We had luckily decided to drive into the port area in Fethiye, park the van, have some breakfast and board the ferry to Rhodes for the day. Very little opens in Turkey before about 10 o’clock so we ended up at a rooftop breakfast area of a posh hotel overlooking the bay. The breakfast offering was an excellent buffet with many Turkish specialties of large bowls of preserved fruits, olives and spreads as well as fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese as well as normal breakfast fare. We made our way down to the passport control on the dock and boarded the boat and that is where the trouble started.

The customs man on the boat wanted to know where our vehicle was and said we needed to have paperwork done before we could leave. We luckily had about 20 minutes so one of the crew rushed us off and up the road to customs to have our passports and vehicle documents photocopied and a form filled out and then they wanted to sight the vehicle which was then supposed to be locked in their bond carpark. Maurice had to move the van and then there was no room for it so we were told to park it in the street again and luckily found the only parking spot still available.

When we entered Turkey the officials stamped Maurice’s passport and the stamp had a picture of a car on it – we didn’t realise this until someone told us about it later. Apparently we could not leave the country and come back again if we left our vehicle in Turkey without all this paperwork. The customs manager was a very bored chap and was not going to hurry whereas the crew member was trying to rush everything so as not to delay the boat. We made it with minutes to spare and we sat down relieved that we had actually brought the van into town instead of using public transport. It was a blessing in disguise that we had decided to leave the “sugar beach club” earlier than expected.

It was another very hot day and we opted for the hop off hop on bus to get our bearings. It drove around the new city and to the ancient stadium and the Acropolis which overlooked the port area. It dropped us off at the harbour area where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood and where today stands the statues of the Stag and doe stand on huge columns. From there we avoided the touristy market area and walked through the north gate of the old walled city and marvelled at the size of the old town and extent of preservation of the most of the buildings. We found on our map a walking trail through the back alleys where there were no tourists so we enjoyed the peace of it all before we headed with the masses back to the port area to buy our new found acquaintance Erhan (who had helped us the previous day source some ice)some duty free Jaegermeister of which he is fond before boarding the hydrofoil back to Fethiye and Turkey.

Fethiye had a lovely harbour/marina area but it’s main claim to fame were the Lycian tombs found just above the city and carved into the hills. We got back to Fethiye from Rhodes after 6pm and had about 20minutes to drive to Kayakoy – an abandoned village to the south east of Fethiye. We drove around the narrow streets below the town where there were many luxury villas and some guesthouses and we happened upon “Muzzy’s place” (short for Mustafa). Muzzy was third generation Greek and his grandparents had decided to stay in Turkey after 1924 when there was an exchange of Greek people to Greece and Turks to Turkey. Apparently the Turkish people could not settle in the town and moved to the coast until in 1950 when the entire town was abandoned. The pathway to the town was opposite our guesthouse and Muzzy was well set up with extensive bar/restaurant area, swimming pool and two storey stone house accommodation.

There was no camping site so For TL150 including breakfast we stayed the night there. it would have been nice to have a hot shower in the morning but very few places we have stayed have actually had hot water in the mornings. Apart from that the meal at night was excellent and Turkish breakfast was provided in the morning. We got up early and had a walk around the abandoned village and after breakfast we skyped a service centre in Italy to make an appointment to have the fridge looked at. It was becoming tiresome to find a fridge or ice wherever we went.
Muzzy’s claim to fame was that he supplied the cast and crew meals for the days that they were there for the filming of the “Water Diviner”, Russell Crowes movie about a father’s hunt for his son after the first world war and after losing two other sons in Gallipoli.

We had to drive back via Fethiye so we parked and walked up the many steps to see the Lycian tombs carved out of the rocks above the town. The view across the town and to the harbour and peninsula were wonderful. From there we went on to Denizle where we had a lovely encounter with some very friendly Turkish people. Firstly at the service station where one of the workers brought us out a cup of tea while the van was being filled and wouldn’t take any payment for the tea. We needed to buy more ice (I was still trying to keep the last of the food in the fridge cold) and they didn’t know of anywhere so I had a brainwave and asked where the fish market was. Thank goodness again for “maps ME” so that they could show us on the tablet where to find it. Maurice parked in a side street and I went around the corner to the fish market where one nice man told me to come with him and he walked me around to a few shops. He however thought I wanted to buy an esky even though I told him in Turkish that we had a broken down fridge and wanted ice! Something was lost in translation! When he twigged to what I wanted he walked me back to the fish market and instructed two of the stall holders to give me a bag of ice. I tried to tip him and pay for the ice but they wouldn’t have it and just wished me well – such lovely people.
Meanwhile back at the van…someone tried to get Maurice to move on as they wanted to unload some scrap metal. Maurice with sign language tried to explain that I was gone and if he moved I may not have found him again so instead he helped them unload the scrap metal while he waited for me to return.

It developed into another 43 degree day after we left Fethiye so we stopped for refreshments and to buy some towels in Mugla before crossing over the mountains to Pamukkale where an area called the Travertines are found. I had always wanted to visit these since seeing them in a brochure many years ago. We got to Beydil campsite right opposite the travertines on dusk so got up early the next morning and were standing at the entrance for the 8am opening time. Shoes are not allowed to be worn when walking on the travertines but they cool to walk on and were not slippery. Water flowed over some of the formations.

We had been advised to get there early so as to avoid the huge crowds later in the day. We didn’t realize that it comprised a vast area including Hierapolis (ancient ruins, gardens and pools and a hot 36degree thermal pool which by paying TL32 allowed you one entry. We stayed in the thermal pool for over an hour and there were few people in it then. Many tour groups started to arrive so after drying off in the lovely garden area we took a long walk around the travertines and found another pool at the north end of the complex near some of the Hierapolis ruins where there were only two other people. We made it to the top of the amphitheatre before heading around and back to the thermal pool area (where many more tourists had gathered) for refreshing drinks before fighting our way through the huge crowds who were now all around the travertine pools. It was a wonderful day out because we could relax in the shade or in the “free” pool between the walks around the ruins and the travertines. Getting there early made all the difference.

