We took another Spring break, this time in 2018 to charge our batteries before another punishing UAE Summer. On the itinerary was the Mediterranean coast around Antalya and an Istanbul Layover.
To get to Olympus we flew to Antalya then got a transfer, this should have been easy, but the customer service disaster that is Pegasus Airlines made it into the stress journey from hell. After a rocky start we got to Kadir’s Treehouse after a 90 minute van drive (with Lorena and the kids asleep most of the way). This trip was 100% mine and the boys choice, Lorena was not convinced, not so much by Olympus, but more by the choice of accommodation, the aforementioned Kadir’s but her fears for a drafty treehouse proved to be more or less wide of the mark. In fact Kadir’s didn’t completely win me over either, but fell somewhere in the middle between a hippie haven, Turkish and Iranian Club 18-30 (remember those?) and get away from it all hideaway.
Our first impression verged on the surreal as we pulled up in the van in the middle of movie shoot. It turns out that Mr Unibrow is a Turkish You Tube sensation and funny man (although he looked pretty bloody miserable to me). Now this sounds all well and good a and it was cool(ish) to see who the crew worked (or mostly sat around), but it also meant our kids HAD TO BE QUIET!
That was never going to happen (and frankly why should it when they’re on holiday?) so we beat a hasty retreat and had a walk up the road and found a little roadside restaurant, which turned out to make the meanest home made burgers this side of the Bosphorous. This turned out to be just as well as half the ‘amenities’ at Kadir’s (especially the pizza place) was shut because the high season hadn’t yet got underway. The main blow for this was that half the activities I had planned in weren’t even on, so be warned if you are planning in an adventure holiday to Olympus out of season (who knew April was still out of season), then it will be a mini adventure. Still the upside was that the place was quiet and it became apparent that in low season Olympus is family friendly, but in high season it becomes a Turkish hippie Benidorm.
Still on with the show, we did manage to go rock climbing which was a definite highlight of the trip, the instructors were lovely blokes, you took as much time as you wanted, the surroundings were lovely, what more can you ask? And in case you’re wondering Tommy and mom were great climbers and me and Danny did better than we expected.
The other trip we did through Kadir’s was a trip to see Chimera, which is basically some fires coming out of mountain. This was pretty high on the novelty charts but won’t be rivaling the Grand Canyon any time soon. Still we went with our guide and Tommy’s idol for the week a lovely young lad called Jumper (not his real name), who kept the kids enthralled with tales of Parkour and making drone videos. We shared the trip with a young couple from Iran (the first of many Iranians we met on the trip) and after a stiff walk up the mountain to the fires a photo op and some marshmallow cooking (Danny’s favourite) it was time to come down. The steps and path were a bit slippy especially given it was pitch black by this stage and the young Iranian lady decided to give Lorena her arm all the way down, which was sweet and funny.
So what else did we get up to? Well, we had an explore along the river (threw stones, crossed and recrossed on stepping stones until Danny fell in (oh how we laughed) looked at tadpoles collected frogs (and probably killed them) threw a few more stones…
Then it was off to the beach which is also an ancient Greek town (pretty handy eh?) complete with a theatre, graves (or is it sarcophogi?), water course all along the side of a river mouth which led to the beach . So you get a tan and Kultcha. The ruins were great, the boys had a good explore, we found some wild tortoises and took moody pictures (or at least tried to).
The beach itself was pebbly and the Med cold at this time of year, so think Brighton Beach more than Copa Cabana, but that suited us fine. We made friends with a Turkish tourist who had the most pampered dog in the world, and went with him one day for an explore and another day we met up with Jumper and a French tourist and ended up hanging out, all very friendly and young person.
We also went for a couple of walks on the coastal paths along the cliffs at the back of the beach. This turns out to be part of Lycean Way and is all very picturesque. Predictably on our “long” walk, Lorena was the first to give up (as usual) and me and the boys were forced to forge a path at least another 500 meters along the way.
We also rented bikes (at least the boys did), but then just tooled up and down the road on them, which is always a bit heart in mouth given that Turks drive like Turks.
And what about Kadir’s that promised so much? Well the film crew hung around the place for a few days (we were there 5 all together I think), so it was all very bohemian and there were dreadlocked hippies playing Turkish folk around the fire, but to be honest Kadir’s was OK for a beer and game of backgammon in the evening but not much else. So it was an early to bed early to rise type deal, although it has to be said not everyone got the memo, especially the Club 18-30 Iranians who turned up for a ‘let’s lose the Ayatollah get-away piss up’ or indeed the film crew, a couple of who seemed to be confusing their low budget crappy comedy shoot for an Apocalypse Now style intensity affair (they got pissed and shouted late at night until one the female boss types shouted at them and they shut up). So again would I rush back to Kadir’s? Probably not if I wanted a good night’s sleep.
