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Pococks Travels in Turkey Part Two PDF Printable Version E-mail


POCOCKS TRAVELS in TURKEY PART TWO

Audrey and Graham Pocock
May 2012

Continued from:  Pococks Travels in Turkey Part One

We met Audrey and Graham in January 2012 at Camping Finikes near Finikounda in the Greek Peloponnese. A retired Australian couple, touring Europe and Turkey in their motorhome (Bruce) bought in the UK, they left Finikes at the beginning of February. Audrey sent us an account from southwest Turkey in March and now continues the story of their Turkish journey:

Turkey

After visiting the Datca Peninsula, we headed for Dalyan with loads of washing to do. The campsite was a mess and when the owner saw from our faces that we were not very pleased, he and his girlfriend decided to begin a clean up. To be fair, the place had suffered dreadfully during the Winter with water a foot deep all round. Of course, it had to bucket down on wash day didn't it? So we put the heater on, as it was quite cold as well as damp.

I got to speak with the owner several times and it turned out that he had lived in Scotland for 17 years working in Academia.

The site of this campsite is amazing and right across from it are Lycian Tombs – something to boast about having a campsite there, I would think.

After Dalyan (which we liked) we drove to Fethiye, a very attractive harbourside town. We decided to look for the Homewoods' spot overlooking the town and had a laugh driving through under all the boats being repaired, which forms part of the main road. Not quite what you'd come across in Sydney Town but what an ambience, like one big happy family. The tea runner was tiring himself out going backwards and forwards catering to all.

We were sitting down admiring the view, when there was a knock at the door and a man shook my hand saying “Hello, my name is David” and I finished the sentence “Homewood”! What a delight and a surprise from this - our first and only motorhome right down through Turkey. Of course we had to have a drink and chat before they left the next morning on their way back to France. Short but sweet and a lovely couple.

We stayed there about 3 days visiting Olu Deniz one day and, the following day, some beach on the other side of Fethiye that we were told we would like, but didn't. Graham had his shoes polished and I bought the best bread we've ever had. A kilo of it! Stunning!

From there we drove to Kas, which we both liked immediately. Small enough to walk around, tucked round the little harbour, very engaging. However, the meal in the café next to where we parked was a let down – not for the food, which was fine, but the fact that there were cats coming in and out wanting to park under our table; in fact the restaurant smelt of cat. It was offputting to say the least, and we are cat lovers, having had three at one time. Never mind, we live and learn. No tip.

After Kas it was on to Demre/Myra. We parked down on a little harbour somewhat short of Demre for 2 nights. All the men around were busy boat building, a lovely little community again. Of course we visted Ancient Myra. I find these tombs mesmerizing, so mysterious – an absolute delight to feast the eyes on. Then to Finike, where I tried in vain to find a postcard for the Finikes campsite in Greece. Impossible to find a single postcard in Finike. Why I cannot imagine.

On to Antalya and again we thought what a lovely city. White, light and bright. First thing we did was visit the wonderful museum there, which we thoroughly enjoyed, a very worthwhile thing to do. It is huge and very comprehensive. We could have spent even longer than we did, but my feet always get sore, so we departed to a car park not very far away to have something to eat and asked if we could park for the night. No problem.

It never seems to be a problem. Nothing seems to be a problem in Turkey. Why are the people so nice? They are genuinely lovely. Everyone is always so pleasant. There doesn't appear to be any rowdiness, no binge drinking (mind you, it's too expensive). Maybe families are closer here than in the west, maybe it's the faith – actually I think a combination of both, plus a very strong Jandarma (police) presence, although they always smile too. Having some sort of control seems to be the order of the day. Whatever, I have to say that everywhere we have parked and walked I have never felt ill at ease. I love the truckie stops. Food is good and it feels like a little town that you are part of for the night. No jobsworth running over “That's 5 minutes over your 2 hours, that'll be 10 pounds please”!

Two things though that I have to mention. The first is the perpetual rubbish that we saw all over the place. I know I harp on about this, but it does mar the countryside somewhat. Also the number of stray dogs and cats. However, on reflection I would have to say that at least none of them looked starved, as they did in Greece. There always seemed someone around to give them some food, although I do object to giving the dogs bread as it lies hard on the stomach, making them lethargic. Spaying would be more charitable. It makes me so sad.

Anyway, enough of that, we left Antalya and motored down to Side. We didn't stop at the historical sites outside Antalya, as we felt that time was getting away from us and knew we had a lot to see still. It's quite difficult trying to pace the time out, not knowing a place, and so we carried on after one night in Side, driving though huge and often ugly development complexes down the coast until we left the tourist strip behind and reached Anamur for the night. Of course we had to have a photo taken at the most southerly Turkish point there and also to have a look at the Byzantine town standing remarkably well preserved, with even a couple of Frescoes on the floor and walls and no railings around. I guess it's a bit off the beaten track, so they don't bother.

