Thursday, 1 December 2011

Gobble Gobble by Karen Varga

Whenever I travel to a new country the experience is slotted into place alongside all the rest of the countries I’ve been to. My first country started off as my baseline (China 1992), and from there each country either goes before, after, or in between. What makes a country enjoyable to travel in will certainly differ from person to person. For me, I like countries that offer a mix of unforgettable adventures with some ease of travel and safety. Travelling a country like America or Australia is fun, but you generally don’t come back with the crazy stories of donkey rides, dodgy food, welcoming locals, jungles, temples, jewels and coconuts. Well, I suppose it does depend on where you go, but it’s in countries like India, Thailand, Nepal, Egypt and Turkey where my experiences have been rich with culture and adventure.

Turkey offered a surprising balance of culture and tradition, with development and organization. Their bus services are one of the best I’ve ever encountered, you can get practically anywhere in the country by bus, even to the remotest of towns like Geyikbayiri. The longer haul bus rides are extremely plush – personal TVs, plug point, WIFI, and cookies and coffee served on the bus! The Turkish are generally very friendly and eager to help, but unlike Egypt they do not pester you relentlessly, and they respect your space. The food was yummy, although I have to say unfortunately a tad fried ... even my poor piece of cauliflower had no chance of offering goodness after it had been fried to death. I’m pescatarian (meaning I eat fish, dairy and vegetables) so I can’t speak for their meat, but the fish is superb! But that’s the boring stuff, it’s the cookies and Turkish Delight that you simply must not miss out on – the Turks really do know how to make a good treat :)

The climbing in Turkey was great. We went at the end of October and beginning November and the day time temperatures were perfect – if the crag is in the direct sun it is pretty hot (just the way I like it) but if it’s in the shade all day it can also be pretty chilly. Evening temperatures were a lot colder than we expected, and we really regretted not bringing our down jackets.

We first headed to Olympos, planning to stay for 2 days and just chill on the beach, but we ended up staying there 4 days and climbing quite a bit. The crags are smaller than, and not quite as magnificent, as those in Geyikbayiri, but there were some good routes and we loved the vibe at our pension (Varuna Pension) so we stayed on. We didn’t get to all of the crags either, so I can’t really make a full judgement call on the climbing offered in the area.

Geyikbayiri was all its hyped up to be! Amazing crags and all within walking distance of your accommodation. We stayed at Climbers Garden, which is small enough to create a friendly know-your-fellow-climbers vibe, but big enough to not feel too cramped :). The crags are a gorgeous orangey brown limestone, with streaks of white and black. The climbing involves lots of tufas and pockets, but with a good splash of crimps and slopers to add variety, with choices of overhanging, roof, vert and slabs. They don’t include a star-rating in the guidebook, so you never know what enjoyment factor the route will provide, but only the occasional route that I climbed was sub-average, most were really good. The grades are pretty solid, I very rarely came across anything that was softly graded, and quite often felt that the route could do with an extra + grade ... but maybe that’s just me being weak and pathetic, best you get yourself over there and test them out for yourself!

If you would like anymore details on the climbing in Turkey then don’t hesitate to contact me – places to stay, how to get there, food, recommended crags etc.

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