We left Methoni and rode through spectacular scenery in rapidly worsening weather. We managed to take shelter in a village during the first downpour and took the opportunity to eat a spot of lunch. We managed to take shelter in a garage cafe during the second downpour and had a coffee whilst waiting for the worst to pass. The final downpour occurred just as we got to Dimitisana. We parked the bike under a tree and took refuge under an overhanging roof. About half an hour later, a charming gentleman (Jordan) came out of his hotel and asked if we needed somewhere to stay. We had parked the bike right outside! As you can see above (in better weather).
Cold and dripping wet we inspected the gorgeous rooms of a genuine boutique hotel. We really could not turn it down after leaving puddles on the floor and water soaking into rugs, apart from which the rain was still torrential and being out in it was not high on our agenda. We decided to stay two nights and, after a hot shower and dry clothes, enjoyed a beer in the bar which has the most amazing view. With the weather clearing we strolled into town past the Roman bridge and found plenty of choices for dinner. We ate well in Dimitsana.
Next morning we had a huge homemade breakfast, including fried nettle leaves and morel mushrooms that Jordan had foraged from the forest. Then we set off on a walk. The trail was reasonably well marked and our first stop was a surprisingly interesting outdoor water power museum. The whole area was famous for water powered industry right up to the middle of last century. There was a fulling tub that resembles a huge top loading washing machine, a flour mill, gunpowder mill, raki still and a tannery. All with very informative videos.
This is the fulling tub:
We walked on down the trail but turned around after a few hours and came back by road. It was all down on the way out to the bottom of the gorge, and all up on the way back! We should have taken more water with us, we didn’t, but there was an abundance of fast flowing streams on the way down.
The walking was quite hard so we didn’t get too many views of the scenery. There were frequent stops to try and capture photographs of butterflies! We do want to go back to Dimitsana and do a bit more exploring – there is quite a lot to see in that part of Arcadia but, this year, we didn’t really have time.
Next day we headed back to Nafplio for a relaxing evening before catching the ferry to Chios then on to home via Çeşme.
We returned to Akyaka for our third visit. It seems to be becoming an annual event. The picture above, by the way is not Akyaka but Akbük (there are at least two places called Akbük but this one is between Akyaka and Oren).
Akyaka is one of Turkey’s official slow cities. It’s a place we go to relax so we can’t report any frenetic activity. We ate a great deal of kalamari and other seafood, all of which was fantastic. Akyaka really is a good place for seafood. Oh, and hand made organic goat milk ice cream.
We took the bike for a ride along the coast. We went down into Akbük pictured. At ground level there is a narrow, stony beach packed with chaise longues and parasols, so close together that everyone could hold hands. Not really as attractive as it looks from a distance, though there were plenty of cafes and restaurants that looked pleasant enough. We rode as far as Oren which we liked. It’s a ‘real’ place (obviously has year round activity) and we ate gözleme and more kalamari.
Next day we attempted a circular walk that should have been about 12 Km. Our intended route was interrupted at the last moment by an unfordable inlet so we had to turn around and go back the way we came. This made it a much longer walk but very worthwhile as we were able to sit in a ploughed field and watch a colony of bee eaters.
The Sunday before we went to the UK for a week, we went walking again with Zirve dağcılık. This time we went to Eski Foça which is a couple of hours drive from Selçuk. It was a mixed group and not everyone did the walking, though the walking was not particularly long or difficult. It was, primarily, a social and archaeological trip.
We started out by walking up to and almost completely ruined acropolis then on to the windmills which dominate the town’s skyline. Quite steep going and more difficult on the way down. The area has been in continuous occupation since the time of the Hittites and most of the monumental stones have been reused several times. This makes for a fascinating site, but one that is difficult to make sense of.
At the bottom of the hill are the scant remains of what must once have been an impressive theater. There are pot shards lying all around – though it can be hard to tell which are ancient and which were dropped by picnicers last week. Most of the chorus area was occupied by sheep.
