Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Like Like Like Lycia, a week in Southern Turkey!

After Istanbul, Susie and I took a short flight south to Antalya. What a beautiful little pansion we ended up at in the old town of Kaleici. Antalya has a history of more than 2000 years, we mostly stayed and explored Kaleici which is bordered by Hadrian's Gates to the north east, a hellenistic tower at the south by the sea and a roman era clock tower to the west. Beautiful cobble stoned streets with ancient Turkish and Greek houses and architecture with sweeping bougainvillea crossing over many alleyways.We spend our fist afternoon in the Antalya museum. There we learned so much, namely our education began about the roman period in that region. We were officially in Lycia which was a major providence during the roman era and today is known by that name for its ruins and also for the Lycia Way hiking trail. The museum had so many sculptures and tombs and coins and we could have spent days there. It really was such a treat and peeked our interest for what we would see in the coming days. I was also struck by the bones of St, Nicolas. Yes, that Saint, as in Santa Claus.The next morning we decided to take a boat trip off the coast of Antalya to some swimming spots and around a few scenic islands. The water was fine!!! and Susie got a good dose of swimming in. That night beers and dinner by the sea with a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean at sunset. Such lucky girls we felt like for sure.The next day we took at bus to Cirali which is a small agricultural village, really, with two dirt roads, lots of pansions, a beautiful stone beach with access to the ancient city of Olympos and the mysterious Chimaera. We spend the first afternoon enjoying the beach, swimming, and making up little art projects for ourselves with the beautiful rocks that lined the beach. I think perhaps only Susie and I could find ourselves in Turkey and be so content for hours playing with pebbles!!!The following day, we got studious and employed what we had learned at the Antalya Museum to explore the ancient ruins of Olympos. It was so amazing, and so vast, we climbed rocks and great big hills, and under fallen trees, and we still didn't see everything. All the ruins still haven't been uncovered. People there are so used to seeing these ruins, down by the sea, they became picnic tables and places to dry a towel. We were shocked... and really just feeling privileged to place our hands on something so carefully crafted and so long ago. We saw tombs, and churches, city gates, and fortresses.... wild grapes and figs.That evening we started walking to Mount Chimaera. The goal was to get there and back before it was too dark... and well, we had to hitch a ride with a husband a wife who owned a pansion, and still it seemed we walked forever, but it was worth it. I have never seen anything like this is my life. Flames were shooting out of the hill side. Here and there up the rock face, small flames escaped tiny cracks in the rock. Apparently it is related somehow to volcanic activity, but it is just gas that escapes and ignites when it hits the oxygen. People have been congregating here for thousands of years, and some say this place is how the Greek mythological creature Chimera was named. Our long walk back was cut short by our pansion owner who picked us up... thank you. That's a small town for you.On the 22nd, we packed up and headed to the otogar (bus station), to catch a dolmus to Kas. Kas is a fishing, and sorta tourist yacht town set in a nook between steep mountains, small secluded beaches, and a bustling harbor. From the shores there, you can look out at the Mediterranean and see the Greek island of Meis. That first day, we wandered around the harbor, city center, and down to a small beach. We really wanted to do another boat ride here, but the wind was so crazy we couldn't even swim from the beach. We really loved our pansion in Kas, the owners were very nice and Susie and I were in awe over the size and age of the grape vines that shaded their roof deck. Some of the vines were bigger than my arm.That next morning, we rented a car with plans to hit as many ruins as we could and enjoy the scenery. We started out headed towards Kalekoy. Susie and I being how we are, had to stop and look at the plants!!! We saw so many neat thistles and other things we couldn't identify. It was a beautiful winding narrow road and we spotted an ancient, I mean ancient, old man who was trying to flag us down, he seemed harmless and looked in need of a ride, so we stopped, he got in and proceeded to speak to us in Turkish, we spoke back in English and just drove on. A few minutes passed, and we spotted another, even more ancient man flagging us down. He caught on quick that we didn't speak Turkish so he was just kinda mute... the other one rambled on and we will never know what he was saying. I felt like we had two time pieces with us, both so thankful for the ride, both very regal and unassuming. We left them at the next crossroad and I know I felt sad to see them go, oh, for what they could have taught us. Susie and I continued on to Kalekoy, from there we walked to the necropolis. Susie and I climbed over rocks and partially tipped over tombs, broken and complete ones, but all had been at some point robbed. There were so many, and it seemed to go on forever. We stopped perched on the steps of one to have some fruits and nuts. I said to Susie, you realize we are having a picnic in a cemetery. On our way back, I saw that a local woman had used one of the tombs to tie a clothes line too and it seemed yet another was part of a wall to a chicken coop. I guess if you see this stuff your whole life...Anyway, from there we drove to Kale, in search of the ruins of Myra. Finally we found it and realized we were in for a different experience that what we had had previously. This place was a tourist trap, vendors everywhere and high priced tickets. I wondered what the difference was here to the places we just kinda wandered into. Must have been the roman theater. It was spectacular, you see these things in pictures, but man it is different in person. What a treat to walk around here, seeing the mathematics and artistry at work. It was so huge and beautiful. Also in Myra are the even older tombs built into the hill side, apparently in the 1800s some were discovered that had been painted bright colors. These hill side mountains tombs we saw several times along our trip back, just at the side of the road next to some cows or goats. What the what!?!??? It was awesome.From Myra we went into the town square of Kale where we visited the Church of Saint Nicolas, which began in the 6th century and has been rebuilt or repaired many times since then. We saw beautiful tile work, frescoes, and arches. Saint Nicolas is the patron saint of New Amsterdam, which as you know is New York City. Man, this guys gets around. You should read the wikipedia article about him.Our trip back to Kas, as the sun was setting was spectacular, the coastal route (which made me car sick in the bus) was just jaw droppingly beautiful from our car. Clothes pin turns, rolling hills, steep cliffs, olive trees, and the beautiful turquoise, cerulean, blue green, ultramarine, cobalt.... water. We were trying to figure out what tube of paint would describe this. I think maybe none. It was stunning.They next day was our trip back to Antalya to catch our flights out. It was great to be back in Kaleici and I enjoyed it all over again. I was really sad to leave this part of the world, but happy to discover it and looking forward to visiting again!!! Thanks, Susie for being there with me!!!!

ps. a few things to mention about Turkey.... the call the prayer. everywhere. several times a day. so beautiful and haunting. Also, People were so helpful, friendly, and nice and I didn't mean for this fact to be an after thought. Everyone we encountered showed extreme patience and warmth to us. It was easy to understand why so many people love this country. AND... can anyone identify this flower? The smell is really strong and sweet...


  1. corrie! what an adventure!!! so happy to see you are having a blastastic summer!!! the little red car is the long lost lover of the dog car from dumb and dumber!!! or maybe its the dog car's mom. -nia

  2. i think it is the arabian jasmine, sometimes also called 'grand duke of tuscany'; i also have them in my garden although the flowers i have are really white; the whole flower cluster once bloomed to the size of a big man's fist...really loved it :)