27/8/15 – 29/8/15
Fethiye is very easily accessible from Dalyan, taking less than two hours by Dolmus. Similar to Dalyan, we’re only here for two full days, before heading on to Kabak Valley, which we’re really excited about.
Fethiye is a buzzing city which seems to have a nice mix of locals sitting around drinking tea and playing chess, and tourists who most enter and exit the city through the bustling port. Though we will enter and depart by Dolmus, we will return in a week and stay for one night before sailing from Fethiye to Olympos, a popular route called the ‘Blue Cruise’. I’m a little nervous about the sail, only because Croatia Sail taught us that it is so much dependant on the group you end up with. We’re hoping for a few less Aussies and more of a mix of ages and nationalities. But worst-case scenario, we’ll still be on a boat sailing along the Turkish coast for four days. Life’s tough.
After our new friend and unofficial guide Murat helped us navigate the different Dolmuses to arrive at our accommodation in Fethiye, we all checked in to the Fethiye Guesthouse where we’ll be spending the next few days. It’s a little out of the centre –about a 10 or so minute walk- but right on the marina, and has a nice view overlooking the water. The facilities are basic and the rooms are jam packed of beds, but the staff that run the place seem really nice, mostly Turkish staff with an Aussie-born-Turk and a Kiwi volunteer thrown in.
Daniel, Murat and I decide to brave the heat and head into the centre of town, possibly in search of lunch. We walk along the water and through the centre, not really sure what we want to eat or where. All of a sudden, Murat stops a waiter who is walking straight past us with some empty plates, and starts up a conversation. After a few seconds we’re following him, “his family runs a good restaurant” Murat tells us, so we follow the waiter. This is why Turkey is such a different place if can communicate with locals, or have made a friend who can. I’d have never felt confident enough to strike up a conversation with a passing guy carrying plates, but as soon as Murat started talking to him, it was like they were old friends or something.
Before we knew it, the three of us were sitting down at Samdan Restaurant, outside nestled among some shady trees, satisfying our now giant hungers. A few Turkish pizzas -pides (pi-days), some obligatory side salad and one or two other sides later, we wobbled out of Samdan feeling like we ate way too much food but regretting nothing. Samdan is also very close to the local fish market, so there’s also the option of buying some fresh seafood and then bringing it to the restaurant where they will cook it for you for a small price.
When we awoke the next day Daniel has abruptly decided that he wants to go paragliding today. Fethiye is world famous for its near perfect paragliding conditions, and we’d talked about whether we were going to do it. We were on the fence though. It wasn’t the jumping off the mountain, 6000ft in above the ground, that was alarming, but more the possible damage to the budget. But, there’s no point travelling for months and months and then not splurging every now and again on things like paragliding or gelato, or caving or…more gelato. So the staff are Fethiye Guesthouse are more than helpful and book us in later that day at 5.30pm. We’ll be jumping with the company Gravity and jumping from Ölüdeniz, a very close popular tourist town and home to the famour ‘Blue Lagoon’ beach.
Before we knew it, 4pm was here and we were getting picked up by Gravity in a shuttle bus full of Aussies and Kiwis who belonged to a Top Deck boat in the middle of a similar cruise that we’d be starting next week. We arrive at Gravity in Ölüdeniz, Daniel and I not that nervous, but there were a few very pale looking people in the bus with us. After a while of waiting around waiting for our names to be called from the 10s of people still waiting, we’re finally transferred onto another bus and make the ascent up the mountain. Now, I’ve done both bungee jumping and sky-diving and can tell you that the paraglide off the mountain was nothing in comparison to the bus ride to the top. It was 25 minutes of sharp turns with no barriers, on a dusty road, with crumbling cliffs teasing and taunting you at every moment. Thankfully we made it to the top, where I was still not feeling that nervous… Until we jump out of the van and the instructors start yelling ‘We need to jump as soon as possible, the wind has changed!’ ‘Go, go go!’
While Daniel and most of the other five or so people on our bus were being frantically belted and zipped up, my guy, Erdogan, was more interested in asking me if I’d ever had a boob job and if my boyfriend would mind if he could play with my chest. Real classy guy. While he was still ‘joking with me’ as he called it (or even better, ‘complimenting’), he had his assistant run over and start belting me up, where they were getting more than close and more than enough touchy, all the while laughing and talking in Turkish. Great.
Before I could even process much of this, we were already running and leaping off the edge of the mountain, with the only instruction I was given being ‘I run, you run’.
The glide itself was amazing. Once your instructor and your stomach settle in after a few moments, there’s nothing left to do except well…glide. You float back down to the ground, while passing over the turquoise waters of the blue lagoon, the luxury hotels of Ölüdeniz, plus mountains and hills as far as your can see.
Of course my instructor seemed bent on making me feel as uncomfortable as possible, telling me to ditch my boyfriend so he could find me a Turkish husband, because they ‘like very much blonde hair and boobs’. As soon as there was a lull
in conversation him talking shit, he all of a sudden got his phone out and called his girlfriend. While we’re in the air. On top of the ocean.
Somehow, we made it back down to ground without him not accidentally releasing a rope while on the phone, or me not just unstrapping myself and jumping to the ground –more fun than talking to Erdogan.
Daniel had a great time too, although lucky for him didn’t feel as uncomfortable as I did most of the time. Even though it was expensive (especially with photos and videos thrown in), and I had a really ‘unique’ experience with my instructor, I’m so glad we spontaneously decided to book the paraglide. When I look at the photos I’m thankfully mainly just reminded how spectacular the landscape was, and that sudden rush of adrenalin as you’re running off the edge of a 6000ft mountain.
We arrived back at Fethiye Guesthouse just in time for the BBQ put on by the staff, $10AUD for all you can eat, yes please. It was already our last night here, and the low key BBQ was a nice way to end things, sitting outside overlooking the marina while getting to know other hostel guests –in particular a couple of New Zealand lads who’d apparently gotten into a fight in Istanbul the night before, when they’d refused to pay their bar bill after buying some drinks for some local ladies. This is a very common scam apparently, but they weren’t having a bar of it, and ended up trashing the place and leaving. Hell hath no fury like a couple of Kiwis ripped off in Turkey.
On now to Kabak Valley, a very small beach town only an hour away by Dolmus. Murat is following us again, our unofficial guide who’s been our saviour as we’ve tried to haggle at markets, interpret food menus and understand the public transport system.