027638.jpg5C30A6C9BFEF95D12D8F0A819214A1F7.jpg5C31C2C0BB557989DA38D4AE3F79F85C.jpgDSC_1067_1.jpgDSC_1070_1.jpgDSC_1074_1.jpgDSC_1095_1.jpgIMG_5872_1.jpgIMG_5882_1.jpgIMG_5896_1.jpgIMG_20140930_072802_2.jpgWe had planned to tear around Turkey, to get out east to the Kurdish areas and to tick off all the sites. Having realised that turkey wasn't going to be as budget friendly as we had become used to and the subsequent investment in our tent, we decided that fitting too much in may not be fun. Also, given the fighting right up to the Syrian border and the warnings from the foreign office about IS targeting Brits, it seemed wise to put some distance between us and it...

I (jason here) had been reading about walking and getting away from the touristy areas, which are renowned for being a bit unpleasant and came upon the Lycian Way. A walk of nearly 600km between Ovacik and Antalya (across the south Mediterranean coast). The plan was to use dolmus' (local buses) and our legs to cover part of it, camping along the way. I loved the idea of camping in the wild with a stunning view for company. It sounded romantic and cheap... Sophie disagreed and we were limited to places with hot water, a restaurant and a toilet that you didn't have to dig for yourself - that was probably for the best really!

Having ditched Sophie's bag and as much stuff as we could, we were down to one big bag and a small one: you can guess who carried what. We arrived in Oludeniz, which was to be our first base before starting the walk. We had seen a couple of camp sites in the Lonely Planet so after a 10 minute walk in the heat, we were a little put out to be told there were no longer any campsites in town. Back in town, it was little Britain with strong regional accents, tattoos, sunburn, lager and English breakfasts. It was quite cool seeing the paragliders landing on the beach following a 2000m decent, but we decided to get out asap... The dolmus would be nearly an hour, but just as it was due to arrive, I had an extremely urgent call of nature (my 4th during our 50min wait). Having answered the call I ran to a pharmacy to get something - being in a tent, away from civilisation for the coming week, it seemed like an imperative... So we missed the bus despite Sophie's best efforts to make them wait and we had a short "disagreement", but in the end it was decided that it was best I went on the toilet rather than the bus and that neither of us wanted to wait another hour... (Please note: Sophie's view on this may differ).

It was all up from here, both literally and metaphorically. Faralya stands at the top of a huge valley a few hundred metres from the sea and is STUNNING. We headed to a guest house camp site that Sophie had found (George House) and it was perfect. For £10 each we had dinner, breakfast, pool and an incredible view. The place was really communal and relaxed. Having erected our tent, we negotiated the 40 minute climb down to Butterfly Valley and the sea. It was fairly hard going as we'd taken all of our valuables, water, snorkels etc and parts involved lowering yourself down on a rope. There was a pretty cool music festival on at the bottom and we persuaded the organiser that we would not be paying to sit on the beach. The festival was fairly chilled and featured some interesting characters to people watch that almost made up for the lack of tranquility that the beach would otherwise have had...

After the climb back and a nice shower, we watched the sun set from hammocks by our tent with the obligatory glass of red. The moment the sun sank below the horizon, a bell rang; dinner was served! It was really tasty, especially the unlimited quantities of local honey, yoghurt and cakes. After food we crashed out, exhausted from barely sleeping after our overnight bus from Cappadocia and our day's exertions...

Fighting fit from a good night's sleep and hearty breakfast (unlimited honey and yoghurt again) and with the pills from the pharmacy taking effect, we set off to do the first day of the Lycian Way, but in reverse. The walk was amazing with views over the med, backed by mountains, forest and little villages. There were thousands of bee hives along the way and the bees were pretty friendly. At one point they were down my back and stuck on my bag, camera and head. It was enough to distract us and we lost our way slightly, but not a single sting. We asked directions from a bee keeper who offered us a lift in his bee filled car (he and his son were in full bee keeping getup); we politely declined. We were soon back on track and filled our water bottles in Kirme, which was a sleepy little village with friendly locals. At the top of the walk we met an English bloke who'd hung back so we could get a photo with a view down to the blue lagoon and Oludeniz (one of the best views we've ever seen). I was a little worried that he was one of the Little Britain lot, but it quickly became clear that he wasnt. He had broken his hip and could no longer run and also informed us that he'd forgotten travel insurance. This made his slipping and sliding on the way down a little more "exciting". He had run many of the races that Sophie's dad had done as well as running 100km distance races for GB! We walked the rest of the way together without conversation drying up. Back in Oludeniz, we resisted the urge to have a cold beer and bought a bottle of red for another evening of sunset watching back at the tent instead...

