Pamukkale – a Natural wonder?

Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a place of natural beauty in Denizli province. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and tourist hot spot for many visitors to Turkey, who travel from all over the world to see it.

We have visited Pamukkale twice, once in 2011, and once in 2016. The site itself is in a purpose built touristy town, which now doesn’t really have any other purpose other than to provide basic accommodation for a night or two for visitors of the site. All around there are gift shops selling souvenirs like fridge magnets, postcards and posters showing Pamukkale during its glory days, bright white travertine terraces filled with turquoise blue waters. I think perhaps they need to reevaluate their advertising material though, as I will discuss later on.

When you approach Pamukkale from the main road, you see the huge white ‘cotton castle’ hills which look quite dramatic against the rest of the surroundings – it seems very out of place, but strikingly beautiful and different. There is a lake around the bottom, which has ducks, frogs, turtles, fish and other wildlife swimming around. When we visited back in 2011, the water appeared a different colour, and the bushes were growing around with beautiful pink flowers, but when we visited last year, the water was definitely more ‘green’ with less flowers, as you can see from the below two photos. The last time we were there, we had a go in one of the pedalo’s that were available to rent for 30 minutes – it was a spur of the moment thing and quite funny! It got us a closer look at the wildlife, and we spotted a few small turtles swimming around us. After the pedalo, we stopped for an icecream, real Turkish dondurma, the thick, almost stretchy kind, which was lovely. We sat on the grass eating it, admiring the view and were approached by two ducks and a cat, all wanting to share with us! 
 
  
There are two main entrances to the protected Pamukkale site itself, one at the bottom, one at the top – we have used both. The entrance fee is currently 35tl, and it is open from 8am-9pm in summer, 8.30am – 5pm in winter according to the website. 
The views from the top of Pamukkale are amazing, my photo doesn’t really do it justice. You can see for miles and miles, and you seem to be a lot higher up than it looks from below.

To walk on the white formations themselves, you have to remove your shoes, so make sure you bring a bag or rucksack to put them in. There are security guards armed with loud whistles who aren’t afraid to blow them straight at you if you don’t comply with the no shoes rule!

You’d expect it to be cool, it looks like it should be made of ice, so seeing such a thing in the middle of 30oc temperatures seems bizarre, but of course it isn’t ice at all, it’s made of travertine, a kind of limestone deposit from the calcium-rich natural hot mineral springs. Some parts are smooth and slippery under your feet, other parts are solidified and feel sharp and spikey, so the walk down/up isn’t really an easy one. In summer, particularly in the afternoons when the tour groups arrive, the place gets very busy, but we visited in April and October so avoided too many people both times, luckily. The white deposits do look beautiful, and its certainly a brilliant place with great photo opportunities and beauty, however, I do find it a bit disappointing, as the natural beauty seems to be threatened.
 
 
 
Apparently, back in the 60’s and 70’s hotels were built at the top of Pamukkale, which stole the vital water supply to fill their own thermal pools and spas and this had a huge detrimental effect on the site. There was also a road built through the site, with motorbikes allowed to drive up and down! The hotels and road were demolished when the site became protected and the damage became obvious, but I don’t think it’s ever recovered, and in an effort to restore the natual beauty, they have actually ‘faked’ a lot. If you google Pamukkale, or look at any souvenir fridge magnets, postcards or poster adverts as I mentioned earlier, you will find images of people in their swimming costumes laying out on the natural terraces, bathing in the travertines, basking in the sun. This is no longer possible, as it was found that the bathing, suncreams, oils, perfumes, shoes and general human interference, was affecting the natural beauty and discolouring the once pure white deposits.
  
Understandably, you are now only able to walk on very specific sections of the site, and the security guards I mentioned above are strict at enforcing this. There are pools you are allowed to walk and paddle in, all the way down the side of the walk way from top to bottom, but these pools are all man-made which is really disappointing to me. Even though I understand why they had to intervene and prevent further damage to the natural beauty of the site, I feel like they could have made more of an effort to make the man made pools mimic the natural, flowy, waterfall like terraces. Instead, they are were all made the same size, shape, height, and water diverted over them to encourage the deposits to form. Sure, it’s still fun to paddle in them and get some good photos, but the thing is, I’m not sure if people realise these pools were man made! The below photos were taken in 2011 but show the height and uniform shape of the man made pools.

 
The natural pools do still remain in tact, but are rarely, if ever, filled with water as the flow is diverted down through a man-made channel and dam to other section, it’s a shame the water isn’t left to flow naturally. The photo on the right isn’t one I took, just one I found on the internet, presumably taken a few decades ago. The photo on the left is one I took of the same pools as they looked in 2011, almost dry and no longer able to be bathed in like the adverts or tour operators all suggest.
 
