Around the World Europe & The Middle East Turkey

Rental Cars, Pirates and Calcium

When we last left you, we were in Kas enjoying the warm Turkish sun with Carmen and Geoff (two of Allison’s friends). As a group of four we decided to rent a car to visit the near-by, and very highly recommended, Patara beach and Saklikent gorge. After running through the rental formalities, I was selected to drive for insurance purposes. After stalling the car three times, I decided to roll dangerously close to two other rental vehicles to demonstrate my superior ability to drive standard. After shifting the car from 3rd to 1st, and one more stall for good measure, we were on our way and waved good-bye to curiously concerned-looking rental guy. Shortly after departing, we realized we should have asked him how to say “I’m sorry for having run into you” and “please don’t call the police” in Turkish.

After renting the car, we learned a few fascinating facts. First, the petrol in Turkey is the most expensive in the world, about 3.50 Turkish Lira per litre ($2.84 CAD). Second, Carmen and Geoff brought to my attention that there is a town in Turkey named “Batman”, a fact sadly learned too late for us to change our itinerary. Third, the Renault Clio we rented required a running start at hills; failure to do so would require a downshift to first gear where small children and old men could safely beat the car in a foot race.

Overall, we had a brilliant day at the beach and in the gorge, swimming in the sea and climbing rocks against a stream of water. At the end of the day, the rental guy was thrilled, if not surprised to see us again. To remind him of the good times we once shared, I stalled the car while turning into the parking lot. He kindly offered to take the car from there.

After Kas, we made our way to Olimpos, a backpackers mecca where travellers are afforded the opportunity to stay in treehouses. I was less than thrilled when I learned in-person that a Turkish treehouse is only a house made out of trees, not one in the trees; at the morning breakfast, I took an extra helping of delicious Turkish white cheese as revenge. We enjoyed the nearby beach, ruins from the future (from about 180200 AD), and the Chimera flames – combustible gas that has seeped from a nearby mountain for the last 2000 or so years. From Olimpos we departed on our 4-day Mediterranean Blue Cruise.

Ruins from the future

The four day cruise held promise. How could 8 Canadian / Australian students finishing an exchange semester in France not get along with Allison, me, and an elderly couple expecting a relaxing time on the Mediterranean? Well, it turns out the elderly couple were not interested in Kings Cup or swimming at 3am. To be fair, neither were Al nor I. Wait, what? Are we really that much older now? While drinking a vodka-beer-orange juice-wine concoction would have been a lot of fun, we preferred to relax and read. And while the group of 8 held the edge when it came to drinking, their detective skills left something to be desired. After one of the 8 disappeared at 2am during a lively round of Kings Cup, the group began a frantic search for his body. As a mob, they combed the stern, retreated below deck, entered every single room in a panic, assured the elderly couple that they needn’t wake up as they searched their cabin, went through the storage and kitchen, and found him taking a nap in clear view at the bow of the ship. Had you shared a home with them and asked them to locate a toothbrush, they would have begun with the basement and tool shed. Perhaps I have grown wiser with age.

For the remainder of the voyage, the sun co-operated while the sea did not. As we sailed motored through the rough seas, I stood on the bow; wind and sea-spray in my hair, I felt like a real pirate. Not the kind of pirate that plunders and steals, but reads and relaxes on the deck; nor the kind of pirate that is free and in control of the seas, we had a pre-planned destination and captain who mostly answered no to my requests; nor the kind of pirate with a beard, we’ve already covered that base. But otherwise, I was a pirate.

With a yarrr! I bid our captain farewell and we doubled-back to Oluendiz to enjoy the Blue Lagoon we had missed due to the strong winds. From there, a bus took us to Pamukkale. There, time and calcium-rich waters have created a spectacular sight: baby blue water pools enclosed by white mud. At the top of Pamukkale, the Turkish government runs an “Antique Pool”. For an extra 20 TRY ($16 CAD), you can swim with ruins in the mineral-rich water. I was shocked at the number of tourists who paid the rather exorbitant additional fee (as swimming in the white mud pools and the ruins of Hierapolis are both included in the initial 10 TRY entry fee), however I suppose the closest you could come to this experience would be to fill your bathtub with milk and souvenirs.

Our last destination in Turkey were the ruins of Ephesus. While the ruins were in great shape, thanks to archeologist interpretations and restorations, we were disappointed to find that the terraced homes were off-limit to those who didn’t pay, once again, an extra fee. Al and I agreed it wasn’t worth 20 TRY to sit in a reconstructed home and contemplate ancient Roman things such as toga parties. Tired of the second entry fee approach the Turks took to the most prized parts of their attractions, Allison and I took the Kusadasi Express to Samos, Greece, closing our 3 fabulous and enjoyable weeks in Turkey.

In the end, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised with Turkey – a rather diverse offering that I’m happy to have included on this trip. I don’t think Greece is as big a fan of Turkey as I; only 15km away, the Bank of Greece offered to take our remaining Turkish Lira at a staggering 24% mark-up over the market rate. I should have made it clear that I was a pirate and I did not like to have my treasury plundered.


  1. You may have to consider a career in writing when you’re done. You write with style and panache, and the pictures aren’t bad either! Sounds like you’re having a ball (he writes wistfully on his laptop, working late into the night lying in Kate’s too-short bed). OK, maybe NOT only working, but also finding time to travel vicariously thru the Aegean and Mediterranean. Keep safe you two!

    Big bro’

  2. Haha – we could have told you not to exchange YTLs in Greece! When we were in Kos, I accidentally whipped some liras out of my purse and we basically got laughed out of the cafe!

    I’m glad you guys got to go to Pamukkale (Turkish for cotton castle!) and Ephesus! We thought the swimming pool full of ruins was a bit of a scam too. Looking was more interesting than swimming anyways, and that part was free.

    I loved the story about the Clio, well-told. I hope you guys have a blast in Greece and that Allison finally gets to use that damn tent!

  3. Rock on Jonathan – humor in your story telling tells me how humor is both important and fun(!) as a coping strategy while traveling. Remind me I said this while we are traveling in Australia!! MOM

  4. Wow, your cruise sounds exactly like how my Whitsundays ended up…but hey, you make the best of it. Yaaaaaargh!

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