Well after our epic day into Side, we weren’t in any hurry to do much the following day, thankfully the hotel was a pleasant place to sit and do nothing and with good Wi Fi that nothing became my Cappadoccia blog.
We did however venture out later that day to explore the historical element of Side, I never knew there was an ancient theatre and ruins here complete with temples and huge arches in and out of the town, quite wonderful. We spent a couple of hours just mooching about taking photos before heading towards the beach.
Now Side or at least part of it is on a small tip of land that makes it easy to walk around or across from beach to beach. It’s very busy here and as you’d expect in a tourist town there are plenty of bars, restaurants and shops, but be warned, it’s not cheap. In fact it’s equivalent to UK prices in most places and you will get hassled quite a bit. There are cheaper places to eat in the back streets and to be honest probably better food and service. That said it is a pleasant enough place, just not my idea of a holiday !!
From Side we headed west to Antalya, an easy enough ride but without much of interest to look at. We started out through the suburbs, all resort hotels and shopping malls before they fell away and agriculture took over for a short while before the next town with yet more hotels hove into view, this just repeated until we hit Antalya. It’s a big city with over one million people so the traffic and chaos started quite a way out and it was quite a tough ride into the old part of the city where we wanted to be.
We passed the usual high rise apartments, hotels, shops and all the usual modern city stuff but as soon as you enter the old city it’s like you’ve been transported to a different country. It was amazing, everything was finished, clean, tidy and beautiful and as you walk around no one hassles you. Seriously you can look in shops without someone immediately trying to sell you something, just makes being a tourist a pleasant experience.
We ate out, we had a couple of beers then wandered back to the sea front for sunset, not to bad at all….
After what was a fairly late breakfast for us we set off for Olympus, it’s near Cirali about 80km south of Antalya. In fact to get to where we wanted to be it would end up being closer to 90km, and we were back in the hills !
The first 60km out of town wasn’t so bad but you could see the huge granite edifices looming large in the distance, again I’d checked the elevation app and knew we were in for a tough day. From sea level up and over 450m but then down and up a few times before plummeting to the coast. I’m glad we have another day off as the thought of cycling back up the hill frankly doesn’t impress and I’m hoping I get a bit of short term memory loss !!
After the first 60km we stopped for lunch, a good plan as we knew what was coming and decided we needed fuel. Lunch was wonderful, lentil soup, fresh bread, cheese and spinach Gozleme, tomato salad and plenty of water, finished off with a good cup of coffee…fantastic and only 33lira. Naomi paid 35 and told the lady to keep the change. We cycled off but hadn’t got more than a couple of km before the guy that served us pulled up in his car, handed us 5 lira, apologised and sped off. This country really does amaze me sometimes, in Side a waiter tried to charge us 20 lira for a bottle of water and two cans of pop (less than 10tl anywhere else) but we just paid 10 and left then this guy drives 4km in total because he thinks he’s overcharged us….wonderful !!
As for the rest of the ride, to make things even harder, now we’re on the Mediterranean coast it’s even hotter than it has been elsewhere in Turkey so as we cycled up the biggest climb the sun was straight at us and we were constantly drinking water but it was just leaking straight back out. We were so relieved when we finally started the downhill and with hills come views and today was no exception…
The run into Olympus becomes unpaved the nearer you get to the park entrance, we picked the last pansiyon before the gates and to be honest we got lucky. Clean room, the cheapest beer we’d seen and the choice of either dinner or breakfast included. We picked dinner and boy oh boy, result….it was fantastic and so much of it, heaven !!
We chilled for the afternoon knowing we’d be in full tourist mode the following day, a little blogging, emailing and drinking…a very pleasant afternoon, oh and that fabulous dinner, mmm !
We were still full from dinner so not having breakfast was ok for us and with free coffee or tea anyway it meant we got our caffeine fix to get started.
We bought our ticket, stepped through the turnstiles and headed for the beach, now along the way you pass through the ancient city of Olympus, much of it ruins now but some rebuilding and stabilisation has been done and for the most part you can wander at will. There are a few bits that they’ve deemed unsafe and are now fenced off but you can certainly get a feel for it. We walked slowly, peering in and around the ruins, photographing much of it as we went. It’s a very pretty place with a river running through the valley, tall, sheer cliffs covered in lush growth and trees that seemed to part slightly on the lower slopes to allow space for the ancient buildings.
The day was already hot when we started and after an hour or so the time had come to get wet, we quickly found a quiet spot on the shale beach and headed for the clear, warm waters. It was wonderful, neither of us are that fussed about beaches or swimming but today was an exception, we needed this, we’d earned it and we very much enjoyed it.
