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KUSADASI TO DENIZLI The alarm went again at 6:30 and we showered then packed up our gear and departed. I managed to haggle the room rated down to 40,000TL with the bleary-eyed clerk and he hailed us a taxi. It cost 5,600TL to get out to the bus station and we paid 13,000TL each (£3) for our tickets to Denizli, the nearest town to Pamukkale. 

The bus, which left at 8:15am, was large and comfy and after we had got going a man came around with scented water for everyone to freshen up with. As soon as we left the coast the landscape changed to rugged, scrubby hills deeply scarred by gullies and cliffs. Much of the lower slopes were cultivated with crops of wheat and barley while further up, rows of olive trees followed the contours.

Once we had crossed The first range of hills we descended into a fertile and intensively farmed valley. Some of the paddocks were being tilled by large groups of people which probably indicated co-op farms. Some of the land was irrigated by elevated concrete channels but most of them were dry.  As we moved further inland the strip of fertile land on the valley floors grew narrower and by the time we reached Denizli at around 11:45am, the country was dry and windswept although we had still passed through large acreages of crops.

As soon as we got off the bus we were besieged with offers of trips to Pamukkale¹ several given in appalling Aussie accents!²  We ignored them all and walked out of the bus terminal but one guy persisted and gave us some good reasons not to stay in Pamukkale but to stay in Denizli instead. So we agreed on a price of 20,000TL and I checked at the tourist office where I was told that camping at Pamukkale would cost 15 to 20,000 as well.

Pension Denizli³ was in a quiet little backstreet right next to a mosque. The owner, Suleyman, was determined to get across to us that we shouldn’t worry about being ripped off in Turkey and went out of his way to make us welcome. After we had settled into our room we decided to walk into town for a look at the Bazaar. It was a 20-minute walk into town and we spent an hour or so going to a few banks trying to get money on my Visa card to buy a leather jacket at some stage. The only bank that would do it couldn’t get through to Istanbul to check so no luck there.

The bazaar was quite big but not very interesting so we trudged back to the pension, stopping on the way to the ripped off over some food and drink and tea but it was only £1 involved so no worries.

In the evening after tea, we sat and talked with a group of Australians who were also staying in the Pension.

¹The white mineral terraces of Pamukkale were the reason that we had come to Denizli. Our plan was to camp at Pamukkale but that turned out to not be an option.

²A common ruse employed by salesmen all over Turkey was to adopt the accent of the country that they assumed you came from based on hearing you speak. Most of them knew the name of at least one city in various countries and would claim to have friends/relatives in “Melabourne”, ”Auckaland”, ”Seedanee” or wherever.

³The word “pension” is pronounced “pen-see-onee” and refers to a small accommodation house.

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The alarm went off at 6:00am but we decided to stay for another day to let Linda recover from the stomach bug rather than travel to Pamukkale which was our original plan. So we just dozed the morning and most of the afternoon away. About 3pm I went out for a walk up the hill and around some of the narrow streets where the locals live. I had a wander through the bazaar and ate a kebab sitting on a wall outside a mosque.

Back at the hotel, I had a shower and we talked for a while then I went out to a little sidewalk café full of locals and sat drinking apple tea while writing up this story. By the time I had drunk 2 glasses of tea, it was after 9:00 and sunset was well underway so I walked down to the harbour and sat on the rocks amongst the locals who were there fishing. Out on the nearby wharf a ferry was setting sail for Rhodes, accompanied by a pilot boat. As the sun dipped into the haze I walked back to the hotel.

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TÜRKIYE I woke up at 6:00 as the ferry docked at Samos Island, the closest Greek island to Turkey. Outside, the sun was blazing down and the architecture of the buildings nestled in the pine-clad hills had changed from the rounded, white-washed Greek style to sturdier, larger structures with red-tiled roofs.

