Friday, 31 December 2010

Day 104 Turkey 31/12/2010, Fethiye–Kayaköy–Fethiye. 10.98miles/17.9km, 1hr44minutes, Av 6.2mph.

We had a really nice meal last night and my stomach survived, so recovery is well and truly under way. Debs meanwhile must have slept in a peculiar way and has hurt her neck and shoulder, pretty much like I did a week or so ago.

Clearly the best thing for us, is to unlock our bikes and ride nearly 9km to the ghost town of Kayaköy. Just to make sure that two crocked up people get the full benefit of some exercise, we will make the route climb up to nearly 400m from sea level descend 300m then have them turn round and go back. Sounds foolish? Well at the time it seemed perfectly sensible.

The kill or cure approach must have worked, for me at least, as by the time we got to the village I felt pretty good.

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After the treaty of Lausanne was signed and the borders of the modern Turkish republic were drawn up, a religious status based population exchange took place between Turkey and Greece. During this exchange the Christian based population of Kayakoy were exiled to Greece and the town was left deserted. For some reason the village was never repopulated and you can walk around what is left. Some of the buildings, mainly the two churches, are largely intact. Quite a lot of the village though, is slowly returning to nature. It makes for a strange experience wandering through a town that seemingly was abandoned overnight.

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As we hadn't descended as far as we had climbed the return journey to Fethiye was slightly quicker. After riding the bikes fully laden for so long, they feel really strange with no luggage. The 4km descent should have been fun, but the road was very bumpy with lots of hairpin bends. Without the weight of the luggage the bikes are a lot less springy, which makes for quite a jarring ride. Plus like a fool I had left my gloves behind; gripping the bars with hot sweaty hands while you are rapidly heading downwards isn't a lot of fun. Neither is having an injured shoulder that you feel every bump through!

Having survived the morning's exertions it was time for a rest, to get us ready for a night on the town. In truth we had no idea what we were going to do to celebrate the New Year, past going for a nice meal.

Leaving going for dinner as late as we could, two already tired people wandered into the town to find a restaurant. People walking round carrying presents (the Turks give these at New Year) was a good sign, as at least it meant the New Year was being celebrated. It would have been a little disappointing if we had stayed in a larger town for New Year, only to find out that no one celebrated it.

We eventually decided on a Indian/Turkish restaurant as neither of us have had a curry for a while. I think the owners would have liked us to have the New Years Eve special menu, but it was quite expensive and consisted of far too much food. The curries were delicious and were swiftly washed down with some Efes.

That rather set the tone for the night, as soon we were being dragged into Turkish dances, plied with gateau and generally joining the celebrations of our hosts, their family and friends.

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We never did get to see any fireworks, but we had a lovely night. Moving on tomorrow looks unlikely!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Day 103 Turkey 30/12/2010, Fethiye. Illness in the camp.

Any plans of doing much today were ended when I spent the night feeling terrible. I have no idea whether it is something I ate or just a bug, but the trips to the toilet and the hot and cold sweats have left me feeling totally drained. Which is terrific for Debs, because I am the world's worst patient.

Accepting that I have to eat, I did manage some breakfast and we even had a brief walk to get some fresh air, after which I ate some lunch. I must be on the road to recovery but there will be very little to report today.


New Years Eve tomorrow, so let's hope I am better and we get to visit the ghost town. Plus it would be a shame if I couldn't have a least one drink to see in the new year.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Day 102 Turkey 29/12/2010, Fethiye. Great views, a crumbly castle, rock tombs and a museum.

Despite the bed being a little lumpy we both slept well and woke to a beautiful day.

Heading up the quite steep hill behind our guest-house we went to have a look at the old castle and rock tombs that are carved into the cliffs behind Fethiye.

From the top of the hill the views over the harbour are quite beautiful, although some of the wooden lookout areas are a little on the precarious side.


The castle itself is little more than ruins, but it does offer yet another terrific view over the town. By the amount of broken glass laying around its also the place where youngsters (or maybe not so young) go for a drink.


