Day 23: Cirali: Olympos
My guide book said that the ruins of Olympos were only 3 kilometers from town, I was willing to walk it. Just to be sure, I asked the manager of the bungalow community where I’m staying to explain how to get to there.
He repeated the 3 kilometer distance.
Perfect! I started my walk at 4:30, when the temperature had dropped to 95 degrees. I walked into town and stopped at a cafe for a mini orange soda in a glass bottle. Cirali is a small town without any high rise buildings or major industry. Turtles nest on the beaches at night, so this area is protected. Only small businesses can be a part of this community. A small, friendly dusty beach-town was just what I was looking for. I love it here.
I sipped my soda, so delicious, and stared out at the Mediterean Sea, procrastinating my mission. After a while I continued my walk but was distracted by a cafe in the shade right on the beach. I stopped for a tea and admired the view for a long time.
So in truth I don’t know how long it took me to walk to Olympos and it doesn’t really matter because I love to walk. But I noticed that after I walked at least three kilometers, I passed a sign that said I only had 3 more kilometers to go.
Yes. I’ve figured out that when we make a distance estimate, it’s from the city center. IN Turkey when they give a distance estimate, it’s from the far edge of town. My bus ride from Antalya to Cirali was stated to be a 1 ½ hour ride, but the clock didn’t start until we’d already spent an hour picking people up around the city. By the time we reached the very edge of the city to the time we arrived, it was an hour and a half.
I arrived at Olympos around 7:00 PM, which was later than I thought I’d get there, but the advantage was that the site closes at that exact time; I got in for free. I thought I’d poke around for a few minutes, be sure I knew my way, then return tomorrow.
But when I got inside, there was so much to see. A murky green pond reflecting an ancient structure. Old crumbling buildings that I wanted to investigate. Right. Now. There were little bridges to walk over and hills to climb for better vistas.
I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the free entrance. Hundreds of people walked along the path. Many of them were staying in the town of Olympos on the far side of the archeological site. I walked to the town and wanted to try the melon ice-cream that was from this area.
And though I pointed to a sign in front of the dessert shop that said “Melon Ice-Cream” in two languages, they couldn’t figure out what I was talking about. Finally they picked a flavor for me, lemon, which was a good second choice.
I walked back along the beach that all information written about the area claimed was a sandy beach. It is a sandy beach, if you dig under the layer of smooth, round rocks that lay on top, you’ll find sand. And if you go to the upper beach, away from the water, you’ll find sand.
If you walk along the rocky water’s edge without shoes, you will move at a pace so slow the other beachgoers will laugh at you. (Ok. I’m raising my hand on this one.) Loving to walk on a sandy beach with bare feet and walking on a rocky beach with bare feet are not the same thing.
I walked part of the way home along the rockiest part of the beach because I was wearing my sandals. It was hard work, which was good for me, I’m always looking for a good workout when I’m traveling. But I became so out of breath and so overheated that I thought it would be best to get back to the road for my walk home.
There was a produce stand and grapes seemed like a good idea. I stepped inside and stood in front of the fan, cooling off. The woman running the place laughed at me and might have said something like “It’s cooler in the shade, remember that!”
The owners of the family-run restaurants along the dirt road that runs through town hose it down several times a day to keep the dust to a minimum. Many people walk along the road that separates the many hotels and bungalow colonies from the beach.
I passed a sign that said my exact bungalow colony was one kilometer away. I’ve learned a lot in my twenty three days in country, and decided to stop in a restaurant for my daily lamb shish and then tackle the forty minute walk back to my home for the night.