Inside the Sumela Monastery which sits high up on the cliffs of Mt. Mela, Turkey
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Turkey Trip Journal from May 27 to June 27, 2006.

Follow this link to return to the 2006 Turkey Photos Pg. 1, Turkey Photos Pg. 2 and Turkey Photos Pg. 3.

To read and see the photos of our 2010 Turkey Trip follow these links Turkey Photos Pg. 1, Turkey Photos Pg. 2 and Turkey Journal.

Country: Turkey
Duration: May 27 to June 27, 2006
Distance Traveled in the Country:  ~ 6300 km
Memorial Impressions of the Country: 
We hoped for a great country and were not disappointed.  The original plan was to spend three (3) weeks and we ended up staying 31 days, riding 6300kms and taking approx. 2000 pictures.  The landscape is breathtaking. High mountains in the east, covered in snow, blue lakes and green valleys reminding us of our Rocky Mountains in Alberta. The ragged green coastline meeting the Mediterranean Sea resembles the British Columbia coastline.  Central Turkey covered in huge farming land, had Saskatchewan written all over it and Cappadocia with its weird geological formations looks like the Drumheller area in Alberta.  We have seen the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea and Sea of Marmara.  The country has shown its self on its best side to us, with blue sky and bearable temperatures everyday.  The people, especially in eastern and central Turkey are super friendly.  There wasn't one road side break, were someone didn't bring us tea, nuts or some other food. Of course we have to mention the incredible historical sites, dating back as far as 7000 BC.  If the guide book mentioned it we visited it.  Each one was unique in history and structure.  We fell in love with Turkey and say with heavy hearts goodbye as we move on to Bulgaria.
Gasoline Cost: approx. $2.14CDN/litre and rising for 95 Octane (Ouch)
Camping Cost: Some wild camping, otherwise it ranges from $7.00 to $14.00CDN/night with Istanbul being $21.00CDN/night. No hotels.
Food & Drink Cost: Turkish Pizza is great and cheap.  Cost of groceries are about 25% cheaper than in Canada. 
Exchange Rate: 1 million Lira = $0.70CDN

Special Thanks to: Jade (Canada) and those people we met both locals and tourists as we traveled through the country.

May 27, 2006.  The border crossing at Kassab is very peaceful.  One feels very much in the backwoods.  There was no traffic and all English signage disappeared, but we could read the Turkish Alphabet. Our first stop is the office where we receive our passport entry stamp.  Then we proceed to the closed door office, where the all mighty Visa issue person sits.  The Turkish Multi-Entry Visa for Canadians is $60US a person and valid for 3-months.  With only $20US and 130 Syrian Pounds in Cash we just have enough money to pay the $120US.  From there we enter another building to import our motorcycles.  The Carnet de Passage are not stamped, but come in handy to complete the required paperwork.  Our passports receive a motorcycle entry stamp and we had to sign away our life on other paperwork to guarantee we are taking the bikes back out.  They didn't ask for insurance.  Finally we made it.  I am doing one of Shari's happy dances.  This is it for major border crossings for a while.  The first small village we reach, children are waving excitingly and the old folk stare curiously.  We actually see a bank machine, skeptical if it will take our debit card, but totally blown-away as it spits out cash.  Welcome back to civilization.  The only problem is that we do not know the exchange rate.  We took out 300 million Turkish Lira.  I walk over to a small market and buy a couple of pops and chocolate cake.  That comes to 3 million Turkish Lira.  We are trying to get a feel for the money, but are totally lost.  Exhausted by all the bureaucracy of entering and exiting countries, we decide to wild camp in the mountains.  After making some noodles with mushroom sauce, I call my mom on the satellite phone, updating her on our journey.  She tells us to still be careful, even through we are in the middle of nowhere with no other people in sight.  This conversation came back into my mind only half an hour later as I was going to go for a girly bathroom visit in the bushes, and to ensure that really noone was watching I make the 360 Degree sweep of the area and there in the distance is a old grandpa herding his sheep and on direct approach toward our campsite.  Mike and I had a good laugh.  We shake the old guy's hand, and he happily smiles away and talks continuously.  We understand not a word, but we communicate with our hands and show him the world map.  He hangs out with us for a while and then disappears with his sheep.  Retiring into our tent just before sunset another old grandpa herding his sheep appears in front of our tent.  Sitting in our tent, we open the fly and he signals us to come with him and stay at his house.  We thank him but say no, and he pulls out his left over lahmacun (thin pizza style snack) to share with us.  Not to be rude we accept and he is also on his merry way.  So much for being in the middle of nowhere.  Time has stopped in this part of the country.  The fields are harvested by hand and horses and donkeys are the main transportation.  It feels good to be here.

May 28, 2006.  Our destination for today is Mt. Nemrut (400km).  Road signage is excellent, road conditions on the other hand are not so good.  Turkey's roads are rough, littered with pot holes or patches of gravel.  Perfect for the BMW GS.  Winding our way through the mountains to the first larger town of Antakya, we realize that the Turkish driving style actually uses traffic rules and signal lights.  From Antakya, we ride through the valley toward Gaziantep.  Staying off the toll roads and using the backroads allows us to pass through some remote laying villages.  It does take a lot longer to get to your destination, but the twisty roads make up for it.  From Gaziantep we make our way somehow to Kahla, located 56km south of Mt. Nemrut.  Stopping for some water and groceries, we again decide to wild camp.  Approx. 15km from the summit we find a spot beside a river.  At around 4pm we set out to ride to the summit of Mt. Nemrut.  The last 5km are cobble stone and very steep.  Entry is 4 million Lira/person.  We park the bike at 2000m elevation and hike up the remaining few hundred meters. Mt. Nemrut is famous for its gigantic tumbled stone heads.  Built by King Antiochus I Theo between 64 and 38 BC, the colossal status' are of himself and the major gods. Both the east and west terraces display some great stone heads.  Just before sunset we make our way down the hill, just before the tourist masses arrive.