After all this vigorous exercise it was time for lunch. Lunch was fish, eaten on the harbour which is well supplied with fish restaurants. We ate with quite a large group. The balık ekmek was a bit greasy but the calamaris (and the views) were excellent!
After lunch we were taken on a tour of the recent dig (there is an Athena Temple, or the remains thereof, near to the school) and the citadel by one of the working archaeologists. He was very interesting but rather softly spoken. There is not much left of the Athena Temple or the agora which is nearby. Most of the stone was taken by later occupants for other projects. Bits of it can be seen in the walls of the citadel. The walk around the citadel is enchanting. It has been restored in such a way that the various ‘layers’ of building are easy to identify. Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. It is also monumentally huge. We didn’t get a good photograph of the citadel walls from outside. The picture below is of what remains of the temple (and the agora). You can see bits of the citadel wall from the inside.
After the citadel tour we went for a brisk walk around the English Peninsula before joining up with the rest of the group for some excellent ice cream to sustain us on the long ride home.
A couple of years ago we wrote about our trip to Boz Dağ with Zirve Club. On that occasion we hoped to find snow but failed. This time we found rather a lot of snow. We think we arrived in the village later than anticipated partly because we stopped off for breakfast before we even got to Tire and partly because the road was snowy and slippery. After a brief stop in the village we headed up the mountain. Knee deep in snow much of the way. One group stopped just below the tree line. We went up quite a bit further and a third group went right to one of the lower peaks.
Going up was easier than coming down. Hilary needed a lot of help and still fell over (snow makes for a soft landing). There was then a longish stop to appreciate the snowman, fail to light a fire and to wait for the final group to rejoin us.
There was another break in the village for lunch (and warming up by the tea room soba) before we headed back for the bus. We were supposed to go to Gölçük but that part of the trip was cancelled, due to a combination of the late hour and the poor road conditions (not to mention the traffic jam) and we headed down to Birgi where we had a wander for half an hour before heading home.
We have seen a travel site that insists that Turkey always has ‘bikini weather’. Beautiful this was, but…. not bikini weather.
On Sunday we went walking with Zirve Mountaineering and Extreme Sports Club again. This time numbers were more to our taste – 26 of us all together, including a very knowledgeable guide. We were happy to be able to understand nearly everything he told us about the site. He did speak good English, but the information was given to the group in Turkish. It was an early start and a two hour drive to the village of Sart where we stopped for breakfast. Parts of the ancient site are in that village. We wandered around the gymnasium and synagogue area. The synagogue was particularly impressive – huge, built in Roman times, it has some amazing mosaics, on the floor and mounted on some of the remaining walls.
The gymnasium has been quite heavily restored but one of the things we found most fascinating about it is the sculpted heads mounted on the capitals of the columns at the front of the building. We have not seen anything like that before and we did manage to get a picture of one of them.
Sardis was an important city for more than 1,500 years. It was, at various points, Lydian, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine.
Our minibus drove us up to the Artemesion. Much better preserved than the more famous temple near Ephesus (the one we can walk to, the one that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the one that is almost completely tumbled down but a great place for wildlife). The temple has seen very little modern restoration, although there is a church at one end (built when Christianity became the official religion in the area). The columns are of various dates (and some were ‘restored’ in Roman times) but they are properly tapered to give a good perspective.
Following our visit to the Temple we climbed up to the acropolis. All that remains of the acropolis is Byzantine and most of that has fallen down the hillside, not least because the entire hill seems to be made of sand and sandstone. We stopped for a tea break in a sheltered part of the acropolis walls. Although the weather was overcast, the worst of the rain held off till late afternoon and we got some amazing views.
On the way back we stopped off first at the Kazak Centre where we ate Sutlaç, then on to Karabel where there is a wonderful Hittite relief cut into the rock. There were more, unfortunately destroyed when the road was widened.
This was our first walk with Zirve this year. They have been on two outings but we were in Lesvos for the first one and Bodrum for the second.
