Monday, November 18, 2013

The SXY Day Tour

Taş explaining history
  A week or so after returning from the far southeastern tour we participated in another small group day tour.  They departed from Marmaris and were coming through Fethiye to reach the destinations on this day tour, making it easy for us to be picked up in Fethiye.  

There was a tiny bit of a snafu that turned out just fine.  We were sitting outside the hotel waiting for the tour bus to arrive.  We got there early and had been waiting for about 20 minutes when a friend pedaled by on her bike.  We got up to chat with her and during the conversation mentioned that we were waiting on a group from Marmaris.  At that point a man sitting nearby approached us and said "Marmaris?" and showed us a note with our names written on it.  Turned out he was a driver for the local Fethiye office of the tour company and had been sent to collect us.  We said goodbye to our friend and got into the car.  He drove us through the city and stopped on the corner of an intersection with the main highway.  Less than 3 minutes later the little tour bus from Marmaris stopped on the shoulder of the highway and we transferred into the bus.  How about that for efficiency!  They did not have to drive all the way through town to our hotel and then all the way back to the main highway.  Nice for the group and nice for us.  Taş was once again our guide.

Bright flowers everywhere at Xanthos
This was the SXY Day Tour -- Sidyma, Xanthos and Yediburunlar; a tour into Lycian Turkey and part of the Lycian Way.  We are amused by the different pronunciations of the word Lycian.  We, as do most of the Americans we have heard say it, pronounce Lycian as Lie-CEE-an.  British people tend to pronounce it LISH-ee-an.  And the Turks pronounce it LICK-ee-an.  But that is understandable because the Turks also spell it Lykian rather than Lycian.  We were glad to hear Taş also pronounce it Lie-CEE-an several times this day.

The Lycian Way is a long-distance footpath in Turkey around part of the coast of ancient Lycia.  It is approximately 306 miles long and stretches from Ölüdeniz near Fethiye to Hisarcandir, about 12 miles from the large city of Antalya. The Lycian way covers mountainous terrain so one must be very fit to make this hike or walk.  The route is mainly over footpaths and donkey trails; mostly limestone and often hard and stony underfoot.  The trail is waymarked with red and white stripes.  The Sunday Times has listed it as one of the world's top ten walks.  Alien to most Americans, these long walks are very popular with walking groups in Europe, primarily walking groups located in England, Germany and Austria.  These people book group walking tours in special parts of the world.  We saw several of these walking groups in Cyprus.  They can easily walk as 30 miles in one day, which would make the Lycian Way a 10-day tour plus 2 travel days to and from.   I enjoy walking -- flat terrain only.  These folks are way out of my league.  I do not understand what motivates them to walk stoney mountains.  Although the scenery is gorgeous.  Fantastic views from up there.

Taş explaining history
Our first destination was Xanthos as it was the farthest and then we could backtrack towards to Fethiye.  Bill and I had previously visited Xanthos in May 2012 with Chay, Katie and Jaimie of S/V Esprit.  We did not have a guide on that visit.  Since I have previously written about this ancient site, I do not have much to add today.  Sad to admit, but I did not even write any notes of what Taş told us.  One thing he told us that did stick in memory is that at one time this site was called Terminasos or something like that.  Similar to the word terminators.  At one time there were only 180 men in this city and they were attacked by over 100,000 Persian invaders in 545 B.C.  They fought rather than surrender.  When there was no hope (as if there ever was!), then they put the women and children inside a building and set fire to it.  Then fought to the last man died.  They valued their freedom that highly.  Better that they all die than to be conquered. The only survivors were 80 inhabitants of the city who were not there at the time it was attacked.

Lycian tomb mounted high
Lycian tomb near the Lycian theater.
Note the hole where grave robbers entered.
The entire city burned to the ground around 450 B.C.  Then later, Brutus (of Roman fame) conquered Xanthos in 42 B.C.  Again the residents fought almost to the death and finally Brutus was able to capture only 150 men and a handful of women.

