By , January 24, 2013 9:23 am

This is Part 3 of 4.  Click for Part 1, Part 2, or Part 4.

Day 8
Delikkemer – Delikkemer
20.5 km (8 hours, 45 minutes)

We started the day with a good hike. The new dog from yesterday was still following us, though even Mayhem seemed to keep her distance from him. We soon came across a flowing spring and filled up our water bottles. Typically, we tried to carry 3 L of water each. We filled took breaks to chug and fill up wherever we found a good source. As a note, we didn’t treat any of the water we drank and had no problems.

Good start to the day

Filling the water bottles at a spring

Hiking with “our” two dogs

The trail was easy to Patara, none of the scratchy brush we had dealt with the day before.  We did, however, encounter a farm with several aggressive dogs.  The three largest ones were particularly aggressive, but we needn’t worry – Mayhem and the other dog that was following us literally fought them off and kept them away from us. Mike threw a few stones too.

We passed a shepherd with his flock and, with a big smile, he handed us each an orange from his pocket.  Mayhem thanked him by barking at his sheep, but we got her out of there before she could do some serious chasing.

We met up again with the Turkish hiker just before the ruins.  He had decided he had enough of the trail and was ending his day and his trip in Kalkan.

There were no information signs at the ruins, but we still enjoyed spending a good hour or more roaming around them.  There was no entrance fee and the locals seemed to use parts of them for grazing their sheep and goats.




Patara theatre

We had been planning to stop in the village of Gelemiş to stock up on food, but decided that we had enough in reserve to make it through the night and to the town of Kalkan the next day.  This would save us about 6 km of walking.

On the walk back to Delikkemer (as I mentioned in the previous post, we were on an optional loop of the trail here), we passed a signpost for the trail that had a handwritten note taped to it.  The note warned of three big, vicious dogs that had attacked the writer.  These would be the same dogs we had encountered.  We again felt grateful to have our fearless Mayhem with us.  Our other defender gave up following us somewhere along the way. Again, Mike may have tossed some stones.

Olive harvest

Walking the Patara loop

Mayhem and me, taking a well-earned break

The road that was our trail

As we returned to Delikkemer, we realized we would be making camp there again for the night. We were very low on water – we had been conserving it all day as we hadn’t found a source since the morning. We stopped on the road before the trail branched back to the coast. I now had multiple blisters, especially on the backs of my heels and my baby toes. We decided that I should stay on the side of the road with our gear, while Mike hiked the loop back to the spring we filled up at earlier that morning.

I sat down and waited, digging a needle out of the first aid kit to start surgery on the embedded black thorns in my hand from my fall the day before. It started to rain – not a downpour, but not a drizzle either.  About five cars full of locals stopped to make sure I was okay on their way home from picking olives in the fields. After about 20 minutes, Mike returned empty handed. He couldn’t find the spring. We had thought it was closer than it was. We knew it had to be there (we had just been there that morning, for goodness sake), so I sent him back out a second time.

After another 20-30 minutes, a car stopped and Mike got out. He had been picked up by a man, Hameed, that wanted to help out. Hameed drove Mike to a gas station on the highway, thinking he was planning to hike there anyways. When Mike re-explained that he had to come back to me and our gear, where we were planning to camp for the night, Hameed apologized. It was obviously out of his way, but he swore it was his problem, not ours and drove Mike back to me. He told us he owned a restaurant called the Aubergine in Kalkan (the next town we would encounter) and that we should stop in for a free coffee on our way through.

We hiked down the trail until we found a great spot to camp (even better than our spot the night before) and cooked a delicious meal of bulgur wheat flavoured with cream of vegetable soup.

Back at Delikkemer

View from our campsite

View from our campsite

Day 9
Delikkemer – Kalkan
4 km (2 hours, 30 minutes)

We woke up in the middle of the night to a massive thunderstorm.  The lightning was blinding, even through the tent and closed eyelids.  To make matters more interesting, one of the tent poles snapped.  We waited out the storm and the sunrise, drifting in and out of sleep.

When it was finally time to get up, we crawled out of the tent to assess the damage.  Luckily, the storm had ended and the rain had stopped by this point.  Despite the broken pole, the tent kept everything more or less dry.  As we took down the tent, we examined the broken pole.  It had cracked lengthwise at the connection.  This had obviously happened at one of the other connections, since it was already patched with fibreglass when we got it.  The crack was about an inch-long and we didn’t dare use it again until we got it fixed for fear that it would damage the tent.

Puddle after the rainstorm

We had a few options for traversing the 4 km to Kalkan. We could risk injury on the sharp cliffs of the path we had inadvertently taken the day before yesterday.  We could risk a different sort of injury on the sharp brush back to Akbel and then hike along the highway.  We could risk the demoralization of hiking all the way along the highway that Hameed had driven Mike to the night before.  We could hitch a ride on the now empty road.  Or we could take the “magical ridgetop trail” that the locals use and Hameed had described to Mike the night before.

We decided on the the “magical ridgetop trail.”  Who wouldn’t?

What I didn’t know when we set out is this: A. it was supposed to be a ridgetop trail (Mike left this part out before we left, and will be relevant not so later in the story), B. Mike had once again failed to consult a map to see where Kalkan was located, and C. Mike didn’t know “exactly” (his words, not mine) where the path began.

After several false reassurances that he knew what he was doing, we started the hike.  We were smiling and joking, happy to have survived last night’s storm so unscathed (though we felt terrible for poor Mayhem, who was wet and shivering and looked miserable until we got moving).  We started out on the waymarked trail, before deviating at one of the “X’s” that indicate you’re heading the wrong way.  I asked Mike if he was sure he knew where he was going.  “Yeah, pretty sure,” was his response, “I mean, I don’t know exactly, but I’ve got the gist of it.”

Before long, the “trail” faded and became a faint path through the scrub.  Then it ceased all together.  This is when I learned that it was described to Mike as a ridgetop trail.  We were not on a ridge.  Nor were we on a trail.  I suggested turning back.  Mike wanted to stubbornly plow on.  “It’s gotta be here,” he said, as if in way of explanation. “I can see where I want to go, so I should be able to get there.”  Now if that isn’t some solid logic to hang your hat on.

The problem was this: he couldn’t actually see where he was going.  When we finally rounded a bend, there was no Kalkan where he expected Kalkan to be.  This was no surprise to me.  As I knew, and Mike was just learning, it was around yet another bend.

Meanwhile, the bush and brush got thicker and more treacherous.  At this point, I’m going to quote from the daily journal we kept on the trail.  We usually kept it in point form to get the main point down, but I was responsible for that day’s entry and I elaborated a little.  This will give you a pretty good idea of how I felt:

– “trail” quickly became treacherous, sharp, pointy path of pain through and into sharp trees, sharp bushes, sharp sticks, sharp rocks, sharp leaves, and sharp thorns

– eventually, Mike climbed [up the slope] to actually figure out where we were going

– Ashley cried.  Literally.

