I didn’t want to turn this into to too much of a beach holiday, as I would be scuba diving in Egypt later, but I figured a week or so on the coast should do trick. The first night in Fethiye I was able to catch up with a girl I met in Sri Lanka who was also in Turkey at the time, although she was leaving the next morning on what they call the ‘blue cruise’, a 4d/3n boat trip, heading northeast along the coast in the direction of Antalya. Apparently it was pretty popular thing to do! Now if I could have planned better, we could have done the same cruise, but hers was all booked up by now. It sounded fun, but I didn’t get my hopes up, because for all I knew, all these cruises were booked up. She also mentioned the one thing I HAD to do around here was the paragliding. Apparently the paragliding in this part of Turkey is world class. Alrighty then!
The next day I set off for Oludeniz, which is a smaller, touristy beach town near Fethiye, which features the blue lagoon, one of the most famous beaches in Turkey. It kind of sucked getting there, the dolmus was just insanely jammed packed and it took way longer than I thought to get down to the beach, winding through the hills and all. And then once you’re there you have to pay to get into the lagoon, it’s so friggen crowded, kids running everywhere, all the sun lounges are taken (and they’re not even free!) and there is no sand, it’s only a gravel beach that is hot as hell to step on! So that sums up my thoughts on the blue lagoon pretty well. Once you’re in the water it’s probably nice I guess. By opted to walk back towards the town and find a nice section of gravel beach all to myself. But seriously any part of your body that strays from towel get instantly scorched on those rocks! This was now my second experience with gravel beaches on this trip (Brighton being the other), and all I can say is: not for me.
You do notice in Oludeniz, when you look skyward, there are big flaps of colored nylon just about everywhere in the sky. I decided to stop in some of the shops and do some inquiring. It was way too hot lay at the beach for too long anyway. It was getting later on in the afternoon, so most places were booked for the day, but I did find a place that had room in their last run at 6:00. Perfect. I chilled out for a bit and then went back to the office. They gave me some shoes to wear (can’t wear flip flops) and then a few others and I piled into the van that they drive to the top of the mountain. I guess they have a few different launch points depending on the wind, but they said our conditions were good so we’d be able to go to one of the higher ones. I met my guide at the top and there was absolutely no dawdling around! He laid out the shoot on the 45 degree concrete runway, got us strapped in, and the only instructions I had to follow were “walk, run, jump!”
And that’s what I did. A few seconds of walking, a few seconds of running, and I hardly even had to jump because were basically in the air already at this point. After the initial takeoff rush wears down, its very relaxing. You’re just floating above the sea and the beach and the mountains. And I must say the blue lagoon looks a lot better from above! I got to chat with my guide, he’d been doing it for 15 years now, sometimes competitively. Although the competitions he did were to see who could stay in the air the longest, which sounded pretty boring to me. Anyway, he knew what he was doing. I actually had googled paragliding accidents in Oludeniz before I jumped (probably not the best idea), but it appeared that almost all the accidents were from solo jumpers, usually inexperienced ones at that. The tandems sounded almost totally safe. Sounded.
Now in the air they don’t let you take your own photos but the guide has a selfie stick with a go-pro attached to take some photos and video. I kind of hate doing the video because when you’re paragliding it’s very calm and peaceful, but then when they do they video they want you to act all excited like it’s so amazing and exxxtreme! It feels way too forced. I hate that stuff. Most of my video is me sitting there smiling and waving like a dork. Maybe that’s worse, I’m not sure.
Anyway, near the end you start doing some acrobatics, some downward swoops and spirals and stuff to get your blood pumping. I was happy enjoying the scenery until that point! By now you’re getting close to the ground and it’s about time for the landing. You land on these grassy strips right off the boardwalk, you just have to worry about people not paying attention walking through them! It gets a little tense as you get close to the ground, because you feel like you’re coming in pretty hot! But then (if they do it right) the parachute really catches at the last minute, you jerk up a bit and then come down, landing softly on your feet. And that’s how ours went. Although after watching several landings I can say that not all of them were as smooth as ours! So that was pretty damn fun. I even shelled out for the photo/video because the photos over the blue lagoon were cool, plus it’s the guide’s main source of income. I’ll probably delete the video, hahaha.
The next morning I stopped in the boat company tour offices and asked about the blue cruises. The first two were booked up for the next week at least, while the third one said I could join their boat tomorrow. Perfect. I didn't really ask any question, signed up, coughed up my money and that was that.
Next I rented a mountain bike (bc couldn’t rent a scooter without a motorcycle license, which is lame), and that turned out to be a bust. There were some places a little outside of town I wanted to get to, but while the town is flat, everything outside of town involves going up hilly/mountainy roads, which is hard enough, but during the midday heat and zero shade or cloud cover, just no freaking way. I was dying like 5 minutes into the uphill part. It didn’t take me very long to bail and go find the beach! I eventually got back on the bike before sunset to go find some ruins overlooking the city, but once I got close it was just much easier to just walk! It was a nice place to watch the sun set though.
The next day would be off to cruise the open seas.