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.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lycian Way Day 5 - Bel to Gavuragili to Pydnai - March 13, 2013

After uncomfortably and somewhat hiliariously figuring out how much we owed to our non-English speaking hosts (their daughter had to go to school, and they nicely didn't want to involve her in the monetary aspect of the exchange), we were off again! Straight up, straight down, around, lost, etc...As per usual

Bel Pansiyon

Leaving Bel

Robin on ridiculously steep "trail" heading down towards Gavuraglili and Pydnai
Heading back down towards the ocean was a scramble down a steep rocky slope, with "trail"  markers seemingly at random, but maybe trying to emulate switchbacks?

Grant, Olive Grove
At one point we headed back into a forested area, first following a crappy, ugly forest service type road, then stupidly stumbling through forested steep hillsides for no rhyme or reason. We did not get increased views, there was no other added scenic value, it did not get us anywhere faster, there were no cultural experiences, and our friendly goat companions weren't even there.  Later we rejoined the forest road, then followed it down. There was no reason for where Kate Clow sent us, and Grant lost it, swearing up a storm. We felt totally bamboozled, nice walking meeting many wonderful people straight to pure shit. We were tired, and it was really really really stupid walking.  Stupid, I tell you! In the guidebook, Kate has different grades for the trail types, Grade 1 being an indistinct goat path, and Grade 5 being a 6-lane freeway.  This day we developed our own term "Grade 0" meaning not even a goat wants to walk on it.... At any rate, we finally broke through and had the following view of the old Byzantine Fortress of Pydnai...This is at the far West end of Patara Beach, but is not "Patara" proper.
Overlooking Pydnai Fortress
At the bottom of the hill we skipped the site and bee-lined it to this new, or at least, new enough not to be in the guidebook, camping park, "Patara Green Park".  It was awesome!!!! Patara Green Park was our salvation.  Cold Beer, food, friendly faces, wifi, and a free place to camp (since we bought so much beer and food :)  They even had a cute little brand new kitten they brought in for me to play with.  They read my mind! They had a nice dog, and later in the evening the locals were partying it up, regalling us with diving and fishing stories. We were the only tourists there (as usual). Seriously, one of the highlights of our trip was crashing here!
Day 4 Camping; Cold Beer, Free campsite, Good food and a kitten!

Robin and Tent platform, Patara Green Park

Ok, like I said, awesome times.  We went to bed before any of the locals, and as we walked out, there were old men drinking raki, a fire raging in the wood stove, and we were drunk enough to forget the shitty walking we went through to reach this wonderful beachside place.


Lycian Way Day 4 - Alinca - Bel - March 12, 2013

We woke up again to our typical Turkish Breakfast of tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, olives, hard boiled egg, and bread, but this time we had an unleavened bread called...?  Oh yeah, I remember a lot! It was a stormy day, and the book said not to attempt the cliff-side walk in inclement weather, so after much debate, we decided to hike down the road....
Robin at breakfast, Alinca Pansiyon

Baby goats!

Robin and terraced fields, outside Sancakli

Ottoman Cistern, Lycian Way

Coffee break, outside Bogazici

Robin Bogazici
After this town we started climbing into the mountains again....
Overlooking Bogazici

Grant with Goats
The ruins outside of Sidyma remain some of my favorite, especially since I wasn't jaded yet :)  I also liked the yellow flowers and dark skies. Ancient ruins in the middle of fields outside of tiny villages.  What's not to like?
Grant on Tomb, Sidyma

Lycian Tombs, Sydima

Lycian Tombs, Sidyma
In the town of Sidyma, we were resting in a park when a nice young lady invited us in for tea.  It was very pleasant, though her brother seemed bored by the whole thing...Super nice though.  We didn't want to stay in her pansiyon, and they did not charge for the tea.  We were just chatting. She tried to put a head scarf on me, showing me how to wear it, and obviously trying to sell it to me.  Not only did I not have room for souveniers, I was never going to wear a headscarf. No offense to local culture. They do not really expect non-muslim women to wear this stuff, and in the cities do not expect even the Muslim women to wear it. Truth be told, I felt smothered in the material. After reading another Lycian Way blog, we found that this generocity is repeated day after day to the tourists hiking the Lycian Way. It's the same routine, though it does not diminish how lovely it is to be invited in for tea when you've been hiking all day...If you don't feel smothered and have room in your pack, I really think you should buy a head scarf from them.  You will know who they are because they will find you...

