Flashback Friday: European Sunsets

Flashback Friday is a picture series where we “flashback” to some of our memories – from either from our prior travel or from home. We hope you’ll enjoy some of our remembrances! 

We’ve been experiencing some nice sunsets here in Asia, so naturally, we remembered some of our other nice sunsets from the road. During our self-drive safari in Africa, we saw some amazing sunsets almost every night. We shared some of those in a flashback Friday post. We were in Africa for only 6 weeks and came up with 11 photos we just needed to share. We were in Europe for much longer and saw much fewer nice sunsets. However, there were 14 pictures we wanted to show you. Enjoy some awesome sunsets!

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“The greatest sunset in the world” in Zadar, Croatia

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A closer shot of the “greatest sunset in the world” in Zadar, Croatia

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Sunset over the Adriatic from the walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Sunset over a mosque in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina

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Berat, Albania

Pretty sunset

Tirana, Albania

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Delphi, Greece

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Nafplio, Greece

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Fethiye, Turkey

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This one was so good, we had to show you two! Fethiye, Turkey

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Selcuk, Turkey

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Kas, Turkey

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Pamukkale, Turkey

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Antalya, Turkey

Walking Dead Tourism

OK, so, despite the title, this post has nothing to do with the show or comic The Walking Dead… (We aren’t leaking any show secrets like we accidentally did in Dubrovnik, either!)

We mentioned in our previous posts about Fethiye and Patara that we could tell that it was definitely Turkey’s low season. We wandered around, often all alone. Sometimes it felt a bit… odd. Almost… apocalyptic.

As we wandered around places that would be bustling with activity during the summer, we started to feel like we were in our very own post-apocalyptic experience. We began to call it Walking Dead tourism.

Sound about right??

Fun with Family in Fethiye, Turkey

The last part of our Greece and Turkey trip with Della’s family was spent in the Turkish town of Fethiye, located on the beautiful “Turquoise Coast.” We gave ourselves multiple days in Fethiye to see the city and take some day trips to interesting nearby sites. The list of “Fethiye Must Sees & Dos” from Turkey’s for Life was instrumental in planning our time.

We had a little bit of an interesting time trying to find a place to stay. There were plenty of places listed on a certain apartment rental site, but none of them really stood out. We finally chose one place, but then were confused when we got a message from the host telling us he wasn’t going to accept our request… but instead he wanted to meet us in person to work things out. It seemed pretty shady, but we decided to give it a try. We arranged a rendezvous at a gas station by the bus station… only to discover that there were about five gas stations in the area. Somehow the host was able to find our car just based on a vague description. He took us to a rental apartment in the Çalış Beach area. The apartment itself was very spacious, and felt quite new, so we accepted. It being the offseason, the neighborhood felt pretty dead: empty streets, very few neighbors, closed restaurants, empty swimming pool, etc – but we think that it would have been a pretty prime location in the summer when the beach would be packed.

Our first evening in town, we headed up to check out the Lycian rock tombs just above the city. The Lycians (the same civilization we saw at Tlos) were a civilization that existed concurrently with the ancient Greeks and Romans, and were involved in their affairs occasionally as well. One of the things they are well known for is the practice of burying their important dead in tombs carved out of rock near their cities. They even took the time to carve the rock to make the temple look exactly like it would have if it was made of wood, with “nails” and so on. We were able to drive right up to the base of the tombs above Fethiye. You were supposed to have to pay a small entrance fee, but no one was manning the booth. We then walked up the stairs to the base of the most impressive tomb, the Tomb of King Amyntas. Time and vandals have not been kind to the tomb, but it still was nice to see up close and provided an excellent vantage point over the city.

We spent two more full days in Fethiye with the Della’s family, taking day trips to Kayaköy and Tlos/Saklikent Gorge.

Our location near the beach did allow us to take a walk out to the coast every day near sunset, which was quite glorious to view over the water. Wayne was even brave enough to swim one day! He reported that the water was warm, but the cold wind deterred the rest of us.

Our first night in Çalış Beach we decided to go out to eat for dinner. Since it was the low season, half of the options were closed. We chose an open small cafe that did have a couple of musicians performing. The food was only so-so; Dana was especially disappointed by the overabundance of parsley in many of the dishes (she has the genes that make parsley taste like soap).

Too much parsley

Too much parsley

Therefore, the other two nights we bought groceries and cooked back at the apartment. And by “we,” we mean that Dana and Peggy cooked. They made two very tasty meals! The second one was especially enlivened by the addition of local mushrooms that we bought from a vendor on the side of the road (we think they were saffron milk cap mushrooms). One night we also had the pleasure of celebrating Della’s birthday. With the help of our apartment broker, Wayne and Peggy were able to find a cake and birthday candles!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Della’s family had to leave us. They drove the rental car back to Izmir, and we decided to stay in Fethiye and explore the town and the Turquoise Coast for a few more days.

Our Çalış Beach rental apartment dealer offered to find us a nice place for a good rate, but we decided we wanted to stay in the city of Fethiye itself and booked a double room at Yildirim Guest House. The room was nice and we enjoyed the included Turkish breakfast, but were a little bummed to discover that we were the only guest, meaning that we just kept to ourselves the whole time.

Our companion at breakfast was this friendly cat

Our companion at breakfast was this friendly cat

Without the benefits of a rental car, we had to find things in town to do. Our first stop was a quick visit to the Fethiye Archaeological Museum. And by quick, we mean that it only took us 45 minutes to get through. Considering that we have been known to spend four hours at many museums, it shows that there just isn’t that much to see at this small museum. We did enjoy seeing some of the statues recovered from Tlos though.

