It’s the second week of November and we are still in shorts and sandals, although it does cool down at night and the days are becoming a lot shorter. The pace of life here is quite slow and, accordingly, quite pleasant. The tourist season is over and traveling to explore our local environs is without hassle. Many of the ‘boat people’ have also departed, returning to their cold northern homes, for some reason. For those of us remaining we are enjoying the marina social life, time for boat maintenance prior to the coming season, and the opportunity to brush up on our Med history.
We hired a car to visit Olympos, Chimera, Antalya, Perge, and Aspendos. The Roman ruins at Perge cover a vast area, and were some of the most impressive we have seen. The Archeological Museum in Antalya, which houses numerous sculptures removed from Perge is a ‘must see’. The Roman theatre at Aspendos has been rebuilt and is currently used for concerts, etc. Olympos, a Lycean city built on the coast had interesting ruins amongst the trees, with a river running through it, and long sandy beaches in front. Nearby Chimera we viewed at night after a hike in the dark. We should have brought some marshmallows to toast in the natural flames emanating from the rocks, but at least the flames helped celebrate Hope’s birthday.
We invited an American couple, circumnavigation and North Passage yachties, to join on trips to Arykanda (in the mountains behind Finike), and Myra (an hour S of Finlike). Arykanda, probably out favorite site so far, was originally a Lycean city settled in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Alexander the Great reportedly visited the city and the Romans began to rule the region in the 2nd century BC. The city was built on a mountain-side, has spectacular views, and includes two theaters and a half-size sports stadium. Myra was one of the most important cities in Lycea. It was first settled in the Bronze Age, was under Persian rule in 545 BC, conquered by Alexander in 333 BC, the Romans gave it its freedom in 167 BC, and in the 4th century AD became the region’s capital. For those of us who believed in Father Xmas it should be remembered that St. Nikolaos, born in nearby Patara, was the bishop of Myra, and it was here that he developed his teachings and from where his fame spread. Who knew that St. Nic had Turkish origins?
A subsequent trip tp Patara, a large site in a national park situated behind an expansive beach; Letoon; and Xanthos have satisfied our needs to explore more ancient ruins for the time being. Patara, a coastal Lycian city, was first mentioned by a Hittite king in the 13th century BC. It still has an impressive Roman theater and a restored Lycian League assembly hall (first structure ~167 BC, rebuilt 143 AD). Letoon, a small world heritage site, is primarily known for its sacred spring and the three temples built for Leto, and her children by Zeus, Apollo and Artemis. Zeus fell in love with Leto, while married to the goddess Hera. Hera supposedly subsequently demanded that Leto walk the earth for infinity. Leto supposedly turned the local inhabitants into frogs as they would not let her wash her children in the spring. Xanthos another spectacular mountainous site was Lycia’s administrative and religious center. Overwhelmed by a Persian army in 545 BC the inhabitants committed mass suicide, with only 80 families surviving. In 42 BC the Romans,under Brutus, attacked the city. The inhabitants again refused to surrender and only about 150 people survived. Under Roman sovereignty the city regained its former influence by the 2nd century AD, primarily due to the contribution of wealthy Lycians.
Although Finike is not quite as dynamic as Cartagena and some of the larger touristy Turkish towns, it is still very enjoyable. It is primarily an agricultural community so we have no shortage of wonderful fresh produce in the large Saturday or smaller Wednesday markets. We are learning a bit more about Turkish politics, acquiring a few words in Turkish (a difficult language), and are appreciating the climate, the friendliness of the people and low cost of living here. We have also enjoyed a little hiking along small sections of the Lycian Way that runs from Antalya to Fethiye. We have more travels plans when we return from the UK and US, e.g. Istanbul, and are looking forward to Sonia’s stay here with us over Xmas. We are also trying to plan our voyage for next year. The Grecian islands and Malta are on the list as well as perhaps Albania and Montenegro. The arrival of our first grandson in January may influence our decisions.