An unexpected bonus onboard was free hot showers which we availed ourselves to while the ferry made the last 1½ hour journey to Kusadasi.  Once we had docked we had a 2-hour wait aboard the ferry to have our passports stamped then we disembarked and after spending some time in an information office we set off to find a hotel. We changed £20 at a rate of 4,372.59 TURKISH LIRA which gave us 87,000TL then after about 20 minutes of looking we found a cheap hotel for 25,000TL (about  £5).

After we had settled in we went out and had some lunch then wandered around the town which is an obvious tourist trap. We went into a leather shop and had a cup of apple tea with the salesmen while they tried their hardest to sell me a leather jacket then talked for a while with a carpet salesman. We ended up sitting out on the breakwater and it was such a hot day we decided to go to the beach. We walked back to the hotel and got our swimming gear and caught a Dolmus (shared taxi) out to “Ladies Beach” for a fare of 750TL or about 50p.

The beach was crammed with German tourists looking like beached whales washed up by the murky water. We found a spot on the sand and took turns swimming in the choppy water which was full of sand and weed but was beautifully warm. We spent an hour and a half there then caught a Dolmus back into town. We changed another £80 for 349,000TL then went back to the hotel for a shower. After relaxing for an hour or so we went across the road for a slap-up meal which cost us 50,000TL, about £12.

Later that night though, Linda came down with a bad attack of the shits and spewing so perhaps something in that meal wasn’t so good after all!  

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GREECE TO TURKEY We spent about two hours after we got up repacking our gear and breaking camp then walked up to Marpissa where we sat in the howling wind for an hour while we waited for the bus.

Once we had made the trip over the hill to Parikia we dropped our packs off at a left luggage place then took our passports around to the ferry office and left them there¹. With the whole day to fill in, we went from bar to bar and from shady spot to shady spot. Several ferries came and went, depositing loads of fresh-faced tourists and taking away loads of frazzled ones.

We had tea at a beach-side restaurant and watched our last Greek sunset fade into the Aegean to be replaced by a shimmering first quarter moon. As darkness fell we collected our packs and walked down to the ferry terminal and sat on the dock waiting for our departure time to roll around.

The ferry Ariadne arrived at eleven o’clock and we boarded along with quite a crowd of others, mainly Aussies, a group of them very pissed and making complete fools of themselves. We went straight to the “O” Class lounge and stretched out on the floor to get some sleep. 

¹The passports needed to be held by Immigration until we went to board our ferry to Turkey.

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Part of a letter we wrote home from the ferry to Turkey. The line about the company “going under”  referred to the failed New Zealand company Ariadne, chaired by a smirking wide-boy called Bruce Judge. Having been one of the overvalued companies leading the mid-8os share boom, it had crashed spectacularly in 1987, taking with it the life’s savings of many people. 

 

 

26/5/90

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The Piso Livadi Cricket Club.

CRICKET AT PISO LIVADI We were up quite early and went down to the village for breakfast. After that, we sat on the beach and I had a swim in the wonderfully clear and warm water.

Around 12:30 we wandered over to the bar for a drink and by 1:30 enough people had arrived for 2 teams so the match began. We batted first and scored 93 before we were all out. I went for a duck! After drinks, the other team went in to bat and went down for 74. Not a bad First Innings lead for the ANZACs!

The game was played on the concrete car park beside the club with the sea on two sides. Two people fielded in the water and a direct hit into the sea was classed as a 6 while a bounce into the sea counted as a 4.

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Linda on strike facing a fast ball from The Rest of the World

I fared better in the second innings with a score of 8 before being bowled out and Linda managed a knock of 12. We were all out for 80 setting the other team a goal of 93 to win. Their opening batsmen were sent off in rapid succession but their middle order rallied and by the time their tail-enders were dismissed we had narrowly escaped defeat by one run. A draw was declared anyway and we retired to the “pavilion” for drinks and awards for catch of the match and man of the match.

The drinks flowed and a good time was had by all. Linda and I went for tea at around 7:30 then wandered back up to camp.

 

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After match drinks at the pavilion.  

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It was a beautiful hot day and we were on the beach by 10:30. Linda had a swim then settled down to sunbathe. I decided to go for a walk out around the rocky headland leading away to the right around to Logan’s Beach where the Germans would already be basking in naked droves.

