Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey – Day 5 – Visiting the Patara Lycian Ruins and then on to Antiphellos (Kaş)

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Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey – Day 5 – Visiting the Patara Lycian Ruins and then on to Antiphellos (Kaş)

Last night there was a lightning storm, and heavy rains fell over Patara.
The electricity in these small rural towns is dicey, and the power went off and came back on all night.
Luckily our room stayed warm, and we slept well.

This morning the sun was shining again, but we knew that a storm of this size would mean a very wet and muddy trail today.
Breakfast was a generous feast of traditional Turkish Mezze .
Without a doubt, by staying in local guesthouses in the villages, one encounters the generous spirit of the people and gets to enjoy their home cooking, in ways that would not be available if we had stayed in hotels.

From the village of Gelemiş, (the modern name for Patara and where we stayed the night) we walked to the Patara ancient ruins.
Patara was a major naval and trading port of Lycia.

Patara once had a huge harbor, 1600 meters long.
But today the sea has receded, and only a wetland surrounds the immediate area near the old ruined city.

The ruins of the old city spread across a vast area.
Most of it is still buried under the wetlands and has not yet been excavated.
But from what you can see, ancient Patara was massive and very impressive.

The old government building has been reconstructed, and it now hosts some local events in its beautiful theater. There are plans afoot to build a new roof on the theatre out of wood, following the ancient design.

The larger outdoor amphitheater next to the government building is very impressive, with rows upon rows of stone seating, spread high in a semicircular shape.
Earthquakes have damaged it a few times, but it is still a superb sight to behold.

Some of the old marble columns that stood on both sides of the Agora (Main street) still stand.
This Main street is wide and paved with beautiful stone pavers.
The gate to the city is also still standing with its massive arches, and so is the fountain and pool that visitors used to wash up, when entering the city after a long journey.

Patara is truly an ancient city.
Like all of Lycia, it was occupied many times.
It was under Persian control, and then in 197 BC, the famous Syrian ruler, Antiochus, conquered Lycia, after which the Romans assumed control.

After the mass suicide in Xanthos, the Lycians in Patara opened the city gates to Brutus and surrendered control of their city.
In 43 AD, Patara became the capital of the Roman province in Lycia.
Needless to say, at this time of the year, we saw absolutely no one visiting the ruins.

Nearby, the Delikkemer aqueduct built by the Lycians once carried water from the mountains all the way to the city.
This very long stone aqueduct was built from large stones that were hollowed out in the middle. The Lycian builders connected sections of these stones to one another, just like in modern times, with male and female connectors.

After a short walk from the ruins, we reached the Patara beach.
Along the way and up the hill, we saw the oldest and earliest stone lighthouse known to exist in the world.

The Patara beach is a wide and long sandy beach.
It stretches for 16 kilometers.
It is also well known as a turtle sanctuary, for the many sea turtles that nest their eggs in the sand and after hatching, swim into the sea.

Bekir, our host at the guesthouse in Patara, told us that the beach gets 3000-4000 people per day during the high season.
But they all concentrate near the beach restaurant area.
“If you walk 500 meters to the right, you can be completely on your own on a quiet stretch of the beach,” he said, and then he added,
“And if you walk two kilometers farther, it becomes a nudist beach.”

Bekir updated us about local politics, and said that each place in Turkey gets its own demographic of tourists.
The nearby city of Kalkan is loved by British people who have bought vacation homes here, or have moved here full time.
“Wait and see, the mayor of Kalkan in about ten years, will be a British person,”
said Bekir.

“In other parts of Turkey, you will see mostly Spanish people visiting.
They come to see the ancient Christian churches there.
They are very interested in Christianity,” said Bekir.

“Other parts get lots of Chinese tourists, and in some areas you will see mostly adventure tourists. There are also areas that get mostly Russian or Turkish tourists,” he
added.

