Antalya: A Complete Vacation

If you ask me to choose between mountains, ocean and forest and put a gun on my head, I would promptly start rambling ‘Sea, oceans, beach, waves’.  But secretly, I am an ever greedy soul when it comes to travel. Greedy as in, I want to have it all. To me, a perfect place to visit is the one that has mountains – not too high, sea-that is calm and pristine, forest – not too deep, and something more. All in one.

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“Yivli Minaret Mosque Antalya crop” by Saffron Blaze http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yivli_Minaret_Mosque_Antalya_crop.jpg#/media/File:Yivli_Minaret_Mosque_Antalya_crop.jpg

Are you wondering how I found my perfect man, if so finicky I can get in choosing a perfect vacation? My man, well, let’s not get distracted here, and keep the topic away for another post. But of course, it was a delight to explore this romantic place with him. I believe nature has tailor-made everything as per the whims of each one of us. We just need to know how to look! Am I not right? Continue reading “Antalya: A Complete Vacation”

On Mount Olympos

Travel Note Throwback

These steps are too high, surely not for human legs to climb. I can go no more”, I resigned and sat on an adjacent rocky platform. It was pitch-dark and not even my hands were visible to me. Thankfully Arijit was holding one of them in his firm fist, and stood silently by my side. Our guide had moved ahead, and now I could see his flash light beaming, as he was returning to us.IMG_2121

There were many tourists without any assist light with them, and were struggling in that dark unwinding steps. People had come for a relaxed beach vacation on this part of Turkey, and this place is only an optional sight-seeing spot. No one probably realised that climbing up Olympos Mountain would be this real a trek. We were in the Antalya City of Turkey, and it was past 8 in the evening then. We were climbing the Olympos Mountain to see Chimera, the fire breathing monster, and the fire that is still burning!

But we were only half way through then. Encouraged by seeing me resting, a few other fellow travellers came to seat near my stone top.

“Didn’t I tell you to smoke less”, a lady scolded her friend. It was late October, and there was slight chill in the wind. Some more flickering flash lights passed by. The woman who was guilty of being a heavy smoker was completely breathless and was panting frantically, all red. I offered her my water bottle.

“We should hurry, or my torch battery would give away”, said our guide. So, we all got up and started following him. The way was narrow, and some turns were particularly dicey; had I not been in my trainers, would sure have hurt my ankles by then. Our guide was actually our hotel appointed driver, but he offered to lead us with his torch, for which I am particularly grateful. He was showing us which stones not to step on, and correcting our wrong turns. I thought we have almost reached, when I saw some tourists descending.

“These are the same steps climbed by Bellerophon on his way to fight Chimera, the monster. These have been restored in recent times,” our guide mentions, reaching the top of the last few steps.

Ah! That explains. I knew these steps can’t be made for normal human to climb, and I was no Greek hero! (Although, I had started feeling like one by then!)

As we reached the top of Olympos, there it was! Chimera, or the flaming rocks – Yanartaş.

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A remarkable natural phenomenon, that has been recorded at least for last 4000 years in thIMG_2132e Yanartaş area, in Turkey. Scattered points from where fire emerges from within the rock gaps, and burns incessantly, with some flames springing as high as 3 feet. While you might be tempted to try and might even succeed in dousing the small flames completely, they will start burning again within minutes.

The Mythological Story:

This area in Turkey called Yanartaş is thought to be the same place – Lycia from ancient times. In the story from Ilyad, Bellerophon, a kind young boy had angered his ruthless king Proetus of Tiryns while protecting Pegassus, the divine horse from his capture. While he had been looked upon kindly by Goddess Athena, and was blessed by her to be able to ride the untameable flying horse Pegassus, the King was infuriated all the more when his Queen took special interest on Bellerophon. The King, avoiding killing a guest directly, sent him to King Lobates, his father in law, with a letter in hand. What Bellerophon didn’t know is that Proetus had asked King Lobates to ‘kill the letter bearer’. Lobates in his turn, unwilling to displease the Gods by killing a guest, hatched a plan.

Lycia at that time was troubled by a ferocious fire breathing monster – Chimera. As Homer described, Chimera had a lion’s head, goat’s body, and tail of a serpent! Bellerophon was sent by Lobates to kill Chimera, hoping that he will die in the quest. He didn’t. With the help of Pegassus, hero Bellerophon succeeded in defeating Chimera instead. He choked Chimera throwing block of lead down its throat.

As the myth goes, some says that the monster still lives and is only sent deep under the earth by Bellerophon, and that it is still breathing fire through the gaps in the mountain.

Apart from this story of Chimera, the belief of the eternal fire burning in Mount Olympos, the home of the Gods also befits the name of this place.

However, I’m only too sure that you have already figured out the presence of methane and other volcanic gases to be the real cause behind this natural phenomenon. Although, Greek mythology never fails to fascinate, does it! BEN104198

How to reach: 

Chimera, also known as Yanartas locally, is within a small village – Chireli in Antalya province of Turkey. Antalya International Airport (IATA: AYT; ICAO: LTAI) is the closest airport.

You can rent a car at the Antalya International Airport. From Antalya International Airport, follow signs to Kemer. After passing Kemer, drive 30km in the direction of Ulupinar. After passing Ulupinar, the next sign will be for Cirali. Turn left at the sign, then drive another 7km downhill until you cross a small bridge. After crossing, you are in Cirali.

there are several hotels in Cirali. However, if you have planned to stay in the old town Kaleici in Antalya, or near any other beach, visiting Yanartas can be fitted in a day’s itinerary.

Other places of interest in Cirali village are the ruins of Mount Olympos, Cirali beach, which is the nesting ground of Caretta caretta turtle, a rare species, and also nearby Phaselis beach, known for it’s transparent pristine water, and private beach experience.

