Left Our Thinking Caps At Home

Left Our Thinking Caps At Home

It’s been a while since I’ve slept through the night and not gotten woken up by something before I was ready to wake up. While staying in the city and town centers, we’d invariably get woken up by the muezzin who announces the morning prayers at 5-6AM. We thought our problems would come to an end when we’d stay in smaller towns. No such luck. Roosters apparently crow at night, and not just once or twice. Dogs and cats also like to put in a word or two in the middle of the night. This has given us new appreciation for our own home, when all is still except for those rare nights when the coyotes howl and the owls hoot.

Well last night was the first in a long time when I was able to sleep through the night, and wake up on my own terms this morning. With a good night’s sleep, I had no excuse not to exercise. Joe and I hit the park for some body weight exercises to try to get back some of the muscle mass we’ve lost since coming to Turkey.

With that out of the way, we were ready to start the day exploring. On today’s agenda: Tlos ruins and Saklikent National Park. Gleaning from the guidebook, I really didn’t get a good picture as to what to expect at these 2 sites. However, we’re always down for ruins and parks.

Tlos

Tlos started off as an ancient Lycian city, but eventually was occupied by the Persian, Byzantine, and Ottoman. Each empire built upon the city, so you get to see Lycian tombs mixed in with Roman theater and Ottoman castle in one place.

Lycian tombs and sarcophagi, with the Ottoman castle up top
Roman sarcophagi are topped by triangular roofs
A view of the 6000 person capacity Roman theater (top left), and the Roman bath (middle right)

We thought we had finished our tour of the ruins as we were about to exit the site, but a stone sculptor by the name of Ibrahim approached us and wanted to show us the Medusa on the sarcophagus lid outside the ruins.

Side note, a lot of vendors throughout Turkey will chat you up, give you some historical information relevant to what you’re looking at, and show you around, hoping that you’d visit their shop (usually a carpet shop) and eventually buy something from them. So far we’ve managed not to fall in that trap, but I don’t know what happened to us today when we allowed him to lead the way. Maybe because we felt the visit fell a little bit short, and wanted to see more. Or that people outside the major cities are more trustworthy. Fortunately for us, meeting Ibrahim proved to be worthwhile.

Ibrahim, originally from the Anatolian region and descends from the Hittite, took us down a narrow foot path outside the ruins entrance. At one point I asked Joe (in Mandarin) if we were going to be murdered because we seemed to be heading down towards a stream. But my worries were short lived when we saw more Lycian tombs.

Tombs of the royal family
A carving of Bellerophon riding Pegasus
Lycian inscriptions
vs. Greek inscriptions above the tomb doors. Lycian language was later replaced by the Greek language during the Hellenization of Anatolia.
A Lycian tomb door
Inside view of tombs with room to accommodate more than one deceased as well as offerings

We were quite satisfied with the tour (and I was relieved we were still alive) so we followed him to his shop, and were pleasantly surprised by how nice the stone carvings were that we ended up buying a small one from him.

Bellerophon on Pegasus killing the chimera
Ibrahim’s wife carving the slate images.

When Joe gave him the money, Ibrahim tossed it on the ground explaining that we were his first customer of the day, and by doing so brings good luck (more sales) for the rest of the day. He also had his youngest daughter give me a free woven evil eye bracelet. Now I feel bad for thinking he was going to murder us.

Saklıkent Milli Parkı

I never pass up a National Park. If it’s in the area, I’d check it out, because I’m always game for a nice hike. I hadn’t researched much about this park, as I assumed that it would be a nice little stroll in a tree covered path. I did read that there was water crossing, but thought it was just a few streams we needed to cross along the hike. So I made sure we wore shorts and hiking boots.

When we were at the parking lot, Joe asked “what are they selling?” I guessed ID badges, but they were too big.
We realized that those plastic lanyards are for your phones so you don’t get them wet when you walk in the water.
This is no hike in the park. This is hiking through a canyon with a river running through it!
If you’ve ever hiked the Narrows in Zions National Park in Utah, then you’ll know exactly what this hike is about.
The water was cold!
The canyon starts off wide
But gradually narrows

We got up to 1000 meters into the canyon and that was the point where the park had warn people to turn around if they didn’t have enough equipment or canyoneering experience, which we have neither. However, there was a “guide” there waiting to guide us past that point. He told us that we were not allowed to go past that point unless accompanied by a guide. Again, we must not have put on our thinking caps today, because we took him up on the offer.

The view past the 1000 meter point wasn’t more spectacular than what we had already seen, but at least we got a photo of the two of us at the small waterfall.

The water was deeper past the 1000 meter point. It went up past my upper thigh at one point, and the guide helped us maneuver through a few tricky sections. We opted not to go past the small waterfall, which is 200-400 meters past the 1000 meter mark.

The unofficial guide

When we got back to the 1000 meter point, Joe wanted to give him 20TL as a tip, but he wanted 100TL. They ended up settling with 50TL. We knew he wasn’t an official guide because he and his buddy took off shortly after we paid him.

The view heading back
Taking a water and potato chip break before leaving the park.
A different experience sitting on a bench bolted in the stream bed.

We stopped off at a local gözleme stand along the roadside for a quick bite.

Lady making our gözleme. Joe noticed the lady wiping the wooden spatula with an old pair of sweatpants – so we had a dash of old sweatpants with our pancakes today.

We had a rather unexpected day, and had a really fun time. At the same time, Joe and I promised each other that we not be so gullible for the rest of the trip. Need to put those thinking caps back on.

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