|Yes, of course we tried the Raki!|
|Antalya is Beautiful|
Antalya was a wonderful city to visit and a good place to decompress from the trail. Lots of amenities like cheap pansiyons and good food and plenty of things to see. The Antalya Museum is not to be missed, and after such a historical trek, the exhibits really coalesced the essence of the sights we had just walked through day after day for a couple of weeks....Huge marble statues of gods, emperors, and other great stuff, or whatever was left after the British Government poached most of the artifacts for the British Museum in London....Check it out. They didn't get it all...
|The beach between Olympos and Cirali|
We met an English couple on the bus who were determined to continue their trek along the Lycian Way. They had been doing the trek in sections every year, rather than thru-hiking in one season as we had attempted. We commiserated with them on the bus ride. It was great to see how enthusiastic they were about getting back on the trail, especially since we didn't share their enthusiasm and so were not tempted to restart our hike. Good for them for the perseverance though.
We got off the bus and soon after caught a ride with a guy who ran a restaurant and pansiyon in Cirali. Of course we had a great lunch at his place.
|The mysterious Chimaera|
|Tree house dining in Cirali|
|We're finally on vacation in Cirali!|
|Konya, Turkey - Mevlana Museum, Lodge of Whirling Dervishes|
Konya is famous for having the lodge of the Whirling Dervishes at the Mevlana Mosque/museum. We made sure to go have a look since we were in town.
Konya and the Mevlana mosque (with it's own box containing some beard hair of Mohammed!) was really the only place in Turkey where we felt out of place as non-religious westerners. This place is a huge Muslim pilgrimage site, so full of tourists of a more sober, shall we say, persuasion. It was more difficult to find a beer (we had to scout down some of the back alleys to find the Efes sign). Clearly the pilgrims to Mevlana were somewhat dismayed that we were there. Robin tried covering her head, but then she saw that the security guard, a woman, wasn't covering her hair, so she didn't, but then it seemed people were angry, so we had to go. It was really uncomfortable...
Yet, our lodging hosts were perfectly friendly and outgoing and not once did we feel threatened.
Incidentally we had to spend some time in the Konya bus station trying to figure out our next bus. We ended up walking back and forth among the station agents. We gave up on schlepping our backpacks everywhere and eventually just set them on the bench in the middle of the station. We didn't babysit them. We didn't tag-team wandering around while the other watched the bags. We just set them there and left them while we wandered around figuring things out. We always felt so safe and secure in Turkey that we just didn't worry about locking our stuff in our arms at every moment, and of course nobody cared about our stuff. Perfectly safe. Naive? I don't know. As long as you have your passport and cash card with you, it's all replaceable anyway. Turkey was one of the safest feeling places we had ever been.
|Hiking around Cappadocia|
After some more bus riding, we made it to Cappadocia, surely one of the highlights of Turkey. We wanted to see the sights, do some more hiking and see what it was all about. The weather was cool, overcast and blustery, but the hiking was great and the scenery awesome. What we didn't know was that all of the people there were waiting for the weather to improve so they could go ballooning.
|More Cappadocia Hiking sights|
Lots of caves and old churches in the rocks around Cappadocia.
|Coincidence? Blasphemy? Does Robin have something important to say?|
|Yay! A camel (poor beast)|
|Touristing is serious business|
We even signed up for the "Green Tour" offered by so many companies in Goreme. It was a very interesting tour including the underground city and a very nice walk along the river. And of course we met some great people also on the tour.
|No caption necessary|
|Lots of balloons!|
|Inside the Blue Mosque|
Seeing as we hadn't decided what to do next, we opted for Istanbul, as you can get anywhere from there, plus it has weeks worth of sites itself. What a city! So much to see and do. We found a great little hotel in the Sultanahmet area for our late'ish arrival, then had an amazing meal just around the corner. Things were looking pretty great, if much more expensive :)
Sadly, when we awoke the next morning we learned that a dear family member had passed away and we needed to fly back to the States right away.
|Outside the Blue Mosque|
We walked through the Blue Mosque and around the grounds of the Palace. We went over to Taksim Square. We were overwhelmed by the Sunday crowds. The Grand Bazaar was closed. We were worn out. We went back to the hotel and worried about the unexpected flight home.
|Not sure Chunk has a photo of bricks with a Mosque?|
Turkey was great. Can't wait to go back. Go there. It is amazing. The people are amazing.
One more word of advice: Absolutely DO NOT attempt to thru-hike the Lycian Way. The hiking sucks. It really does, a lot of the time. What makes it great are the people, sites, and goats. If you do some of the hike, you do NOT need a tent, as the only place that required camping was not scenic enough to justify the gear, so just skip that part. Instead, do section day hikes, from Pansiyon to Pansiyon skipping the ridiculous parts of the trail. Meet the wonderful people of Turkey, enjoy the food and goat companions, look at the tombs littering the landscape, and you can't go wrong.