So we were on our way to Mediterranean Turkey and the Aegean Sea. This area is certainly one of the Tourist hotspots, especially for the English who have all but taken over the area of Oludeniz from the national ads for it sent out back as far as the seventies.
We had decided to go and try our luck at some scuba diving off the coastline of Fethiye’ and on the way there were a whole bunch of ancient ruins to be seen.
Turkish roads are just brilliant. Even the minor ones are first class so we smashed the kilometeres down to Aspendos Acropolis (about 50km East of Antalya on the coast). The weather was warming up real quickly and the grey Eastern skies gave way to mist and then crazy blue skies and cotton ball clouds.
Our main aim for Aspendos was to see the huge Roman amphitheatre built there over 2,100 years ago. The theatre could seat up to 12,000 people and there are also the ruined remains of an aqueduct nearby.
When we got there it was tourist-ville despite it being the end of October. We could get to the amphitheatre ground level and it was huge.
This theatre has been largely reconstructed and new stones replaced the missing portions. The theatre is still in use and houses opera and ballet performances. It’s great that the place looks so pristine as you can get a real sense of the scale of it and what people thousands of years ago would have been looking at. On another angle I was disappointed to see that the new stonework was kind of concreted in so the place didn’t feel quite so authentic. Maybe we would prefer to see a place that hadn’t been quite so ‘modernised’ Restoration or reconstruction?
Anyways there was apparently an overhead view of the theatre and a walking trail up to the aqueducts. Unfortunately I had to leave Jerome behind to go see. The theatre from above was pretty impressive, the Romans had certainly picked a beautiful spot to build.
I rain-checked the ducts and headed back down as it looked like we could take a drive over the next hill for a different view that we could enjoy together.
We continued our journey onto the nearby Ancient Greek city of Perge. Perge promised to be a more preserved area rather than reconstructed. Extensive excavation had taken place to recover the ruins of the city but only the original stonework was being carefully repositioned to give the viewer a picture of life before the city was abandoned in the 7th century.
Perge was beautiful. The layout of the place fired up the imagination and you could see the pillar-lined streets, courtyards and bathing areas that would have been frequented.
This place was interesting due to it’s many architectural influences. Examples are the ornately carved and fluted Corinthian columns versus the Roman baths and rounded archways.
We were looking forward to seeing the Hellenistic Gates but they were predominately shrouded in scaffolding materials.
The amphitheatre was completely closed off for maintenance too. The city was originally 15km long so there was heaps of other things to see anyway.
Before leaving Purge we made a few calls to see if any Fethiye scuba diving clubs were still open given the time of year. We learnt that the season closed in just two days time so we adjusted our schedule and headed straight for the coast. Modern Fethiye is actually built on top of an ancient Lycian city of which there are a few good ruins to see. We actually failed to go exploring in favour of diving. We hit the town in the evening and paid a visit to one of the only scuba operators still open for business. He told us to turn up at 8.30am the next morning and that Jerome’s disability would be of no issue to them.
Sweet as. That evening we chose a local restaurant for a feed. As we ate, a guy rolled in with a manual wheelchair (not electric and with no push handles). This was seriously the first person we had seen since leaving the UK with a fully independent wheelchair. Both guys spent half an hour slyly eyeing each-other and their respective chairs up before we eventually strolled over out of curiosity. His name was Alan, an Irishman who was living in Fethiye. It soon emerged that Alan was a keen diver and was currently going for his Dive Masters’ Certificate. Turns out that he was diving with the same company that we had chosen to take us out the next day. Talk about a great coincidence. Unfortunately Alan had guests in town and wasn’t able to join us on the dive; but he and Jerome had a good yarn and discussed their different types of wheelchairs. It’s crazy how few people you actually see in manual chairs so I guess that you can strike an affinity with another person pretty easily.
The next day we met the scuba team at their offices. The guys kindly carried Jerome up the flights of stairs with ease to sign the paperwork and then back down before we rolled over to the boat on the harbour. The ramp was just wide enough to accommodate the chair and we parked up and spent an hour or so on the water heading for our dive site.
Neither of us had our basic scuba certificates with us so we had to go through the boring introduction on safety etc. When they eventually let us jump into the water we could only dive to a depth of three metres. The instructors were great but insisted on holding onto our tanks from behind as we followed the guide.
Of course we broke free a few times and made a bid for freedom but we were hastily caught and imprisoned again. Diving is HEAPS fun but on this occasion there wasn’t much to see other than some small fish that had been encouraged over by bread bags left underwater by the divers.
We came up for lunch and did a second 20 minute dive at a hardcore depth of five metres in the afternoon. We decided to get our 12 month basic diving certificate whilst there. All you had to do was a few underwater exercises and learn how to dismantle and reassemble the gear back on board. We are thinking of doing some serious diving elsewhere and didn’t want to repeat the shallow dives again. All in all it was a great day for just sixty euros each despite the lack of underwater views and babysitting. (No reflection on the fantastic diving team though – they were great)
We were pretty salty and scuzzy so we decided to treat ourselves to a fantastic local Hamam and dinner before heading into the hills to sleep for the night.We were very close to the package holiday delights of Oludeniz and decided that we could go spend a day there. Tourist season was almost over and the area would be in shutdown within a few days. You can see why so many people flock to the area. it’s smack bang on the coast with beautiful coves and inlets. If your idea of a holiday is a chill-out session with a decent pool, bar, nightlife, ocean view and a good dose of sun then this is certainly the place. There is nothing wrong with that but for people looking for the untouched scenery and natural pursuits this is not the place.
We decided to bushbash our way past the hotel strip and around the coastline for a bit. It was a good track and we were rewarded by a little inlet of sand and beach which were unfortunately 20m below us; good for a pair of hikers though.
We backtracked and hired two kayaks for a few hours.
We rowed furiously until we reached the end of the cove and entered open sea. Of course we failed to spot the huge signs telling us to to turn back and instead hit some beautiful rolling waves that took us around the rocky coastline for a private view of the small caves and inlets.
The water was pretty calm otherwise I wouldn’t have ventured too far. We had a good run for our money before returning to shore and finding a hotel to relax in. We had a little look at the map and decided our next travels would take us out of the Med and over to the Aegean and the legendary travertine terraces of Pamukkale.