We kept hiking, and for the first time got extremely lost. It started when we hiked out Sidyma.  We had to scout around a lot more and felt less confident about the trail.  Outside of Bel we got totally lost, and had to give up on the trail all together, following the road instead.  The guidebook didn't say there were Pansiyons in Bel, but luckily as we decended into town close to sunset, a young girl, maybe 10, came up the road and invited us to stay at her house. We said of course!  We didn't actually want to camp next to the mosque in lieu of dinner and breakfast in a bed with the locals :)  This is where we stayed...
Coming into Bel

Tea, Bel Pansiyon

Bel Pansiyon room
The girl practiced her English on us as long as she was allowed, and once the father came home from herding goats, it was dinner time.  We ate by ourselves upstairs on the balcony, but afterwards, the father came up to socialize with his daughter.  He spoke no English, but brought us beers!!! And snacks!  The little girl and I somehow decided to sing "Head and shoulders knees and toes" together, and we all laughed at our antics.  It was awesome. Oh, I forgot, the mother killed a chicken for us, we're pretty sure. Before dinner she brought us tea and made a gesture as if twisting somebody's neck, while smiling and laughing.  A few minutes after she left there was a huge commotion, dogs barking, birds squaking, etc... We put two and two together, and I had to tell her I was vegetarian.  She looked at me like I was crazy but was super nice about it. Unfortunatly, Grant didn't get any of the chicken dinner either, but her family ate well that night...Ah, the joys of traveling as a vegetarian.  I'm so sorry to my hosts for being so damn picky! 

At any rate, we learned two very important things this day. A.) We could no longer make fun of other people who reported having trouble following the Lycian Way.  The markers are ridiculous, and there is no real map, and it's not a real trail even!!! And B.) Just because the guidebook says something silly like there is no accomodation does not mean a nice little girl won't find you and take you to her house.  THERE IS A GREAT PANSIYON IN BEL!!!

And the Day's Map:

Lycian Way Day 3 - Faralya - Kabak Beach - Alinca March 11, 2013

Day 3- Took about three hours packing up our campsite.  Walked about a half hour into Faralya and had breakfast at a little pansiyon.  Grant had an epiphany about honey. "Wow, this tastes good!!!"  Yum, the local honey and yogurt is awesome :) Hike, hike, hike...

Between Faralya and Kabak

Grant at a spring, between Faralya and Kabak

Nice area looking back to Oludeniz
We made it to this overlook of Kabak Beach. Originally we had planned on taking the valley bypass instead of the steep drop-off to the beach, but with the blue Mediterranean water calling our names, we convinced ourselves to take the plunge.  It was steep, not really a trail, but more a torn-up dirt tractor track.  The water was cold, and all the yoga yippie camping resorts were closed.  We had the beach to ourselves, but there was trash, and no beer or food.
Looking down on Kabak Beach
Hiking back out was as steep as down, plus we had to climb up and over the mountain.  Along the way, Robin found she had no water, as she hadn't closed her bite valve and all her water leaked out while her pack was on the ground. Amazing how light your pack is with no water!  So we hiked with a liter of water for two people in the hot sun straight uphill for hours.  We survived :)
On the Trail up from Kabak Beach to Alinca

Up to Alinca; 'I guess we really are going to the very top!'

Karakartal (Black Eagle) Spring, Kabak to Alinca
We finally found some water, and a nice campspot, but decided to push on all the way to Alinca (pronounced something more like Alin-ja.  C's are like j's)
Robin in Alinca

Alinca Sunset
We got a great "treehouse" spot at a Pansiyon for about 90 turkish Lira, if I remember correctly, which included a great dinner, shower, our own bathroom and room, and breakfast, of course.

Check out the Map of our Route today: Note, you can change the map options to see the terrain and topo views. Check out the elevations changes and grade we hike every day. 

This day we got a hint of our future constant frustration of the quality of trail, and constant struggles ahead. At least at this point it was still magical, and not hard to follow the stupid little red and white markers!