So I am quite a few days behind. I thought I was a week but I guess it’s only really been 5 days. We put a TON into those 5 days! We also both managed to get colds about the time we left for Olympos and 2 days later, by the time we landed in Denizli THANKFULLY, I had the full blown runs for 48 hours straight. I know, TMI, Suha and I have ate and drank everything the same, not sure how I got so sick and he didn’t but thankfully he missed out. Needless to say, between all the playing and traveling and sleeping trying to recuperate, I haven’t had much of a chance to tell some pretty amazing stories!!
Let me back track….5 days ago, I got up and packed for Olympos. I don’t like being so ignorant about the region I’m in or the historical events that happened in the places I’m visiting but really, every part of the trip so far had been one amazing Ah HA! Moment after another!!! So we find ourselves on a bus after a strange morning. I have a full blown cough after a couple of days of the sniffles; everyone speculates it’s the AC blowing on me at night. We get ready to go and after Suha and I had figured out how to use the train, his parents insist on taking us to save time. Funny thing is they dropped us off about a mile from where we needed to be, the signage around here is something to behold….or easily miss, one or the other. We find our bus and they rush us on, once the seats are filled we head out…literally, no buying tickets, showing money, nothing. Anyway, off it goes, out the gate, only to stop EXACTLY at the spot his parents dropped us off. HUH?? He beeped a few times, yelled OLYMPOS!! And two more people got on. He asked a mother to hold her 10 year old daughter on her lap to open up a seat and we drove on…SLOWLY (yawash yawash) beeping here and there, people waving us down, more people getting on. May I remind you there are no seats left. After a while when you cannot fit another soul on the bus unless I sit on Suha’s lap (he said the driver may ask us to do it though probably not since we aren’t wearing rings.) we drove down the road at a better pace. We did stop here and there exchanging passengers once in a while but for the most part I would say the first 30 to 40 minutes was reserved for filling the bus THEN the hour and a half bus ride began. Oh yeah, later, much later Suha mentioned that the driver had called a friend to see if he had passed any police men on the way. I guess going over your allotted seat limit is a big no no and a hefty fine.
The Buses here are all independently owned. There is a set fee but you fill it as full as you can and charge them when they get off. The owner will buy a Route and then run it and reap all the profits. They have to pay parking fees when they enter a bus station and are not allowed to pass on the fee to their ridership. All of the buses look different, decorated according to their driver/owners taste. It’s a very interesting system to say the least. So far I get sick in all of them, cars too. I just pray we get where we are going quickly, safely and in one piece. I can’t wait to get out as soon as I get in! But the light rail rocks!! Minus the occasional car that dives in front of it, causing squealing brakes and tumbling passengers. Anyway, back to our story…
We arrived at the top of a hill overlooking a beautiful valley, I wanted to take a pic but they rushed us from one van to the next, paying the first and guessing on the second. Suha and I were not very fast so we were on a side bench which turned out to be terrifying and I got REAL sick as I didn’t have enough time to get over the first trip before descending down the steep curvy roads into Olympos. This driver drove way too fast and slammed on his breaks at every turn as if he was driving an endless Lombard street in a Ferrari AND it was a race!! I happily jumped off at the first, and most famous, stop. Kadir’s Place. It was the original “tree house” hostel in Olympos. Suha went to visit it about 13 years ago. As we walked through the rest of the valley to the sea, he just reeled at how much it had changed. We got our bearings, settled in and had a cay before deciding ANYTHING; I think we were both a bit unraveled. I’m so out of the loop of travel plans since I don’t know enough Turkish to figure out that the plan has changed. I didn’t realize his parents were waiting on me to leave that morning, I got real car sick on the way down, we are both hacking up lungs and going through Kleenex like it’s free AND we hadn’t picked out a place to stay! So, carrying all our luggage, we walked (downhill 3.5km) the entire strip and all the way back up the hill to the original kadir’s since it was the best choice. The only thing I knew about and wanted to really do, sans walking through ruins to the beach, was to hit Chimeras the eternal flames. When we asked what there was to do at the activities office, the guy shrugged his shoulders. I changed the question and asked how it worked to go to Chimeras and he said it was 50 L each ($50 total) and it was an unguided, difficult hike that left at 9pm and returned at midnight. No big deal right? Well this day is weird anyway, being none the wiser, we forked over the money, reserved our spot and headed for the beach or at least that was Suha’s understanding. I thought we were meandering through ruins to the beach so I kept taking side trips and he kept telling me to watch out watch out at every stone, getting more and more frustrated. After hitting the very crowded beach, looking for a spot in the shade, we made our way over to some rocks. The rocks in the