May 29, 2006.  Leaving our idyllic spot behind we soon take a wrong turn, which allows us to pass through some beautiful countryside reminding us of the Okanagon Valley around Oliver.  There are beautiful lakes with the sun sparkling off them and no one around.  After 45km we reach a remote town of Gerger, where the road ends.  The helpful locals indicate that we have to return to Narice and then head toward Siverek.  A Ferry to pass the man made lakes (the dam was built in 1990) runs every 2 hours. We are in luck and only have to wait 2 hours.  We and 5 big trucks are loaded on the ferry in a scary way and we are just a little bit skeptical if we will make it to the other shoreline.  The ferry costs 10 million Lira for both of us. From here we start riding through large areas of farm land, passing through Siverek and to the oil rich town of Diyarbakir.  Large diameter pipelines are being installed and we are reminded of our work (what is work?).  The road from Diyarakir to Bitlis gets back into the mountains and we follow the river as it carves its way through the region.  Major road construction is underway and it takes us a few hours to make our way through the mess.  On route we run into the French guy on his bicycle we had met him at Mt. Sinai in Egypt.  It is a small world, 5 weeks have passed since then.  In Bitlis we realize that it was getting late and we were too tired to actually make it to our planned destination of Mt. Ararat (still another 300 kms away).  Instead we rode on to Lake Van Golu and wild camped at 1800m elevation. 

May 30, 2006. We are woken up by a farmer, shovel at hand to redirect the irrigation system.  Taking the south road around Lake Van Golu, we are in full view of the snow covered Suphan Dagi (Mountain) standing 4058m high and we climb a couple of passes, one of them being Kuskunkiran Gecidi at 2235m.  The surrounding mountains are snow covered, the rivers overflowing from spring run-off and it feels like riding through British Columbia, Canada.  Lake Van has no outlet and therefore has a salinity level well above that of sea water.  We follow the southern and eastern shore for 225km, all the time being at least over 1720m in altitude.  From the town of Van we turn north and leave the lake behind us.  We are again climbing in elevation, above the tree line.  Civilization is getting scarcer and we stop for a bit to eat in Caldiran, elevation 2030m.  Here we make our first encounter with the local food and experiment with Ayran (salty/sour white liquid yogurt) to drink and Pide (flatbread base with spicy tomato sauce) to eat.  The oven is fired up and the owner is only too happy to socialize with us.  Outside the motorcycles are the main attraction.  Continuing on our way we summit at Tendurek Gecidi (2644m).  The occasional village consists of stone/mud brick walls and the roofs are covered with mud and straw.  Life here is very simple.  Women are out washing clothes by hand and laying them out on the grass.  Since we are above the tree line, cow dung is laid out for drying and then used to fire their ovens.  Large mud brick "beehive" style ovens are used to cook food.  Military check-points are more common here as we are only 1.5km from the Iranian border. Approx. 30km from Dogubayazit we get our first glimpse of Mt. Ararat.  Turkey's largest mountain at 5,123m.  It is snow-covered year around and as the story goes Noah's ark is said to have settled here.  No actual proof has been found.  The only campground is located at the base of the Ishak Pasa Palace, overlooking the town of Dogubayazit.  Murat Camping is very primitive, but did have a hot shower and was only 4 million Lira.

May 31, 2006.  The Ishak Pasa Palace was our first stop in the morning. Built between 1685 and 1784, it does have some excellent carvings and a 14 room Harem.  This is as far east we are able to go on this trip.  We push on west toward Agri, over Erzurum and wild camp beside a river 20km from Bayburt.  We have been averaging about 400km a day since we hit Turkey.  Road conditions in the east are very poor, but the scenery makes up for all the abuse our bodies and motorcycles have to go through.  The only mentionable stop we made was at the Cobandede Arcbridge, which spans across the Aras River and was built in 1295-1304AD. Most of its structure is still standing. En route we encounter numerous villages, were the old life/culture meets the new.  Turkey is going to great lengths to modernize its people and country.  The goal is to be part of the European Union.  It is very evident in the eastern part of Turkey.  New 10-story high rises are built in small villages and people are moved out of their mud brick houses into these "new homes".  One picture that will always stay with me is as we pass one of these high rises. An old lady was sitting all covered up in traditional dress at the base of one of these high rises, with goat skin and wool spread out for drying, using the same skills her ancestors used to work the material.  We wonder, what these high rises will look like 20 years from now.  They may be Ghetto's, run down with a high crime rate.  Is it really possible to change the life of people by removing them from the life they are used to? 

