Onward to Lycia


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Middle East » Turkey » Mediterranean » Olympos
September 1st 2007
Published: December 11th 2008
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The Roman BathsThe Roman BathsThe Roman Baths

This was one of the more picturesque of Olympos's ruins. It overlooked the slow flowing, tidal creek.
We were sitting in the sun room of the pension eating a leisurely breakfast. While we ate, we discussed where in Turkey we wanted to go that day. I was unsuccessful in my attempts to talk Errol into heading further east with me - He seemed intrigued by the sights to the east, but he was on a limited schedule and he still had several must-see sites in the west. Since I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about going east by myself, I decided to head west with him. We were torn between going to Konya or to the coast at Olympos, so we decided to see what was available in the bus station in Kahta. We had finished breakfast and were checking out by nine o’clock in the morning, so we were a bit surprised when the man running the pension told us that we had already missed the only bus out of town! He then told us that we could ride with him back to Kahta. His price was more than double that of the bus - It seemed that Karadut, the tourist trap, had struck again. We knew that there would probably be another bus in the afternoon, but we
The Breath of the ChimeraThe Breath of the ChimeraThe Breath of the Chimera

These methane vents on the slopes of Mt. Olympos gave berth to the mythical Chimera.
didn’t want to wait that long. We reluctantly threw our bags in his car and we were off. About half way to Kahta we pulled off the road on a grassy shoulder and came to a stop next to another car that was already parked there. At the prompting of our driver, we grabbed our bags and moved them to the other car and then we moved some groceries from that car to the one we had been in. We then got into the new car with our original driver and continued on our way. We thought it was a bit strange, but our driver explained that the original car we had been in was assigned to the pension and that they always swapped the cars at the same spot. We eventually ended up back at the otogar in Kahta where we discovered that none of the places we wanted to go were easily reachable from where we were. We decided that the coast would be the easiest to reach, so we reserved a pair of seats on a bus bound for the coastal town of Mersin, more than three hundred kilometers away.

At the appointed time we weaved
The Monumental ArchThe Monumental ArchThe Monumental Arch

This was the well carved archway that led to the old theater.
our way through the bustling crowd and found our bus and then we threw our bags into the luggage compartment and we were off. The ride to Mersin was fairly uneventful. I spent most of my time lost in a tattered copy of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ that I had picked up in a fairly well stocked book exchange in Cappadocia. Just as the sun was setting to the west we crested a high hill way above the coast and I got my first glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea. We arrived at Mersin’s busy otogar well after dark and we got off of the bus. After a bit of searching we found a bus bound for Antalya, only a short distance from our destination. We had more than four hours to wait before the bus was due to depart. We had only eaten snacks for lunch, so we decided to deposit our bags in the bus company’s office and then we set off to see what kind of dinner options we could find in Mersin. It didn’t take long before we found a pleasant looking sidewalk restaurant on one of the streets adjacent to the otogar. It seemed to
The CitadelThe CitadelThe Citadel

The lovely arch at the top of the gap in the cliff face is just about all that remains of the castle above the bay of Olympos.
be popular with the locals and the food looked good so we sat down. I ordered the restaurant’s specialty, which was a plate of kofta with a flavorful, spicy sauce on it. I don’t know if it was because of my hunger or the quality of the food, but that mysterious plate of kofta was one of my favorite meals in all of Turkey! We finished off our meal with a big ice cream cone back at the bus station and then we were off again. The ride from Mersin to Antalya followed a sinuous path along the scenic coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. From time to time we stopped in large coastal towns to exchange passengers or stretch our legs. Many of the towns were ones that I had considered stopping in due to picturesque island fortresses or nearby ruins. Most of the stunning scenery was shrouded in darkness, though I did get some fantastic moonlight panoramas of the sheer sea cliffs - I slept most of the way, but, luckily, the scenic areas were generally accompanied by curvy roads and the bus’s performance in the curves always woke me up. We pulled into Antalya about an hour after
Sea KayakingSea KayakingSea Kayaking

I didn't get to take any pictures on the paddle back to Olympos due to the problems with the kayak. This was from my speedy kayak.
sunrise. We found some coffee and a basic breakfast and then we went in search of the dolmush that would take us the rest of the way to Olympos. An hour later, after another roadside vehicle swap, we were bouncing our way down a rough dirt road surrounded by tall pine forests. The road descended into a stunningly deep valley bound by two large, forested peaks and the unseen sea. After a bus journey of nearly twenty four hours, we had arrived in Olympos!

