From sandy beaches to snowy mountains in a day

We have just finished a three week stay at the bottom of Turkey.  Why were we here? Because we house-sat over 20 animals!  You can read about that adventure here.

This morning is a bit of a late start.  The car was mainly packed yesterday, but as we couldn’t leave it parked on the property overnight due to the bad road that led there, I didn’t want to leave all the important and valuable items in there, so we decided to use the wheel barrow to make trips to and from the car to load it.

Then there was a farewell to the lovely four dogs. Since last night, the dogs seemed to know we were going. The black dog seemed to actually whimper as he and Explorason sat together having a bit of a cry. They really got along so well, and he would miss them.  We enjoyed taking them for walks, and their company. Then there was this furry one. He looked so sad, and Explorason was very brave, but as the dogs all waited at the gate to farewell us, we felt very sad and swing good-bye to animals is a hard part of house-sitting, even this house-sit where we faced more challenges than ever before.

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Exploramum and Explorason – doggie goodbyes for Explorason

We head down the hill, and as we pass the beach we see a man swimming. It is a perfect blue sky.

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Exploramum and Explorason – warm sun and beautiful sandy beaches

As we drive past Kas, I want to head in. There is so much yet to explore in this area – maybe we will return one day in summer?

The marina looks inviting, and the hidden under sea ancient city awaits us, but we need to head on.

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Exploramum and Explorason – the town of Kas with its picturesque landscape

We drive for about 2 hours.  The sun is really warm, and Explorason strips off to cool down.

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Exploramum and Explorason – a hot Explorason strips off n the car

We had already decided we wanted to go en-route, and it is to Demre. This is the town where the original Santa lived. You can read all about it here.

We finish our time there, and are due for lunch, but we decide we don’t want to pay the tourist prices. So we drive on. In fact we drive for a good couple of hours digging into the fruit bag for bananas and mandarins (purchased prom the local fruit vendor this a.m.).

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Exploramum and Explorason – visiting Demre where Saint Nicholas lived

We finally choose a small restaurant on the side of the road to eat. It is bustling with locals, so we figure it must be reasonably priced, and that the food is good.

There is snow capped mountains in the distance on the left, and the ocean in the distance on the right.  As we don’t speak Turkish I am led into the kitchen. Here the Mama and Papa extract trays from the refrigerator of skewered meats, and dishes of salads and vegetables for us to make our selection.

The food was great.  But I make a big mistake. I don’t ask the price.  Explorason goes to order a second plate of lunch – he is having a growth spurt.  When I ask the price I realise we are getting ‘tourist prices’, so we decide not to get the second plate for him. I must have looked a bit aghast, as he lowered the price, but it still was pretty ‘top end’ in my opinion for where we were.

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Exploramum and Explorason – hillside lunch – delicious

It is getting close to 3:00 pm by the time we reach Antalya – and I get caught in a huge traffic jam as there is major contraction work on the road.   We should have been here at lunch time. Now we finally depart around 4:00 pm.  Travel in these parts is so different from Australia – or indeed Europe in summer.  It is just starting to dim. I decide to get petrol and drive on as I know I want to reach Konya tonight.

Oh and an interesting story – we get pulled over by the police.  As there are few speed indicator signs, I thought I must have been speeding. But no, he sees Explorason on the left with iPad in hand in the distance, and thought a minor was driving the car!  This is because we have an English car. He makes a joke in Turkish as he speaks little English, and we drive off laughing.

We then do a turn to the left to head toward the centre of Turkey.  It isn’t long into the trip inland, and it is dark – very dark.

Then before my eyes there are clumps of snow on the road.  Explorason was getting sleepy, but this wakes him up.  He starts to get excited.  He talks about how it has been nearly two years since he has been in snow.  We reach some restaurants and stop the car.

He can’t contain his excitement. It is dark and we have only lightweight clothing, but he has got to get out and feel it and play.  When I do stop, Explorason is out in a flash. No warm clothes, and only Crocs with no socks on his feet.

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Exploramum and Explorason – night falls, and so does the snow

We see some fairy coloured lights, and he is back out of the car again and standing by a small pine tree. He decides it is beginning to feel like Christmas. It is also beginning to make his feet hurt, and the pain is showing on his face.  Fortunately I have a big ‘give-away’ bag of clothes in the back to hand out to the poor, and it has spare socks and a warm jacket, so he pops them on.