There was a large pool and a bit of an aquapark as part of the campsite as well as a few chickens and a rooster walking around the lawn area and a large restaurant upstairs overlooking the travertines – a strange mixture. We overnighted there
again and drove on over the mountains where orchards of olives and fig trees grew on steep slopes. The wide valleys with very tall corn fields led us into the city of Nizilli where we needed to buy a new electrical plug for our power cord as the previous night our old one nearly burnt out. The Tom Tom took us into the city in front of a service station where Maurice plug in hand enquired about an electrician.

As it happened right opposite was an electrician who motioned us to wait, hopped on his scooter and ten minutes later he was back with a new plug and he proceeded to fit the plug and soldered the ends which took another ten minutes. When we asked how much it would be he said TL5 or $2.50! He chatted to Maurice in Turkish and Maurice back in English but they understood each other. We tried to give him 10 lira but he just would not have it and just wished us well in Turkish. Such a lovely man. When we left all the workers in the service station waved us off.

Stopping at Birgi which I had read about in the morning we visited a huge wooden mansion built by a wealthy merchant in the 1830’s. Birgi is also known for the attractive stone and wood cottages all over the town. A woman was cooking Gozleme – potato pancakes so we stopped and ate them and then went across the square to buy what they called “snow” which was shaved ice with grape syrup poured over it. That was delicious, not very sweet and very refreshing on a hot day.
On the road some of the stall holders selling food have a large hose pouring out water near the road as a means of attracting customers. We saw this several times and thought it was such a waste of water!

We headed further over the mountains and down to a plain where there was an abundance of apricot and peach orchards and roadside sellers of fruit and vegetables. I really wanted some watermelon but not a whole one so they kindly cut one in half for us and I also bought 2eggplant, 6 small capsicum, a kilo of potatoes and four large tomatoes all for TL5.50 or $2.70! The stall holders were very friendly although their English was limited to Hello and Bye Bye.

We saw a couple of brides and grooms on their wedding day – one lot in Pamukkale wanted to have their photo taken with us. We also saw a large set up for outdoor seating for a wedding amongst the olive groves out of town. No need to worry about what the weather would do at that time of year.

It was like old home week when we arrived at the campsite Derile in Pamucak (the closest campsite to Ephesus) where we met up with Polish, German and Dutch campers that we had met at several previous campsites. It was nice to see the same faces again
and have a chat with fellow campers. We parked between Spaniards and Italians and Hungarians. This campsite was a real league of nations that we hadn’t much encountered in Turkey. Of course everyone again assumed with the “GB” plates that we were British and they were always surprised to hear we were Australian.

Ephasus was an amazing ancient site where a lot of reconstruction is taking place under an 11 million dollar roof to protect
the ancient Roman terrace houses. We were advised to get there early so we caught the “Dolmus” local small bus to Efes (Ephesus) and got in the gate before 8.30am. The site covers a large area and to see the layout of an entire ancient city and walk it’s marble paths was wonderful. The tour buses arrived one after the other and we had luckily seen everything that we wanted to see so made our way through the seething masses to the local bus to Selcuk, a modern town ten minutes away. There many storks and their young in their nests on top of the reconstructed aquaduct. We had a delicious Meze lunch and walked in the 43degrees to see the museum before heading back to the campsite for a swim.

We travelled via Izmir,Turkey’s 3rd largest city with a lovely promenade around part of the bay to have lunch in Foca, a lovely little seaside village and onto a lovely neat “Altin” campsite on the sea at Burnahiye. It was the most well run campsite that we had found in Turkey and the only downside was hitting a tree stump as we left the next day which pushed our electric step sideways and made it unusable. Another job for the man in Italy!

We soldiered on the next day to Cannakale and across on the ferry to the Gallipoli peninsula landing at Eceabat. We saw a memorial for the Turkish soldiers and drove up to see the town of Gelibolu. We decided to drive back down through the unpaved roads of the centre to our Kum camping site. It is a beautiful peninsula and a shame that it is only known for the Dardanelles campaign and it’s ANZAC connection.

There was a huge amount of agriculture on the peninsula – sunflowers, grains, fruit and vegetables and the tastiest tomatoes and best peaches that I had tasted since my childhood. There were many roadside stalls selling these and a very popular backberry or mulbeerry jam and good honey. We visited ANZAC cove and the next day drove up the coastal side of the peninsula towards the border to Greece. It was a hot 45degree when we left Turkey on the 30th July. We found a nice new little restaurant and delicatessen next to their cheese factory for lunch where the chef came out and tried to explain the Turkish menu. We ended up with a delicious fresh pasta meal. I took the waitress and showed her our fridge as she didn’t understand that we wanted ice. Her face lit up and she disappeared into the kitchen and came back with a bag of ice. Another lovely memory of our last stop in Turkey before getting to the border town of Ipsala.

Turkey was one of our favourite countries with friendly, helpful people in general,spectacular and varied scenery, nice little towns,interesting ancient ruins, nice hot weather, good and very reasonably priced food and good infrastructure for the locals with modern appartment blocks, leafy parks, shopping centres and childrens’ playgrounds. Some of the campsites had fairly basic facilities,however was made up for by their beautiful seaside locations. When we looked at the distance we had covered it was quite an area but we feel we just scratched the surface of the country. We deliberately stayed away from anywhere near the border of Syria. we were a little apprehensive before visiting Turkey because of it’s proximity to Syria and also the impression of their conservatism but this was soon dispelled when we arrived in the country.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.