Central Turkey

Trabzon is a city right in the North East of Turkey. It is one of the most important trade cities on the Black sea and home to just under a million people.

Trabzon

We got out of our marshrutka and were making our way to our accommodation when a fighter jet took off right next to us. It doubled back and was so low in the sky. It was incredibly loud and quite shocking. We spent 2 days in Trabzon. We saw the Hagia Sophia (not the main one) and started to eat a lot of Turkish food. Every meal we had in Turkey ended up being accompanied by an ayran which is a delicious yoghurt drink and a tea.

Tea
Trabzon Hagia Sofia
Sumela Monastery

We decided to do a road trip to the south and got a car. On the way out of town we went and checked out Sumela monastery. This is a really cool Greek monastery which is carved into the side of the mountain. We continued throughout the country and spent a night in Sivas. The roads were surprisingly good but eastern Anatolia had a rural feel to it.  It was the first time we had driven a car in 5 months, and felt a bit different on the right hand side of the road. Worse was to come.

In the countryside
On the road
Local transport
Cows; Turkish

From Sivas we went to Goreme in Cappadocia. This is a very famous tourist attraction in the middle of Turkey, best known for its geological formations and hot air ballons. The afternoon was spent on a quad bike tour and visiting the Uchisar castle. Our tent from Sziget had made the journey with us and we decided to spend a night camping in a field near by the city, with tasty pide from a local bakery.

Uchisar Castle
Up close, this used to be home to 1000 people in byzantine times
Cappadocia views from the castle.
Fairy Chimneys, from the quad bike tour
Camping spot

The next morning we rolled out of the tent early to watch the ballons, we followed this up with about 4 turkish coffees to offset the early rise and spent the dawn admiring the sky.

Apparently its 300 euro per person to ride these
coming down

We continued on the road to a famous underground city, which was neat.

From here we went south to the coast to a place called Kizkaleesi. From a quick google maps This looked like a small village on the mediterranian coast. We were surprised to find a massive resort town. Either the heat or trying to park in the incredibly narrow streets caused us to work up a sweat. We ventured to beach. Having grown up in NZ we are both used to a certain style of beach, notably empty. As far as we could see the beach was packed 10 loungers deep.

Beach with people

Once we were past the loungers we got to see the castle in the sea which was pretty neat.

Kizkalesi

The legend of this place goes; a fortune teller informs the king that his beautiful daughter will be poisoned by a snake. Shocked by the fortune teller’s words, the king tries to save the princess by building a castle on an island where no snakes live. He sends his daughter to live in the castle. But a snake hides in a grape basket sent from the mainland and poisons the princess. I think the modern rendition would be the same, but sub snake for beach goer and grape basket for jetski.

From a distance

We spent a night here and the next morning we set off on a long coastal drive to Antayla. This drive was very pretty, with mountains, coast and beaches comprising the scenery. We ate gozleme (cheese pancakes) at an roadside stall and had our first cactus fruit. Issy was particularly captivated by these treats.

Old Antalya harbour. there are big resorts down the whole coastline here

We arrived in Antayla in the evening. This is a reasonably popular city, especially with tourists. We spent a few days here and had a great time.

We checked out a few notable places including Termessos, an ancient mountain town which even Alexander the great didn’t manage to conquer. It was abandoned after an earthquake destroyed the aqueduct. The best bit about this was how empty it was. We were on our own to explore in such a nice backdrop.

The old bathhouse and gym Termessos
Enjoying the show at the ampitheatre
View from the top

We also went to Karain cave, this has been occupied by homo species for 200,000 years. Whilst some of the interior decor felt a bit dated, it was pretty amazing to visit see the layers of history.

Main chamber
Research digs

We visted Phaselis which is an old roman port and a great place for a swim.

Phaselis beach
Inside aspendos, considered the best preserved large theatre. they had a production of Carmen on that evening.

Aspendos was also a stop, where Issy was tempted by a delicious looking cactus fruit on the side of the road. In her haste she forgot the cactus part of the deal and subsequently had a hand full on spines. To her credit she managed to eat the fruit to settle the score. The local dairy owners, who spoke no English recognised exactly what had happened when we went to by a coke a few minutes later, much to their amusement.

Roman bridge over Koprulu canyon

From here we went to Koprulu canyon, where we had a bit of a swim and paddle in a raft.

Getting dunked in the waterfall, very cold
Hanging out
Our journey. It took us about 7 days to do the entire thing.

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