Sadly, despite being a protected world heritage site, the efforts they have gone to to prevent further damage to the natural beauty of Pamukkale and its travertines do not seem to be working. The photo on the left below is one I took in 2011, the one on the right from almost exactly the same angle in 2016, showing even more discoluration and erosion occuring over the years, and the pools all dried out. 
 
I know I sound very negative but I do still think Pamukkale is well worth a visit, just go in with realistic expectations. While researching to write this post I looked on Tripadvisor and found many, many bad reviews complaining about the ‘dry pools’ and commenting how it doesn’t look like adverts they were shown when booking the trip. My advise is definitely go and visit, but just know that it no longer looks as it did 30-40 years ago when those pictures were taken, I don’t know why they don’t update them to be honest as it’s still impressive, just different.
 
The travertines aren’t the only things that have aged in the last 6 years – check out the two photos of us at Pamukkale taken 5.5 years apart.

Right at the top of the the white terraces of Pamukkale sit the ruins of the ancient Greek-Roman city Hierapolis.  During the Roman period, Hierapolis had very much a spa and health focus with lots of baths. People flocked to the baths as they thought they had healing properties, which is ironic as Hierapolis has the largest necropolis/cemetery! It is thought many people traveled to the city to spend their last days, hence the large cemetery. One of the thermal pools remains and is open to the public for a fee – according to the website its 32tl per person to swim, but we have never done this as we thought it was way too expensive, but there are seating areas and a cafe for people who don’t wish to swim, it’s a very pretty place surrounded by greenery and flowers. The pool is very warm from the hot springs, and is still thought to have health benefits. I’m not sure how much of the pool is actually natural – but it’s said that Cleopatra swam there, or close by, hence it’s advertised name ‘Cleopatra’s pool’. Ruins in the pool apparently fell during major earthquakes, some of the marble columns are even thought to have fallen from the Temple of Apollo, making the pool sacred.

As well as the pool, many other beautiful ruins can be seen at Hierapolis. There are lots to explore, ancient streets, temples, statues, necropolis, gates, churches and the most impressive, a huge theatre which can seat thousands. You can walk right to the top of the theatre for amazing views but we have never done this. There is also a museum which you can enter for a small fee with even more to explore. Honestly there are so many impressive detailed ruins to see over quite a large area, you could spend a whole day just walking around slowly seeing it all. My photos don’t really do it justice, as by the time we’ve walked around Pamukkale and have been in the sun for an hour or two, we are too hot and bothered to walk around the ruins as well, as there isn’t much shade. We definitely need to go back and see a bit more, maybe in a cooler month, and definitely climb the stairs to the top of the theatre.

Back in October when we were there, they actually had moped’s to hire to help get around the ruins quicker as they cover such a distance, and although handy, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea!
 
 


All things considered I really do think Pamukkale is worth a visit, even though its a long way from the resorts in Fethiye etc. It’s the single most visited tourist spot in Turkey, apparently, and it’s easy to see why, but don’t go in expecting it to look as it did 40 years ago, or you will be disappointed. If possible, try and stick around the site for sunset because I’ve heard that is especially beautiful to witness there.

It’s lovely to see the beautiful natural creations, however, the inevitable interference from humans, for the purpose of tourism in particular, has threatened this natural beauty – with it being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I hope it will continue to be protected.

Winter Sunsets in Calis..

Winter is the best time for beautiful sunsets here in Calis, the sun goes down right on the horizon over the sea rather than behind the mountains as it does in summer.
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I hadn’t had a chance to watch the sunset for a few weeks, so last weekend while Berkay was working I took myself off to the beach just before sundown and sat alone armed with my camera. It was so peaceful, there was hardly anyone around apart from 2 people fishing, myself and a couple of roaming dogs.

I wasn’t disappointed by the sunset I witnessed, it was a little cloudy but as I always say, cloudy days make the best sunsets – the way the sun reflects off the clouds and turns the whole sky an orange-red is beautiful.
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A remarkable case of being in the right place at the right time meant this boat appeared to float right along the horizon as the sun set, creating an even more magical, peaceful scene. I think  its one of the best sunset photos I have ever taken!
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It’s really strange to think that 5 months ago I’d go and sit and watch the sun go down around 8.45pm and now it sets at least 4 hours earlier than that – it’s a reminder of how quickly the time passes.

I posted these photos on my blog Facebook page last week, but realised that anyone who doesn’t have access to that will not have seen them so I decided to post them here too. Please don’t forget to go over and like my page so you don’t miss out, I post photo’s there almost daily. www.facebook.com/livingtheturkishdream
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The day that Fethiye flooded…

On Thursday I had one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve had in all the years I’ve lived in or visited Turkey – we got caught up in a flood in the centre of Fethiye.

