Antalya

April 1, 2015

Today we were leaving the Ottoman Palace Hotel and our walking holiday was finished. It was a beautiful morning and it seemed a shame to be leaving. The other guests were off to Olympos for Jon’s tour so once we had settled our bill with Sue we said our good-byes to the staff and got into the car. Our driver was the same man who had brought us here from the Antalya otogar, but for this trip he seemed to be driving a bit more slowly.

Farewell to Adrasan

Farewell to Adrasan

As we drove through the town we noticed that he seemed to be following the signs to the airport, so we had to remind him that we were actually staying at the White Garden Pansion in the old town. He phoned the pansion for directions, then turned back to go there. The old town had very narrow winding cobbled streets, so driving through them was interesting.

Truncated minaret in Antalya old town

Truncated minaret in Antalya old town

We checked in and got our room, up on the third floor. After putting our bags in the room we went out to explore the area. It was very pleasant as we walked through the narrow lanes, which were lined with numerous shops, restaurants, and boutique hotels. There were some ancient sites, too, like Hadrian’s Gate which was between the old town and the busy main street going past it.

Hadrian’s Gate

Hadrian’s Gate

With the help of a small map we wandered around, looking at the sights and shops. By now we were hungry so we went down to the old harbour, where we found a simit-seller. We bought a couple and sat on the seawall while we ate them. The day was warm and sunny so it was very pleasant sitting there enjoying the view and watching the tourist boats doing their day tours. (The general theme for these boats is that they are pirate ships.)

Old town harbour

Old town harbour

In the afternoon we thought of going to visit the museum, but decided it was too late in the afternoon. So we went back to the hotel and relaxed for a while, before going out later in the afternoon. This time our walk included looking for a place to eat. With all the restaurants in the area it was hard to choose, but we ended up at a restaurant whose main virtue was its great view over the bay. Its prices were reasonable too, so we sat there and watched the sun go down and the pirate ships return from their tours.

Antalya sundown

Antalya sundown

April 2, 2015

Breakfast was served in a lovely courtyard under citrus trees which were in bloom and smelled heavenly. We were served the usual mix of Turkish breakfast dishes. While eating we watched a large tortoise wandering around the patio; there was also a smaller tortoise, but he kept to the side garden and away from the cat who was taking an interest. Once done with our meal we packed up, checked out, and left our bags in the office. We had most of the day to explore before our late-afternoon flight to İstanbul.

Statue in Antalya

Statue in Antalya

Our plan was to visit the Antalya Archaeological Museum, which we were told was very good. It was a good day for a walk, sunny but not too hot, so we decided that we would walk the two or three kilometers rather than taking the tram.

The entrance fee for the museum was ₺20 each, and once inside we went through the displays in chronological order. The displays started with some token brachiopods but quickly skipped forwards to artifacts from cave dwellers. There was everything from pottery to weapons. Around Antalya there are a lot of ancient sites, so it’s not surprising that the museum is stuffed full of artifacts collected from those sites.

Perge statue

Perge statue

The most impressive displays were from a site named Perge, and almost all of them dated from the 2nd century AD. For the most part they were in remarkable condition. There was a whole room devoted to nothing but statues from Perge, including gods and goddesses, emperors and unidentified people. The room was painted a coral colour which highlighted the marble of the statues, and each statue was spotlighted while the rest of the room’s lighting was subdued. Quite a spectacular sight! And after that there was a whole room full of sarcophaguses, in nearly mint condition. That was just amazing.

Statue of Hercules

Statue of Hercules

There was more than that, too. Upstairs there was a room full of mostly ancient coins, and back downstairs we wandered through rooms which displayed more recent things like furnishings of Ottoman houses. There was also a display area outside, but it was like a storage area for extra stuff so we only spent a short time looking around it. We were surprised to find it was after noon when we were finished. It was still sunny so we walked back to the old town, where we bought simits and juice for lunch. We sat in the hotel courtyard to eat, and to watch the tortoises ambling around.