My guide book described Olympos as a backpacker’s Shangri-La. Other information I had read made the place sound suspiciously like a nonstop beach party, or a town purpose-built for young backpackers -The descriptions were of a place that I generally go out of my way to avoid, but there was something else. It was a single sentence concealed in a descriptive paragraph of the town that had piqued my interests and forced me to make an exception with Olympos. The sentence described a stunning valley nestled between huge, tree-clad coastal peaks, mysterious ruins hidden on the banks of a slow flowing creek among the pines and wild grape vines and a secluded beach bound by
The Secluded HarborThe Secluded HarborThe Secluded Harbor

This was our destination on the kayak trip from Olympia. It was a great day.
sea cliffs - It sounded like an amazing place! Of the three pensions listed in the guidebook we had, two of them were known for their wild, party atmospheres and late night festivities - For me, they were to be avoided at all costs. The third place, Saban, was described as a peaceful place devoid of the plague of booming, late night music - It sounded perfect. We took the dolmush to the end of the badly potholed dirt road that the town was built on and got out. We were immediately swarmed by annoying touts from one of the popular party places, who were trying to sell us everything from rooms to multi day sailing adventures. We told the men that we were not interested and then we crossed the road and walked up into a shady area beneath the huge pines. There we found the lovely grounds of the Saban and immediately knew we had found the perfect place to stay. We were greeted by an exceptionally friendly Turkish lady named Meryl who ran the place. She quickly told us about the different lodging options and then we took our bags to our new home - We opted
The NecropolisThe NecropolisThe Necropolis

This is Olympos's necropolis. It is where we started our morning hike along the west side of the creek.
for one of the air conditioned bungalows instead of one of the famous, but exceedingly uncomfortable looking ‘tree houses’. We then followed Meryl back to the huge, outdoor common area where we sat down at one of the many Turkish-style seating areas that were built on covered platforms surrounding a huge, rectangular courtyard like space beneath the trees. We sat there sipping tea and talking about Olympos and our travels with Meryl and another guest for about an hour before we decided to go exploring. It was clear that we had found a gem of a place to stay - Saban felt more like visiting a good friend’s home than staying at a pension.

We grabbed a quick lunch in town and then we set off to explore the beach side ruins of the ancient town of Olympos. We continued following the dirt road until we came to a little guard shack. There we paid our admission fee for the ruins and beach and continued walking. The valley was fairly narrow at that point. Steep forested slopes ended abruptly at sheer cliffs that rose vertically to craggy peaks high above the valley floor. The well trodden path that led
A Stone DoorwayA Stone DoorwayA Stone Doorway

Most of the crypts at Olympos had these sliding stone doors and all of them were open.
to the beach followed a wide, slowly flowing tidal creek. Huge ruined walls and intricate arched constructions rose up out of the dense brush along the path. At times the path itself was paved with ancient paving stones worn smooth over the centuries. We came to a descriptive sign near a pile of marble that had once been an important building of some sort. The sign spoke of the nearby tomb of a man named Marcus Aurelius. Both Errol and I got excited when we read the sign. Our excitement grew when we discovered his name carved in Greek letters on a block of marble in one of the collapsed buildings. Was it possible that the great Roman emperor and philosopher made the ancient city of Olympos his final resting place? We suspected that he was most likely buried in Rome, but stranger things have happened - That evening we researched the matter a bit and discovered that the Marcus Aurelius at Olympos was different from the much loved emperor of Rome, but it was fun to think about while it lasted. We spent about an hour wandering through the overgrown fields exploring the ruins. Eventually we made it to
At OlymposAt OlymposAt Olympos

More from the necropolis.
a small covered area concealing three huge, ornately carved stone coffins and, just beyond them, the beach.