The morning started off grey, wet and gloomy. It was one of those ‘lets stay inside with a hot chocolate and all the lights on’ kind of days – but we had errands to run in preparation for our visit to the village (where I currently am writing this) so we had no choice but to brave the rain and go out. Just as we stepped out of the front door, it really started to rain heavily. Luckily we only had to cross the road to catch the Dolmus into Fethiye, and I remember we were both weaving in and out of the pathway to avoid stepping in puddles, which is ironic considering what we were about to experience!
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As the Dolmus reached Fethiye, we realised we may have made a big mistake. The Migros turn off on the main road was flooded, there were cars broken down and the road resembled a giant swimming pool. The dolmus got through and carried on to the last bus stop, next to the mosque on the hill in the town centre…the rain kept falling, along with giant hail stones, and there was a man in the corner shop shouting ‘umbrellas – 10tl’ so we grabbed one. Something tells me he probably sold his entire umbrella stock that day!

We walked down the hill and realised it was flooded, cars were still going past and the water was only an inch deep, just covering our shoes. We carried on walking, as we were attempting to reach Is Bankasi, but the water was rising as we walked, it was pouring out of the school yard, coming up out of the drains and still falling from the sky. By the time we made it to the bank, it was closed for lunch, so Berkay had the idea of going to his friend’s hotel in the Dispanser area of Fethiye – Vizon hotel. This was the worst idea he’s had in a long time. We walked to the hotel, but the water was ever-rising, what started out as an inch deep ended up being knee-deep! We arrived at the hotel where they were struggling to keep the water from gushing through under the doors. We went in, sat down on the floor in our soaking wet clothes and watched as Fethiye town centre became a giant swimming pool right before our eyes. It just keep rising, and rising. The water got so high they could no longer stop it from pouring in under the doors, and after stuffing it with bags, newspaper, towels and attempting to push the water out with a broom, the hotel staff gave up and sat down resigned to the fact that the lobby would inevitably end up very wet. People were driving past in cars, even though it’s a pedestrianized area, which caused little waves to form in the water pushing it inside buildings even further. There was an inch of water covering the majority of the hotel lobby and we were all sat on tables, but they got off pretty lightly compared to  the shop across the road (Citlembik, for those of you who know Fethiye) which had an awful lot of water inside.
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It was so bizarre to witness, there were news agencies in cars driving past taking photographs, people carrying each other and street dogs, people cycling through the 2ft of water and even council men in wellies and wetsuits driving past in vans helping stranded people get to dry ground! The water rose to the height of the benches and up to the rim of the plant pots which are pretty high. People were standing on them to keep dry.
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We were ‘stuck’ in the hotel for over an hour, we couldn’t open the door to get out because that would mean more water pouring in. Eventually, we had no choice as we had to get to the bank, so we braved it and stepped outside, it was pretty dangerous as we couldn’t see the kerbs or steps. The water was murky and dirty, bits of rubbish were floating past, bins, cigarette packets, bricks, even bits of carpets and mats… The weirdest part was the fact that a 30 second walk up the road was clear, with just a few puddles left behind. The rain had stopped and although the drains were still blocked in certain places, others were fine like nothing had happened. We had most definitely been in the wrong place at the wrong time, although it was an experience to say the least. I was documenting it on my Facebook blog page and the videos and photos I posted have been shared by hundreds and viewed over 80,000 times. Click HERE to see one of the videos.
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The next day, we went back to Fethiye to get supplies for our journey to Denizli, and you’d never have known the events of the previous day. The sky was blue and the sun was out, there were no puddles, all the shops and businesses were open again and although there was probably water damage in some of them, everything looked ‘normal’ like nothing had happened.

Just another day in paradise!

Sailing the day away on a Fethiye boat trip..

This post is long overdue! 10 days ago we went on a boat trip to the islands around Fethiye. We went along for free with one of the tour groups that visit the hotel Berkay works in – the perks of the job!

The tour group we went with is calls ETS, they go traveling around on excursions from Istanbul and stay in the hotel for 3-4 days, using it as a base while they see the sites of the surrounding areas. We hopped on their coach and headed to Fethiye where we boarded the boat.
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The boat’s name was Grand Baris. We set off around 10.30 and went on a different route to most of the other ’12 islands’ trips, which I quite liked, although we seemed to be sailing forever until our first stop, it must have been over an hour.

