Turkey Part 2

Turkey Part 2

This is part two in the series of posts looking back on my recent trip to Turkey. Part 1 can be read here.  Part 2 will focus on some of the particulars of our trip in the event you might be interested in planning your own trip to southern Turkey some day.

Climbing

The most well-known climbing area near Antalya is the sport climbing at Geyikbayiri.  We spent two days here and enjoyed the style of climbing quite a bit.  The climbing we tried was characterized by both technical vertical sequences as well as ample tufa wrestling that leaves you with a huge smile on your face send or not.  Approach times for both cliffs we visited were not more than 10 minutes, and the penchant for routes in the area to have anchors midway up the full route meant there were plenty of fun climbs to try in the 5.10-5.12 range.  The only real downside was how polished most of the routes were and the distinct lack of a Leave No Trace ethic being practiced near the crag.

[instagram url='http://instagr.am/p/Tukg_9siRB/' size='large' addlink='yes']

We also spent a day venturing further south down the Mediterranean coast to another limestone area called Olympos.  Thwarted by soaked rock at our first option – an overhanging crag loaded with tufas that allegedly stays dry in the rain called Hörgüç Magara - we climbed a couple of pitches at an area called Cennet.  The climbing here is much more vertical compared to Geyikbayiri and given the crag’s aspect directly over the Mediterranean it ended up being a fun day.

The guidebook to the region is generally quite good with the only downsides being the lack of any quality ratings to indicate which routes are more worthwhile than others and the mixed use of both the French grading scale and the UIAA scale.  Unfortunately, it cost over $50 to get the book from Climb Europe so waiting until you get to Geyikbayiri might be advisable.  I didn’t see the book myself at the one climber place we stopped at, but surely the book is sold at one of the shops by the crag?

And to answer one obvious question, while I’ve never been, I get the impression that the climbing in Kalymnos is better than the climbing at Geyikbayiri so if all else is equal I’d probably go to Kalymnos first.  If all things aren’t equal, it’s hard to recommend against a visit to Geyikbayiri.  If you can’t have fun climbing there you probably can’t have fun anywhere.

Where To Stay

If you are on a budget and/or you are going to be in the area for an extended time, staying at one of the climber-focused places right at Geyikbayiri or Olympos is your best bet.  Most places listed on this site looked to have food and shelter to suit most budgets.   Picture Miguel’s but in the Turkish countryside.  Staying at one of these places allows you to avoid the expense and hassle of renting a car and to enjoy the simple pleasure of waking up and walking to the crag of your choice.  The one downside to this is that you are stuck out in the countryside although this is mitigated by the fact that renting a car on a day-by-day basis to get out and explore surrounding areas looked to be pretty simple.

We chose to stay in Kaleiçi which is the historic city center of Antalya.  Think one way cobble stone roads leading steeply down to a beautiful harbor.  This area also has plenty of tourist traps like restaurants, shops and pirate themed cruise ships that you may or may not enjoy.

We rented a car and drove out and back to the different climbing areas each day.  For a trip as short as ours where we only climbed three days this worked out ok, but this is not advisable for longer trips.  Gas in Turkey is somewhere in the $9-10/gal range and navigating Turkish traffic during the 1 hour drive can be a bit of a nightmare.  That said, I came to enjoy the adventure of driving and the flexibility offered by having a car was something we really appreciated.  Case in point, we didn’t even really realize what there was to do in Olympos until the night before and we were able to adjust our plans at the last second to drive down that way for a day, a day that was one of the highlights of the trip.

Other Things To Do

Other than climbing, there is plenty to do in the greater Antalya region.  At various points we visited the Antalya Museum, explored the ruins at Termessos, explored the old streets of Kaleiçi, experienced an authentic Turkish bath, visited Olympos National Park, took a cable car to the summit of the 2,365m tall Tahtali and ate at a wide variety of great restaurants.  Other than the museum, which was kind of boring, everything else that we did was extremely memorable and fun.  We drove past what looked to be an awesome aquarium so that is something to look into if you’re ever in the area.  As for Turkish baths, I went to this one in Kaleiçi.  It’s hard to explain the experience of having an elderly man bathe you while you’re practically naked without it sounding kind of weird, but it’s honestly a pretty cool experience.  You know what they say, when in Turkey…

Istanbul

Oh yeah, and since it’s highly likely that you will have to fly through Istanbul to get to Antalya it is well worth the time to spend a few days exploring this historic city.  While the expense and crowded nature of the main tourist sites – Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Spice Market, etc – wore on me, they are not to be missed.

