As I have a new job, we can finally start looking for a house outside of the city, and the first stop on our search was Nailsworth. It's a pretty town, with everything you need and nothing you don't. It would be my first experience of living somewhere so small, but the views across the valley, proximity to Stroud, work and even Bristol, make it seem like a winning destination. We saw a promising house, and decided to check the area by going for a drink in the local. Satisfied, we left the quiet behind and headed back to our noisy city home. But not for long I'm sure.
We were instantly surprised by how modern, clean and cosmopolitan Istanbul seemed when we got there. There is an efficient tram and metro system, incredible buildings everywhere, and more tourists than I've ever seen before!
We were staying right next to the Blue Mosque, so right next to about 800 other attractions too. The only bad thing about this was knowing what we were going to miss, as we only had a couple of days.
We did manage to see the Blue Mosque though, and the Archaeological Museum, the Grand Bazaar, the Egyptian Bazaar, the Spice Market, and the massively overpriced Galata Tower. I'd recommend everything else, especially the Spice Market, where you can buy a million types of tea, natural sea sponges, teapots, Turkish delight, and of course lots of spices. But the Galata Tower offers the same views we got from a bridge walking home from the Galata Tower, except it's only open until early evenings, has long queues and an entry fee.
We'd been told that Istanbul is the gateway to the East, and that upon crossing the bridge we'd find a huge difference between East and West, but actually, we found it hard to tell any difference at all.
We really loved Istanbul, especially the small cafes where we ate Corba, Menemen and rice. It is full of amazing buildings packed with interesting things, but as so many other people are also keen to see them, unless you want to spend most of your time in queues, you need a few weeks to see even just the main sights.
We were stunned by the scenery the minute we arrived on Calis beach. A huge bay in front of us, with small islands dotted about and Fethiye centre to the left, reachable by water taxi.
The first couple of days were hot enough to swim and sunbathe or read on the (unfortunately very dirty) beach. Evenings were spent being beckoned into various restaurants along the beach, where you can eat anything from Chinese to Italian food. We also walked along to Fethiye and took in the ancient rock tombs.
The sky clouded over on day 3, as we spent the day touring the 12 islands by boat, but the sea was still inviting. The following day, though not really warm, saw us trekking up Saklikent Gorge, knee deep in freezing water, and bathing in mud. At the end of the day we washed the mud off in the freezing, fast flowing river. Invigorating!
By day 5 it was comfortable enough to walk, so walk we did, across the hills (or mountains, depending on your view of how big each is), to Kayakoy, an abandoned Greek village. It took a few hours, and created the biggest blister I've ever had, but the scenery was breathtaking in parts, which made up for all the rubbish strewn along the way, and we saw not another soul until we got there. Well, not a human soul. We did see a huge cricket, about 20cm long, lots of butterflies, and a few squashed frogs. It was amazing to arrive and see the town built into the hillside, complete with hundreds of houses, a town hall and two churches, all completely abandoned.
By the time we left Fethiye, we had sampled the delicious pomegranate juice, eaten lots of sesame covered snacks, chilled out a lot, and seen some of the local area.
We were so sad to miss my friend Mary and her family, who live there, but happy to have seen a little of the life they lead. I can understand why she's so happy there.