– Ashley fell.  Literally.  And cried again.  She cried out and cried.

– Mike failed to offer a hand on any of the difficult bits – until Ashley pointed this out at which point she refused to take his hand

– let it be known that had we not been married already, after this “adventure” she likely would have refused his hand

Okay – so it was a bit of a dramatic exaggeration.  We all know that even had we not been married, our relationship would have survived a little bushwhacking.  And although I did cry, I didn’t cry and cry.  But I was totally exhausted and exasperated from it all.

At this point, my blisters were “viciously sore” from the uneven ground we were navigating.  We came across a trail waymarker by surprise and the mood instantly lightened.  Until two minutes later when we realized we were following them the wrong way.  Doh!  This got us laughing.  I decided that I could either stew about the last hellish hour all day, or I could forgive Mike and move on.  I chose the latter.

We corrected our direction and the trail soon joined the road into Kalkan.  We walked up the incredibly steep hill, with every dog in town chasing us and Mayhem down the road.  Though we had only walked about 4 km in the last 2 1/2 hours, we both knew we were done for the day.  We found ourselves a pansion in our price range and had a refreshing shower.  Our pansion owner offered us a free coffee, and we sat on the balcony letting ourselves unwind.

Before we let the relaxation carry us away, we had some business to attend to.  We gave our pansion owner our laundry (included in the price), and set out to get some repairs done. Mayhem happily greeted us on the street, where she had been waiting ever so patiently.

First and foremost, we needed the tent pole repaired.  Second, Mike’s air mattress had been leaking since we got it.  When we borrowed our gear, we never bothered to check that everything was in working order.  His air mattress had a not-so-slow leak, and he was finding the flat mat on the ground a little cold and uncomfortable.

We went down to the harbour to see if anyone could do a fibreglass patch on the pole.  We were unsuccessful, but we did come across the Aubergine restaurant where Hameed welcomed us with a smile and a complimentary cappuccino.  We still were astounded by the hospitality of the Turks.  At home, you buy a cup of coffee for the guy that did you the favour.  Here, the guy that did you a favour buys you a cup of coffee.  Go figure.  The restaurant had a luxurious and peaceful atmosphere, and we blissfully enjoyed sipping our coffee and watching the sea while lounging on a comfortable patio couch.  We were worlds away from our hiking “adventure” of the morning.

After coffee, we managed to get the tent pole repaired with packing tape at a clothing store (the owner had asked what we were looking for and, not knowing where us to send us, helped us to the best of his ability.  He even gave us the roll of packing tape in case we needed more later).  The air mattress was a no go.  I offered to switch bed rolls with Mike for the next bit of the hike but, ever the gentleman, he declined.

We were getting hungry, so we hit up a supermarket and went a little splurge crazy.  I guess that’s why you should never go shopping hungry (especially after eating nothing more than bread, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and chocolate for a week).  We bought enough groceries to feed a family of six and went back to our pansion to prepare gnocchi in blue cheese sauce which we had with oodles of the veggies we missed while we were on the trail (a green salad, sliced beetroot, and olives).  We rounded it all out with some Turkish style doughnuts.


View from the balcony of our pansion

After this insanely large lunch, we lounged around in our hotel room, watching Battlestar Galactica on the iPhone.  Finally, we dragged our lazy butts outside to try and walk off the huge lunch.  Mayhem was, of course, waiting by the door.

Kalkan at night

We made it about two blocks before someone called down to us from a second story window.  He asked how our holiday was going and we explained that we had just spent the last week hiking the Lycian Way and were taking today to relax.  He introduced himself as Abdullah.  He was the owner of the Ephesus restaurant in the same building (which was shut for the season like so many other places) and he invited us up for a çay.

We didn’t see any reason to turn down his invitation, so we climbed the stairs into the restaurant.  The chairs were all stacked on the tables, but Abdullah quickly found us a cushioned couch to sit on and set about making some Turkish tea.  We sat and chatted for a while with Abdullah and his friend, and then he asked us to stay for supper.

We were still full from our lunch, but didn’t want to be impolite.  We told him we weren’t very hungry, but we’d stay for a little food.  Our being vegetarian threw him for a bit of a loop, but he eventually served up a huge meal of lentil soup, pasta, salad, and of course – the Turkish staple – white bread.  It started pouring rain, so we stayed and chatted into the night.  When we left, Mayhem was no where in sight.

Day 10Rest Day in Kalkan

We woke up intending to continue our hike, but when we gathered up our laundry we discovered it was all still wet.  We contemplated the prospect of hiking in damp socks and quickly decided against it (I suspect Mike would have pushed on anyways, but was happy to give me a rest day to help make up for the day before… maybe he read what I wrote in the journal).  My heels were still raw which helped set my resolve – rest day it was!

Sore heels

Our timing really couldn’t have been more perfect.  So far, we had avoided nearly all the rain of the rainy season during our daytime hiking hours.  This day turned out to be a little grey, dreary, and drizzly. We happily snuggled into our warm, dry bed, watched some more Battlestar, read our books, and let our bodies recover.

When we finally ventured out, Mayhem was nowhere to be found.  We figured she didn’t want to wait for us – she was a hiking dog, after all.  To be honest, we were more than a little depressed by her departure and each time we went out, we found ourselves looking for her.

Later that afternoon, as we left the pansion to head to the grocery store, there was Mayhem!  She wiggled and wriggled her whole body to say hello. On the way to the store she stuck close by our side, so happy to see us.  We bought her some real food at the store (she had to be tired of white bread and that one dead sheep by now).  We were happy to have her back!

This is Part 3 of 4.  Click for Part 1, Part 2, or Part 4.

By , January 19, 2013 3:24 pm

This is Part 2 of 4.  Click for Part 1, Part 3, or Part 4.

Day 5
Gavurağili – outskirts of Kumluova
15 km [+extra 8 km from getting lost] (8 hours)

We woke up, packed up our freshly laundered clothes, and indulged in a large Turkish breakfast of bread, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, honey, butter, and jam. To our surprise, Mayhem was waiting outside the gate. Her whole body wagged hello and we shared some more bread with her. There was no denying it anymore… she had adopted us. We might as well feed her then. We felt really good as we set out walking.

It was supposed to be an easy walking day. There was one hill to climb at the beginning, then an equal descent. From there, it would be mostly flat.

Setting out on the trail

We lost the trail almost immediately after leaving, but realized that if we followed the road we were on, we should meet up with it at some point. So we carried on instead of doubling back in search of waymarkers. Sure enough, we eventually came across the trail and left the road on it. Something seemed wrong about the direction, but I ignored the gut feeling I had and we carried on.

As we climbed over and around rocks on the trail, we saw a young couple coming towards us. These were the first hikers we had seen on the trail since leaving Fethiye. We quickly questioned each other to find out where they were from (Sweden), where they started (Fethiye), how long they’ve been hiking the trail (2 weeks), and how far they planned to go (to Antalya if they could). We asked where they were aiming for today. They said Xanthos. Oh dear. That’s where we were headed. But we met each other headed in opposite directions.

