This web page describes the fourth leg of the third 1997 sailing trip with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. It covers our stay in Antalya, Turkey and car trips near by. We visited the prehistoric Karain Cave, the breathtaking site of Termesus, Phaselis, Yanartas, Perge, and the waterfalls of Manavgat. The web page is illustrated with photographs, also included are historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.
Monday September 1, 1997 Day 25
While waiting for Murat and the car, I topped the water tanks. The refrigerator worked very well when the charger was connected to the shore AC and the thermostat set between 0° and +10° C. By 8:40 Murat had not shown up and I began to think that we had a repeat performance, so I set out to find him since he had told me that he starts work at the marina at 8:00. I did find him and he said that he was waiting for us! The car, a Turkish made Renault, was red and in good condition and parked above the East side of the harbor.
By 10:00 we were rolling out of the city. Antalya, which has over 1 million inhabitants, outside of the picturesque old city, is one of the ugliest modern cities with its roads full of traffic and very few road signs. We got lost. Alice asked for directions from a taxi driver. He was very helpful. He signed for me to park in front of his car, blocking the traffic, while cars were honking, he and Alice engaged in a long conversation in French with occasional references to a map. Eventually, fortified with instructions we drove off again and this time we did find the highway leading us out of the town.
The first place we wanted to visit was a cave where prehistoric artifacts and wall paintings have been found, the Karain Cave. After asking directions several times, we found it. A group of Belgians were sifting through recently excavated soil. The cave has been partially excavated and artifacts dating from the early Paleolithic to the Roman times have been discovered, including bones from hippopotamuses and mammoths. The cave is not very large and it is a very steep climb from the road. In the few chambers that are well lit, by artificial light, we could not see any wall paintings. Some of the discovered artifacts were shown in the tiny museum by the road while the rest were in the Antalya museum. Several other cave openings were visible in the nearby hills.
Near the cave there was a village with some very humble houses with looms. We got out of the car and visited some of these houses and watched the making of a nice rug.
Not far from the cave, and guided by the Blue Guide, we found an old hani (inn) in a very sad condition and now housing sheep. Such inns were part of the old Ottoman road network and were located a day’s camel ride from each other. It is build like a fortress and it has a large inner courtyard surroundied with rooms for the people and their goods, and open spaces for their camels.
We had a light lunch under the plane trees of an abandoned restaurant by a small lake with very clear water full of tiny frogs.
We then drove to Termesus. It is within a “Millipark” (national park) and you pass an entrance where you pay a fee, then drive for 9 km to a parking area. From there we climbed at least 2 more km to reach the most incredible archaeological site I have ever seen. It is perched on the mountain, a real αετοφωλιά (eagle’s nest). While the climb was steep and the day extremely hot, at this altitude it was cool. There are many and impressive public buildings, palestra, odeon, etc., but the most incredible is the theater. It is built over a steep cliff. Its is easy to imagine what an exhilarating experience it must had been to watch a theatrical performance in this setting.
The ancient people of Termesus were called the Solymi after the mountain Mt. Solymos the modern Güllük Dag. They were neither Greek nor Lycians and were very warlike. They must have lived by looting trade trains passing the narrow valleys while always retreating to their easily defensible mountain fortress. Alexander the Great tried to subdue them but even his undefeatable army eventually gave up. Banditry must have been extremely profitable judging by the splendid ruins left for us to admire today.
After more walking (about 1 km) we went past the necropolis with hundreds of scattered sarcophagi. We reached the top of the mountain and I spoke with the fire observer in the little watch tower. We climbed down via the northern necropolis and saw some tombs carved on the rocks. All together a tiring but unforgettable visit.
We then drove to the Antalya commercial harbor to investigate the marina which was then operated by Setur. After seeing the marina, its immaculately clean facilities, and talking with its manager, we decided to move the Thetis there tomorrow because we did not like the bad smell at the old harbor which was also twice as expensive.
We got back into town and drove through the narrow winding streets and almost by a miracle found the parking above the harbor. By that time we were extremely hungry. We washed up and then we walked to the edge of the old town and had a dinner of dönner kebab, Adana kebab, and lachmajun (a kind of thin pizza). While we were eating a very young boy carrying a scale came and repeatedly asked if Alice wanted to be weighed. He could not understand her refusal since the price was only 10,000 TL.
Tuesday September 2, 1997 Day 26
As we had decided to move the boat from the old harbor marina to the Setur marina, I had, with some regrets, to tell Murat that we did not need his car any longer. We then walked into the town and at the Maki Tours arranged for another car to be delivered to us at Setur by 4:30 PM. We then walked, past a moss covered Mosque, towards the museum (2 km). At first the walk was pleasant along the park facing the gulf but as the sun became stronger it became less and less pleasant until it became most uncomfortable.
The museum was very nice and large with many well illuminated rooms, and well-labeled exhibits. I wish more museums in Greece were up to this standard. The actual exhibits were fantastic. There were a lot of material from Phrygian tombs excavated near Elmali, including two 8-7 century BC silver and ivory statuettes of exquisite detail. There was also a large Hellenistic marble statue of a dancing girl (2nd century BC) made of two different kinds of marble: white for the flesh and a darker shade for the dress. We saw a mosaic of the goddess Thetis dipping her son Achilles in the river Styx to make him immortal. All the Turkish excavators were named on the labels but the names of the non-Turkish ones, even if their organization was funding the excavation, were conspicuously absent. This must be due to the chauvinism of a young nation. There was a room of late (19th and early 20th century) icons, but there was no mention of where they were found. Also, there was a very nice and interesting ethnological section showing Ottoman costumes, house interiors, and everyday items.
