I wanted to return to Olympos before we had left. We’d been lured there by the idea of living for a few days in a treehouse and though the comfortable reality of this didn’t match the primitive expectation we both fell for Olympos.
Many of the resorts on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast provide a grand entrance by descending down from the more mountainous interior. Glimpses of the coast are offered up as the landscape gradually changes from a thin strip of asphalt in the forest to the encroachment of urban civilisation at sea level.
Part of the magic of Olympos though is that the resort never quite completes this transformation. The bus remains in the trees all the way down into the heart of the resort, through the unbridged shallow river and all the way to our hotel set within orange groves. Never once does the sea show itself.
The modern settlement of Olympos is a small, still rural tourist construct nudging up against the ruins of a Lycian city founded after the conquests of Alexander the Great. To get from any hotel in the resort to the sea means passing through the ruins (and paying an entrance fee of 3TL regardless of whether you want to visit the ruins or not).
Only wanting to catch our first glimpse of the sea we avoided the toll by wading ankle deep through the shallow river that separated the two halves of the ancient city. A serenely haunting experience, we passed sarcophagi and scattered frogs in our wake until the ruins diminished as the beach opened up between the mountains.
Though several busloads of college age Turkish arrived a couple of hours before we were about to leave, giving us a sense of the more vibrant atmosphere the resort must exude in the summer, we had arrived at the very start of the season. A new road built in 2009 is said to be changing the scene in Olympos, but in early May we could still catch a sense of the isolated vibe that must have attracted the hippies that pioneered tourism in the area.
We spent our time lounging around in the shade of our wood panelled hotel, drinking beer and chatting to the few other guests, or going for walks along and beyond the beach. Most hotels in the area seem to combine the relaxed ethos of a backpackers hostel with a pansiyon, with breakfast and dinner thrown in. Our pension in Olympos actually rang a bell to signal the arrival of food and we quickly developed a Pavlovian response to the sound. No matter how far we wandered or at what time we turned back our subconscious took us through the archway to the open air dining room at the exact moment the bell was rung.
During our visit to Olympos we were hosted courtesy of Olympos Orange.