I can truly see why people would come here and never want to leave. It is absolutely gorgeous. For the past two days I have been in a small town called Dalyan, famous for being a nesting site for loggerhead turtles (not that they're running around all over the place or anything, but they nest at night on the protected beaches). Dalyan itself is nestled upriver about 13 km from the beach, facing sheer rock cliffs that are dotted with ancient Lycean tombs carved straight into the faces - huge temples to the dead hanging hundreds of feet above the banks of the river. It's quite stunning at night to see them all lit up. On my first night in Dalyan I took a cruise up to the lake guided by a Scottish astronomer. I got to see Mercury, Venus and Jupiter, as well as many other cool things like star clusters and red giants and binaries and other geeky stuff like that, through high powered binoculars (boat isn't steady enough for telescopes, plus most of their equipment is hung up in customs). The guide, Duncan, evidently made quite a bit of money back in the 70's off a book he wrote claiming that he had been able to interpret a message from outer space. He also must have spent a lot of that money doing some serious drugs, because he was a little "out there" himself. Definitely one of those "off the beaten track" activities, but worth the money spent. I had an absolute miserable nights sleep, as the window of the hotel room I was in was blocked by a large bureau, and there was no air whatsoever. I seriously thought I was going to suffocate. At 7:30 the next morning I got up and moved to another place and was a much happier girl.
So after settling into my new hotel (same price I was paying for a twin bed in a stuffy closet for a double bed, ensuite bathroon and swimming pool! You don't realize how much those little extras start to count until you have suffered a little), I headed off to the river banks to jump on an all-day boat tour of the the ruins at Kaunus, the Turtle Beach, the lake and the mud baths - also worth the money spent, even though the mud baths were overflowing with people. It made it a little difficult to relax in the grey muck when there was 100 other people in the small pool with you. It's also like walking into a room full of aliens - as everyone is walking around covered head to toe in muck at varıous stages of the drying process (girls, this is the ultimate full body mud pack treatment) and speaking a million different languages, none of which are English. Surreal. So after your whole body is dried and crackling, you herd off to the group alien hose-down, a bit like the Coca-Cola Cool Zones at Six Flags, but with the water pressure of a coin operated car wash. You need it though to get all of that gunk off of you, and suddenly the aliens emerge as fully human tourists once again. I think I still have some mud in places I don't want to talk about... That night I went for a nice dinner all by my lonesome at a lovely spot by the river. I tell ya what, as much as I am enjoying traveling alone and not being tied to anyone else's schedule, Dalyan is a bit of a romantic spot, and I would have given anything to have someone there to watch the sunset with. Some days, your own company just ain't enough. I got over it though. Had a glass of wine with dinner and got a great night's sleep.
This morning I headed out to Fethiye. After nearly sweating to death waiting for the dolmus (mimi-bus) to take off, I had to endure a 10 minute diatribe by an aging Englishman on the problems of the world all being caused by the "overpopulation" (yes, he actually used that word) of blacks and the Pakis in the cities. I thought I was going to puke. Let's not take a good look at reality or anything, Mr... Let's just blame it on the blacks and Pakis. Welcome to the 21st century, where racism is alive and well. People like that don't deserve my energy. Once he shut up, the rest of the ride was absolutely breathtaking. Turkey is far from the desert I had exiected. The climate is arid, but the countryside is unbelievable. Mountains spring up from the flat valleys seemingly from nowhere and are covered in crisp smelling pine forests. We snaked around and around the hills, passing tractors pulling cartloads of watermelons on blind curves with no guardrails in sight, until though a break in the trees we were able to catch a glimpse of the turquoise waters below. I damn near cried from the sheer beauty of it all. A Turkish couple sitting behind me said, "It's like a dream, isn't it? The most beautiful place in the world." I chatted with them the rest of the trip, and was offered a place to stay in Bursa anytime I wanted to visit. The people in Turkey are even more beautiful than the countryside.
I booked my 4 day boat cruise to Olympos for Tuesday, and will spend the next couple of days seeing the sights around Fethiye. The mountains here plunge directly into the sea, and the city itself hugs the shoreline of an insanely beautiful bay. About 7 km away is a Greek villag ethat was mysteriously abandoned in 1923 called Kaya Köy that should be interesting to see. Then I'll head off to the beach for the afternoon at Ölüdenız. Who knows what from there. I'll keep ya posted!