June 01, 2006.  Besides a couple of dogs we were without visitors all night.  From Bayburt we head west through Gumushane and then north toward Trabzon and the Black Sea.  Feeling adventurous, we by-pass Turkey's longest tunnel at 1.5kms and instead climb the 2025m Zigana Mountain.  Half way up the pavement finally completely disappears and gravel leads the way.  The view is incredible.  Switzerland in Turkey.  Mike comments on the how versatile the BMW is.  Here we are climbing steep mountains, with switchbacks in gravel, then we are having fun on twisty paved roads and back on the main highway keeping up with the local traffic and at all times moving a weight of 400kgs each.  Again we are happy with our choice of motorcycle.  55km south east of Trabzon, set high in the mountains is the famous Sumela Monastery.  Situated high up on the cliffs of Mt. Mela, it was founded in 4th Century by two Greek Monks, Barnabas and Sophronius. The drive to the Monastery is beautiful and on relative good pavement.  The area around the Monastery is a national park called Altindere and the entrance fee is 3.5million Lira/motorcycle.  Due to the spring run-off the water is gushing down with white angry foam and the force is creating some incredible waterfalls.  A steep road leads us close to the entrance of the Monastery and the last 200m is a peaceful uphill treed walk.  The Entrance fee was 5 million/person.  Only 30% of the Monastery is open to the public, which was a bit of a let down.  Even through the remaining Church walls are covered with beautiful frescos and for that it shouldn't be missed.  The view from the living quarters, makes us wonder how they built this 5-story building on the side of the cliffs.  The complete Monastery is well hidden and can only be viewed partially from a couple of points, unless one has the energy to climb up the opposite mountain.  The trees are dense in this part of the woods.  Several campgrounds line the road into the Monastery.  Originally we had planned to stay at one of them, but after getting told that the primitive facilities are 20million Lira/night, we decided to push on to Trabzon and the Black Sea.  The coastal road is currently mostly under construction.  The road is widened to a 4-lane highway located directly off the shore and stretches all along the Black Sea.  It restricts direct access to the Black Sea and is quite an eye soar.  Since most of it is still under construction we are able to skirt through small fishing villages and take in the local culture.  Tourism is non existent is this part of Turkey.  As it is getting late we make it to Eynesil and pitch a tent at a seaside restaurant for 5million/night and treat ourselves to some local food of Kofka (ground beef meat patty), rice and salad all the time overlooking a beautiful bay along the Black Sea.  After the meal we are joined by Berna, a local lady, teaching English.  She is very excited to practice her English and we get the chance to discuss the economic situation of Turkey.  After the conversation, she asks us to stay with her and her husband in the nearby village.  We decline as we have our tent already set up.  Sitting in our tent we call Randy on the Satellite phone to wish him a Happy Birthday, but his voice mail picks up.  It probably would have depressed him to hear from the "Wealthy" Travelers.

June 02, 2006. We have been lucky with the weather at the Black Sea. It mostly rains along the coast line, which explains the lush and dense greenery covering every inch.  From Eynesli, we follow the coastal highway to Samsun, enjoying the scenery and small fishing villages.  At Samsun we turn inland and with that the temperatures start to climb.  Our route leads us through Merzifon to Corum.  Stopping for a GPS download, since we are keeping track of our route on the computer, I wander into the Corum Mevlana Leblebicisi Store and purchase some trail mix with leblebi (chickpeas).  From Corum, another 100kms southeast leads us to Bogazkale and the Baskent Campground.  The facilities are excellent (10 million Lira/night) and we treat ourselves to a hot shower and clean off all the diesel fumes.  At the Campground restaurant, we have some excellent supper, which consisted of sis (cubes of meat grilled on a skewer), rice, vegetables, salad and bread.

June 03, 2006. Summer has arrived in Turkey.  Temperatures hit 30 Degree in the shade and we are exploring the ruins of Bogazkale in the Hattusas National Park.  The area encompasses an area of 14kms.  The ancient Hittite capital city of Hattusas, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was built around 1600BC.  The area has been occupied since the 3rd millennium BC by the people called Hatti.  Luckily for us, a road winds its way through the park and we are able to take the motorcycles.  Entrance Fee is 3.5million Lira/person.  The first important stop is the Great Temple (Buyuk Mabet).  It was built around 1400BC and was dedicated to the storm god Teshub.  All that remains of the ancient capital are the stone bases, as the upper structure was made of wood and mud bricks. From the Great Temple the road leads to the Lion's Gate (Aslanlikapi).  The Gate is guarded by two (2) lions.  The most impressive area is the artificially built up stone hill (Yerkapi), which includes the Sphinx Gate and a 70m long tunnel.  The Sphinx structures have been moved to the Museum. The Corbelled archway of the King's Gate on the Westside of the outside wall is in best shape.  Other sites visited are the Citadel (Buyukkale), a walled citadel, with a monumental staircase and faded Hieroglyphs.  1km from this site is the Yazilikaya.  Three (3) chambers have been discovered all covered with stone reliefs. Three (3) Germans are staying in a motorhome at the same campground and invite us over for some red wine.