About ⅔ of the way around I came across a couple of farmers washing their sheep in a rock pool. They didn’t seem too pleased that I was watching them but nevertheless, I approached them and offered them a cigarette¹ and we got talking. It took a bit of trial and error but eventually, I was able to explain to them that I was also a shepherd and that I came from New Zealand. I drew a map in my diary to show the location of New Zealand compared to Greece (they were convinced that NZ was in Australia). In exchange for the packet of smokes, they agreed to let me take a few photographs of their sheep – their flock numbered 250 – and the washing operation which was done to clean the sheep’s wool and to eradicate ticks.

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The map I drew in my diary that day to show the farmers where New Zealand was.

Back around at the beach we swam and sunbathed then made our way up to camp at around 4:30. Once again we headed to the Flotilla Club in the evening.  
¹We always carried a pack of cigarettes with us in Greece and Turkey as they were a sure way to break the ice with locals.

23/5/90

DAY TRIP TO PARIKIA We walked up to Marpissa to catch the bus over to Parikia and, in true Greek fashion, we had to wait 1½ hours past its posted arrival time for it to come along. Once we had reached Parikia we set off up the street to the main area of shops to buy some jewellery. After a bit of browsing, we settled on a Sterling silver Russian wedding ring¹ which I paid for with my Visa card. A bit later on we bought a silver and turquoise bracelet, also on the plastic. The ring was 3,700DR (£14; $40NZ) and the bracelet was 4,800DR (£17; $50NZ) so it was quite a reasonable price.

After that shopping spree, the first jewellery buy-up we’ve done in 3 years, we went and sat for a couple of hours over a lunch of tzatziki, moussaka, burger patties and chips, served with cold beers, then found a cool and shady spot to sit and watch passing poseurs, semi-naked bimbos and white, blubbery Germans while we sipped iced coffees and cold Cokes.

Later on, we wandered out along the marina and looked at the sickening opulence of the fat German yacht owners as they swilled wine and videoed each other on the decks of their yachts.

We caught the 6:00pm bus back to Piso Livadi and after a shower, we walked down to the village for drinks and tea.

¹Linda still wears that ring to this day,

22/5/90

We had planned to climb the hill behind the camp to have a look at the monastery on top but by the time we got up and got going it was 10:00 and after a fruitless search for the road leading up to the hill, we gave up and went in search of less strenuous activities.

We walked down to town and spent most of the day lying on the beach but in the shade of trees rather than in the sun. The beach was mostly deserted except for a fat lager lout and his bimbo girlfriend.

Later in the day we went back up to the camp and sat on the balcony of the [closed] bar looking out across the low brown hills to the bleached white houses of Piso Livadi and the choppy blue sea beyond. After 5 we showered then drifted down to the Flotilla Club where great excitement was afoot amongst the locals as a ship appeared to be sinking out on the horizon. A few drinks in the warm late afternoon sun set the scene for a huge meal at one of the restaurants followed by a lazy walk back up to our camp.

21/5/90

After a large dose of sun yesterday (Linda’s back was bright crimson!) we decided to give the beach a miss and go up to the hilltop village of Lefkos¹ for the day.

After an hour or so of waiting, during which time a mad old lady, talking to herself ten to the dozen, came past and gave us some stale bread which we pretended to eat then threw away, a bus came along and we made the 10-minute trip up to Lefkos. It is a true Greek village with a maze of narrow, white-washed streets, most of which led to the church standing on a point overlooking the valley. 

Most of the village is closed to traffic which lends it an even more quiet and peaceful air and the only sounds to be heard were those of the wind and hidden conversations in Greek echoing down from the open windows.

We sat on the steps of the church debating whether or not to go in but then a party of Germans stomped in so we decided that it must, indeed, be open to the public. I picked up the words “Renaissance” and “Napoleon” amongst the speil of their guide so they probably pertain to the history of the church, but how I don’t know.