As we headed back down the hill towards the town centre the rock tombs came into view. It looks like at some point in the past you have been able to get closer to them, but now they are fenced off. Having been inside a smaller one, there really isn't anything to see. Obviously anything of value or interest has been stolen or removed long ago. Nevertheless they are quite impressive, although a relatively common site in this part of Turkey.

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On the way back through the town we made a brief stop at Fethiye's museum. The building is quite small and is probably not worth more than a cursory glance, although it does have a few interesting artefacts. It also has the least interested and least attentive staff we have encountered for a while, it was lunch time though!

With lunch approaching we bought some bread and returned to the guest-house. With the day still lovely and sunny we ate lunch on the patio. Then while I hung the tent out to dry, Debs became super busy emailing people and organising her return home.

If it wasn't for the heavy rain that soaked us while out for dinner it would have been a perfect day. All being well, we should be riding the 8km to visit the ghost town of Kayaköy tomorrow. Night all.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Day 101 Turkey 28/12/2010, Göcek–Fethiye. 12.78miles/20.87km, 1hr15minutes, Av 10mph.

I clearly spoke too soon about the levelness of the tent, because in actual fact it was far from it, or at least my side wasn't! Consequently I had another rubbish nights' sleep, fortunately we have a very short ride today.

Via a couple of gentle climbs we reached the highest point and were treated to a spectacular view of the sea around Fethiye.


Once again the promised tunnel failed to materialise, we are beginning to wonder if the cartographer got bored and started drawing them in randomly on our map. You would imagine it is quite difficult to miss a tunnel, but that is now two that seemingly don't exist and one we couldn't use. Mind you it would have been a job to see where they would have put the tunnel as we were already as high as you could go. The rest of the ride into Fethiye was largely downhill and we arrived in the town at about 10:30am. Despite a very long ride through the town we found the marina and located our guest-house of choice with ease.

Having checked in and showered we set off to have a look round Fethiye's Tuesday market. After some initial impressions that it wasn't very big, we explored a bit more and found ourselves walking round the largest market we have encountered since Istanbul.

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We have found that in Turkey you have to take advantage of these markets, as outside of them, it is very difficult to get any variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Having stocked up, we stopped at one of several pancake stalls and had a light lunch and the obligatory cup of çay.


The marina and waterfront area of Fethiye is very attractive and it was along there that we strolled slowly back to the guest-house. Our first impressions of the town have been good. It is certainly a bit more lively than Köyceğiz, so we may well stay and see in the New Year.

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The only issue that we have found, is that restaurants are more expensive than we have been used to. This was highlighted by the ludicrous bill that we were presented with at dinner. We will definitely not be reusing that restaurant!

We cheered ourselves up with a bottle of wine and then settled in for an early night. Let's hope I sleep well tonight.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Day 100 Whoop whoop! Turkey 27/12/2010, Köyceğiz–Ortaca–Göcek. 35.37miles/57.99km, 4hr01minute, Av 8.7mph.

After a lovely time in Köyceğiz and the Tango guest-house, we returned to the road today bound for Fethiye. We have the luxury at the moment of being able to travel very slowly, as Antalya is about 300km away and we don't need to be there until the 10th January.

Yesterday's cloudier skies gave way to bright sunshine today and we were soon feeling the heat as we rode up the hills towards Ortaca. Having already seen the first 20km of our route from a dolmuş window, we had been forewarned of two reasonably long hills. Probably because Turkey is so mountainous, the hills have just become obstacles that you have to get past. There is no sense in letting them bother you, you just select a low gear and plod away until you make it to the top, safe in the knowledge that there will be another one just around the corner!

Leaving the town of Ortaca the road started to climb steadily until we came across a tunnel through the mountainside. What a sense of relief that we wouldn't have to go over the top! What a sense of crushing disappointment when we discovered that along with tractors, high lorries, horse and carts, pedestrians, people who are too tight to pay the toll and rather bizarrely cars that are on fire, bicycles aren't allowed to use it.


