Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lycian Way Day 14, Almost Zero Day, Kas - March 22, 2013

Day Hike Kas, Photos

It was pouring rain this morning, so we decided against hiking.  Another almost zero day. We had to find a new pansiyon, because our place was waaaayyy too high class with annoying Lonely Planet people everywhere.  Through the pouring rain, we decided on Kaptan Pansiyon.  It was awesome!!!  And not in the guidebooks.
Pirate Robin, Kaptan Pansiyon, Kas

Kas, sleeping dog, Ataturk

Kas, dubious constitution
Besides the rain, etc..., we still just didn't quite feel right.  The rain stopped and the sun came out.  Bamboozled again! We did a short section of the Lycian Way, maybe a few miles, then caught a bus back to town. It was sunny, but was extrememly windy, so probably not a bad idea to stay local one more day.
Day Hike along Lycian Way, Kas to Liman Agzi

Kaptan Pansiyon Roof Terrace sunset, Greek Meis in the distance
I love Kaptan Pansiyon!!! Mmmmm....Effes....G'night.

Day Hike Route

Lycian Way Day 13, Kas - Zero Day - March 21, 2013

Kas, Day off

We needed a day off...So we toured around Kas a little we were feeling a little weird.

Morning Coffee, Kas hotel

Kas, Lycian Tomb
Sick and out of sorts

Lycian Way Day 12, "Stepping Stones" - Phellos - Kas, March 20, 2013

Stepping Stones Camp to Kas -

As per usual, wake up, start hiking.... After crossing the river, it became a staight-up slog through pine forests with few views.  Eventually we reached a saddle. After becoming slightly lost in shin scraping brush (as per usual), we made it to a large water source/ camping spot where we met our first hikers on the trail.  They were hiking in the opposite direction from the guidebook, which is crazy, because those little red and white devils, i.e. the Lycian Way Markers, are nearly impossible to follow in the right direction, let alone having to move forward while looking behind to see if you there are markers.  Yes, it's that hard.

Gedikagizi saddle enroute to Phellos
We reached a road, and decided based on the crappy map and talking to a motorcycle rider, that we could safely follow the road instead of scratching ourselves to death following the markers in the nearby brush. Of course, we wasted a lot of time worrying that we were making a mistake, but eventually picked up the trail again, where we continued through overgrown brush straight up to the ancient sight of "Phellos"
Robin on the awesome trail to Phellos
Phellos was pretty cool, but we were pretty jaded at this point. The guidebook mentioned a life-sized bull statue somewhere, so we spent a lot of time trying to find that, but with no luck.  It's sort of a sprawling sight at the top of a mountain, overgrown everywhere.  Really cool, but like I said, we were jaded, and tired, so were not properly impressed.  Plus I couldn't find my damn bull.
Lycian Way, Phellos Ruins
The march back down the hillside towards the village of Cukuragag was stupid steep, with ankle-roller rocks. Once again, Grant and I had been making fun of the other bloggers who had complained about how rocky the trail was.  We were like, "what's the matter?  Never been hiking before?" Well, this is different.  It's just the right sized rocks that you can't step around them, but when you step on them, which is every step, it causes your ankles to roll.  You are constanly fighting to not fall down or break your legs all while going down a steep hill with a heavy pack.  Woo hoo Lycian Way.

We got down into the village of Cukugag, but nobody from the pansiyon came running out to invite us in.  Also, nobody talked to us.  It was a very different feel then from the other villages we went to.  The guidebook said there were no dolmus's there. Actually it says "There is no bus service to Kas." The Pansiyon didn't seem open, plus we didn't want to hike back uphill to find out for sure, and we desperately did not want to keep walking and find a place to camp.  We found a mother walking her kid home and asked about a dolmus to Kas, just to make sure.  She's like, of course there is one, but it may be awhile.  We waited and waited, watching the town dogs play, and the little boys running up and down the street.  We asked another person about the dolmus, and they assured us there would be one.  Finally, salvation.  A bus to Kas.  Once again, the guidebook was wrong.

The way down to Kas, a larger seaside city, was steep!!!  Very very steep.  By taking the bus and skipping section 13 of the guidebook, we basically saved our knees and a day of our lives.  Who knows if we missed something important, or dramatic, but I kind of don't think so, so highly advise everybody to skip it, and just get a dolmus.

