Istanbul

Nov 1-7

I have been home from Turkey for a bit over a week now. I’m still not yet on Calgary time and so one thing I have been doing at 5:00 AM is writing a bit on my last stop in Turkey. Istanbul was probably the favourite stop on my year-long Europe, North Africa, Middle East walk-about in 1964/65 so I looked forward to returning. It is my habit to save exploration of the fly in/out city until the end of the trip. In small part this is pick up a few souvenirs or memorabilia should I be so moved. I also really enjoy having a few more days to spend in one place than I give myself when I am moving about. And so I spent six days in Istanbul, seeing if I could re-ignite memories of 55 years ago and creating new ones. (It is nice to write on a proper machine after struggling with a tablet)

The first morning, after a leisurely breakfast in my four floor walk-up hotel, I headed up the hill to Sutenahmet Square. Sultenahmet is the centre and focus of many of the prime tourist attractions in Istanbul. I would cross the square a number of times in my six day ramble around a tiny part of this enormous (15 million) city. I had chosen to stay near Sirecki Station. This is the historical station where the Orient Express of Agatha Christie fame ended its journey. My hotel proved to be ideally situated for my interests. In my six days I walked much of Fatih (the old city) and Beyoglu (the newer and more upbeat part of the city). There are 34 more districts to Istanbul that I would not see much of, other than in passing.

Sirkeci  Station

My walk up to Sutanahmet only took fifteen minutes but still I was too late to get into
Aya (Haiga) Sophia. The line-up was too long for my impatience. I walked around to the Topkapi Palace entry. Same thing. I would have to be here earlier on other days. So I will come back to them later. I continued on down steep narrow roads off of the peninsula on which old Istanbul sits. Crossing a busy road I got onto a sea wall walkway.

I was now overlooking at the Sea of Marmara, which I had crossed by ferry seven weeks earlier. If I had turned right I would have got to the Yenikapi Terminal where I had left from, and further on I might have found the hotel I had stayed at. I turned left, heading for the inlet called the Golden Horn that separates Fatih from Beyoglu. As I walked Marmara narrowed into the Bosphorus, the historic strait that separates Europe and Asia and makes Istanbul the only large city in the world that spans two continents. Lots of people were out walking on the walkway on this sunny Saturday morning.   Still quite windy and about 15C at 11:00 in the morning so nice for walking, fishing and even sitting on the rocks with a bit of a picnic. But to my surprise a brave soul took off his clothes and jumped into the forbidding water. And to my further surprise he was swept rapidly back towards the Sea of Marmara. I have no idea where he ended up, but for sure he would not be swimming back to where he jumped in. No one seemed to pay much attention to this so I guess it was not completely abnormal. But it did raise a significant marker in my mind. Of course the Bosphorus, connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, had rattled around in my head since social studies days and had been brought a bit forward on this trip. The current I observed indicated that it was not just a static piece of sea water. Research was necessary. I will get back to you on the Bosphorus.

As I walked I passed hundreds of young and old, mostly male but a few females, fishing with long rods. I had not seen anyone catching anything; not unusual for fishermen. But that changed the closer I got to the Galata Bridge, the first bridge across the Golden Horn, replaced a number of times over it’s history I am sure. People were now pulling in lines with possibly 4 leaders from which tiny silver fish wiggled. Many had pails or coolers brimming with their morning’s catch. I suspect many of these fish would find their way to markets lining the nearby streets. The top level of the Galata Bridge had a couple of car lanes, two rail lines and wide sidewalks on which walkers had to watch out for fisherman casting their lines. Hanging under the bridge, except for a channel in the middle to allow ships to pass are expensive restaurants serving mostly seafood of course. Near the beginning of the Galata Bridge are numerous city tour and boat tour kiosks. At an Information Centre I got some good information on things I wanted to do over the next days. I found a better Airport Shuttle stop and was assured that a shuttle ran 24 hours and did come to the Sultanhamet side. Last night I had ended up on the bus that went to Taksim Square in Beyoglu, followed by a long walk and a train ride to get to Sirkeci Stn and my hotel. Critical information gathered I continued across Galata and into Beyoglu a short ways before re-crossing the Galata and back to my hotel where I had a short rest before finishing the day with some street walking. A good day.