This walk started in Guzelcamli, up, over part of a hill then down to the coastline. Along the shore to Aydinkoy (which is the second beach and one much favoured by wild boar). The weather was absolutely perfect for walking. I think the high was around 26 degrees, the sky was blue and the sun shone upon us.
We started with a minute’s silence for those affected by the bombs in Ankara last weekend. We then walked a marked trail – it was mostly very easy going with a few steep bits. There were a total of 170 of us. Rather too many for our liking though, as ever, there was a great sense of camaradie, our Turkish was practiced and new friends were made. There were about 25 of us on the bus from Selcuk, plus the Mugla, Izmir and Soke branches and a busload from Kusadasi.
All along the way we came across indications that refugees had also taken this path. We found discarded clothing, bags, certificates, ID papers, exercises in English for Arabic speakers, water bottles, juice cartons, medicine packaging, food packaging, cigarette packs. On the shoreline we found a pump, clearly used to inflate a boat. Several life jackets were retrieved. Yes, it makes a mess in a National Park, but people are people and people are more important.
After lunch at Aydinkoy (with the boars) some swam and others didn’t. We then walked up, mostly along paths and road, back to Guzelcamli where we had a chance to visit Zeus’ cave before getting the bus back home.
Some people may have gathered we went to Greece for a few days. Our first stop in Greece after a leisurely ride north via Ayvalik and Canakkale was Dadia. Dadia is a small village to the south of Soufli (nearest cash machine) with a couple of eateries and hotels. More on those later. Our reason for going to Dadia Forest was to see birds of prey. It is one of only two mainland sites in Europe where it is possible to see Black Vultures and Gryphon Vultures. It is also very good for other large raptors. As such the forest is carefully managed and the birds protected. Just outside the village of Dadia is the visitor centre www.dadia-np.gr from where it is possible to get up to date information on the forest, details of walking trails and more. On our first day we took a walk up to the hide by one trail, and back by another, both clearly marked, rated as easy, and very pleasant. On our walk up we saw Buzzards and a Gryphon Vulture in flight. We spent ages up at the hide, there was an Egyptian Vulture, a Black Kite and an eagle, almost certainly Lesser Spotted Eagle, Schoolchildren were being brought into the hide, given access to telescopes, given the eco drill in Greek, noisy at times but the hide is well away from the birds and none were bothered. When the children were not there we got to use the telescopes. One or second day we took the harder trails, one up to Gibrena Peak and another down. These were graded as medium as indeed they turned out to be. We were good and followed the rules, left our details and walking plans at the visitor centre, checked back in with them on return. Again both trails we were marked and easy to follow, giving great views at times. There was lots of wild flowers, would have been more a month or so earlier, something to maybe bear in mind for the future. Near the peak we came across an eagle sat in a small tree, unfortunately it did not hang around for photographs. We would recommend decent walking shoes for the climb to Gibrena Peak which Ashley did not have so took the risk with sport sandals, the only real risk being snakes, and well, not really a big risk. Back to Dadia village. The village appears to have two hotels, but one seemed closed. The other is next to the visitor centre www.forestinn.eu It is a lovely place, we think it used to be part of the visitor centre, but is now being run privately. Our room was lovely, and we spent ages sat on the sunny balcony watching Hoopoes flying back and forth. One morning when we were leaving the accommodation block to get breakfast there was a Sparrow Hawk in the garden, though most of the time it was populated by Swallows. Breakfast was good. The cafeteria also provided us with a steady supply of frappe, the occasional beer and did some snacks and ice cream. Sitting in the café garden, at times a vulture passed overhead and further in the distance there were storks in flight. At the time we were there the hotel was not doing meals, but there are a couple of eateries in the village, one inexpensive Taverna, and a take out souvlaki place that needless to say did excellent take out souvlaki. Being Greece, neither opens much before 9pm, so we relaxed in the hotel garden and had another beer. It is a lovely place, we will go again.