Despite Kas being our salvation, it was also total culture shock. We were back on the Lonely Planet track in a tourist town. We trekked all over trying to find a pansiyon I wanted to stay at, settling in at a top-rated Lonely Planet spot, where I had a terrible time trying to get our laundry done. (pretty important chore when you only have two shirts, one pants, two underwear, two socks, etc...)

Arghh...Food, beer, sleep.

And the Map:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lycian Way Day 11 - Seribelen through Gokceoren Camp at "Stepping Stones" - March 19, 2013

Saribelen/Sidek to Gokceoren, and on to Stepping Stones

As mentioned in yesterday's post, we woke up to a great breakfast with Kenan.  His wife was busy doing chores, like milking the cow, goats, feeding the chickens, etc...but eventually came in for tea and a little breakfast. In case you didn't read the previous post, they made/grew all this food themselves, i.e. the cheese, yogurt, olives, etc....The bread came from the industrial bakery there adult son works at.

We forgot to mention that story...So funny.  Basically, we asked about his children the night before, and after excitedly showing us pictures of his daughter, we asked about his son. He made motions about his son that made us think he had passed away, so we were a little shaken and embarrassed we had asked. He then showed us a little alcove in his house. We were thinking, gee, this is his son's old room! We continued on with our evening, and as we sat down for dinner, out popped a young man from the alcove!  He had been under the covers so we didn't see him.  He works the night shift at the bakery, so was sleeping.  Poor kid, his dad was dragging strangers into his room while he was sleeping. So funny. By the way ladies, Kenan is desperate to marry him off, so I'm supposed to hook his son up with one of my friends...Any takers? He was pretty nice!

Breakfast with Kenan
Kenan thought it would be funny to put these hats on for this picture. This is the table.  You all sit around it, and pull the table cloth over your lap, then share from all the dishes.

Robin with our hosts and the dog Raki

The Local Mosque, near Kenan's place
Hike hike hike hike hike.....
Slogging away above the Mediterranean

Grant getting well water Saribelen to Gokceoren, probably Tarlali

In the fog

Grant:" I bet there would be a great view from here if it weren't foggy..."

Luckily there was a marker to steer us away from the man-eating goats!

The magical mystical route to Gokceoren

Robin catching a ride with the local Imam!
As we descended down into Gokceoren, we were greeted by another man on a motorcycle. He could see us coming down the hillside, and was expecting other hikers. We hadn't seen them, but he offered us a ride to his pansiyon. We agreed, as we thought it would be nice to have some coffee and a beer.

As we suspected, based on the guidebook, the man was the local Imam. Frankly, because of years of American news (and because I'm not much of a religious person, period), I was a little nervous about meeting an Imam.  I told myself before the trip that the Imams would be just like Grant's Uncle Ron, a  Presbyterian preacher. Uncle Ron is friendly, polite, dresses casually outside of work, doesn't actually preach outside of work, and is just a normal person. Sure enough, that's exactly how this Imam was! We decided not to stay in his Pansiyon, but were happy getting a few groceries from his wife. Onward intrepid hikers.

The next stretch of hiking was down a forest service road, high above the river (not obvious based on the guidebook and map). By the time we found a spring, it was a terrible area to camp, so we pressed on. Finally just as it turned dark, we ended up setting up camp at the far end of somebody's field next to the river. The house seemed unoccupied, but we tried to be as unobtrusive as possible anyway...

And the Map:

Lycian Way Day 10 - Kalkan to Saribelen/Sidek - March 18, 2013

It was time to say goodbye to Kalkan.  Upon reading the guidebook and looking at the map, we realized it didn't make any sense to hike uphill along the freeway. Instead we took a cab up, up, up, and were dropped off at the "domed Ottoman Cistern". Feels good to beat the Lycian Way at it's own game!!!
Getting Smart - cab ride from Kalkan to Ottoman Cistern
From there it was more up, up, up.  Some very beautiful views on the way up to the summer mountain village of Bezirgan...

The climb from Kalkan (can drop off) to Bezirgan

Grant descending into Bezirgan

Robin and crop storage bins, entering Bezirgan
There wasn't much going on in Bezirgan, so we bought some water and snacks at a little shop, and headed straight back out of the valley up a gravel ravine beneath the roadway...
Overlooking Bezirgan after the climb back out
At the top of the road, the lycian markers started taking us further up a weird dirt road.  Along the way was a horrible collection of sheep bones.  It was like a killing field. We felt like were hiking in a garbage dump.  Very creepy, and gross.  I almost threw up from it.  We looked on and could see where we eventually were supposed to go, which was down and across the valley.  The highway had no shoulders and were hairpin turns, so we decided to hike down the hillside which was basically another garbage dump to the roadway, where we crossed it and picked up the markers again.  We have no idea why we were going to be led where she was trying to lead us, but we were happy to skip it. Pretty disappointing section of "trail" here.