Beyoglu

The next day, Sunday, had me out a bit earlier heading to spend the day on the Beyoglu side. I had bought an Istanbul Kart the first night to help me get to my hotel on a train and I could have used it to get up to Beyoglu but I wanted to walk. I would possibly use my card to get back. A running Marathon was in progress. The trains were not running, the roads were blocked but I found my way through pedestrian underpasses down to the walkway along the Golden Horn and then across the Galata. As I walked runners were coming by. Apparently they had started and would finish in Taksim Square. More than a few thousands must be taking part.

Once across the bridge a set of stairs looked promising. I could have chosen a steep street as well. When, in the 4h Century AD, the Romans chose the small Greek town of Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople to be the centre of the Eastern part of the Roman Empire one of the similarities with Rome was that both were built on Seven Hills. I am sure that now there are many more than seven hills upon which these cities rest. For sure hills abound and my daily workout on the streets of Istanbul benefitted from almost continuous hills to scale.

I was headed towards a street marked on my map called Istikal Avenue. This 1.5 km long car-free street is where much of the action of Beyoglu takes place and it would also take me to Taksim Square the centre of Beyoglu. My first stop, half way up the hill, was at the Galata Tower where I hoped to get a vantage point over the lower city. No luck, the lines were long but also not moving much. I stopped for tea and a bathroom break and continued on up the hill passing many shops that were just now beginning to open. It is fairly obvious when you reach Istikal. Lower down the streets feeding into Istikal were very narrow, steep and not entirely car-free, although why anyone would try to drive on one of those streets is beyond me.   Istikal broadens significantly and has a tram line running down the middle. The shops became larger, there were more cafes and more people were beginning to show. When I walked down Istikal sometime later it was very much busier, more street performers and all the shops were jumping. I understand it is at night that Isitkal really jumps, but that is not in my sphere of interest anymore, particularly since it would involve a long trek to get here from my hotel.

I continued onto to Taksim Square. I took a few pictures and walked around for a while, but didn’t find too much of interest. I have seen flute players with North American Indian headdresses before. I headed back down Istikal. I was headed for Galata Mevlevi House, where if available I would buy a ticket to a dance by adherents of the Mevlevi order of Sufism. This took an hour, but I did get tickets and would be back at 5:00 pm for the performance. This means that I had a few hours to kill and would not head back to my side of town.   I went down and got into line to walk up the Galata Tower. This tower has had a number of functions in its 1500 year existence. Situated on a promontory looking over the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus it had been part of the control of ship traffic, had a role in defence, acted as a fire lookout station and who knows what else. It pokes up above the surrounding buildings in a number of my shots. Today it has an elevator that goes up to a restaurant and then a few flights of stairs up to a tea house and where there is a narrow walkway around the perimeter from which you can see out onto three bodies of water that meet here, across the Horn to the old city sky line, across the Bosphorus to the Asian side and down onto many of the buildings of the city.

I had not initially planned on watching the Mevlevi perform their “Whirling Dervish”, but I had the time and my readings had convinced me that it was more religious than tourist shtick so I was there. I guess I was a bit too far back in line and so when they opened the gates and we all rushed to get seats I was back in a second row seat with pillars blocking much of my view. I was hoping the get some introductory talk about the Islamic sect and their particular beliefs but they began right in with their ceremony. I had read that the focus was on peaceful thoughts through music, mediation and dance and that circular motion enhanced attaining their spiritual attainment.