Antalya beach view

Antalya beach view

After a while we decided we might as well head for the airport. Our flight to İstanbul was supposed to leave at 5:10 pm, but it didn’t leave until after 5:30 pm. The flight was only about an hour, but in that time they managed to serve us a quick meal consisting of a chicken sandwich, beans in olive oil, and a nice piece of almond cake. After we landed our packs came out onto the baggage carousel almost immediately.

We had booked a hotel near the airport, and it had a free shuttle. Unfortunately we had over an hour to wait for it, but luckily the weather was fine so standing outside was not unpleasant. Our hotel was called “Elite World Business Hotel” and it was much posher than the places we usually stay at. The rack rate for our room was €175, but we weren’t paying even half of that. The room was spacious and the bed comfortable and we got a cup of tea in the room, so we were happy with it. We set the alarm for 7 am, so we could catch the 8 am shuttle back to the airport, and went to bed at 10 pm.

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Adrasan — Puttering around

March 31, 2015

Today was our last day in Adrasan. We had been thinking that today was our departure date, but Sue pointed out to us that it’s actually tomorrow! The extra day added at the beginning must have confused us. The weather didn’t look all that promising, so we decided not to plan any major walking. So after breakfast we started out for a birding walk around the village. We got as far as the marshy area near the beach and stopped to look for birds there. Reed warblers are hard to see as they flit through the reeds, so that took a while. We stopped at a small market just down on the main road and bought a package of mixed nuts, and then it started to rain harder so we headed back to the hotel.

Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler

For the rest of the morning we sat on our balcony and caught up with journal-writing. After a while we noticed that the power was off, but we’d been told that happened from time to time so we didn’t worry about it. By 1 pm the rain had stopped so we decided to head out for a walk. As we walked down to the beach the rain was on and off, but we carried on down to the beach front where we sheltered in a store front for about ten minutes.

Beach furnishings after winter storms

Beach furnishings after winter storms

For the most part the rain stayed light, so we walked along the beach front to the end of the village by the citrus orchards before turning back. At the mouth of the river we saw a brilliant kingfisher perched, and managed to photograph it. We stopped to buy more Turkish delight in the darkened shop, and from the shop owner we found out that the power failure was country-wide! That certainly surprised us, and we hoped it wasn’t going to upset our travel plans.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Back at the hotel they had turned on the generator, and we watched the news on Turkish TV. We managed to deduce that İstanbul at least was seriously affected by the power failure, along with several other areas. But when we switched to the BBC for news in English, they only had a four-word summary in the news ticker at the bottom of the screen.

Dinner tonight was good as usual, as was the conversation with the other guests. The power came back on while we were eating, having been off for eight or nine hours, which was actually not too bad for such a major outage.

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Lycian Way — Gelidonya Point to Adrasan

March 30, 2015

We woke up to a beautiful day which would be perfect for our walk. And besides that there was a good chance there would be no rain today. So after breakfast Sue put us into a taxi, which took us to the start of the walk. Our plan was to walk the part of the Lycian Way past Gelidonya Point, which Jon described as the “iconic” stage of the Way.

Sweet peas

Sweet peas

The taxi driver dropped us off at a road junction with a sign pointing to Gelidonya Lighthouse, and we set off. For the first part we walked along a dirt road through a pleasant forest. The going was easy, so it made for a good start. Before long we turned onto a trail and, following the red-and-white Lycian Way markers, started climbing up to the lighthouse. The track was quite rocky, but as we climbed the views got better. Today was the first day we were able to see the beautiful blue colour of the Mediterranean.

Turkish coastline

Turkish coastline

Soon we arrived at the lighthouse. (It’s not working any more, having been replaced by a more modern “light on a stick” model farther down the slope.) There was a couple from South Africa here who were carrying very large backpacks; there was camping gear in the packs but so far they hadn’t used it. We looked around for a short while, but it was far too early for lunch so we continued to climb up the trail. The headland on which the lighthouse stands is called Taşlıkburnu, meaning something like “Stony Point”, and we were walking up and down over rocky slopes and even scree slopes.

