Tag Archive: Turkey


Can you believe this was taken on November 1st??!!

Can you believe this was taken on November 1st??!!

We have been to Olympos twice, and it’s one of our favorite getaway places! Our first trip to Olympos was last fall. We discovered that we had a very long weekend, thanks to the national holiday, Republic Day (October 29),which marks the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Friday and Monday were declared school holidays due to the elections on November 1st.  So, we headed for the otogar (bus station) and got into a dolmuş (public transport mini bus) and headed for Olympos. The dolmuşes leave from the far end of the bus station about every 10 minutes, so it is easy to get there via public transport.

An hour and a half later, we were dropped at this cafe, where we had some tea while waiting for another dolmuş to take us down the canyon to Olympos. Not a bad place to wait, eh?

Tea and snacks available while you wait. Lots of vans pull up to drop passengers heading to Olympos.

Tea and snacks available while you wait. Lots of vans pull up to drop passengers heading to Olympos.

Olympos is well known for its rustic charm, with dozens of tree house and cabin pensions. We stayed in Saban’s, recommended by a friend. We loved it!  Half-board was included, and the food was delicious. We had a little one room cabin, surrounded by fruit and pine trees, nestled by the hills. We left our gear and headed out to explore the ruins that everyone comes here to see.

The sound of silence was fabulous to this city-dweller's ears:).

The sound of silence was fabulous to this city-dweller’s ears:).

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Saban’s has fruit trees all around; these are pomegranate trees.

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This was breakfast! Dinner was a buffet meal of delicious home-cooked Turkish food, including mezes and salad.

Andy first visited Olympos with a friend.  Here’s the tree house he stayed in!

Turkmen's Tree Houses

Turkmen’s Tree Houses

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Be sure to try some fresh-squeezed juice!

 

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Kadir’s Tree Houses is said to be the original tree house/bungalow pension.  It has a very artistic, hippie-like feel to their cabins, and it’s still very popular with the younger, backpacking crowd.

From Saban’s it is a ten minute walk to the entry of the ruins.  If you live in Turkey, be sure to get an annual museum pass; you won’t have to pay the 20 TL fee, which also allows you access to the beach. Those  of you don’t live in Turkey can get a pass for 10 entries for 7.5 TL. You need to pass through the ruins to get to the beach.

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The ruins to the right of the creek bed are “untamed” but are worth the hike. It’s the “Indiana Jones hike”.

Olympos  was founded during the Hellenistic Period, and became a prominent city of the Lycian League by the second century BC.

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The city was built inside the river valley, behind the mountains, to conceal its wealth from pirates.

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However, this strategy didn’t work: Olympos was later used as a base by  a powerful group of pirates. There was an infamous pirate called Zeniketos who operated from Olympos.

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After the ruins you arrive at the sea!

A Roman commander of Julius Ceasar conquered the city in the first century BC to neutralize the threat from the pirates.

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People continued to live in Olympos until its decline in the 1400’s.

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This was a lovely October day. Notice my twin on the right.

We returned for a quick weekend trip in May. This time we stayed at Olympos Orange Bungalows, which also was a good place to stay: nice food, clean rooms, and a lovely garden area.

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Orange Bungalows garden area

One of the “must-do” things to do near Olympos is something we haven’t done yet: visit the eternal fires of Chimera which are natural gas-fueled flames that are never extinguished. It’s a popular place to hike up to at sunset or after dark.  North American visitors are known to bring marshmallows and other ingredients to make smores:)  We are told it’s easier to get there if you have your own transport, but you still have about a 3 kilometer hike up (then back down) the mountainside (in the dark), so be sure to wear good hiking shoes and bring a flashlight.  So we are told!  Nate has been three times; twice while camping with his class, and once while he was at summer camp.

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Instead, we roasted marshmallows by the fire at Orange Bungalows; we substituted graham crackers with tea biscuits (cookies) and it was GOOD!!

