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.
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.
Ken…beautiful experience however the first 5 days of walking probably would have done me in….expressive, descriptive.
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Beautifully done dad.