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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cirali and Demre

Turquoise Coast Treasures


Don't Stare and Drive
Today was a very long drive time-wise along the Turquoise Coast.  Çıralı was a pleasurable one night stand.  The main highlights of the day were (1) the best view of emerald waters on the Turquoise Coast at Demre and (2) the pension in Çıralı where we felt like we were guests of a family. 
 

Turquoise Coast – Demre


Our Turquoise Treasure
Large stretches of the main D400 highway are inland. When we finally reached the coast not only did we find our favourite “turquoise view” in all of Turkey but there were several viewpoints built along the highway where you can actually pull over.  The best scenic spot was 50.8 km east of Kaş just before Demre with probably the most turquoise water lapping long beaches and no civilization. 
 
Demre's Turquoise Treasure
Demre also has a beautiful long turquoise-tinged beach all along the town.  Along cliffs can be found Lycian Tombs from the ancient Lycian town, Myra.   Demre is also the city where a famous bishop St. Nicolas became Santa Claus.  The church of St. Nicolas is a "pilgrimage site" for many of the Russian Orthodox faith.

Turquoise Coast – Olympos 


About 78 km (1.5 hours) later, we went off the main highway down to the coast at Olympos.  It felt like a backpacker’s oasis with many young people hiking into the Lycian ruins.  It is also the end of the 540 km Lycian Trail, which starts at Ölüdeniz.  It is hard to believe that back in the first century BC, Olympos was one of the main cities of the Lycian Assembly, the federation that is the foundation of many of  today's democracies  
 
Road to Olympos
Now it feels like a tiny one-street Nepali village with unpaved roads and many pensions all along the road to sleep/eat.  The road to the national park even required driving across a shallow river – there is a photo for that. 

Çıralı – Fruits, Friends & Fire


Çıralı Beach
After a short drive from Olympos, Çıralı was also a strange place.  Seven km off the D400 highway, it was less a town and more a farmland with wall to wall signs advertising for tourists.  Again the narrow, rough streets reminded us of Costa Rica with too many cars.  There was a political rally going on with loudspeakers blasting slogans and music from the tops of a caravan of cars and buses.  Çıralı was also a very spread out village and our destination was nearly at the end of the road. 

Snowy Contrast to Green Hills
Located two hours before (west) of Antalya, it is, I believe, the last place to stop on the Turquoise Coast before getting to the big city. One reason to come here was the long unspoilt beach between low cliffs at one end and a tree clad mountain on the other side plus behind the beach a snowy peak emerges above some impressive large trees.  The beach was not as special as various travel forums and travel articles make out.  Yes there is sand but then you have to cross a band of gravel to get to the sea.  The area is protected because of the loggerhead sea turtles so there are no resorts or other major developments. 
 
Our Chimaera Fireplace
The other reason to come here was to see the eternal flame at Chimaera. This is natural gas (mainly methane) seeping through the cracks that had the ancients in awe, especially at night when it contrasts with the dark surroundings.  The ancients thought it was a lion-headed monster, Chimaera, which sprouted fire.
 
Our Rustic Wood Cabin
But what was most special was staying with a family on their orchard farm.    Our cabin on the right was ultra clean and very rustic with an all wood interior.  Kiyi Pansiyon was very simple but nice.  The hosts were so friendly and welcoming.  The very first thing they did was to serve apple tea and a bowl of fruit.  We sat on our front porch amongst all kinds of fruit trees.  The fresh oranges were the best we have ever eaten. 
 
Suleyman
The only person who spoke English well was the brother-in-law, Suleyman.  His wife was living in Demre so their child could go to school.   Since it was cold they made a fire in a wood stove.  Then the power went out so this became very romantic lighting, our personal Chimaera fire dragon (see photo above).  Then they brought a LED lantern and spoiled the atmosphere - just kidding.
 

Top Chef
The hosts were eager to please though the wife spoke no English – but what a smile.  The pension included supper as well as breakfast. This was a true home-cooked meal with sea bass and lots of fresh vegetables from their farm.  It was really good.  We ate in a huge dining "tent" next to their house.  
 
My sister "Sevinç" asked how we liked having coffee with the chickens as she remembered her time at the café at the Archaeological Museum in Antalya.  Well, we had breakfast with the chickens in Çıralı!!!  We are used to seeing animals roaming the streets in Asia.  On our Round The World trip, we ate at an Indian restaurant with author Rick Steves.  He said you know you've been in India too long when a cow walks into the restaurant and you don't even react.