I was definitely feeling the effects of our twenty-three hour bus journey, so I was looking forward to lying down on the crowded beach and relaxing. We found a nice spot on the smooth cobblestones that took the place of the sand and sat down. It was a pleasantly warm day. The blue-green water of the Mediterranean stretched out of the lovely, cliff lined bay to a crisp horizon in the distance. Several traditional Turkish sailboats, called gulets, were anchored a good distance off of the beach waiting for their passengers to return from a day of exploring the ruins and the beach. To the right of the bay high up on the top of the sheer sea cliffs were the mysterious ruins of an ancient fortress that used to guard the bay. Most of the fortress’s ramparts were in complete ruin, but an impressive stone masonry arch, which bridged a huge fisher in the cliff face, hung precariously above the water in defiance of gravity and the ages - It was a beautiful sight. Before I could start relaxing I had
An Arched CryptAn Arched CryptAn Arched Crypt

Some of the crypts were built with large lintel stones and others with arched roofs and lintels.
an important swim to do, so I jumped into the cool water and swam for my first time in the Mediterranean. I made a quick surveillance of the fortified bluffs, swimming in and out of every crack, and then I swam out to the gulets, before returning to the beach and my book. The rest of the day was uneventful. I spent the entire afternoon lost in my book. After a few hours the soothing sounds of the waves crashing lightly on the pebbly shore coupled with the odd trickling sound the water made as it retreated through the pebbles back to the sea I was on the verge of falling asleep. I went for another quick swim at sunset, so I could watch the sun sink below the mountains behind the beach and then we headed back to town. That evening we sat down at a big table with several other travelers and enjoyed the delicious communal dinner that the pension put on - It was treated like a family meal, so even the kitchen staff ate with us, which was a nice touch. After dinner we talked for a while and then I called it a night.
Along the TrailAlong the TrailAlong the Trail

This dog showed us around the necropolis.

The following morning started with a walk through the ruins. We explored the forested sloped on the west side of the valley and we found countless amazing sites. It looked like the entire hill side served as the necropolis for Olympos. There were hundreds of ornate crypts built into the ground and countless monumental coffins carved in intricate detail. The path and all of the ruins were overgrown and buried in the greenery, so every time we came to something new it was a surprise. In places the remains of countless stone coffins were strewn about or sticking up out of the ground in a macabre scene straight out of a horror movie, but they had been that way for centuries. We took a side trail that led us beneath an arched tunnel of massive, interlocking blocks of marble. The joints looked like they were mortar-less and some of the stones had slipped out of place, but the grandeur of the stonework was still clearly apparent. On the other side of the arch we found a small marble theater, but it took a bit of imagination to really picture it. We followed a forest path that led away from the
The RuinsThe RuinsThe Ruins

There were several large buildings buried in the woods.
theater. At first it was well maintained, but it quickly became overgrown and difficult to follow. The trail wove its way between countless ruined structures and over several mounds of toppled marble blocks, but little was left of the ancient structures to help us form a picture of what Olympos must have looked like. Eventually we reached the end of the side trail and had to turn around and retrace our steps back to the theater and the arched tunnel. We got back on the main trail and continued on it towards the beach. The trail followed a beautiful wall of massive angular blocks of stone that were fitted together in a way that reminded me of the amazing Inca masonry in Peru, though the joints were not quite as flawless - I have not seen many masonry walls like that from the ancient world, so I walked along wondering if some of the theories regarding ancient communication between the old world and the new world were possible. A sign near the wall informed me that the wall was one of the oldest constructions at Olympos and that the angular construction was commonly used in ancient Greece, because they thought
A Horrifying SceneA Horrifying SceneA Horrifying Scene

OK, it is not that scary, but were it a modern cemetery it would have been. This is the broken lid of one of the monolithic coffins.
it stronger than the normal, rectangular block construction methods. We ended up spending two hours exploring the ruins. In addition to the theater and the nice wall, we came across a beautifully carved, monumental coffin built on a high rocky outcrop beneath the trees. We decided to turn around there and head back to the pension for a much needed breakfast.