A group of about ten men came slowly into the room wearing their white flared gowns, covered with maroon goats and topped with tan conical hats. Music was provided by another five or six playing mostly flutes and ancient looking stringed instruments. Doffing their coats they performed possibly three or four whirling dances. Two major impressions were left on me. “Whirling” as a description is wrong. Their rotating motion, both around their own axis and around the room is continuous but it is slow and peaceful. The second similar impression came from the faces of the men involved. To varying levels they all appeared to be in a trance or a state of bliss. After thirty minutes they donned their coats and slowly walked out. The doors were opened and we all went our way. I guess I am glad I went; I am not sure what I expected but it was not what I experienced.

The Bosphorus

So, back to the Bosphorus.   No doubt there are many ways to tour the 32 km long strait which averages 1.5 km in width. The two that I had found were a two hour out and back or a six hour ferry that crossed to ports back and forth up to the Black Sea and back again. I chose the latter.

The ferry left a dock near the Galata Bridge at about 10:30. It was quite large, two stories of inside and outside seats. Only about 20% of the seats were filled so there was lots of opportunity to walk around for different looks. Mostly I sat outside near the front. The first stop was across to Uskudar on the Asian side. A few people left and a few more got on and we headed back to European side a bit further up the Bosphorus. Thousands of commuters go back and forth on ferries. The Asian side is largely residential and the three bridges and I think two tunnels cannot effectively handle all of the commuting that happens. Frequent cargo ships and oil tankers add to mix of boats that continually pass. We continued in this way all the way up to the Black Sea, the last stop being on the Asian side. I had a two hour walk-about at the last stop and then caught the return ferry.

The Last Bridge and the Black Sea

I had begun my research on the Bosphorus current I had observed. I won’ t get into the rich history – this time science held sway . So – what creates the significant current that I had observed with the swimmer? — The Danube, the Don, the Dnieper and a host of other rivers drain into the Black Sea bringing significantly more water in than it loses through evaporation. The result is a higher water level than the Mediterranean. How much depends upon rainfall, winds and numerous other factors.   One article suggested an average of 42 cm difference, which means that water runs from the Black Sea down the Bosphorus into the Sea of Marmara through the Dardanelles into the Aegean and Mediterranean. Hence the current.

To get further into it we can begin with this formula:

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Oh, but everyone may not be that interested. I will leave it for now.

But what might be of interest is that there is also an opposing current that runs from the Aegean up-hill, or at least up-water to the Black Sea. It was known to ancient fisherman and traders who had to get their ships up to the Black Sea. It runs some 10 m below the water surface and it was used to help these ships go towards the Black Sea by dropping a sort of sea anchor weighted with rocks into the up-water current to help counteract the down-water current. The up-water current is only about half the speed of the down-water but it helped a bit.

What creates the up-water current? — Because the Black Sea has an excess of fresh water entering it is of lower salinity than the Mediterranean. And because saline water (Sea Water) is heavier than fresh – heavy sea water flows from the Mediterranean to the Black. Through the Bosphorus this flow is below the fresher water coming from the Black to the Mediterranean, again because saline is more dense than fresh.

There are other interesting facts that relate. One that I will not expand upon is that the deepest waters of The Black Sea do not sustain normal sea life like the other ocean bodies. The waters are called Anoxic, they don’t sustain oxygen. But I will leave it here and continue my researches without dragging you along.

Ferry passenger

The Topkapi Palace and Museum

I was in line before 9:00 AM and so was able to wander at will. The grounds are the most photogenic part with numerous small buildings serving various functions such as the attractive Library, all with attractive mosaics. The Palace served the Ottoman Sultans who built and occupied the palace from 1460 AD, right after they ran The Byzantium out of Turkey, until 19th century when they built a new palace a few kms up the Bosphorus.

The main buildings house extensive kitchens, and living quarters now filled with artifacts and treasures. I was extremely upset that the main treasury was closed for repairs, an issue with many of the great historical places of the world. One memory from those many years ago were misshapen pearls encrusted with jewels to form facsimiles of people and animals. I really was looking forward to finding them again. However there are countless other things on display in the weapons gallery and the clock gallery to mention a few. I did not pay extra to go into the Harem, perhaps I should have.