It was so disappointing that I forgot to check my odometer and didn't notice that we had passed the 4000km mark, 'go us'!

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While the rest of the motorists continued through the tunnel, the rest of us ragtag bunch struggled up a winding mountain pass until we reached the top, where we then stopped to take in the view and sped down the other side. There are some compensations to having to go over the top, the views are definitely better and the descent was a lot of fun. If only we had seen a car that was on fire struggling over the hill, it would have been all the more worthwhile!

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With about 30km to Fethiye we stopped in the town of Göcek and had lunch. Despite the fact that we were very close to Fethiye, the plan was to free camp and then have a really short day tomorrow.

Before getting back on the road after lunch we stocked up on bread and water and then set off once again, straight onto another hill. I can honestly say there is nothing like a good long hill to help you wear off a full stomach, especially when you have just increased the weight of your bike with 5 litres of water. Finding somewhere to camp sooner rather than later was going to be the order of the afternoon.

Perhaps it was that we were so close to Fethiye but finding a suitable spot became a bit of a chore. I hold my hand up and say it was all my fault, there were places to stop, but I couldn't get any enthusiasm up for litter strewn areas just off the main road. Especially when there was a comfortable guest-house waiting down the road. Staying in a guest-house was defeating the object though, we were supposed to be taking it easy and saving money at the same time, so a camp spot would have to be found.

Eventually we turned off the main road just as it started to climb and went to investigate a camping sign. We didn't find the camp-site but we did meet an off-duty policeman who gave us an orange each, showed me his gun and told us how far it was to Fethiye (which we already knew).

Turning back to the main road we spotted a possible camp spot and went to investigate. Success! We are now sheltered from the road and the tent is largely level! Plus the small amount of litter masked the pasta that I spilled while trying to drain the water from the pan. For once my inability to work out pasta quantities turned into a good thing, or dinner would have been a good deal less filling.


It will be a short ride tomorrow, possibly via another tunnel, assuming we are allowed to use it.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Day 99 Turkey 26/12/2010, Köyceğiz. Boxing day, packing and pomegranates.

Funnily enough, today felt very much like the day after Christmas does back at home. We both rather sluggishly got out of bed and went down to breakfast. We then went back to the room and failed to move until about midday. It wasn't entirely unproductive, I did get my blog entries written and we started to do some packing, but mainly we just rested.


The only part of the town that we haven't seen since we have been here is the beach, so when we did eventually venture out that's where we headed. It was very much a case of 'well we have seen it, now lets go back'. Perhaps in the summer it looks much better, but right now we wouldn't describe the beach as Köyceğiz's finest asset!

Having picked up some bread and snacks from a supermarket we returned to the hotel to complete the Boxing day tradition of eating all the leftover food from the day before. It was during this, that I now have to add Pomegranates to the list of food that can only be eaten whilst naked and in the bath. I know Terry Wogan used to claim this was the only way to eat mangoes, but having attempted to dye my clothes grenadine coloured, I feel that Pomegranates should also be eaten this way. It was very tasty and perhaps I was preparing it wrong, but unless I receive another free one, then I shall not be risking it again!

Heading out once again, we had dinner in a local restaurant and then went back to the hotel to watch the Dr Who Christmas special. Even in Turkey, using a bit of internet trickery, we didn't have to miss out on the latest episode.

Hope everyone is still enjoying the holidays, I shall be writing from the hills along the road to Fethiye tomorrow.

Day 98 Turkey 25/12/2010, Köyceğiz. Merry Christmas everyone.

Despite the fact that we are in a Muslim country and we are apart from our families we were determined to have a nice Christmas. Debs donned her flashing Santa hat and we went down to breakfast. The guest-house owner wished us Merry Christmas and from somewhere managed to find a small Christmas tree for us, complete with decorations. The day had started really well.

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Back in our room we set about calling all of our family and friends via Skype; it was great to speak to you all and it sounded like you were all in for a wonderful day. If we missed anyone we apologise and hope you had a terrific time.

