Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Road to Olympos

Many of our travel days have been quite straight forward - we have our bus, plane or train time (and sometimes a ticket), and we know where the station or terminal is, or at least a pretty good idea of how to get there. Once we reach the destination we have usually been able to arrange a ride from the terminus to our new "home" or we are aware of the cost of a taxi to get us there. Admittedly, we travel a little differently now than when we were in our 20s and will often opt for the easy route when we can.

Today was a bit different. We left our little apartment in Istanbul in the rain and didn't see a taxi in sight. We popped into a nearby hotel where the kind concierge called us a cab. Turned out we were leaving from a different airport from which we arrived and it was about an hours drive from where we were staying. Good thing we had left early and had some extra cash!

We had directions from the airport to our next location (Olympos) that started with taking a municipal bus to the main bus terminal, followed by a minibus to the town and then another bus that would take us to the place we were staying. A little more complicated than usual but hey, we've been traveling a little while now, we'll figure it out. I felt confident it would all turn out just fine.

This is where our little adventure began.

The municipal bus was super crowded (standing room only for us) and of course everyone was jostled about as people got off and on, attempting to ease their way around all of the bags and suitcases.

When we arrived at the terminal we were sent to the other terminal (just next door) to look for our minibus to Olympos. Upon entering we were asked by a friendly looking guy near a counter that looked like it might sell tickets where we were going. When he heard Olympos he grabbed my bag and began rushing us towards a bus. We have learned that it is usually not a good idea to rush after the first guy that offers you a ride without telling you the price. I had a quick glance at the sandwich board in front of the van and saw that it was going to Olympos and when I gestured that I had no ticket he waved me off and ushered us onto the bus.   We hopped on and I just hoped that we wouldn't be charged an absurd price at the end.

As we drove I kept a close eye on the signs, looking for one that said we were heading towards Olympos. After about an hour I started getting a little worried as not one sign had indicated that our destination was ahead of us. Maybe I had misread the sandwich board or hadn't pronounced our destination clearly,.. The worry dragons were circling!!   Have I mentioned that I was feeling a little extra pressure because I had picked this destination thinking it would be a good place to spend Paul's birthday?

After an hour and a half I saw a sign for chimaera, the natural ever- burning flames that are rumored to have lit the original Olympic flame.   I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing we were close and soon after saw a sign to Olympos.

We took the turn off and were dropped off at a little store just off the highway - Olympos was still 11 km away!  We were ushered off, handed our suitcases and after paying the very reasonable fee (sigh of relief), were told that a bus would arrive soon to take us to Olympos.  HUH!?  Fortunately it did arrive quickly and we payed a rate equivalent to about $1 each and started our final transport to The Deep Green Bungalows.

We'll see how the birthday weekend turns out - it is a little colder than Paul usually likes it and it is off season so doesn't sound like the usual excursions are happening - much or at all, we're not sure yet! 

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