Since most of the pensions in Olympos provide half-board (breakfast and dinner) in their rate, it’s fun to try the little restaurants for lunch.  Here’s one of our favorites, not far from the entrance to the ruins:

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You said you wanted a close up on our plates? Ok!

So, what are you waiting for? Come and see for yourself why Olympos is a great getaway place!

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Sumela Monastery, founded in 386 AD!

This fascinating monastery is nestled in a steep cliff at an altitude of about  4,000 feet. It is located in the Altındere National Park, and is surrounded by lush, green coastal mountains. Don’t miss it if you go to the Black Sea region of Turkey!

Kaş!

Kaş!

On Saturday, we left our son at summer camp for a week. We drove along the coast to take our first ever vacation without kids since Nate was born. We headed for Kaş, a beautiful sea side town on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. We stopped along the way at this delightful restaurant for gozleme (crepe-style pancakes with filling) and Turkish tea.

A perfect way to start our week!

A perfect way to start our week!

We had been to Kaş for a weekend in May, and fell in love with it immediately. Lush green hills, spectacular bays dotted with islands, the sparkling clear Mediterranean to swim in, yachts, outdoor restaurants….what’s not to love?

Breathtaking views!

Breathtaking views!

Kaş is the perfect place to find lots of activities, or to do nothing but relax, get some sun, and eat in one of the dozens of charming cafes and restaurants.
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 There are numerous restaurants to choose from. This one was a favorite!
The Asma 6...wonderful location with waves crashing just below.

The Asma 6…wonderful location with waves crashing just below.

In case you get too tired from all the relaxing….

Can we live here, please?

Can we live here, please?

We decided to do a day trip to the Greek island of Kastellorizo (known as Meis in Turkish). Warning! More relaxing and swimming!
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Not many guys get to say that their wife took them to a Greek Island to celebrate Father's Day!

Not many guys get to say that their wife took them to a Greek Island to celebrate Father’s Day!

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After enjoying a nice swim, lunch, and afternoon iced coffees, we headed back to Kaş.
There are many day trips you can take from Kaş. Numerous boats at the harbor offer several different day trips. We will take a day cruise to see the sunken city at Kekova tomorrow, and we’ll let you know how that goes!
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Kaş isn’t known for it’s beaches, although there are a few small pebble beaches.  However, an hour’s drive away you can be at Patara Beach, voted one of the world’s best beaches in 1998.
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Doesn't this guy do anything besides relax?

Doesn’t this guy do anything besides relax?

You can also enjoy the ancient Lycian ruins at Patara, before or after relaxing on the beach.  If you are feeling energetic, you can book a tour that will take you to Patara, Saklikent Gorge, and the ruins of ancient Xanthos. Being the lazy travelers we are, we decided to drive there, saving the other places for another visit.
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 After a very busy year and a half, moving from Prague, six months of travel, and hosting a steady stream of guests in our new place, it is wonderful to slow down. Our main goals today are to take an evening stroll, figure out which boat we’ll take to Kekova tomorrow, and decide what we’ll have for dinner 🙂
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Life is good! I hope you’ll get to enjoy the Kaş experience some day!

 

 

 

Enjoying a sunny February day in the old city of Kaleici in Antalya, Turkey

Enjoying a sunny February day in the old city of Kaleici in Antalya, Turkey

We recently spent six lovely days in Antalya, Turkey. It’s located on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Kaleiçi is the historic area of the town.  It started as a Roman town around 150 BC, and was named after it’s founder: Attalos II, King of Pergamon.  It later changed hands to the Byzantines, then the Seljuk Turks, and finally passed to the Ottoman Turks.

What view? Our oblivious 9-year-old:)

What view? Our oblivious 9-year-old:)

King Attalos III bequeathed his kingdom to Rome upon his death in 133 BC, and Antalya became part of the Roman Republic.

The port

The Roman Harbor

Antalya was visited by the Apostle Paul, as recorded in the book of Acts: “From Perga, Paul and Barnabas went down to Attalia and sailed from there to Antioch after preaching in Pisidia and Pamphylia” (Acts 14:25-26).

This harbor is where he sailed from!

