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TLOS: ON TOP OF THE WORLD

While Kent toiled on the boat (meaning “did what he really enjoys“) I went off for a day tour to the ancient site of Tlos (also spelled Tilos).  A small group of cruisers got up at the crack of dawn to travel east a couple of hours by mini-bus.

Our first stop—for a hearty breakfast—was the small town of Gocek at the northern end of a large bay which is dotted with many small islands and anchorages on the west side of the Gulf of Fethiye.  We  anchored off this town last fall, but being here in spring is a different experience.  The town is basically deserted this time of year.

The quay at Gocek is quiet this time of year. . .

as is the restaurant where we had breakfast.

as is the restaurant where we had breakfast.

The sky seems more blue and the vegetation greener than when we left—no great surprise given that winter is the rainy season in this part of the world.  To reach Tlos from Gocek our mini-bus climbed up into the mountains, and eventually our view of the sea disappeared. 

The highway climbs along the coast. . .

Instead of the Mediterranean Sea, we were treated to a birdseye view of a valley that stretched as far as the eye could see in a patchwork of fields under cultivation.  There were fruit trees in blossom, and lemon trees laden with fruit.  The latter seemed strange given the early spring season, but then southern Turkey has a Mediterranean climate that allows palm trees to thrive along with the lemon trees.

The winding mountain road that travels to Tlos is barely wide enough for two cars to pass, and little traveled this time of year.  The views of the valley as we ascended were amazing.

The Xanthus Valley as seen from Tlos

Tlos sits at the precipice of a mountain with majestic views in all directions over the Xanthus Valley.  It is noteworthy for its 2,000 year history that reflects early Roman architecture as well as beautifully preserved examples of rock tombs from the Lycian period. 

Not much survives of the stadium, and little more of the baths and amphitheater, but goats casually mill about the entrance to the tombs while an ancient Turkish herder sits nearby watching his flock 

A goat herder watches over his flock. . .

A goat herder watches over his flock. . .

as his goats graze their way through Lycian tombs.

A family surveys the ruins of the

A family surveys the ruins of the Roman stadium below.

Arches of the Roman bath. . .frame the fortress in the distance.

Arches of the Roman bath. . .frame the fortress in the distance.

We had viewed Lycian tombs before on our tour of the Dalyan River, but this site afforded the opportunity to climb up to the tombs and actually step inside.

Lycian tombs are carved in rock below the ruins of a Roman fort.

Up close and personal with Lycian tomb

While the site is impressive, particularly the tombs, this time of year the abundant wild flowers that cover the hillside and peek out from behind ancient ruins add so much to the experience.  Fields of daisies dance in the breeze, interspersed with a pop of red or purple as other wild flower species leave their mark.

Wildflowers line the paths. . .

blanket the hillside. . .

and hide. . .

and hide. . .

among the ruins.

Every ancient site has its amphitheater, and this was no exception.  While it was not as complete as some we have seen, the daisies sprouting among the ruins seemed to make up for it decay.

Many of the seats have been destroyed by weather and earthquakes. . .

but steps remain. . .

and remnants of the stage. . .

which bore magnificent carvings.

After several hours of exploring Tlos we stopped a short distance down the mountain for a lunch of mezes (Turkish appetizers) and trout.  The setting was beautiful and we ate poolside with views of the valley below.

Alfresco dining at The Mountain Lodge. . .

included mezes and fresh trout.

Gwen who organizes these trips takes pride in her “surprises” that are planned in the day, time permitting.   After lunch we were off again this time to Salinkent Gorge, a natural wonder that is a little off the beaten path.

The gorge is narrow with sheer walls on each side that block the sun.

This time of year the parking lot was empty and at first it appeared that access to the suspended walkway that allows pedestrian access to the gorge was closed.  Luckily, someone always appears when there is an opportunity to collect a few lira per person. 

Entering the gorge your eye is drawn up the soaring walls. . .

while your feet are firmly planted on a wooden walkway suspended over the churning water.

Walking along the wooden walkway as the water rushing through the gorge flows many feet below was exciting. 

Rushing water. . .

is turbulent and loud. . .

is turbulent and loud. . .

as waterfalls.

Because of the winter rains and the melting mountain snow, the gorge roars to life in early spring with a deafening sound.  The water comes through the gorge in powerful torrents, and spills from the rocks as small water falls.

We were told that during the summer you can actually wade up the gorge for some distance and lazily float back down, which is hard to imagine this time of year when white water rafting comes more to mind.

There is a never ending array of historic sites and natural wonders that make up Turkey.  Our next trip is to Capadoccia where we will stay in  a cave hotel.  Can’t wait.

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