Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Olympos and the Art of Relaxation

Dan and I reached Olympos Friday morning after taking an overnight bus to Antalya, a minibus to the Olympos "bus station" (a restaurant at the side of the road) and a dolmus (shared taxi) down the mountain to our hostel. We hadn't originally planned to come here but changed our minds on the advice of other backpackers. Olympos is definitely my favourite place so far.

We picked Saban Pansion after quickly glancing through the guidebook and agreed that it was the clear favourite. Not only is it inexpensive (and a popular stop for backpackers), it is absolutely gorgeous. Our treehouse sat in an orange orchard, surrounded by mountains, and just a short walk away from the Lycian ruins of Olympos and a pebble beach on the Med.

Olympos is the perfect place to relax and recharge and this is precisely what we did for the next three days. The mornings were bright and sunny, the afternoons sometimes rainy, and the evenings brisk (we spent them around the campfire or the wood stove). We spent a lot of time getting to know our fellow guests, the pansion owners (we concur with the Lonely Planet - Meral is the ultimate hostess), learning new card games, picking oranges and pomegranates from the orchards and eating.

One evening we set out in a minibus to view the Chimera flames - the eternal flames that have been burning for centuries on the slopes of Mount Olympos. The flames are the result of gas seeping from the earth and combusting once it reaches the surface. The legend states that Bellorophon was tasked with killing the Chimera (a fire-breathing beast with a lion's head, goat's torso and serpent's tail), which he did by flying Pegasus and lancing the monster with a spear. The spear turned to molten lead and suffocated the Chimera to death. The flames continue to burn today and are best viewed at night.

The rest of time we relaxed on the beach with Lotus (Australia), Pascal (Switzerland) and Gotz (Germany) playing cards (they taught us "the Zagreb Train Game" and Dan taught them Euchre) and building tiny Inukshuks with pebbles during the day and at night we all gorged on Meral's delicious home cooking together. Her food is so amazing that we wasted no time packing on the extra pounds.

By the end of our stay we were sad to leave but excited to explore some of the other noteworthy coastal towns on the Mediterranean. We promised Meral that we would return and, on Monday morning, we boarded a bus with Lotus and Pascal bound for Fethiye.

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