During breakfast we read up on the history of Olympos. We learned that the city dated from the Hellenistic period in the second or third century B.C. It was one of the six cities of the Lycian Federation, which according to Homer, was an ally with Troy, and whose democratic principles served as a model for modern democracy. At some point early in the first century B.C. the city was taken over and settled by Cilician pirates. In 78 B.C. the Romans took the city from the pirates in an epic sea battle and made it a part of the Roman Empire, under whom it thrived. The city’s importance was clear. Cicero wrote that Olympos was a wealthy city full of grand works of art. Emperor Hadrian and a young Julius Caesar also walked through Olympos’s shady lanes.
Up on a Pedestal of StoneUp on a Pedestal of StoneUp on a Pedestal of Stone

This was the ornately carved stone coffin that marked the end of the hike for us.
Despite the attention of Emperors and scholars, by the fifteenth century the once important seaside town of Olympos had been entirely forgotten - I couldn’t help but be grateful for the mysterious events that make once important cities disappear off of the maps. I tried to imagine what the bay and the ancient city would have looked like during its golden age. The temples and the theater and the different homes and tombs must have all been a stunning sight from the deck of an ancient ship sailing in off of the blue sea. Of course, I can’t imagine the city being any lovelier than it was in its ruined form, peering up out of the shadows of the dark forest and ancient vines, shrouded in timeless mystery.

Armed with our books and some newly purchased goggles, which we found in one of the many shops lining the town’s only dirt road, we walked back through the ruins to the beach. We picked a quiet area on the other side of the large, reed-filled lagoon and staked out a section of beach. We spent the rest of the day exploring the ancient bay, swimming and reading. We had hoped
A Detail of the CarvingsA Detail of the CarvingsA Detail of the Carvings

This coffin was beautifully carved. The pictures don't do it any justice.
to find sunken ruins, or at least some interesting debris or blocks from the castle’s crumbling ramparts, but the floor of the bay was completely barren, excepting a few rocks that may or may not have been carved by ancient hands. The area along the cliffs was the most interesting, due to the fishers and boulders that broke up the cliff face. We found a few tiny fish there among the rocks, but, for the most part, the water was too deep to see if any remnants of the ruined castle on top of the cliffs had fallen into the water. Eventually my legs were cramping and my eye-sockets were aching (goggles are not the best choice for diving deep under water due to the pressure), so I gave up my exploration and went back up to the beach to read. That evening we had another excellent meal back at the pension and then we explored a bit more of town before I went to bed.

The following day turned into a grand adventure. We had signed up for a kayaking trip the previous evening. We met at the appointed time and ate our included meal. Afterward we helped
Another View of the CoffinAnother View of the CoffinAnother View of the Coffin

Most of the larger coffins had holes in the side, which were made by grave robbers that didn't want to go to the trouble of opening them the proper way.
round up the kayaks and then the remainder of our group arrived. Our group consisted of Errol and me, a Turkish couple and a mother daughter team, as well as our guide. We walked down to the beach where we waited for the morning group to return. After about half an hour five kayaks rounded the sea cliffs and approached us. One by one they arrived and we helped them land. The last kayak to come in was a tandem kayak - It looked like they were ignoring their guide and taking their time as they swerved this way and that. They finally got it in and it was time for us to leave. Errol and I, along with the guide, had one person kayaks and the other two groups had tandem kayaks. Our guide explained our route and gave us a basic course in sea Kayaking and then he told us to stay within sight of each other. Errol and I and the Turkish couple took off exploring the cliffs. We had no problems with our crafts as we quickly propelled them through the water, maneuvering around several lovely rock formations, some of which were just below the surface.
In the TheaterIn the TheaterIn the Theater

