Sunday, July 24, 2011

Santa? Demre, Turkey

Demre, Turkey is considered to be the original home of what we now know as Santa Claus. It is part of the area of Myra (see my previous post) and has multiple shops and museums dealing with Saint Nicholas. It's an interesting little town and great because you can stop there for a couple of hours, have lunch and see the museums, sites and shop in the little bizarre. Have a look:

Myra, Turkey

As we were on our way to one location or another, we decided to take a little detour to see this ancient Lycian site. For more information about the Lycians and the actual site, check out this website. I will say that it is a must see in Turkey. It is simply amazing and worth the crowds and the summer heat. Here is a quick look at what we saw there:

The amazing arena/theatre.

The tombs carved into the cliffs.

An ornate carving that is just sitting on a rock.

Me and antiquity... I LOVE history.


Kaş, Turkey

Kaş is an amazing location in the south of Turkey. It's on the Mediterranean coast and is about 3 hours or so outside of Antalya. The roads getting there are windy and run along the coastline so you get some pretty amazing views while you drive, but they are narrow roads with little room for passing (especially since there was a lot of road work going on when I drove through). Kaş is also famous for the tombs that are there (some are carved into the cliffs and some are just out in the streets). The market there is small but beautiful and even better at night. Lots of fresh seafood is available and it's a great location to just relax. We only spent a couple of nights there and didn't make use of the tiny cove-like beaches but enjoyed it nonetheless. Here is a look:

The famous house tombs, this one is in the market.

The Lycian tombs that are carved into the dramatic cliff sides.

The view from our hotel room. We were lucky enough to get the top floor (although we weren't lucky enough to have an elevator!!).

The harbour as seen from the end of the breakwater.

hehehe.... this is what we came home to after our first day there. We all cracked up as we found the beds decorated.

Oh... Olympos...

Go to Olympos, go to Olympos... stay in the tree houses, you'll love it. This was the consistent answer I got when asking about where to take my friend and her daughter when they came to Turkey to visit. People talked to me as if Olympos would be the summer mecca of beach, ruins and awesome location. My friend (from Canada) heard the same from those she spoke to that had been to Turkey before. So we made sure to put it on our list and booked into the recommended tree house pension (hostel) and made our way there. As we drove down the incredibly windy road, my friend began to hum the song from Deliverance... you know, the one with the banjo. We kept driving and it didn't get much better. The road was narrow and had loads of pensions on either side. We found ours near the bottom, parked and then checked in. Thankfully we had booked into a bungalow (they had their own bathrooms and air conditioning, which in 45 degree heat was a must), although 3 single beds in a room big enough for just one double bed was a tight squeeze. Then we went to look at the ruins and the beach (we were eager to cool down in the beautiful Mediterranean sea and to lay out and relax on what we thought would be a sandy beach). So off we went, down the dirt road to the area with the ruins and the beach. We paid for our entrance (it's a protected historical area so you have to pay a small fee to get in), walked through the ruins which were super cool and onto a VERY rocky beach. It wasn't like the pictures but we tried to make the best of it and just enjoy our time out there. After a couple of hours, we were done with rocks being imbedded in our skin and wandered back to our room. Our pension offered half board, so you got breakfast and dinner, which was brilliant. The food there was excellent and they had oodles of back gammon games to play while you killed time, which was pretty much what we did all the time. There was no pool or anything else to do there. One day we took a short drive down to a neighbouring village (Andrasan) just to see what it was like and it was GORGEOUS! They had beautiful boutique hotels (that were CHEAPER than our HOSTEL) that had pools and were across the street from a beautiful, sandy beach. Much more my style!
Olympos is beautiful but it's more for the backpackers and backpacker, I am NOT. When we were leaving I had a conversation with one of the workers:
Him: Leaving? Already?
Me: Yes, we've been here for 3 days, time to get to the next location
Him: Ah... will you come back again?
Me: Probably not (this was at 6:15 am because we'd been up since about 4 am with roosters crowing)
Him: what?! why?
Me: well... this is kind of a backpacker kind of place (he nods) and I'm kind of a resort kind of girl.
We both laughed. So if you are looking for a GREAT backpacker experience with lots of late teen and early twenty-somethings that party late and roosters that start at 4 am, then go to Olympos... but if you are a little more like me, then head to Andrasan but go to Olympos for a day to see the gorgeous ruins.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Çeşme is another coastal town near Izmir. It's cute but, truth be told, it was not nearly as charming and beautiful as I hoped. The bizarre was small and cute but I think I was expecting more after the early places we had been. Although the castle/fortifications there were pretty cool as they were right on the water front. Here is what Çeşme looked like (by the way, it was 2 and 3 times more expensive than Kusadasi, so I am not sure that it's worth staying there):

The castle on the waterfront.

