This was the last full day of the tour and we were now – finally on our way back to Istanbul. We had an early start today, taking the ferry to cross the Dardanelles and make it over to the Gallipoli Peninsula.
This area played a significant role in April 1915 during the First World War – today it remains a place of pilgrimage – especially for Australians and New Zealanders – who lost dearly in the campaign.
We visited the ANZAC memorial at the beach, made it up to a number of cemeteries and also saw the trenches.
Today was a long driving day with only little distractions on the way. The only major stop was at the ruins of Troy. The ruin site felt slightly underwhelming – especially after Ephesus and Hierapolis during the previous days.
Troy though certainly has its fame – mainly based on the whole story around the Troyan horse – with a replica wooden horse standing at the entrance of the ruin site.
Another replica was waiting for us in Çanakkale – which was our base for the night.
We spent this morning getting from Pamukkale to Selcuk; our first stop here was the Ephesus Museum to get an early taste of what was ahead of us in the afternoon.
On the way to the Ephesus ruin site we had a quick stop at the location of one of the ancient world’s Seven Wonders – the Temple of Artemis – though today only a single pylon remains.
The Ephesus ruin site is another massive, huge site with loads of buildings to discover. It was originally founded back in the 10th century BC by Greek colonists; it did come under Roman control though in 129 BC.
It comes complete with a big theater, library, public baths and toilets, a brothel and living quarters (complete with frescoes and mosaics).
We left the coast again and did travel inland – heading for Pamukkale – another big highlight of this trip.
My expectation here was not more than just getting to see the famous travertine terraces – imagine my surprise to also find a massive ruin site – Hierapolis – to explore on top of that. Hierapoiis features a well preserved Roman theatre, colonnades alley and streets, remains of churches and a massive necropolis.
It took me hours to explore the site – before I turned to my original expectations – and had a closer look of the travertines. Those were a bit of a disappointment at first – as the water flow is very regulated and most of the travertines are left dry, thus taking away most of the magic. I decided to walk down from the ruin site to the village following the path on the terraces – which certainly gave me a different perspective and also changed disappointment to enthusiasm.
This morning saw us visiting the remains of the Lycian capitol – Xanthos. After all the other ruin sites, Xanthos did not really feel overly grand – though we had the site for ourselves, as we were the only tourists around.
From Xanthos we continued to the little beach town of Ölüdeniz to have lunch, a swim (for those interested) or just a bit of walking along the beach.
We left Ölüdeniz in the late afternoon, now heading for Fethiye – our base for the next night. On the way we had a stop at the ghost village of Kayakoy. The village used to be inhabited by the Greek, however back in the 1920s it was abandoned, as its inhabitants were forced to move to Greece.
This morning we had a quick drive over to the village of Kekova for a full-day boat ride. Our first stop was at a small village on a peninsula with castle ruins on top of the hill. We made all the way up to the top for some incredible views of the surrounding area.
From the village we continued straight to a nearby island to get a glimpse of the remains of a sunken city – later on there were also a number of opportunities for swimming and snorkeling (ok – they had goggles and snorkels … there was not much to see though).
With the trip essentially outside of any season we were the only ones around, which gave this trip a very quiet and peaceful atmosphere.
We left Antalya after a short walk around town. Our next stop was just a one hour drive down the coast – the ruins of Lycian city of Phaselis – complete with a nice secluded beach and an opportunity for a quick swim.
From Phaselis the drive continued for another good two hours to Kaş – a little coastal town and our base for the next two nights.
Yet another travel day was ahead of us. Around lunch time we made it to Aspendos. During lunch we were introduced to gözleme – a Turkish kind of savory crepe filled with spinach, feta cheese, potatoes and meat – and … Continue reading →
We left Göreme and Cappadocia today, heading for Konya – the home of the whirling dervishes’ order.
On the way we had a quick stop at the underground city of Derinkuyu. This underground city (along with several others in the region) used to be hiding place of the Byzantine Christians in the 6th and 7th century – so they could avoid persecution by passing-through Arab or Persian armies. The Derinkuyu underground cities extends to a depth of up to 60 meters and may have housed up to 20,000 people (numbers differing by source … 20,000 seems a bit too much for my taste).
From the underground city we continued to Ihlara Valley, where we had a stroll along the Melendiz River with further opportunities to visit some of the rock churches in the valley.