Gelidonya Lighthouse

Gelidonya Lighthouse

Offshore we could see a few islands. Just off Gelidonya Point was a cluster of small ones and farther along was a larger one, Suluada. It had a nice-looking beach on the side we could see, but you sure wouldn’t want to be marooned there. We were a bit surprised that there were almost no boats offshore; no fishing boats, no sailboats, only a single coast guard boat.

Suluada

Suluada

Soon the trail turned into a steep descent which was slippery in places, and we were glad that the weather was fine, otherwise it could have been a lot more treacherous. According to our route card we were heading down to a flat area with a large boulder. There were a lot of boulders near the trail, but finally we came to some boulders which were very large so we decided that one of them was the large boulder mentioned on the card. However the trail was very well marked, so any fear of getting lost was unfounded.

Probably not this boulder

Probably not this boulder

In the pine forest we met a British couple who we had met previously on another section of the Lycian Way, so we stopped and chatted for a while. They were using a company called “On Foot” and were getting a good deal because they were the first guests of the season and were giving feedback to the company. Continuing along the trail, we climbed to the saddle between Taşlıkburnu and Kızıl Sırt. At least we thought it was the saddle, but in fact we had to continue side-hilling along to the real high point of the day, at 470 meters.

Pink flowers

Pink flowers

It was a beautiful trail and we’d had a beautiful day for it. We walked down from the saddle through the forest until we reached what our route card called the “camel farm”. Fortunately it’s long since defunct and we didn’t have to walk through herds of camels! However there were several hoopoes here, so we tried to get photographs of them. From here the track was a dirt road which led us down into Adrasan and directly to the hotel. Our day had been perfect and a great way to end the hiking part of the trip.

Hoopoe in the grass

Hoopoe in the grass

It was only 4 pm, so we had plenty of time for showers before dinner. Dinner was very good as usual, but it was much quieter since the Scottish women had left earlier in the day. However the Leeds group filled the gap quite nicely and we had an entertaining evening.

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Adrasan — Walk to Sazak Bay

March 29, 2015

Last night was the switch to Daylight Saving Time, so we didn’t get up very early this morning. The Scottish women had organized a van to take them to the teleferique up Mount Olympos, so we were on our own for walking today. Jon had given us the trail info last night, so after breakfast we headed out to walk to Sazak Bay along a coastal forest road.

Although the weather forecast was for 100% chance of rain, the morning didn’t look that bad. There was a very brief shower just before we left, but otherwise it was fine. From the hotel we walked down to the beach and then turned left along the sea front. This took us a long time because there were so many interesting birds. Before we even got to the beach there was a Woodchat Shrike, and when we stopped to (unsuccessfully) photograph the hoopoes there was a Yellow Wagtail with them.

Basically we retraced our steps from yesterday until we had crossed the bridge. Once across the river we climbed the hill for a bit and then turned right to follow a dirt road which would eventually end at Sazak Bay. We met a few cars on the road including a bright red one labelled “Orman” (“Forest” in Turkish) but otherwise there was no traffic. From the road the views were good, looking down on Adrasan Bay, and it was easy walking for the most part.

Violets

Violets

The weather cooperated until about 11 am, when we heard thunder rumbling in the distance. It didn’t take too long until the thunder was directly overhead, and now the rain started to pour down. We put on pack covers and rain jackets, but the rain was so heavy that we decided to huddle under a tree to see if it might let up. The herd of goats we had passed earlier had decided that they didn’t like the rain either, and galloped down the road past us at full speed, so fast that the little ones were having difficulty keeping up.

So should we go on or should we go back? We decided that since we had come this far, we might as well carry on to the bay, and within ten minutes we were at the bay. There wasn’t much to see there, but there was a camp, with a shelter and some chickens. Jon had told us about this camp earlier. He told us that there was a group which wanted to build a hotel on Sazak Bay, but they couldn’t because it was in the national park. So he thought they were paying somebody to squat by the bay, in order to get some kind of legal right to the land.