June 04, 2006.  From the town of Bogazkale, we ride along the country roads to Yozgat, occasionally passing a horse pulled wagon with a whole family.  We wonder how most people in Turkey afford the gas prices, which are the most expensive in Europe at $2.14/litre.  Traffic in the eastern and interior part of Turkey is light, roads have somewhat improved, but conditions change without notice.  Most roads in Turkey are under construction.  Surfaces, especially in the corners are covered in oil and diesel.  Caution is always on our mind, as we had a few close calls.  From Yozgat we continue south-east to Bogazliyan and Himmeldede.  We hit a long stretch of road construction and are covered with dust.  As we enter the area of Cappadocia, we are surprised that the landscape does not change until we almost hit the town of Goreme.  The landscape instantly reminding us of the Drumheller area and the Goreme area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  People over the centuries have carved houses, churches and fortresses in the stone.  Everywhere you look are caves.  We spoil ourselves by setting up camp at the deluxe campground called Kaya Campground for 22 million Lira/night.  The facilities were the best we had seen in a long time, even wireless internet and a superb swimming pool.  Temperatures have risen to an unusual high for even the locals and we needed to cool off in the pool. Just before sunset we decide to take a stroll to the Anyali Church, which is a bit off the beaten path for most tourists.  Entrance is 2 million Lira a person.  The keeper is super friendly and points out every important aspect.  We even crawl along tiny tunnels to adjacent rooms.  Afterwards we sit with the keeper and drink tea and try to make conversation.   

June 05, 2006.  As temperatures get unbearable at about 8am, we are up at 5am watching hot-air ballons hit the horizon.  The campground is situated past the open-air museum on the crest of the hill.  A pathway leads into the adjacent canyon.  Most tourists do not know about its existence and we explore for a couple of hours as the pathway leads through large carved tunnels.  A small stream of water shows the way.  This area was occupied until the 1950's and seems in some instances that it still is. We walk about 8kms and return to the village of Goreme.  The open-air museum opens at 8:30am (cost 10 million Lira/person), buses line the parkway already and the keepers are late.  We decide to take the opposite way of the tourist tours.  The Kizlar Monastery being our first stop, which is probably the most impressive hollowed out formation of the open-air museum.  Then we view the Cankli Church, Katherina Church, Elmali Church and pay an additional 5 million Lira/person to get into the Dark Church.  It is definitely the most impressive we have seen. Carved inside the rock, with pillars and a dome in the centre.  The frescoes depict the ascension of Christ and are in excellent shape.  There are several dinning halls, which have large tables carved out of the rock for seating up to 60 people.  Most Chapels and Churches are from the 9th century onwards. Across from the open-air museum is the Tokali Church, very large pillars and dome with again some excellent frescos.  In addition this church has a chapel underneath the main church.  Exhausted by the heat we return to the campground and hang out in the pool.

June 06, 2006.  Today we venture out to the nearby town of Derinkuyu (deep well).  This underground city is the deepest excavated city and has 8 levels (60ms) below the ground. Admission is 10 million Lira/person.  It was home to approx. 20,000 people in its prime.  Equipped with our LED head lamps we explore tunnels and rooms, containing stables, kitchen, storage rooms, and even a church deep in the ground.  Most impressive are the heavy millstones recessed into the walls were doors that could be rolled into place to seal off strategic areas of settlement.  There had to be at least 6 people pushing.  It is said that the underground town of Derinkuyu actually connects via a tunnel to the town of Kaymakli 10km north.  As we just got a taste of exploring we decide to also visit the underground town of Kaymakli, which covers an area of 2.5 square kms (admission 10 million Lira/person).  As it turns out it is the better one to visit, as the area open to explore is much larger.  It does not extend as deep into the ground.  We were fortunate to have the LED lights and made our way through some very dark tunnels far away from the usual tourist path.  We are always keeping in the back of our minds that we might get lost in the labyrinth of tunnels.  It is incredible and a must see in Turkey.  On the way back to the camp we stopped of at the Uchisar rock citadel.  Admission is 2 million Lira/person, and the summit gives you an excellent view of the surrounding area.  Here we also tasted the local Turkish ice cream, which seems a bit stringy, but did seem to melt slower.  Happy to have seen most of the area it is back to the campsite.  Later that evening we meet Lars from Sweden, who arrives on his loaded BMW R1200GS from Iran. Excited we exchange travel stories and of course contact information.  It was good to talk to another biker.

June 07, 2006. It is time to get on the road again.  The route is south to the Mediterranean Sea, crossing the Olkar Dagl / Toros Dagl Mountain Region. The rolling hills leading up to the rocky mountains reminding us of home and the drive to Banff.  We are very surprised to how close the scenery and landscape is to British Columbia and Alberta.  The climate of course is a bit better over here.  We hit the Mediterranean Coast line at Mersin and set up camp in a small village Bogsak south of Silifke.  We had planned to head towards Anamur, but could not resist the beautiful location of the campground, situated in an isolated bay.  The campground was 10 million Lira/person c/w with cold shower.  Our first stop is hitting the sandy beach with not a person in sight.  In the water we realize that two (2) large turtles are swimming with us, what an amazing experience.  In the evening two (2) guys from Italy arrive on a V-Storm and Yamaha and set up camp beside us.  Showing them the pictures of Syria and Lebanon, we now have convinced to make it their next holiday.

