Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Tourist Coast

Just 5 km out of Seydisehir where we stayed last night we started climbing up into rugged mountains with conifers growing on every shallow slope and in nooks and crannies on the rock faces. The map shows it to be a scenic route but we didn't expect this. The mountains went on and on for about 60 km and at one point, marked on a sign as 1829m above sea level there were patches of dirty snow near the road. It was difficult to get photos because going up they would heve been into the rising sun and going down the other side towards the Mediterranean it was very hazy.

Sudenly we came out onto the busy coast road and headed west towards what a German couple in Cappadocia had told us was a nice small town, Side. What a shock. Side is commercialised coastal development on steroids. Not our scene at all. We stayed long enough to have a look at the 2nd century Roman ruins and the 6th century Byzantine hospital and then moved on.

Roman theatre undergoing restoration work

What is left of 6th century hospital

 2nd c Roman city gate

The place is full of sunburnt and peeling Scandinavian and German tourists and the prices of everything are at least double what we have found elsewhere. The beaches are covered in rows and rows of beach umbrellas, the shops are full of tourist junk and there are replica "pirate ships" doing cruises along the coast.

Moved along to Aspendos to have a look at the largest Roman theatre that is still in use. It was being prepared for an opera production tomorrow evening. Built in 161-180 AD it seats 15,000 according to the blurb on the sign and 8,000 according to the brochure. Perhaps the 2nd century Romans were thinner than present day opera buffs. A very impressive building.

Had lunch at a riverside restaurant nearby. Mediocre food at Side prices. By now we were soaked with sweat and  took the waiter's recommendation of finding a pansiyon in the next coastal town of Belek.

Found a cheap pansiyon just outside the town centre. Wandered into town and found it to be a weird place, obviously aimed at tourists with pedestrianised streets, artificial roman ruins and very expensive tourist shops with prices in euros.

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