water were slimier here so we kind of decided to head back the way we came….of course after I explored the ruins above us. It was up a cliff to the remnants of a medieval castle overlooking the bay. It was stunning, I had a half guilty thought about leaving Suha holding our stuff on the beach below but I kept thinking, “I’ll be quick.” I hadn’t really told him how far I was going or how long. Needless to say, when I hit the bottom he was gone. I hadn’t seen him on the way down so I started back up the beach to our original spot and then about a half mile more before turning back. I finally saw a blue spec immerge from the trees where the trail to the castle was. We had somehow missed each other and he spent quite a while yelling my name at the top, envisioning the worst and asked two people who had seen me, what a mess. ..We sat on the beach mostly in silence till the sun went down. We did go swimming and there were tons of fish but the bottom was hard on the feet and the water smelled fishy. Back on the warm pebbles we started talking again while watching locals fish. He mentioned my tendency to hurt myself or get into pickles and this huge responsibility he felt to bring me back in one piece unharmed to my parents. I had no idea he felt so burdened! I tried not to laugh. I mean, I could tell I had really scared him. I also wasn’t counting on him going up and seeing what I scrambled up, (nothing too dangerous by my standards but he on the other hand…) I feebly tried to explain that if I came back in a cast the only blame would be sent my way. My parents would just say, “Oh Jen…” and the empathy would go towards him who had to pick up the pieces. I promised to be more careful and he promised to be more explicit and interpret more. So we now understood each other, just in time to walk back, grab dinner and head for Chimeras….(queue scary music here)
Chimeras, well, if I had known what a trek up hill, climbing huge slippery marble stone steps the length of my ankle to knee as big and steep as the butte IN THE DARK, I wouldn’t have dared. Obvious enough to say, Suha will never go again, even in the day time!! It was one of the craziest scariest most awesome trips EVER!!! I’m really glad we didn’t know anything going into it, I don’t get scared too easily but this had me thinking I might be in a boot or cast again at any second. We ended up having a good AND SAFE time, even though it capped off our really weird day with a bang. We raced to the top; Suha said if we stopped for a break he was heading down. We climbed up with another guy staying at Kadir’s Place named Stephan from Bordeaux, France. He was a hoot and kept Suha in good spirits. We got to the top where there were columns and stones with Latin scribed into them laying half buried next to rough rocks with flames shooting out of them…WHAT??? It was a trip!! We tried to take some pics but I’m serious, it was inky black and the stars were amazing but no moon made it pretty hazardous. We had a tiny flashlight between the two of us. We hung out by the fire for a while but remember its cooled down to almost 100 degrees outside with 84% humidity so after a climb like that along with our stuffed up sinuses and wheezing lungs we weren’t exactly interested in sitting too close. Our legs were still jello from the climb when we started to descend. We left before the others due to the fact that we wanted to take it slow and careful. They caught up with us about half way down and I wasn’t about to keep up. I am very proud to say we didn’t stumble once!! I also don’t remember falling asleep that night just glad to have the off day over with.
The next day we ate a big breakfast, packed to leave and headed down to the ruins, WITH the understanding that we were exploring. We had an awesome time! Saw lots of really cool stuff, learned a ton, like this was the city of the Lyceans and they were the first known people to make money and it was never a Turkish occupied city etc. We started and ended at a sweet little spot where Suha got me half a melon with lemon and cherry sherbet in it…MIND BOWN…best treat EVER!!! We were carrying all our luggage (we packed light mostly but still) so we didn’t go down to the beach, when our arms and feet were tired we happily headed back. There was a very cold creek. I decided to cool off and get my hair wet. Suha suddenly said Jen, there’s a water snake, Jen, a snake, JEN! He teases me so often that I wasn’t too interested in getting out since it felt so good to have my head in cold water. At the last almost shout, I turned my head a little and most definitely there was a little almost guarder size snake swimming towards my hair. Another boy picked it up and I promptly got out.
We had one more cay before heading to the van that takes you to the top of the hill. I was very reluctant to get in. The guy did the traditional 5mph, honking all the way, picking up passengers. At one point he got out and left for a while, returning with a gallon of yogurt. Suha and I were in fits of giggles making up stories about this and that. He drove us through a neighborhood we hadn’t seen yet and stopped at a small run down farm with chickens and turkeys running around in the yard. Here a lovely woman came out and got the yogurt while the driver collected the toll passing that off to her as well, then he shot off like we were running from a tsunami back up the treacherous road, Suha and I trying so hard not to bother anyone with our fits of laughter and coughing. We got home exhausted and crashed hard after another one of Anne’s amazing dinners.