I’m here in Olympos, on the Lycian Coast, and I’ve decided that it’s the perfect place to wind down my last few days in Turkey. This is definitely a backpacker town, and I’ve been doing little else but lounging around the guesthouse garden in a hammock, going to the beach, and if we’re really feeling adventurous, walking twenty minutes up the road for coffee and dessert. (And I have finally found a place in this country that serves real coffee! Actual, sippable drip coffee, in a decent sized mug with real milk! It has been ages since I’ve had anything but Nescafe or small but potent shots of Turkish coffee.)
I’m staying at Bayram’s Treehouses, which seems to be one of the more popular options, and it’s easy to see why. The crowd is more laid-back, so it’s not the biggest party place (I think that would be Kadir’s up the road, where a bunch of us went out drinking one night), but it’s very social and I’ve already run into a number of other travelers from previous hostels I’ve stayed in. There is a huge, shady garden area up front, with plenty of assorted seating, including a number of roofed wooden structures up on platforms that are lined with cushions and extremely comfortable to lay around all day in. The bungalows are adorably rustic yet air-conditioned (though ours seems to have a bit of a leaking problem and soaked half my backpack) and the food is fantastic — not only is the usual breakfast included, but dinner is too. I expected “free dinner” to be minimal — meat, veg, and rice — but that’s far from the case. It’s been different each night I’ve been here, and there’s been lots of variety: one or two meat options, salad, several veggie dishes, rice, soup, and bread… and they load your plate up to the point that you’re completely stuffed and can’t move for an hour afterwards. All this for 40 lira per night?
I think most of the other places along the road (and yes, there is only one road) are probably exactly the same, but we all know it’s the staff and other travelers who make a hostel special. It’s definitely a top-notch crew here.
The beach and Ancient Lycian ruins aren’t super special, but still worth seeing. The gate to enter is just at the end of the main road, and as Bayram’s is one of the last places along the stretch, it’s only a couple minutes walk for us. The ruins are scattered around the path down to the water, so it’s the same ticket to enter both: 5 TL for one visit, or 7.50 for a 10-visit pass — and they don’t care if you share the pass with a friend and just swipe it twice. Unfortunately it’s a pebble beach, which is not my favorite, and there’s very little shade so the rocks get blistering hot. They’re also pretty uncomfortable to lay on — you get up and have bumpy impressions all over your body that look like some horrifying skin condition. But the sea is cool and refreshing. It’s quite salty, calm water so swimming and floating is effortless. There’s a line of small buoys that divides off the bay, and it’s fun to swim out to them and sit on top of them, since if you balance yourself right the buoyancy of the water means you can float upright almost endlessly. When we get tired, we just lay back and float, letting the slight current carry us back to shore.
I have a week left of my trip, only half that time in Turkey. I fly back to Tel Aviv on Wednesday night to spend a couple more days there before my flight home. Part of me feels like I should be packing in the activities, taking full advantage of the days I have left, but I realized I don’t want to. Two months of travel and I’m tired. Just being here, with good food and good company, swapping stories with other travelers and finally learning how to play Backgammon (took me long enough!), is exactly where I want to be and what I want to be doing right now. I’ll have to go back to New York and start working on a new project very soon. Until then, I’m just living in the moment.