Day 23: Demre to Alakilise Ruins

Myra to Finike

We took the advice of our hostel owner in Demre and had him drive us up to the first village on the mountain. In retrospect, we wish we hadn’t done that because it is a beautiful area and would have been a terrific walk. By taking the short drive, we likely shaved 3 hours off our route for the day.

Our plans were to walk up to the ruins of Alakilise, or the Church of the Angel Gabriel, and meet up with Andreas to continue going up the mountain. We arrived at the village of Belören, where we explored the ruins of a church. Just as Warren was putting his camera away to start walking, a flat-bed truck came by with some workers going up the mountain and they offered us a lift. They smiled and laughed when we said we were going to walk it. They probably think we’re crazy to turn down a ride up a mountain!

We started walking up the trail, and when we say “up” we mean UP! The trail is rocky, rugged, and most of all beautiful. The day was cool, which made the climb easier. There were a few sheep dogs barking, but the shepherd’s are good at keeping them away. We simply kept walking with a purpose and had no problems.

We passed a shepherd with sheep and goats on a plateau, and he gave us directions when we couldn’t find our next mark. Large flat spaces continue to be a problem for finding marks on this route.

The next section of up was through a pine forested area, and the sights and smells were delightful. Fall is in the air, and the few deciduous trees in the pine mix definitely stood out in their orange and yellow glory. As we came up the dirt path from this area and rounded the corner we were struck speechless. It was so beautiful! This is what we missed over the last few days’ easier walking along the coast.

Fun on the mountain

As we turned left at the bend we soon came in sight of the wall of Alakilise below on a plateau. The arches and foundation could be seen from up high, and as we got closer we could see Andreas’ signature blue tent and his red-jacketed self under a tree. We called out to him, but we were too far away for him to hear. It only took about 20 minutes to make our way down, and he was so surprised to see us. He didn’t expect us until late afternoon.

Andreas had already cleared a camp spot for us next to his and gathered wood for a campfire. He even set up the campfire and rocks for us to sit on – the most inviting pansiyon we’ve seen in all of Turkey!

Camping in the shadow of ruins

We explored the ruins along with the grazing goats, noting the inscription in one area (wonder what it means?) as well as the delicate carving in others. There were lacy edges and even carvings that looked like conch shells, which is strange so far from the sea (but not strange considering we saw fossils of sea animals and coral embedded in rock later).

Relaxing in the ruins

A great deal of the church is in ruins, of course, and the only worshippers gathering here each day are the goats from a nearby shepherd’s family. It was a perfect place to relax, journal, read, meditate, and have great conversations.

Napping in the ruins

Andreas planned for us to stay here tonight. We worried it wasn’t a far enough dent into the route, but it seemed so perfect we decided to stay even if it means a longer day tomorrow. There is rain in the forecast 2 days from now, which is when we plan to descend into Finike. Let’s just hope it is light rain and not like the storm we had in Alinca!

Reading in the ruins

Tonight we decided to simply enjoy the beauty of the valley, the ruins, the tinkling of goat bells, the occasional call of a shepherd to his flock, the warm fire, and most of all the excellent company. Hard to believe we only have 7 more days of walking on this adventure!

Campfire

Soon after dark a short, one-eyed shepherd came walking toward our camp with a big flashlight. We welcomed him and shared some of Andreas’ Colombian chocolate, which we were enjoying after our dinner. The shepherd kept talking in rapid-fire Turkish and we didn’t  understand, but we think he came t see what we were eating / doing and to offer to cook for us if we needed it. We politely said no, and he then pointed to our bags and at a stray dog who had been skulking around in the distance. These shepherds do not like stray dogs because of the risk to their flocks.

He threw a rock at the dog and motioned to us to put our bags inside the tent before we went to sleep so the dogs wouldn’t get them. Afterward he began pointing at our tents, and we really had no idea what he wanted. Warren is a really good sport about these things, and he slapped him on the back and offered to show him around our tents while Andreas and I sat around the fire. Was he going to ask for money, tell us to leave, ask for our things? Warren just kept laughing and engaging him in conversation, and it turned out he simply wanted to see what the inside of our tents looked like. Just another friendly Turkish interaction!

He said goodnight and walked back toward his house and we resumed our conversation around the fire. When the fire finally died out, we called it a night and slept like babies.

Daily Stats

Where We Stayed

Camping at the ruins of Alakilise

Hours Walked

2:15

Perks

This whole walk was a perk, as was the cool mountain air, the incredible ruins, and the great company.

Problems

In hindsight, we would have not taken the ride from Demre to Belören. It’s beautiful, and we would have enjoyed the walk. We had a misunderstanding with Andreas as to how far we’d be walking that day, but it’s not really a problem to camp in such a beautiful place…though it does mean a longer day tomorrow.