Aya Sophia

Possibly the most significant historical site in Istanbul, this enormous testament to the power that religion has played in the world was begun in 360 AD and completed in basically the form we see today in 537 AD. Haiga Sophia, the Byzantium name, was the seat of the Eastern (Greek) Orthodox Church until 1453 (except from 1204 to 1261 when it was converted by Crusaders to Roman Catholicism) In 1453 it was converted to a mosque by the Ottoman and renamed Aya Sophia. This is also when Constantinople became Istanbul.

For Hundreds of years it was the world’s largest building. For 1000 years the central dome, which has collapsed at least twice due to earthquakes, been re-designed and rebuilt, was the world’s largest free standing dome. The interior has been decorated with Catholic icons, in mosaic and plaster, been destroyed or covered with plaster and paintings appropriate to the time. Mosques have no figurative iconography and so much of what is seen today is calligraphy and geometric design. The building was converted to a museum in 1935. As a result some of the Christian mosaics have been uncovered and restored. I don’t remember visiting on my previous visit.

I am always impressed by the obvious wear shown by the exposed stones that in this case have been trampled upon for 1700 years or so. Strangely there are ramps that lead to the second level, some 20 m or so above the main level. I read that ramps rather than stairs were built to allow horses to take the elite up to that worship and viewing level.   Imagine all of the things that must have happened in a place like this. Graffiti carved in a marble banister identified as Runic script was postulated to date from the 11th Century and created by a Viking serving in someone’s army.

The Blue (Sultan Ahmet) Mosque (1609) , Suleymaniye But Mosque (1550 AD)

There are 100s of mosques in Istanbul. You can visit inside when they are not being used for a service which happens a few times every day. Most directions you look in Istanbul there will be central mosque domes and minarets sticking into the skyline. I find it all very photogenic, although it is hard to get a full picture of these big mosques, surrounded as they are by other structures and under continual repair or renovation. I love the juxtaposition of the interior domes and support beams. Photography is permitted inside and I even sneak a few shots of people.

Females pray to the left

The Blue Mosque is one that I remember from years ago. The six minarets and the blue mosaics inside are the most distinctive features. I didn’t remember that the rugs covering the floor were red, possibly it has changed over the years. When I was here those years ago I remember the vast open empty space. It is still vast but not empty any more. This is one of the most visited places in Istanbul in part I guess because it is free, unlike Aya Sophia and Topkapi, which are museums. Like those places repair scaffolding was a significant part of what you see probably for the foreseeable future.

As a mosque I felt Suleymaniye might be even more impressive. Still vast and with wonderful surrounding grounds. There were a few less tourists and more people preparing and conducting their prayers.

The Grand Bazaar and Shopping

I went again through the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market, both covered markets, both wonderfully colourful and interesting. At least as interesting to me are just about any street in Fatih and Beyoglu. I will also say with confidence, even though I didn’t get to other areas in Istanbul, this sentiment must be true for those districts as well. I don’t buy much; I did pick up a few things, but it is not buying that attracts me. I talked to quite a few merchants who no doubt are trying to entice you to buy something, but mostly do not seem to mind just visiting. They will often offer tea or Turkish coffee and don’t mind demonstrating or allowing you to taste. But mostly I just enjoy walking and enjoying the visual and auditory cacophony. I take a few pictures and enjoy the camouflage crowds give me. Like in so many Asian cities streets in Istanbul often have a speciality. I was on streets that sold only greeting cards and specialty paper. Of interest to me were areas that specialized in photographic equipment and bicycles. One area sold nothing but toys in large volume, like they were attracting toy buyers from elsewhere.   Near my hotel were restaurant streets and every restaurant flowed out onto the street. I had six nights to sample different offerings. Everywhere I went there were people. So dynamic.

