Thursday, September 17, 2015

Alınca - Bel

The Lycian Way day 4.
Distance: 20.0km (63.4km), time spent: 8:38 (26:46).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 754m / 703m / 838m.
Weather: Hot, clear blue sky, sunny.


The night in the tent was a hot affair with subsequent poor sleep. The heat is what causing me the biggest problem on the walk so far. I do get some sleep though, because I wake up in the morning to the now familiar sound of bees humming outside. For a while, I fear that I have to take down the tent in the middle of a swarm of them, but my fear is unfounded. I am earlier up than the Englishmen, when I leave they are sitting down for breakfast.

Craig, Mike and Chris at the breakfast table in Manzanar Pansiyon, the hostess standing behind. At the table, you can see a typical Turkish breakfast.

From Alınca the Lycian Way traverses an amazing section above the ocean. The sea is blue and beckoning, but it is a long and steep way down to it and the trail does not go that far down either. Instead, it is keeping a good distance to the Mediterranean winding itself around the rocky cliffs above Yedi Burun, though at times going downwards on steep and challenging surfaces. Red and white blazes escorts me safely onwards for the moment. As I loose elevation, Alınca is visible higher and higher above.

View over Yedi Burun (Seven Headlands) from the trail below Alınca.

Below Uçkeci Tepesi (which means something as Three Goats hill), I come to what is according to the guidebook an ideal campsite and the place I had in mind to walk to yesterday. It is good space for a tent here, a nice shade from a huge holly oak and water nearby. There are also extremely many bees here and in addition, there is a large hole in the ground (a well of some kind) with only some makeshift branches as protection towards falling down. Not a good place to stay if you sleepwalk in other words.

Between Alınca and Bel there are two routes to choose from, you can either follow a coastal path that passes through the village of Gey or follow an inland path that takes you past the ruins of Sidyma. In the guidebook, none of the alternatives is described as the main trail, though most of the people that hikes the Lycian Way usually takes the coastal path through Gey. I have chosen to go by Sidyma and it seems that both the guidebook, the map, the waymarks and the signposts disagree about where the trail goes.

The trail that winds away above the cliffs after Alınca.

The first signpost I arrive at gives me the choice between going towards Boğazıçı (according to the guidebook the trail does not pass through Boğazıçı) or towards Gey. I go first in the direction of Boğazıçı before I look at the map and can see that it also disagrees with the signpost, so I turn back and takes the path that goes towards Gey. The path returns me back over the cliffs with views down to the sea and back towards Alınca, which now is barely visible high up behind me.

Steep view down towards the Mediterranean from the trail.

I have not found a single trace of the junction described in the guidebook (and on the map) when I arrive at a road. Despondently, I look at the map and sees that the trail is supposed to cross the road further down, so I choose to follow it downwards. There are no trails crossing the road either, so I walk the road the whole way down to Avlan. Thirsty and out of water I arrive at the village and goes to the mosque to refill, that is when one of those little magic moments that give so much occurs.

Next to the mosque, I try by body language to ask an elderly man in the next house if the water is ok to drink. Instead, I am invited into his home, where he and two old women serves me tea and biscuits (after first having quenched my thirst with a lot of water). We cannot communicate in any other way than body language, they do not speak English and I cannot speak Turkish. The two women are sewing while I am sitting there. The biggest problem I have with these wonderfully hospitable meetings is how to know when it is most polite to leave, when it will be too early to go and when I have been too long and have over spent their hospitality.

On the trail after the signpost with the choice of go towards Gey or Boğazıçı. High up in the background you can see the buildings of Alınca.

I relocate the waymarks just below the mosque. In Boğazıçı, I let myself be guided to the local shop by two boys, at the shop I buy an ice cream to each of the boys. With the job done, they run satisfied back again. I buy myself an ice cream as well, some energy for the ascent that awaits me towards Sidyma. The climb up is steep, but it is a nice path; despite everything, it has been a great walk so far.

These gracious elderly Turks invited me into their home in Avlan and served me water, tea and biscuits.

The time has rushed ahead; I have spent a lot of it so far. In Sidyma however, the time has stood still for a long time. The view down towards Boğazıçı and the valley below is gone, alongside the path some impressive antique tombs appears. I have moved backwards in time again, but before I explore the age I have stopped in I need food. Even time cannot entirely stop the hunger. In the small village, I find a villager that prepares an exquisite lunch to me. A young boy is running around with a pellet rifle, for then to suddenly disappear hunting for birds before returning.

I could have walked around for a long time in Sidyma; it is like going on a discovery. The ruins are not gathered together, but are lying spread out in the area next to the village. Parts of the tombs and ruins are in (relatively) good shape, others you have to locate in the undergrowth. The livestock of the farmers here are grazing in historical areas.

The road between Avlan and Boğazıçı. This is where the waymarkers says the trail goes, both the guidebook and the map says something else.

Time is relentlessly pushing me onwards, and it is as if it has effaced the waymarking between Sidyma and Bel as well. A man is saving me, pointing me in the right direction and then the trail is again going upwards. The walk over to Bel is pleasant, but the sun is sinking on the sky and where I pass several yayla's (summer pastures), I wonder if I arrive first or the dark does.

Sidyma. The twin tombs dated Antoninus Pius, 138-161 ad.

I arrive with a good margin, whereupon a smiling woman shanghaies me in to the first guesthouse I pass by, Kiliç Pansiyon. The house looks like it is under construction, it smells like a cowshed (the goats are being held in the basement) and I am the only guest. The room looks nice and I have a floor to myself where I can look out over Bel. The village is probably one of these little ones, and for our eyes quirky places you come to. I usually enjoy staying in these tiny places. The hosts here is at least smiling and friendly.

Lycian Way waymark where the path goes through a narrow gap between rocky formations on the way to Bel from Sidyma.

Chris, Craig and Mike is at the other guesthouse (this is not a big place; still there are two guesthouses here). The difference between the guesthouses are as follows, they are at the guesthouse with good food, and I am at the guesthouse that has beer. In the evening, Craig and Mike comes over and keeps me company. In the dark, the contours of the landscape around the village vanish. There is only one streetlamp here, which goes erratically on and off. From the pansiyon, I cannot see any other thing than small lights from windows here and there, otherwise it is completely dark. Voices can be heard from various parts of the village. When Craig and Mike returns to their guesthouse in the evening, I can follow the lights from their headlamps in the dark.

Bel, a small mountain village with a relatively new mosque.

Despite the navigational problems causing me time and effort, this has been a very nice day. The only downside of my joy is that I have begun to feel that my stomach is not entirely good; I can feel a constant small ache. I stay sitting for a while in the light from the terrace and looking out over the darkened landscape and village, below me the hens are rummaging in an eternal round dance.

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