This past weekend I went on the METU Erasmus Student trip to Olympos! This is a place known for it’s lemons, I learned, and also for it’s tree houses. I am happy to say that we did stay in Tree houses. I wish they were a bit higher up in the trees and actually in the trees.. but they were small houses made out of trees. We stayed at Turkmen Agac Evleri and I thought it was an okay place but I couldn’t have stayed there for anymore nights. The shower had zero pressure to it and the floor was warped so the water didn’t flow out of the drain.. but I did enjoy the experience of sharing a small room with a Turkish girl that I met on this trip, Müge.
I also brought my guitar with me, thanks for the recommendation of some of the Erockmas band members! A lot of them were actually on this trip and they convinced me to go on it. It was so nice to get closer to some of the Erasmus students that did go and to meet Müge there too! 🙂
The bus ride there was overnight, like the Cappadoica group trip was but this trip was two hours longer so we left an hour earlier and arrived an hour later. I enjoyed the extra time to sleep. And this time I was early enough at the meeting spot on METU that I was able to snag a window seat. I cannot sleep on seats that don’t have a leaning spot I have learned in the past couple of months. It is one of my biggest struggles. But I didn’t have to struggle the whole night this time. I actually got a pretty decent sleep, which was nice considering the bus actually could have been a huge rock and you could have fooled me that it was the bus.
We spent the whole day relaxing on the beach after the breakfast at the hotel. I am not even exaggerating that it was the whole day! The water was nice to swim in. I swam over to a cave type thing with some friends from the group. This was neat 🙂
This evening I really enjoyed listening to the guitarist that the hotel had hired to play there near the fire pit. He was so good I thought. I didn’t know any of his songs because they were Turkish Folk songs but other people who are Turkish and were there were singing along and I thought that was pretty cool. At one point my guitar came out and we began sining Hotel California. This was fun but didn’t last very long.
We ended up going to the beach and having a fire there. Well, we didn’t make the fire, but rather we joined a group of people who had already made a fire. They said “Buyrun” for all of us to join. Which basically translates as “Be our guest” I think. If you ever come to Turkey you will hear this phrase, I guarantee!
I kept thinking I want to have a midnight swim. This is kind of a tradition in my family. But I wasn’t so sure because there were so many people and it was kind of chilly for only having a T-shirt. Suddenly, though, I heard a splash into the water and I stripped off my clothes and splashed into the water also. The water was so clear and people were shining their phone light at me. So, needless to say, I was out of the water pretty quickly. I put on my clothes again and sat near the warm fire feeling accomplished somehow. The stars were so beautiful here, and I found it enjoyable to listen to all the Turkish they were speaking as the numbers of ESN students dwindled and it became just me, Müge, and four Turks our age. There were some other people that passed by and joined for a bit; one of them seemed obsessed with looking at me. I felt attention like this when I went to Cuba last spring. It took a bit for me to get used to both in Cuba and here but, when I return to Canada I know I am going to miss it.
Here is some key information of the weekend: This guy from Jordan showed us a message in a Whatsapp group that we needed to be up for 8 am breakfast and the bus was leaving at 8:30 am for our day trip. I saw that the breakfast at the hotel didn’t actually start until 8:30 so either we were being lied to be on time (this was probably the case) or the hotel had arranged breakfast for us earlier. Müge and I didn’t bother to clarify the reason. We woke up the next morning (after staying up until 3 am or so) at 7:45 am and were at breakfast for just after 8 am. We waited around quite a bit until 8:30 when the breakfast did begin. I played a game of Tavla (which is Backgammon in English but is hugely popular in Turkey) with a girl named Rabea (she is from Germany) who was in my Drama class I took this semester. I beat her but just barely. I think the strategies the guy from Selçuk shared with Alex and I has really improved my abilities at that game. 🙂
Then we ate breakfast. As we were finishing breakfast the bus honked at us around 9:10 am maybe. Most people remained eating their breakfast. Müge went back to our room to change into her swim suit. I went back to make sure she was coming as people were starting to move towards the bus. We both got back to the outdoor lobby a few minutes later and every single person was gone and the bus was too. Müge called the organizer of the trip, Hürkan, and at first he said catch a cab to meet us at the mosque in Olympus down town area. We have stopped there. But there weren’t any cabs and so we hitch hiked but then before we knew it he was telling us that they couldn’t wait any longer for us so they left for the day without us. Sadly we returned to our hotel.
Müge remembered that we hadn’t seen the Ukranian girls (Natalya and Irina) at breakfast and so we knocked on their door which was conveniently across from our tree house. Sure enough they were still getting ready for the day. On the schedule we were given on the Facebook group it said that we were leaving at noon. So that’s what they were going off of. They were also frustrated to hear that they also had missed the bus.
At first the four of us didn’t know what to do. I was so tempted to just let them do their own thing and study for my final exam on Psychology of Disasters on Monday or hide away in my room there and play guitar. Thankfully I went with them and we chilled on the beach for a bit and then were approached by this man trying to sell us this boat tour. That’s what we had missed out on. The bus was in a hurry, I guess, because they had booked the boat for 10 am and it was a far distance to drive.
We took this man up on his offer to be on his boat from 10 am till 5 pm. So, that’s what we did. We stopped at three different beaches (or four – we couldn’t remember at the end of the trip if it was three or four) just south along the coast of Olympus. We spent a lot of time relaxing on the boat tanning. Other times we danced on the boat. Other times we jumped off the boat and did some swimming. My favourite stop was the last one. The water was so clear that I could see my shadow swimming way below my feet. There were even two cows on the shore at this stop. I thought that was pretty funny.
After the boat tour we went for a very late lunch together. Dinner at the hotel was at 8 pm for some reason… But at this lunch place I got Chocolate gözleme (which is basically the Turkish word for fried crape) and a melon with ice cream. This food was delicious! I think the four of us felt pretty awkward coming back to the hotel. We were the ones who had been excluded from the day. They weren’t back yet when we got back. So we had some time to ourselves. We saw everyone again at dinner and I didn’t really find it awkward but I could sense that the other girls did. It wasn’t really anyones fault what happened. Maybe a bit the organizer of the trip because the time was wrong on the schedule and he had been using a Whatsapp group to communicate with us that had none of the four of us in it… But anyways. What happened, happened. There is no changing that.
The group organizer did include the four of us into the Whatsapp group later that night, and as we were listening to the guitarist again we received a message that they were going
to Yanartaş. This is a rock formation, which is also known as the House of Hephaistos, can be considered a symbol of the ancient Greek God of fire. It is a mountain with natural fires burning on and along it. I’m glad we were included and able to go to this. We left after 9:30 pm to go there and it was about an hour drive. Needless to say it was another late night. But it was worth it.
The next morning we had our breakfast at the hotel and then went to the beach to chill
some more before leaving to return back to Ankara. Though it was frustrating to me that the bus driver wouldn’t drive over 100 km/h on the highway back (his average speed was probably 85 km/h..), I do appreciate all the driving that he did do over the weekend. We left from Olympos at 3:30 pm and arrived back at METU at 1 am.
It was a good weekend over all. I returned back to my dorm with an overwhelming feeling of sadness that my Erasums experience is almost over. I also returned to a party that had just ended. My roommate, Ege, turned 21! 🙂
Also I did a cover of Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire. This song really reminds me of Yanartaş!!!