While in the marina at Kemer we took the sea bus to Antalya, much the easiest and most scenic route to approach this modern sprawl of a city. We entered the old harbour, tiny, colourful and crammed with huge ‘pirate vessels’ waiting to go out for day trips. Some of our fellow passengers had been allowed to board at Kemer without their passports and this was proving a problem at disembarkation. The bureaucracy in Turkey is incredible; we couldn’t understand why you would need such a check as the short journey was within the country, but then this is the same country where a stay in a hotel often requires you to be tagged! The harbour is a small bite in the cliffs which edge Antalya. Above, the old Ottoman houses have either been restored or rebuilt in traditional style. We walked up into a beautiful park, lots of fun things including a chamois fight refereed by Andy and food for Jinti; it was full of bird song and splendidly tall palms, magnificent trees and flowers. We wandered into the old lanes with the wail of the muezzin’s mid day call to prayer following us around every bend. The houses revealed their structure as many were in need of repair.
We walked a long way to the museum which had many artefacts from prehistory up to the present day and helped to put the area into context. Greek and Roman sculptures fill many of the halls beautifully backlit to highlight the skill of the craftsman, a touching piece was a sarcophagus for a dog commissioned by a rich and lovely woman called Rhodope for her beloved dog Stephanos. The inscription reads: (It was) Rhodpe(‘s) happiness….. those who play with it called lovely Stephanos. (This grave) keeps inside the one that death takes suddenly. This is the grave of Dog Stephanos that went away and vanished. Rhodope cried for it and buried it like a human. I, (the) Dog Stephanos, Rhodope caused my grave be made
I did have shopping objectives, no surprise there, and Antalya came up trumps! So apart from a square bucket and a yoga mat, still outstanding, I got my guitar string, some Turkish rice and two carpet cushion covers that, I hope, will be more practical, being smaller than our existing long blue cushions. It was also fun to barter with the owner as he had done no deals that day – or so he said! I leave the bartering to Andy, I am useless at it. On another occasion a lady took my money and swept the ground with it, a custom we had not seen before, apparently it celebrates the first sale of the day.
People tell us that it’s quiet for this time of year and the weather cooler than normal. The economic situation in Turkey doesn’t seem good, foreign visitors are put off by threats of bombs and so the tourism industry is suffering; suffering particularly from a lack of Russians. After the shooting down of a Russian plane by the Turkish air force Putin has put economic sanctions in place to discourage tourism.
Olympos and Chimaera
Early one morning we took the cable car up 2275metres to the summit of Mount Olympos (there are at least three in Asia Minor) the peak dominates this section of the Taurus Mountains and we had watched it appearing and disappearing all the way around and up the coast. The cable car on the way up was full of small Turkish girls wearing headscarves, taking selfies and screaming as on a roller coaster as the cabin went over the pylons and made a sudden dip. The view was amazing on the way up, looking down on the route we had taken, the places we had visited and the terrain far below us, expecting to see a bear or other wild beast at any moment. We didn’t linger at the summit as guess what? Like Schiehallion, it is often cloud covered. The returning cabin was occupied by Japanese, more restrained, very controlled – no screams! We continued south to visit the Chimaera, a twenty minute walk up a rough stone pathway. This is part of the Lycian way and the fire breathing monster is alive, albeit feebly, but enough to warm ones hands beside, as if we should need it at this time of year. A more scientific explanation is the escape of natural gases combusting spontaneously as they enter the atmosphere. Along this coast are enormous modern hotels, with their own beaches and individual muslin draped tents, but hungry for lunch after our walk we had a more authentic experience by stopping at a shaded roadside café. We lounged on a carpeted platform underneath a fig tree, gourds hanging from branches. The family were sitting around talking gently, the baby played in the earth, chickens scratched and the domed pancake pan was warming. We drank orange juice and ate spinach and cheese Gozleme freshly made – delicious!
On the way to the cave we passed small holdings; women in headscarves and traditional Turkish pants, hoeing in the fields, piles of different grains drying in heaps on sacking outside houses, old farm machinery and one tractor with four people piled onto the driver’s seat towing a trailer with others bumping along in the back. Standing outside the cave entrance, some 140m or 484 steps above the large plain now spread out below us, the Taurus Mountains to the south and west finishing abruptly as the wide plain takes over. Below, the patchwork of olive groves, orchards of pomegranate and fields of grain, barley, wheat and oats evidence of the fertility that drew prehistoric man to the area. The cave has been in continuous occupation for at least 200,000 years!
The cave itself is a Paleolithic Sagrada Familia, naturally having all the stunning lines and shapes of nature that Gaudi took as his inspiration.
We are now retracing our steps, hmm, how would I put that in boating terms, re-tracking our wake? Probably not! Anyway we are returning around the impressive Besadalar – The Five Islands, (Cape Gelidonya), which Pliny described as being ‘fraught with danger for passing vessels’. We have placed our faith in GPS, fuel filters and GRIBs