After consulting the map (which we didn’t do when we met up with the trail in the first place), we realized we had got on the trail headed in the wrong direction. We should have known when we started climbing a hill again. We had been hiking for over two hours and the Swedish couple (who had camped about where we had started) had only been on the trail for about 45 minutes. We were almost back where we started the day! Argh.

Mike figured that if we carried on in the wrong direction and took the road we inadvertently took the first time, we would actually save ourselves some time (since the road was relatively easy walking and meandered less than the trail). So we said farewell to the Swedes and continued hiking in the wrong direction.

After quite some time of this, I started doubting Mike’s logic. I walked along, stewing about having to climb the hill for the third time… The more I walked, the  more sure I was that it would have been a hell of a lot quicker to follow the Swede’s in the correct direction.

Angry and frustrated, we eventually made our way back to the spot where left the road to take the trail the first time. About 100 m after that spot and around a bend, were the bright yellow junction markers of the Lycian Way that would have put us in the right direction. Double argh. We figured we lost about 2 hours or 8 km on the whole endeavour.

Pydnai ruins

Pydnai ruins

We got on the proper trail and went down into Pydnai ruins. Not surprisingly, we lost the trail in the ruins and wandered all over the overgrown area until we found the way out.  The trail turned into a rather dire, empty road – complete with a dead sheep.

Mayhem makes a meal out of Dolly

Later, at a break, we cheered up a little when the Swedish couple appeared. As it turns out, Mike was right about saving ourselves time by going backwards. We had actually gotten ahead of them.

The trail disappeared among some road construction, but we were able to ask the construction workers the direction to the Letoon ruins. We chatted with the Swedes while we walked. We arrived in Letoon and walked past the ruins, deciding not to pay the entrance since the site was quite visible from the trail.


Orange trees, bursting with fruit

Mike’s ankle started acting up and became sorer and sorer as we continued to walk. Eventually, upon reaching a field between Kinik and Kumluova he had had enough. We set up our camp. A Turkish woman appeared. Through our phrasebook and sign language, we managed to understand that her sheep were grazing in the field and she didn’t want us camping there with the dog. She suggested we go to Patara or Letoon for the night. We explained that we had just come from Letoon and were on foot, so we needed to camp where we were. She told us we could camp there for 5 lira and we agreed. I ran back to the tent to get the money, but as I was grabbing it she left with her sheep and didn’t return.

Day 6
Outskirts of Kumluova – valley past Înpinar Spring
12 km (8 hours)

It rained all night and we woke to the sound of a bubbling spring that wasn’t there the night before. It was quite loud and as we emerged from our sleepy state we realized our air mattresses were practically floating. The entire floor of the tent was covered in water. We quickly realized why – the stream we were hearing had appeared directly under our tent. What we thought was an old goat path that we set the tent up over was actually a waterway. We quickly jumped up and set about packing up our wet things.

Cold and a little wet, we snacked on a few bits of food while we started walking towards Kinik. There, we bought fresh bread and Aryan (a delicious, salty watered-down yogurt drink) and feasted on it at the Xanthos ruins just outside of town. We spent an hour or so exploring the ruins, while Mayhem played with a new canine friend she made at the entrance.

Xanthos ruins

Xanthos ruins

Some of the many, many greenhouses that call these parts home

Mayhem was never too far away

Xanthos ruins

Xanthos ruins

We couldn’t pick up the trail from the ruins, but knew that the road should get us where we were going. We met up with the trail before the next town, Çavdir, but lost it yet again at the graveyard on the way out of town.

The guidebook told us to turn left at the graveyard exit onto a wide, well-groomed path that rises alongside the graveyard wall. There was a narrow but distinctive trail to the left along the wall, so we followed that. We ended up in the adjacent field, with no trail and no waymarkers in sight. We spent two hours combing the field for signs of the trail until our morale was at an all-time low. We couldn’t find the path, nor the traces of the aqueduct that were supposed to be our “route finders for the next few hours.”

We finally decided to retrace our steps to the graveyard exit and search for the path there. That’s when Mike realized that “turn left” actually meant “go straight.” We found the trail, a wide road that did not follow the graveyard wall at all, but rather went straight away from it.

We trudged on, angry and frustrated at the loss of time and ambiguousness of the guide’s directions. There was still no sign of an aqueduct. After quite some time, we finally encountered the fabled aqueduct and our spirits lifted a little.

It really does exist!

As we followed it, we came across some wild pomegranate trees loaded with ripe fruit. They did not appear to be tended, as much of the fruit was falling to the ground and rotting, so we helped ourselves to a bagful of it. This treat lifted our morale further, and we carried on, much happier.

Pomegranate trees (not the wild ones we scavenged, but you get the picture

We found ourselves hiking on a steep hillside on top of the actual aqueduct, precariously balancing with our loaded packs and bag of heavy pomegranates while only a crumbling lip of rock kept us from sliding down the cliff.

Walking along the aqueduct… tread carefully!

We found a great, flat, grassy patch at about 2:30 pm that looked like paradise. I suggested we quit early and relax after a tough day. Mike disagreed, wanting to trudge on and gain some more ground after all the time lost earlier in the day. So we did.

Continuing to follow the aqueduct, which was running with spring water at this point, we kept hiking. On a particularly wet and slippery bit, I suggested to Mike that he hand the bag of pomegranates to me to have better control of his balance. He tossed it at me and I, of course, missed them – the fruits went rolling down the slope, into the aqueduct, and out of sight in the stream of water. We managed to salvage two and half of them. Again, our morale plummeted to a new all-time low. This wasn’t helped by the fact that we had once again lost the waymarkers.

We spent 30 minutes searching for the trail at the top of the valley. Once we crossed the valley, we spotted a tent on the terraced fields. We were surprised to see another hiker on the trail – there hadn’t been anyone since the Swedes. The tent’s Muslim occupant was engaged in prayer, so we quietly walked past so as not to disturb him. Just around a bend, we found our own “pseudo-paradise”… as in, “It’ll do”. I felt a little bad camping so close to the other hiker, but we were tired, it would be dark soon, and there was no telling where the next flat spot would be. We set up camp, well aware that despite spending all day hiking along running spring water, our water supplies were running low.

We survived a tough day… just barely

Day 7
Valley past Înpinar Spring – Delikkemer
15 km [+2 km from getting lost] (8 hours, 15 minutes)

Mayhem barked all night again. Now I was feeling really guilty about camping so close to the other hiker – he surely was on his own for some peace and quiet, not to listen to a dog yap all night.

We hiked down to the next village, Üzümlü, and restocked on groceries. We filled up our empty water bottles at a local water faucet. As we left the grocery store, we caught sight of the other hiker – he had caught a mini-bus into town and was having a cup of çay.

He asked if the dog was ours and after explaining how she had been following us for several days, we apologized for the noise she had made the night before. He told us no apology was necessary and that he wished he had a dog like that – apparently she was quite clever and had been barking to scare off the wild pigs around his tent! So we were right – she was protecting us all along.

