We wake up 11 hours later at 7:30. Breakfast is included in the price of the room, and it’s served out by the pool – goat cheese, boiled eggs, olives, honey, and bread.
start eating, and the eating seems to go on forever. We get up again and again to fill our plates
and glasses. We even drink multiple refills
of the watered-down Tang that Turkish hotesl serve under the label “orange
juice”. (As far as I can tell, Tang was
last served in the
Other guests come and go. We keep eating. The manager grows uneasy. It begins to look as though we’ll eat $25 worth of olives and bread. A waiter clears our place. We don’t take the hint. We just get new plates and fill them up again. And again. The manager can’t bear to watch any more. He retires into the hotel. At last we are done. Cool, clean, full of liquid and food. We lean back and plan the day.
we’ll be passing through some of
Of all the ruins we will see on the trip, Phaselis may be the most evocative. The town was built on a small peninsula that is broken by several small harbors, notably a tiny and deep circular inlet used by the Romans as a military harbor. The whole harbor is smaller than the floor of a modern basketball arena. The town, too, takes up an area that would be no more than a few square blocks in a modern city. It’s remarkable how the internal combustion engine has changed everyone’s sense of urban scale.
Phaselis was settled around 700
BC. By 500 BC, it was wealthy enough to
negotiate as an equal with the pharaohs of
The military harbor still has its sea walls – intact but now sunk below the water and tumbled about -- and it’s easy to see how a simple chain could have closed off the little entrance that was left when the Roman engineers were done. Other features of the town include a short but massive stone aqueduct from the town center, apparently built simply to make sure that water pressure would stay high for residents near the harbor.
We climb to the well-preserved and even more ancient Greek theater. From its seats you can see the high mountains that forced Alexander to winter here. We sit in the bleachers, where Alexander’s officers and men must have sat as he laid out the next year’s campaign. Then we stand where Alexander would have stood. You can look into the eyes of every member of the audience, speak to them in something close to normal tones.
Back in Tekirova, we pick up our packs and buy supplies -- a kerchief to wipe the sweat off my face while hiking, plus lunch for two more days. We eat the first day’s lunch as we walk south along the Tekirova strip -- succulent peaches and heavily flavored grapes. Turkish fruit is a joy -- still grown for the human palate rather than the convenience of mechanical harvesters. Gordon eats his oranges skin and all, observing that he could never eat an American orange the same way.
midday. Shade is sparse. The guy who sold me this kerchief two
kilometers back wouldn’t recognize it if I brought it back. In fact, I doubt he’d touch it. Soon the
Tekirova strip ends, and a signpost tells us that the
With the shadows at their smallest, the tractor path we are following is in full sun, and it is hard to haul the packs up even the mild slopes of this rolling countryside for more than half an hour at a time. We take a long break, and by 2:30 the shadows have begun to creep across the track. We drag ourselves from shadow to shadow.
the country makes it all worthwhile. We
are marching along a coast defined by coves and headlands. We climb the headlands to the breeze and a
view of the deep blue
The first cove we encounter after leaving the blacktop has no cars, but it is full of tourist boats that have moored here to give a sense of isolation without actually getting too far from the “No Fear” outlet. The boats are rigged to look like two-masted sailing ships, but they never use the sails as far as we can tell. Instead they cruise along with a powerful inboard engine. From the headland, they make a pretty sight, romantic vessels in a picture-perfect setting. A few swimmers dive from the top decks. Rock music echoes off the far headland as we march over the next rise.
Here, the scene is different. The cove is nearly deserted. One small boat is anchored near two rocks that rise straight from the sea. A bright white beach curves from headland to headland. A winding pool lies behind it at one spot, like an old river too tired to reach the sea. The path drops straight to the valley floor, and we walk toward the beach, dying for a swim.
The water is as warm as blood here by the shore. It cools a bit as we wade to our chests and float on our backs, totally limp. Refreshed, we explore. The winding pool we saw from the headland is indeed a river that lacks the strength to break through the last thirty meters of beach. Instead, the water must be draining slowly through the sand. But it’s fresh and cool enough to wash the salt off our clothes and ourselves.
We lie in the sand for a time. But we’ve got one more headland to climb. Humping over the rise as the heat eases, we reach the third inlet and now are utterly alone. A deserted cabin sits at one end of the beach, Turkish flag flying proudly in the wind. The cabin looks as though the inhabitants left yesterday. Clothes hang on pegs. Plastic chairs sit around a table. But the newspapers littering the ground are from May.
Exploring further, we find another failed river just back of the beach. It is deeper than the last, but swampier as well. A small boat is tied up on the bank, and we pole out to the center of the deep, river-shaped pond. A turtle swims below the boat, startlingly visible in the clear water. We fill our bottles. The water will have to be boiled to be safe, but it’s fresh and there’s plenty of it.
Sleeping under the sky, the night air is perfect. There seems to be no barrier between our bare skin and the soft air. The stars and half-moon shine down brightly. Every few minutes, we catch a distant rhythm -- music from boats moored at offshore islands.