Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hiking to the Temple of Athena and on to Cleopatra’s Bath

Bahadir serving fresh fruit

Today we had a nice leisurely breakfast consisting of fresh eggs, toast, cheese, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, yogurt, cereal, filtered coffee and tea.  After a refreshing swim we set off for Aglimani bay where we disembarked the gulet and headed to shore to start our hike to the Temple of Athena in Lydae.  A strong scent of sage drifted across from the shore coming from piles of freshly harvested sage drying in the sun that had been picked by local semi-nomads.  Our hike took us up a wide rocky trail that followed the contour of our turquoise anchorage and soon we had magnificent views down onto our elegant gulet floating calmly in the azure waters.  

From this vantage point you understand how crystal clear the waters are because you can see all the way down the anchor chain to the sea bed almost 50 feet below.  Amazing!  Our group were fast hikers and we soon reached the summit in record time having passed under shady pine trees along most of the trail.  The payoff at the top after 45 minutes of hiking was a magnificent ancient site which was dedicated to the Goddess Athena.  We had the entire ancient site to ourselves and Jale told us the history of the temple as we sat under a huge Carob tree in the shade.  We wandered around the well preserved structures noting the fine precision with which the large stone blocks were fitted.  The mix of architectural styles was also impressive; Greek lentles, Roman arches, Byzantine walls gave evidence to the successive civilizations that loved in this ancient land.  

Clavey, looking at Ceren's book...
Our host Mutlu is serving sage tea to Nicholas...
The highlight of our hike was a visit to a semi-nomadic family which Jale and Perry had befriended over the years.  We sat and enjoyed sage tea with them in a shady covered area in the middle of their garden.  It was fun to learn about their life in the mountains and the kids even got to ride their donkey around the garden.  We bought some nice souvenirs from them including wild mountain honey, hand carved cooking spoons, and beautiful scarves with hand stitched sea shells on the edges. 

Perry took some of the younger kids back to the gulet and Jale led the more adventurous on a longer hike which followed a single track trail through the pine forests to a deep canyon.  The group enjoyed great views at the canyon rim and then descended a steep rocky trail to the valley floor where they crosses a dry river bed and then hiked up the other side where a cool breeze greeted them at the summit.  Then the descended down a forest path to the ruins of Cleopatra’s bath where the gulet came to meet them.  Everyone swam and kayaked around and through these submersed ruins on the shoreline.  Local legend holds that Marc Anthony built this Roman bath for his great love, Cleopatra.  It is easy to imagine how incredible the baths must have been as they are situated on a gorgeous turquoise bay fringed with pine trees and rock outcrops.  After a great lunch on the gulet we found another perfect anchorage to swim in and spend the night.