As we hiked the trail, we got lost after crossing a stream. Learning our lessons from the times past, we only spent about 10 minutes searching before going back to our last known waymarker. We found the trail and continued into the village of Akbel.

Crossing the stream

In Akbel, we bought ourselves a can of beans, some Ayran, and some bread.  We found a comfortable picnic table outside of the local mosque to eat it. As we started eating, the Imam came over to us with a tray of hot tomato and bean soup and bulgur wheat. We thanked him greatly and enjoyed the warm meal.

Before we got out of town, we had picked up another dog. We tried to get him to leave, but he was having none of it. One dog was enough for us to take care of, so we did our best to ignore him.

The trail turned rough between Akbel and Delikkemer. In fact, it was lined with scratchy, thorny plants on either side. They were calf to knee-height and had grown over the trail enough that they scratched our legs with each step. I was wearing capris that ended just below the knee and Mike was in shorts.  We kept debating whether we should stop and change into pants, but we didn’t expect the scratchy shrubs to continue for very long. We were on a groomed hiking trail, after all. So we gritted our teeth and powered through them – for around two hours.

My calves and shins felt were red, raw, and scratched – they felt like they had been flayed. To help matters out, somewhere along the way I slipped on some wet rocks and found myself nursing a sore leg and arm.

When we got to Delikkemer, I had a migraine. I was too stubborn to quit early for the day though, so I convinced Mike (and myself) that we should press on. We snapped a few photographs of the siphonic water system there and trudged ever forward.

A once-sealed 2000-year-old siphonic pipe at Delikkemer

Mike and a few stones from the pipe

From Delikkemer, there is an optional loop that leads to the Patara ruins, or you can continue on towards the resort town of Kalkan. We wanted to see the ruins, so we thought we’d go as far as we could on the loop. Letting Mike take the lead, I settled in to follow with my head pounding. As we started out, he commented how well-marked the trail was here and how it was a nice treat. The shrubs on the trail continued to scratch up our legs.

With my now overwhelming headache, I was slow to think and move. I slipped on a rock and fell backwards. Luckily, I managed to stick a hand out to break my fall. Unluckily, there was a thorny bush directly under it. I sat there in shock, tears forming in my eyes, as I assessed the damage.

My hand started to throb almost instantly and I realized that each of the thorns had a hard, sharp, black tip that broke off if “attacked.” My hand had a few dozen of them embedded in the skin. I picked out all that I could, but there were still a dozen embedded so deeply I couldn’t reach them. I picked myself up and we carried on our way.

The type of plant I fell on

Consumed with my swelling and aching hand and throbbing head, I wasn’t really noticing the terrain around us. We came to some sharp, jagged rocks with deep chasms between them. The waymarkers continued here, so we started another precarious balancing act hopping from one to the next.

Finally, Mike stopped and questioned the trail – “How far does it continue like this?” he said. “This is downright dangerous.” Something about his comments clicked in my head.

I remembered reading about the trail between Delikkemer and Kalkan and how there is a precarious cliff path along the coast that you shouldn’t attempt with your rucksacks. The guide recommends sending your packs ahead by bus if you hope to attempt this part of the trail, or hike to the highway and hitch a ride to Kalkan. But we weren’t heading to Kalkan yet. We were supposed to be heading to Patara.

This is the problem with having one person do most of the map and guidebook reading in advance, and then having that same person be more or less mentally incapacitated by a migraine while the other person leads. Mike hadn’t looked at the map in a while and had little idea that the trail branched in three at Delikemmer (two branches of the Patara loop and one to Kalkan). He had just followed the only trail he saw, not thinking to search for another one.

If I had not had a headache, I would have been able to communicate this with him and would have realized instantly that we were following the wrong path (since it was along the coast) – but it was what it was. We were on the totally wrong path. We backtracked immediately, spending almost an hour getting back to Delikemmer, where we set up camp.

View from our camp

This is Part 2 of 4.  Click for Part 1, Part 3, or Part 4.

By , January 17, 2013 10:09 am

Note: This is a lengthy post, so make sure you’re sitting somewhere comfy and you might even want to grab a cup of coffee.  The two weeks that we spent hiking the Lycian Way in Turkey were such an epic journey that I really wanted to share the whole journal and experience with you.  It’s worth the read, I swear, but if you’re pressed for time at least scroll through the photos – you won’t be disappointed.  This is Part 1 of 4.  (Click here for Part 2, Part 3, or Part 4.)

Day 1
Fethiye – cliff overlooking Blue Lagoon (approx. 2 km before Ölü Deniz)
13 km (5.5 hours)

After overnighting in a Fethiye hostel, we got up at a leisurely 7:30 and indulged in the free buffet breakfast. Knowing that we had some serious miles ahead of us, we had no problems packing away the bread, olives, eggs, cheese, and veggies offered. After thirds, we grabbed our stuff and set out in search of a grocery store to stock up for the trail. We purchased enough nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, cheese and bread for a day’s worth of meals (plus an emergency supply) and went off to find the trailhead.

Fethiye harbour

We knew that we had to climb the hill out of town, and we figured just about any path would be good enough. As we hiked up the steep road and met with the trail, we realized that we had missed the rock-cut Lycian tombs on the way out of town. We backtracked downhill along the actual trail (about 500 m) to check out the tombs, a little concerned about the significance of “losing” the trail before we had really even started.

Backtracked to see this…

View as we hiked out of Fethiye

To be honest, we had just about nothing going for us at the start… we were both sick and spewing snot, our throats were dry and scratchy from our colds, and we were sporting brand new hiking shoes. Yep… we did exactly what you should never do… we were starting the long distance trail with fresh-from-the-box, never been worn shoes. And yes, we do know better. However, we didn’t want to invest in new hiking shoes/boots until we knew for sure that the hike was going to happen. And we didn’t know that until the day before we started. So we decided they would have to get broken in the hard way. To top it all off, I had my period (I know, I know… too much information, but it’s pretty relevant here) – which meant not only did I get to deal with this monthly female gift in the wilderness, but painful cramps and menstrual migraines would be something of a guarantee for the next 3-4 days.

The trail started as a tough walk up a steep asphalt road and got easier as we turned onto a cobbled path through the forest. Already, we found ourselves breaking for some pre-emptive blister therapy on my heels – I had hotspots on both feet. I decided to try to beat the blisters to the punchline and put a Compeed patch on the back of each heel (a trick I learned from my time walking the Camino).

Nice path… nothing like what’s to come

We followed the red-and-white waymarkers as we hiked along. Since the Fethiye to Ovacik stretch is not officially part of the Lycian Way, it wasn’t included on our guidebook’s map or descriptions. All of a sudden, we realized we hadn’t seen a waymarker for a while and we instinctively felt like we were heading in the wrong direction (something about finding ourselves in the midst of a construction site probably tipped us off here). We retraced our steps and found the correct way, losing only 20 minutes or so.

