Pirates Of The Mediterranean

This blog entry about the events of Thursday, June 09, 2011 was originally posted on June 12, 2011.

DAYS 6-7 (PART 2):  Olympos in Turkey may be a Mediterranean beach destination almost exclusively full of backpacking hippies and Australian kids on gap year, but it’s not the only place on the “Turkish Riviera” that has been overrun with tourists from another country.  We’d heard that whole towns down the coast are almost exclusively British or German, and Kemer, the closest big town near Olympos and Çirali, was almost completely Russian. 

“A lot of Russians here,” I noticed and told to Ilmas, a non-Russian, Turkish resident of Kemer, who had picked Jeff and me up at the Shell station along the main coastal highway.

“Too many,” he said with an expression that was in between a smile and frown.

“It’s the Russian Riviera,” Jeff said.  (Later we heard rumors that some tourists toted tattoos only found on members of the Russian mafia.)

The 30-kilometer trip to Kemer was inevitable though; Jeff and I had run out of Turkish lira cash, not knowing that Olympos nor Çirali had no bank or ATM machine, and the closest one was in that resorty Russian town.  Also, it was in Kemer where we were to embark on a scuba diving trip that we’d booked in Olympos — a much-needed excursion into the high seas, since sitting on the beach gets pretty boring after a couple of hours.

Getting to Kemer from Çirali wasn’t exactly the easiest affair.  There are no taxis in Çirali, just a minibus shuttle that takes you up and down the mountain road once every hour.  This is fine if you have the time, but we had to get to the Shell gas station along the main highway by 9:30, so that our divemaster Ilmas could pick us up.  The highway bus at the top of the hill may have come every 15 minutes or so, but we had no real public transportation options to get to it.

“The woman [at the travel agency across the street from Orange Motel] says everyone here just hitches,” I told Jeff.

We quickly ate our breakfasts, walked to the edge of town, and stuck out our thumbs.  Sure enough, the one car that was going up at that moment — driven by a Turkish guy — stopped and picked us up for the ride up to the top of the long, winding coastal-to-mountain road.

AFTER THE HITCHHIKE, BUS RIDE, CAR PICK-UP AND ATM PIT STOP LATER, we found ourselves at the marina in Kemer, which was a much more resorty town full of high-end hotels, parasailers, and Russian faces everywhere.  The one Russian face (and body) that caught our attention (over and over again) was the sexy blonde that worked on our boat, who we originally thought was a diver (she was helping with all the equipment), but was actually only employed as a translator for the season since most of the clientele on board was Russian.  (She didn’t even like boats, and actually felt seasick at her job.)  My actual divemaster guide was not Ilmas (he was Jeff’s), but some Russian woman who knew absolutely no English — we had to use PADI scuba sign language to communicate all the important things.  Plus the blonde Russian knew some English and served as my translator as well.

“You have your license?” Ilmas asked me. 

“I have an advanced open water, but I haven’t gone in three years,” I answered.

“This is my first time,” Jeff said.  “[But] I’m a professional snorkeler.”

With that information, Jeff and I never dived together; he went on separate “Discovery Dives,” the kind that are fully guided with a divemaster (they pull you long), which don’t require any certification.  I on the other hand got to go on my first wreck dive, with a bottom depth level almost nine-stories below sea level, to see and tour around an old WWI French battleship, the M.S. Paris.  Unfortunately my underwater camera only went so deep, so I have none of my own photos or video to post from it, but here’s a cheesy tourist video I found on Youtube which shows some of the highlights — including the original mosaic tiles on the deck and the original “PARIS” lettering off the starboard bow.  (More unfortunately, my Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5 camera which was supposed to be waterproof for up to 10 ft. , suddenly decided it was not; water leaked in, but at least some of the underwater video survived.)

Jeff and I did share one dive site, along with plenty other tour boats, at the “pirate cave” that was a popular place to dock.  When cropped in tight with a camera, the cave looks like a buttcrack in the earth, but when you go inside, it’s just, well, a cave — completely absent of pirates.  In fact, the only thing remotely making it the “pirate cave” was the sight of this wannabe Jack Sparrow on one of the other boats docked there (picture above), who ate spaghetti and salad just like everyone else onboard. 

THE ONLY MOVIE THAT CAME TO MIND other than Pirates of the Caribbean was none other than Titanic, especially when the three Turkish tourist guys on board (who’d also failed at any flirtation with the Russian blonde) took turns taking photos at the bow, raising their arms à la Leo and Kate, at our suggestion.  Our Titanic references were only bested by this one other tour boat we saw, with its Turkish flag waving in the wind, loudly blasing that Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” song as it cruised back to harbor.  Obviously, it made us laugh.

Back on shore, Jeff and I bid farewell to the boat staff and then departed from the resorty Russian commune and back to Çirali.  I guess it’s not like too bad of a thought to think that the Russians are taking over a Turkish Riviera area; it’s not like Americans don’t do that in the Caribbean.  The only difference is, the pirates in the Caribbean aren’t such posers.


On the way to the edge of town where we hitchhiked, we saw a wild turkey cross the road: a turkey in Turkey.

Next entry: Leftover Turkey

Previous entry: The Post-Backpackers

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Comments for “Pirates Of The Mediterranean”

  • One more to go (for now)...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/12  at  03:19 PM

  • jack sparrow is a douche bag

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/12  at  04:20 PM

  • Cool underwater video of the earth buttcrack!  I also want to stay in a cave hotel.  Oh, and you & Noelle did convince me to go to Oktoberfest!

    Posted by sara  on  06/12  at  06:31 PM

  • did you say Kak Vas Za Voot? to the russian blonde?  (in a joey tribiani accent) - “how you doin?” in russian

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/12  at  07:30 PM

  • oh wait, its “kag di la” is how you doin?  kak vas a voot is what’s ur name?  same ish

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/12  at  07:34 PM

  • oh no!  I’ve just finished all your travelling adventures from the very beginning…, and now i see that you are back on the road again in ancient turkey…, just kiidding i’ve loved your blogs and cn´t wait to catch up with this last one too.  SBR Paco fromspain

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/13  at  01:07 AM

  • Are you sure about the fact that turkey is holding a ageneral election for the first time in 34 years…?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/13  at  04:06 PM

  • So, how was the diving compared to other places you’ve been? I’ve heard there is a ton of dead stuff in the Mediterranean.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/13  at  08:31 PM

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This blog post is one of nine travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Jive Turkey," which chronicled a trip through the Eurasian country of Turkey.

Next entry:
Leftover Turkey

Previous entry:
The Post-Backpackers


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