Friday, August 26, 2016

Flying with Friends in Fethiye

Paragliding over the turquoise coast of Fethiye.
 April 16-17, 2016

By mid-April, Alex had decided to focus on her job search while I made Turkish lessons my main priority. Even though I am not an early morning person, waking up for lessons got me out of bed to start my day, which was good for my emotional well-being. As we learned complex grammar structures, I noticed improvement in my Turkish speaking and vocabulary. Çok güzel Türkçe konuşabilirim, ya! I even make small 10-second Snapchat videos teaching my friends some Turkish phrases
By the week’s end, I was feeling better from my kidney stones. When our Konya friend Ben told us he would be in a small port city called Fethiye with his visiting friend John, Alex and I decided we would join them for fun in the sun. Fethiye is truly a magical little place.  Wikipedia describes Fethiye as such: “Fethiye is a port city, and district, on Turkey's southwestern Turquoise Coast. It's known for its natural harbor, blue waters and numerous rock tombs that are remainders from the ancient Lycian city of Telmessos. The 4th-century B.C. Tomb of Amyntas is carved into a bluff overlooking the city. Near-shore islands are popular for day trips by boat. In the south, the beach at Ölüdeniz is sheltered by a lagoon.”

Arrival & Lodging
We took an early morning 4-hour bus from Antalya and arrived to Fethiye by noon. The city dolmuş dropped us off at wrong stop, which meant we had to walk for a solid 30 minutes before finding our hostel where Ben and John were waiting. We stayed at a hostel called Ideal Pension; 17.5 lira/night/person, with breakfast included. Alex and I shared a two-bed room while Ben and John shared another.
I learned that Ben’s college friend was visiting him from London. I also learned that John and Ben and I supposedly have a mutual friend—Ed who used to work at Liberty Mutual with me in Boston. Apparently they all went to Xavier University together and lived in the same dorm, with Ed being their RA. What a small world!

Greek Village, Paragliding, and Beach
Weekend was well spent. Saturday evening we walked up a winding highway and enjoyed some neat views. We stumbled upon a medium-sized brown tortoise and climbed up to ancient Greek ruins of Telmessos. I didn’t realize this but we had apparently walked to Kayaköy village, which is anciently known as Lebessos and Lebessus Greek city. We saw at the Telmessos temple sculpture for a while and looked out at the present-day Green Islands, which could be seen with the naked eye despite the fog. We enjoyed a homemade dinner by our hostel folks that evening and spent the evening chatting away until our eyes became drowsy.

Sunday was a super exciting day! Ben, Alex, and I signed up for paragliding trip for 110 lira. I have never done parasailing or parachuting or anything of the sort, so I was both nervous and excited for this new adventure. Paragliding is essentially running off of a mountain until you’re flying in a parachute in open air. The ride up to the mountain was quite bumpy, even scary because of the close proximity to the cliffs. Once we got to the top, we were assigned a professional paraglider, with whom we would share the ride.

On my first attempt at running off the cliff, I lifted my feet too soon and fell down, implicating my paragrlider as well as the helper. I apologized profusely, yet was still met with rudeness. In America, I am used to a response such as “it’s okay, don’t worry, everything will be okay.” In Turkey, I got “why did you lift up your feet? He’s hurt! What’s wrong with you?” I felt bad as we stayed still for 15 minutes to allow the professional paraglider to recover from his knee scratch. Our second attempt was successful and we were in the air before I knew it. We “paraglided” for about 45 minutes or so, taking in breathtaking views of the turquoise coast. We made small talk and I learned that my paraglider did this gig in both Izmir and Fethiye and uses it as an opportunity to improve his English. He took photos with his tiny camera and made video of flying in the sky. This reminded me of the balloon ride in Cappadocia, but this was much more open and vulnerable: I was held together only by a few straps. I trusted the professionals and enjoyed the experience. It was AMAZING!!! Afterward, we had to make a tough decision: to buy the priceless photos or not. After much contemplation, Alex and I caved and purchased the expensive 130 lira photos and video.

The next day we relaxed at the famous Ölüdeniz Beach, which literally means “Dead Sea.” The pebble beach is known for its blue lagoons and resort-like feel. According to my research, Ölüdeniz Beach is one of the most photographed beaches on the Mediterranean. All of us just slept on our beach towels and soaked in the sun while relaxing to the sound of the slowly splashing waves.