After a good 20km walk in the heat the day before, I allowed Sophie a day by the pool! I spent a good few hours reading by the pool before getting itchy feet and heading off for a walk along the valley ridge- an incredible walk considering it only took an hour. after another stint at the pool, I still felt energetic so decided to run to Kabak and back. It was only a bit over 10km, I think, but 10% gradients all the way and baking sun made it hard work. Over dinner, we got chatting to a couple of American lads, one of which had been working in Turkey for a while. They were good company and were really interested in our motives for upping and leaving. Sophie spent most of the meal trying to convince Joe to do the same. We also had a semi-retired couple (Sue and Mike) on our table who were great! Sue had been everywhere we had been or wanted to go and they now spent time looking after people's homes and pets while they are away. Staying in multi million pound mansions for free and taking the family cocker spaniel for a walk each day definitely appealed, so we'll be looking into it!

Next we took the coastal path to Kabak from Faralya. This time we had to carry the tent and all. I thought it was great, but Soph wasn't so sure... There were many complaints about the weight of the bag, which given that I was carrying the tent, sleeping gear, clothes and all of Sophie's "essential" toiletries, I found it hard to sympathise with... The walk was beautiful and we had a midway dip to cool off in the crystal clear water. We also had a packed lunch that George House allowed us to make from breakfast.

Once in Kabak we headed to Touran camping, which had been highly recommended by a polish chap we'd met. Unfortunately his price guide was a bit off and it was beyond our budget. Next to Sultan camping, which was cheaper, nice but with rather cold staff and a poor evening meal. We were paying more for a much worse setup than we had at George house and thought about heading back...

The next day we sought out a new place to stay. Everywhere is half board and we managed to get the same £10 each a night deal with a place run by a guy called Touran... We realised the issue! This place was great and worthy of the recommendation - Kabak Valley camping! Food was delicious and the men running it literally ran around to make sure we had everything we needed. The beach at Kabak was great and I managed to get in some more swimming practice - it's coming on!

After another rest day, it was time to get Sophie walking again, so we did the next leg of the Lycian way to Alinca, but as a loop back. The walk didn't disappoint again, though it was pretty tough with over 700m of climb (at a guess) and well over 20km in distance. The guide we'd picked up in Oludeniz was deceiving, unhelpful and heavy so we got rid of it! We got some pretty good food with an awesome view in Alinca and I wished we'd carried the tent so that we could have spent the night. Another night in Kabak was no hardship though...

Reluctant to move on, we decided to head to Kas further east along the coast. Kas was a pretty little town that clearly would have been full of visitors the month or so previous. We had our pick of restaurants and felt very relaxed there. Can Mocamp was Sophie's choice campsite here and she did good again! Just opposite the marina was a colourful place with a cool bar and a great character as the owner. Can managed a blend of chilled-out attentiveness, never seeming in a rush or forceful, but making sure that everything worked well. One night Can persuaded me to play the guitar in his bar, with him accompaining on his flute. It went quite well. We had great food, our first introduction to scuba and a great time thanks to his efforts. We both really enjoyed our scuba experience and are discussing where we can do our PADI course...maybe Malaysia or the Phillipines. We did a 20 minute taster dive, 1:1 with a dive guide, and the water was so clear. There were a few fish and a bit of coral, not the best diving in the world, but still enough to get us hooked. The advanced dive group had seen the resident giant turtles. We did spot one of the turtles bathing on top of the water as we were sunbathing on the top deck. We met a Russian couple, Alex and Evgeniya, when diving and they were also staying at Can Mocamp. We all had lunch and evening meal together. Its rare to meet independent Russian travellers and it was interesting to get their take on the world! It's often the case that people you feel must be very different to us actually have very similar lives and outlooks. Best not to judge tour groups as a good representation of the general populous. They were great company and Sophie spent plenty of time persuading them to quit their jobs to go travelling.

The campsite had lost it's beach thanks to the new marina, but we managed to use the swanky resort for free so had no complaints! There was a huge, calm area for swimming, a nice pool and good food - a great place to spend the day!

The countdown to the Green-Wood wedding was now on and Ginge was getting pretty excited. We'd been able to see Rhodes on the skyline for much of the last 2 weeks and it was time to head over. We stayed overnight in Fethiye, which was a nice port town. We watched boys fishing while the sun went down and then headed for a cheap kebab. The place we stayed (Ideal pension) was awful and inspired us to leave a trip advisor review!

Sophie jumped out of bed the morning of the ferry, I think desperate for some company other than mine... We boarded the flying poseiden. Goodbye Turkey, for now...