My Fleeting English Winter

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Re-springing Your Step.”

Certain things happen for a reason. No. Everything does.

It was raining and the wind was strong. Even the glass pane of my tightly shut window was shivering. Heater was on full swing, and Arijit was sound asleep inside our cozy hotel room. Feather soft bed, neat pillows – still I was unable to sleep. My throat was sore, forehead feverish. I got out of bed and drew a chair by the window pane. Thought of writing a blog post, but then decided not to trouble you with my delirium. “My sense, as though of Hemlock I have drunk” – I remembered Keats. After all I was in his city, last Tuesday.

I looked outside and found the street lights quite familiar, like I had seen them before.WP3 I had got this feeling of déjà vu also in the morning, when I was walking from Borough Station towards the London Bridge. The bold wall of the HSBC Bank, the arches and the pavement– felt like I had been there before. I wish. The traffic was familiar, crossing road was not scary. The double-decker bus and the heritage feel of the black cabs, exactly how things should have been. The red cottages lined next to each other with their front yard and a garden at the back; I’m sure everybody writes wonderful poetry here, sitting in those arm chairs on any given Sunday afternoon.

I came to Doha last July, and was rather being home sick. Of the many things that are not easily accessible here, a journalism job and local pubs seem to be two of them. There had also been a visible dearth of Christmas and New Year celebration in my life this year. Arijit was to go for an office trip, and as there was nothing much for me to do here, I tagged along. Thus, I could coax my two night stay in London.WP4

I was so happy and totally oblivious of the sudden change of weather I was exposing myself to, I managed to catch a little cold. But that’s okay. I recovered quickly. Only sad part is, I couldn’t go for the two walking tours, missing a major part of our sightseeing programme. “I will come back again”, I have consoled myself, “and next time, I won’t leave so early. 🙂 ”

WP5Although I missed Keats terribly, I have most certainly met Mr Dickens and Oscar Wilde. Gee, you got it! It was an absolute delight, the whole tour de museum of Madam Tussauds.  Also loved the ‘Spirit of London’ ride, through the pages of history, witnessing the Elizabethan & Victorian Age, the Industrial Revolution, Great fire of London and the sixties and seventies. However, statues of the Bollywood celebs appeared to me as forceful entrants sans the life-like magic. The short 4D film on Marvel Superhero Comics was fun again, and we left the museum quite content.WP6

We spent the major part of our last day in London loitering around the Trafalgar Square and Tower Bridge, soaking in as much as possible. It was a nice evening, followed perfectly by a romantic dinner with fish and chips, merlot and mulled wine. Horniman at Hays is the pub next to HMS Belfast that I would want to visit again.

Mulled-WineI asked the bartender for the mulled wine recipe, and the kind gentleman shared this:
Combine cider, wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot), honey, orange zest, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and ground ginger, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs and serve.
This soothed my throat like bliss.

Back to Doha, I found winter has come here after all. Temperature has dropped quite a bit and wind has turned chilly. The day we landed was pretty cloudy. I heard it had rained here, when we were away!

I have never been a fan of winter. Even back in India, winter has always turned me a zombie, a logger head. But this time, the beauty of London Winter brought back the spring in my steps.
I attended my first class of Arabic language today. The lady who sat next to me was incidentally from Britain. As we started talking, she said she has recently come here as an English teacher of an International school, and missing her country a great deal. She has found a friend in me, or so I think.

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Desert Diary – Rajasthan

It’s raining here in Doha today, and feeling more wintry than the sixteen degree temperature should have felt. This reminds me of my last monsoon’s vacation to Rajasthan Thar Desert. A local magazine had asked for a write up, where I had written this travel experience. Reading your own writings in print always gives the same joy like it’s the first time. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to collect a copy of the mag after it got published before I left India. Sharing the article with you here will make me feel good; if you leave your valued comments will make me feel even better, as always. And to those who have never visited India, I recommend you visit Rajasthan to experience the true colours, notwithstanding my poor narrative skill.

A continuous cuckooing of peacocks pierced through the early morning dessert, and woke us up, for we had slept the night on the terrace, in front of our hut room. If you are already taken aback with this line, then wait before you make a judgement of my experience to be too good to be true. Wait, and let me tell you that it was really late before we had fallen asleep last night cause we had a plenty to do and be fascinated about – the desert, night, stars, music et al.

Registhan: It was dusk by the time we reached here, and the camels were heading to their shelters in a row, women were done pulling water from the adjacent bore well, and were returning home carrying water vessels on their head. Some camel drawn carts were taking a few European youths  Continue reading “Desert Diary – Rajasthan”

How to Pack Easy for Travel and Manage Time Effectively

Procrastinator ? Not me

Ready, Set, Done

Look what I have just found ! I was supposed to be packing now though, as my flight is in few hours, and I will.  But before jumping into packing, one must also look for some android apps that helps to pack quickly !  So I looked, looked hard for sometime, and only after that I could find these awesome tiny apps ‘Packpoint’ and ‘Packit’. Then I got into comparing which one is better, and to do that I had to explore both the apps carefully. Whew ! Such work !

I also needed to take bath, prepare something to eat before leaving, get decked up and all that. But should I then forget all my new friends in WordPress so selfishly ! Should I get all consumed in packing and in the vacation flavour ? No, not me. I absolutely need to write a review on this apps to let you all know how to use your time effectively. Most effectively, I say. So here I am. Not because what you are thinking, that I am a packing-lazy girl. (I do hate packing as much as I love travelling, but that’s another thing.) Continue reading “How to Pack Easy for Travel and Manage Time Effectively”