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Exploramum and Explorason – a cold Explorason stands in the snow

We drive on up the hill, and in some parts I feel quite nervous.  I decide we won’t drive as far as Konya, but we will stop at the next main town on the map.  But at the top of the mountain the snow is thick, and the road is slushy.  As we pass a turn off to a small town, I notice the next town is Seydisehir, but when we start to drive, I see a sign that indicates 60 km, and I know we have along way up to the peak yet, so the snow will get worse.  I have no snow chains, and it is dark.  This is near the highest point, Irmasan Geçidi at 1525 metres.

I decide to head back, and do a search on the GPS for the closest hotel.  It leads me about 5 km down a road to a small town called Akseki.

But as we drive the streets we can’t see any hotels.  I ask locals and at first no-one understands me.  Finally a guy points me up a hill. As I try to drive up, the car slides down the hill – out of control.  It is this moment we pray, and we both pray out loud, and we don’t stop.  It is really scary to go backwards down a snowy hill when your brakes don’t hold and the tyres don’t grip.  I finally find a place where they do grip, and I slowly descend backwards.  I am a bit freaked out about now. I’m an Aussie, and my snow driving skills are limited.

Soon we meet a man who tells us we can drive up an angle side road and then another road to get up there.

We make it up, and we are at the mercy of the hotel owner as to what he charges.  We find a clean hotel with a small room, and we take it at Duruk Hotel (Duruk Otel) for 70TL or $35 with no breakfast.  The owner’s son speaks English, and he is really helpful, and I am so thankful.

The snow is so high where we park that we can’t unpack our luggage, and we head in with a few old clothes from the give-away bag which we were to give to the poor, our food cooler, lap-top computer, and toiletries bag.

Once inside we discover there is no water, and the pipes are frozen.  It is about now I am glad I have the cooler bag, and I have basic food to get us something to eat.

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Exploramum and Explorason – our toasty warm room at Duruk Otel

We are so glad we were able to spend the night here. We wake in the morning to see a valley of snow.

DAY 2

The owner’s son tells us it has snowed for a day and night, and we are fortunate that we didn’t drive on as the pass has been closed. He tells us there is a lot of ‘secret ice’, or black ice on the road, and we must be careful or wait.

It is only just past 8:00 a.m., but I decide to drive carefully, and see how I go.

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Exploramum and Explorason – morning view of Akseki

I follow an old van.  He is going slowly and that suits me fine.  I think he must have thought I was a stalker, as he wanted me to pass, but I stayed behind. I figured if there was secret / black ice, he would hit it first.

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Exploramum and Explorason – lovely thick snow on the side of the road

The sun is shining at the start and the snow is melting nicely, and looks like frosting.

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Exploramum and Explorason – this snow looks like frosting

We are aiming for Seydisehir, but it takes me about an hour and a half, as a snow storm comes in. In hindsight, I am glad we left early, as it looked to get worse.

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Exploramum and Explorason – just as a snow storm starts

In most places the snow ploughs have been through.

I learn a few things.  I need to buy snow chains ASAP. I need anti freeze in the wiper water, as it soon freezes and I can’t clean the window.  I need new wiper blades.  I need to drive slowly.

At the last service I asked the mechanic to put antifreeze in the coolant, and am glad he has (hopefully) done that.

After a while the snow falls again. These are snowy mountains !  The road narrows and it is only one lane that is cleared to drive on, and it is on the oncoming traffic side.  Finally we arrive at Seydisehir.

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Exploramum and Explorason – driving as it starts to snow

We then head through somewhat barren land to Konya.This is not a black and white photo below, but this is the grey that now hangs in the sky. The horses are small and we feel so sorry for them out in the field. How cold it must be.

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Exploramum and Explorason – a cold grey sky gives this a black and white look

Konya is the home of the Whirling Dervishes.  We don’t stop. Neither does this old guy riding his motorbike.  I love his attitude and his moustache – and his hat!

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Exploramum and Explorason – old Turkish biker

We seem to make good time and by 2:00 pm we make our way to a town called Selime, and we decide to stop for a late lunch.

It is cold, and the restaurant is very traditional with a wood oven and rugs to keep the cold out. It is perfect.

I love traditional places.

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Exploramum and Explorason – we enjoy a traditional Turkish lunch

And after we eat here and Explorason eats the entire plate of beef to himself, we are off to explore.

You’ll have to read our next blog to see what we discover.

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