Monday, 11 September 2017

Three Excursions You Need To Do When You Visit Marmaris


Over the past couple of weeks I’ve shared some more deep and meaningful posts with you, so today I thought we would keep things a little more light hearted and turn to something I know many of us love…travel!

I went on my first ‘summer holiday’ abroad since I was about 12 years old this April. I’ve been out of the country since then of course, but it’s always been more city breaks/exploring/adventure style holidays, and after losing my Mum and everything that followed in the wake of losing her I was very much overdue a break in the sun!

We spent an evening looking for the best deals we could find, and about three hours later we had a week’s All Inclusive holiday to Marmaris booked.


I remember being adamant that I never wanted to go to Turkey when I was young, and it all stemmed from a photo of my Dad on holiday there. He’d been to one of the famous Turkish Mud Baths, and was obviously covered head to toe in mud, and from that photo I decided I didn’t ever want to go. In my very young brain my logic was that it was a dirty country because I'd seen my Dad covered in mud, and why would I want to visit somewhere that would leave me so dirty?!  It obviously never occurred to me at the young age I was that my Dad had chosen to dive in to a mud bath! That thought stuck with me for years and years following from this as well!

It was only as I grew older and met more, well-travelled people who did nothing but rave about Turkey that my mind set started to change. It started to become a country that I considered travelling to, so when I saw the amazing deal I did with Thomas Cook, a week away in Turkey seemed an ideal amount of time for a country I had a few apprehensions about.

What I didn’t expect when we first arrived in Marmaris was to be surrounded by lush, green mountains. Everywhere I looked they towered above me, and were absolutely stunning. It’s safe to say I fell quickly in love with my surroundings, and I knew from then that I wanted to invest in some excursions and explore some more of the country and the surrounding areas.

Anybody who has been to Turkey will no doubt have been hassled by the delightful Turkish men and women on the streets to come and spend your Lira on some of their excursions, however, I’d decided early on that there wasn’t a chance I was going to be purchasing my excursions from a side street shop. Yes, it’s far, far cheaper than booking through your holiday provider, however, as much as they probably tell you they’re insured, the likeliness is that they’re not. I opted to pay extra through Thomas Cook as I knew that they still used local Turksih businesses to run their excursions anyway, yet we have the added peace of mind of knowing that if anything did go wrong, we would be covered by Thomas Cook’s insurance, as well as our own travel insurance.

On our first day we sat with our holiday rep who went through all of our excursion options, and we settled on three, meaning I would still get my days to read around the pool and get the rest I was very much in need of, but also get the adventure I always crave.



The Ancient City of Ephasus

A word of warning, this excursion is not for the faint hearted if you’re travelling from Marmaris. It is a six hour round coach trip and a rather early 5:30am start generally! However, if you don’t mind the length of the journey, this trip is absolutely worth it. The way I looked at it was this was a holiday for me to relax, so on this day I got the best of both worlds. I got to chill out on the coach with a good book or have a nice long nap, then explore our surroundings when we reached our desired destination.

The Ancient City of Ephasus is basically what it says on the tin. It’s an Ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, that by some miracle (And a great deal of help from the people working on the excavation of the city!) has stood the test of time and has preserved itself for thousands of years.  This city was built in 10th century BC, just to give you an idea of how old it is!


I loved walking amongst the ruins and imagining what it must have been like all those many years ago as a bustling Greek city.  Even some of the floor you walk on is marble (Bloggers take note!), and some slabs still in perfect condition (Although I have to be honest - I don't know if some of them had been replaced later down the line.)!  Although I'd warn anybody to be careful on the marble floor.  It can be slippy because it's so smooth, and you do not want to land on hot marble in 35° heat!



My absolute favourite parts in Ephasus were the Amphitheatre and the library.  The Amphitheatre was just breathtaking in size.  Until you stand within the Amphitheatre you really don't realise how huge it is, and I still can't believe how perfectly preserved some parts of the library still are.  It's as if some parts have never had a human being step foot in them.  Incredible!


Also, if you're a cat lover, there are plenty of cats just chillin' amongst the ruins.  You know, just what you expect to see as you're exploring an Ancient City!


Cleopatra Island

I think out of the three excursions we did the trip to Cleopatra Island (Or Sedir Island if you want to go by it's official name.) was by far my favourite.  I just loved the entire day!