Rows of pirate boats

Rows of  boats, capitalizing on the theme of Pirates of the Caribbean:)

Antalya was a major city in the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Seljuk Turks in the 13th century. It was conquered by the Ottomans in the 14th century.

Lots of souvenir shops, of course!

Lots of shops

Carpet, anyone?

Carpet, anyone?

Kaleiçi is a lovely place to just wander through the winding streets.

Exploring...

Exploring…

The Broken Mınaret Mosque Kesik Minare has changed hands on multiple occasions through the centuries.  It was originally built as a Roman temple in the 2nd century AD.  The Roman Temple was later converted into a Christian church during the Byzantine era in the 7th century. It was converted into a mosque in the 13th century, and the minaret was added. Not long after, it was converted back into a church when Antalya was taken by the crusader king of Cyprus. It was reconverted yet again to a mosque, and has remained a mosque since!

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Outside the mosque.

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The Broken Minaret

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Interesting courtyard…

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Hookah, anyone?

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What’s in there?

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The equivalent of Prague’s John Lennon Wall?

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Taken for his sister Sam and Star Wars fans around the globe:)

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Taking it easy….

The modern city of Antalya started growing after World War II. It is located in a lovely location, surrounded by mountains, facing the beautiful Mediterranean Sea with its beautiful beaches.

Now, that's a view!

Now, that’s a view!

I was surprised to find out that Antalya, as the gateway to the Turkish Riviera, is in the top ten of most visited cities of the world!!! It has surpassed Istanbul as a tourist destination. It draws both history buffs and sun-seekers. Most tourists stay in the beach resorts in Konyaalti or Lara.

However, modern Antalya,with its tall buildings and large tourist developments along the coast, didn’t draw me like Kaleiçi did. There are lots of great day trips if you are based in Kaleiçi.  Check out these recommendations from Tripadvisor:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g297962-s407/Antalya:Turkey:Day.Trips.html

Just before sunset...

Just before sunset…

Avoid all those crowds…visit Antalya between September and May.  April, May, September and October are the best months to find nice weather without so many tourists.  We were there in February and enjoyed weather in the upper 60’s and it even hit 70 for a day.  Sunshine is amazing, especially after a cold winter in Europe!

Beaches, ancient ruins, the Mediterranean, snow capped mountains, sunshine…what’s not to like? Best of all are the friendly Turks and their wonderful cuisine. We’ll definitely be back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end of a lovely, sunny day in February!

The end of a lovely, sunny day in February!

The source of my wanderlust

Andy and Nicole in Salzburg, October 2013

Andy and Nicole in Salzburg, October 2013

This blog is about our adventures as expats living in the Czech Republic in the beautiful city of Prague.  In 2011, my husband Andy and I sold our home in the US, along with most of our belongings, and left for a new life and job in Prague with our son, who is now nine years old. Our twenty year-old daughter is in her third year of university in the US.

Andy and our daughter, Samantha, at Versailles, Summer 2012

Andy and our daughter, Samantha, at Versailles, Summer 2012

We travel frequently during our school breaks around Europe.  We’ve also recently been to Israel and Turkey, and we are planning a trip to India in the spring.  I am addicted to travel!  I feel more alive when I’m living or traveling in another culture. There are two possible reasons for this: my unconventional childhood and my unconventional grandparents, who passed their wanderlust and love of adventure to me.

Andy and Nate on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, summer 2013

Andy and Nate on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, August 2013

1.  My unconventional childhood.

I was born in the US, but lived in India for four wonderful years of my childhood (ages seven to eleven).  My mother was born and raised in India; she was born with Indian citizenship although her mother was Russian and her father was German.  My dad was an American businessman who met her in India; they fell in love, got married in India, and came back to live in the US.

However, my parents separated when I was seven years old.  So, my mom took me to live in Bangalore, India….”home” to my grandparents and aunt, uncle and cousin.  It was a wonderful place to grow up! We returned to the US when my parents reconciled after four years.  I experienced major culture shock going “home” to the US, whereas I had no culture shock when moving to India four years earlier.