Well that’s enough, probably too much. But I do love Istanbul, and this visit extended that love to Turkey as a whole. I am at home now, thinking about but not settled upon what’s next…There is so much to learn and do

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The Black Sea to the Mediterranean

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Capadoccia to the Black Sea

 

Oct 12-19

Leaving Cappadocia I headed east across the Anatolian plateau towards the borders with Georgia, Armenia and Iran. Turkey also borders on it’s south Syria and Iraq. I wanted to get into the eastern part of Turkey in part because it is more fundamentally Muslim. I also had to experience the massive Anatolian plateau that ranges from one to two thousand meters above sea level, with mountains up to five thousand . The high quality roads enabled me to comfortably make it to Erzurum in a day and a half, stopping at Erzinican on the way. I loved the often bare country with enough activity and foliage to add interest.

I had a bit more than a day to visit Erzurum, with the reputation of being quite fundamentalist. It may be so, I found people very warm and welcoming. I had some reading glasses made and the young man who made them drove me back to my hotel as I had wandered some distance away. I also bought some long johns (it is almost 2000m here and cold at night). It was in the market so I thought I would offer 50 TL ($12). “No.No.,the vendor said, 25TL. The old mosques, mausoleums, and medresses (seminaries) are the prime attraction here, although it’s location high on the plateau is also a big plus for me.

It took another day and a half to drop down through an extensive canyon system to get to the Black Sea near the border with Georgia and then back up into the Kackar mountains.

I had picked a small village called Ayder, at about 1500m at the end of a road about 50 km from the sea. I headed there to find some high altitude walking.

The village is well below tree line, above which are the yaylas (farm meadows) that I was hoping to find. Off of the pavement the roads immediately became too rough for my little rental car. The first day it took me my whole walk just to get to the yayla, but the second day I found a concrete road that went almost up to a yayla, so I spent that day in my idea of heaven. I walked with a lovely black dog (named Gino I was told) I gained 500 m over the day, met lots of locals and about 500 goats, took lots of pictures.

From there I spent two more nights in Trabzon on the Black Sea walking the streets except for a half day driving again into the mountains to visit Sumela Monastery. It was active from the 4th c AD until 1923, when the Greeks were shipped out. Unfortunately it has been under renovation for five years, but I primarily went because it is so striking plastered against the cliff.

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I am now heading west along the Black Sea before heading inland again.

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On the road – just some photos

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2nd leg – end of walk

September 28th to October 4th

After all the hills over the previous 5 days the next couple of days we’re going to be completely flat and away from the backwoods. The route passed between greenhouses in the hundreds. The advice was if you were to take a bus now would be the time, so I did. It was about a 15 minute ride to Kinik. I wanted to see the Lycian site Xanthos. It was about an hour walk to get there from where the bus dropped me off. Most significant was the amphitheater and a large pillar with the most Lycian script yet found. Xanthos at times was the most important Lycian city.

Back in Kinik, no pensions, I decided to take the bus for another half an hour to Kalkan a retreat for British pensioners. Walking the streets after checking into my pension I saw a bar showing the South African – Namibia rugby world cup game. A nice treat for me and a quantum step into civilization after five days away. These bus escapes put me past a couple of sections I probably should have done. Hindsight .

September 29th to Seribelen

The route out of Kalkan headed straight up into bush above town but below higher developments and a highway. I found way-marks and was able to stay with them through very rough terrain. There had been sparse foot traffic but thistles were abundant. It was very discouraging when I stumbled out onto the highway after 2 ½ hours to see a sign that I was just leaving Kalkan. Rather than following the route into the brush I stayed on the road that was too busy to be walking. An hour into this was enough – I started to hitch.
Before long a guy whom I had met earlier came along on a motor scooter. I was skeptical but I climbed on and on we went for possibly 20 minutes to where I was able to walk to Mozaic Pension. This turned out to be a lovely stop run by a French chemist and his Turkish wife. I did a further walk for an hour or so in the rural community of Seribelen which at about 700m was quite a bit cooler than sea level. I ate with the family which included grandfather and son Jean who could understand French but wouldn’t try with me. I had my first Raki, but not to be the last.

