Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Likya Yolu

Ancient road number 5: the Lycian Way (Likya Yolu in Turkish).  So to be honest, this is not really a road and it is not really ancient.  It is a 510 km collection of footpaths, major streets, mountain trails, beach walks and so on, and it goes across some ancient sites along a southern peninsula in Turkey that used to be the home of the Lycians.

Ruins are pretty disheveled here but the coastal scenery is gorgeous.  We walked one stretch from the coast to a mountain village (used to be a lake but was apparently drained by the Romans).  A goatherd along the way made excellent hissing and screaming noises to clear the goats off the path for us.

When we got to the top of this trail, we were in a village where the only place to stay charged 90 euro per night!  It was a fancy B&B in a really small and not exactly prosperous hill town.  I was kind of embarrassed that the owner would charge that much.  To get out of there, we hitchhiked on the back of a tractor (FUN!) and landed a comfortable room for 50 lira (a fifth of the price) back on the coast.

I think the best part of the actual ancient sites here are the rock cut tombs.  In Myra (now Demre) some have Lycian inscriptions (looks a bit like Greek, but it's not!) and you can climb up into them, as long as you don't mind being barked at by village dogs.  Fortunately for us, we somehow acquired a stray mutt on the walk from the bus station.  He became our loyal friend and defender and visited all the sites with us - about 8km roundtrip!  With him by our side, other dogs seemed far less menacing.

We named him Nikolai by the way.  Why Nikolai?  Because Myra was the bishopric of Saint Nick!  This town definitely claims him as their own, with a Baba Noel museum (the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas) and the market of Santa kitsch.  It was pretty bizarrely excellent to see vendors selling icons of Saint Nicholas for Russian tourists.  And weirder still, the town hall has Santa's jolly face as part of its seal.  Thinking of him as Mediterranean makes me realize how little I know of Santa's actual life.  It definitely messes with the traditional North European-American reindeer and elves thing.

Day after tomorrow, we leave the Lycian Way for Istanbul and further into the Balkans!

No comments:

Post a Comment