We started off by being picked up from our hotel in an open top jeep to go for a morning drive through the mountains of Marmaris.  For me this was stepping totally out of my comfort zone as we were really teetering on the edge of some dangerous cliffs as we went up into the mountains, and I am absolutely terrified of heights!  The views from the tops of the mountains were absolutely out of this world though.  Totally worth risking my life for (I'm only joking a little bit here!)!



We were then taken to some docks in Marmaris, which basically equated to a few slabs of wood and some questionable looking steps that lead onto our boat, which would be taking us to Cleopatra Island.

The legend is that Mark Anthony gave Sedir Island to Cleopatra as a gift to show his love for her, and to really step it up a notch they even say that Mark Anthony had all of the sand on the island shipped over from Egypt as a surprise for Cleopatra.  I can barely get a bunch of flowers from Spencer!

This is why the sand on the island is so precious, and it's actually forbidden for you to take any of it from the island.  You're not even allowed to lay a beach towel down on the sand as it will stick to the towel!  They mean business with this whole sand deal!

In all seriousness though, the island is absolutely stunning.  It really is everything you imagine a paradise island to look like.  White sand, palm trees and sea at every angle you turn.



We had the option to just chill on the beach for our time there, or do a little tour of the island.  Being the history nerd that I am we opted for the tour of the island, where we got to see more ruins and were told a few more stories.  There was a slab of stone we come across with some engravings on, which are apparently a love letter from Mark Anthony to Cleopatra.  I really had to stifle a laugh when somebody in my tour group asked why Mark Anthony didn't just write the letter to Cleopatra on paper.  The tour guide very politely put that paper wasn't really a thing 2000 years ago, but in his face you could see he was like, "Really...?".

There was a mini Amphitheatre (Because was it even a town or city in this area of the world if there wasn't a Amphitheatre in it?!), a church, the very ruined remains of what looked to be a watch tower, amongst much more to look at, and the best part is that the island was so small we went around the entire thing in about 30 minutes, which still left plenty of time to relax on the beach before the journey home!


Turtle Island and the Lycian Tombs

We took the trip to Dalyan and Turtle Island on our final day.  Our flight wasn't until midnight and we had to check out by midday, so we filled our day with an excursion to go and see the turtles on Turtle Island.

This was a much more relaxed excursion than the former two, with a slow, relaxing boat journey along the river to get to the island, where on the way we got to view the Ancient Lycian Tombs.  They were a breathtaking view to see carved amongst the cliffs, and again, imagining the work that went into them all those years ago just blew my mind!



The tombs date back to 400 BC, and are where the people of Lycia were laid to rest.  You can see the difference in detail of the tombs, and this is a sign of how noble the person was who was laid to rest there.  The more detail that went into the carvings, the more noble the man.

Also, guess what's not to far away from the cliffs where the tombs are...ruins of an Amphitheatre!  Turkey has Amphitheatres dotted around everywhere like Sheffield has Greggs!  Unfortunately this isn't one you can go and explore like the others, but you could see it quite clearly in the distance.

When we arrived on Turtle Island, we had 90 minutes to explore or relax.  In all honesty there isn't all that much to explore.  It's purposefully a very under developed island because first and foremost, it belongs to the turtles, but all the same Spencer and I took the opportunity to walk along the beach and just take in the views.


The island is run by a charitable organisation, as the turtles are endangered, and at one point were incredibly close to extinction, all because of us careless humans causing injury to the turtles with our boats.  Although it is still a popular tourist point as a means to help keep bringing the funds in to care for the turtles, there are a great deal of restrictions in place now for tour operatives and tourists when visiting the island to reduce any harm coming to the turtles as much as possible.  For example nobody is allowed on the island after a certain time in the day, as this is when the turtles return to their home, and there are certain points of the year where you can't visit the as this is when the turtles lay their eggs.


After our time on the island we went and sat back on the boat for a bit to see if we could get a glimpse of the turtles.  They didn't seem all that up for visitors the day we went so we mainly just saw them swimming around in the sea, however, Spencer did manage to capture a photo of one of them as it stuck it's head out of the water!

When we booked our trip to Marmaris, I knew very little about Turkey and the area we were staying in, so was very pleasantly surprised when I discovered that there is so much history to explore in this part of the world!

If you ever do decide to visit Marmaris, make sure you take advantage of these amazing excursions.  As much as I love my photos from our trips, I still don't think they do the area justice.  You really need to see with your own eyes just how stunning this country and it's surrounding areas really are.
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