We arrived in Antalya on Thursday evening (22 April), hardly able to believe we’d made it after all. We’d spent the previous days on a volcano rollercoaster, watching the progress of the ash from Eyjafjallajokull. One day we were sure the holiday would be cancelled, the next day it seemed likely to go ahead. In the event we had a really easy journey and arrived on schedule, to be met at the airport by Julia. First night in Antalya was at the Dogan Hotel in the old town, with its narrow streets and exotic smells.
The next morning after a Turkish buffet breakfast, we walked back through the old town, then through crowds of people celebrating National Day and Children’s Day, to regain our coach and drive to Kas. Actually the coach dropped us off before Kas and we walked down a steep and very stony path into the town. Our hotel here is named after an American biscuit (Oreo) and looks beautiful, with the white walls covered in masses of mauve bougainvillea. The pool is lovely, the meals are tasty, but the rooms are VERY basic. And don’t ask about the shower!
We’re a very nice group, of course (I’ve never been on a Ramblers Walking Holidays one where I’d say otherwise) and quite international, with a couple of Australians, one Irish-Canadian, and myself & husband who are Brits living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The others are very well travelled ramblers from various parts of the UK. Our local guide, Dave, is an expatriate Brit, ex-SAS and has lived in Turkey for the past 17 years.
The first 3 full days of walking the Lycian Way have been great. Beautiful weather – sunny and quite hot, but generally pleasant for walking. The terrain is typically Mediterranean with limestone paths weathered into loose stones by passing armies and animals and ramblers. It’s sometimes rather hard underfoot and you have to watch out not to slip on the stones and scree, but there are wonderful views of the coast and the turquoise waters and of the hills inland.
On the first full day we followed the line of the Islamar-Patara aqueduct built 2000 years ago by the Romans. It was amazing to see the huge stone blocks all the same size and sculpted to interlock perfectly. Along the way we came across tortoises, moving rather fast to escape the ramblers’ boots; and goats and even some turkeys in Turkey!
In the afternoon we visited the site of Patara, which used to be Lycia’s chief port. The huge amphitheatre was buried in the sand until recently, which helped to preserve it very well. Then on to the beach for a swim (for some), a drink at a café for others, and the day ended with dinner at a restaurant in town, sitting outside under huge lanterns.
Yesterday we walked a section of the Lycian Way from Saribelen to Gokceoren. Highlights were lunch with a peasant family of goatherds, whose house happened to lie on our path. The family has built up a little business, serving passing walkers with a delicious lunch of goat’s cheese, yufka (thin sheets of village bread), homemade fig jam, olives and tomatoes, with little glasses of Turkish tea. We sat on the ground outside eating our lunch, while the father showed us his photo album and we communicated without speaking each other’s languages.
At the end of the afternoon’s walk we arrived at the village of Gokceoren, where they were celebrating a festival to mark the start of summer. There was music, dancing, a raffle (prize was a goat!) to raise money for the local school, and delicious food such as pancakes filled with cream cheese, mint and spring onions.
Today we started by exploring the site of Xanthos, the ancient capital of Lycia. The site was uncovered in 1838 by Sir Charles Fellows, who removed many of the objects to the British Museum. We’ve all decided to visit the Museum when we get back, particularly as the site had very little information about what we were seeing – an amphitheatre, some amazing tombs, and an obelisk with inscription in the Lycian language, which has not yet been fully deciphered.
The afternoon’s walk took us along a couple of aqueducts and across a Roman bridge which was not for the faint-hearted or sufferers of vertigo! Dave said we were the fastest group to get across, so we are clearly a stout-hearted crowd. The day was hot, so we were glad to relax on the way back at a café in Kalkan, a town which has a large British community. Turkey seems to be becoming the new Spain in that respect.