Kemer, nearly ready to go...
Vasco da Gama
Mon 19 Apr 2010 03:29
We arrived back in Kemer Marina on Easter weekend and found a flurry of Easter activity. The keen cooks had been in the kitchen of the Navigator Bar and Restaurant and baked hot cross buns. On Easter Sunday there was a celebration brunch, followed by a parade of Easter bonnets, a religious service on one of the pontoons, and the traditional Sunday hike. The most outstanding bonnet was made by a Swiss yachtie and eccentric called Hari. His headdress was created on a large board, on which there was a garden, containing two live baby rabbits and two chicks. Last year his bonnet had included a duckling he bought in the market. It’s now a large duck and lives on his boat, and rides around in a basket in front of his bike. It is easy to forget we are in a Muslim country, apart from the chanting muezzin five times a day. But there is no sign of religious fervour in the town and most women wear western dress. In the country areas they wear baggy flowery print trousers and headscarves and a black waistcoat. Ian remarked that none of the printed materials match or are colour coordinated which I suppose is part of their charm.
Tourism has brought some coastal development but most of this coast has been empty for nearly two thousand years. Nearby are two ports created by the indigenous Lycian people around 700 B.C., but also colonised by Greeks and Romans. Phaselis has a north and south bay, behind ancient breakwaters and we wandered through the excavated streets between shops, houses and baths and sat in a magnificent small theatre. There is a triumphal arch built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It’s a magical place to visit, hidden in a forest of pines. Ancient Olympus was a more important port, also originally Lycian, but with Greek, Roman and Byzantine ruins. The town was built on either side of an estuary, and the town walls still line the river. Half ruined houses, statues and mosaics become apparent as you wander through the jungly undergrowth of oleanders, bay trees, pines and wild figs. Ancient Olympus is at the end of a long trail down a mountainside and became famous for tree houses built for visiting hippies in the 1960’s, some of which still survive.
It was a very hot day when we visited Olympus but we could not miss the Chimaera, also knows as Burning Rock. It is a cluster of flames which burn constantly through crevices on the rocky slopes of Olympus mountain. The trail to reach it is fairly steep for one and a half miles, then the flames appear, between 20 and 30 fires randomly appearing. The Chimaera is mentioned in Homer, and was a source of awe for ancient people. The modern explanation is that it is caused by a mixture of underground gases, including methane, which spontaneously ignite when the gas contacts the air. In any event, it is still an awesome sight and worth an uphill hike on a hot day!
We expect to leave here in two days. It has been a long winter stopover and it will be good to back en route again.