If you visit the Antalya region in Turkey (where Kaş is situated) and want to explore some of the ancient ruins in the area, I think you’ll really enjoy visiting Olympos. We certainly did when we visited in January!
Olympos is fairly large and one of the six important Lycian cities dating back at least to the 4th Century BC. It contains Lycian and Roman buildings and is situated just south of Kemer. We arrived down the winding road from the high road in our hire car. We passed through the modern village that has an eclectic feel, as it has been constructed of mainly wooden structures. This is a protected area and apart from a few tree houses, nothing is a permanent build. But this adds to the village’s attraction in my opinion, and it has a definite ‘hippy’ feel.
My kind of place.
As it was winter when we visited, all of the numerous restaurants and cafes were closed. Apparently in summer, the place is absolutely teaming with tourists. Google Earth had shown us the road through these eateries crossed the river at one point and there was a car park at the entrance to the Antik Kenti (ancient site). However, when we arrived at the point where we thought there was a roadway over the water, all that was there was a very rocky river bed, with about 60cm of water flowing over it.
I didn’t like the idea of trying to get our car (think budget, small, low chassis) across that creek. I just couldn’t picture doing so without some sort of damage to the underside. We had Kev with us that day and the three of us hopped out of the car and went for a closer inspection. Baz (the ever optimistic adventurer) seemed convinced we could make it. As we were debating the issue, a car approached the other side and began to cross the creek towards us. We watched. We waited. With a lot of shrewd navigation around high jutting rocks, big revs and I’d add, a large pinch of luck, the car made it to our side.
“My vote’s no,” I said. “Kev?”
“No!” Kev replied. “Unless you want a big bill from Tunahan (the car hire guy).”
“Baz?” I asked.
“Oh all right then.” He looked like a puppy who’d had his favourite toy taken away from him.
I spotted a foot bridge a little way back along the road. We decided to reverse and park nearby, then traverse the river by the bridge. That proved to be an adventure in itself as the little bridge had lost a few planks, and swayed unnervingly as we walked across.
The next obstacle in our path towards the ruins was the river again. We came across a sign: “Olympos follow the river”. It was obviously made for summer tourists who were probably delighted to cool down by splashing through the sparkling water. But it was winter and we frankly didn’t want to experience the toe numbing freshness that the river promised.
I suggested we scramble over a few rocks and make our way through the grounds of the closed restaurant that was where the path ended. That we did, and after a short hike we found ourselves at the entrance to the ruins.
We used our Musekarts which allow us free access into hundreds of ancient sites around Turkey. And then we were in!
What impressed me?
The first thing that struck me about Olympos was that it was built in an absolutely picturesque and sheltered natural setting. Surrounded by tree covered mountains on both sides, with the river running through its length to the sea, this town was well protected and seemed to have everything it needed for its inhabitants to thrive. The atmosphere was peaceful, and the presence of trees in amongst the buildings, with little ‘glades’ here and there prompted me to slow down and breathe deeply. I could easily picture myself living here when it was a thriving community.
The town is constructed along both sides of the river and there are many ruins that can be explored. The entrance complex is a cluster of eleven connected rooms that ran along the main street. We figured they were shops and I headed off in the direction of the butchers.
After buying Baz a pound of sausages (in my imagination), we headed further along the street, looking at all of the points of interest along the way. As is the case for all Turkish antiquities that we’ve visited, they provide good information at each major location.
What did I enjoy?
Ooh, let me think.
The team of ducks that paddled over to us in the creek, and then followed us downstream as we made our way onto the long pebbly beach.
Climbing an unmarked path to the top of the acropolis to get a fabulous view of the coast on one side and the village snaking back through the valley on the other.
Uncovering a small patch of mosaics. I knew I should have been an archaeologist!
A picnic lunch by a babbling brook, in tree-dappled sunlight.
Not treading on a fresh water crab before it found shelter in a rock wall.
Spotting a little frog sunbathing in a rock pool.
Lots of laughs throughout the day. It was great having Kev with us.
Making our way back over the footbridge without falling through the gaps!
Preparing for Sailing Season
We ticked a lot of last minute, important tasks off our To Do list, and some that we discovered which weren’t on the list. These included:
Repairing the stitching on the headsail, the bimini and the spray hood
Giving the boat a good jet spray clean
Polishing the stainless steel
Sanding and then oiling the teak decking, seating and hand rails and bringing them back to a warm red-brown
Baz removed a few unused instruments (almost as old as Olympos) from the nav station and re-constructed one panel with new wood
Servicing the alternator – the final part of our engine overhaul
We were now ready to take A B Sea out of Kaş marina and head north west up the Turkish coast. We simply had to wait for the wind gods to come to some agreement about how strongly they were going to blow.
In the meantime, we enjoyed a few meals with good friends Mike and Elaine. Also our friends the Whittakers from SV Polykandros (who have Freedom Family Sailing YouTube channel and the Kings from catamaran SV Sunday (thanks for the pics Dot).
To watch our YouTube episode that dovetails with this blog, just click here.
Until next week, I wish you health, wealth and fulfilment, as you take the actions that bring your dreams to life.