The last 10 days have been spent meandering down the Western coast of Turkey, and I’m starting to realise that I probably need a paper diary as well as a blog, because unlike some highly disciplined people who are blogging daily, I have completely forgotten what I’ve done each day and just had to have a conference and comparison of photos with Will (who is almost as lazy as me) to try and work out our route.
Our first stop was in Eceabet, a ferry port just Southwest of Istanbul, so slightly going backwards before we crossed the water away from Europe (I may have been a bit premature when I said we were headed into Asia already – we never actually made it to the Asian side of Istanbul). We were staying in what was technically (according to the trip administration at least) a bush camp, but was actually the carpark of an Aussie bar run by a mad drunken long-haired Turk who seemed to still be celebrating Anzac day a couple of months late. The ground was a bit rough on my tent pegs – why did such as pricey tent come with such rubbish pegs? – so it only lasted the first night before the wind blew half of it down and since I couldn’t get it back up I gave up and resigned myself to sleeping on the truck. On the other hand, can’t really complain as not many bush camps come with a toilet. Or a bar full of alcohol.
Next day we headed off to the Gallipoli museum. Given that I never really paid attention to war history in school and I only watched about 10 minutes of Mel Gibson before giving up I know nothing about Gallipoli other than that it involved Australians. I now know that it involved Australians, Kiwis and Turks, but that’s still about it since I was feeling burnt out and poor after Istanbul so I decided I didn’t want to pay for a war museum and sat in the cafe playing Uno instead. Went for lunch on the beach afterwards, including snorkelling on a shipwreck covered in sponges and sea urchins and a good few colourful fish (rainbow wrasse I think). I clearly wasn’t paying attention when we pulled up in the truck and Will told us to look out for shells as I was thinking ‘I wonder what’s so special about the seashells here?’ and not realising that he meant bullets. I didn’t see any, but a couple of people picked some up. (That’s Big Will, our truck driver, by the way – although tour leader Karen says we shouldn’t call him that because she thinks Little Will might be upset by his default nickname. I don’t think Little Will minds, I’m sure we could come up with worse things to call him.)
Gallipoli memorial in Eceabet, which would mean a lot more to me if I had participated in the educational trip…..
That evening was spent being lead astray by readily available booze and a sound system that we were able to plug our ipods into, so of course the morning after that was a little painful. At least I didn’t have to strike camp as I had sensibly finished off the job that the wind had started the previous day, but I still somehow ended up sitting right at the front of the bus roasting myself in the windscreen. On the plus side, my hangover was completely cooked out in about 2 hours, on the minus side it was replaced by heat exhaustion which wiped me out for most of the day. I decided to give Troy a miss, which I’m sure will horrify my fellow classicists, but the reviews I had heard were that it was basically a bunch of foudations and a cheesy horse wich looked like it belonged in a kiddie play park (I may have had a bit of a grump on that day).
Big Will imparting his knowledge on Alex
Big promises to keep
Lauren and Caroline proving them right
By the time we got to our next stop (Selcuk), thankfully hangover free, it was my turn to go on cook group again, and terrifyingly we were the first group to switch from using gas to actual fire. Oh help. Up until this trip I had never cooked anything more complex than a marshmallow over an open flame. The chickens were helpfully already roasted the night before in what looked like a Victorian slow cooker, so at least we didn’t have to worry about giving anyone food poisoning with our potatoes and salad, but breakfast the next morning was not fun. I had to keep bullying people to take more toast because there was no way I was going to crouch over the embers making it all only to have half of it go to waste. I think my next cook group turn is going to be in Iran, which is due to be 10 degrees hotter than here and distinctly more covered up. Ugh.
Free day in Selcuk was spent exploring the ruins at Ephesus (I actually participated this time!), which are absolutely stunning! Definitely not the best time of day to visit as we were melting in the heat and spent the visit doing quick dashes from one patch of shade to the next, then after we had got into a false sense of security thinking ‘It’s not too crowded here’ we turned a corner and realised we’d come in the back entrance and the rest of the place looked like Oxford Street. Still 100% worth visiting though.
Ephesus – Ooh look at this pretty thing!
Not quite up to date yet but I will end this up with our stop off at Pamukkale en route to the next campsite. Pamukkale is part ruined city (which to be honest we ran out of time to take a proper look round), but mostly a site of natural beauty, formed of white calcium carbonate cliffs with pools of blue water all the way down the hill from the thermal spring at the top. You have to take your shoes off to walk up and it looked like it was going to be uncomfortably rough and hot, but the water is contantly running over the rocks so it’s neither and instead I just spent a lot of time looking down at my feet in fascination at the erosion patterns (yes I’m a really interesting person). It’s ridiculously gorgeous and if it hadn’t been just a stop on a drive day I would have loved to spend more time here taking a dip in the pools and covering myself in the mud (I assume this is a good healthy thing to do as I saw a lot of people doing it, but the English language leaflet wasn’t very well translated so for all I know there’s no benefit whatsoever and they were just nutjobs.) Another one on the list of places to return to!
I asked Vicki to take a picture of me and Kirsty and she snuck this one in before we started posing – I kind of prefer the penguin like waddle over the rocks to the actual photo