Bekir was a fabulous host.
Tireless, energetic, super friendly to everyone, his parents’ guesthouse, which he grew up in and now runs, is a gathering place for the community.

It wasn’t a long day of hiking for us, which was good.
We needed an easy day after days of rock climbing on steep mountainsides.
This must be the most rocky long distance trail I have ever hiked.
But I am loving it.
I also love the family run guesthouses, with their warm hospitality and great home cooked food. The whole experience has been wonderful.

From Patara, we drove to Kaş (Ancient Antiphellus) along the beautiful Mediterranean coast.
Kaş is pronounced Kash.

It is a very popular beach resort town, with two marinas, dozens of restaurants, cafes, shops, dive shops and hotels.

This is the first time we are staying in a hotel on the Lycian Way, and it is quite different from the guesthouses.
It is run by an employee who is not well trained to run a small hotel, despite trying hard.

We packed all the clothes we had been wearing and walked to the nearby laundromat.
Three hours later we had wonderfully clean and nice smelling clothes.
Washing clothes by hand, which we do after most days of walking, does not clean the clothes as well as a washing machine.

We walked to see the Lycian rock tombs in Kaş, had a meal in the main square and some tea in a cafe in the new part of town.
I love the Turkish “Ada Chai,” which is a fresh sage tea.
They collect young flowering sage plants and dry them to make tea.
It is my favorite tea here, as the regular Chai, drunk all over Turkey, can be too strong of a stimulant for me, and if I drink it in the afternoon, it keeps me awake at night.

That night I collapsed in bed and slept for many hours.
I did not make any notes nor read about the route for the next day.

That night we watched TV and saw the latest news.
The USA stock market sliding down, Brexit vote at a lockdown, China, France…

On TV I saw Paris being burnt by its angry citizens, and the prime minister, apologize for trying to raise taxes on petrol.
I have seen the anger and felt the desperation of the French people when we were there recently.
I have seen it coming….
Only romantic fools living in their own fantasy world, can visit Paris these days and not feel it….
I said a silence prayer for peace in their hearts….

From Turkey, wishing you a blessed day and night,
Tali

Today’s Stats:
Walking time 8 hours
Active walking time 5 hours
Steps 23,469
Kilometers walked 17.5
Highest altitude climbed 754 meters

Overnight in Kaş (Ancient Antiphellus)
Linda Beach Hotel (so so)

Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey – Day 4 – Faralya to Kabak to Alinca, and the Lycian Ruins In Xanthos

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Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey – Day 4 – Faralya to Kabak to Alinca, and the Lycian Ruins In Xanthos

This morning started with a good Turkish breakfast at our Misaferi Evi in Faralya.
There was the usual selection of local cheeses, home made jams, fresh bread, tomatoes and cucumbers, local honey and eggs, followed by herbal tea or çay, Turkish tea.

Our route book described today as easy in the morning, and very steep later in the day, with some hairpin steep turns by the end of the day.

Well… the guide book was wrong.
Almost immediately after we thanked our host in Faralya and started walking, the path veered into the mountains and we started climbing.
We climbed up a steep rocky path, sometimes through the forest, sometimes through thorny brush.

When we reached the higher, more level trail, we walked along the southwest slopes of Baba Dag mountain towards the village of Kabak.
As in previous days, the path was well marked with sign posts and red and white stripes painted on stones, boulders and trees.

Kabak village is small and charming, set above a small sandy beach that is protected by land on both sides.
It is almost like a deep bay, with clear blue waters.

We descended deeply down to the outskirts of the village, and then climbed very steeply up and up.
In fact, almost all day long we clambered over rocks, making our way slowly over stone avalanches that had completely washed out the path, either going down or climbing steeply up.

The forest had many pines trees, old olive trees, Carob trees, wonderfully smelling mountain herbs, sumac, and thorny brush.

We traveled up and down a few peaks, with views of the Mediterranean sea to our right, as we circled around the cliffs.

