I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.

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PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Totally Ruined


Thursday, 2nd October

 View from our breakfast terrace, Göreme. Click to enlarge.

Leaving the village of Göreme nestled among the "fairy chimney" rock formations of Cappadocia shortly after breakfast, we faced a 480 kilometre [300 mile] eight-hour ride over the Taurus Mountains, often reaching heights of up to 2,000 metres [6,500 ft] on occasions, before descending to the sandy beaches of Manavgat on the Mediterranean coast.

As we wound our way down to sea level from the mountains, despite this occurring during the late afternoon, the temperature noticeably increased by around 15 degrees celsius, from 10°C to a warm and balmy 25°C. We quickly shod our wind-protective foul weather gear .. just had to, as the perspiration began to trickle down our bodies.

Friday-3rd

The last time I visited the Med was during the mid-summer of 1996; Venice was the place as I recall, and now more than 18 years later I had returned to the Akdeniz, "the White Sea" as it is known in Turkey.

We arrived in Manavgat at the very beginning of the four-day - from Saturday, 4th -Tuesday, 7th October - Islamic 'Feast of the Sacrifice' (Kurban Bayramı), a religious national holiday where sheep are sacrificed/slaughtered and their meat distributed to the poor.

The reason for a 2-day stopover was to visit (a) the Manavgat Waterfall; and (b) the Roman ruins at the nearby seaside town of Side (pronounced see-day).

Despite it being a busy holiday weekend, as dusk approached, in the fading light, we managed to find B&B-type lodgings in a 'pansiyon' tucked behind a laid-back restaurant, just a minute's walk from the seafront in Side. By the time we had unpacked it was too late to do much more than buy a beer or two and tuck into a brace of shish kebab. 



By the way, have I mentioned the main local brews yet? No, I don't think I have.

Efes Beverage Group, is the best known and largest producer of beer in Turkey with approximately 80% of the market. Their flagship product line is called 'Efes Pilsen' (5.0% ABV), after the Turkish name for the ancient city of Ephesus. We shall be visiting Ephesus later in the trip - see below.

Beer connoisseurs describe Efes Pilsen as having, "a tangy malt and hops aroma, rich malt in the mouth, and a bitter-sweet finish that becomes dry and hoppy"

I say, "drink enough of it, and it gets you p!ssed  .. that's all you need to know!"

Efes also produces 'Efes Dark', 'Efes Light', 'Efes Extra', 'Bomonti' and 'Marmara'.







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Saturday-4th

Side, a classic example of mass tourism at its best ..


.. nope, make that at its worst - with endless rows of beach umbrellas, souvenir shops and matching restaurant menus in various European languages [read: predominantly German] .. AND

.. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it! 

"So, that's two egg mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Hermann Goering, and four Colditz salads."

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The Roman ruins in Side are in fairly good condition .. and include among others:

.. quite a large amphitheatre ...

... and a temple (to Apollo)

Manavgat Waterfalls during the afternoon - click-on the above picture to enlarge.

6 km north of Manavgat, the fall of water is only a few metres high, but the riverbed is wide and the flow high enough to make the falls thunder.

The waterfall was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 5 lira banknotes of 1968-1983. A national icon, therefore, surely?

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Sunday-5th

A ride along the coast, from Mangavat to Kaş - pronounced 'Kash' - which is a small, relatively unspoilt harbour and tourist town (fishing, diving and yachting)  ..

The bike, my little hero,  still running better than ever ...

.. along what the local biking fraternity around here call this particular stretch of the Lycian coastline 'the Paradise Road'
 
Join us for part of the way:



Click the forward play arrow.

The video finishes (2 mins 35 secs) at Kaş. Notice the acres upon acres of polythene greenhouses and polytunnels (at 1m 50s - 2m 05s). This is all due to political incentives introduced since 1980, which made the land in the region more profitable for investment in agriculture rather than in hotels, luxury apartments and other tourist attractions.

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Monday-6th

Another 165 km [103 mi] further westwards brought us to the delightfully charming riverside township of Dalyan.

Life in Dalyan revolves around the Dalyan Çayı River that flows past the town. Down river, to the coast, lies nearby İztuzu Beach, which is a breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtle species.

We spent the afternoon of Tuesday-7th on İztuzu Beach; riding the short distance of about 12 km [7½ mi] passing endless rows of pomegranates at the height of ripeness ...

