After leaving the beauty of the Greek Island of Rhodes behind it was time to head off to Fethiye. Fethiye is a small port city located on the southwestern coast, along the Aegean Sea. It and the town of Ölüdeniz are picture perfect. With crystal clear, sapphire blue waters it is the perfect place to just lay out on the beach and get cancer or try something a little more daring, such as paragliding. Which I did. Although it was not my first time paragliding, from the moment we (Murat, my pilot, and myself) took our leap off the 1,969 meter (6,460 feet) Babadag mountain and into some very favourable conditions it was constant views of gorgeous scenery. I flew with Sky-Sports http://www.skysports-turkey.com/ who have been in business for some time. My pilot, Murat, has been flying for 18 years and was excellent. The flight ended up lasting about 1:20. I was still up in the air as the other paragliders were down on the ground. I attribute my luck to the fact that my friend Nichola arranged the trip, as she knows the pilot and the owner of the company. . .
Murat & Daniël over Ölüdeniz (foto (c) Murat)
Paragliding near Ölüdeniz
Flying over Ölüdeniz
Flying over Ölüdeniz
The main draw to Fethiye was not the sea. I’m not one for lying out on the beach growing cancer. It was to see old friends. Back in 2006 while travelling through Vietnam I had the pleasure of meeting Nichola and Dogan from Turkey. Well, Nichola is from the U.K. and Dogan is from Turkey. We had such a great time travelling around in Vietnam that we kept in touch and it would not even be possible to visit Turkey without seeing them. So I spent 3 nights with them and it was really great and I had a awesome time. Thanks guys!!!
Church of Saint Nicholas, near Ölüdeniz
From Fethiye I boarded a 12 hour overnight bus to Göreme. Now, I have to admit, the thought of being on a bus for 12 hours does not sound very appealing; but the bus system in Turkey is phenomenal. It is organized, on-time, comfortable and many of the buses have satellite t.v. The bus that I took from Fethiye had individual PTV just like you find on airplanes. You had your choice of watching Turkey satellite tv (about 7 channels), you could watch the view from the front window with the mounted camera or you could listen to music. Very nice.
Erciyes Dagi, 3916 meters (12,847 feet)
Göreme is in the heart of Cappadocia. Which is home to the fairy chimneys. Cappadocia has a very long, chequered history and has been conquered by numerous people/groups including, the Hittites, the Tabal kingdom, the Persians, Alexander the Great and the Romans. It is an amazing place to just wander around the chimneys & “castles” and just be in complete awe as you realize that these structures were created by volcanic tuft thousands of years ago; and people today are still living inside these structures or have created pigeon houses out of them. Of course the ONLY way to see the beauty of this region is by hot air balloon. Absolutely breathtaking as the balloons maneuver through the chimneys. After wards I hiked for 6 hours through the valleys (Rose & Red) amongst the chimneys . . . I’ll leave it to your own opinion as to what they actually look like.
Hot Air Balloon over Cappadocia
A champagne toast after a good balloon ride
This morning I arrived in Mardin which lies in the area between the Tigres & Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia (the Cradle of Civilization). Mardin or fortresses in Syriac, is known for its Arab-style architecture, given that it is only 20 minutes from the Syrian border, 1,5 hours from Iraq and 3 hours from Iran. It has a very mixed population of Kurds, Turks, Assyrian and Arabs. The city of Mardin is actually quite beautiful, with its honey colored buildings and many mosques that dot the city and standing at the top of the hill overlooking the city are the remains of a castle.
The people of Turkey are truly amazing. I have been dragged all over the place by locals trying to find exactly what it is I am looking for or to find someone who speaks English to understand me. I have even been practically force fed cookies, crackers and Doritos (which I can’t stand, but was too polite to turn them down) while on the buses. The warmth of these people is something we could all learn from.
It’s hard to believe that this trip is almost over with. Where does the time go????