Wild thyme, mint and bay fill the air beneath dazzling mountains as one approaches Olympos which is a rustic national park on a stunning beach that is popular with backpackers from around the world for the tree houses at bargain rates. When Mozart first heard about the tree houses in Turkey, it thrilled her and was high on her list of things to do and see.
Yet, as I discussed it with others who have been there, it seemed that Olympos was more a “party” place for the under thirty crowd and not a place for kids or families. Nearby Cirali was the one that they said was better for the over thirty crowd and families, so that was where we intended to go even though they did not have tree houses, but our dolmus (small bus) driver wanted to charge fifty Turkish Lira (about 25 euros) to take us there.
It was getting late, the price (especially in Turkey where things are so cheap) seemed exorbitant, so after talking some to several people at the various pensions there and weighing our options, we decided to take a chance as we were there just for a short stay before taking the over night bus to Cappadocia. Again, it was a blessing to us that it was a slow “high season” as the usual party scene was not in existence, so Mozart would get her Turkey tree house experience after all.
The tree houses are extremely cheap and with a certain dilapidated charm, but after looking at quite a few, we decided they were not for us in this heat as they are basically shacks on stilts. We opted for a much nicer wooden large suite with air conditioning for about twenty euros and allowed Mozart to get her tree house experience in the ones made for eating that are decorated in Ottoman style.
We had a yummy “pide” (Turkey pizza) with her favorite Turkish drink which was a delicious can of Cappy cherry juice. There are many women in traditional Turkish dress along the many pensioned-dotted walk to the beach, that make a fresh bread that they fill with fresh ingredients like salad toppings and meat to your liking for super cheap which are also very good. On one of our walks, Mozart rocked in a hammock under a grape vine covered trellis at a pretty spot, licking a juice popsicle while we gathered more information about how exactly to arrange the night bus from this remote spot.
We stayed at one of the well known large places called “Turkmen Tree Houses” (www.turkmentreehouses.com) and as usual the service and Turkish hospitality was outstanding. We were in a very quiet spot with a lovely terrace over looking tons of fruit trees and the majestic mountains with several chickens and their baby chicks adding to the bucolic charm. It was a good spot to do a little home school and I caught Mozart bouncing on the bed (against our rules!) before we went out to explore some more.
The ancients believed there was a monster in Olympos that they called Chimaera. With its head of a lion, body of a goat and rear end of a snake, it was said to roam the hills of ancient Olympos. One can imagine why they thought that as there is a series of eternal flames that flicker along the rocky slopes due to mostly methane gas that seeps out of the earth and ignites which continues non stop even today. The legend says that Bellerophon on his winged horse Pegasus was the one responsible for slaying the dragon Chimaera.
Olympos, from 100 B.C. was one of the six primary members of the Lycian League and later it became a Roman province. Not too surprisingly, during this time it became a place renown as a place of worship for the cult of Hephaestos or Vulcan, the God of Fire.
Lucky for us, as we left this area we met a sweet young couple from Australia who were also looking to catch the night bus to Cappadocia. What was particularly lucky was that she was born of Turkish parents who immigrated to Australia before her birth (and who happened to be in Turkey for her brothers wedding and touring with her boyfriend first). There was a small problem with the small busses and her knowledge of Turkey and the language was very helpful.
She was stylish and in that age range that Mozart loves, so we felt we had a bit of a guardian angel to guide us thru this new adventure. Busses are the way that most Turkish people travel and she had extensive experience with the busses with previous trips that she had taken with her family. It was easier than we imagined, but it was nice for our confidence to have someone handy who was going the same route on our first long night ride that spoke English and Turkish.
It was funny to find out when we arrived at our hotel, that they had picked the very same one! In our many conversations thru the night, some how we never discussed where we were staying in Goreme once we reached Cappadocia.