The Lycian Way Continues

The Lycian Way Continues

After the penance of Finike, we’ve been treated to a taste of paradise in Cirali! Wonderful to step outside in the morning to the scent of honeysuckle and walk past green lawns and palm trees and pomegranate bushes, past the clear blue pool, with views of the mountains in the background, to the dining room for a tasty breakfast. We’re not quite sure how we came to be here, as this is neither the original hotel on our programme nor the replacement that Ramblers Worldwide Holiday wrote to us about, but however we got here (after many a last-minute change), we like it!

To backtrack a day or two… Saturday was another transfer day and once again it included some highlights. You might describe them as trial by water, followed by trial by fire. We’d known for days that there would be a river crossing on this route and there was much discussion (and perhaps a few sleepless nights!) about how to tackle this obstacle. By the time we arrived at the only moderately raging torrent, each rambler had decided on their own approach. Some waded barefoot and survived the ordeal; others wore sandals or beach shoes purchased specially for the occasion (perhaps these should be on the list of things to bring RWH?); and others wore boots without socks. And we were all convinced that our own way was best!

After drying our feet and donning our boots and socks again, we continued up a steep hillside for a fiery encounter with the Chimera. This mythical creature with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a snake has been living in the mountain here ever since it was defeated by Bellepheron on his winged horse Pegasus. Or alternatively, flames fed by natural gas and methane seeping out of the earth have been burning from cracks in the rocks for thousands of years. Either way, it was just the place for a barbecue lunch and some of us roasted sausages over the flames – quite tasty, even if a bit charred in places. Ali, our driver, roasted a sumptuous lunch of sausages, onions, tomatoes and chilis for Dave, Julia and himself.

On Sunday there was a bombshell announcement: our trusty guide Dave had been recalled to base and was leaving us that evening (for reasons unspecified). A new guide would be taking over from him. You can just imagine the consternation and speculation about the reason for this change at such a late stage in the holiday. In the event our new guide, Bas, turned out to be very pleasant, capable and good fun. He was our guide for the Big Hike yesterday, up to the saddle of Mount Olympos/Tahtali Dagi, to a height of about 1800 m, with an elevation gain of about 900 m. This wasn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect day, so several people opted to laze by the pool or stroll along the beach instead. For those who tackled the mountain, it was a steep but very varied ascent, through pine forests and on rocky paths beside a stream, where the fragrance of wild mint filled the air, across green meadows in a shallow bowl surrounded by mountains, with masses of wild flowers along the way, up to the shoulder. We picnicked in a grassy hollow near the top of the saddle, with a view of the peak, where there were still large patches of snow. The way to the top was over this snow and scree and didn’t look like an attractive proposition, quite apart from being well above our grade. The way down was steep and slippery with loose stones and gravel, and my legs decided that they’d like a day off today. And one could hardly think of a better spot to spend a lazy day.

After drying our feet and donning our boots and socks again, we continued up a steep hillside for a fiery encounter with the Chimera. This mythical creature with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a snake has been living in the mountain here ever since it was defeated by Bellepheron on his winged horse Pegasus. Or alternatively, flames fed by natural gas and methane seeping out of the earth have been burning from cracks in the rocks for thousands of years. Either way, it was just the place for a barbecue lunch and some of us roasted sausages over the flames – quite tasty, even if a bit charred in places. (See picture.) Ali, our driver, roasted a sumptuous lunch of sausages, onions, tomatoes and chilis for Dave, Julia and himself.

On Sunday there was a bombshell announcement: our trusty guide Dave had been recalled to base and was leaving us that evening (for reasons unspecified). A new guide would be taking over from him. You can just imagine the consternation and speculation about the reason for this change at such a late stage in the holiday. In the event our new guide, Bas, turned out to be very pleasant, capable and good fun. He was our guide for the Big Hike yesterday, up to the saddle of Mount Olympos/Tahtali Dagi, to a height of about 1800 m, with an elevation gain of about 900 m. This wasn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect day, so several people opted to laze by the pool or stroll along the beach instead. For those who tackled the mountain, it was a steep but very varied ascent, through pine forests and on rocky paths beside a stream, where the fragrance of wild mint filled the air, across green meadows in a shallow bowl surrounded by mountains, with masses of wild flowers along the way, up to the shoulder. We picnicked in a grassy hollow near the top of the saddle, with a view of the peak, where there were still large patches of snow. The way to the top was over this snow and scree and didn’t look like an attractive proposition, quite apart from being well above our grade. The way down was steep and slippery with loose stones and gravel, and my legs decided that they’d like a day off today. And one could hardly think of a better spot to spend a lazy day.

Thoughts from the home front:

Back home, after skirting the volcano…. Memories of new friends and interesting conversations as we stumbled (sometimes) along those rocky paths, wondering who the Lycians really were and why they left mainly tombs behind, views of the turquoise sea (and my brief, private glimpse of two dolphins), stones and more stones (underfoot and in ancient ruins), Roman cities overgrown and crumbling and hardly excavated, the masses of wild flowers by the wayside (orchids, pink daisies, poppies), and in the towns the bougainvillea, oleanders, pomegranate and scent of honeysuckle, wild tortoises crossing our paths, goats wandering the hillside, friendly people pouring tea for us, the food (delicious meze, fresh grilled trout, yoghurt, honey), the sound of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer five times a day, and now the photos (far too many – so hard to make a selection).

That was my Lycian Way.
All the best – Brenda