The only cafe we had reached by lunchtime was already closed up for the winter.
We sat on the basalt rocks and drank some water, also eating dried apples and mulberries we had brought with us.
I would have loved eating carobs, but the season was over and the ones I saw on the ground were wet and rotten.
All the natural spring-fed wells we passed today were dry of water.

The rocky, vertical cliffs of the Aladere valley were majestic and very tall.
We crossed rockslides and trail washouts many times, making sure that we had good footing on the rocks.
The path was very narrow at times.

A long and steep ascent took us out of the Aladere valley and over a ridge to the village of Alinca.
By the end of the day, both of us felt tired, our feet and legs fatigued from climbing rocky, uneven step-like terrain all day.

We had made arrangements to be picked up at the entrance to the village of Alinca (the “c” is pronounced like a “j”) by the owner of our guesthouse and taken to our accommodation.
True to their word, they were waiting for us at the beginning of Alinca village.

On the way to our accommodation in Patara, we stopped in Xanthos to see the ruins of the Lycian city there.
Ancient historical records described Xanthos as “The biggest Lycian City of all time,” as it served as the Lycians’ administrative and governmental capital.

The marble stone walkway is wide and is still in great shape.
The wide circular stone amphitheater is very impressive, and beyond it you can see the remains of houses, a temple and courtyards.

Beyond that, you can see the modern city of Patara, which is where most of the vegetables eaten in Turkey are grown.
Thousand of greenhouses fill the landscape, looking surreal.

Xanthos has several stone sarcophagi (coffins), some with inscriptions and decorations.
A very impressive stone pillar is incised with the Lycian language, all but forgotten for centuries and never completely deciphered by anyone.

There are a few tall tomb monuments.
One of them is decorated with sirens, taking the souls of the departed to the gods.
The original of this tomb monument is in the British Museum, and at Xanthos they have placed a ceramic reproduction of the missing top.

But perhaps the saddest story that occurred in Xanthos, is a mass suicide of most of its population.
In 540 BC, Xanthos was invaded by the Persian army.
The Lycians knew that they could not fight the massive Persina army, so they collected all their belongings and gathered their families, women, children and slaves in the acropolis, and committed mass suicide.

A small number of warriors stayed and burnt the bodies and possessions and then fought to the death.

Many of the Xanthosians were not at the city when this happened, and upon their return they rebuilt the city.
They were up in the Taurus mountains, herding their animals, just as they still do to the present day.

We had to leave Xanthos since it had started raining while we were touring this ancient city.
In Patara, we were shown to a small room at the pension.
We took showers, changed into yoga clothes and went for dinner.

The rain was intense, and since we were the only guests at the guesthouse, we were invited to dine in their own living room.
The room was wonderfully warm and decorated with Turkish rugs.
All the family and friends were gathered to watch TV.

We were served a great meal which we ate with great gusto.
We ate stuffed peppers, tomatoes and eggplant, a stew of potato, peppers and tomatoes, a big salad with homemade feta cheese and pomegranate dressing, and grilled Halumi cheese with red pepper.
We ate all this with slices of freshly baked bread, thinking this was all we were going to be served.
But then, to our surprise, came the plates of fresh white fish with lemon, rice and arugula!
For dessert, we ate some sweet oranges from their garden.

We enjoyed talking with the owner, as he spoke very good English.
He told us that right now, we were the ONLY ones walking the Lycian Way.

I was not surprised to hear this.
We have not seen anyone on the path.
Not locals, not tourists, not day hikers.
Even over the weekend, we did not see anyone hiking in either direction.
Imagine this….. we are now the only ones hiking the Lycian Way….

The electricity went on and off all evening at the guesthouse.
Not liking our small room, we lingered in the living room with the family.
The place has a generator, but we feared that we would be very cold at night.

We decided to be brave and ask if we could move to one of the bigger family rooms we saw that was open and empty.
We were told that it would be no problem if we wanted to move.