The first stop was called Olive Island and was near Gocek I think, we had a swim and stopped there for 45 minutes. It was all going well until my foot touched a sea urchin, those things really hurt. I didn’t even step on it, just brushed it with my foot and it hurt for the entire day! I could see a really tiny black dot which I removed, but my foot felt like it had painful pins and needles until the following day – it was so weird, thank goodness I didn’t step on one completely and get the entire spike embedded in my foot, because that would definitely have ruined our day!
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After that, we moved onto the next stop, I’ve forgotten the name but it was lovely there, turquoise water and really pretty. This is where lunch was served. Everyone else on the boat had to pay 15tl for their dinner (I assume because they didn’t pay for the boat trip individually, it was just part of the tour group’s excursions) but we got it for free as we knew them. It was fish, chicken or meatballs with spaghetti, salad and bread. It was a big plate full too, I couldn’t eat all mine, but it was lovely. I found the price of the drinks/food on board more expensive than usual. We had a small glass of Turkish tea which were 2tl each, and I noticed the 5tl Cola and Fanta were smaller glass bottles, rather than 33 cl cans. We also paid 5tl for a tiny plate of about 20 chips… I know we can’t really complain as we got everything else for free, but everyone else who were paying customers still had to pay those prices.
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After another swim, the next stop was Flat Island. It was a lot busier here but really beautiful. We got off the island and had a walk around, it looks even better from photos above (google search ‘flat island fethiye’ to see some!). The flat part of the island is shaped almost like a number ‘6’ with a calm, shallow area of water in the middle which you can walk through. We walked along the flat strip until we reached the hill and then turned back, it was so hot we didn’t fancy hill climbing! There were some ducks and chickens present on the island hiding in the shade of the bushes – cute. After another quick swim we got back on the boat and headed off to our last stop – Red Island.
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Red Island is the name of the island you can see from Calis and which forms the backdrop of most of my sunset photos! Berkay had had no sleep and had been working all night, so he was napping on the boat, but I went for a swim and took my goggles so I could look for some fish. The boat moored near a corner of the island and I was able to swim to it, there were alot of beautiful fish there, I wish I’d taken my iPod in with me to get some good underwater photos, but I forgot! I’m so glad I took my goggles, because towards the side of the island the water became shallow and I could see and feel the rocks underneath – I peeked through my goggles to see if it was safe to step down and there were so many black, spikey sea urchins waiting for my feet… Definitely learned my lesson the first time and kept my feet firmly off the ground! More boats starting arriving at the island so I swam back towards ours and after 45 minutes they pulled the anchor up and set off back towards Fethiye.
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This is always my favourite part of the journey, it was around 5pm so the sun wasn’t directly overhead, making it slightly cooler. I love sitting at the back of the boat with my feet dangling in the water watching people fishing – they caught 2 fish and a starfish – Berkay was jealous, wishing he had bought his fishing rod! The sight as you come into Fethiye marina is beautiful, with the mountains and rock tombs in full view – lovely.
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The boat itself was nice, clean and well-kept. The women’s toilets were large, clean and well-lit but Berkay said the men’s weren’t so nice – so much so that he actually used the women’s one instead! The staff were really friendly and it was a good day out, but we probably wouldn’t chose to use this boat again ourselves, we preferred the one we were on back in July. (click HERE to read the post about that trip)

Also, I always cringe when British people complain about the lack of fellow Brits in their hotel or on boat trips etc, we are in Turkey afterall… but there was one small family of English people on the boat who booked separately to the huge (over 100 people) entirely Turkish tour group that we went with and I can understand that they may have felt a little awkward mixed in amongst them. I do wonder if they were informed when they booked that a large tour group was booked on the boat for the same day? That being said, the staff made sure everything was announced in Turkish and English and were equally as welcoming to both groups of people from what I saw.
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We had a great day and I’m grateful we got the opportunity to go for free (apart from extras like drinks). I recommend the boat, we had nothing but a good experience, but I would suggest making sure there are no large tour group bookings on the day you plan to go if that bothers you.

I just love being at sea, perhaps I should have been a pirate! Or married someone with alot of money and a  fancy yacht.
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From sunshine to sunset in Calis..

One of my favourite things to do here in Calis is go for a walk. I love walking. Often after dinner we have some spare time before Berkay goes to work and we always end up just going for a stroll, although it’s a lot more enjoyable in the winter when you can step outside the front door without sweat dripping off your face! The views are amazing, there’s just something so special about all the mountains in the background – it makes a perfect backdrop for our day-to-day life and sometimes it’s just nice to appreciate it all a bit more. Apart from that, it’s free entertainment, I like wandering along people-watching, seeing couples walking hand in hand or children playing on the beach.

