I’ve got to say, straight-up, that I would never have thought to visit Turkey if Lorna hadn’t suggested it. Even then, I said I wasn’t all-that interested but would go if she did all the research and planning. She did just that and I will forever be thankful to her for it. You see, Turkey is a weird and wonderful place and as Lorna said to me during our first week in this amazing country, “Every day here is a surprise!”
From the moment we arrived in Kusadasi in Turkey from Greece, it was all-systems-go. I mentioned in an earlier Turkey post that I had instant culture-shock, but every single day over the first two weeks in Turkey was surprising, to say the least. As awesome as Ephesis, Pummakale, Dalyan and Fetiye were, excitement and adventure dramatically escalated even further once we caught the two-hour bus from Fethiye to Olympos.
Lorna had told me one main thing about Olympos, but I had no idea of the amazement we were about to experience. She told me we were going to stay in a bloody tree-house!
We arrived at Kadir’s Tree-Houses in Olympos and check-in was simple enough, even though we hadn’t actually booked the place. Lucky for us we were just out-of-season, so they had a few spare tree-houses available.
We chose one to our liking and then enjoyed the complimentary dinner they put on every night in the main hall. At this point I should tell you that the tucker we were served that night was extremely cheap. And I do mean cheap. Basically it was just a giant vat of rice, some old, over-cooked potatoes and literally fifty whole-small-battered-fish for everyone to share. Heads, eyes, bones, scales and all – battered and thrown in the deep-fryer. Luckily they also had ice-cold Efes beer to wash it down.
That night we were offered the chance to visit an amazing site I couldn’t believe existed. The Mount Chimaera fires. For $15 AU a mini-bus would drive us out there, give us an hour to explore, then drive us back. As you can imagine, in my mind, I was already there.
About ten kilometers away from Kadir’s Tree-Houses is a mountain where non-stop flammable-gas shoots out of natural vents five to six foot creating flames across a few-hundred-meter square area. This gas has been on fire for thousands of years and has never gone out and still burns today. How freaking awesome is that?!
Especially because I am a massive metal-head, I respected the eternal metal flames on Earth and couldn’t believe I was seeing them with my own eyes. One picture in particular I took, the Chimaera spirit was even giving me the horns \m/
Apparently, tens of thousands of years ago, a monster called Chimaera roamed the woods around the fires. The monster had the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a serpent and spouted fire from her mouth.
In the last ten years, various scientists from around the world have paid a visit to the site to try to figure out why the fires have been burning since at least the last few thousand years, where the gas is coming from and when they might possibly go out.
No one has come up with any answers. Which makes it all that more mysterious. And makes me love them even more.
Witnessing one of the only spots in the world where permanent fire seeps out of the ground in-between cracks and rocks and no-one in modern-day can explain the very existence of it all is something you have to see with your own eyes.
The next morning we awoke from an extremely deep sleep to confirm our guess on what breakfast would entail… Now. Let me tell you about every single complimentary breakfast you will be served if you visit Turkey, no matter where you stay in the entire country. It will consist of boiled-eggs with the shells left on. Olives, cheese, bread, tomatoes and… (drum roll)… cucumber. Yep, breakfast-cucumber. And. Hot chips, as in French fries. Now you know. All to be washed down with shitty-powdered-coffee with even-shittier-powdered-milk. And, believe me, when enough days have gone by where you have passed on these poor-excuses for coffees, you will eventually drink them.
After breakfast (if you can call it that, it’s more like lunch!) we decided to make our way from the tree-house to explore the Olympos Ruins and take a swim at Cirali Beach.
Olypmos was probably founded toward the middle of the year 300 B.C. and controlled by the early Greeks. Julius Caesar personally came and conquered the city around 80 B.C. and turned it into a Roman city. In the middle-ages the Venetians, Genoese and Rhodians built two fortresses that today are merely scattered ruins left for tourists to visit amongst the older Roman baths and churches.
Lorna and I walked amongst the Roman gate, Greek theatre and the Genoa fortresses.
We walked along Cirali Beach.
On Cirili Beach, there are two tombs located about fifty meters off-shore. Apparently they’re from the 2nd century A.D. The following inscriptions have been transcribed from the writings still visible on the sides of the tombs and you can read them on a nearby sign:
“Aurelius Zosimos, son of Euporistos, had this tomb built for himself, his mother, wife, children, grandchildren and uncle Eudemos.”
“I, Marcus Aurelius Zosimos of Olympos, son of Euporistos, had this tomb built for myself, my wife Aurelius Arete, our daughter Aurelia Olympias and sons Aurelius Euporistos and my future grandchildren. No other burial is authorized here, under pain of a sacred payment of 1000 dinars to the god Hephaestus, one third of which to be awarded to whomsoever should inform of it.”
“I Eudemos, know from my captainship, the way between the ways. From one Pontos to the other, the discovery of Pallas (Athena). All the people of Chalcedon Town of Bithynia decreed my right to citizenship. My fortunate homeland seeing me fit gave me the duty of office. The people of Lycia were of the same mind; and I was a member of the council of Elder. If any person should bury here without authorisation (undistinguishable) amount should be paid as a fine to Fiskus in the form of gold dinar you will pay.”
“The ship is anchored at its last harour, never to depart, for no aid is now forthcoming from either wind or sunlight; Captain Eudemos, taking leave of the light-bearing dawn, was buried there and his ship with its lifespan short as a day, like a broken wave.”
Just for the record, Marcus Aurelius Zosimos is not the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Captain Eudemos apparently sailed to the sea of Marmara and the Black Sea from Olympos.
The next day I worked-out in a separate bar area/gym section of Kadir’s and decided to make a spectacle of myself by filming the proceedings. I’ll get around to editing it one day and I’ll post it right here for you to laugh at.
On day-three we packed-up and prepared for what we knew would be a brutal overnight bus to Goreme, where I was promised I would see fairy-chimneys, whatever the hell they are?
I had no idea what I was in for.
Rob Kaay is an Australian author and musician.
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