June 08, 2006.   The road along the coast from Silifke to Anamur is probably one of the most beautiful sceneries we have traveled along on this trip.  Reminding us of Mexico and the stretch between Puerta Vallerta and Acapulco.  The mountain range descending into the Mediterranean Sea, lush green with deep blue water in the background.  The road is super twisty and the 130kms take us about 2 hours. Approx. 2km east of Anamur is the impressive Mamur Castle (Marble Castle), built over a Byzantine fort by the Crusaders.  It is often used in film sets.  Its sea side location and huge intact walls and 36 towers are a joy to explore.  Large waves hit the rock leading up to the castle walls.  Admission of 2 million Lira/person well spent.  Continuing our journey along the coast past Alanya and Manavgat, we enter the ancient town, overrun by tourists, of Side through the arched gateway.  Realizing its size, we decide to back track 15km to a sea side campground and explore the ruins of Side in the evening. The campground is 20 million Lira.  In the evening we take a leisure stroll through the Roman ruins, visiting the 2nd AD built free standing theatre, Colonnaded Street and partially reconstructed Temple of Apollo and Athena.

June 09, 2006.  Continuing west we hit Aspendos, located on the Euromedion River (Koprulu River).  The ancient theatre, built in 162AD, is the most restored and intact theatre we have seen on this trip, seating 12,000 people and displaying an impressive Stage Building.  Close-by is the aqueduct, constructed around 100 AD by architect Tiberius Claudius Italicus and incorporated a 1 km siphon system.  Another 30km west along the coastal highway lays Perge. The ancient town was abundant in the 7th Century AD and houses a large stadium.  Making our way through the tourist town of Antalya, we take the road north-east into the Gulluk Dagi Milli Park and the ancient city Termessos built by the Solyms. Significant in that it is located 1040m above sea level, on top of a mountain and containing Roman style structures, like the Colonnaded Street, Baths, a Theatre and Temples, but was built by the Solyms, which had at the time no connections to the Romans around 334 BC.  From the entrance to the park (admission 4 million Lira/person) to the start of the walking path the road winds its way up the mountain for 9kms.  The ruins of Termessos are located between two hills in the Gulluk Mountains and took us 3 hours to explore.  The theatre with the barren rocky mountains in the background is partially in ruins.  The most interesting and memorial part is the necropolis.  It has four types of graves, tombs, osteetecs (ash preserving pots), temploid graves and rock graves. There are 100's of sarcophagi covering the hillside. Most of them richly engraved.   Some tombs are carved into the rock cliffs similar to what we had seen in Petra, Jordan.  We were truly impressed and count this as one of the better sites we have been to.  As it was getting late we set up camp in the park.  It could have been in Canada.  Benches were provided and we even had a stone fire pit.  The only difference to Canada was that we were the only ones at this campsite.  In the evening we sat around the campfire roasting sausages and drinking Turkish Beer (Efes).  So far away from home, but somehow it didn't feel that way.

June 10, 2006.  Leaving behind the peacefulness of this secluded campground it is back into the busy city of Antalya.  Joining the coastal road, we make our way past , Kemer, Phaselis, Chimaira, Olmpos, Finike, Kale to Kas.  Kas Camping (20 million Lira/night) had been recommended to us by several travelers.  The town of Kas, is built a long a narrow peninsula and ancient port.  The view is spectacular as we descend into the Bay.  The campground is located 1km west of the town beside the ancient Hellenistic Theatre, terraced into the sea.  It is a good base to explore Myra, Kekova Island and relax.

June 11, 2006.  We decide to take a rest day and catch up on the Journal and photoshoping the pictures.  Mostly we hang out at the beach, snorkel and relax.

June 12, 2006.  Since a Hellenistic theatre is directly at the door steps of our campsite, we make this our first stop of the day.  Then we backtrack to ancient Myra (called Demre/Kale today) approx. 47km east of Kas.  Admission is 5 million Lira/person.  The two cliffs above the ruins of Myra have well preserved house tombs.  The facades are richly carved and elaborate reliefs are still visible on some of the tombs.  At the base of the cliffs is a large theatre.  The stage and upper rows were extensively damaged in an earthquake and the theatre was rebuilt to host gladiator games.  Several carved mask reliefs are on display in the stage area. We are lucky to be the only tourists on site, which changed drastically when we left and 9 tour buses arrived. Returning to the campsite, we take a drive around the nearby peninsula.  The calm waters and blue sky draw us back to the sea side and we spent the afternoon snorkeling in clear water and sun bathing/baking in the sun.

June 13, 2006.  We signed up with a local tour company for a kayak trip to the Kekova Island (60 million Lira/person).  We meet in Kas and are driven to the village of Ucagiz ("Three Mouths"), where we pick up the kayaks, life vests and immerge on the Mediterranean Sea.  We kayak to the Kekova Island and along the shore line, partially submerged in the sea are the Lycian ruins of an ancient village destroyed by an earthquake.  Walls of houses can be seen below the water and steps leading into the sea.  Since snorkeling and scuba-diving is forbidden over the ruins, this is the best and closed way to see the submerged town.  Crossing back to the mainland and Simena, we make land fall and hike up to the hill top castle built in 1440 AD.  Back in the sea we paddle along the shoreline from Simena to Ucagiz and passed submerged saddleback tombs.  The shore line is also covered with Lycian Sarcophagus tombs, most of them produced between 500BC to 300AD.  The part we both most looked forward to was kayaking around a saddlebacked sarcophagus tomb poking out of the middle of the sea.  And it did not disappoint.  The coffin and pitched, rounded lid representing a house roof are clearly visible. Returning to the village of Ucagiz, we are served a buffet and head back to Kas.  The tour was not what we expected, including the two (2) tour guides, the group was a total of 17 people.  The outfit was not organized for a group of this size.  We were both disappointed, but made the best out of the situation.  Realizing that we have been spoiled by doing our own thing all the time and in the future will pick a tour more suitable to us.