Calis beach is never really busy, there’s always sunbeds avaiblable and plenty of space to lay out – it’s not like the cramped and compact beaches I’ve seen in other resorts. These photos were taken around 6pm so anyone at the beach had probably already gone home – you can see how empty it is! It was a particulary clear and slightly cooler day and without the normal haze from the heat, the mountains and view over to Fethiye were so clear – beautiful.
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We normally stop at the junction and turn back but sometimes we go the longer route and walk down across the bridge where the Calis water-taxi’s are. The canal looks totally different than it did a year ago – click HERE for comparison photos – the reeds, plants and wildlife that were once lining the canal have been removed and replaced with bricks, weeds and a bright blue fence – it still looks pretty but it’s definitely not the same.
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 Calis is at it’s most beautiful just before sundown. In summer the sun goes down behind the mountains on the right, but in winter the sunsets are more spectacular with the sun going down almost exactly centre on the horizon. I love sitting alone on the beach and watching the sunset – it’s just so beautiful. On this particular day a big wave caught me unexpectedly and soaked the whole bottom half of my body – I had stones in places there shouldn’t be stones – it was quite amusing though, luckily there was nobody around to witness my little mishap!
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Isn’t it just a beautiful place?

If you haven’t already, please like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/livingtheturkishdream – I’m nearly at 1000 likes – I post updates on there daily and lots more photos. I’ve just posted a short video made from clips walking through Calis, and I really enjoyed making it so I think I might make some more – I’ve always got my camera with me so I’m going to take the opportunity to film more of the area and see how it turns out.

Yakapark, Saklıkent & a Hisarönü water park!

Last weekend we hired a car for a day again and headed off on another little adventure – this time to Yakapark, Saklıkent and back to Hisarönü.

Berkay had never driven outside of Fethiye before, so we had no idea where we were going. We switched on the GPS on his iPhone, tapped in Yakapark and surprisingly made it there without getting lost!

The drive is one with some beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. To get to Yakapark we had to drive past the ancient ruins of Tlos which look amazing – Turkey has some really interesting history to discover off the beaten track.

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With the help of the GPS, we arrived at Yakapark, parked the car and walked through the entrance. As soon as you walk through you can feel the drop in temperature. There are trees everywhere, the entire place is shady and the fresh cold spring water has been diverted strategically all around the area so that all you can see and hear is the force of the cold water from the waterfalls and streams dotted around the place. When we arrived there were a handful of people gathered around one of the little pools – now this is no swimming pool, it’s freezing cold water, literally a few degrees less and it would be icy, it really is that cold! People were gathered around because there were two people shoulder-deep in the water in an attempt to win a free drink. There’s a fun old sign at the bar which states “stay in the water for 5 minutes = free drink, 10 minutes = free food and 15 minutes = free ambulance” – that tells you how cold it is! We stood and watched as these two people struggled through the 5 minutes and managed to earn themselves the free drinks, they’re mental if you ask me!