Most of the ancient theaters you see pictures of have been restored. This one still waits for its turn.
We rounded the corner and stopped to wait for the other two kayaks. After a few minutes we headed back around the corner and found the two women paddling in circles. The guide was clearly distraught - The women seemed to be doing everything correctly, yet around and around they went. Eventually, with some very helpful tailwinds, the girls rounded the corner. The current helped them along as well, so we were able to keep moving. Our guide pointed to a distant cove and told us that it was our destination. It was a long way off, but completely in sight, so we were told we could go there at our own pace. Our route followed the cliffs, which were sheer and tall. The sun was shining brightly and warm. Its beautiful rays of light were penetrating deeply into the crystal clear, blue-tinted water, yet there was no bottom in sight and not a fish to be found. We paddled slowly as our boats sliced effortlessly through the tiny waves. In the distance, near a recessed section of the cliffs, a huge white yacht was anchored in the shadows. Errol and I decided to get a closer look. We also
A Mysterious Forest of Ruin A Mysterious Forest of Ruin A Mysterious Forest of Ruin

Along the path large buildings would just appear out of nowhere.
decided that the only appropriate way to get there was to race - It was agreed that the first person to pass the stern of the boat was the winner. We both dug our paddles in and shot off towards our luxury finish line. I was immediately impressed with how well my boat cut through the waves - None of the instability I usually associated with kayaks was present. Errol shot ahead of me at first, which prompted me to pull even harder. Once I found my rhythm I started gaining on him quickly. We stayed neck and neck for most of the race, but Errol’s coarse was slightly skewed and each stroke took him further away from the yacht. By the time he realized his miscalculation I had opened the gap up so much that he had no hope of catching me - In protest, he decided to flip his kayak! I paddled around the boat, waving to the crew who was busy cleaning the exterior hull, and then I paddled over to where Errol was. By the time I got there he was back in his kayak and paddling towards the cove. We passed a gullet that was
The Angular Masonry WallThe Angular Masonry WallThe Angular Masonry Wall

While not as grand as the Inca walls, this was the first time I saw similar construction methods outside of Peru - I learned that it was a common method in Greek construction.
moored in the center of the cove, close to the beach. There was a Turkish family swimming behind the boat and having a lot of fun. I was a bit surprised to see a young lady swimming fully dressed, complete with her pink head scarf! We landed our kayaks on a gently sloping beach and then we donned our goggles and went to explore the shallow water. There was a lot more life to see in the small cove, but it was still sparse compared to what I have come to expect from tropical waters. I followed a few tiny, colorful fish for a while and then I spotted an odd, centipede looking creature crawling along the rocks on the bottom. I started noticing the small animals everywhere I looked, but I never figured out what they were.

We had been peacefully floating in the water in the cove for about twenty minutes before the mother daughter team arrived with our guide. They were noticeably exhausted. They told us that nothing they did made the boat respond - I quietly assumed that they just didn’t know how to handle a kayak. After another twenty minutes or so, our guide
The PhoenixThe PhoenixThe Phoenix

I saw my own beasts in the flames of the Chimera.
came up to Errol and me and asked if we would mind switching kayaks with the two women, because they were refusing to get back in the tandem - Apparently the entire journey to the cove had turned into a shouting match between the two and they wanted to try their luck by themselves. We reluctantly agreed, and we loaded our gear into our new boat and set off. Our initial goal was to prove to the ladies that there was nothing wrong with the boat. We started paddling and the boat turned hard in the direction opposite of where we were directing it to go! We adjusted our strokes in an attempt to keep the boat straight and we experimented with putting the rudder in different positions, but nothing we did made any difference. We were too stubborn to admit defeat, so we dug our paddles in on one side and then the other, trying everything we could think of to keep the boat straight. Anybody watching our progress would have passed us off as novice paddlers, or perhaps as intoxicated, since our route more closely resembled a curvy mountain road than a straight line across open water. It
Burning RockBurning RockBurning Rock