It was a great choice.
The new room is big and airy and we quickly shifted our things into it, hanging up the laundry that we had washed by hand.

The rain intensified in the evening, but I hope that it will be drier tomorrow.
Tomorrow we do not have to climb a steep, rocky mountain, but we plan to go to see the Lycian ruins in Patara.

From Turkey, wishing you lots of blessings and Gule Gule, (“see you,” in Turkish) and happy Hanukkah!
Tali

Today’s Stats:
Walking time 7 hours 9:30 – 4:30
Active walking time 5.5 hours
Steps 25,299
Kilometers walked 18.5
Highest altitude climbed 754 meters

Overnight in Patara
Flower pension in Patara (dinner and breakfast included)

Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey – Day 3 – Ölüdeniz Ovacık to Faralya

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Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey – Day 3 – Ölüdeniz Ovacık to Faralya

Ovacık is located just north of the beach, in greater Ölüdeniz village.
The official Lycian way starts here.
We took our picture under the wooden gate and walked down the new stone road towards the beginning of the trail.

At the end of the road, we came upon a couple who had driven there to have a picnic.
They brought everything with them, including a table and chairs, a fully hot cooked meal and drinks.
They invited us to join them, but we had just had our own breakfast and had a long day of hiking ahead of us.

We thanked them and started climbing up the very rocky and steep foot path.
The sun was shining and the sea views were amazing.
The more we gained elevation, the better we could see our surroundings.
We could see Baba Dağ, the Father Mountain whose western slopes we were climbing, as well as islands in the sea and the mountains beyond them.
We saw a few goats clambering on the rocks.

The western slopes of Mount Baba Dağ were very steep.
Our path was slippery at times, and we had to carefully place each foot to ensure good balance.
The flat stones looked so good that I was tempted to step on them, but they were slippery like butter and after my first gentle fall, I avoided those steps.

At the Dalaman airport where we landed, I saw a couple of Norwegians.
They looked like they had come to hike.
They were wearing serious hiking shoes with stiff soles.
The shoes were firm and high, assuring protection from twisting an ankle.

I looked at our own ‘light trekker’ shoes, thinking to myself that maybe we were not well equipped to do this extremely rocky and steep trail….

But as we hiked today on the sharp stones, I remembered why I chose to switch from hiking with full hiking boots, to the light trekkers.
The hiking boots are heavy and rigid.
Yes, you do not feel the stones underfoot, but your feet are held flat all day.
With softer shoes, the soles of my feet get a good reflexology massage all day.
My toes are wiggling all day and my feet are much less sweaty and tired.

Another reason I prefer light trekking shoes, is that today was another day of constant climbing and descending on stones that resembled uneven stairs.
It is harder to climb stairs all day with heavy boots.
The last time I wore heavy hiking shoes, my legs were shaking and my muscles were spasming at the end of the day’s hike.

Now, of course I feel tired by the end of the day, just from being on my feet and hiking for eight hours, but I have no leg pains and no spasms.

Babadağ mountain looked tall, with rocky slopes, sheer cliff walls and clouds surrounding its summit.
Babadağ rises out of the Fethiye plains, forming gorges, headlands, coves and beaches, stretching for over 60 km.
I quietly asked his permission to hike its slopes.

We climbed up on the rocky steep path, walking away from the crescent bay of Ölüdeniz and into the curves of the mountain.
Our path was peppered with fresh goats’ droppings.
It was useless to try to avoid stepping on them, they were everywhere.

We walked slowly and carefully, enjoying the vistas below us, the forests, and the path itself.
It was great fun.
I told myself not to worry about tomorrow (the weather forecast calls for rain), that maybe the rain will hold off until the end of the day…
I reminded myself to take it one day at a time.
Today was a beautiful sunny day, so let us be grateful and enjoy it.