We also decided to splurge a visit a hamam, a.k.a. a Turkish bath. It was quite the experience. The first step was for the sales manager to convince us to upgrade to all sorts of deluxe treatments (although even he didn’t recommend the diamond package which included having honey and chocolate drizzled on you). Della agreed to get an extra oil massage but Eric stuck with the basic bath. Then the bath process began. We first changed into our bath clothes. Traditionally, one would remain naked under the provided peştamal (bath towel), but we chose to keep our swimsuits on. We then went into the sauna for ten minutes and worked up a nice sweat, then into the very humid steam room for two minutes (Eric could only last one). Then the bath attendants took over. We each got our own personal attendant (since this was a co-ed bath, both attendants were male). They rinsed us off, then laid us down on a marble slab. They used a rough glove called a kese to scrape all of the dead skin off of us; it was amazing (and gross) to see what they pulled off! They then put a huge amount of suds on us and gave us a quick soap massage. The massage was pretty aggressive, and also involved some pretty serious twisting of limbs to get joints to pop. (Although it paled in comparison to what was being done to another customer nearby. He was being bent violently into all sorts of pretzel shapes and screaming in what sounded like agony. The attendants asked us if we would like that treatment and we declined). The attendant then took us back over to a bench and rinsed off the soap, then gave us a nice shampoo and a final cold rinse. We then were wrapped into towels and headed back to the common area to relax. Della then went off and got her full-body massage, which she very much enjoyed.

For our final evening in Fethiye, we decided to hike a small part of what the Turkey’s For Life blog calls the Fethiye Peninsula Trek. This took us by a shipyard where many boats were being worked on and then out onto a point which gave us excellent views over the harbor and water as the sun set. We wished we could have done more, but decided to head back before it got too dark.

This capped off a nice five days in Fethiye. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and sites, but found ourselves wishing that we had visited when there were a few more people around and more things were open. This would become a common theme as we continued to the east along the Turquoise Coast.

Great Views in Tlos and Silly Signs at Saklikent Gorge, Turkey

One of the days we were staying in Fethiye, Turkey, we took advantage of the fact that we had a rental car and drove to both of the nearby sites of Tlos and Saklikent Gorge.

Tlos

Tlos is slightly off the beaten path, but we had seen that it was an excellent site due to a great site called Turkey’s For Life.

We were lucky enough to still have the rental car, so Tlos was an easy drive from where we were staying in Fethiye.

We had seen several ruins in Greece and Turkey in the last couple of weeks, but Tlos still ranked as one of our top experiences of the month!

Tlos was one of the most important cities in ancient Lycia. It is a fascinating site because it has been pretty much continually occupied from the time of Lycia all the way up to the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century! It has the distinctive rock tombs of Lycia, as well as an a Roman-era acropolis, theater, stadium, and baths. In addition there are Byzantine church ruins and an Ottoman-era fortress atop the peak.

The other reason we chose to visit Tlos was that it is in an absolutely awesome setting, situated in the foothills of the Akdağlar mountain range. The views over the Xanthos valley below were breathtaking! And, to make it even more impressive, we were the only visitors at the site that day, so we were able to take it all in without any distractions.

We highly recommend a visit to Tlos!

Saklikent Gorge

Saklikent Gorge was just a bit farther down the road than Tlos, so when we were done exploring the ruins we hopped back in the car and headed there. This site is definitely on the beaten path, but because it was off season, we had it mostly to ourselves.

We were excited to visit because we had heard that it was a slot canyon, similar to one in Zion National Park in the USA. You are supposed to be able to explore up the canyon, even wading through the stream at times.

This is what you do in high season

This is what you do in high season

However, because it was winter, that part of the canyon was closed. We were able to walk a little of the way in and enjoy the rushing water and the scenery.

We also enjoyed some of the signs warning us of the danger in the canyon. We feel a little bad giggling at bad English translations, but it brings some funny pictures to the mind!

There was one other group exploring the canyon. We were only able to communicate at a bare minimum, but we gathered they were from another town along the Turquoise Coast. They were interested in taking some photos with us.

While Saklikent was definitely a pretty place, we wish we could have visited during high season when we could have hiked the canyon, despite knowing that we would have had to fight the crowds.

Crazy Rain in Kayaköy, Turkey

Eric and Della hadn’t known much about Kayaköy, but Wayne had found it on trip advisor. Those of you who know us well know that we have a special place in our hearts for ghost towns, so we knew we had to give it a try!

Kayaköy is an abandoned village near Fethiye, Turkey. The village is actually the remains of a town called Levissi, where a Greek population lived until Greece and Turkey exchanged populations after the Turkish War for Independence. Greek Christians living in Turkey were sent to Greece, and Turkish Muslims living in Greece were sent to Turkey. The village of Levissi was never re-populated and fell into ruins, becoming even more damaged after an earthquake in 1957. Today it is a protected site, and you can walk through the ruins of the town for a small fee.

We chose to head to the ruins even though we knew that there was a chance of rain. This was both awesome and horrible.

Awesome: The rain clouds added a whole new level of creepiness to the abandoned town. As we arrived and headed into town , the rain clouds got bigger and darker. Lightning began to strike in the distance and somehow there was literally continuous thunder. It was actually a truly unique experience!

 

Horrible: After the really cool threatening period, it actually did start to rain. And, when we say rain, we really mean pour. We tried to wait it out, hiding under remnants of walls, and in old doorways. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop and we managed to get ourselves absolutely and completely soaked. This was kinda fun for awhile, until we started to get cold and realized we had to walk all the way back to the car in the downpour, and then drive about 30 to 40 min back to our airbnb.


Overall, we’re sort of glad that we got to visit Kayaköy in this weather because it did make it truly memorable. However, we were bummed that we didn’t get to explore the full extent of the site.