From previous trips Luka knew the driver who took us directly from Tbilisi to Trabzon. This was 20 hours road as i can remember. We drove from noon till late night and than driver had a few hours of nap. I couldn’t sleep in the car, sitting with Luka on the same sit – that was extra uncomfortable, but – adventures! Next day we said thanks to our driver and headed to Malatya, quite traditional town in Eastern Turkey, where we find CS hosts. This was young modern couple with 4 years old kid. We had a rest a spent wonderful time with them. And that we did impossible thing. Guys were saying that they hosted many people, but noone before us couldn’t manage to get to Nemrut Dagi with hitch-hiking! But we were actually very lucky!
The way to Nemrut we started after noon, so we had to sleep on the road. When sunset came we heard to sound of Muslim prays from all around, it was echoing from the naked mountains and running back to numerous mosques. We slept without tent, but it felt safe somehow. In the morning we saw 4 big stray dogs running like crazy across the highway, right next to us! It was so unexpected and felt very dangerous so we even stopped breathing hoping they won’t see us.
We reached Nemrut Dagi when sun made an air hot like in an oven. It was hell hot! We had a day nap in warm tent on a hill lost hope to find any shadow there. Sunset we met on the top. Some tourist even came, mostly local ones.
Night we spent among statues, we set the tent directly on the top. There is a story that you should see a sunset and a sun rise on Nemrut, so morning tourist voices waked us up. Rushing to not catch sunstroke we went down to uor hospitable friends in Malatya. And by the way – Malatya is very famous for its apricots. They are exporting many many sorts of this fruit worldwide. When i came back home my heart is always stopping for a moment when i see in Kyiv’s markets dried apricots or nougat from Malatya.
Our trip was randomly during holy month of Ramadan
. Amazing – religious people are not eating and not drinking (!) during the day! You are allowed to do this between 8 PM and sunset.
Then we had a long ride to Goreme – Cappadocia
. This is a huge cave city created approx. 1000 b.c. We had the craziest driver ever. He was having the non-stop ride to his fiance in Antalya and he was drinking one beer after another! When we were talking about this guy after we had a sound of crashing beer can in our ears:) When it was something like 80 km to our aim police stopped him. He couldn’t say a word in English so we understood only that they took away his driver license. But you know, this didn’t stopped him! He bought some more beer and brought us to Goreme!
This place is much more touristic then Nemrut, as well there is developed infrastructure. The caves are in pretty good condition despite their ancient age, and the place is clean generally. I think we were the only people who were sleeping in the tent right next to this historical heritage! In the morning i woke up absolutely terrified with a weird noise! When i went out of tent (hopefully worn some clothes before) i saw many balloons and the sound was from gas burning when the balloon needed to gain attitude.
Highly recommend you to visit Cappadocia having at least two days to walk around. We reached our next destination – salt lake Tuz – right in time to see the sunset. The level of lake constantly decreasing because of extraction.
We were already used to sleep under the stars, so dropped our sleeping bags on a terrace of some small cafe-bar on the bank. Evidently that was not the season for tourists so the place was neglected (probably during Ramadan month). We surrounded our sleeping place with chairs remembering creepy morning dogs on the way to Nemrut. But not dogs disturbed our sleep. Late in the night some people came with food and drinks and started their night feast… I think they were even waking us up with compassion thinking we are hungry hobos and trying to feed us. I suppose i was angry someone troubles me. Details i don’t remember 🙂
Way to the Mediterranean sea coast goes through high gorgeous mountain gear… The way was long, exhausting but views were breath-taking! In Antalya we had a wonderful host – Russian woman who moved from Omsk to Turkey some time ago. She had duplex with pool in the yard. Finally we had all comforts to give rest to our tired bodies.
We lived in Antalya something like 5 days. After 3 nights spent at ours host place we understood that we should move out but we had absolutely no powers to continue our journey. We were so relaxed! So we decided to sleep two more days just on the city beach..
