It was the 9 hour overnight bus for us from Cappadoccia to Antalya since the flights took more than 4 hours having to make a stop in Istanbul. Simon was told by Amid that the busses in Turkey were super decked out. Scattered seats, meals, movies, AC and though it seemed quite out of the ordinary, I hoped for Simon it was the case. Unfortunately it wasn’t, not even a bathroom and the air kept falling out every hour or so leaving us sweating profusely dying to open a window of sorts. Just as you felt yourself slowly falling asleep, the lights burst on and it was time for another half hour break. Ugh. It was a long ride and Simon showed up with 2 wonderful chocolate bars at about 4am to make the ride less miserable. At the bus station, Murat from the Climber’s Garden, picked us up in a little yellow BMW station wagon, and he moved extremely fast for a Turkish guy. Since it was off-season, which we didn’t know, he told us that all the restaurants would be closed up there. Simon turned to me and I looked back with a shrugging, baffled look because I used their website to entice Simon into going, showing him all the incredible food pictures! Breakfast is by far his favorite meal of the day, and the fact they had pictures of muesli and crepes was all the assistance I needed. We stopped 3 times for food, beer and bread and Murat was literally in and out in 5 seconds flat. It was like a treasure hunt for us at the grocery store that when we finally figured out what we wanted to get and where it was and what it looked like without being able to read the labels, he was already waiting for us back in the car. He didn’t say much in the car ride there, gave us the key to our adorable little cabin, a tour of the kitchen and handed us some draws, a rope and a guide book. A quick summary of the entire climbing area and he was off. There we were, staring at the Climber’s Garden that I’d heard so much about from my friend Sebastion and we had it all to ourselves! Little cabins in the middle of pomegranate trees towered above by limestone cliffs and intimidating caves. No one was around to ask anything. We were in the middle of Geyikbayiri in the dead of summer, not exactly the smartest move since the heat was turning us into sluggish thugs. We threw ourselves down on the bed that nearly took up the entire room, door and windows wide open, and fell fast asleep. Two hours later we woke up to an Australian girl named Lucy on her own for a few days from Olympus looking for a climbing partner. We had ourselves a trio and it was the 3 of us who found our way through the Climber’s Garden for the next 3 days. 3 days of climbing, cooking our own meals, hitchhiking our way to the nearest town sandwiched in between tomato crates to get more food and cold beers, hiking to the river to cool off and having the cutest dogs ever follow us around everywhere. If I could, I would have taken them all home with me. They slept on our doorstep and I of course fell in love with all! The heat definitely took its toll on us, but the climbing was fantastic and we could see the main crag from our cabin window! Lucy and I struggled our way through a 7a, sweating our asses off and Simon sent some easy 5’s and 6’s climbing extremely well for only having climbed outdoors less than a handful of times. We had fun and though we would have loved to stay longer, the heat had us dreaming about the ocean. Simon and I were in fact drooling over the thought of swimming in luscious Mediterranean waters! Lucy convinced us to make our way to Olympus, as we were contemplating flying to Bodrum. She had some party plans for us and we were loving the idea of some dancing, but 3 busses later and a town jam packed with restaurants, bars and teenagers screaming “omg” and “like I totally want to do that” we decided to make a move for Cirali- the ‘older’ person town much more quiet just down the street from it. Ha! It was perfect. Lucy helped us find it since it was either getting 2 busses back the way we came or our hike through a riverbed, some ruins and the beach to get to it. After a bit of searching with our packs on, dying to go for a swim, we finally found a great pension with a brand new cabin in the middle of an orange grove with a 2 min. walk to the beach. The owner was an extremely proud Turkish man as he introduced himself while pounding his chest saying, “Me, Turkish!!” We changed clothes immediately and sprinted for the water. It was about 8PM and the sun was just about to set. Brilliant! Water made for a very happy us! We spent 2 nights here chilling in the water, drinking mojitos, celebrating 4th of July, exploring on a scooter, and eating ourselves silly. This is where it all started – the olive oil, bread and salads! Loaves of it we ate, and bottles of oil we drank. We couldn’t seem to get enough of it. We met some interesting people here, one woman from Croatia who was so passionate about yoga that she couldn’t stop showing us moves on the beach in her bikini! I had to keep myself from laughing. Splits, legs pulled up to her head, feet coming up from behind her head and sometimes her husband would even chime in. But the best part of all was that everyone we met told us that Kekova was the pearl of Turkey. They all said, “We must go, we must!” We couldn’t possibly leave Turkey without seeing it. So after enjoying a few more Mojitos we decided on a change of plans. Kekova it would be!
Picture credits: Simon and Alice