September 30th to Gokceoren/Kas

Oliver, my host, made me a nice full breakfast early enough that I was on the way by 8:00. Ideally I would begin walking by 7, but the breakfasts have been so good I have waited for them and not been underway often until close to 9:00. Not good for me, as it becomes obvious.

This was a good day for me. The route was on a rough country road for a while getting up to about 1000m and so it was not blistering. When the way turned to trail it was good trail, even when dropping down a steep rock face.
After a few hours a woman came out of a farmhouse and offered some tea. I was going well and had lots of time so I spent an hour in her place looking at her photos and eating the early lunch she made. It was a great stop.

A Few hours later I dropped down to Gokceoren. It was only just after noon. I had already decided that the next section might be too long for me to do in one day with no water stops and I didn’t really want to spend another afternoon waiting in a small town only to possibly hitch a ride onwards. I paid the pension guy a goodly amount to drive me to Kas where I had planned on spending two nights.

Kas

This is another lovely Turkish Mediterranean tourist city. On my second night here I met with a retired Turkish hiking guide connected to a friend in Calgary. He gave me advice on the way ahead.

October 2nd

The first leg of today’s walk was a ferry trip across the Kas bay. Unfortunately the first ferry didn’t run until 9 o’clock. So by the time I started walking it was close to 10. There was a little problem getting started but once underway it was easy to follow the scant trail. I was possibly struggling with the heat earlier than normal which I attributed to the low altitude. I was caught by a 30ish Isreali couple going fast, but I soon caught up when they missed a way-mark and had to make their way back to where I was.

We had a long section of scrambling above the sea which slowed the woman and so we went along together. The man , much faster went ahead and was swimming in a bay when we got there. The woman joined him and I continued slowly. A little after noon I got to a bay where my phone application and my guide friend indicated I would be able to stay. No such luck. They had recently shut down. I had only about ½ l of water left out of 2 l I had started with, not enough. The next place was 4 to 5 hours away. Big mistake on my part. I had had a few woozy periods in the last hour indicating heat stroke which I have suffered too many times to ignore. I had a few options now none very good.

There was a young couple who had come by motor scooter into the bay. She was Turkish and offered to swim out to see if one of the four boats anchored in the bay would take me back to Kas. One did and so a few hours later I was back into the same room I had spent the previous two nights in. I now had some decisions that took me the night to make.

A number of factors lead to my quitting the walk. I had been walking well but was not handling the heat/humidity and the forecasts didn’t show any improvement. Finally the sections ahead seemed to be getting longer and more remote. So it seemed wise to “call uncle”.

I will now have over a month to tour about in Turkey. Over the next days I decided to rent a car for much of that time . Off I go on a very different path.

I have lots of good pictures that I hope to share at some time…

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Onto the Start

Sept 19-27 to Fethiye and Five days walking

It took me four days to get to Fethiye from Istanbul, one spent visiting spectacular Ephesus. Enroute I rode a fast ferry, full sized schedule buses, small mini buses unscheduled, taxis and shared taxis called dolmus. Figuring out transport in a⊂ new country is always a bit fun and mysterious.