The Inscribed Pillar

The Inscribed Pillar is one of the most important artifacts remaining at Xanthos.  Most of the valuable ancient artifacts were taken by the British and now reside in a museum in London.  Turkey would very much like to have their items returned but England is not likely to ever do so.  This Inscribed Pillar was carved in 425 B.C. and commemorates the memory of wars fought by a Lycian prince named Kherei.  The inscriptions on each if the 4 sides are in a different language.  The inscriptions in Lycian are the oldest known to date.  This is a massive piece of stone and would have required a great deal of work to get it up here.  There was a statue of the prince on top, now missing; this made the entire monument 11 meters high -- that is almost 36-feet tall.  Impressive work for that time period.

Here is a link to my posting about Xanthos in May 2012:  Xanthos blog 05/2012

Goats at home in the Lycian theater in Xanthos.
The Roman theater is farther up the hill.
Neither Bill nor I felt like trekking around the hill and up to the Roman theater.  We did that last year and once was enough.  While the rest of the group followed Taş and learned history, Bill and I sat in the shade and enjoyed an ice-cold bottle of water on this rather unusually warm day, until the bus driver received a call from Taş requesting that he pick up the group down the road a bit on the other side of that hill.  Done; and then we were off for a drive up into the mountains to a restaurant called The Lighthouse at Yediburunlar.  

View from mountaintop restaurant

The views were spectacular!  The food was scrumptious!  Everyone was very pleased with this meal!  

And I think very few realized they were eating an entirely vegetarian meal.  Each dish was delicious and no one missed having meat.  The 3 hot dishes were my favorites.

A great vegetarian lunch
Made us want to anchor our boat down there

This very much out-of-the-way restaurant also serves as a small hotel. Considering this rural mountainous location, about the only patrons of the hotel or restaurant are members of those walking groups hiking the Lycian Way.  As we sat in the dining room we could see a few waypoint markers painted on the rocks .  

This restaurant/hotel is owned by a wealthy woman from Istanbul.  She enjoys cooking and operates this facility only during the shoulder season months, not in the heat of summer or in the cold of winter.  I could never find this place again should we rent a car one day, but the food would be worth another trip.

The circular thing with the stone 'wheel' on its
side is for crushing olives for olive oil.

Soon we wound our way back down that mountain on onto another one.  Destination this time was an ancient town called Sidyma, at an elevation of 1,788 feet.  This was another very out-of-the-way place.  

The bus parked and we walked to a space shaded by grape vines where an old woman resident had set up a table and chairs to serve us tea.  She also had a small table of various items for sale, although there was no pressure whatsoever on us to buy anything.  

Old woman at Sidyma

Taş hurried us out to see the ruins of Sidyma, saying we would have tea when we returned.  He wanted us to see the ruins before the rapidly approaching darkness made that impossible.  There were no lights out there!  The 'walkway' was not set stones; it was like walking in a shallow ditch covered with large loose rocks both in the ditch and lining the banks.

Info on Sidyma

More info and photos of Sidyma

Making tea on her patio

Sidyma has never been properly excavated.  And certainly no restoration had been done.  It is the most remote of the Lycian ancient cities, situated halfway up Mount Kragos (now called Avlankara Tepesi).  Sidyma is not actually in the Xanthos valley at all.  It is well above that valley.  Sidyma was only 'rediscovered' by Europeans during the mid-nineteenth century. 

That rectangular stone is a doorway.  Nothing
around it.  Just an ancient doorway out in a field.
An old mosque now occupies the site of the baths, and reused pillars taken from the stoa of the agora (shopping area).  The principal charm of Sidyma is how ancient masonry has been incorporated into the rough stone homes of the village's current inhabitants.  Ancient cut and carved stones have been incorporated into house corners; or used as livestock troughs; or in any number of ingenious ways of utilizing what was available lying nearby when constructing a home or shed or whatever in today's village.  