We stopped in the village of Kayaköy for a quick lunch, paid the entrance fee to pass through the ghost town of the same name (required to continue on the trail), and climbed the hill amongst the shells of abandoned homes. It was definitely worth the 5 lira (per person, about $2.50 CAD) fee.

The town was populated by Greeks until the Greek/Turkish population exchange of 1923. Now it is full of run down but mostly intact houses and churches. It was designed on the hillside so that no house fell in the shadow nor blocked the view of another. We explored the ruins, snapped a few pictures, and carried on our way.

Abandoned village

Kayaköy church

Walking through the abandoned homes

There are a few paths that lead out of Kayaköy – we chose the coastal one that passes through Ölü Deniz. We descended a rocky slope until we found a flat patch on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean and the Blue Lagoon of Ölü Deniz.

The view from the cliff

We still had enough daylight to continue, but didn’t want to pass up on the view. With slightly bruised hips and sore shoulders from our packs and a dull pounding in my head, we soaked in every drop of beauty we could until the sun set and the mosquitos chased us into our tent.

Our private clifftop sunset

It was totally dark by 5:30 (darn daylight’s saving time!), and we read by the light of our headlamps until around 7pm. We chatted away until we slowly drifted off to sleep, with Mike sharing some of the interesting facts he had just learned from reading the guidebook.

Night 1

At some point in the night, Mike woke me up to tell me we were surrounded by wild pigs. Thinking he just hadn’t fallen asleep yet and was still throwing out tidbits of information from the book, I thought nothing of it and told him “That’s nice. But I’m sleeping,” rolled over, and fell right back to sleep. What did I care that there were known to be pigs in the area we were hiking?

Sometime shortly after, I was abruptly awoken by a sudden, loud, angry snort about a metre from our tent. I sat bolt upright, heart racing and shaking. Mike’s earlier comment about being surrounded by wild pigs came rushing back as I instantly understood what his full meaning was. I felt my sleeping bag to make sure I hadn’t wet it from fright.

I sat there intently listening for more noises. I was keenly aware of the grocery bag full of food I so casually placed by my feet before bed. I tried to brainstorm objects I could throw at the boar when it inevitably came tearing at my feet, but was distracted by the image of getting repeatedly mauled by large tusks.

I racked my brain for wild boar safety advice, but, alas, the extent of my wild animal training was a bear safety pamphlet I had casually read in the Yukon (and even then, I could never remember when you want to back away from the bear, play dead, run at it (Ha! Like that would EVER happen) or make loud noises to scare it off). The pig must have entered stealth mode because I heard nothing more from it, and I slowly managed to drift off to sleep while images of tusks tearing through my flesh danced through my head.

Day 2
Cliff overlooking Blue Lagoon – Faralya
18 km (8.5 hours)

Needless to say, I felt more tired waking up on Day 2 than I did before I went to bed. I made Mike get out first and scan the area for signs of pigs. We ate a quick breakfast, treated ourselves to a well-earned coffee and tea, and packed up camp.

Early morning tea

We finished the rocky descent to the town of Ölü Deniz, dodged a half dozen parasailing salesmen (they weren’t actually parasailing as they launched into their sales pitches, though that probably would have been cool enough to sell us on it), and stocked up on more food for the day.

Parasailer near Ölü Deniz

Leaving Ölü Deniz, we started hiking the steep asphalt road that leads to the actual Lycian Way trailhead, just outside of Ovacik. There was no cover (why is it that trees and highways don’t get along?) and the sun was blazing (okay… the sun wasn’t exactly blazing. But it was out. It was actually only about 21 degrees C… I see now why they don’t recommend hiking this in the intense heat of summer).

Within no time, we were pouring sweat and out of breath. Lucky for me, I had the extra pleasure of a migraine headache (likely hormone-related, though the sun sure wasn’t helping me any). I stopped halfway up the hill, head pounding and heels already getting rubbed raw right through the plastic Compeed patches , thinking “What the hell did we just get ourselves into???? We’re not even on the trail yet!” Somehow, with Mike’s continued encouragement, we got up the hill and found the official start of the trail.

Let the fun begin…

In addition to our guidebook, we were using some WikiTravel notes I had downloaded for the bit from Fethiye to the trailhead. They had proved useful thus far, so we thought we would continue to use them. They advised you to carry 5 L of water per person for this first stretch of the trail, as the walk is hard, there is little cover, and water sources are limited. We carried a total of 7.5 L between the two of us at my insistence, and Mike made a point of acknowledging fresh water source after source as we passed them struggling under the weight of our packs.

To get to Faralya, we climbed up a cliff and then the trail snaked back down the cliff face. We scrambled down the steep path, keenly aware that one unbalanced step could send us careening down the rocky slope. The guidebook mentioned that this section was “not for people that are scared of heights” and our frequent exclamations of “What the f*,” “Holy s*!” and similar attested to this fact. At one point the trail had a 60% sideways slope. We kept commenting to each other that this was no Camino.

Climbing in the cliffs

More cliffs

We reached Faralya at about 4:15 pm, our “time to find a flat spot to camp” time. We kissed the level ground after our adrenalin-filled descent and bought food at the local store (the owner was kind enough to throw in a few free tomatoes after we paid a small fortune for our can of beans, chocolate bars and bread). We set up camp in a grassy field beside the mosque. The location was a trade-off… we would be blasted awake at 5 am by the call to prayer, but had access to actual public toilets for the night. This meant we could do our business in a porcelain hole in the ground, instead of digging our own. Extra bonus: We didn’t think we needed to worry about wild boars here. Exhausted and exceptionally nauseous from the migraine I had been struggling with all day, I skipped supper and was in bed by 5.

Day 3
Faralya – threshing floor of valley past Alinca
19 km (8.25 hours)

As we expected, we woke with the 5 am call to prayer and climbed out of the tent as soon as the sun started to rise. As we emerged from the mesh walls, we were greeted by a black-and-white dog wagging her tail at us. She watched us eat breakfast (hoping in vain for a few scraps, I’m sure) and pack up our tent. As soon as we had our packs on, she ran on ahead to the trail. I guess she wanted to be our guide.

Note: We had the option to descend the cliff face to the famous Butterfly Valley here in Faralya, but decided against it. The guidebook warned that the path was incredibly steep, dangerous, and not recommended so we weren’t going to try our luck (yesterday’s trail was challenging enough, and came with none of those warnings).

So the day’s hike started with yet another steep rocky climb into the cliffs. Our new canine friend followed us or, to be more accurate, constantly ran up ahead.

Whether it was last night’s migraine or the fact that I started the hike still wearing my toque (for all you non-Canadians out there, this is a winter hat), I felt like a zombie. My head was heavy and cloudy, my pack felt five times heavier than the day before, and I had to muster every ounce of strength I had to take each small step forward.

Mike was really worried about me as I had hardly eaten any breakfast (this is pretty much unheard of for me on a normal day, nevermind one where I’m about to hike 20 km through the mountains). I couldn’t bring myself to eat any more than a bite of bread, and I was carrying my half of the breakfast loaf with me. I also hadn’t had any water since about 3 pm the afternoon before and, despite knowing better, I couldn’t physically force myself to want any.