The first 5 days walking have been tough for me. The trail is rough, at times hard to find, and it is continually climbing or dropping, but it is the heat that mostly drains me by the days end. The places I stay in are great. Nice people super food. The views are spectacular. I am gradually leaving my belly behind. All is great.

to Bandirma

My hotel in Istanbul was a 20 minute walk to the Yenikapi feribot terminal for Sea of Marmara crossings. I chose to cross the Sea of Marmara to the town of Bandirma as an easy way of getting out of this town of well over 10 million. Unfortunately the boat did not leave till near 1:00 so it wasn’t until about 3:00 that I got to Bandirma, late for birding. Still I arranged to get a cab to drive me about 20 kms to the Bandirma Kuc cenneti (bird paradise ). It look like a nice park for birding but there wasn’t much going on at this time. A very high tower gave views over the trees onto the lake where there were pelicans, cormorants and seagulls but too distant to get a good look or pictures.
On the way back into town we stopped at the bus station where I purchased onward tickets to Izmir and hopefully will be able to complete the transport to Ephesus. Back at the hotel I had a beer and a meal on the 6th floor of my hotel where I was able to watch the sun set over the Sea of Marmara. Rather uneventful day but at least I am out of Istanbul.

The next day the same taxi driver took me to the bus station. A four hour ride got me to Izmir and then a 1 hour mini put me in Selcuk where I would stay two nights. I would spend the next day at the ancient city of Ephesus.

Thousands visit Ephesus every day. Many or maybe most come by tour bus often from Cruises. I took a 15 minute dolmus, or shared taxi from Selcuk. Already in just a few days with all the transport modes it is quite a change for me compared to my cycling trips.

Ephesus was inhabited from about 7000 B.C. to about 600 A.D. Many of the buildings were built by the Greeks. And then about 334 BC Alexander the Great and the Romans held the reins of power. It was during this time that Ephesus likely reached its greatest significance. At its largest it is said to have had a population of 250,000. St John and St Paul both spent time here bringing a touch of Christianity. Less confirmed is the notion that Mary may have lived for a time and died here. Earthquakes and attacks by goths, arabs and others finally ended its incredible history.


I just enjoy wandering around ancient sites, not too concerned about the details, but a few don’t hurt. The Great Theater held 24,000 people, the largest in the ancient world. The library, the most complete remaining building, was second in size to the one in Alexandria.

The Terrace Houses, where the wealthy people lived are now covered by an enormous roof to preserve numerous frescoes and intricate mosaics. These apartments had hot and cold running water, toilets and spas. Today the only inhabitants are the many cats that gaze patiently at the throngs of sunburned foreigners who stumble along the wide roads during the day.

The next day another mini and then a full bus got me to Fethiye for the start of my Lycian Way walk.

The Lycian Way – Lykya Yolu

Day 1. Fethiye to Ovacik – 15 km, 750 m.

And so it begins. This day in some descriptions is not formally part of the Lycian Way, but it came highly recommended so on I went. When I began my Shikoku 88 walk 2 years ago I struggled the first day or two following guide book instructions and street signage. The same thing happened to me on this day both getting on to the trail in Fethiye and a number of times during the day. This added significantly to my energy expenditure, particularly the hour bushwhacking I did at the end of the day. Obviously my lack of conditionin is the main reason I dragged into my hotel at the end of the day but I still cursed myself for the errors that I made during the walk.

The first half of the day’s  walk was on a long road over a pass 300 meters high with small sections of forest trail. Before leaving Fethiye the first Lycian Way sign marked an auspicious beginning.


Once over the first pass it was down to the infamous town of Kayakoy. In 1923 when ethnic Greeks were shipped to Greece and fewer Turks were shipped to Turkey Kayakoy remained empty. Now it is famous as a ghost town.

The trail which I struggled to find snakes through the crumbling ruins and then on through heavy pine forest to another high point before dropping down to Ovacik where I made more bad decisions. Hopefully it gets better.
At my hotel a bus load of hikers arrived late. No doubt on a Lycian Way tour. I might see them again, but not yet.

Day 2. Ovacik to Faralya – 14 km, 780 m


Other than flailing around right at the start no serious navigation blunders. The route followed a dirt road onto an old rock road and ultimately onto a trail that reached Kirme a small village at about 800 m. The view along the way out over the blue sea and rocky coves would never get old.

I had freshly squeezed orange juice near the top. Like my first day it was very hot, even though most of my climb was in the shade of the mountain. My wild life viewing was highlighted by a bumble bee and a climbing goat.

