Anu and Manas soaked-in the lazy spirit of Marmaris before heading deeper into South-East Turkey. By now this is their third month on the road…
The last couple of days we have been holed-up in Marmaris, the port city in the Mugla province of Turkey. Being one of the Turkey’s most popular holiday towns, this tiny city attracts over 400,000 visitors every year. Call it luck or fate but we seem to have reached this city bang in the midst of the holiday season- and after the recent weeks spent in solitude and nature, to me it appeared as if all of the annual 400,000 vacationers had descended upon Marmaris all at once.
We stepped into the main street of Marmaris, mingling with the traffic taking-in the smells of food, barbecue and the mixed odor of perfume and tan oil. We glanced at the fancy hotels, edged past ‘luxury tourists’ stuffed into air conditioned boxes-on-wheels and waved out to an open jeep full of raucous young hippies and backpackers in bikinis and shorts. One observation at this point: the Asian tourists it appears, had not quite discovered Marmaris. ‘Is it because there was more sea and beach and therefore less opportunity for selfies?’ I found myself wondering- but it was a mystery that I have not been able to solve yet.
Marmaris as a city is quite pretty. The beaches are pristine albeit crowded but you can explore the surrounding countryside and can easily find your own hidden spots where you may enjoy the sound of the quiet waves and feel the breeze and mountain air. The main city however has a very busy main street that runs parallel to the sea; on either side of this street stand rows and rows of little shops- advertising everything from sarongs and thongs to auto parts and accessories. It is a narrow street with two lanes interspersed by honking scooterists, public transport buses and tourist vehicles- all of them trying to weave their way through the hoard of tourists flocking about.
Lazy couple (of days)
With the help of AirBnB we had rented an apartment in the city. It was comfortable and had a swimming pool too. The owner appeared to be a recluse however- he left the keys with the caretaker and though he seemed civil enough on phone, he never made personal contact with us… so we really do not have much idea about any Marmar-ian… if that is the right word at all. The sun had been especially generous the last couple of days and that was the chief draw that brought the whole of the city down at the beach. Anu and me- well we have sufficient (and more) sun back home too- so we were content staying indoors, sipping on cool drinks munching some junk food (ohhh… nothing tasted better) and lavishing the luxury of a powerful airconditioner.
Riding from Marmaris to Cirali
It took us two days of doing nothing to finally get back our juices. And on this fine morning while the sun worshipers were headed towards the beach flaunting their tans and their lotions, we donned out motorbiking armor. And thus looking like martians who landed upon an alien planet of semi-naked people, we mounted our steed- the Ducati Scrambler and hit the road.
I must also admit, our get-up, the strange motorbike (perhaps also whatever little skin colour was visible from under our biking gear) turned all heads in our direction. Some waved, some smiled- and some simply gawked… but I couldn’t care less… the sun was of gold, the skies were blue, the road stared at us and the breeze sung in our ears. Under my balaclava, I grinned wide, humming a fresh composition that didn’t seem melodious even to my discerning ears- but seemed to fit the mood just fine.
Soon, the last traces of Marmaris disappeared from our rear mirror and the winding roads of the surrounding mountains embraced us. This was a route we had taken while reaching Marmaris; the corners, twists and turns were so interesting that we decided to experience it once again as retraced our steps till Denizli and Sarabat. We were crossing the region of Acipayam when we saw the cloud shadow overtake us. It was dark and rapidly covered the sunny road.
A touch of Hail
I wondered if there might be rain in store for us today. Sure enough we were met with the first drops- and in the distance we could see the mountains. They soon became faint haze as the rain nearly covered the sight of the lofty peaks. Within minutes it would be upon us… it was time to seek shelter. I twisted the throttle in desperation. A while back there seemed to be several restaurants and similar places… but now- nothing. The smell of the rain was thick around us, it was approaching us and now within clear sight- and I was gunning my engine- but the road lead straight into the rain. I really didn’t want to get wet today!
We had not yet donned our rain gear- because the heat makes it so unbearable- but now I was beginning to regret the decision. And just when I thought it was going to be a long rest-of-day in wet leathers, I spotted a gas station coming up along our side of the road. We dashed under its welcome canopy just as the rain lashed out with its first shower. A few drops fell from the canopy upon the bike… and we could see steam rising hissing out from the silencer pipes. ‘Attaboy’ I called out to the bike… ‘You liked this dash didn’t you’.
Within minutes the rain increased from a pitter patter into a crashing downpour. Next came the hailstorms- thick pellets covering the ground in white while the rain continued to pour. We thanked our stars- lucky we were not caught in the open. And we set about putting the rain covers on our luggage. It was an intense 30 minutes burst of hail and storm- during which time we prepared our luggage for rain, the roads were wet but we had seen through this patch of clouds, that we started out again.
The rain gear helped- but despite the protection, the drizzle persisted… and over the hours, little squishy puddles started to collect at various uncomfortable parts under my clothing. After a point, you really do not care- and from then on, the magic of the ride overcomes you once again… and your senses open to the pristine beauty that surrounds you!
Home run to Antalya
The yellows merged into the green with a thousand subtle variations in between, the greens shimmered silver as the leaves swirled in the wind- and the surrounding countryside heaved a sigh of relief as it washed itself off the dust and the heat. And through the million drops dangling from the leaves, the sun sparkled again- pale golden yellow against the brown-black soggy earth. We were traveling through the country roads- past fields and farms, through forests and mountains and past beautiful lakes and streams. The clouds still clung to the mountains and in the rays of the setting sun we entered Antalya, the port city in Turkey. It was really a pretty sight- beautiful harbours and sail boats, a cheesecake shaped slice of rock rising up above the blue waters of the ocean, and beyond, the cable car moving up into the cloud laden mountains.
Thus we passed Antalya basking in the glow of the setting sun. That evening and the ride through Antalya, is an experience that will stay with me for a long time. The rain-washed streets devoid of tourists, the mist and fog rolled down the mountain, the blue-black sea and the lazy rays of the sun peeping through the western clouds lit up patches of the ocean as we passed Antalya and followed the road parallel to the sea heading into the forests and the little mountains within which lay our destination- the tiny fishing village of Cirali.