Sazak Bay

Sazak Bay

After a couple of minutes a man came out of the tent and invited us in. His shelter was a large Quonset hut with a ceramic stove, two beds, and a table. A very cozy layout. He spread out some newspapers so we could put our wet things down, and he offered us tea to drink. In turn Rosemary offered him part of her lunch. He spoke no English but with sign language and our small Turkish vocabulary we managed to find out that the goats didn’t belong to him, he had been there for five years, and that he liked the sea, forest, and greenery. This last part made him seem less like a tool of the evil hotel chain, but as outsiders it was hard for us to guess what was really going on.

After about half an hour we decided to get back on the trail. This time we put on Gore-Tex trousers as well as the rest of our rain gear, and now we were dry as we climbed back up the road. Luckily for us the rain soon stopped and by the time we got back to Adrasan we had blue sky and sunshine. We found a crowd by one of the shops by the beach, and it turned out to be some of our Scottish group, buying boxes of Turkish delight to take home. So we went in and, after having some free samples, decided to buy a small bag (450 grams) of a variety of flavours to have as an afternoon treat.

Adrasan Bay

Adrasan Bay

Back at the hotel we went downstairs to have a glass of wine before dinner. A new group of guests had arrived late last night, and they turned out to be two couples from Leeds. Dinner tonight was very good as usual, with tomato soup to start, lamb neck with veggies, followed by strawberry pudding.

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Lycian Way — Olympos to Adrasan

March 28, 2015

Last night it was raining, at times heavily enough to wake us up. The weather forecast for today was predicting more rain, but as we ate our breakfast the skies started to clear. The plan for today was to be driven to Olympos and then to walk back along the Lycian Way to Adrasan. Four of the more gung-ho Scottish women were also doing the walk, so the six of us headed off in the van to the trailhead.

Road washed out in Olympos

Road washed out in Olympos

When we arrived in Olympos our way was blocked because the road was washed out, so Jon dropped us off and gave us instructions on how to get down the river to the trailhead. Again we had to cross the river, so we donned our not-so-stylish plastic shoes and waded across. Today the water was deeper and faster, but only knee-deep still. After putting our walking shoes back on we started climbing the trail, stopping for a bit to check out a tomb near the trail.

Arbutus trees

Arbutus trees

Because of last night’s rain the bushes were all wet, so our shirts kept getting wet as well. But fortunately the weather was really good, so they kept drying out. It was a pleasant hike up through the woods, especially with the arbutus trees (locally called “strawberry trees”) and their brightly-coloured bark. In the burned-over area near the top we met three German hikers coming the other way, and they told us that the shepherd’s hut which was our targeted lunch spot was now the site of a café offering tea for ₺5 per glass. They thought that was rather expensive, and rightly so because tea is usually more like ₺2 per glass.

How to brew tea in Turkey

How to brew tea in Turkey

It took us about three hours to reach the saddle from Olympos, and the shepherd’s hut was just beyond that. Sure enough there was a Turkish man selling tea, coffee, orange juice, cookies, and so on. Quite a good business he had there! We decided that our budget could cover two cups of tea, but Jon later called the price a “rip-off”. The owner only knew about ten words of English and we couldn’t understand almost anything he said, but he did have a canvas tarp to keep the wind off us.

Tea at shepherd’s hut

Tea at shepherd’s hut

View from shepherd’s hut

View from shepherd’s hut

After lunch we carried on down the descent towards Adrasan, which was quite straightforward. Jon had given us some instructions this morning about how to avoid a river crossing, but at this point we couldn’t figure out what river they applied to or where we were supposed to deviate from the Lycian Way waymarks. So we followed the waymarks, hoping that things would become clear. On the way down we found a tortoise on the path, and it generously allowed us to take its picture.