The flames looked just like campfires, but there was no wood - It looked like the rocks themselves were burning.
was clear that there was something wrong with the boat, though we hadn’t noticed any problems back at the beach. We watched as the two women in the single kayaks, who had struggled so greatly with the tandem we were in, shot past us effortlessly - Their confidence was undoubtedly boosted when they saw us experiencing the same boat issues that had experienced.

The guide came up behind us concerned with our progress. We told him that there was definitely something wrong with the kayak, but that we were fine and we would make it back to Olympos. He smiled a smile that told me he wasn’t really that surprised that the boat was behaving badly and then he shot off towards the others leaving us with our challenge. We were paddling against the current and the strengthening wind was in our faces. We discovered that if we paddled a course that went more or less parallel with the small rolling waves that they kept us somewhat corralled and allowed us to progress along a strait-ish path. The problem was that by following the waves we were being directed out to sea, well away from where we wanted to
FlamesFlamesFlames

I know, too many pictures of flames.
go. We compromised by following the waves for a little while and then struggling our way back towards the cliffs. Our trying, zigzag path and the unpredictability of our boat would have been enough to make even the calmest of people get agitated, so I was a bit surprised that we were both having a lot of fun. It had become a game, us against the boat, and it looked like Poseidon was siding with the kayak. The waves started growing in size so that we could no longer safely cruise in the trough between them without risking getting overturned. Instead, we had to keep our bow pointed across the waves, which was easier said than done. We had been paddling hard since we left the small cove and our arms were on fire, but we continued to pull with all of our strength and the kayak continued to misbehave, occasionally throwing a complete loop into our circuitous path. By the time we rounded the corner and started in towards the beach the wind driven waves had gotten large and they were doing their best to push us back out to sea. We were just laughing and paddling as hard
Shades of Blue and OrangeShades of Blue and OrangeShades of Blue and Orange

A close up of one of the more colorful vents.
as we could. I started humming the tune to ‘Eye of the Tiger’, which progressed into us both singing the song (poorly) and laughing as we paddled to the tune. The waves started breaking over our bow and the spray was burning our eyes, yet we were still enjoying ourselves. Finally, we passed beneath the castle and approached the beach - The wind driven waves had lessened substantially in the shadow of the trees. We paddled up into the little lagoon where our guide was waiting for us with a broad smile on his face. We continued paddling up the small stream towards town, occasionally burying our bow into the thick reeds along its banks. We cruised past the graceful arches of the ruined baths and reached the end of the road. By the time we got there everyone else had gone, so we helped get the kayaks out of the water and then we walked back to town exhausted. It had been a wonderful day and the epic paddle back was the highlight for me. We got back to the pension in time for a much needed dinner and then we spent the rest of the night relaxing and
On the Slopes of Mt. OlymposOn the Slopes of Mt. OlymposOn the Slopes of Mt. Olympos

More of the famous Chimera.
talking to our new found friends.

Sailing along the Turkish coast in a traditional gulet was one of the ‘must do’ things on my list when I came to Turkey. I love sailing and life on the sea and everything I had read about sailing the Turkish coast sounded great. I was fully intending on leaving Olympos on a gulet. I talked to several of the men trying to fill up the boats, but none of them could answer my questions. In the days I had been in Olympos I had spent a lot of time swimming around the lovely old boats. One thing was really bothering me about all of the boats I had seen - None of them actually had sails or rigging, just a mast. It took some work, but I finally managed to find out that few of the gulets plying the Turkish coast still relied on the wind for their propulsion. It seemed that the captains, wanting to make their itineraries fit into a rigid, tourism friendly schedule, had given up their sails for the predictability of their engines. I was disappointed, but there was no way I was going to subject myself to
A Temple in the MoonlightA Temple in the MoonlightA Temple in the Moonlight

This very bad picture is of the temple located at the Chimera site. I didn't get to look at it that closely, because I neglected to bring a working flashlight.
the notorious parties that the gulets were known for if I wasn’t going to get to sail. I decided that I would take the bus to Kas the following morning instead.