Food

I’m a pretty picky eater so I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into as far as food goes in Turkey.  Your experience will vary depending on what you’re willing to try, but I thoroughly enjoyed just about everything I tried.  Generally the main ingredients are familiar meats like chicken or lamb, with the preparation being just a bit different (in a good way).  This collage is a pretty good summary of the things we ate:

[instagram url='http://instagr.am/p/UERB03MiR5/' size='large' addlink='yes']

Other Things Worth Noting

  • Other than gas things were priced reasonably.  $1 was equal to about 1.77 Turkish Lira when we were there.  The closer you are to tourist areas the likelier it is that prices will be inflated (but still reasonable) and the more you venture off the beaten path the cheaper things get.  Either way it’s a lot cheaper than when we were in Europe last summer.
  • Going into the trip we knew zero Turkish.  During the trip we effectively spoke zero Turkish.  After the trip we still know basically zero Turkish.  Of course learning at least some of the local dialect is advisable, but we found Turkish difficult to pick up.  This was not really a problem though since many of the people you encounter will speak or understand some English otherwise gesturing worked pretty well also.
  • Aggressive vendors are part of the deal in Turkey in the tourist zones.  Unfortunately, they tend to prey on the fact that most Americans are friendly people who are not opposed to engaging in conversation with strangers.  One second you’re making idle banter with a guy about how he has relatives in New Jersey and the next second you’re in his shop listening to a 30 minute sales pitch for a $900 carpet1 you didn’t know you were shopping for.  Of course you don’t have to buy anything, but when you’re on a trip and you have limited time these types of encounters can waste valuable time.  Sadly the best advice seems to be to just avoid any contact with random people on the street.
  1.  Haggling in these scenarios is a must if you actually want to buy something

Posted In: From The Narc, Sport Climbing
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10 Responses to Turkey Part 2

  1. did you go bouldering? January 24, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    sounds like a great trip. would love to get some beta on the bouldering options if you have it – is there a bouldering guide?

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    • Narc January 24, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      Didn’t do much research on bouldering since we knew we wouldn’t do any. The guidebook I have doesn’t include any specific bouldering information but it may have referenced some. I’ll double check when I get home.

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  2. Egghead January 24, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Enjoyable posts Narc. Thanks. Someplace I will undoubtedly never visit so thanks. ce

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  3. Supersonick January 24, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Both places are incredible, but personally I think the climbing in Geyik Beyiri is much better than the climbing in Kalymnos. Kalymnos is an awesome beach vacation and everyone should go there at least once, hell I even met my wife there. But Geyik Beyiri is the one that keeps me up at night. I spent two months there and I can’t wait to get back for more.

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    • Narc January 24, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      What could you point to that was different about the climbing between the two that made you like Turkey better?

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      • Supersonick January 24, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

        Kalymnos has those incredible 3D stalactite tufas, but the routes tend to blend together in my mind. Steep, jugs, endurance, no surprises really, not too many interesting movements or sequences. I remember thinking about what things I needed to buy at the grocery store later while I was wrapped around a tufa dong during a 45-minute onsight attempt in the Grande Grotta.

        The climbing in GB was more varied and for me more interesting – I felt more like I was on a serious climbing trip. There are some routes there that are really special. There is one route in particular that I had to leave unfinished and I still think about it all the time. It would be well worth it to me to go all the way back to Turkey just to finish it.

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        • Narc January 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

          Makes sense. I couldn’t help but think how the climbing in Turkey was pretty much the exact opposite of what I’m used to in climbing at the Red River Gorge so much. Definitely a fun change of pace. Obviously I wish we could have spent more time in Turkey since there were quite a few hard for me routes in the mid-5.12-easy 5.13 range that looked amazing.

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  4. Traveling Climber January 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I took the ferry from Greece (Kalymnos) to Turkey (Antalya), having made arrangement for pickup by the Geyikbayiri campsite. Then went back the same way.

    And Narc, while I enjoy your posts, it does not take much effort to bring along a Turkish-English language translation book (honestly, just borrow it from the library) and practice on the plane ride over. Or find something on the internet, even for the most basic words. Take my advice, it’s courting disrespect. Try speaking English in the Basque, Catalan, or German boonies, yo.

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    • Narc January 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

      I fully agree with your point about the language and I didn’t mean to advocate ignorance. My point was that the language barrier should not deter people from trying to visit. The reality is that we never really had a problem getting our point across through a mix of broken English and hand gestures, so we never had to try out what little Turkish we did attempt to read up on.

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  5. dom January 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Supersonik I’ve got to disagree with you, I did a Kalymnos/Geyik Beyiri trip (for 6 weeks and 2 weeks) and in my opinion Geyik Beyiri pales in comparison. Kalymnos is not just steep tufa’s, it has every style imaginable. For every route I got on in Geyik I could think of a much better equivalent in Kalymnos. Its worth going to them both though.

    Narc I agree with you that Olympos is well worth the visit, it was the highlight of my time in Turkey too.

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