Tortoise

Tortoise

When we got down to the flatlands it was still sunny, defying the weather forecast. We decided that this was where Jon’s river-avoidance instructions would apply. So, thinking we knew what we were doing, we followed the instructions on our plastic card and walked through a lot of greenhouses until we reached the river. Here we wandered around for a while until we were convinced we were off course. So Paul called Jon again, and he told us where we had gone wrong, so we backtracked. At this point we met the Scottish women, so we joined forces to try and figure out what road we should be taking.

Arum flower

Arum flower

We tried a different path, and found ourselves going through a different set of greenhouses but arriving on the bank of the same river. Another call to Jon, who by this time was walking to meet us. He took us to where we had gone wrong (we should have deviated left and not right) and we all walked to where he had parked the car. It wasn’t very far into Adrasan from there, so we all decided to finish off the walk properly. As we walked along the beach road into the village we saw a group of Hoopoes in a garden. That was a species which we had expected to see, but unfortunately they were very skittish and we couldn’t get a good photograph of them.

Boats docked for the winter

Boats docked for the winter

Back at the hotel we both had showers and then went downstairs, where we had drinks before dinner. Tonight’s main course was fish shish kebab with chips and salad, and it was really tasty. We hadn’t seen that on any Turkish menus yet, but that’s probably because you need expensive fish like swordfish to make it work. After dinner we sat and chatted with the Scottish women for quite a while.

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Adrasan — Short walk

March 27, 2015

Today we went down to breakfast shortly after 8 am. The weather forecast was not too promising—probable rain in the afternoon—so we decided to wait around for a while and then go out for a short walk to the lighthouse. Starting off, we walked down to the beach and then along the beach-front road past the end of the beach to the harbour. The trail to the lighthouse started here, right behind the shiny new WC.

White-spectacled Bulbul

White-spectacled Bulbul

There was a small flock of White-spectacled Bulbuls in the trees near the start of the trail. This was interesting because they are the bulbuls which live nearest to Europe. We hadn’t seen bulbuls since we were in southern Africa. Also along the trail there were numerous wild red tulips in bloom, a very cheery sight. We’re so used to planting tulip bulbs in our gardens that we forget that they originally came from wild species which grew in Turkey.

Wild tulip

Wild tulip

The trail for the most part was level as it contoured around the hillside. We had a couple of short rain showers, but they each only lasted for a few minutes. It took an hour and a quarter to reach the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, where we sat under a tree and enjoyed the view. Of course there’s no keeper any more, so the cottage is derelict, but not vandalized. The lighthouse itself isn’t a picturesque white tower, but just a metal frame with a light on top. So neither of us felt inclined to climb the short distance up the rocks to get a close-up view.

View from lighthouse keeper’s cottage

View from lighthouse keeper’s cottage

We ate the cookies out of our packed lunches and then headed back to the hotel, where we made some tea and sat out on our balcony to eat the rest of our lunch. By now the rain had started, so we spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on journal-writing. A flock of sheep came bounding down the road to graze in the field next to the hotel, closely followed by the shepherd on his motor-scooter. After about an hour he chased the flock down the road to the next field.

Adrasan sheep

Adrasan sheep

For dinner tonight the starter was lentil soup, followed by chicken stroganoff with chips, salad, and rice. The dessert was a creamy pudding, and when we inquired what it was we were told it was tavuk göğsü—which is made from chicken breast and milk. It was surprisingly good, but the vegetarians in the group were quite shocked!

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Adrasan — Olympos and fish dinner

March 26, 2015

After having a Turkish breakfast we got ourselves ready for today’s outing. It would be a varied day. To start with, Jon was taking the group to Olympos for a guided tour. We’d hurried through there last night, so now we would get to have a better look at the place. Departure time was scheduled for 10 am, but that time came and went and we finally left closer to 10:15 am.

Upon arrival Jon paid our entrance fees and we went in, stopping by a large plane tree where he told us the history of the site. The Lycian culture lasted for a couple of thousand years, and so their city included buildings in Greek style and Roman style and even had some Byzantine features. As ancient cities go, Olympos wasn’t very big, but its protected location made it resistant to attack and its proximity to the flames of Chimaera gave it great religious significance.