I was worried that my old body had lost its ability to sweat profusely. I’m not worried about that anymore. Most of the way down was on a narrow steep rocky trail that I seem to handle reasonably well, thanks largely to my trekking poles. At the edge of Faralya was a spout with fresh spring water that I had read was potable. Other springs I encountered were either dry, ugly or occupied by wasps.


My place in Faralya was a bit upscale. Lovely meals, overlooking Butterfly Valley. Even with a sunset diminished by distant clouds it was a great stay.


Day 3. Faralya to Alinca -13 km 1000 m

It was cloudy and so it was confusing when I seemed to be sweating even more profusely as I made my way up the steep trail to the first high point about 300 m above Faralya. In hindsight the humidity must have been close to 100%. The rain began as a drizzle, which got me to an orange juice vendor with a tarp stretched across the dirt road I was now on. I had my juice, waited a while an then dug out my rain jacket. Down on a rough trail, now a creek, through Kabak and on towards Alinca on a road that was a river. I stopped at a little hotel where they sat me on a covered porch and brought coffee. Thank the world for its hospitable generous people.

The rain let up and I was off on a lovely trail, continually climbing through cliff bound ravines for the next three hours. But the rain was done and it was fine. Periodically I could now see down to Kabak Beach. While sitting for a water break I was passed by two young guys going fast. I will not see them again, they are the first walkers I have seen on the trail.

I had two cokes from a kiosk just before Alinca which at close to 800m is going to be a nice cool place to stay. Like in Faralya my place here provides dinner and breakfast and sits on a brow affording 180 deg sea view.

Day4. Alinca to Bel – 16 km, 800 m

The day begin with a long descending walk along the gravel road that passed through a couple of small towns. When I stop for a drink I realized that I had gone too far. But it looked like I might be able to find a way up to the trail. Luckily it worked out fine and after climbing another rise I connected with the trail below the Sydyma Lucian site. This kind of gamble certainly raises the tension a bit. It would be a bit disastrous to be wandering lost in this terrain.

I didn’t spend much time here as it is pretty minor. For the first time I had a nice lunch prepared by a woman offering pension facilities. There don’t seem to be many walkers and when I pass a place that offers pension facilities people will come out and offer there services
This seems to be a day of not finding the trail. Leaving my lunch break I got onto the road and never did find the trail head. It might be a little easier walking on the road but there is less shade and that is a problem.
Bel is the first town that I have stayed in that does not overlook the sea. I was again hosted by a woman who made sure I had lots to drink, coke, water, tea. Drinks dinner breakfast and accommodation in Bell was about $25.

Day 5. Bel to Patara Beach – 14k, 400m up, 1100m down

There was an hour long walk up a gravel a road, followed by a painfully slow traverse down across rocky hill hanging above the sea. I never lost the route markers and never fell. Both felt like an accomplishment. In the village near sea level I met 5 Turks doing a few days on the walk. Nothing was open here so they hired a driver to take them on a ways. I was treating some water I found as 2 English guys came along going fast. Where are the other old walkers?

Another two hours got me to Patara Beach, which has camping and little cabins that I will stay in. There is wifi for the first time in three days.

Not enough bandwidth for the photos I should add. Sorry.

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Turkey 2019

I was awake when the call to prayers from a mosque nearby announced that morning had come and that I was in Istanbul. I had gone to bed early after close to 20 hours traveling from Calgary . I am only spending a day here in Istanbul as I will visit the city before I return to Calgary in about eight weeks. However, I got in on a good walk touching a few places that are most memorable from my only previous visit in 1965. First on the list was the Grand Bazaar. It is still fascinating but I am not buying anything at least not yet. It was fun to check out meerschaum pipes again. I then carried on further into the old city for a brief look at the Blue Mosque and Ayasofya, possibly the two most important mosques in Istanbul, certainly the most visited.

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