We sat on the rocks in a scenic spot to have our lunch.
We were told that there was no place to eat along the way today, as even the little cafes in the villages are not open in December.
I had packed us egg sandwiches with fresh parsley and olives.
Lunch was very delicious.
I also packed some nuts and dried mulberries and dried apples, just in case we would be very hungry, but we did not eat them.

The trail was well marked with red and white stripes on rocks and boulders.
We did not see any other hikers along the trail today.

We had climbed to an elevation of 880 meters above sea level, when the path flattened out at the edge of a small village called Kozagac Mah.
It seemed almost impossible that a stone village would be here, but there is a back road that can be used by cars.
We even saw what looks to be a hotel, being built.

One of the beautiful things I noticed on this part of the trail, is that the goats have been munching all the young leaves of the plants, creating a vast garden that looks like topiary.

The plants looked like they have been trimmed by Japanese gardeners into fine shapes. I called it the “Goats’ Topiary.”

We spotted a sign for a small cafe, but as we walked the circular path around the village, we saw that the cafe was closed.
It seemed like it was only open for the high season in the summer months.

We continued on to the village of Kirmė.
There were many small signs along the way, advertising cafes and tea gardens in Kiremė.
All of them seemed closed, beside one which had some old ladies talking by the outdoor kitchen.
I asked if we could have tea and they motioned for us to sit down.

We took off our shoes and settled around the low round table.
I took some wet wipes from the corner of the cafe and cleaned our table well.
The old ladies were heavy set and walking with canes, so they did not have the energy to keep the cafe clean in the off season.

They had bunches of oranges hanging from the ceiling and large gourds decorating the entrance.

The ladies had cows and newly born calves, as well as chickens.
Every house in the village kept animals.
Some had sheep, some had goats or cows, and all kept chickens.
The locals harvest olives and keep many bees.
The whole landscape was filled with wooden crates for bees.

We asked for some “Bal,” which is honey in Turkish, to put in our tea.
We wanted to try the local honey.
I also asked for Ayran.
Ayran is a cold savory yogurt drink that is mixed with salt.
It is popular in Turkey, and also in Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, North Caucasus, the Balkans, Afghanistan and the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon and Syria.
It was cool and very refreshing.

From Kirmė village, we walked along the stone walls into the mountain range. The path became rocky again and descended steeply.
Around us were sloping terraced fields, edged with fig trees, pomegranate trees, apples, almond, orange trees and lemons.

We headed down a deep valley by the side of a dry stream to Faralya village.
Faralya Village lies at the top of the deep valley known as Butterfly Valley, and the views down to the beach are great.

Our guesthouse is small and run by a husband and wife.
The room that we got has views of the valley, which looked particularly lovely at sunset.
The deep indigo sea and the steep slopes of Babadag, looked amazing from the village road.
There seems to be a choice of good guesthouses and hotels in the small village of Faralya.
Some look very beautiful, with vast, well kept gardens, but we were happy with our small guesthouse and our very clean room, and we enjoyed a lovely home cooked dinner in their restaurant.

Again, we are the only guests in this guesthouse and we did not see any other travelers nor hikers today.
The son of the owners told us that during the high season (March – May and September – November), they do get lots and lots of people hiking the Lycian Way, people from all over the world.

Something important about Hiking the Lycian Way, just in case you do plan to walk it.
Do get the Lycian Way app for your phone.
It is very helpful.
But what I found even more important was downloading the “Pocket Earth” app.
It has the whole Lycian route as well as other walking routes in the area, just in case you get lost.
The GPS was very helpful for me to get us on the right path, when we could not find the red and white trail markings.
 
From Turkey, sending you love and Güle Güle (see you soon in Turkish),
Tali

Today’s Stats:
Walking time 6 hours 9:30 – 3:30
Active walking time 5 hours
Steps 25,115
Kilometers walked 18.5
Highest altitude climbed 880 meters

Overnight in Faralya
Faralya Misafir Evi guesthouse (dinner and breakfast included)