Lycian Way, Turkey. Patara to Kalkan.
The Lycian Way was named one of the World’s ten best walks by the Sunday Times. Our walk today, starting at the necropolis of Patara and winding alongside the beautiful rocky coastline, with views of Patara beach on the Turkish Riviera make this an easy claim to believe.
Today was the first day Mick and I have spent apart since we left home. While he is resting his knees and writing the blog, I will be sharing this gorgeous walk with Kay, an Australian woman from Cairns I met yesterday who is traveling on her own.
Patara is a short bus ride from Kalkan but a long, long walk. Taking the bus from Kalkan we are dropped at a crossroad with every intention of catching a dolmus from the crossroad to the Patara ruins. Good theory. Once we started talking (and walking) the dolmus passed us by without registering on our radars, adding an extra 3 kilometre walk to our day. Piece of cake!
Perhaps missing the dolmus was our great fortune. Nearby the crossroads we acquired a new companion, a large black pup with what initially looked like ticks on him. He didn’t let me close enough to him to be certain but I ended up thinking they were some kind of tumours. Nicknaming him Hobo, he joined our march for the day.
Patara, originally a Lycian settlement which gained importance as a navel base during the wars of Alexander the Great’s successors continued as a thriving port during the Roman Empire. Sometime during the Middle Ages the harbour silted up and the site stood long abandoned.
Now it is a vast and impressive sight with reconstruction work having been completed on the bouleuterion, the ancient ‘parliament’.
During our exploration of the thought provoking ruins Hobo sets off in pursuit of a chicken who bolts squawking for cover. This reflection breaking flurry sets off chained dogs within the area into an infectious barking frenzy.
Completely ignoring my cries of concern Hobo returns with a mouthful of feathers leaving us none the wiser as to the chickens fate.
Moving on quickly we set about finding way markers to commence our return to Kalkan.
Kay asks the young lady staffing the ticket booth at the ruins if she could point us in the right direction. I suppress a laugh as she repeats the instructions for us a second time complete with an audible sigh and roll of the eyes. ‘Stupid tourists’. Having managed to lose our path almost every single day thus far on the way, you can’t ever be too sure.
Walking up a steep climb with views back to the beautiful Patara beach Kay and I settle into an easy walking rhythm with each other. Having left our heavy backpacks in Kalkan means we walk today light and easy. Blissful welcome relief.
Kay retired last year after decades as an educator and celebrated by walking the Camino de Santiago. We share experiences and lessons learned.
Whilst the terrain is definitely easier than some previous days there are still some significant ups and downs. We are both cautious on the loose gravel descents. Pausing to admire the beautiful coastline we marvel at the expanse of the ancient city ruins.
Hobo shames himself again by chasing a tethered goat. Kay wisely keeps walking to encourage him to follow us and stop torturing the poor animal. Upon his return I have a few stern words with him and he settles into a routine for the rest of the day, alternating between walking a little behind us or running ahead to rest in a shady spot for a few minutes until we catch up. Not for the first time on this trip I daydream about how fantastic it would have been to bring Ivan, our dog with us. He would LOVE this shared adventure.
Breaking for lunch under some shady trees we escape the heat of the day. Kay generously shares her lunch with Hobo and I. Our early morning departure has caused effects that ripple out like waves on a pond. Foiled plans of acquiring leftovers from the normally massive Zinbad breakfasts find me carrying no food. At least Mick has made sure I have ample water in my day pack.
Continuing on the way following the turquoise water of the Mediterranean is like a small torture as we are so hot and so close to the inviting water. Our guide book tells us that at a fork, ‘the right branch goes down to a stony beach where you could spend a sunny afternoon’. You bet we could, if only we were 100% sure of where we were, or how much farther we had to walk.
Diligently paying constant attention to the white and red markers we continue on. Kind hikers before us have also set up piles of stones in difficult places as an added security. Kay regularly adds a stone to the cairn as we pass. I tell her we call them the Camino stones and she replies ‘that as a solo hiker they have saved her many times’.
Opting to skip a rugged part of this walk that would see us scrambling over rocks we decide to take the optional route back to the main road. Hikers approaching from the opposite direction include Annette from Germany who tells us the starting point at Akbel was about 10km ago. Kay and I are both startled by this estimate of distance as it is now mid afternoon.
Mick’s battle cry ‘onwards and ever upwards’ rings in my head as we turn onto a steep uphill road which we hope will take us back to the main road. After walking for around half an hour we hear a car slowing climbing up behind us on the rough rocky road. He stops and offers us a lift which we gratefully accept.
Crawling up the hill I realise in horror that we have forgotten to say goodbye to Hobo, our faithful companion for the day. I turn to see him running alongside the car and my heart breaks a little. Our car’s slow speed allows me to watch him until we came upon a parked car guarded by another dog. Street savy Hobo stops to check him out and his new adventure begins. I silently wish him well and thank him for being our pal for the day.
Kay describes our driver as a trail angel for driving us up the steep climb and to the main road. A late afternoon kindness has saved us hours of hard walking and ensures we will return in time to make the 5:30pm drinks we have planned with Howard and Judy.
Flagging down a van we think is a dolmus we discover we have in fact hitched a ride with another kind young man who is still happy to drive us to Kalkan.
Mick and I are reunited.
I missed him. A little bit.