Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Turkey, Day 1: Pedesa and Bodrum

Inside Pedesa

My Father is standing amongst the ruins of the ancient town of Pedesa. The outer walls were well over a meter thick and judging by the remains of one watch tower they cared about their defenses. We strolled through many rooms and even saw what could have been a cold storage area (or a badly placed latrine as it was within one of the rooms).

We spent the day before flying from Boston to Bodrum. The flights went smoothly and this time despite some lengthy lines at various passport control points and security check points things went pretty smoothly. Of course, just because things went smoothly doesn't mean it was the most pleasant of trips. Their is something particularly wearing about hours-long flights squeezed into small seats with little leg room and no way to get out of your seat without disturbing your seat row mates.   However, we survived the trials and tribulations of modern air travel and maybe even dozed a bit on a couple of the flights. The food was lousy (worse than usual) but we arrived in Bodrum in good order and this time all our luggage came with us. After getting ourselves slowly sorted out into our respective rooms at the Zeytinada resort, which is located by the village of Torba, we had a bit of a chance to see that the physical layout of this resort which is not quite on the coastline but not that far away from the Aegean either is really quite something. It may well be the nicest place we have stayed at though it isn't perfect (I think the towels are a bit rough and I expect my parents aren't thrilled by the two single beds in their room). We dragged our tired bodies to dinner and that is where we learned that we were not the only people from North America. Eight fellow travelers came from Victoria, BC. They're part of a walking group and every now and then they go on a big trip such as this. This means that nearly half the people here are either from the States or Canada: definitely a first for us. We also met the two HF leaders Lonica and Ian. The buffet dinner itself, eaten at the very dark poolside, was nothing to really remark upon - the food definitely was not up to the same standards as the jasmine-scented physical landscaping of the hotel complex. Maybe breakfast and subsequent meals will be better.

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Rising before sunrise feeling much better rested though not completely back to snuff we wandered over to breakfast, greeting a couple of the resident cats along the way, arriving promptly at 07:30. Breakfast is also served buffet-style and I have to report that it was mediocre. We have certainly had far better. Tenerife, which you if you read these posts carefully may recall left us a bit cold as far as dinners went, definitely did a better job with breakfasts than they have done here.  But we found things to eat and I am sure we will get by even though we might not love the meal. The grocery store across the street will certainly serve our lunch needs adequately (figuring out what is what can be tricky and we are staying clear of the hard to identify meats in the deli case) though the bread is rather drier (as we learned at lunch) than I think any of of would prefer. Another small complaint is that the tables we have to sit around only seat 4 people so if we eat together we rather preclude any chance to talk with others. Perhaps that is the point, to force people to split up, but I rather doubt it. I think it is just the way things are here. The morning dawned clear and even a tad cool but we knew that would not last. Even as we waited for the grocery to open at 08:30 we could start to feel the inevitable heat coming. By midday it was easily 80 degrees in the shade at Pedesa. Zeytinada HotelZeytinada Hotel

A glimpse of the facilites of the Zeytinada Hotel located in the village of Torba. —Photos by Jonathan Knight

The walk we were going to do would be about 7.7 miles long and have an ascent and descent of about 1,000 feet (12.3km, 300 meters). We would take a bus a short ways, less than 5 minutes it would turn out, to the start of the walk probably  not much more than a couple klicks north-north-west of the hotel. The walking today would turn out to be entirely upon mountain roads. Dirt roads somewhat bigger than a basic two-track but not much and certainly not something you would drive quickly upon though any car could drive them.  We began a slow steady ascent  into the scrub covered hills (I suppose maybe at the peaks of the highest they might be mountains but that is being generous). There really was not that much to see at this point. In some ways the scenery reminds me a bit of high desert in Arizona except that here at the lower elevations you do not find cacti and other desert plants blooming. A few pauses for short breaks and once when Mom and I heard the bleat of sheep and the ringing a cow bell (turned out to be on a sheep or goat so I guess that isn't quite the right term) move across our field of views descending a hill to our left (west I guess). We missed the official turning point of our route and ended up taking a path that probably lopped off close to a kilometer but took us through a nice stand of pine trees as we neared the top of the hill we had been climbing and the location of Pedesa.

Hills Around Pedesa

The first half of the walk was along mountain roads much like this one. Except for the bit of pine forest we went through, and that was an error though I think a good one, scenery was much like this.

Pedesa was an ancient city of perhaps a few hundred thriving for a few hundred years some 2,500-3,000 years ago. It sits on top of a hill that is perhaps a couple miles away from Bodrum and the sea which seems a bit peculiar from a trading point of view and you would have to schlep material up donkey paths to the village but it definitely would be easier to defend against attacks. What remains today, including a meters thick outer wall (with one tower - well the remains of a low watch tower), are in some ways meager but it is impressive in its way. I suppose if I were properly trained I could imagine people living in the small stone walled rooms. We pondered places where pillars may have been: round foundation stones with holes in them. I wondered where farmlands must have been as we strolled through the maze of loose rocks and stone walls that remains.

Pedesa RemainsThe Aegean From Pedesa

Take a look at some of the foundations of Pedesa and the view of the Aegean Sea as seen from just beyond the remains of a lone watch tower.

Pedesa is pretty much at the top of a hill with distant views of the Aegean sea. The sea looked quite blue fading into the equally blue and still completely clear sky. We could see the junction where we were supposed to have turned earlier but did not. We had a brief climb before beginning a somewhat steeper descent than the ascent had been. The mountain road here was also a bit softer and a little more rutted than the rather hard packed dirt road of the first half of the walk had been. Perhaps the highlight of the descent was found at a couple of water troughs. As we waited for the rest of the group, all of the people in both easier and harder hikes since we had merged at Pedesa,  a herd of sheep with a few goats came tromping on through. They made a beeline for the water. Sadly, though we were not surprised as Lonica had told us it was coming, the end of the descent also took us through a bunch of garbage spots. People just tossed dry garbage out on the side of the road. Pretty gross though at least it did not stink. We were checked out by a couple local friendly dogs as we passed a few houses. We were at a main road which would take us into Bodrum proper within 20 or so minutes of steady walking. Pretty much everyone decided to head into town though a couple caught a local bus back to the hotel.

Sheep of Pedesa Bodrum Fruit MarketBodrum proved to be a bustling town. I am not sure what the permanent population is but I am sure it is vastly less than the population during the peak tourist season (this is now the tail end of the tourist season). We wandered through a pedestrian mall that had a wide assortment of shops and places to eat. The marina was full of all manner of boats for rent along with tour boats and other small craft. We wandered into a local neighborhood of small streets with buildings closing in on either side. They reminded me of some of the areas we climbed around in Seville.   All in all Bodrum seems like a cosmopolitan tourist town and I can see why people use it as a base.

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