Around the bar and restaurant area there are authentic seating areas where you can sit on the floor cushions and enjoy a drink or meal taking full advantage of the surroundings, but there’s also a ‘normal’ area with chairs and tables if you’d rather that instead! Perhaps even a hammock, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous!
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We walked around past the restaurant and towards the back of the area where there is a very old interesting shaped tree with water pooled inside – I love how they’ve worked around the nature that was already there. There are water fountains springing out of trees all around, stick your hand in and feel how cold it is, or if you’re feeling brave put your whole head under like Berkay! That definitely woke him up after being
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The whole place is just so beautiful and there’s so much to see – it’s so green with trees everywhere. All you can hear is the sound of the gushing water, the birds, crickets, ducks, there are beautiful butterflies and dragonflies all around too. I’ll let the photo’s speak for themselves.
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My favourite things about this place are the waterfalls – they’re not natural, as I mentioned before the natural spring water is diverted around strategically to create these, but they are truly beautiful regardless.
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You can stand and admire from the bottom of the two main waterfalls, or you can walk up the steps and across the stepping stones in front of them to get a better photo – be warned that the stones can get slippery, especially if you’re wearing flip flips as I found out!
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I love this place, but you have to time it perfectly so that you’re not there when the many ‘jeep safari’ trucks turn up. They all stop here for a break and tend to be very noisy with lots of pushing people into the water resulting in water fights – it’s great if you enjoy that kind of fun, but not so much if you just want to enjoy the peace and quiet. We left just as the groups started coming in around 11.00 am, but not before stopping back at the bar for a photo with the fish. The bar has a ring of the icy cold water around it which they actually put drinks in and use as a alternative fridge too! The ring has fish swimming in it – they seem happy enough. You can put your hand in and stroke them, which I did – you’d expect fish to be slimy and horrible but these were actually really smooth and velvety – weird!
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After we’d finished up here, we headed off back past Tlos again and to Saklıkent – it took around 20-30 minutes and was again a drive with lovely views across the valley with the mountains as a perfect backdrop. We’ve been inside Saklıkent gorge twice before despite it terrifying me, although we didn’t have time to go this time but I definitely do want to again soon. Instead, we drove across the bridge past the entrance to the gorge and stopped at one of the little restaurants on the other side. We knew about this little gem of a restaurant as we’d been a couple of years ago with my mum as part of an organised trip. They had a good-sized buffet of Turkish food along with bbq’d chicken or fish for 10tl, bargain! They certainly made up for the cheap food with the drinks though – they charged us 5tl for a can of coke!
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There was the option of sitting at a table, but we chose the more authentic option and sat on the floor cushions on a platform over a stream of water coming from the gorge. The stability of the platform was questionable – everytime someone walked past it wobbled, but it all added to the experience! The view was amazing, water spouting out from the stream, ducks swimming, brightly coloured flowers. It was the perfect spot for lunch.
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After lunch we headed back towards Fethiye, but took a detour to Hisarönü. I’d seen a new aquapark advertised online that was giving everyone free entrance for the week as a promotion. Normally we wouldn’t go to these places as they are so expensive, but since it was free we decided we’d make the most of it and we were not disappointed! It was really great fun, and fairly busy. It’s in the grounds of Gurol hotel in Hisarönü. Normal entry fee is 35tl I believe. There were 5 different slides and a great children’s section too. The slides were pretty scary, two in particular – a blue ‘bowl’ slide in which you ended up swirling around a bowl into a pool of water below, much like water going down a drain, and the other being a yellow skateboard ramp-looking slide which was actually very dangerous. You had to sit in a rubber ring and hold on tight while they pushed you down the ramp, where you slide up the other side and back down again until you came to a stop in the middle – I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, I didn’t try it myself, but Berkay fell out of the ring 3 times, cutting his back and elbow, and another man burned/grazed the entire tops of his legs – ouch.  All in all though, it was a fabulous afternoon and we had great fun, if nothing else climbing those steps to the slides 50+ times was great exercise!
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After all that driving, walking and climbing up steps to waterslides, we headed off back to Calis and set up a BBQ on the beach. We actually drove to Koca Calis and sat there as we thought it might be quieter – wrong! Although there were no tourists on the beach at that end, there were lots of Turkish families with the same idea, it was very busy with delicious smelling BBQ’s everywhere. By this time it was around 7pm and Berkay had to be at work by 8pm so we had a very rushed, but delightful dinner.IMG_3001 IMG_3002
All in all, it was another very hot, busy day. I can’t believe it was a week ago tomorrow. I’ve nearly been here a month already. Time is going by so quickly, but we’re definitely making the most of it this time. ❤

London with Berkay – part 2

I posted part 1 of my birthday day out in London  yesterday, and as promised, here is part 2.

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On our way to Buckingham Palace, we found ourselves at St.James Park. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and it was absolutely gorgeous walking through the park at this time of the day. There were beautiful yellow daffodils, blossom on the trees, flowers growing, green grass- beautiful! The lake looked lovely with the water fountain and ‘duck island’ in the middle.
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Anyone who knows me know’s I’m an animal lover – so seeing all the cute ducks, swans and pelicans was sweet, the pigeons not so much- I hate it when things fly near me! This duck was so funny, doesn’t it just look like he’s posing for the camera?! He turned around, looked at me, tilted his head then started walking towards me – I think he was hoping for food, but we had none… sorry Mr Duck.
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Berkay was trying to get the pigeons to sit on his arm, ewwwww. A nearby man who was obviously a regular at the park spotted him and gave him a handful of bird seed from a huge sack he had, he told him to hold his hand down low and feed the birds… and he did! Look how happy he looks, he’s an animal lover too.
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We spotted some squirrels who were surprisingly not shy at all – they were obviously used to being photographed as I held my camera literally an inch away from his face and he just sat there eating his nut…cute!
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When we came to the end of the park, we could see Buckingham Palace, or ‘The Queen’s house’ as Berkay calls it.  We made our way over and dont the typical touristy things, took a photo of the guard, took a photo of each other standing outside the gates.. thought about popping in to visit my old mukka Queenie for some tea and scones…
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There’s something about London that makes you feel patriotic. I’m not the least bit patrotic normally, I’m normally moaning about the country, but standing outside Buckingham Palace and looking out accross The Mall, seeing all the Union Jack flags – it really made me feel..well… British.
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We walked to St James Park station, again relying on my phone’s GPS to guide us, what a lifesaver that was – and got off at Leicester Square. It was really busy with street performers, people laying on the benches and grass, there was even a dog playing in the water fountain – sweet! One of the street performers was a magician, he had a little mouse with him… we missed most of the act, but at the end he put his little pet mouse on the floor and let everyone go and stroke it. ‘Please be careful with her’ he said … it melted my heart! Nothing cuter than a man and his pet mouse hehe!
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The main reason we were at Leicester Square was for M&M’s world! I’ve been to the one in New York before while I was there on a school trip, but I’d never been to the London one. The smell when you walk in … oh.my.god. Chocolate heaven! After a while it all looks the same, and you get sick of seeing all the overpriced merchandise – but some of it is cute. I think I purchased the cheaperst thing in the shop – a £3.50 fluffy m&m purse. There are giant M&M statues all around the store – all 4 levels of it – making for some perfect photo opportunities..
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The best part about the whole place are the walls with tubes stacked full of M&M’s in every single colour possible, chocolate ones, peanut ones, crispy ones… ahhh, I’ve just realised I still have some left over from the bag we made up – as soon as I finish this post I’m going to tuck into them!
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After a good 45 minutes in chocolate heaven, we walked all the way to Oxford Street – and to the massive Primark. We didn’t get much, a few bits for our friends baby twins, and a pretty awesome pug duvet cover for me. What’s the point of having birthday money if you can’t spend it eh?