That said, we started up and soon entered to little hamlet of Saribelen.  We stopped at the water supply across from the mosque to refill our bottles. While there, a nice man suggested we camp there, and he would make us breakfast in the morning.  We declined, as we really wanted to make it further.  Then another man on a motorcycle invited us to stay at his home. He was pretty insistent, but in a friendly way.  We declined his offer too, but he told us after he dropped off his load at home, he would come back to see if we had changed our minds.

So after all that chatting, I went to refill our water. The valve literally came apart in my hand and started spewing water under an alarming amount of pressure.  "Um, um, um GRANT!!!!"  Grant grabbed the drinking cup that was sitting next to the tap, and cupped it over the faucet.  I ran around trying to find a shutoff valve, but there was none.  We were draining the towns water supply.  Finally, Grant donned his raincoat while I held the cup. He looked at the leftover parts, got his mini pliers out, and then under high pressure, was able to rebuild the valve and turn the water off. Sheesh. Of course, after being approached by people almost constantly, magically when we were in trouble, nobody was around...Hmmm...

We started hiking up the road, having lost about an hour from all this, and the man on the motorcycle approached.  We were over it, so we gave in.  I made Grant get on the motorcycle first, then hopped on when he came back for me.
Robin and our new friend Kenan at his house, Saribelen/Sidek

Robin with baby goat!

Relaxing at Kenan's house before supper
We had an awesome stay at Kenan's house.  He didn't speak much English, but was so expressive and extroverted, that we passed the time pretty well.  I got to play with his baby goat, while his wife spent the time chasing the chickens out of the house, tending the animals, and cooking dinner...She laughed when I tried to offer to help. Dinner was vegetarian, incidentally. They then invited over some friends.  It was all pretty funny.  In the morning, they made us breakfast.  It was cheese from their goats, yogurt from their cow, eggs from there chickens, olives and olive oil from their trees, and of course bread, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Almost everything was made on the property themselves.  Pretty freaking awesome!

We had a great time with Kenan. They did not ask for money, but we paid them what we had been charged at other pansiyons. They made a show of not accepting the money, but then finally happily did, while loading us up with oranges, almonds, and dried figs, then sending us on our way. If a man on a blue motorcycle stops and invites you to his house in Seribelen, just go. You won't regret it

Route Map

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lycian Way Day 9 - Goal: Patara to Kalkan- March 17, 2013

Ok, so we decided to dolmus it back to the Patara turnoff from Kalkan, complete with the same walk down the road we were bamboozled into doing days before. This ancient city happens to be where Santa Clause was born, by the way.  Much nicer area than the North Pole!

From Gelemis we continued to hike down the road to see some of the archeological site. The site is not actually on the trail, but we wanted to check it out. It was too huge to see the whole thing though, at least, not if we were going to hike back to Kalkan.

So after wandering around lost, we picked up the markers in a field by some cows, and promptly lost them completely again. As usual.  Lost, lost, lost. Lost all the time. We gave up, and followed the road up, seemingly going backwards. It was frustrating. Our early start became a late afternoon start because of all this nonsense.

Robin at Patara Gate
So Yes.  It took us two hours to find the start of the trail. But we did. It mainly followed a dirt road, which was great.  But then, as usual, it started taking us through nasty shin-scraping brush. I got so pissed off, I decided to just stay on the road, while Grant agreed to follow the trail. In this experiment, we could see each other the whole time, but while I was enjoying my walking, Grant was tortured for no reason until he rejoined the road I had been walking on the whole time. Why Kate, why?  Of course, there were great views along the way, and it was a beautiful day.
Lycian Way Signpost; only took us two hours to find this one!

Finally back on the trail, overlooking Patara Beach

Robin wasting time reading the Lycian Way guide book

Close up picture of harvested Olives drying

Olives Drying, Peninsula Hike Patara to Kalkan

More Olives

Look at that!  A John Deere Tractor in Turkey!

Wyoming!  Where the men are men and the sheep are nervous!  What?  Where are we?