Seville, April 2013

Seville, Spain, April 2013

I’m what’s known as a TCK: third culture kid.

David Pollack developed the following description for third culture kids:

 “A third culture kid is an individual who, having spent a significant part of their developmental years in a culture other than their parents’ home culture, develops a sense of relationship to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Elements from each culture are incorporated into the life experience, but the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar experience.”

In other words, it means that I feel more at home with others who have grown up in situations like mine….growing up as a foreigner in a foreign country. I love being an expat, developing relationships with other expats and Czech friends.

Parc Guell, Barcelona, October 2011, just after we first moved to Prague.

Parc Guell, Barcelona, October 2011, just after we first moved to Prague. A TCK raising a new TCK:)

2.  My unconventional grandparents, who passed on their wanderlust to me.

Growing up in another culture greatly influenced my development, values and personality. My Russian grandmother and German grandfather were eccentric, quirky, wonderful people who had a huge influence on my life.

Speaking of quirky, my grandfather was known as the “Popcorn King” of India, because he was the first person to introduce popcorn to the subcontinent of India.  Our house had a popcorn factory in it!!

You ask….how did a Russian and a German meet and decide to marry and raise a family in India, of all places?!!

Istanbul, where my grandmother had hoped to be sent after her escape from Soviet Russia.  Ironically, it is one of my favorite countries...I've been there six times!

Istanbul, where my grandmother had hoped to be sent after her escape from Soviet Russia. Ironically, it is one of my favorite countries…I’ve been there six times!

Tania (Tatiana), my grandmother, escaped from the Soviet Union in 1940.  She escaped with two Polish sailors that she had met while working as a nanny on a boat on the Caspian Sea. She had already been married three times; twice a widow and once divorced.  She had spent two years in a Siberian prison camp. She was determined to escape Soviet Russia.  She and her companions had a harrowing journey until they made it to Persia (modern day Iran).  She was asked if she’d like to go to Turkey or to the British; she said “Turkey” because it sounded more exotic to her.  Instead, they sent her to the British in India.

My grandfather was a German who went to work in Italy in the late 1930’s.  In 1938 he boarded a ship bound for Australia, to marry his sweet heart.  I still have the ticket!  The ship stopped in Bombay. My grandfather fell in love with India, and stayed. He never made it to Australia to marry his sweetheart! He got a job as a hotel manager (his profession).  He was later accused of being a spy because of a joke he had made, and the British put him in prison for two years.  Finally he was released to an internment camp in Satara, India, where he met my grandmother.

My grandfather loved to tell the story of the beautiful Russian woman who arrived at the camp without knowing a word of English…and he gallantly volunteered to teach her!  They fell in love, and after they both were released they decided to marry and raise their family in India.

Dresden: my grandfather's home city.  He left in the late 1930's.

Dresden, 2010: my grandfather’s home city. He left in the late 1930’s. Ironically, I lived just a two hour drive away!

So how does their story affect me today?  My grandmother’s favorite saying was “Carpe Diem”  which means “seize the day“. My grandfather spoke seven languages fluently. Their personalities were polar opposites, but they both loved to travel, and they had friends from around the globe.

I think that I inherited my love of travel, interest in other cultures and people from my grandparents. They passed it on to my mother, who also loved to travel. Growing up, we frequently had people visiting us from all over the world…we lived in California, and it is a popular destination!

My parents’ and grandparents’ legacy lives on in me. Andy and I have been practicing our “Carpe Diem” by living as expats in Prague, hosting people from all over the world in our home. In July 2014 we sold our belongings and we are now traveling, without a permanent home.  We are taking a mini sabbatical before moving to a new home, to be found, in early 2015.  Stay tuned to find out where that will be!

Istanbul, Turkey: February 2013

Istanbul, Turkey: February 2013

We went to an outdoor cafe on the Bosphorus to drink Turkish tea with our dear friends Feza and Kazim.  You can see the bridge which connects Asia and Europe. This was the stunning sunset we saw!