Near the waterfront.

The main street of the bizarre. It was very quiet here.


Alaçatı is a beautiful town along the coast in the Izmir region of Turkey. It's known as a windsurfer's haven and really only has a 2-3 month busy season. It is by far the most charming place I have seen in Turkey so far. The merchants that live and work in the region (some only live there in the summers) told us that their low season with good weather is in May and September when the prices drop significantly. Here is how it looks:

Me... chilling in the streets. It was gorgeous and made me want to live there.

Most of the restaurants, cafes and hotels had outdoor seating like this. So relaxed and chill.

And this is one of the beaches near the town where the windsurfing is paramount. It's worth the visit for sure!!


Kuşadası is a beautiful port town in southern Turkey, about an hour outside of Izmir. It's just 18km away from Ephesus and Meryamana (the fabled final home of Mary, mother of Jesus). The town is nestled into the hillside and enjoys an amazing port that hosts cruise ships on a daily basis throughout the summer cruising season. The bizarre there is amazing, huge and clean. The shop owners are charming, kind and willing to negotiate a good deal. There are oodles of restaurants and bars and pubs. The location is great, the people are great and the atmosphere is fantastic. Check out my pictures for a little taste of what it's all about:

The library at Ephesus. I suggest going to Ephesus right at the time of opening or later in the day or early evening. The the height of the day it is extremely hot and overrun with all the tourists coming off the cruise ships. It costs about 20 TL to get in and it's well worth the price. I also suggest taking the horse carriages at the bottom gate to the top gate and then walking back down. It's nice to ride in the carriages and they take you to the Tomb of the Seven Sleepers. I think it cost at total of 40 TL to take the carriages and you can fit 4 people in, so it's not a bad deal and it's a nice way to see the gorgeous countryside.

As I said before, the area is stunning and a haven for cruise ships, but it's so beautiful that your sunset shots could literally be their own post cards.

This is a shot of one of the bizarre streets. It was typically quiet in the early hours of the day but picked up as the day went on and most shops didn't even think about closing until eleven pm or midnight.

This was the view from our budget hotel room. For my friend and I, it cost a total of 406 TL for 5 nights. The hotel was comfortable, clean but very basic but it suited our needs just fine. A great place to look for hotels is at

This is the fabled site of Mary's final home: Meryamana. The house is not the original, but is continually rebuilt on the foundations of the original. The atmosphere here was amazing, serene and full of respect and reverence.

Renting Cars Internationally

Renting a car isn't always easy when you live in a foreign country. You may not be getting the best price because you don't speak the language or know which local company offers reliable cars for a decent price. And it's kind of a hassle to constantly be seeking help from your local friends. It puts pressure on them to get your stuff done in your timing and not theirs (and can be a strain on your friendship) and it removes some of your independence. Well, with all my summer travels (numerous entries coming soon), I found a way to regain my independence and leave my lovely Turkish friends alone. There is a website called Argus Rentals that is global and helps you to find the car you need at just about any price point you can imagine. They scan about 500 car companies world wide to help you find what you want. I was able to find cars to rent at great prices and it was super easy. I highly recommend this site, no matter where you are in the world if you need or want to rent a car!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Coming Soon

It's not easy to blog on the road when you are staying in little hotels and pensions that do not have the best internet connections and when you want to be out in the sun... but be on the lookout for a series of blogs from my summer travels: Izmir, Kusadasi, Alacati, Cesme, Marmaris, Kas, Demre, Olympos, Goreme, and Istanbul... should be a good group of posts... let's hope I remember all the stories to share!