I wanted to quit. Seriously. I was done with this hike. I wasn’t having fun any more. However, in my foggy state, I didn’t realize I could actually quit by simply turning around and catching a ride out of the village that we had just left. I thought that the only way out was to get to the next village… which meant continuing to put one foot in front of the other. After about a half hour of this hell, having made incredibly slow progress, my head started to clear. I was warm enough to take off the toque, I had a few sips of water, and I managed to nibble on my bread. Within another half hour, I felt just fine and was definitely too stubborn to actually quit.

While I hiked, I found myself once again trying to recall any snippets of wild boar advice I had picked up along my travels. Surprisingly, after 28 years on this earth, I couldn’t think of one useful fact or tip. So I entertained myself by trying to come up with a few. For example, I figured that by putting on my vastly oversized rainjacket (purchased when I was a fair few pounds heavier), I was reducing my sex appeal – an effective wild boar avoidance strategy. Oh wait… that’s wild boy avoidance, not boar, isn’t it? Back to square one.

Our new canine friend stuck with us throughout the day. Before long, she had earned herself the name Rockslide. It turns out one of her most favourite activities in the world is chasing goats off cliffs. Every time she heard the tinkle of a goat bell, she was off running up the scree-filled mountainside, causing more than a few rockslides in her wake.

We forced ourselves to break for 10 minutes every hour to keep ourselves from tiring out. On one of these breaks, I was sitting on a large rock when Rockslide ran off. We heard her barking somewhere in the upper distance and before I knew it there was a goat leaping from the rocks above me, crashing down no more than two metres to my right.

This dog was downright dangerous. So we renamed her Havoc, since she seemed to cause it. As we carried on, we heard shepherds up ahead or behind cursing her as she disturbed their sheep and goats. We took solace in the fact that she wasn’t actually our dog – although she had been following us for hours, we had yet to feed or pet her (thinking that if we ignored her, she’d return home before long… how naive we were).

Rockslide (a.k.a. Havoc) chasing goats

As we passed through the village of Kabak Beach, we waved hello to a man in his garden and asked him if there was a market. Luckily, there was. And he was the owner. He walked us to it, unlocked it, and we restocked our bags.

As we were leaving, a man on the street asked us if we would have a çay (pronounced chai, Turkish for tea) with him. He had a restaurant/pansion about 100 m away and he insisted that it would be free. We agreed, and he gave us directions before running up ahead to change his shirt. The place was called the Olive Garden. We sat down on a deck with beautiful views of the beach and sea below.

The deck of the Olive Garden Hotel

He served us tea and finally helped Mike understand why the olives he’d been picking on the trail tasted so awful. It took Mike about 20 olives before he abandoned his attempt to eat them off the tree. As it turns out, fresh olives are basically inedible. They need to be soaked in water for a couple of weeks, changing the water every day or two. Then they need to be soaked in salt, water, lemon juice and rosemary (optional, but it makes them taste good) before they are eaten.

He chatted with us while we sipped our tea and then disappeared inside the kitchen. We figured we had breaked long enough (about 1/2 an hour) and there were only limited hours of daylight so we should be on our way. We went to find him to thank him for his kindness, but he wouldn’t let us leave just yet. He had been making fresh-squeezed orange juice from the oranges on his trees because he knew we were sick and needed energy for our hike. He handed us his card and with absolutely no pressure, asked us to think about him next time we were in town if we needed a nice place to stay. Havoc had settled down for a nap at the Olive Garden and as soon as we picked up our packs she was back on the trail, running up in front of us.

Hiking on the trail

Hiking on the edge of the world

View of the Med

We continued hiking up through the cliffs and found ourselves a great campsite. There was a view of the cliffs on one side and terraced green pastures on the other. We couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.

Our campsite

Home for the night

Havoc, enjoying the view

In great spirits!

Day 4
Threshing floor of valley past Alinca – Gavurağili
21 km (9 hours)

We woke up to find Havoc sleeping right outside our tent. This came as no surprise, since she woke us up at least a half dozen times barking in the night. We told each other that she must have been scaring off wild pigs to keep ourselves from getting too mad at her for the noise. She seemed to be favouring a leg as she walked, which to us meant further proof that she had tussled with some pigs to protect us. As soon as we had camp packed up and on our backs, she was running up ahead on the trail. We changed her name (for the last time) to Mayhem, because it seemed more feminine than Havoc.

Walking by some Lycian sarcophagi

After a gorgeous morning of hiking, we passed through the village of Sidyma. Near the mosque, there was a green open space with none other than a homemade couch. With cushions and everything. We couldn’t believe our luck… we were right on schedule for a break, so we peeled off our boots and got comfy.

Sidyma rest stop

Just as we settled in, an older woman walking by greeted us and invited us to her place for çay. We agreed, and somewhat reluctantly left the couch, replaced our boots, and followed her. She sat us on her porch and disappeared inside. Her daughter came out and used the opportunity to practice her English and find out where we’re from. We practised our very poor Turkish and chatted with her.

After a surprisingly long time, her mom came out with the tea (I say surprisingly because generally everyone has tea hot and ready to go on a burner.) Then we realized why it took so long. The tea was followed by a plate of hot and fresh burek. What a nice treat! She and her daughter joined us for tea, and she sat embroidering some head scarfs while we chatted. Mostly, she seemed content sitting in silence, happy to just have us there. She wrapped one of the scarves around my head and told me I was a proper Turkish woman now. We offered to pay something for the tea and burek, but she refused.

“Now you’re a proper Turkish girl”

After Sidyma, we got a little lost but quickly found the trail. We caved in and shared a half loaf of bread with Mayhem. She had been with us for over a day and a half, hiking probably twice as far as us (with all her running ahead and goat adventures) and hadn’t had anything to eat. We still expected her to turn back soon, but we weren’t heartless… at least it would take the edge off her hunger. We bought ourselves some fermented black carrot juice to try, but ended up pouring it out in a pasture… it’s probably the nastiest drink I’ve encountered on my travels (Guatemalan OJ with raw egg included).

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – Mayhem didn’t seem to be going anywhere

Seemed like a good idea at the time

The day was full of steep, narrow trails on loose rocks. During one of the breaks, I peeled off my socks to find my first official blister. The skin on my heels was basically shredded – the Compeed long gone and the blisters waaay past being able to thread them. These new boots were sure ravaging my feet quickly.



Nearing the end of the day

We spent a long day walking and decided to end at a Pansion in Gavurağili. It was time to get some laundry done, so we splurged on a room. Wet-wipe baths were getting kind of old as well, so we took a nice long hot shower to refresh ourselves. The place was called Candan’s Garden and while the owners spoke nearly no English, they were incredibly friendly and helpful. For 70 lira, we got a private room, hot shower, laundry, supper, and breakfast. Mayhem was locked out of the compound when we entered the gate. We figured she’d probably want to head home anyways.