We took a taxi back to the old town and after mailing postcards and settling the marina bill we motored out of the harbor at 13:45 and slowly (swimming and eating lunch along the way) we got to the Setur marina [36° 50' N 30° 37' E] at 15:00 (5.25 nM). Before entering, as instructed, we hailed the marina on the VHF. An inflatable was waiting for us and showed us where to berth. It was a very narrow space, but the inflatable pushed on our bow like a tug while an attendant ashore was ready to receive our lines. The inflatable attendant jumped onboard with a line attached to the laid mooring and tied it. That is service! The marina, along with many other marinas, hotels, banks, food processing plants etc is owned by Mr.Koç one of the richest men in Turkey. After asking, we verified that this Mr. Koç is indeed the same Mr. Koç that Nikos and Corinna had met in Kastellorizo and who was so interested in her studies at Brown. His yacht which we had admired in Kastellorizo was docked right here.
The rented car was delivered to us promptly at 4:30 and by 5:00 we were on our way to Phaselis. We got there by 6:00 only one hour before closing time. We walked around the site. It is very nice with a wide ancient road, a theater which we did not see, an aqueduct, and three harbors. We shall come back.
Back to the boat. By 8:00 PM the marina was very quiet. Most of the boats here have been left for the winter and there were very few boats with people in them. We made spaghetti with tuna and capers and we ate it with a nice chilled white wine.
Wednesday September 3, 1997 Day 27
By 8:30 we were on the road heading towards Kemer again. We went past Phaselis and got off the highway to Yanartas, the ancient Chimera. After a long drive in a dirt road past a gorge and several hot-houses we came to a parking area with the inevitable youth asking for the 100,000 TL fee (they always give a receipt). Up we walked a very steep path for a considerable distance until we arrived at the chimera. Indeed fire was spewing out of the earth from several holes. A young Turkish woman had a tent with rugs and cushions and “cold” soda drinks, very overpriced. She was about 25 and quite pretty except for a pair of very large and mistreated feet. She got very interested on my γκλίτσα (walking stick) from Mt. Athos. After the drink, down the path we went to the car and drove back the same road to the highway.
After a short drive towards Finike we got off the highway again, this time heading for Olympos. The same procedure: narrow dirt road with many turns, past several dry streams, and hot-houses to a “parking lot.” There were many modest restaurants advertising gözleme (a kind of thick crepe with various toppings) and aryan (a drink made of yogurt). We believed that there was going to be long hike to Olympos through a gorge. So, I put on my hiking boots and took my γκλίτσα (walking stick) and made ready for the long hike. It was by then extremely hot. Before the long walk, we stopped under some ancient tombs and in the shade had a snack. We then hiked for 5 to 10 minutes and there we were at Olympos.
It was not as spectacular as we were expecting but nice. The beach was full of people. Here was the only place in Turkey that we saw topless bathing. It was very, very hot. The sea water was not too clean either. We had a short swim and walked back to the car.
We drove via back roads heading towards Finike. We drove for a long time until we joined the highway just a few kilometers before Finike. We then headed back towards Antalya. We stooped at high point to a restaurant with a good view and had a gözleme.
We then drove to Phaselis where we snorkeled at the North harbor to see the underwater harbor foundations. We then climbed to the lovely ancient theater which we had not seen the day before.
Again, by the time we reached the marina it was dark. Alice bought ready made frozen Adana kebab which she prepared with a tomato pilaf. We ate it together with cold beer. Not bad at all!
Thursday September 4, 1997 Day 28
Once again we hit the road early, by 8:00. We drove east through Antalya and the morning traffic, to Perge. The drive was terrible. While the roads are very good, the drivers are either extremely aggressive speeding as daemons or extremely timid going very slowly. There were large numbers of buses and heavy trucks that slow down to a crawl on the uphills and speed on the downhills.
Perge is a very large site of a Roman city. We walked while it was still cool up to the acropolis and then to the agora and the baths. Perge is beleived to have been founded by the the Homeric Seer Calchas as a stele at the agora testifies. The stadium is very impressive. Unfortunately the theater was closed to the public. The day, once again, was extemely hot.
By noon we drove to Manavgat and the near-by waterfalls, Seleli. At Seleli there is a restaurant with many terraces, shaded by plane trees, overlooking the falls. Their specialties are grilled trout and chicken on the spit. The food was indifferent, but the setting was splendid and cool. After eating, like all the other people, we took off our shoes and waded in the cold water.
We then drove back to Antalya and re-visited the museum.
We were back at the marina by 5:00 and called the car rental agency to come and pick up the car. Alice did some laundry and prepared a light supper. We became friendly with Nefise and Ekrem Ergin of the S/Y Akyar, a Turkish sail boat docked near us. They are a young couple with twin 13 year old boys bursting with energy. They and their friends, Mr and Mrs. Zeki Kormaz with their 12 and 15 year old girls, were spending the evening in their boat. They invited us over for a raki. We brought some ouzo and they put out a large spread of mezedes and raki. We never got back to eat the supper which Alice had prepared. Instead, we all advanced Greco-Turkish relations, rather noisily I am afraid, to the dismay of the reserved British live-aboards. Both gentlemen are lawyers in Antalya. Mrs. Kormaz - we did not catch her first name - teaches chemistry and Nefise is studying economics. Mr. Kormaz is a local party chief of the current ruling party and will be presiding tomorrow at the reception of the President and the Prime-minister who will be visiting Antalya. The Ergin couple love to dive and to sail. Last year they participated in a sailing rally (from Antalya to Northern Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, and the Red Sea) which is organized by the Setur marinas.