Kabak Beach – Hidden Gem

Kabak is in the guidebook, but it’s by no means easy to get to.

We drove there from Fethiye in a small rental car. Most of the drive is easy, and spectacular. The last two kilometers is a whole different story. The paved road passes along the mountainside way far above the beach, and there’s a steep, rocky, dirt road that drops steeply down to the beach.

We started down in our crappy little car, and soon encountered two guys in a pickup. They took one look at our ride and just shook their heads. We just backed’er up and parked that sucker. The walk down was lovely anyway.

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The Beach

The beach was deserted (low season) except for some friendly backpackers that were hiking some section of the Lycian Way. They had arrived at Kabak beach two days before, scrapped their plans and stayed there. There was also a cat.

We played on the beach, watched a praying mantis, went for a swim… 6 stars out of 5.

 

Pamukkale looks like ice, and it’s cold on the feet…

But it’s not ice!

Pamukkale ice

Pamukkale has some crazy geology. The “Cotton Castle” was laid down by millennia of calcium carbonate sediment flowing downhill from 17 natural hot springs. This formed the crazy, alien-looking travertine terraces on which you can go wander around barefoot today.

Barefoot Pages

I suspect it is warmer on the feet during the Turkish summer, when the temperature sits in the mid-thirties for months. We went there in the winter, so temps were around 20 degrees but much lower (6-9 degrees) at night. The dang floor was freezing!

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Fortunately, not far up from the lower entrance there’s a trench full of cascading warm water which runs alongside the terraces. The kids just walked up in the trench. They soaked their clothes almost immediately. No problem, we had alllll day for their clothes to dry.

The warm trench

Access to the terraces is restricted to the man made pools on the former access road. The other terraces are more natural looking, but depending on the time of year most are empty. Apparently there is some water management as well. They say when the pools are empty for a time, the sun bleaches out the algae and stuff that accumulates in the pool.

The view as you walk up just gets weirder and weirder. The wedding cake-looking travertines, the masses of other tourists, and the occasional paragliders sailing overhead is just surreal.

There’s a swimming pool at the top (quite a ways from the terraces, actually) where you can pay some more and swim in the warm water. There are some fallen columns and ancient stones in the pool and it looks pretty neat. The tea costs a dang fortune, though.

Hierapolis

The other main attraction in Pamukkale is the ruins of Hierapolis. Naturally, back in the day a city grew up around the hot springs and crazy calcite formations. Equally naturally, earthquakes knocked it all down and the people scrapped the idea. There were two theaters, all kinds of temples, and lots of big, impressive walls.

Another really cool feature we noticed was the aqueducts running all over the place to pipe hot water into the buildings. Over time the same kind of mineral build-up happened and now it all looks like it’s made of lava. Super-cool.

We spent our time in the ruins of Hierapolis climbing on things, wandering around in the weeds, generally just relaxing in the freedom of a historical site with no ropes, fences, or other restrictions. Freedom!

 

Vegans in Izmir

Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey, so there are many different options for accommodation. They seem to be grouped in different districts of the city, all fairly distant from one another. How to chose?

Our method was to hop onto HappyCow and see where the vegan restaurants are. There are exactly 2, in the same neighborhood. Well, that certainly narrowed down our search. Often what we do at that point is to simply find a hotel in that area and book it.

In Izmir we tried a different approach, with great success! We traveled to the city, navigated the standard Turkish bus station (i.e. inconveniently located 7 km from the city) and just went to one of the vegan restaurants we had found.

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Arriving in a new city at around dinner time with two kids, big backpacks, and no hotel may seem risky to some. We went to Yasam Kafe, ate some vegan toasted cheese sandwiches, some terrific iskender and asked some questions.

The wonderfully friendly and helpful staff suggested a couple of hostels in the neighborhood. The one they really recommended was Shantihome hostel. I went over while the family was finishing up dinner, and immediately grabbed their 4 bed family room on the top floor. The rooms are all named, and ours was called Freedom!

Shantihome Hostel

The best thing about Shantihome in Izmir is the people we met there. There were many travelers, some folks who had been there for months, and a constant stream of friendly Turks passing through. We met Russian street musicians who have been travelling for over a year. They are self-funded by busking and human generosity.

Music lessons
Yevgeny and the Fella playing the classic Uke and Digeridoo duet

They performed for us in the living room one evening. Yelena is also an amazing artist, with a collection of Vegan-themed pencil and charcoal drawings.

Street music in the house!
Eclectic mix of Russian folk songs and non-traditional instruments

We also got some free baby-sitting from the incredible Jo from Australia. She’s a digital nomad, doing consulting work while she travels the world. We hope to see her again in SE Asia, and not just for the babysitting!

Storytime.
Storytime.

Other Stuff

We also went to an art gallery in the former French embassy. There was a display of water-themed paintings and a room for the kids to colour.

Art
This one was my favorite… poor suckers are going down.

We also went on many ferry rides and saw beautiful sunsets. People were throwing bread to the seagulls so the birds were flying so close I almost grabbed one.

Izmir seagulls
But what would I have done with it had I caught one?