Ruins of Olympos theatre

Ruins of Olympos theatre

Our first stop was on the far side of the river, so we changed into our not-very-stylish plastic river-crossing shoes before wading across. On the far side was a series of necropolises; Jon pointed out the different styles which were built at different times. Also on this side were ruined villas and also a theatre, which was smaller than theatres we had seen at other historic sites. Donning our plastic shoes again we re-crossed the river to visit the agora, which was the largest part of the site since the Lycians had been traders first and foremost. Jon also pointed out a very early Christian church which had been uncovered only 18 months ago. The whole tour took about two hours.

Jon talking about Olympos

Jon talking about Olympos

The next phase of the day was to go for a walk in the hills about Olympos. Since it was nearly 2 pm we started by eating our lunch before setting off up the forestry track. This walk was a mixture of forestry tracks and obscure paths through the woods. Mostly it was easy to find the way, but there were large sections where it was a case of going from one marker to the next. At one point there was a washout which had obscured the path, but with the help of a local who pointed out the correct direction we continued on.

Playing “Spot the Waymark”

Playing “Spot the Waymark”

We went through forests, past pomegranate orchards, and through tiny villages. At one place our instructions said to turn right after a new house, but there was now another new house being built so we turned right on the wrong road. But there were some men sitting there who yelled at us and sent us on the right way. Finally we came out of the woods and met Jon at 4 pm at a roadside café in Uluçınar, which was our first checkpoint. In the woods we had taken pictures of some orchids, so we showed them to Jon. There was one he didn’t know, but the café’s owner was passing by and he said “Sahlep”. This was cool, because that’s the orchid whose roots they use to make dondurma, the rubbery Turkish ice-cream.

“Sahlep” orchid

“Sahlep” orchid

Pretty soon the Scottish group arrived and joined us at the café. We had an option now: we could hike the rest of the way to Chimaera, or we could quit or be driven. We decided to carry on walking, but almost immediately we came to a river crossing. This was straightforward in the plastic shoes, and we kept them on because we knew we would be crossing the river again very soon. But when we got there the water was deep and fast-flowing. We dithered around looking for alternative ways of crossing, but finally admitted defeat. Also we didn’t want to chance falling into the river, because we were going out to dinner later and we didn’t want to do that in wet clothes!

Uluçınar café dog

Uluçınar café dog

So we called Jon on the cellphone and told him we were wimping out, and headed back to Uluçınar. After a short while Sue arrived with the others who weren’t walking today, and all of us went together by car to the flames of Chimaera, the gas vents which have been burning for at least 3,000 years. It was now getting on for 5 pm and raining slightly, so the trail up to the flames was slippery in places. There are several vents with flames of various sizes coming out of the ground, so the hillside looked neat. We gathered around a couple of vents and Jon handed out wooden skewers and marshmallows. After having a couple each we all decided to head back down. It was dark now, and even with the help of headlamps and flashlights we had to be careful going down the slippery sections.

Flames at Chimaera

Flames at Chimaera

Back at the cars, we were off to the last stage of the day, which was dinner at Havuzbaşı Restaurant in Ulupınar. It’s a famous restaurant which has its own trout farm and is well-known around Turkey and beyond. You enter by climbing some steps and walking across platforms suspended over the trout tanks before entering the main dining area.
Our meal came in several courses, starting with salad, chili sauce, yogurt with mint, and fantastic pita bread. This was followed by a variety of mezes, garlic and cheese mushroom, and roasted vegetables, and finally on to the main course. Almost everybody ordered trout, of course. The trout was filleted and baked in a stone dish. Grilled perfectly, it was really good. And finally there was dessert, pieces of fruit to be dipped into halva sauce. What a great way to end an already excellent meal!

It was nearly 10 pm when we got back to the hotel; the weather forecast for tomorrow wasn’t that good so we decided that we wouldn’t make up our minds about what we wanted to do until the morning.

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