We followed a dramatic coastline hugging the craggy mountains, parking in what looked like a picnic spot but could have been an old campsite, we were not sure. This was at a place called Ayas. We shared the spot (bit of a grubby grassy place on the water) with a boat up on the grass and the men having a little BBQ. Of course there was a knock at the door and a little plate of fishes and bread appeared for us. Such kindness! They had disappeared before we got up in the morning.

The night before a man had appeared and spoke to Graham about a campsite just along the road, which of course we hadn't come to,so we decided to move in for the day and do some washing. It was a little family affair of a campsite with a hotel as well and a beautiful day to boot. They even sent a plate over with some food for us. Maybe we look starved or something.

We happened to mention to the owner that we wanted to go to Mount Nemrut. He immediately phoned a friend of his who has a hotel there and arranged for us to go on tour with him when we arrived there. However, the next day he wasn't at the campsite and when we spoke with one of the other workers he thought there might be a snow problem and phoned someone else at the hotel. Sure enough the road to Mt Nemrut was covered with snow. We were SO disappointed. Of course, had we looked in the DK guidebook in the first place we would have seen that tours don't begin until May.

That was the second disappointment. Before that we had planned to go as far as Diyarbakir, but we have been put off by so many people that we decided not to go. There appeared to be problems with the PKK (Kurdish rebels) However, the Kurds we met said “no problem” and so we hummed and hawed about it until I looked up a website, which definitely decided us against going. It reported on 19 March 2012 that 'due to the high threat of terrorism we advise against all but essential travel to the South Eastern provinces ... and also Tunceli', which we would be travelling through in order to get to the Black Sea.

Bitterly disappointed, we decided to continue east and visit Karatepe, a Hittite site that was fantastic. We spent a couple of hours there looking at the hieroglyphs. They were amazing and in such good condition. We really enjoyed it. On the way back there was an historical site to visit too and then on to a truckie stop for the night.

Next day we drove down the southeast Mediterranean coast as far as Yakacik where the industry and pollution caused us to turn back, though not before Graham got to paddle in the Mediterranean. This was as far as we intended going, as we wanted to keep some distance away from Syria. After paddling in the water, we walked to a café and asked for some Cay (Chai = tea) which they brought out to us. Turned out that the café wasn't open yet and they wouldn't take any money. We had just gate-crashed a little personal tea party. We were cringing and they were smiling! So of course we had to have some photos of these lovely people.

It was just before this that we noticed one of the tyres was down so we drove back to Adana. We decided we needed then and there to buy a new tyre. However, trying to find the same tyre with the same tread and the same make was not easy and eventually we had to settle for a different tread of the same make and the same size.

Afterwards, we headed north and inland toward Cappadocia and stopped at the first truckie stop. The next day we climbed and climbed and climbed up on to the plateau that forms the middle of Turkey I guess.

We stopped at Derinkuyu to visit the underground city there. Quite amazing to see and experience how people could live underground in that environment. It was incredible and very fascinating! Surely they must have been deficient in Vitamin D, with sore backs to boot.

By then we were into the main part of Cappadocia or the Cappadocia that people relate to. The funny, quirky little shapes appearing ad hoc all over the place, sometimes in patterns almost, sometimes just randomly shooting up out of the blue. Wow! This place was seriously different. We loved it immediately. It had some tourists around (but quietly so, if you don't count the queues for the Goreme Nat Park) and we really enjoyed being a part of it all. We had been on our own for so long that it was sheer bliss just to listen to some English being spoken, or German or Japanese (not that we speak it) but to be amongst the camaraderie was lovely.

While there we visited a carpet making factory, not to buy but just to watch. We drove around the whole area visiting all the sights, some famous for their caps on top, some famous for their stark shapes. We parked on the Main Street with no fuss and watched the Happiness Balls in the morning. These are commonly referred to as balloons, but that is what I call them! How I wished I had gone on one now, I have always been wanting to go in Australia. One day I counted 28 in the sky while lying in bed.

We had a Turkish bath here also: a wonderful indulgence, sheer bliss. We behaved like tourists for the whole week, eating out and generally walking around looking at the shops, it was wonderful.

Leaving Cappadocia we headed to Ankara but couldn't find a campsite so we just kept on driving in the direction of the Black Sea, stopping at a little town for the night before heading up to Safranbolu, a World Heritage Village. I decided to go and look up my emails at an internet café and there I discovered that Graham's father had died 2 days before. We just sat in the motorhome numb, before deciding on the best course of action, which was to try and book a flight for him from Istanbul and to find a suitable place to deposit me for the week, while he went to London.