Posted by bloorsontour 03:45 Archived in Turkey Comments (3)

Turkey - Ankara and Cappadocia

5 star luxury to a tent

DSC_0880_1.jpgIMG_20140914_104037_1.jpgIMG_20140914_121223_1.jpgFDD975AFD9F17D0333E50B69DC7D090C.jpgDSC_0798_1.jpgFDDFADC2C10CB782CA5316065A0491DC.jpgDSC_0797_1.jpgDSC_0791_1.jpgDSC_0813_1.jpgDSC_0828_1.jpgDSC_0852_1.jpgFE0F912AE6AA2C1C4C3A002B6DB95A20.jpgDSC_0844_1.jpgDSC_0867_1.jpgDSC_0878_1.jpgFE12EA6FAB1B47BDB6BE56F190DFE8D2.jpgDSC_0866.jpgFDDC4B91EAA4D55A890F009042389093.jpgWe flew with Pegasus Airlines and I was NOT impressed... We had a transfer in the middle of our flight at Istanbul, so had to change planes, which is normally fine except that our first flight had been delayed and so left us very little time to change planes. There were no Pegasus representatives in Istanbul airport that we could find and a huge queue at immigration to check Turkish Visas...meanwhile the clock was counting down to our onward flight to Ankara. I begged security to let us through into a quieter queue, which they did, and in the end our visas were swiftly processed. I just couldn't believe that we then had to go through Istanbul's departure security again...normally if you have a connecting flight you automatically go through to the departure lounge. So we were running through the airport, like that film scene from Home Alone, and took off our belts, emptied our electricals and got searched again at Turkish security. It was so infuriating as there was nobody to guide you around the queues despite repeatedly showing our flight ticket that was about to take off. All ends well, we got on the shuttlebus to the plane as they were making the final boarding call. Phew!

I tell you what was needed after that journey...a 5* Marriott Hotel. Jason had used some of his points again for a one night stay and it was POSH! We arrived to a reception with chandeliers, grand piano and helpful concierge who helped us with our backpacks. Unfortunately they didn't have the room we booked so we got upgraded to a suite...amazing! It was huge; desk, sofa, massive bathroom, enormous bed. We'd arrived really late, midnight, so we ordered room service and snuggled into our free bathrobes. Relax! We didn't leave the hotel until the afternoon so that we could really make the most of our 5* luxuries. Jason went to the gym, swimming pool, breakfast in bed. It was definitely the nicest hotel we've ever stayed in.

We had to move to a cheap and cheerful hostel the next day. We didn't do that much in Ankara because we spent most of our time debating our next travel plans. We were a bit baffled about what to do. We were surprised by how much accommodation was in comparison to Asia and the Middle East, so we bit the bullet and bought a tent, roll mats and sleeping bags. A tent would be our new home for the next 6 weeks.

The only thing that we really did in Ankara was experience our first traditional Turkish kebab. There were tonnes of kebab cafes near where we were staying, in fact there was no other food options really. We had a kofte and chicken kebab to share, relatively cheap and filling.

After a brief stay in Ankara we caught a bus to Goreme, Cappadocia. The bus was great, loads of room,TV, movies, WiFi, drinks and nibbles. Jason found the name of the bus company particularly funny: kamilcoc (camel-cock). We set up our tent at Kaya Camping; swimming pool, kitchen, hot showers, sunset views...what more could we need.

We visited the open air museum that showcases some of the best fairy chimneys and colourful frescoes of the Byzantine period. The rock chimneys make up the landscape of Cappadocia and are formed from rainfall and sandstone movement years ago. A lot of the naturally formed rock tombs were made into churches, chapels, homes and graves. They make a spectacular view, especially at sunset. We spent an afternoon walking over and through some of the rock formations at Sunset Point and Meskendir Valley; a lovely afternoon and a picnic with a view. On one of our days we hired a bike and visited some of the surrounding towns; Uchisar, Urgup, Avanos and Ortahisar. We sampled some wine at a Cappadocian vineyard, stopped for Turkish coffee and wandered around cute little villages. Jason also said he had an amazing run at sunset through the valleys surrounding Goreme one evening.

Unfortunately we do have one big regret from our time in Cappadocia... not going on a hot air balloon ride and not seeing the balloons either. Everybody says it's a MUST...the sky is filled with 100 balloons for sunrise. We were on a waiting list for three days running and were unsuccessful. We then approached a different company who said that the balloons were probably not going to fly on our last morning there due to weather conditions. We therefore didn't get up in the morning to see the sky at sunrise, only to find out that they did fly after all. So sorry everyone, but we have no photographs of this spectacular sight. I think this is yet another place to come back to.

You will be surprised to hear that I took to the tent quite well...Jason didn't have to put up with any moaning. We even enjoyed cooking for ourselves in the campsite's kitchen; Jason made delicious veg and halloumi wraps. We ate out also and sampled the local cuisine, chicken hotpot served in a claypot that is smashed at your table. Overall camping was working out great and I'm looking forward to camping near the sea next.

Posted by bloorsontour 08:13 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

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