June 14, 2006.  We planned a short day ahead, leaving Kas and the sea side campground behind, we travel along the coastal highway west, passed the Mavi Magara, a deep gorge leading directly into the sea.  At Kalkan the road narrows and heads inland.  Xanthos, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the ancient capital of the Lycian Leaque is our first stop.  Admission is 5 million Lira/person.  A theatre and two impressive tombs can be seen directly from the parking lot.  Either we were really early or the place is off the touristy path.  A large bilingual Greek-Lycian pillar located on site helped researchers to decipher the Lycian language. On the east side is the necropolis (graveyard) and houses some of the most spectacular Lycian tombs.  The pillar tombs are one of the oldest Lycian tombs and are only found at the Xanthos and Apollonia.  Continuing our journey north on highway D-400 our next destination is Pinara.  The last 3kms are dirt and gravel leading up a mountain with numerous switchbacks.  White knuckled the beemer and I make it up and down without crashing or going off the cliff.  It is worth making it to this site, as it lays in the mountains and has some outstanding house tombs, as well as a well preserved theatre, agora (market place) and numerous partial temples.  Its setting is amazing.  The rock cliff face above the acropolis, is honeycombed with 100's of tombs, mainly square holes.  This was another way the Lycian had used to bury the dead.  Climbing up the adjacent mountain, we see a glimpse of a freestanding temple tomb.  The King's Tombs, were cut into the cliff face and had a temple façade and a portico, from which a door led to a grave chamber with benches for the dead.  We scrambled into the tombs for a closer look.  In all we were pleasantly surprised and would recommend both the Xanthos and Pinara sites for they are extraordinary. And no tourists, probably due to its extensive walking/hiking.  We reach the coast again at Fethiye and turn south to Oludeniz (means Dead Sea). The sea side village of Oludeniz and its beautiful lagoon is adorned on many guidebooks and posters of Turkey.  The lagoon is picture perfect, and there is no better place to set up camp then right beside the sea at the Suara Campground/Beach for 10 million Lira/night.  In addition you pay to lay on the beautiful sandy beach (5 million Lira/chair).  Okay we are in paradise, we might as well spoil ourselves.

June 15, 2006.  We rent a couple of kayaks for three (3) hours and explore the lagoon. The water is very blue and clear and we see several huge loggerhead turtles (1m in size from head to tail).  Opposite the famous lagoon beach, we make landfall and hike up the mountain to get the poster picture.  The remainder of the afternoon we lay on the beach and sunbath, refueling our energy level and plan our route.

June 16, 2006.  It is time to make some miles inland.  Back tracking to Fethiye and Keme, we start climbing into the mountains once again.  86km of windy, twisty road.  The temperature is starting to drop.  Fueling up with gas, we stand beside the pumps sipping cay (tea) from a small glass.  No one is ever in a hurry for you to move out of the way.  Turning onto Hwy E87 at Sogut, we stop in another small village for some bread and Chocolate spread.  Breakfast is often spent on a road at some idyllic (or sometimes not so idyllic) spot. The highways in western Turkey are in general good, unless they are under construction, which it seems 90% of them are.  A detour in the city of Denizli leads us zig-zagging through town, but luckily it was well signed.  The village of Pamukkale is only 14kms north east of Denizli.  Upon arrival in the village we are instantly harassed by guys on scooters trying to sell us on hotels or campgrounds.  Tourism has been slow this month due to the Soccer World Cup in Germany.  It is hard to shake those guys off since they keep on following us.  We head on to the next village over and set up camp at the Kur Haus.  Due to some miscommunication we ended up paying 20 million Lira/night for a very poor campground.  Most of the time no running water, shaky bathrooms and the pool had seen better days (hygiene was questionable).  We felt quite ripped off by the owner.  After a rest in the tent we rode to Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) and visited the famous and spectacular white travertine terraces.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site and now under some major restructuring (saving the travertine terraces), admission is 5 million Lira/person.  The terraces are formed when water from the hot springs loses carbon dioxide as it flows down the slopes, leaving deposits of limestone. This is a must see and a one of a kind in the world.  We walked along the terraces with bare feet.  Most areas are off-limits for tourists, to protect the terraces, but you are still able to walk through a couple and lie in a waterfall and get soaked.  Another off-limit area, we were so lucky as to get special entrance (maybe it was my yellow Bikini) and swim in the terrace high above the plateau, overlooking the mountains and seeing the sun set.  The pictures are amazing.  It seems we are actually walking on snow.  We will always remember this spot.

June 17, 2006.  Early morning we head  southwest to Aphrodisias, approx. 100km from our campsite.  Again this site is off the beaten track, and we arrive without any tourists in site.  Aphrodisias is said to be the rival to Ephesus.  A shrine as early as 5800 BC and dedicated to the goddess of love, Aphrodite at around 200 BC.  The on-site museum houses some excellent recovered marble sculptures and the yard is littered with exquisite carved sarcophagi.  The outstanding feature of this Roman town is the Tetrapylon, originally built in 200AD and reconstructed in the 20 century.  In addition Aphrodisias has one of the best preserved and largest Stadium from the era.  This was another site well worth visiting.  After an afternoon nap back at the campsite, we make our way to Hierapolis and the thermal mineral rich pools.  The entrance to the Hierapolis site is 5 million Lira/person and the pools another staggering 18 million Lira/person.  But where else can you swim in thermal mineral rich water over fragments of marble columns from the Temple of Apollo.  It was another must do on our list.  After the relaxing swim we visit the museum of Hierapolis and walk through the Arch of Domitian.  Hierapolis is not as impressive as other sites we have seen, but then its main attraction is the thermal pools and the nearby white travertine terraces.