In high spirits, we spent Christmas dinner eating mezes, drinking Efes and playing backgammon in beautiful sunshine overlooking the lake. It may not be traditional but it was really nice.

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Heading back to the guest-house armed with a bottle of wine, Debs was looking forward to taking a picture of the Christmas tree, only for us to find it gone. A very disappointed Debs trudged upstairs to our room, only to open the door and be greeted by a newly potted Christmas tree and bottle of wine! We cannot thank the guest-house staff enough, they have gone out of their way to make the day as special as it could be.


With the computer tuned to Radio One we listened to some Christmas music and enjoyed the wine. In Debs' case she may have enjoyed the wine a little too much, but hey it's Christmas.

We won't be moving on tomorrow, as we have lots of time to get to Antalya where Debs will be going home for a few weeks. Hope fully she will get to catch up with some of you.

All that's left to do is wish you all a very Merry Christmas, we will try and ring again around New Year. For now stay safe, lots of love Matt, Debs & Toad

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Day 97 Turkey 24/12/2010, Köyceğiz–Dalyan. Dolmuş', boats and a very stinky thermal baths.

Yesterday we decided to stay here instead of moving to Dalyan. The only problem with staying here being that to visit the mud pools, thermal pools and cliff temples we would have to take a Dolmuş (minibus) to Ortaca and then another to Dalyan. The only alternative being to cycle the 22km to Dalyan, which rather defeats the point of a rest day.

Finding the right Dolmuş was easy and one change later we arrived in Dalyan. Bearing in mind that we had already been here on our previous trip, we can honestly say that we didn't recognise anything. There certainly appears to be several new buildings and the town had the feel of a tourist destination that is closed for winter. Looking at the restaurant prices it looks like we have made a good choice to stay in the much cheaper and more relaxed Köyceğiz.

Grabbing a couple of cold drinks, we went to investigate the cost of getting to the Sultaniye thermal springs. Here the problem of being out of season reared its head. In the summer there is always people to share the cost of hiring one of the many private boats. Being the only ones here we had no choice but to hire one between us, which is considerably dearer. Nevertheless it's Christmas and no minor inconvenience was going to stop us from soaking our muscles in some healing water.

The boat trip took about 40 minutes travelling along the Dalyan river and into the main body of Lake Köyceğiz. Along the way we saw lots of cormorants, grebes, storks, coots and ducks. The scenery and beautiful reflections weren't bad either.

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The Sultaniye hot springs have a small mud pool which you are supposed to cover yourself in (we tried, but it was pretty grim and very gritty) and two hot pools, one outside and the other inside. After washing off the mud in a freezing cold shower, we quickly climbed into the hot (39°C) sulphurous water and spent the next two hours moving between the pools. The hot water certainly did wonders for our limbs and my still aching neck and shoulder.


The return boat trip was slightly shorter and upon arriving back in town we went to have a look at the rock temples and then decided to head straight back to Köyceğiz.


We were soon on the dolmuş bound for Ortaca in time to avoid rush hour. Arriving at Ortaca bus station we were directed to the correct dolmuş bound for Muğla via Köyceğiz.

Arriving in Köyceğiz we turned into the main bus station where some people got off and so should have we! In our defence there are two bus stations in town and we expected the bus to continue to the next one which was closer to our hotel. When we realised that we were going to be heading back towards Muğla, we hastily shouted stop and got off the bus to the bemused looks of the other passengers. I am sure Muğla is lovely but having cycled through there 2 days ago we felt no need to go back!

By the time we got back to our hotel we felt like we had walked miles and the hot springs had made us very drowsy. Not wanting to go out again we decided to eat in our guest-house restaurant. The selection wasn't that great but I had a lovely piece of sea bass and Debs had some nice chicken. We washed it all down with a few bottles of Efes and a couple of games of backgammon. Christmas tomorrow so off to bed for an early night!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Day 96 Turkey 23/12/2010, Köyceğiz. Lakes, Markets and Efes.