Still it was cheap as chips and warm enough in the chilly evenings. The veggie was good and wholesome (and included in the price) and they were kind enough to do the boys Raman noodles and processed sausages, because God forbid they should eat vegetables. It was also about a 20-minute walk to the beach which is the main attraction of the area and close to a load of other “treehouses” (which surprise surprise aren’t actually in trees).
We booked into a cheap hotel for the last couple of nights of the holiday, I thought it would give us a bit of a contrast and let us eat some good grub and stock up on souvenirs, and so it came to pass.
Antalya has a lovely old town which is pretty tourist busy, but not on the scale of an Italy or Spain. When we arrived it was a rainy cold afternoon which put the dampeners on things a bit, but we found a Latin/Spanish fusion restaurant which was empty and pricey but tasty. The empty may have had something to do with the pricey bit, but just as likely it was because a rainy mid-week afternoon. We spent the rest of our time in the Old Town with a quick wander into the new bit to buy some clean pants for the boys and some heavy metal patches (natch). Lorena got in some serious haggling over lamps while I sat and drank tea and smoked fags on the wall outside the emporium and had a chat with one of the locals.
I almost forgot, we also had a Turkish bath to warm up and it worked a treat. It was a bit pricey and wasn’t as atmospheric as baths I had visited in Damascus and Aleppo (I’ve always wanted to name drop those), in 2008. Anyway, I had a massage and Lorena and the boys had a soaping down (I think they called it a scrub or some such). I would have liked the full works but to be honest this would have been a bit over budget for all four of us.
The boys enjoyed an apparently excellent waffle and then it was back to the cheap and not particularly cheerful hotel (but it was really quite cheap at 50 Euros for two nights and did a perfectly nice Turkish breakfast and a nice old lady made us a cup of tea while we waited for the rooms to be prepared, which you don’t get in a Novotel), for a game of cards a flick through the literally 400 channels with nothing on TV.
Next day it was time for a ROAD TRIP!!! The hotel rented us a cheap old banger and we decided to go in search of KULTURE. We found it in the form of Aspendos a massive amphitheatre in the middle of pleasant countryside. Photos opportunities abounded the sun shone the Chinese tourists shouted (and indeed sang opera?) the boys got bored and I tried to evoke the majesty of Rome and took more photos. That’s what you call a proper Ampitheatre day out.
After the main event we went for a wander around the rest of the site, which was less impressive but also pretty deserted. Lorena found a nice lady selling knick knacks and I found a big lizard to photograph.
Then it was back in the car to do what we do best, get lost and hungry, hot and bothered and blame each other….
About 60K and and some backtracking and sidetracking looking for somewhere cool with food, we stumbled (and I use that word in a quite real sense) upon a Russian holiday village, which at the risk of sounded like a horrible racist, was mercifully free of Russians, but did have, wait for it… a Go Kart track and an overpriced but tasty restaurant.
So the boys did a few laps to work up an appetite and loved it so much we were almost redeemed for making them look at old rocks. The restaurant was on the beach and did lots of excellent fishy business and had a vicious Chewawa dog, which chased the boys about (cue general hilarity) and even tried to bite Lorena, but only got some trouser leg before she shook him off to more hooting laughter from the boys.
We had the place almost to ourselves apart from the older guy younger woman combo who looked like they weren’t exactly husband and wife, but maybe I’m projecting again. The boys ate and then it was off to the sea for a dip in their pants (which were now clean if you remember). It was a great afternoon, I drank some beer and coffee, Lorena had her fresh fish and the boys got comedy dogs, swimming a big pudding. In fact it was so good we forgot to take any photos.
Is massive. I already knew this but had sort of forgotten. Still on the upside we eventually found the record shops I had visited before in Kadikoy which is a pretty cool part of town and I picked some molten metal classics and a bargain basement John Mayall and Led Zeppelin classics.
Kadikoy also has loads of places to eat and this should have been a highlight of the day and even trip. But after our morning flight from Antalya, followed by actually making it to the right part of town after a long bus journey then coping with the the Saturday morning crowds and menus we didn’t understand kids started to fray and so did parents. Still we made it through and ate some lamb chops after a ridiculously long wait and it was onward and well onward.
I had remembered that last time I was in Istanbul and buying records I had got a ferry back across to the European side and even seen dolphins on the 30 minute trip. This time it was more about getting on the wrong ferry and the kids being annoying. Still the view was majestical as we like to say and it costs next to nothing.
we spent the rest of the day getting lost, because we’d got the wrong ferry and all we managed was some half-hearted mosque viewing followed by getting even more lost of the metro system before finally giving up and heading back to the airport for our onward flight home to Abu Dhabi.
Istanbul will have to wait to be conquered another time, when we’ve got a bit longer than a 10-hour layover.
The flight was 5 hours and when we got there me and Tommy found a river and we found about one million tadpoles. After that we had a walk and we found a burger place and the burgers there were so good so the next day we went again. We followed the river because it took me, Tommy and Dad to the burger place and half way through I um…fell into the river 😦 and then finally we got there and ate the delicious burgers and that was my highlight of Turkey!!!!!!