Ahh, the Lycian Way - you fickle serpent
We made it to the trail junction with a site labeled as Delikkemer.  The wind was really picking up, and we didn't think we could make it safely along the cliff-side trail to Kalkan before dark, so decided to hike down the road back to the highway to flag down a bus...

Well, there was no bus on that highway. Only huge tourist buses that weren't going to stop. We had no luck hitchhiking either.  A friendly elderly goat herder told us we had to hike further on to the village of Yesilkoy to get a local dolmus to Kalkan. That was so frustrating as the total road walking was further than what the trail would have been!  Finally, out of desperation, we flagged down a car, who happened to be that nice old man with his family. In broken English and Turkish we were able to get the son to call our cab from the day before, and communicate where to pick us up. Well, that's what we were hoping happened! They left, and we sat there with our fingers crossed.  Sure enough, the taxi arrived about 20 minutes later!  Yes, we're saved!!! It was unbelievable that we even had that man's card with us.  Lucky us I guess.

Lycian Way, you beat us again. What was supposed to be one of the most scenic and enjoyable sections of trail, turned out to be just as frustrating and impossible as all the other sections. Thankfully, the wonderful Turkish people came through for us once again.

Effes, food, yum, good night.


Lycian Way Day 8 - Xanthos Aqueduct - March 16, 2013

Kalkan - Dolmus to Cavdir - hike Xanthos Aqueduct to Akbel/Kalkan

We had a quick breakfast an hour early at 7am. Our host insisted on getting up early, as he did not want us to go without breakfast. Breakfast is included in the price of 99.9% of hotels in Turkey. We barley made it to the main bus terminal in time for our bus to the Cavdir turnoff, very close to where we left off a few days before in Xanthos. The weather was ominous. We pressed on anyway.

As we hiked down the dirt road, a man in a tea shop invited us in for tea. We agreed, and just as we stepped inside, it started pouring rain, complete with thunder and lightning. You will almost never be disappointed if you agree to tea in Turkey!  Well, the man was so concerned about us hiking in the weather, that he offered to let us stay in his house for the night. We ate some food, drank some tea, hemmed and hawed, and ultimately decided to push on during a break in the weather.

After ignoring the useless directions in the guidebook, we found the red and white markers and eventually saw that we really were hiking on an ancient aqueduct. It was quite indistinct as an aqueduct at first, but gradually the old shape of it materialized out of the earth, and we were hiking in a shallow trench.  Pretty cool!  It's kind of funny hiking in an aqueduct in the rain...A bit wet I'd say.

There were parts where it was quite overgrown with (wet)brush, and it was quite challenging at times, despite it being flat. Funny enough, these pictures are all during short breaks in the weather, so it doesn't look that bad. We were actually quite cold, wet, muddy, and somewhat miserable.

Robin Along the Xanthos Aqueduct

Ancient Engineering

I think we can be friends...

Xanthos Aqueduct and the tomato greenhouses

Looking for Akbel
As usual, there were times where it was impossible to find the waymarkers, and there was no actual trail, so we muddled through the villages as best we could. The mud was unbelievable in places. I was quite embarrassed about how we looked...

Eventually we made it to Akbel, which is up the hill and across the freeway from Kalkan. We were all set on taking a dolmus to Kalkan and were inquiring where the bus stop was when a man started insisting we just walk to Kalkan. As he was dispensing his advice to us, we missed the bus...It's really hard to say if he was messing with us or not! No matter, we found a beer shop, and asked if we could drink a beer outside his store. The shop owner laughed and said of course. Looking at the ground, we saw it was littered with beer bottle caps and there was a bottle opener hanging from the tree. We found the town bar!!! Ah Turkey, we love you. 
Akbel 'bar' and a nice reward
We finally caught a cab to Kalkan, as we really really really didn't want to hike straight down hill across the freeway for two miles to our hotel. We also made arrangements with that taxi driver to pick us in the morning to drive us back to Patara. You see, we were enjoying Kalkan so much, and we didn't think there was any way we could do the whole loop in one day, so we decided to skip a section of the trail instead. We decided in interest of time, a cab was going to be the best bet. I was dejected from another really hard day, and once again decided I didn't need to through-hike the Lycian Way anymore...Pretty hard on my fragile ego, but we couldn't take it anymore with our lack of progress.

