In Search Of A Hidden Gem
Waking up one morning after a long travel day, Sue and I really wanted to find a fun hiking opportunity. It looked to be another wonderfully hot and sunny day unfolding before us and so we set out to unearth a quiet yet rigourous hike to explore; following which we thought we would go to another of Turkey's amazing beaches.
Over breakfast, we spoke with our hosts and soon realized that a hike to an ancient and long since abandoned (yes, more ruins) monastery would be the thing to do. Once again, armed with Tillys and Tevas, we set out on our way. Hoping to have a "sabour"hike, we walked slowly along the narrow paved road towards the trail head. We stopped at every opportunity to smile at everyone we met and to say gunaydin (good morning). As we have found throughout all of Turkey, virtually everyone returned the greeting with the warmest of smiles and a wave. Starting to feel now just like some of the locals, Tillys and Teva's notwithstanding, we confidently strode on.
We came across a lady who had just finished setting up her road side stand and the wares looking so interesting. We asked if we could take her picture along with a picture of her beautifully set up stand and she smiled and nodded. We tried to explain that we really liked what she was presenting..hoping that she understood...we took our picture, exchanged the warmest of smiles and moved on.
Stepping up the pace now, we rounded a corner and had to come to a full stop as a sheperd along with a huge flock of sheep completely blocked the road. We stood on one side of the road as the sheep hurried towards us nimbly directed by the whistling and when necessary, stone throwing shepherd. Sensing our unease he chased the sheep to the other side of the road, bid us a warm gunaydin and moved his flock on.
Soon, we found the trail head and as the day started to warm considerably, we started our ascent. We watched closely for trail markers as other tourists had told us that the monastery was quite hard to find. The trail got steeper and steeper and the day got warmer and warmer. We were sweating profusely but felt confident that those evening strolls along kits beach would provide ample prep for anything that Turkey could offer us. Geez though, it was getting warm. Sue seemed to have a lot of strength and I must admit to struggling a bit in the heat. Still, we were very excited about discovering the monastery and the hike up through the pine forest was simply gorgeous.
Finally, we came to decision point, a fork in the path. The trail seemed to head to the left but logic suggested that we should take the right fork. We decided to follow the trail head and after hiking another 200 metres or so came across a small ruined building that we assumed had to be the old monastery. Feeling a fairly significant level of " ruins let down", we moved towards the cliff edge to enjoy the wonderful view down to the ocean. We had had a wonderful hike, the view from up here was staggeringly beautiful...life was good.
Then I moved even closer to the cliff edge and nervously peered over. Looking first left, then ahead, and finally through some trees to my right, way down below us, I saw what I thought was a wall. Our eyes by now were getting quite accustomed to seeing ruins whether it be walls, churches houses etc. I knew immediately that I had spotted something! Now quite excited, I called Sue over and after changing positions to better our vantage point ...there it was! The ancient monastery unfolded before us.
Feeling now that Christopher Columbus has nothing on me, we quickly retraced our steps back to the fork in the road. Then I spotted a tiny trail head that Sue suspected could only lead to the beach several hundred feet below. Trusting now my well honed explorers instincts, I took a moment to get mentally in touch with my Lewis and Clark forefathers. Sue decided to let me go ahead so I started down the steep trail that reminded me of trying to go down the grouse grind on my butt. After 200 or so metres, I hollered up to Sue for her to join me. When she arrived at the monastery, we both went silent for about 20 minutes. It seemed to be the most gentle of retreats with a closeness to nature's beautfy that is difficult to describe. Suffice to say that we were once again humbled by Turkey's amazing history and it's wonderful beauty.
After 30 minutes or so, we reluctantly started our way back up first to the fork, then down the the long hike back to the road. Feeling quite drained, we stopped at a road side stand and watched as a man squeezed several large oranges into juice glasses for us. The juice was wonderful and with re-newed energy, we returned to our hotel where I immediately jumped into the pool.
Another amazing Turkish Experience.