We had a delicious supper of eggplant, potatoes and peppers in yogurt and oil (with lemon and sumak), salad, bread, and pomegranates. I tried to eat as much as I could because Mike was concerned I wasn’t eating enough. He was right… the weight was falling off me, but I was having a hard time consuming enough calories in a day before my stomach filled up.

During the  meal, we were questioned about the dog. They asked if she was from Faralya. Surprised that they knew this, we told them she was. They laughed and said that this was the sixth time they’ve seen her follow hikers from there. Guess we weren’t so special after all.

We stayed up reading later than we could manage in a cold, dark tent (’til almost 10 pm!). We had the luxury of electric lights and enjoyed every moment of comfort and luxury that the bed afforded us.

This is Part 1 of 4.  Click here for Part 2, Part 3, or Part 4.

By , January 14, 2013 10:24 am

When we arrived in Turkey, we fully intended to hike the entire 500 km Lycian Way from Fethiye to Antalya. We, in typical Traveled Earth fashion, arrived wholly unprepared – without the proper gear, without a guidebook or maps, without adequate knowledge of the terrain, and without a clear idea of what the weather would be like.  So we had a little work to do before we could start walking.

Gear & Guidebook

We spent our first week in Istanbul and, while we were there, we made it our mission to get ourselves ready for the trek. We were planning to violate our budget six ways to Sunday by purchasing new hiking shoes (the Camino had all but worn our old ones out), a tent, sleeping bags and sleeping mats, but didn’t want to fork over any cash until we had the guidebook in hand.

We set out to find a copy of Kate Clow’s guidebook (she created the trail). We went to every outdoor store and bookstore we could find, but couldn’t track down a copy in English. There were lots in Turkish, but this didn’t really help us. Eventually, we decided to contact Kate through the Lycian Way website and inquire on how to go about obtaining a copy.

When I sent the email, I had no idea it would be Kate that would actually receive it. She assured me that she had plenty of English copies available at her office in Antalya. I had mentioned that we needed to know as soon as possible because we didn’t want to purchase any gear before we knew we could find the book. She replied that she had plenty of gear that we could borrow if we wanted. Jackpot! At the time, she was out of the country, promoting her new Culture Routes in Turkey Society, but she passed on the contact information of Hüseyin, one of her employees. We arranged to meet Hüseyin in Antalya, where he would be able to sell us a copy of the book, lend us Kate’s gear, store our computers and other things we didn’t want to carry for the duration of our hike, and answer any other questions we had.

As we wrapped up our time in Istanbul, one of our new friends (Trevor, an Irish guy that had just cycled from Ireland to Istanbul and was waiting for a flight to Nepal) offered us his spare camp stove.  We were planning to live off cold foods, but the dream of hot coffee and tea in the morning led us to take it.

It looked like the hike was actually going to happen and we were stoked that we could cut down on the gear expenses. After spending five days in beautiful Cappadocia, we caught a night bus to Antalya. Hüseyin was kind enough to meet us on the Sunday afternoon that we arrived, where he took us to Kate’s house to assess the gear situation. In the end, we borrowed her lightweight two-person tent, one sleeping bag, two sleeping mats, a pair of rain pants, and water bottles. Hüseyin actually apologized that there weren’t two sleeping bags! We couldn’t believe their kindness and generosity… now we only needed to buy a single sleeping bag and new shoes. Score!

We packaged up all the crap we carry around that we didn’t want to lug up the mountains (laptops, SLR camera, extra clothes, toiletries, and all that jazz) and left them in Kate’s house. Antalya was actually the end point of the trail, so we could just catch a bus to the start point in Fethiye and hike back to our stuff.

Early the next morning, we set out to buy the gear. We easily found an outdoor shop with a sleeping bag and hiking shoes & boots, but they didn’t have any footwear in Mike’s size. They phoned a couple other stores and still came up empty handed. This would be a deal breaker. Mike’s shoes were old when we left home, and after 900 km walking through northern Spain, they were full of holes, treadless and talking.  He needed new shoes.  The guy at the shop suggested another store that he couldn’t phone and would be an expensive cab ride to get to. There was no guarantee they would have Size 13 shoes either. Discouraged, we left the store and debated what to do. We passed a Nike store and decided to poke our head in, in the off chance they would have something appropriate. As it turns out, they had exactly one pair of size 13 men’s shoes – a pair of Gortex hiking shoes… score again!

We returned to the outdoor shop, bought a sleeping bag, some stove fuel, and a few pairs of hiking socks for good measure. I picked out a pair of men’s hiking boots (they laughed when I asked for women’s size 10 and told me to forget it and look at the guy’s stuff). Usually men’s shoes are too wide for my feet, but these ones fit like a glove. I had wanted more versatile shoes, but with the great discount they offered us, the boots were actually cheaper. Later, as I hiked the uneven, rocky trails, I was thrilled I had boots – they saved me a sprained ankle on more than one occasion.

The elusive guidebook

What we carried: All our gear had to fit in our 38 L packs, so we kept things as minimal as possible while keeping in mind that laundry facilities were not available on a daily basis. We each had three shirts, a pair of pants, a pair of shorts/capris, five pairs of underwear, five pairs of SmartWool socks, rain jackets, rain pants (Ashley only), a wool sweater, a fleece jacket, long underwear, flip flops, a toque, and a pair of gloves. For toiletries, we carried a small bottle of shampoo, contact lens solution, sunscreen, and wet wipes. We each had a sleeping bag, silk sleeping bag liner, and a sleeping mat. There was also the tent, the stove, two lighters, a first aid kit with plenty of headache meds, a compass, our headlamps with spare batteries, our Kindles, our point-and-shoot camera and charger, spare memory cards, a cell phone with Turkish SIM, our iPhone with charge, the guidebook and map, and a Turkish phrasebook (in retrospect, I wouldn’t recommend the phrasebook – take the time to write your own phrasebook on a piece of paper, including things like “I’m Canadian”, “Where is the market?”, “I am a teacher”, “I want a room”, “laundry”, “bread”, and any other bits you may want to share when you have a tea with the local villagers or need to book a room or buy supplies.  It will be a lot lighter than a book and easier to find the phrase you’re looking for).

The Terrain

Our next four posts will be our journal from the trail, but I thought an overview would be nice for this introduction.

Before we started, we were using Camino walking speeds to calculate how long the trail should take. But, as we learned, the Lycian Way is nothing like the Camino de Santiago. On the Camino, we consistently walked 5 km/hour, even when ascending mountains. This is not the case on the Lycian Way. The Camino is a walking path, while the Lycian Way is a true hiking trail. In many places it is steep, narrow, poorly defined, rocky and uneven. Nothing like the wide, well-groomed paths of the Camino. We spent most of the Lycian Way looking at our feet (good thing we had shiny new shoes to admire!) – the trail requires constant attention to keep from tripping, slipping, or stubbing your toe.