About an hour later we’d had enough of doing nothing so headed further along the beach for much needed sustenance, a light snack and cold drinks and we were off again. More meandering through ruins, more photos, then back to the pansiyon to shower and relax, good Wi Fi is always nice and this would be a quiet time what with everyone else at the beach. We found a comfy spot and spent a few hours just relaxing, a light breeze from the sea and a few beers turned it into a perfect afternoon !
The following morning we set of, the garmin programmed to lead us to Demre. I’d also checked the route on google maps and we knew it would be a tough climb out and over to Demre. We set off up the unmade road, which after a few km turns into a sealed road then about 3km later we turned left and headed out of town. By looking at google I was expecting to turn right up the hill to eventually meet the main road but the garmin kept going straight. Usually I’d be worried but it’s been reliable so we kept going. We ended up in a sweet little village called Cavuskoy, we stopped for breakfast at a little cafe, the owner actually went to the shop to buy us some Nescafé and with the bowl of lentil soup and fresh bread that was our breakfast….superb !!!
Now we were set for the climb, it was a lot easier than the route google had suggested and we were soon over the top, the view across the valley was of greenhouses and poly tunnels, thousands of them all twinkling in the sunshine, I guess this is the garden of Antalya !!
We ride into the valley and through the greenhouses to the coast where we turned right and headed for Finike, nice easy riding now so we stopped for drinks and snacks before we tackled the coast road round the headland to Demre.
It was a beautiful ride despite the now persistent headwind, not a straight line to be seen, clear turquoise waters lapping at the base of the base of the small cliff that keeps the road out of the water. Fantastic little sheltered bays with small sandy beaches and colourful fishing boats going about there business, just a fabulous days ride !!
We weren’t looking for anything specific to do in Demre so we stopped at the first hotel, The Winecity, and got a good deal so we stayed. It was an ok hotel with a pool, Wi Fi and cold beers, what else could you want. Sadly the restaurant had all the charm of a shoebox so we walked into town for a bite to eat at a nice shabby looking local eaterie…..perfect.
Morning arrived all to soon and with it came more hills and another 85km ride to Kalkan, it was a mere 2km out of the hotel before the climb started. It was another 30km before we reach the very top and began the descent towards Kas. In the meantime we were stopped by a reporter, interviewed and told we’d be in the paper, only thing is we had no idea which one ;-)
We stopped a few times to take photos or for drinks and snacks, it really was a tough climb and we never thought it would end, then we arrived at a lookout and knew we were over the hill !!
Going down was fantastic, Kas with it’s marina and expensive yachts all bobbing gently on the clear waters was there in front of us and the coast road we’d be taking was snaking off around another headland. By the time we reached the bottom and started round the coast road the wind was up again, fortunately it didn’t spoil our ride and yet again we marvelled at the beauty of the area.
We arrived in Kalkan and decided not to proceed to the bottom of the hill but to look for a pansiyon nearer the top, we had yet another huge climb out to Fethiye in the mornng, no point making it worse !!
The pansiyon we found was lovely, clean and smart and there was a footpath straight down to the marina. We headed out for a walk and took a wander round all the expensive shops, bars and restaurants before heading back up the hill for somewhere slightly cheaper. The food was good, the service was also good and the bill was reasonable considering where we were. We stopped to pick up some beer and water from the supermarket on the way back to the room and had a little Wi Fi time before bed !!
Breakfast was fantastic, well cooked, well presented and lots of it, really fuelled us up for that climb out of Kalkan, it’s 83km into Fethiye our next stop and it’s by no means a flat road. As with all hills there are views and looking back over Kalkan was one of those moments when the climb was worth the effort !!
Sadly as the day progressed I began to feel terrible, everything started to ache, my knees were really bad and I felt sick and had no energy. We stopped at a garage after about 55km and tried to hitch a lift but no one was stopping so I had no choice but to carry on. There was a small climb after the garage which normally we’d cruise up but I was at less than walking pace and drifting into the road, by the time I got to the top I was physically drained and just lay down on the road to sleep. Yet again Naomi tried to get a lift but after 20mins…nothing, so yet again I had to carry on. I managed another 15km or so but by then I was in a terrible state, I collapsed onto the floor again while Naomi yet again stuck her thumb out….success, I truck actually stopped. I’ve never been so pleased in my life, I cried with relief as the driver and his mate loaded our bikes onto the truck. He only took us about 10km but we were out of the headwind and by the time he dropped us at the left turn to Fethiye I’d recovered enough to carry on, it was a slight downhill and without the wind I managed to cycle to the pansiyon we’d booked. I spent the rest of the day and all next day in bed, only surfacing for meals which Naomi had been to the supermarket for, bless her ;-)
Well if you want to find out what happened in Fethiye, you can read all about in my next blog but for now, take care and keep reading ;-)