June 18, 2006.  Taking our time we head west on Hwy E87 to the Aegean Sea.  Setting up camp in Selcuk at the Garden Campground. Pricing a bit steep at 28 million Lira/night, but comes with a nice pool (a must in this heat) and clean bathrooms and kitchen.  In addition it is surrounded by an orchid garden and the campsite is well grassed and treed.  A couple from Italy, Michela and Enrico, are also on site.  Enrico is writing a travel book on Turkey.  In town Mike picks up some fresh tomatoes and onion for supper.

June 19, 2006.  Ephesus is only 4kms from our campsite and we arrive at the north entrance just after opening.  Enrico advised us that the north entrance is better, since all tour buses drop off the tourists at the south entrance and then it is a down hill walk.  We don't mind the up hill walk, especially since it gave us the opportunity to be the only ones at the Library of Celsus.  Seen on all the posters of Turkey and an impressive structure, the Library of Celsus was built in 114-117AD.  The façade has niches with statues of Spohia (wisdom), Arete (virtue),Ennoia (intellect) and Episteme (knowledge).  Ephesus also boasts an impressively large theatre carved into Mt. Pion.  The façade of the Temple of Hadrian was partially reconstructed to its current structure, displaying relief of marble gods and goddesses.  Continuing along the old Roman Road (Curetes Street) we pass through the Gate of Hercules.  In front of the Odeon is a colonnaded street, or what is left of it.  A bit disappointed of Ephesus, since it is not even close to the grandness of Jerash in Jordan or Palmyra in Syria.  By the time we walk back through the site the place is swarmed with tourists and the heat is unbearable.  We return to Selcuk and have some pide (Turkish Pizza) and buy some more fruit and vegetables at the market.  Returning to the campsite we stay glued to the pool, the only place bearable in the heat.

June 20, 2006. On the road by 7am to stay out of the afternoon heat, we decide to hit three (3) Greek Sites, which lay along the Aegean Sea south of Selcuk.  The 200km round trip from our campsite is a perfect one day excursion.  First on the list is Priene (2 million Lira/person), one of the most intact Hellenistic settlements.  The ancient Greek City lays between Buyuk Menderes River and Mount Mykale and was settled around 1000BC.  The highlight of this site is the Temple of Athena, the well preserved Hellenistic Theatre & Altar and the square Bouleuterion (council chamber) or Odeon.  The site requires some hiking, this might explain why there is no tourists. Continuing south, Miletus (2 million Lira/person) is our next stop.  This ancient Greek city was once the principal port of the Ionian League.  Not much is left of the city with the exception of an impressive Theatre dating back to 100AD and was modified by the Greek, Romans and Byzantines.  Built into a hillside it seated 15,000 spectators and it is in good state.  To the east of the theatre are the remains of the Great Harbour Monument, Nymphaeum and the shrine of Apollo Delphinius.  As the heat was killing us, we continued to the last ancient Greek city, Didyma (2 million Lira/person).  The Temple of Apollo lays directly in the middle of the current town and is definitely worth visiting.  It was built around 700 BC, completely out of white marble to honour the god of prophecy and oracles.  Some of the artifacts recovered are displayed, which include the famous head of Medusa.  The three (3) remaining standing columns give a perspective of the enormous size of the temple.  The pool awaits us as we return to the campsite. We end the day with Turkish Pizza.

June 21, 2006.  An early start, once again.  On the agenda, is heading north along the Aegean Sea and staying somewhere close to Troy.  We hit city of Izmir (2.8million people) at morning rush hour and have to work our way through diesel fumed traffic.  Once past Menemen, traffic lightens and we arrive in Bergama around 10am.  Bergama (10 million Lira/person), also called the great acropolis of Pergamum is located on top of a hill with a 360 Degree view of the surrounding landscape.  Settled in 800 BC by the Greek and then became the capital of the Roman province of Asia in 133BC.  The most impressive structures are the Theatre and Temple of Trajan.  The Theatre, built around 300BC, has an amazing view of valley below and is built 80 rows high into the hill.  The Temple of Trajan, constructed of white marble, makes for a great picture against the blue sky.  It seems that every place we visit has some kind of uniqueness.  From Bergama it is west and then north to Troy (Troja).  The main reason for visiting Troy (for us anyway) is to see the reconstructed wooden horse.  It did cost us each 10 million Lira to climb into the belly of the horse, but we are only here once.  We find a campsite 10km south of Canakkale for 20 million Lira and watch Mexico/Portugal Soccer Game while eating Turkish Pizza.