Route Map:

Lycian Way Day 7 - Bus to Kalkan from Patara, "Zero Day" - March 15, 2013

For some reason, whenever I woke up in the morning, I became hell-bent on pushing on despite whatever I was swearing about the day before. I was back to insisting we through-hike, and in the correct order! So even though we were in Patara, and there were sections of trail right there, I didn't want to skip the Xanthos aqueduct hike, which goes from the Xanthos ruins to Kalkan.  From Kalkan you hike around a peninsula through Patara (where we spent the night) and back to Kalkan. So yes, instead of doing the hiking backwards, we decided to dolmus-it over to Kalkan, and do the next sections as day hikes, with Kalkan as our base.

At any rate, we went to Kalkan and found a nice pension (Gul) with a great view, and took the day off. We needed the break anyway, and it was a nice town to hang out in.

Sunset from our Pansiyon balcony, Kalkan

Lycian Way Day 6 - Pydnai - Bus to Letoon - Xanthos - Bus to Patara March 14, 2013

Soooo...Yeah, today kind of sucked.  Of course, like every day, it was punctuated with delightful sights and people, but overall, not a good day for hiking.

We woke up at Patara Green Park and had a lovely morning. The nice man who worked there talked our ear off, and showed us his new net for the river. He caught one small fish that the cats ate...

As we set off on our hike to the ancient site of Letoon, the Patara Green Park's friendly dog started following us.  He would not go back despite our best efforts. In a blog we read before our trip, a couple hiking the Lycian Way was adopted by a dog that they could not get rid of, despite not feeding it, etc...The dog hiked with them for days, weeks, and there was nothing they could do.  We did not want this to happen to us, so we are ashamed to admit we threw rocks towards the dog to scare him off. Of course, we did not aim at the dog and did not hit the dog, but that dog had had enough rock's thrown at him in his time, that he got the picture pretty fast.  Super sweet dog, I'm so sorry dog lovers, but that dog would  not go home!!!

River near Pydnai

Friendly Dog, Patara Green Park

After we got rid of the dog, we realized we had lost track of the waymarkers, those little red and white devils. From reading the description we thought for sure we would be able to bushwack in from the road to try to meet up with the trail in the trees. After about an hour and a half, we gave up, and started hiking down the road through the valley of tomato greenhouses.  We were stopped a few times by friendly locals encouraging us to get a dolmus to Letoon. We finally realized the folly of crappy road walking, and hopped on the next bus that came by.
Letoon was cool. 2nd Century BC'ish. We were the only ones there, and there were really cute newborn lambs with their mother grazing in the ancient site. The Lonely Planet Guide describes Letoon as "home to some of the finest ruins on the Lycian Way".  Well, ok. Sure. More ancient rocks!

Grant Exploring Letoon

Letoon Theater

Brand New Lambs, Letoon
After getting our fill of Letoon, we headed back down the road (just in time, as a huge bus full of  tourists came barreling down the dirt road). After a nice lunch in a town off the Lonely Planet Track, we decided to walk on to Xanthos, a huge Lycian site. Of course, the guidebook said "It's possible to avoid this walk and give yourself more time at the site by taking a dolmus".  What Kate meant to say is "this portion of the walk is crap, on a busy road with no shoulder and no other redeeming qualities."  Yes, we were learning more and more every day. I forever gave up on the idea of through-hiking every mile of the Lycian Way, because it's just not worth it. We also learned if the author of the guidebook suggests a bus route, it means there is no reason under any circumstances to walk that section, and many times, even when she does not suggest a dolmus, it's still probably the best bet.  

That said, Xanthos was cool. Huge, ancient, and nearly devoid of people.

Exploring Xanthos Ruins

Robin at Xanthos

Xanthos Tomb

Xanthos Tombs

Xanthos Theater
After this epic day of sight-seeing and being lost, we decided to bus it to the town of Patara, which is actually Gelemis, as it was supposed to have better accommodation and restaurants than the Xanthos area. Of course, bamboozled again, the bus got us to the road leading to Gelemis, but we had to road hike the last two miles in a wicked wind to our destination, as there was no regular dolmus service that time of year.

Once there, we went straight to the Flower Pension, and had a lovely evening walking around town.  The storm knocked out the electricity to the whole town, so we sat in the dark drinking our Effes'. We barely found a place to eat dinner in time, as we spent so much time dilly dallying. Another night of funny travel memories, and Flowers Pension is highly recommended.