Day 21: Kamilik Burun to the Ruins of Myra (almost!)

A bed under the stars

Another tranquil night under the stars. It’s going to be hard to go back to camping tonight!

Captain Osman told us the portion of today’s hike to the village of Gürses was not as interesting as a side detour to his favorite camping ground in the area. Since his advice to this point had been great, we decided to veer off course and follow it.

Osman let us out on the rocks right near the trail, even climbing up a bit to locate it for us before heading off. We found several great camping spots on this brief section, including our favorite right next to the old Roman wall ruins and arch overlooking the water. But it was still too early in the day to think about camping, so we continued on this enjoyable walk until we reached the white pebble beach where we agreed to be picked up for our last lunch on the boat.

Another walk through rocky ground

 Walking across the pebble beach

We spent about an hour soaking our bare feet in the crystal-clear water and enjoying this little slice of paradise. It was perhaps the most peaceful spot we’ve encountered on the trail so far, and all four of us drifted off into our own spaces to enjoy it. We think Osman’s first mate Abdullah sensed our need to absorb the peace and quiet because he gave us the time to enjoy it before picking us up for lunch.

 Soaking our feet

It only took us 2:15 to get to this pebble beach on the way to Andriake, so we had some time to go over our planned diversion again. Remember, there is no detailed ordnance map to follow for this route, so deviations can be tricky!

Keens on the pebble beach

After an early lunch, we loaded our packs, said goodbye to the boat, and resumed walking the trail. We debated finding the road to Sura either by scrambling over the scrub-covered hill at the end of the beach or by following the coastal path almost to Andriake and then turning left. In the end, we chose the longer but less strenuous path to Andriake because we were in full sun by this time.

Narrow paths await

Goats, and sea, and mountains…oh my

The walk was hot but beautiful, and we began our detour at the junction for Andriake/Sura by going left (missing Andriake and the village of Gürses). This was challenging, but we finally made our way to the top terraced field and saw the path to the road. As we made our way up, we passed several greenhouses, and two women and a man came out to greet us. As usual we told them in our broken Turkish that we were walking the Lycian Way and found their country beautiful and the people warm and hospitable. And as usual, they proved us right by giving us apples, pomegranates, and peppers for our journey and offering us water to refill our bottles. We munched on the apples as we talked in sign language about families and where we were from, and they wished us well on our journey.

We arrived at the road to find a Lycian Way sign noting Sura was 3 km away, and Osman told us our great camping spot was about 45 minutes after Sura. At this point there were 2-1/2 hours until sunset, so we were a little concerned about getting there in time. We passed the Sura Valley on the right and saw the ruins below as well as on our right up ahead. Some of the ruins we’ve passed have been incredible up close (like the bas relief of the bull in Phellos), and some are spectacular from afar because you can appreciate how they may have looked and functioned in ancient times. Sura is incredible from afar.

A long, hot walk along the road

But what’s always interesting about the ruins that are close to modern civilization is just how close they are. Sometimes it is just a step or two away from someone’s house, a business, a busy road, or a greenhouse, and the clash of old and new can be jarring. But the Turkish people have had this casual relationship with history all their lives. They are just part of regular life here.

We made it to the end of the road and saw our next destination of Demre to the right, but we took the left as Osman suggested and walked uphill to find the great camping spot. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to go off-route so late in the day, but we took a left and followed the paved road for about 30 minutes before stopping at an abandoned restaurant for a break. This is when Sherry told us she was not going to do the mountain with us. It’s important to realize your limitations, even if they are outside your control, and not to put yourself in danger. That’s also the great thing about this walk, that there are so many varieties of things to see and do that you can pick and choose among what you like. The road is always there to take you from place to place so you can then explore what you want by foot.

We packed up after a short rest and then found our turnoff a few minutes later to Santa’s Summer Houses (so named because the church of St. Nicholas is in nearby Demre). It looks a little iffy at first because there is some construction going on right after the turnoff and then a maze of greenhouses, but we soon saw our first Lycian Way mark and turned into the campground to have a bird’s eye view of the city of Demre and the coastline below.

Camped above Demre

A man came out to greet us and told us we could camp for free, and when he found that Andreas was German he quickly pulled out his phone, dialed a number, and handed it to him. Apparently he owns the place, but he’s leased it to a German woman named Birgid who is married to a Turkish man. She drove out with her daughter to meet us and show us her holiday houses.

They are 8 tidy little homes of 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom each with a nice porch, and during the summer season she has a small kitchen/lounge area and provides breakfast. She charges 20€ per person to stay in these houses, but she was kind enough to open one of them up for us so we could have a bathroom. She also told us the gentleman who owns the place is a former mayor of Demre. After setting up tents and eating our hodge-podge dinner around a giant rock overlooking Demre, we joined the former mayor for tea on his porch.

We used our Turkish translation book , a bit of gesturing, and Sherry’s Google Translate phone app to ask him about his family and home. He brought out a plate of fruit, and we spent a companionable hour talking while he smoked. The Turks are just the loveliest, most hospitable people.

The mayor has about 30 chickens on his land, and it’s the first time we’ve camped amongst them. He did pen them up for the night, but we know we’re going to get an early morning wake-up from both the call to prayer at the mosque and the rooster!

Tomorrow, off to the ruins of Myra.

Daily Stats

Where We Stayed

Santa’s Holiday Houses (free camping)

Hours Walked

5:00

Perks

The white pebble beach at Çakil Plaji, old Roman ruins overlooking the sea on our path, friendliness of locals who gave us fruit, and a great camp spot overlooking Demre and the sea.

Problems

We waited a bit too long on the boat before starting the hot afternoon walk, and we were dripping with sweat by the time we reached the road to Sura and our stop for the night.