June 22, 2006.  In Canakkale we take the ferry across to Eceabat (3.5 million Lira/each). Before heading north east along the Gallipoli Peninsula, we stop at the Main Information Centre.  The parking lot is empty and we are asked to pay 3 million Lira for each motorcycle.  Put off by the outrageous request, we decide to give the historical sites along this stretch a miss.  This was the first time we had to pay at a Tourist Information Centre. The stretch along the Gallipoli Peninsula is quite straight, with a good road and some nice scenery.  The last 200km before Istanbul, traffic gets denser and the road construction seems to never end.  Istanbul, 12-16 million people, is actually not bad for driving and traffic.  People haven't driven in San'a, Cairo or Beirut.  Istanbul is actually civil driving conditions.  Amazingly we find the campground without a problem, even though there is no signage.  Akakoy Mocamp is located just east of the Airport on the shore line.  At 30 million Lira/night, we actually get a deal.  Istanbul is not cheap.  The facilities have seen better days and the smell of sewer is a bit annoying.  But it is a good base for site seeing and it has a security guy and entrance gate.  In the evening five (5) bikers show up from the Czech Republic and set up camp.

June 23, 2006.  In Jordan, I had written down the address for the BMW motorcycle dealer in Istanbul.  The motorcycles require some much needed TLC.  With no detailed map of the city, but with a general idea of the location of the BMW dealer, we drive along the shoreline, past the Sultanahmet, Seraglio Point, cross the bridge from the Bazaar Quarter into Beyoglu.  Then up the Bosphorus, past the Fortress of Europe to Saiyer.  Here we asked for directions and where within 2kms of the BMW Shop.  We couldn't have been any further away from our campsite.  The BMW Motorcycle Shop (www.bmw-motosiklet.com) is all we hoped for and even exceeded our expectations.  The Service guy, Onur Kartallioglu, speaks fluent English, and was very helpful.  Our bikes got priority over any other bike in the shop. Which meant both bikes would be serviced and completed by tomorrow afternoon.  Onur explained that travelers get instant service, very similar to what we had experienced in the United States. We decided to have the 60,000km service done on both bikes.  Ruby's bike had developed a ticking noise in the left cylinder, which we assumed was only the adjustment of the valves. In addition the front light bulb was burnt out and the rear brake light gave me trouble since Dubai.  Mike's GS just started to give him an ABS failure light, but the brakes seemed to work.  We decided to leave Ruby's GS at the shop and change bikes tomorrow morning.  This way we still had transportation.

June 24, 2006.  In the morning we head for the BMW dealership to switch bikes.  The road along the Sea of Mamara and Bosphorus to the BMW dealership takes about one (1) hour from our campsite and passes along some of Istanbul's famous landmarks and scenery.  After dropping of Mike's GS and picking up Ruby's serviced GS we head back into city centre, an area called Sultanahmet.  Everything is relatively easy accessible in Istanbul via motorcycle. We lane split all the time and ride very aggressively.  In our three (3) day stay in Istanbul we did see a few accidents (one high speed roll over and numerous fender benders). We park the motorcycle right beside the Blue Mosque and leave our gear with the parking attendant. Our first visit is the Blue Mosque, which gets its name from the mainly blue Iznik tile covering the domes and semi domes.  It seems that Istanbul has a huge Mosque on every corner.  They definitely give the city a special romantic look.  Of course all these places are overrun by tourists, making it hard to take good pictures.  From the Blue Mosque we stroll along the area which used to have a Hipprodrome.  All that remains is the Serpentine Column and the Egyptian Obelisk, which used to stand outside of Luxor.  Passing a large water fountain, we see the Byzantine Church Haghia Sophia (Church of Holy Wisdom) which stands opposite the Blue Mosque.  Further down the road is the Basilica Cistern, a vast underground water cistern.  The cistern's roof is held up by 336 columns, each over 8m (26ft) high.  The cavernous interior is amazing to see.  In one corner a large carved upside down Medusa head supports the base of a column.  This is an indication of plundering by the Byzantines from earlier monuments. On our way to the Grand Bazaar, we head the wrong direction and end up at the Ferry terminals. Back tracking our way we do find the Grand Bazaar.  Similar to the ones in the Middle East, but more modernized.  It is a labyrinth of streets covered by painted vaults and is lined with 1000's of booth-like shops.  Within minutes of entering the Bazaar we had gotten lost, even with the map at hand it is crazy.  Mike is in his element here.  He starts bargaining with a store owner over a backgammon game made out of real mother of pearl inlays.  In Egypt and Syria we had seen these ones go for $250US, probably would have gotten them for half price.  Here we started out at 135 million Lira and got it for 90 million Lira ($60CDN).   Returning to the BMW dealership late afternoon, Mike's GS is parked in Onul's office.  Here we run into Aykut, who had taken the BMW off-road course in Germany with us.  What a coincidence and timing.  Back at the campsite we hook up with the five (5) guys from the Czech Republic for a final picture and farewell.  Hoping to hook up again sometime, someday, somewhere.

June 25, 2006.  We park the motorcycle at the Sultanahmet Square beside the Blue Mosque and decide to explore some more of the city. Wandering down to the Ferry terminals and across the Galata Bridge, we see 100's of locals with their fishing rods hanging over the railings and enjoying the day.  The streets are busy with locals walking and socializing.  Taking another route we end up by the University.  The temperatures in Istanbul have been getting hotter with every day reaching 31 Degree Celsius in the Shade with 90% humidity. On our way back to the campsite we stop for fuel and the Shell Gas Station that has 100 Octane gasoline (100% Ferrari).  We are beat and spend the remainder of the day at the internet café updating our website.

June 26, 2006.  We decide to stay another day in Istanbul, since we need to restock our supplies and finish the update on the website.

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