Saturday, 17 August 2013

A couple days in Fethiye

So I must begin with a massive apology to Kishan, Joan, Anna Maria, Winnie & Elaine (the blog's biggest fans) for once again reaching the month-delay mark in updates. Turkey has been blowing us away with the diversity of culture, activities and an ever-changing landscape. We've seen some amazing sites, indulged in delicious Turkish cuisine, annoyed each other to the point of salted-cucumber duels and been absolutely humbled by the unfounded hospitality of the Turkish people.

 Ironically, we've so far completed a 3,000km journey through central and western Turkey, and have come full-circle back to the Mediterranean. We sit in the exact same comfy hammocks we were in 5 weeks ago, in the seaside village of Olimpos. However, to bring you up to speed on all the exciting things we've seen and done, we will now join forces and pump out 5 weeks worth of blog posts for you! If I recall correctly, we left you with an end to our 12 days in Kaş and were heading further north along the west coast towards Fethiye.....

The distance to Fethiye from Kaş isn't very far distance-wise, however, due to a massive mountain range the road must loop hours around it (apparently the Turks haven't figured out dynamite can blow through rock). We took the dolmus with an American girl who'd been staying in the dorm room with us. We were dropped at the Fethiye otogar, where immediately upon us stepping off the bus, were ambushed by a large man demanding to know where we were staying. We told him the guesthouse name and he smiled, heaving us over to his bus company stand. "we will take you for free!" He exclaimed. We did have to wait about an hour for this said free ride, in which time he showed us all the backpacker friends he'd made on Facebook and invited us to dinner that night with him to the Fish Markets. Although he looked like a Mexican drug dealer I felt he was genuinely just interested in hanging out with us, however, the looks of horror on the girls faces was more than enough to signify that I was in no position to accept his offer.

Apart from a 20 minute wait outside the supermarket, where the driver's assistant ran in to grab 4kg of salted cucumbers, the free bus surprisingly actually dropped us outside our guesthouse. Upon entering we were welcomed by a "g'day, how ya goin?" We thought the owner was doing this sarcastically as she was expecting Australian guest, however, when she emerged, in front of us stood a typically surfer-looking Aussie girl. To make the situation worse, she was even from Coogee! (why travel 15,000km to the opposite side of the world just to run into people who live down the road from you? this karma telling me I'm a neglectful neighbour or something?) Thankfully she was actually extremely helpful on advice for things to do, not just in Fethiye but the rest of the country, as she had been coming every year for 15 years and was now engaged to a Turkish man. We spent hours sitting down with her and planning not only our four days in Fethiye, but points of interest for the rest of our trip. We'd settled for a one-day boat cruise which encapsulated St Nicholas island, Butterfly Valley and Blue Cave, so that we could give full-days to see Kayaköy, ölüdinez and around Fethiye itself. Dumping our bags in the dorm room, we quickly changed then headed out to see the city.

Highlights of Fethiye:

Fish Market
Dinner at the fish market is a must for any tourist popping into Fethiye. The market is located in the heart of the city, in a block the size of a whole suburb. Small market shops make a perimeter around the inner market area where the fish vendors and restaurants set up every night.

The event begins by making your way into the courtyard where the fish vendors begin yelling at you in an attempt to attract you to their stall. There are hundreds of fish to choose from, all different shapes and sizes caught from local fishing areas. First you choose a fish, then you haggle with the man behind the counter for a better price, then you choose from the thirty restaurants surrounding the courtyard which one to eat at and then they cook Mr. Fish for you.

We had gone as a group of 3 with our new friend Jolie who we met in Kas. Our power in numbers allowed us to purchase the biggest fish you have ever seen, it could have fed a small village. We even got a discount and paid only 30 lira for our tasty friend. Once you choose a restaurant and sit down,  it only costs 6 lira for them to cook your fish and serve it with freshly made bread, garlic butter and a king size serving of salad. It's a deal not to be missed.
Eat the eye for extra protein
Butterfly Valley
This has become one of the most popular spots along the southwest coast of Turkey for tourists. Butterfly valley is at the foot of the tiny town of Faralya, previously this area was hardly visited by tourists but in recent years the valley became more popular as people began to look for more hidden places to visit (more accurately hippies were upset that their existing hangout at Blue Lagoon became overrun by tourists so they set out to find another water haven to call their own).

The town of Faralya is reachable by road, however it is situated at the very top of the canyon. From there the walls of the canyon are dangerously steep to climb down into the valley. In recent years there have been some tragic deaths as tourists have slipped while attempting to reach the valley from above. Consequently the valley is only reachable by boat.

The view of Butterfly Valley as we pulled out from the shore.

Reaching out to the butterflies.

We took this opportunity to spoil ourselves with another day cruise around the waters of Fethiye. After more swimming and eating our boat eventually pulled up at the shore of Butterfly Valley. From there is was a 15 minute walk through the valley to the rear wall where the waterfall is located. Within the waterfall live the endemic butterflies for which the valley is named after. At the base of the waterfall the water is cool and refreshing but the butterflies live higher up, away from the swam of curious tourists. After climbing up two ropes that had been attached to rocks in the waterfall (and yes with our rather amateur level of climbing expertise this did take some time) we finally found the butterflies.

South of Fethiye you will find the ruins of a town once known as Kayaköy.

Up until the Greco-Turkish war this town was occupied by Greeks because of it's close proximity to the Greek border. The war concluded with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 that dictated a population exchange where Greeks living in Turkey had to return to Greece and Muslims living in Greece would return to the new Turkey. When the Greek inhabitants of Kayaköy left for Greece, Muslims from Greek Macedonia were settled in their place. However, Macedonians who were used to large and fertile fields in their former land found this hilly and rocky area with little arable land unfit to live, and abandoned the place in favour of other regions.
You never know who you find living in an old abandoned village.
Decades of neglect in addition to the big earthquake of 1957 that shook the region has left Kayaköy as a ghost town. It is now a preserved museum village, consisting of about 500 rundown but still mostly intact Greek-style houses and churches which cover a small mountainside.

Once we finished climbing in, out and around ever ruin left in the old town we embarked on one of the best day walks of our trip. Following the windy path up through the mountain side of the village we reached the peak that looked over the Mediterranean Sea. From there we walked all the way across the mountain and finally down into the harbour of Ölüdeniz to have the most rewarding swim at the beach.

The way from Käyaköy to Ölüdeniz.
Views from the mountain top along the track.

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