Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sura - Myra

The Lycian Way day 17.
Distance: 11.0 (276.9km), time spent: 3:59 (110:06).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 187m / 17m / 514m.
Weather: Nice in the morning, rain and thunder later in the day.

The night is as expected hot; I just sleep on top of the sleeping mat and listen to the sound of raindrops on the canvas during the night. Since I washed my clothes yesterday and they are hanging out to dry, I have to make a short trip outside to rescue them. The rain really does not materializes and in the morning, blue sky has banished most of the clouds from the night. How I look forward to when the temperature drops so it becomes bearable to sleep properly in the tent again, I miss that.

On the way up from Sura, Andriake and the Çayağzı beach by the sea.

My plan for the upcoming mountain walk is now ready. To carry with me all the water I need for three days will be way too heavy I think. When I look at the map, I see that the trail passes by a small village, Belören, and there is a road going up to the village from Demre. My plan is to go there today and then get down again by way of the road, for then to get up again tomorrow carrying water for two days. It will be heavy, but should be doable. You may say that I buy myself out of the problem.

At Gürses, looking down at the valley I have climbed up from.

To get back to the junction at Sura, I choose to take a taxi. From the beginning, there is no other thing to do than to start using the muscles in my legs, the path ascends steeply up the cleft above the road. The view back is good in the beginning and then close behind me when I get higher up. With the view gone, there is not much exciting left on this part of the path. The markers goes as usual on a holiday some time during the walk and I spend a lot of time and effort to find it again, there are enough paths to choose among.

Goats everywhere, by a small farm after Gürses.

Eventually, the white and red blazes leads me up to a road, with Gürses just below, a signpost indicates that it is 7km to Myra. Where I am does not corresponds with the description in the guidebook, the sign points to the right, the book points to the left. The map is somewhat unclear, but so am I in my mind. Anyway, the path shall according to the book leave the road 100 meter further up to the left. As said, the sign points to the right. I walk the hundred metres and more and there are no markings visible. I make a u-turn.

The ruins of the castle at Myra. Demre with its greenhouses in the lowlands below.

After a break in a small store in Gürses, the path takes off from the road and follow a gravel track past some greenhouses (which there are not few off here). It is one thing that I have not wanted to meet down here and that is exactly what I do here. There are many stray dogs in Turkey, something of a problem for them, and many of them may be aggressive too. Suddenly I stand face to face with a dog that is everything but calm, a menacing light shines out of its eyes. To mess things up further, there are no signs of the waymarking and the more I try to find out where the trail goes, the more aggressive the dog gets.

It is far from a pleasant experience. The dog begins to bare its teeth and to me it seems it could be charging at me anytime. In the end, I decide that I have to show it who is the master, though that I on this point is not entirely sure. So I gather all the air I can muster in my lungs and yells at it with all I got. My unusual aggressiveness partly does the trick, the dog is running away and hiding, but as soon as I continue walking, it gets back again.

Dark clouds approaching from the mountains. To the left in the picture, you can see where the trail goes up towards Belören.

I give up finding the path, I walk back and take the road instead; I cannot keep the aggressive dog at bay at the same time as I search for the trail. Some hairpin turns later, the path emerges again next to the road. I do not think I missed much on my short detour.

However, it goes from bad to worse. Down towards Myra the trail goes through one of the worst thorny bushes, of the type of maquis you find around the Mediterranean, I have ever walked through. The path is overgrown by and disappears in the scrub, which make me often go the wrong way and have to bash back through the scrub again. After cutting myself to blood here and there, I finally gather my senses and zips on the trousers. In the direction of Belören it is pitch black. I am not having fun at the moment.

The ruins of Myra seen from the castle above.

To say that I have had a good walk today would be a lie; I can safely say that this has been the worst day on my trip so far. Even so, getting to the ruins of the castle at Myra is great (though my legs could use some band-aids after the walk through the thorns). The castle lies at the top of a hill just above Demre, from the walls I can almost look straight down at the ruins of Myra itself. The amphitheatre at Myra is surely impressive. Around Demre, the roofs of all the greenhouses are shining with a pale light, but behind me, it is anything but bright. Dark clouds are rapidly descending from the mountains.

Down in the ruins of Myra, the amphitheatre behind and above are the ruins of the castle beneath dark clouds.

Fortunately, there are no thorns on the way down from the castle and the trail goes on a good rocky path. Coming down, I scare a tortoise into running as fast as it can away from me, which is by no means fast at all. I walk to Myra and let me willingly be surrounded by tourists. Lisa, Tobias, Sasha and Alice are in the ruins, I keep company with them; my stay there hence becomes a short one. The rain arrives in the moment we leaves the past of Myra.

The necropolis of Myra, tombs carved into the mountain.

From Demre, Sasha and Alice takes a bus to Antalya, Tobias and Lisa will return to Andriake. When I look at the dark sea of clouds that lies over the mountains I am set for, and with the walk so far in my mind, I make a quick decision to stop walking for today. As I have said, I have been warned against staying in Demre and I do not want to spend the night in my tent, I want to keep it dry. I consider taking a bus to Ûçağız, but the next bus going there does not leave until several hours, I opt for Kaş instead. The sky is rumbling.

On the bus to Kaş, a wall of rain above Demre.

After today's walk, it feels remarkably good just to sit down and look at the views from the window of the bus. The rain arrives at full strength when the bus drives above Demre, moving across the greenhouses is a distinct wall of rain. In Kaş, the sky is clear and blue. I get a room in the same guesthouse as last time. Dinner is had at Blue House, the food is excellent, but I feel that I do not entirely belong at the restaurant.

Sunset in Kaş.

What a day this has been. I am glad that I got away from the dog without any serious problems, though it might be that the situation seemed worse than it actually was. By looking at the map, I probably should have understood where the trail as described in the guidebook went; still, it should have been a signpost on the trail indicating where the new and old path split.

<- SuraBelören ->

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