We met up with my dad, stepmum, brother and sister for dinner. We all went to a little Indian restaurant near Aldgate, in London. It was really yummy.. Berkay went for a hot dish and think he regretted it later!
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How cute is my baby sister? ❤  She adores Berkay.. and me. She follows me around like a little sheep when I come home from work. Bless. She gave me lots of birthday cuddles, and helped me show off one of my birthday presents- a sweet picture for my wall made by my step mum. A photo of me, Berkay and Boncuk and the word ‘Happiness’ – that says it all.
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Calis changes, dog walks & the canal..

On his day off Berkay likes to go walking through Calis.

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He took Boncuk with him and went for a long walk up a hill with a beautiful view from the top (click here to see my old post with photos of the view!) We used to take her for a walk everyday and more often than not ended up walking to the top of this hill, we always had it to ourselves which meant Boncuk could run free off the lead safely, with no cars, people or other animals nearby. She loves to sit up there and have cuddles, look down over Calis or just play fetch. It’s so peaceful there.
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On the way back to the hotel they stay in, they took the road that goes past our old apartment (the top floor)… This apartment is nothing special, in fact it was pretty poor, and only 350tl a month, the equivalent of around £100 (which was still half of Berkay’s entire income!) .. but it was ours. It still makes me sad imagining other people in our house, cooking in our kitchen, sleeping in our room, sitting on our balcony… I try not to think about it too much, because when I do it just upsets me.
Click here for an old post with more photos of inside the apartment.
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Anyway, after they got back to the hotel, Berkay left Boncuk and carried on walking to the investigate the new-look canal. I’ve mentioned in a previous post about the changes they are doing, but I really can’t believe how different it looks.
Here’s a photo of the canal (left) taken a year ago, and the new, wider, cleaner canal with no plants (right) taken last week, both photos taken in the exact same place.
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The changes they’re making are all for the better, it’s going to look like a different place when I go back!

Saklikent gorge

Sometimes when abroad, it’s nice to stray away from the beach and pool for a few hours and see some of the natural beauty of the country you’re visiting.

If you’re in the Fethiye or Kalkan/Patara area, a visit to Sakilikent gorge is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
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The gorge is about an hour from Fethiye, easily accessible by car or by one of the many tourist buses/jeep safari’s that go there.  We’ve been twice and loved it, although it can be a little scary..the first time  we went with my mum, who didn’t enjoy the experience in the slightest.

The gorge is 300m deep and 18km long,  one of the deepest in the world, but only 4km of it is walkable. You can only enter it in the summer, between April and October, as in the winter, all the snow from the mountains means the flow of water is too strong, too deep and too dangerous.

When you first arrive, you have to pay an entrance fee, last year it was around 5tl, but it can change each year. Before you enter, make sure anything you have is secure and made waterproof… cameras, phones, cigarettes, keys.. whatever you have in your pockets will get wet. It’s also wise to bring a paif of sea shoes with you, or you can hire some jelly shoes from a stall opposite the entrance, DO NOT wear flip flops or shoes that fall off, because they can and they will. The amount of solitary shoes we saw flowing down the gorge was amusing…
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A solitary flip flip belonging to someone very unfortunate..