Before we entered the church we walked around its outer walls. Beyond an iron gate, a graveyard ran steeply down into the valley behind the church. Many of the graves were ornamented with photographs of their occupants. The church is built from glittering white marble and the main door is set below the twin bell towers, each tower containing several bells. Above the door, the date 1845 was carved into the lintel, perhaps the date that the church was either built or rebuilt².

Inside, in the cool and quiet, an old man, barely able to see, gave us each a small candle to light and place in a small stand. I gave him 100DR for the upkeep of the church. The interior was exquisite. Although not very big, it was full of paintings, chandeliers, ornately carved wood and marble friezes. The ceiling was decorated with paintings of the life of Christ and on the wall near the door was a picture of the 12 Disciples beside the body of Jesus woven from threads of gold.

Leaving the church we wandered the streets, now quiet for the siesta, and ended up at a small square where we had drinks and watched a bunch of German tourists – some of them dressed in knickerbockers, knee socks and mountain boots – shoving cameras into the faces of passing locals.

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Lefkes, Paros, Greece. (photo supplied)

We bought some bread and chips in a couple of shops and set out to walk back to Marpissa (the town overlooking Piso Livadi) via the ancient Byzantine pathway running down the valley. The sun was blazing hot by now but there was a cool breeze blowing which made walking quite pleasant. 

The path was paved with cobblestones of hewn marble in places and led down the valley on the right-hand side then gradually climbed up over a shoulder running down from the hills behind Lefkos. The way led through olive groves and tiny fields marked out with stone walls. The opposite sunny side of the valley was entirely cultivated but on the shady side where we were walking the fields were scrubby and disused. None of the rocky creek beds we crossed had water in them.

We stopped for a snack in the shade of a gnarled olive tree then carried on up over a rounded ridge which led down to flat land and the sea. We had passed several stone huts on the way down from Lefkos and I had a look into one built right on the ridge. It was only a few feet square inside but would have offered shelter from wind and rain to a farmer or a shepherd when it was in use.

The path was almost entirely paved with cobblestones down to the plain which made walking easy and we arrived back down at the island’s main circular road after about an hour. That only left about a mile to walk to get back to camp.

In the evening we once again headed for the Flotilla Club and had a meal of fish for tea. We were the only guests there and the waiter shouted us a glass of Ouzo each. Linda couldn’t drink much of hers so in order to please the waiter I downed mine then finished hers. We paid the bill and began walking back up to the camp but after about 5 minutes the Ouzo took my legs from under me and Linda had to half carry, half drag me all the way back!

¹I misspelt the name of the town in my diary. It is actually called Lefkes.

²The church is actually called Agia Triada and was built between 1830 and 1845. The stone used to build the church is a semi-translucent marble known as lychnitis and is only found on Paros.

20/5/90

ISLAND LIFE We got up around 8:30 and after a breakfast of yoghurt and oranges we drifted down to the beach through the quiet Sunday streets of Piso Livadi. We found ourselves a nice spot at the very end of the beach amongst some rocks where we had some shelter from the wind and couldn’t be crowded out by Germans.¹

It was quite cool on the beach at first but we had a swim in the cold, clear water then settled down to watch the antics of the people who slowly began to arrive at the beach, select their spot and take all their clothes off! We laughed at one couple who had a small boy with an inflatable dolphin which was promptly blown out to sea by the strong offshore wind. The father had to swim after it in his clothes while the mum stood on the shore with her bare tits jiggling with laughter!

By 1pm the beach was full of people, most of them Germans and all of them either topless or completely nude. We left our spot to be claimed by the slavering horde and walked back up to the camp, stopping for a rest under some trees on one of the other beaches. Back up at the camp, we sat out on a deserted balcony drinking wine and reading. Later, after showers, we wandered down to the Flotilla Club for a few beers followed by tea at another restaurant. 

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On the deserted balcony at our own private camping ground, Piso Livadi.

¹There were a lot of German tourists at Piso Livadi and we found out two things about them: 1) they spent a lot of their time completely naked and 2) they would arrive en masse and squeeze you out of the nice spots by sheer blubbery weight of numbers!