(written by Dave)
Today was all about seeing Olympos, a famous city of Greek/Roman times. The city was probably founded around 200 BC at the end of the Greek era. It was taken over by pirates in 138 B.C. and then again by the Romans in 78 B.C. Christianity made an early appearance here in around 200 A.D. Arabs took over in the 7th century and eventually it was conquered successively by the Venetian, Genoan and Rhodesian knights during the crusades. Last by not least, the city was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 15th century through the late 1800’s. I was exhausted just reading about all the times that Olympos was conquered. I’d like to be the family who owned the long-term contract for defensive wall bricks, rocks and building supplies. Though after all of those defeats, perhaps someone in city council should have looked at the contract and picked a new supplier.
For the budding Greek historians reading this post, you may be asking yourself “wasn’t Olympus in Greece?” It turns out that had you thought this, you would have been correct, sort of. Today we visited the city of Olympos. The really famous city is actually called Olympia and indeed, it is in western Greece. There seems to be some competition to claim the “real” Olympic story as well. Olympia has no chimera fires so today they light the Olympic flame there using the sun and a parabolic mirror. I’m pretty sure that Olympia would refute Olympos’s claim about the chimera and the flame that we reported yesterday. If all this is confusing, google Olympos – sure enough, google autocorrect thinks you meant Olympus. You have to work pretty hard to actually find Turkey’s Olympos.
Today Turkey’s Olympos is virtually overrun by trees and vines. A river runs through the middle of the site. The east side of the river has a real jungle feel with vines attacking many structures. The west side must get more sun as it is drier and has more pine trees. There has been very little in terms of restoration to the site. There is some going on now and there was a stint from 2000 to 2005 but given the state of things, it’s clear that the jungle/forest is winning the current efforts to take back the city, perhaps this will be the last invader.
There are many crypts or sarcophagus scattered around the site. They tend to survive better than the temples, it would seem. All of them have some sort of hole or breach as people buried in these tended to be wealthier and had attractive valuables buried with them, too tempting to later generations.
The site was littered with wild flowers. They add a peaceful feeling and I took way to many pictures of them again. The poppies are my favorites. We have good wi-fi today so I’ll post a few extra photos. I’m pretty sure that these will not be the last photos of poppies that I take but now at least maybe I won’t have to stop at every poppy field when we are riding in the coming days.
We’ve enjoyed our little break here in Cirali. The town has a real beach vibe and everyone seems to be getting ready for the season. Talking to innkeepers here in Turkey, they are all pretty optimistic for the coming season. I had fears for them because of the EU economic situation but they are seeing strong advanced bookings. The theory is that people still want to get away and even in a recession, some will travel. Greece is kind off as an option because of all of their turmoil and the Arab Spring has made much of the Middle East and Africa a no-go zone. So where to travel but Turkey – I say good luck to them. They are really great people and wonderful hosts.
Our stay here at the Oleander Pension had been good so far. It is very quiet – not many guests so it was very quiet last night. There is no nearby mosque so we were not wakened by the call to prayers for the first time in a long time. I thought we would hear the rooster next door for sure but he must have slept in as well. We are surrounded by blossoming orange trees so there is a great scent in the air – but also some pretty massive bees floating around! And there is also a lovely pension dog running around – or loping around really, as Whiskey doesn’t seem to move to fast (we think he might be on drugs). He is a German Sheppard (like Tex – Ross and Jeanette), very friendly dog, somewhat unusual for Turkey! I think we will try the pension restaurant tonight – it gets rated number 1 in TripAdvisor for this area so we should probably give it a try before we leave.
Tomorrow we head back up the hill and on to Antalya – a city of 1 million folks. We’ll take a few days here to plan out the next 2-3 weeks. Nancy is searching the net now for the best place to stay – there are hundreds of hotels and pensions in the city so I am sure we will find something but we don’t really want to be wandering about in a big city trying to find a place to stay after an 80k ride so it is good to have a target or two.
The weather is still a bit unsettled but hopefully the rain will hold off so we will have a decent ride tomorrow.