Trying to find a campsite there was impossible but the fire station put us up for the night along with a French motorhome and the next day saw us driving toward Istanbul, on a truckie stop for a night and then down to the Ottopark on Kennedy Caddesi (in Istanbul). Unfortunately it did not have the right facilities for me to stay for a week and so we high-tailed it to the North Coast to Mistrik, a campsite we understood to be open in the village of Kylos. There was no sign of life there, in fact it looked absolutely neglected. At this point Graham and I both broke down crying, as that meant 24 hours to find something for me before Graham had to fly back to London.

In Kylos I saw a little hotel, which is where I moved into, parking the motorhome on a side street. There, I spent the week amongst people who didn't speak English (the whole town didn't speak English and I don't speak Turkish). Oh what a long week! Even the 10 TV channels didn't have anything in English.

Of course Graham was going through a tougher time than me, having lots to arrange and finalize in England and the funeral of his father to attend. When the week was over he flew back to Istanbul. It had been a really sad time for him. We drove back to Istanbul, parking once again at the Ottopark on Kennedy Caddesi. (We have since found out that a couple of kilometres further on there is some parking with facilities; however the co-ordinates that we had were for an Ottopark with no facilities. Be warned. Istanbul is not motorhome friendly). N41.00204 E28.97673 are the co-ordinates for the brilliant location with access to the main sights, but no water or emptying facilities (but see the article in this website by Angela and David Lodge)

I had already visited the Topkapi Palace one day from Kylos while Graham was away and so we packed in all the other usual sights: the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, Sirkeci Station where the Orient Express used to come in, and the Cistern of 1001 Columns (of special significance to Graham, a draftsman/surveyor in his youth). We went one night to see the Whirling Dervishes, which was a magical experience, and also did a ferry trip on the Bosphorus. This was so cheap, for us a bit like going to Manly on the ferry in Sydney.

Wonderful Istanbul it was – I loved it. Even with the tourists and there were a few. Thank God we weren't there in June or July though.

We left Istanbul for Gallipoli, which was to be the culmination of our tour of Turkey. Sure enough our little spot in the garden of the café not 3 kilometres from Anzac Cove was waiting for us. We took a walk in the afternoon to Anzac Cove, as we wanted to check out where to sit/sleep the following night, when we would experience being part of the Remembrance of the Gallipoli Campaign 1915, 97 years after the event. Then we came back to have dinner at the cafe.

Next afternoon we organised our stuff for overnighting and walked again the 3 kilometres to join the queue already there. After 2 hours it was through the gates and onto the grass with all our stuff to watch the sun go down in a truly magical setting.

This was a very emotional time. It was packed with young Aussies, mostly very well behaved. This is the psyche of being Australian (even for us, not born there - also the Prime Minister, who turned up and who wasn't born in Australia either). This is the Mecca for Aussies now, who view it as a pilgrimage which must be done. It is extremely well prepared with the assistance of the Australian, New Zealand and Turkish Governments. It is unique. There is nowhere else that I know of where this happens, a remembrance of something that took place nearly 100 years ago.

The 'info-tainment' went on all through the night, either showing evocative pictures of diggers or telling the story of what happened leading up to the landings. This year was the New Zealand story, in two parts separated by a few hours. In between there would be songs that were popular at that time or a digger explaining how he managed to bury his mate. All very sad, but very memorable. There was a short 15-minute film with Australian actors whom we know so well describing the telegram which arrives that no one wants to read. Wonderful acting by Gary Sweet, Sigrid Thornton and Jack Thompson. And then just before the Dawn Service began, the cameras highlighted a glow on the water with the sounds of the waves lapping. This was a tenuous moment of reflection, so quiet, so still and so peaceful.

Then followed the service with the dawn gradually appearing until finally The Last Post, One Minute Silence, Reveille and the National Anthems and Blessing.

After that most of us (excluding the PM of Australia, who had transport) walked up to Lone Pine. There was plenty of time between both services, also for the New Zealanders going to their service at Chunuk Bair.

The Australian Service begun at 10 am with singing from 2 Australian choirs, a shuffle around by the PM amongst the crowds, speeches, prayers, salutes, flag raising etc. It was especially gratifying to see Turkish members of the armed forces sitting as honourable guests also.

All in all, it was a very emotional experience and we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Turkey has been everything. Kind, friendly, rugged, dramatic, beautiful and unforgettable. On leaving the border I cried. The man at Passport Control said to me “Why are you crying”

“Because I'm leaving Turkey!

Continued at: Pococks Travel from Turkey to Ireland