Because so much of the Camino was asphalt, concrete, or gravel roads, it left us with aching feet and leg muscles. The Lycian Way trail was much steeper and more technical, and required longer days of walking, but hardly gave us muscle aches at all.

With the camping gear we took, we were carrying more weight than on the Camino so breaks were more crucial. We took a 10 minute break every hour, whether we felt like we needed it or not.

The terrain includes high pastures, fields, yaylas, steep rocky cliffs, seaside villages, mountain summits, olive groves and historic ruins.  Pants were essential, as there were several places where sharp, thorny shrubs encroached over the trail.

Pretty, but painful

The Weather

The weather was our limiting factor on the trail. It is recommended that you hike the Lycian Way between February – June or September – November. July and August are way too hot, and December & January too wet and cold.

We started in mid-November and planned to walk until it got too cold for us. We were hoping to finish the trail. By the end of November, however, we decided the nights in the mountains were just too cold for us to continue with the gear we had. With proper equipment or by staying in pansions instead of camping, we could have kept going because daytime temperatures were fine. But with near freezing temperatures after the sun went down and our summer mesh walled tent and sleeping bags rated for 10ºC, we called it quits after 200 km on the trail.

We really enjoyed the peace and solitude of camping along the trail, and didn’t want to sacrifice that part of the experience by staying in pansions just to keep going. We were also approaching some mountain ranges that we were ill-equipped for. With the possibility of snowstorms in December that could bury the waymarkers and without topographical maps or a GPS, we didn’t want to risk hiking at these elevations.

Rather, we hope to come back someday and finish what we started.  Here’s a few photos to give you a taste of what we saw…

Passing a field

Not too shabby of a beach

Not quite a tourist resort

Just before Faralya

Waymarker – you have no idea how happy we were to see each one of these

Stupendous view

Typical trail

Sarcophagus at Xanthos ruins

A sea of greenhouses

Aqueduct that doubles as the trail

Dodging some overgrowth

Waymarker indicating “you’re going the wrong way” – sometimes in the absence of the red & white swatches, these were all we had to go by

A little ominous, no?



By , January 9, 2013 9:06 am

Shhh…. don’t tell Mike about this post! He doesn’t know I’m doing this! Typically, we create a list of posts to write, divvy out the author roles, and then edit each other’s work before publishing. This post didn’t make the list. Nor did I show Mike before I hit the “publish” button. This time I’m flying solo, under the radar if you will.

Why? If you’re a regular reader and a keen observer, you may have noticed that my posts are typically loaded with way more photos than Mike’s. Mike tries to stick me with a “5 photos per post” rule, but five is just never enough for me! This blog isn’t just for you – the reader – it’s also for me…. it’s my stories, my memories, and my photos – essentially my journal. And I want to include all the best photos I can – for my own selfish reasons and because I want to share them with the world. So I make it a rule to break his rule.

This post, in particular, had to be created – even if Mike wouldn’t authorize it. As I’ve mentioned before, Cappadocia is one of my favourite places on earth. I’ve never seen anything else like it and it’s beauty repeatedly took my breath away. We just couldn’t fit all of our amazing photos into the last three story posts, so here we are. With another photo post. I tried to limit myself to ten photos (like I said, five is never enough!), but you’ll notice there’s just a few more. Because I think they need to be shared. Hope you enjoy.















 For even more Cappadocia photos, check out our photo album.


By , January 7, 2013 6:44 am

With our 10-year anniversary fast approaching, we decided to celebrate with a huge splurge on a sunrise hot air balloon ride in Göreme, Cappadocia.  At 100 Euros (~$130 CAD) per person for an hour-long flight, it made for the single most expensive day of our travels (not counting international flights or the day we bought our house, that is).  Even for frugal travelers like ourselves, it was honestly worth every single penny.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and, for me, ranks as one of the best experiences of our journey.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

















By , January 3, 2013 12:22 pm

The landscape in Cappadocia is out of this world. Today, the remains of 700 and some odd churches, 40 underground cities, and many more rock cut dwellings are scattered throughout Cappadocia. In the middle of all this is the town of Göreme, catering to tourists, where we spent the better part of a week.

These rock dwellings, churches, underground cities, and monasteries remained in use right up until 1922 where Greece and Turkey had a population exchange, and the last of the Christian Greeks were removed from the area.

The Open Air Museum

The Open Air Museum is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a monastery site full of churches from the 10th to 12th centuries. This is “the” thing to do in Cappadocia, and tonnes of buses arrived at the open air museum daily. We spent the better part of an afternoon walking through it for 15 Lira ($7.50 CAD) each. Not included in the ticket price is admission to the Dark Church which costs an additional 8 Lira ($4 CAD). We didn’t see it. Mostly because of the additional charge, but also because we had already seen so many rock cut churches by the time we got there…

We took the unusual move of purchasing the audio tour at the gate for 10 Lira ($5 CAD). That was a mistake. While the tour went into great detail on what was depicted on the frescoes found in each of the churches, something that I’m sure would be of great interest to a religious practitioner or scholar, it frankly was not interesting to me. I had hoped for more information on the method used to carve the churches, when they were occupied, a description of what daily life would have entailed, etc. Unfortunately none of this information was included. What’s worse, most of the information provided in the audio tour was written on the placards which could be read for free.

The churches themselves were quite something to see. A lot of the artwork is still intact. We snuck a few photos, but not many. Photography was prohibited in pretty much all of the churches that had something to take a photo of. There was also a viewing time limit on many of the churches. I’m sure this is to facilitate the continuous flow of tour buses arriving. Naturally each bus formed into a tour group of 50 or so people, large enough to completely fill any of enclosed church spaces. As individuals, we had to be on our toes to manoeuvre between all of the guided tour groups to get in and see something.

All in all, it’s worth seeing. Especially if you are into religious art history.

Walking Around On Your Own

This was more my kind of thing. Surrounding Göreme are several valleys each loaded with their own unique sets of rock formations and rock carved spaces. They are free, and small enough that you can start and finish the day of walking at your hotel. No need to hire transportation. Surprisingly, for all the tourists that go to the Open Air Museum, almost nobody walks around in the free parts. We spent a few days hiking through Rose Valley and Love Valley, and can count the number of other tourists we encountered without having to take off our socks.

There are trail maps available for the nearby valleys, and the trails are marked. However, in our experience, the markings are deliberately falsified to ensure you walk past the coffee shops and miss the trails you are actually looking for. In some places, where the signs have not been filled with false information, or turned to point the wrong way, markers were simply missing, or partly destroyed like this one.

Typical Waymarkers

The best thing to do is leave yourself plenty of time to get in and plenty to get out. You’ll get lost, but the area is small enough that you’ll also find your way back out again before too long. Just don’t rely on the maps or way-markers. Don’t worry about bringing emergency trail rations either. There are plenty of places to buy nuts and figs from the many vendors who setup shop along the trails.

Love Valley. I have no idea why they call it that…

Rose/Red Valley

Rose/Red Valley

Rose/Red Valley

Exploring a Pigeon House