A 508km coastal path stretches from Antalya to Fethiye, snaking around the headland and taking in plenty of spectacular sights and beautiful scenery as i goes. I cheated and got the bus over the mountains. It takes four hours. This is largely because the fully loaded minibus creeps up the mountain and stops frequently for tea breaks and to let villagers off in the mostly remote and unlikely locations.
Reached Fethiye without a hitch and distracted during the journey by reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ on the Reader. I’ve never fully appreciated the point of the Reader/Kindle. They’re a top idea on paper, but there were always the arguments about reading from a screen instead of a page and the physical difference between holding it and a book. But I’m a convert. Turning pages? Not for me. 40 books at my fingertips and not weighing down my rucksack – win.
Though I’m saving the full 500 ks for another trip, I did do a couple of sections of the Lycian Way. Hosted by the lovely Jill, we (plus Isgul, the neighbour and good friend) spent her birthday ambling up the stretch from Fethiye to Kayakoy, the ghost town. It became a ghost town when all 2,000 inhabitants upped and left in 1923 under a population exchange deal between the Turks and Grecos. The villagers were predominantly Greek Christians so all were shipped home and the buildings left uninhabited. Interesting and slightly eerie but the best bit for me was sitting in the refreshment shacks at the bottom of a hill watching a thunderstorm play out over a beer. And the three tortoises that we met on the way.
Come the evening, we popped into town for a loaf of bread and a sundowner at the Sundial Hotel (http://www.sundialotel.com). Got in at 2am. The owner – a business man from Istanbul – has stuffed the place to the gunnels with trinkets and gewgaws (including a cross bow and vintage amps that are still hooked up to the modern sound system) and stays in the bar as long as you do. Not an easy place to prise yourself from.
Drove along to see the beach and lagoon at Oludeniz the following day before getting dropped off in Faralya to walk another section of the Lycian Way. The clamber down into Butterfly Bay at the start of the walk is supposed to be thrilling and the turquoise waters as viewed from the road above looked very appealing. But then I caught sight of a peace sign laid out in stones in one of the gardens and knew it just wasn’t for me. I’ve had my fair share of crustie travel on the India/Thai trail. This, this will be a different sorta trip.
So up the hill I headed. Once you find the start of the path (not as easy as it might sound), it is well way-marked (red and white markers) and easy to follow. They’ve accommodatingly fitted a series of spring water stand pipes along the route and these come complete with cups to drink from. Just cups perched on the side for anyone to use. I think the last time anyone got away with this without some chavs nicking them was Vlad the Impaler. And that was cos Vlad Impaled anyone who tried to nick the golden goblet (as he placed next to the fountain). Mind you, if memory serves Vlad also asked the poor once if they’d like to stay poor. No? ‘Then come to my palace for tea!’ said Vlad. Where he slaughtered them all. I suppose he did *sort of* keep to his word.
Came across a few groups of hikers along the way. It’s only early season so it must be growing in popularity. Nevertheless, for the mostpart I was completely alone on the track, which contours along the base of Baba Dag mountain – popular with paragliders – varies between gravel road and muddy footpath, cutting through pine forests, fields and scrubby undergrowth. A good scout master would advise stout boots, but trainers would be fine. Devout flipfloppers might find it uncomfortable.
Fa-la-li’d my way along for a few hours, enjoying the sunshine, scenery and an al fresco packed lunch and earning ridiculous rucksack sunburns marks as I went. Brits on tour. Some habits die hard. A kindly Turkish family offered to drop me back from their picnic spot near the end of the section, but if Big Len has taught me anything, it’s that you must not cut challenge corners. So yomped on to the bus stop and caught a dolmus back from Ovacik.
Soothed the sore feet in the evening with some beers and live music by a remarkably good Turkish band at the Car Cemetary in Fethiye. Every bit as good as the name implies.
Where to go next? Looked at the wondrous Pamukkale but have rejected it on the grounds that it’s probably a lot shitter than it was when all the publicity snaps were taken of it, plus it will be rammed with coach tours. And I’m already being a coach trip snob. Also considered the dog leg to Capadoccia (it’s going to be off the Black Sea/Eastern mountains route whichever way I work it) but decided that it would be best to line up the necessary bureaucracy as a priority. So I’m going to head to Istanbul where I need to pick up my visa for Iran.
The process is convoluted and involves an agency in the UK sending your documents on your behalf to the Iranian powers that be. When they have checked you’re kosher (though I daresay they’d resent me using that term. Well, Ahma-dinner-jacket would. Most Iranians are very normal) and rubber stamped it countless times in their offices in Tehran, they send an approval number back to your agency. Who forward this, and the crucial stamp-endorsed paperwork to one of their consulates where you go – in the hijab if you’re wearing fun cushions – to fill out yet another form, and submit with your passport and a hijab’d photo for the visa proper. Luckily, I’ve selected an inept London agency so the number is yet to come through. Best to be in situ as soon as it does though, so it’s off, it’s off, it’s off to Istanbul I go.