The extra effort yesterday was all worthwhile as we had a good nights' sleep and woke to a beautiful sunny day. After the fairly standard Turkish breakfast (tomato, cucumber, egg, olives and bread) we headed into the town to see what our potential home for the next few days has to offer. The first thing to mention is that Lake Köyceğiz is beautiful. The water is almost glass like with a stunning backdrop of mountains. Town aside, it would be very easy just to spend time looking out over the water.

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The town itself had a good range of stores and restaurants (all of which seem quite reasonably priced) so we certainly aren't going to starve. At one of the market stalls we stocked up on some fresh vegetables and fruit (the olive groves have given way to orange and lemon orchards) and then took our purchases back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel, thanks to the bright sunshine and warm weather we got to dry out our wet camping gear. Next time we camp it should be a little more comfortable; there is nothing quite like getting into a damp sleeping bag after a hard days cycling!

As it was such a lovely day we decided to go out for çay by the lake. The çay was quickly replaced by Efes and that Efes was swiftly replaced by another Efes and then yet another, until we decided that we may as well stay out for dinner!


With the day drawing to a close we were treated to a beautiful sunset over the lake; there are certainly worse places to spend Christmas!

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Full of beer and food we made a brief stop at a store to pick up some more Efes and then returned to our room to watch some episodes of 'House'. It has been a very nice relaxing day.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Day 95 Turkey 22/12/2010, Yatağan – Muğla – Köyceğiz. 55.01miles/90.47km, 5hr21minutes, Av 10.8mph. Max 34mph/56kmh.

Last nights' camp-site certainly wasn't the quietest, although there was a period around 3am when everything was silent. Nevertheless we remained undisturbed which was all we could ask for.

Leaving the site proved a little tricky, the slope we had come down from the road looked a lot steeper and a lot rougher in the morning. Attempting to push my bike up without help proved foolhardy and ended with me laying sideways under my bike in the dirt! Attempt two went better and with Debs steering and me pushing we got both bikes back onto the road.

The weather today was probably the best we have had for the last few days, with beautiful sunshine, clear skies and no wind. It was just a shame that our legs felt so heavy as yesterdays' climbing had obviously caught up with us. It really felt like I was riding my bike through treacle and I had to keep checking to make sure the brakes weren't on. The bigger tyres I am using definitely cause more drag. Despite struggling with our legs, we covered the first 10km quite quickly and were rewarded with yet more free çay, this time with a bit of home-made cake. The hospitality we have received from petrol stations is quite astonishing, especially as we usually stop just to use the bathroom.

In two days of cycling we have gone from Çine (90m) to Yatağan (400m) and after a brief downhill section climbed once again to Muğla (625m).

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Thinking that we had reached the top we stopped for a quick snack at another petrol station and then set off once again, only to be greeted by a 10% gradient hill. Assuming that it wouldn't be very long as nothing was mentioned on our map we continued on our way. We certainly didn't expect it to go on for 3km and climb to nearly 1000m. Obviously the beautiful weather and snack must have helped us on our way, as at the top I was soon joined by Debs, who even managed a smile and a thumbs up.


What goes up must come down and we were soon hurtling down the other side at break neck speed. The view was terrific, all the effort was once again totally worthwhile.

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We had made such good progress over the last few days that we were reasonably close to our Christmas destination. It looked like tomorrow would be a short day. With that in mind we had a nice lunch in a restaurant and then set off once again, with the plan to camp shortly after a forthcoming tunnel. Although marked we never found the tunnel, but we certainly did find yet another steep hill. Which was followed by an incredible 8km descent, complete with safety barriers and hairpin bends. At one point we found ourselves going faster than a lorry and had to slow down as an overtake seemed a little risky!

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By the time we made it to bottom we were only about 40kms from Köyceğiz, so started to look round for a suitable camp spot. Even after we struggled up another long hill nothing really presented itself as suitable. The ground was either water logged, being farmed or inaccessible from the road. By now we were about 30km away from Köyceğiz and the promise of a guest-house. The only concern was that it was about 3:15pm and it gets dark by 5pm, plus we were both very tired.