There is a castle which is in total ruins that sits on a hill to the north.  It had been garrisoned during Byzantine times.  The necropolis is scattered in the fields to the east and comprises a variety of types of tombs.  In the center of a farming field stands one remarkable tomb with ceiling panels carved with rosettes and human faces; another nearby has a relief of Eros on its lid and Medusas at the ends.  There also is a two-storeyed tomb.  In the middle of the necropolis stands an enormous and fairly intact square structure that is believed to be a Roman imperial heroon or temple-tomb which has a walled-up doorway on its north side.

All of the above information is taken from the Rough Guides webpage about Sidyma -- because I missed seeing all of it.  

While hurrying along that walkway ditch filled with large loose rocks I fell and injured my leg.  That was the end of the line for me on this tour.  One of the smaller rocks shifted beneath my foot and I took quite the tumble down onto those sharp-edged rocks.  Luckily I had a very large handbag strung over my shoulder and head, hanging across my body and on my left hip.  That protected my hip during this fall.  I shudder to think of how bad it would have been to break a hip way out there.

Within seconds of falling there was a swelling on my left shin the size of Bill's fist.  There was no real pain; the leg was numb from the knee downward with a few small abrasions on the lower leg.  Good thing I was wearing sturdy new jeans as that further protected the leg.  The only painful thing was the tip end of the radius, the forearm bone that terminates at the wrist.  A large bruise developed there and the area of the tip of the radius remained painful for 10 days. But the wrist worked and felt okay so there was no point in seeking medical care for that. There also was a quarter-sized hole in my palm where the skin had been swiftly scraped away.  No big deal; skin grows back.  No broken bones so all should be fine.

My very swollen leg.  That wrinkled part on the
left is my knee so that  provides some scale
as to how swollen this was.

We told the others to go on and see the site before it got dark; I was fine.  Bill helped me walk back to the old lady's home where I sat and elevated the injured leg.  The woman did not speak a word of English but she motioned and made me to understand that she wanted to rub some kind of oil onto the swollen part of my leg.  She showed me some leaves and some tiny black fruits from the trees on which those leaves grew and motioned that she made this oil from those black things that looked sort of like elongated olives.  She kept saying the word 'bay' but those leaves and black fruit did not come from what we Americans know as bay.  The only bay I know is bay laurel.  These leaves were shaped like small sycamore leaves.  I figured what the heck did I have to lose except possibly a skin allergy, so I nodded okay.

She rubbed the swelling and down the leg with that oil.  Five minutes later she rubbed it down again; five minutes after that she rubbed it with plain olive oil.  In just that span of ten minutes the swelling was almost completely gone!  This reminded me of when we were on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu and Bill was very severely bruised by a falling tree trunk.  The local people rubbed his arm and shoulder with an ointment made from papaya and his bruising disappeared within hours.  This oil was just as amazing!   My leg remained numb but the swelling was almost gone. 

Patio where we sat enjoying tea beneath the grapes.

The woman's mother came out and motioned to me that once she had broken both of her wrists.  She was picking olives and fell, landing on her knees and hands and breaking both wrists.  Each of her wrists had noticeable bone growth as a result.  A reminder of how tough rural life in these mountains can be.  There is no medical care within 3 hours drive from this tiny old village.  Injuries must be dealt with however one can manage with only the help of family and friends as doctors and hospitals are nowhere nearby.

The others in our group returned.  Tea was served, along with some type of savory pastry.  Purchases were made and we were soon back on the bus headed home. 

We bought a small bottle of the miracle oil from the old woman; figured that was the least we could do.  She is a widow and is only 55 years old, although she looks 70.   Fortunately for her, the government of Turkey does allow for widowed spouses.  She receives 80% of her late husband's pension (like American Social Security).  Without that pension she would be totally at the mercy of her extended family, if she has any.  There are no employment opportunities. Life is hard out there.  

The bus delivered us to Fethiye where another car met us on the main highway.  Great tour day up until the time I got clumsy.  

1 comment:

  1. Wow, the view from the mountain-top restaurant looks amazing! Glad you didn't break anything, and that oil sounds interesting ... probably better than anything a doctor would prescribe.

    Caught up on your recent posts and glad that you weren't hurt when near the Syrian border ... crazy! The Citadel views are beautiful too!


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