Day time we were spending in idleness, once we even tried to earn some money for food with street music in Antalya center. Worked not really good 🙂
Still relaxed we moved froward along the coast. It was end of July so between 11 AM and 7 PM the heat was crazy. Still cannot imagine how Turkish people stand this without any water (of course not everyone is following Ramadan ruled luckily!)
The new cool experience – pick up picked us up! Refreshing drive was that!
By night we arrived to the Olympus mountain. There are some nature gas inflaming from contact with air. There is a ledeng that exactly from this place they took Olympic fire. There was kinda lots of Russian tourists there. Keeping good tradition we slept right on the top. Nearby peaks were foresty and time from time we heard night noises.
The morning we met without a soul around us. Of course we were again the only ones so fearful to sleep open air. The magic combination: forest, ancient ruins, high attitude and emerald sea. Hard to forget! I had a wish just to stay there as long as i could… But needed to continue our trip.
Olympus beach is famous touristic destination even for local people. The place is crowded, expensive but still very beautiful. I think i never saw such huge waves before. I was swimming in Mediterranean sea, watching numerous yachts slowly drifting on clear water. There were ruins of ancient Greek city there, quite big that we even found quite place to have a day nap in shadow of amphitheater.
First time in my life i saw oranges, lemons, grenades and avocados simply growing along the road:)
Next point of our journey was Pamukkale, but we stayed for a night in small town Finike. We set our tent near sea side in city park. Thing about Turkey – even smallest cities are looking very accurate and well cared. We changed a lot during those 3 weeks, not even noticing. Just to have fun once we had an ice-cream lunch – tasty and enough calories 🙂
On the way to Pamukkale we met wonderful people. Those are two track drivers and the owner of cafe on a highway. But hard to call that cabin a cafe. The place is full made of weird stuff, some thing that before it happened to be a part of building were a garbage probably. But all together looked absolutely amazing! I was delighted by creativity of this old Turkish man! Owner is taking off one of the dried pumpkin from the ceiling to show me what’s that. He keeps some small stuff inside, like coins for example. Sadly I was very shy to take pictures of all those amazing details of the interior.
Drivers left us in a city where our ways were going different directions. City was a long type so we had to walk for some good hour to find a place we can catch the car… It was around 9 PM, we were tired and stayed just near some house to have dinner (bread, some tomatoes and water). We were quietly eating our simple meals when locals saw us from their balcony. One by one all family members went to the balcony lively discussing something. In minutes they went down and started to talk to us, of course they didn’t know English. But what they did: they opened doors of a big room on the ground floor (looked like a cafe to us), took a table and two chairs from there, brought to us, and in some seconds we were sitting not on the floor but on the table full of food this kind people brought from their kitchen for us. We were astonished! My heart just got so big and warm from their kindness, from fast reaction of this people, they were not asking any question, they just gave us food and rest! After we ate they even took us with car to the city border to make our hitch-hiking easier.
Some young local couple took us to Pamukkale. I made hell lots of night pictures of this place. I love night photography – it is pure magic. But with some joke of fate entire folder with my of course genius photos just disappeared! I’m still sad, believe me, this is really rare thing to see Pamukkale at night!
We slept nearby and in the morning saw a huge turtle going slowly on his business. To see turtle just like that is not a surprise for Turkish people. It’s nothing special. But i had a cruel idea to take turtle to Kyiv, luckily for animal i haven’t done this.
Another cool experience: I ate figs directly from a tree… And we were throwing fruits to geese ans ducks living there 🙂 But they did not took from the hand despite all my kind words ans honest eyes.
All the day we spent making photos, running after ducks, running away from angry huge geese, eating figs, and giving our knees vital calcium.
And than was the long long way to Tbilisi. Long days
and nights with surprising guests
And here was also a good man sent by luck to us, he was heading straight to Ordu, city close to Georgian border. He spoke no Eglish, like most of people we met in Turkey. He was very kind, as we understood he is a teacher in a local school. He invited us to spend a night in his family house. We were glad to except his invitation. If you will somehow happen to Ordu – obligatory try local hazelnuts – these are the truest huzelnuts in the world!
So we are, Luka and Katcha on the first
and on 28th day of our Big Turkey Trip