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Olympos and Blue Cruise

TURKEY | Saturday, 28 June 2008 | Views [1537]

A birds eye view of Oludeniz

A birds eye view of Oludeniz

After five weeks of full on travelling it was time to put our feet up, chill out and recharge for a bit. A cute wee hut nestled in the middle of an orange orchard, in Olympos on Turkey's south coast sounded like just the ticket. So, uncharacteristically for us, our itinerary for the next four days involved getting up mid morning, breakfast, lazing on the gorgeous beach, lunch, snoozing for most of the afternoon, back to the beach, dinner and bed. There was an ancient ruined city... we didn't get around to exploring it. There were walking tracks to beautiful view points... we couldn't be bothered. The nightlife down the road was awesome... or so we were told. We did manage to pluck up the motivation to visit the nearby eternal flames of Chimera. The stuff of myth and legend, flames have spontaneously burnt out of the rocks here for thousands of years. The Greeks believed it to be the breath of a hybrid goat/lion/dragon monster. Scientists say it is a natural methane gas seep. We like the Greek explanation, so we'll go with that. In any case, a dozen fires burning straight out of the rock at night was a surreal sight.

Tucked away from the world with our beach and hut in the orchard, Olympos was so nice and chilled out that we could have stayed there for ages. The opportunity of jumping on a four day cruise around the coast with sunken cities and the home of Father Christmas sounded too good to pass up though.

Unfortunately old Saint Nick must have decided to escape the 40 degree heat and was with the elves at the North Pole when we dropped into Demre to start our cruise. Even so, the town of Demre was the place where the legend of the gift giving saint began. The sunken city of Kekova across the water from Demre was quite cool, but the isolated and vehicle-less town of Simena nearby was just beautiful. Perched over the water, topped by a medieval castle, full of blooming boganvillea vines and surrounded by ancient Lycian tombs, it was a great place to sit down and enjoy a bowl of fresh home made peach ice-cream.

Food on board the boat followed the same pattern that it had for the past three weeks.  Breakfast was especially predictable. Olives, mild, salty soft white cheese, tomato and cucumber, bread, egg and obligatory cay (tea). It's served in a tiny little 'tulip' glass on a little silver plate. There are always two sugar cubes, and it's always too strong and bitter. And you always burn your fingers, even when you hold the glass at the very top. But that's what you do in Turkey.

The next two days on the boat pretty much consisted of swimming in secluded bays, snoozing on deck, eating, and cruising the azure Med. On our third day we pulled into Butterfly Valley and relished the opportunity to stretch our legs on dry land. The walk up to the waterfall at the head of the valley, through a sea of pink oleander flowers and clouds of butterflies was pretty nice too.

The highlight of the day came that afternoon though, when Catherine and I ran off the side of a 1700m high mountain on a tandem paraglide at Oludinez. What a rush! We were both a bit nervous standing on top of the ridge at the take off site looking down over the sparkling blue mediterranean way below us. 'Just keep running until I say stop,' my pilot told me. Soon my feet left the ground and it plunged away below me as we started racing over the tree tops. This is like being in a helicopter I thought initially, but quickly decided that it was much better. Instead of a noisy engine, the only sound was the wind in my ears as we cruised along a sheer mountain ridge. My pilot and I circled up to over 2000m on the thermals watching Catherine and the other paragliders take off, before heading out towards Oludeniz (the blue lagoon known as the dead sea in turkish). Despite it sounding very peaceful, I was so nervous about dropping the camera that it took me about 10 minutes to pluck up the courage to get it out without fear of giving it a 1km freefall. As soon as I was really starting to relax though, my pilot suggested that it would be fun to do some 'tricks'. What he really meant is that we would break into an ever tightening death spiral, that would leave my stomach floating miles above me and put me on the verge of blacking out. Catherine's pilot had the same idea and she screamed so loudly that the other people on our boat who were on the other side of the bay could hear her. We were still shaking and pumped full of adrenaline for hours afterwards, but I so want to do it again. It was fantastic!

Awesome location, awesome weather, awesome fun... just plain awesome really. A fitting climax to three brilliant weeks in Turkey.


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