When we started to descend again, we decided that we would have to try and make a dash for it. Fortunately the road continued to gently go down all the way to Köyceğiz and two very tired cyclists rolled into the town at about 4:30pm. Tango guest-house is quite nice and the shower was hot (this is a bit of a bonus in Turkey). We may move on to somewhere swankier for Christmas, but right now this is fine. We have managed to get here in 3 days instead of 4 so we have plenty of options, at the very least we won't be spending Christmas in a tent!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Day 94 Turkey 21/12/2010, Free-camp–Çine–Eskiçine–Free-camp just north of Yatağan. 35.43miles/57.83km, 4hr34minutes, Av 7.7mph.

Despite the heavy rainfall last night and the strong winds, Debs slept well. I on the other hand had a lousy night. I could claim that I don't sleep well in tents, but I haven't been sleeping that well in the hotels either. No idea what is wrong but I am sure it will sort itself out eventually.

The rain had stopped by morning, but it didn't dry up enough to stop us having to put a wet tent away, once again. At least we should be camping again tonight, so it should get a chance to dry out (assuming it doesn't rain again!)

Setting off this morning we managed to get almost 1km before Debs got another puncture in her front tyre!


Once again a shard from an Efes bottle was to blame; why people feel the need to throw them from a moving vehicle is beyond me. This is the problem with riding on the hard shoulder, but it is still a better option than the road. On a plus point the puncture count is once again even; all of Debs' have been in Turkey.

Back on the road the sun started to shine brightly and the temperature got quite warm. Whether it is because there has been a change in the weather or the fact that we are getting closer to the Mediterranean coast is yet to be seen. Just to balance the good weather out, our old friend the headwind returned. It was just as well that the first part of today's journey was relatively flat.


After the town of Eskiçine the road started to climb dramatically, so being called over for a çay while passing a store, came as a welcome diversion. Once again the owner wouldn't let us pay and using a lot of sign language he wished us well. Watching a couple of the customers try to find out how heavy my bike was by lifting it, caused a little amusement. Neither of them succeeded in getting it off the ground, so we were waved off with a mixture of amazement and relief that it wasn't them having to ride it.

For the next 20kms we pretty much climbed continuously, only descending occasionally and this was always followed by a steeper ascent. It came as a bit of luck when we found a restaurant to have lunch in, as there had been very few options on the road. The owner ended up taking us into the kitchen to show us what he had as they had no menu. The meal may have involved lots of pointing but when it arrived it was excellent, plus it was cheap.

Rejoining the hills, we felt a lot better for the food. Eating properly is definitely more of an issue now that we are having to work harder. Finally we reached what appeared to be the highest point and stopped to take in the view, suddenly all the effort seemed extremely worthwhile.

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While we had been riding along I had been looking at a symbol on the map and wondering what it was. The best I could make out was that it was a bridge. A slightly scary lesson was learnt about checking the map key when you are uncertain, when we hurtled unprepared towards a tunnel! It didn't look that long when we were travelling towards it, but with no lights and in my case still wearing my sunglasses it seemed a lot longer and darker when we were in it. Fortunately we made it through safely, but we will be more prepared next time.

By now we were both tired from the constant climbing. All we needed was some water and a decent spot to camp, both however proved more difficult than we had thought. The road that we are taking has very little in the way of shops or garages along it and the terrain was rocky with little flat ground. It was starting to look like we would have to carry on to the next town that was 10km away and then find a hotel. The problem was that 10km up a hill with a constant headwind was going to take a while, and we didn't have too much energy or light left.

Our water problem was soon solved, when thankfully a store came into view. Finding a camping spot looked even bleaker though, when we approached a massive quarry on both sides of the road. Pressing on we were lucky enough to spot a small area of flat ground just off the road and out of sight. It isn't going to be the quietest place we have ever stayed, but hopefully we are both so tired that it wont matter.