Arrival and Coastal Walk

March 24, 2015

Today we awoke to rain, and no balloons in the air. Lucky that we got on the balloon trip yesterday! After breakfast the rain stopped as we walked down to the otogar, where our bus to Antalya was scheduled to leave at 10 am. We still had time to wander around the town for one last time, but there wasn’t really anything more for us to see so we went back to wait for the bus. It arrived at 10:10 am, we jumped on board, and away we went.

For several hours we travelled across the Anatolian plateau, which still had snow on the ground. Our route took us through Konya and then turned south, down off the plateau. There were several stops along the route, lasting anywhere from 5 minutes to 40 minutes. As we neared the coast the scenery became quite spectacular, as the road went through gorges in high mountains. And then suddenly, anticlimactically, we were next to the Mediterranean Sea.

High mountains seen from bus window

High mountains seen from bus window

The bus zoomed along the coast road until we reached Antalya—almost. We saw signs for the otogar but because of road construction and terrible traffic it was nearly an hour before we reached it. We were so glad to get off the bus after nearly 10 hours.

The driver who would take us down to Adrasan was waiting patiently for us, but he had been waiting for an hour so we grabbed our bags and walked very quickly to his car. By now it was dark, so our trip to Adrasan was a complete mystery, except we could see we were travelling at 110 km/h, and it took about an hour to reach the Ottoman Palace Hotel. We were greeted warmly by our hosts Sue and Jon, who showed us our room. It was a corner room on the second floor, and it was huge, with a king-size bed at one end and a couch at the other. Plenty of room to spread out, anyway. After talking with Sue and Jon for a while we went up and basically fell into bed.

March 25, 2015

Our curtains weren’t very effective at keeping out the early morning sun, so both of us were wide awake by 6:30 am. We spent some time sorting out our gear—we’re staying here for seven days and we need the packs for hiking—but even so we were the first ones down for breakfast. We aren’t the only occupants of the hotel; there’s also a group of eight women from Scotland.

View from our room at Ottoman Palace Hotel

View from our room at Ottoman Palace Hotel

All of us were going on the same walk today, a 21-kilometer walk along the coast which is part of the Lycian Way. We were given a plastic card which describes the trail and particularly the tricky bits, and a cellphone to be used when you’re ready to be picked up. We all set out in a minibus, which took us to Tekirova (a holiday resort aimed at Russian tourists) and then a short way up a forestry track. Jon came along with us and explained the trail markings, then sent us on our way.

Mount Olympos with cable car station

Mount Olympos with cable car station

The trail was to go along forestry tracks, then up and over headlands to several secluded beaches. It was about 9:30 am when we left the trailhead; the day was sunny with a bit of high cloud and the temperature was already 15°C, something we hadn’t yet experienced in our three weeks in Turkey. As we walked along the road the Scottish women tended to split into fast and slow groups, and we usually fit into the fast group except when we stopped to look at flowers and birds. Beside the road we saw a lot of flowers already in bloom. Some of them looked familiar, like the euphorbias with red flowers, and others didn’t.

Red euphorbia flowers

Red euphorbia flowers

For the rest of the morning we followed the forestry track up and down along the coastline, with excellent view of Mount Olympos as well as the Mediterranean. Around lunch time we saw the sand of Maden Beach below us, so we decided to continue on down to the beach for lunch. We almost missed the trail leading down to it, but we saw the waymark at the last moment. Down by the beach was the ruins of an old mine site, along with what looked like abandoned fish-farm equipment. After crossing a creek we walked across the beach looking for a lunch spot. We had thought that some of the Scottish women were ahead of us, so we were perplexed when we found they weren’t here on the beach.

Maden Beach view

Maden Beach view

There was a lot of garbage on the beach, like broken Styrofoam pieces and plastic water bottles. However some of this was probably flotsam from boats rather than litter from untidy hikers. Finding a reasonably nice place to sit we opened our lunch bags to see what we had been given. The lunch was very good, a large bun with meat, lettuce and tomatoes, a chocolate bar, and a pear. Once done with lunch we sat and enjoyed the view for a while. There had been a large group of German hikers when we arrived, but they had already left so the beach looked quite deserted. We noticed another group arrive at the far end, but we weren’t sure if they were the Scots or not.

Lavender

Lavender

Turkish coastline

Turkish coastline

From here the trail was rougher, no more walking on forestry tracks. We climbed over several headlands and passed several secluded bays before we arrived at the place overlooking Çıralı, at about 3:30 pm. We took out the cellphone and called Jon to arrange a pickup time and location, and he said we would be met at 5 pm outside the Saban Pension near Olympos—the historical site, not the mountain. This seemed very reasonable, so we continued down the trail to the tarmac road which went past a lot of holiday rentals and pensions and restaurants in Çıralı.

View over Çıralı

View over Çıralı

Lycian Way trail signs

Lycian Way trail signs

At the far end of Çıralı we came to a river which we had to cross to reach Olympos. At this time of year there was too much water in the river for us to cross it easily, but Jon had mentioned that there was a shallow place farther upstream with stepping stones. We looked for that, but there was too much water there and no stepping stones. But… there was a road bridge upstream, so we went around via the road and crossed the river there. On the far side of the river we walked back downstream but found our way blocked by high water and a rocky bluff. Our next plan was to just walk along the road to Olympos, but it didn’t take us long to realize that the road didn’t actually go to Olympos.

Orange orchard in Çıralı

Orange orchard in Çıralı

River crossing point (summer months only)

River crossing point (summer months only)

So we went back to the road bridge and started reviewing all of the possibilities. It was at this point that a local called out to us and beckoned us over to the bank where we had been blocked by the rocky bluff. He showed us the actual route, which involved going slightly inland and then over the top of the rocky bluff. The tricky part was that going down the other side of the rocky bluff involved climbing down a vertical metal ladder which was tied in place with sketchy-looking ropes! However we both got down without any mishaps, and we continued downstream and along the beach to the ancient city of Olympos. We were now quite late for our pickup so we hurriedly walked through the site, wishing we could have explored more. At the far end of the site past another cluster of restaurants, there was Sue waving at us.

Bypass route for non-summer months

Bypass route for non-summer months

It was now 5:30 pm and starting to get dark, and Sue told us that the Scottish women had all taken a wrong turn somewhere and got lost way up in the mountains. Jon was quite worried but luckily with the help of the cellphones and his knowledge of the area he figured out where they were. But he did say later that he was within a nanosecond of calling in the search and rescue team!

Ruins in Olympos historical site

Ruins in Olympos historical site

Back at the hotel, while we waited for the others to arrive we sat by the wood stove and enjoyed a glass of wine. Our dinner was a bit late tonight, naturally, but it was worth waiting for because we had a table full of mezes followed by a really good barbecue. After dinner we sat and chatted with some of the Scottish women; we couldn’t figure out how they had gone up into the mountains when the trail description obviously followed the coast, but at least they were all together and arrived back safely.

Next: Olympos and Fish Dinner