That night I joined some of my friends from the pension on a tour to the birthplace of the mythical Chimera. We packed into the van in Olympos and then we bounced our way along the rough dirt road towards the town of Cirali. We came to a stop in a parking area beneath some huge trees. I was happy when I discovered that the extent of our ‘tour guide’s’ responsibility was to drive us to and from the site and to pay our admission into the park - We were able to explore the area at our own pace. The sun was nearly gone when we started our climb. We slowly wound our way through the massive groups of people who were climbing the mountain. The path was wide with several sections of steps, so the going was easy. The sun disappeared below the horizon and the shadows faded into darkness. By the time we reached the ‘Chimera’ it had been dark for a while.

The Chimera was a mythical beast described as having a composite body made up of the front section of a lion, the rear section of a large serpent and the mid section of a goat. Artistic representations show the Chimera with multiple heads and a deadly breath of fire. Though the Chimera appears mostly in Greek art and literature, the fearsome beast was said to roam the Lycian coast. Spotting the Chimera was generally considered a bad omen that foretold of storms and disasters and volcanic activity. In an epic battle the Chimera was finally defeated by Bellerophon with the help of Pegasus, the famous flying horse. Zeus cast the Chimera down into the earth below Mt. Olympos, near the ancient town of Olympos, bringing an end to its terror.

The hillside in front of me, which was said to be the place that had given birth to the Chimera myth, was not all that impressive at first. All I could see through the darkness was a rocky hillside with a bunch of campfires and lots of people. I walked past the ruins of an ancient temple and walked to the nearest campfire to see what all of the fuss was about. Prior to arriving in Olympos I had not even heard of the Chimera or the famous hillside that had given birth to its legend. I had gone along on the tour because a few people I had run into said it was neat to see, but I wasn’t expecting all that much. The ‘campfires’ turned out to be one of the more amazing natural phenomena I have seen. The flames rose up out of the rocky, volcanic soil and danced about, shredding the darkness with shades of orange and blue. The flames looked like normal campfires with one big exception, there was no wood - It looked like the rocks themselves were burning. The fires were actually volcanic vents where methane gas rose to the surface and burned. The vents had been burning for thousands of years. Ancient sailors could see the flames from the sea and they used them as navigational aids, much like modern day lighthouses. Now they serve as an interesting stop on the Lycian Way, a tourist route along the ancient Turkish coastline.

I spent nearly half an hour amidst the fiery breath of the ancient Chimera. I had been taking pictures and playing in the fire and I had lost track of my group. I tried to find a familiar face, but there were none to be found. I decided that they must have already returned to the parking area, so I packed up and started running back down the mountain. I didn’t have a flashlight with me so I had to rely on the bright moonlight to reveal the hidden obstacles on the trail in front of me as I ran. I managed to make good time, passing several people who, even with flashlights, were struggling to get down the dark trail. I made it to the parking area without incident and then I found my group - I was not quite the last person to arrive, but it was close. We made it back to the pension and brought an end to our last day in Olympos.

The following morning we were awake early. Errol was heading to Kas as well, so we decided to join forces again. We packed up, checked out of our room and went to breakfast. We said farewell to Meryl, our friendly host, and our friends in the pension and then we boarded the dolmush out of town. Olympos had been a wonderful surprise. It was a pleasant, easy going beach town located in a stunningly beautiful, ruin-filled valley. It was not nearly as wild of a place as its ‘party town’ reputation had led me to expect. I was well rested and ready to continue my exploration of Turkey. The dolmush dropped us off on the side of the main road outside of town and there we caught another bus heading west along the Lycian Way…



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