.. and the not-too-shabby Sulunger Lake (Sülüngür Gölü)

I flashed my man boobs too you know. oh yes! .. and waded into the warm['ish] Med for a brief swim. First time for the year.

This is precisely where the loggerhead turtles swim to shore between May to October on İztuzu Beach, with an average of some 300 nests per year along this stretch of beach. Unfortunately we were a little late, as this year all the turtles had come and gone three months ago (back in July.)

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Tuesday-7th

From Dalyan we headed 200 km [125 mi] north to the little township of Pamukkale.

Background: Pamukkale has been used as a spa since the second century BC, and literally means "cotton castle" in Turkish.

Do a Google Images search and enter 'Pamukkale' in the search box. You will quickly discover why I felt that Pamukkale (Hierapolis), with all its Roman history and cotton-look terraces, just had to be on the list of 'must see' places to visit in Turkey.

Part of the nearby Roman ruin city of Hierapolis

[Panorama - click to enlarge]

Our first view of the travertines. Not, as you can see, the beautiful cascading thermal pools depicted in many other photos.
 
I overheard one of the tour guides explaining that the end of summer drought conditions were forcing the site authorities to limit the flow of water to small areas, rotated daily to try to keep the calcium formations from damage.

We took our shoes and socks off (had to) and waddled down the travertine hot springs back towards the township. Crowded as hell, along with dozens of other visiting nationalities.

Bathing in spa pools, no problem - average temperature of 35°C

'.. every young couple in love'

Blink .. and it could have been an arctic scene. A young boy in bathing shorts gives the game away
' .. every hopeful child'

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From Ellen's journal: click on this link → A Land of Plenty

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Wednesday-8th &Thursday-9th

Another comparitively short'ish ride west of 185 km [115 mi], 3½-hours, to the town of Selçuk ..

.. through endless fields of crops, of all sorts, including cotton.

And it's harvest time.

You've got to ask, just what does Turkey do with all the mountains of produce it grows.

This is an incredibly fertile country.

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Selçuk struck me as a likeable, down-to-earth sort of town, with a quite charming neighbouring 'picture postard' village called Şirince close by, which is said to be one of the two villages in the world where there will be no doomsday. Troon village, near Camborne, is definitely not the other one!

We have good friends, Şandan & Hakan, who are building their dream home (pictured above) in Şirince  ..

.. surrounded by scores of olive trees


Oddly, despite all their help and guidance during this trip .. even to the point of arranging a homestay with Şandan's mother during our 2-day stopover in Selçuk .. we've never actually met them!

We shall, however, meet-up when we get to Istanbul. I shall say more about Şandan & Hakan, and the peculiar way by which we all got to know each other, after our visit to that great city.

Why did we go to Selçuk?

Well, Selçuk is visited primarily because of its close proximity to the ruins of the Roman city of Ephesus - called simply 'Efes' by most Turks - think reference to beer (above) - which are some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the country.

Before we went to Ephesus / Efes, we were drawn back to the Med shoreline ..


.. to Pamucak beach, 9 km (12 mins) west from Selçuk .. just for a couple of cold Efes beers.

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Two hours after the beach run:

Ephesus was at its peak during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.  It was a major Roman city, second in importance and size only to Rome. Ephesus has been estimated to be about 400,000 inhabitants in the year 100 AD, making it the largest city in Roman Asia.

Coming with the usual amphitheatre - the 'Great Theatre' ..

.. the largest and best preserved in the Greco-Roman world, with a seating capacity of 24,000.



Celsius Library, built 123 AD, restored 1970s.

Hot and tired after too much time on my feet .. I fell asleep at 5:00pm for 1½ hours back at Şandan's mum's place. But what a fine day it was.

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Friday-10th

We rode out to the extremity of the Troad Peninsula, to the tiny fishing village of Babakale, at the westernmost point of mainland Asia at Cape Baba (Baba Burnu).

The very last sunset in Asia, at: 5:45 pm (local time)

The furthest east on the Asian mainland we got to on this trip was the Vietnamese city of Huế on the banks of the Perfume River, just a few miles inland from the South China Sea.

Sunset happened in Huế six hours earlier.

Asia is indeed a HUGE continent.

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Now Istanbul, the heart of Turkey, beckons.

Where to after Istanbul? There is nothing specific on the forward planning itinerary.. but I have a cunning plan in mind, as this last 2014 trip moves towards its conclusion. 


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