Once you’ve paid the fee and have entered, you’re greeted with a very old, unsturdy looking bridge, complete with missing pieces and dodgy nails, high up over deep, fast flowing water…crossing this bridge is the easiest part!
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The old bridge suspended above the water is the only way to enter the gorge.

Once you’ve crossed that, you get a seating area, benches, trees, a small cafe and very pretty looking rocks with the water flowing over them. The sound of the water is impressive! A lot of people only enter the gorge to sit here, because it is so beautiful and cool. The water is freezing, the spray it creates is cooling and the trees provide a lot of shade, its a welcome relief to the 40+ degree temperatures outside!
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If you are feeling adventurous, you can carefully make your way down the rocks to the main section of the gorge, but in order to get to the the other side and start the 4km walk, you have to cross the main fast flowing section of water. This is the difficult part, and it’s terrifying! The water  is often waist height, and is so fast and so powerful. It’s also freezing… literally if it was any colder it would be ice. There is a rope attached to the rocks either side which you cling on to in order to cross, but its still difficult, definitely not recommended for older people or children, although I have seen some who managed to cross, I’ve also heard horror stories from people who haven’t been so lucky..
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Us clinging on for dear life to cross the river.

Once you’ve managed to get across, hopefully without loosing a shoe, camera or your pants in the process, it becomes a more pleasant experience…temporarily. The water the other side varies in depth, but for the first km or so, it’s only ankle deep. The water is cloudy and the bed is slippery and covered in obstacles like rocks, hidden by the cloudy water. It’s advised to stay a foot behind someone in front of you, if they trip over or fall down a hole, you know to avoid that part 😉 There really is no other way of knowing..
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The gorge is beautiful and impressive. In some areas there are rocks suspended above your head only by another rock..  If this gorge was in England you’d have to wear hard safety hats, straps and goodness knows what else. At the end of the 4km apparently there is a waterfall, although we’ve never made it that far, as the further in you get, the more difficult it is. There are big boulders to climb and manovue around, big dips down, steep steps up and fast flowing water knocking you off your feet. I dont know anyone who has managed to come away without at least one bruise! It really is much more fun than I’m making it sound though, the natural beauty of it all is amazing. If you have a waterproof camera, definitely take it, there are some fabulous photo’s to be taken!
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Once you’ve had enough and have turned around and made the long walk back to the entrance, you step back outside and the heat hits you again, suddenly the freezing cold water doesn’t seem so bad! You can talk a slow stoll around the shops, market stalls, icecream stands etc around the riverside. On one side there is a lovely cafe/restaurant which has wooden platforms suspended over the river where you can sit and relax with an Efes or  icecream to recover. There are hammocks to sit in, and pillows to sit back on. The cafe we went to had a great open buffet with trout fish or chicken and endless amounts of traditional Turkish food to chose from. Delicious and very relaxing!
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It’s a very different and fun, if sometimes slightly painful, day out! 🙂

Calis is changing!

Even though I’m no longer living there, I still like to see what’s going on in Calis Beach and Fethiye, so Berkay is keeping me updated with photos.

Last Summer, the area opposite Sevi hotel, next to Nokta market and behind the bus stop, was bare, dusty and covered in litter and general mess. When I left at the end of September, they had just started to tidy up the area and were putting paving stones down. I was intrigued to see what they were doing, and it turns out they were making a little park, complete with play area, mini excerise park, benches and fountains, a much smaller version of the new-ish park in Fethiye along the seafront. Berkay showed me on skype and has sent me photos, I think it’s his new favourite spot to walk the dog!  It looks like a lovely place to sit, I do think it’s in a bit of a strange location though. I hope it stays tidy and looking lovely, and I’m sure it will be popular with tourists in summer, if they are staying around that area. It looks a million times better than it did before anyway, it was literally just an area of nothing.

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 Boncuk seems to be enjoying the new park area! The photo on the right shows the location of the new park, with Grand Vizon hotel in the background.
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Another big  change to Calis that I’ve been keeping up to date with involves the canal. Diggers turned up one day and started tidying up and breaking down the edges, in order to make it all wider. These photos arent the best (check out the colour of that water, a mixture of heavy rain and all the work theyre doing has turned it brown!!) but you can tell the difference if you know what it used to look like, it certainly is a lot wider now! One side of the bridge near the taxi boats has already been widened and has a wall built up, it appears as if they may be building a walkway down along the canal, which will make a real difference, it used to have thick reeds and trees and dangerous looking steps going down to the sides, I always wondered how people managed to get down there safely to fish!

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Can’t wait til I get back there to visit in the summer so I can see it all completed and find out what other changes I’ve been missing out on !