Fall colors in the mountains east of Antalya

My third short bicycle tour of 2016.  Just like the other two, I again went into the mountains near Antalya, but this time I went east instead of west.  I had been east a couple times to Gündoğmuş by car, but I hadn’t cycled east of Antalya before.  I knew it was beautiful, and I even sent a warmshowers.org guest, Pedro from Spain, up over Gökbel Pass, the only route I know of to continue heading east from Gündoğmuş.  He told me it was great but so steep that he had to push his bike in places.  Yikes, Pedro was right.  Those last few kms from Soğukpınar to the top of the pass were absurdly steep.

DSC06411 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06420 by bryandkeith on flickr

I left Antalya November 1st on a beautiful day.  The rather windy weather was particularly beautiful if you wanted to go east.  A friend told me of a new bridge between Kundu and Belek, allowing one to cycle all the way to Serik without getting on the main highway.  Once there I just kept on going.  Taking advantage of the strong tailwind, I never stopped for long, and I completed the entire flat (boring, highway) section the first day, getting all the way to Okurcalar.

A beautiful day to leave Antalya with a stiff tailwind for 115km to the east by bryandkeith on flickr

Mamure Kalesi -- closed for restoration by bryandkeith on flickr

Then it was six days in the mountains, climbing over 9000m.  Wow, that’s averaging over 1500m/day.  Of course, I didn’t learn this till I got back and put the route into gpsies.com  It did seem like I was always climbing or descending, but still the 9000m surprised me.  It ended up being a week of nice fall colors and beautiful mountain views.  Seems like those mountain views are a typical theme of my touring this year.

Is that new snow on the mountains?  I never could tell for sure, but I think it was. by bryandkeith on flickr

Looking north up Oğuzdere by bryandkeith on flickr

It was fun riding into that cloud.  It was much thinner than it looks.  I was through it quickly and went from a sunny day to a partly cloudy day! by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06374 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06485 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06453 by bryandkeith on flickr

In many villages I met friendly folks who gave me so many pomegranates and apples that I think I ate two of each every day and never bought any.  Certainly no one would buy apples up there.  They were everywhere, often rotting on the ground and seemingly free for taking right from the trees.  Apples are going for 1.5tl/kg in Antalya now.  How many kilos would you need to carry just to pay for the fuel there and back, I wonder?  It’s no wonder no one bothers to pick them.

People kept giving pomegranates so that I ate about two/day and never bought any.  Apples were the same on this trip. by bryandkeith on flickr

Near the top of the pass between Çayarası and Civandere, I saw what looked like a huge field of potatoes from the road.  How strange, I thought, so I stopped to look.  There a man, working for the forest service, was watering pine cones.  Every year the forest service pays the villagers to collect pine cones (1.25tl/kg this year).  In this field the pine cones are spread out, watered, and allowed to germinate (?).  Then they’re used as seeding for reforestation.  Wow, I’d never seen anything like that before.  Is that the same way it’s done in North America?

This man works for the forest service (orman müdürlüğü).  They pay villagers 1.25tl/lira to collect pine cones.  Then they water them here so they begin to sprout (?) and are then used for reforestation. by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06445 by bryandkeith on flickr

Reading over my notes, it seems like every day I was amazed again and again by how great the bicycle touring is in Turkey.  The small roads, curving through the mountains with very little traffic, incredible views, old villages that take you back in time.  Of course, people still daily struggle in these villages, mostly old people since youth escapes to the cities.  I had just passed the village of Yerbağı, preparing another pomegranate in a picnic shelter while enjoying the view of the canyon below, when two old men and an old woman joined me.  Slowly I learned the story of Yerbağı.  Seems like things have gone to hell since coal miners dug under the village.  As a result of the mining, the water table fell, leaving many wells dry, and the subsidence was so bad that it’s damaged many of the houses.  Most young people have left, and even the old folks are now following them to the cities — a village being abandoned.

That's Yerbağı. by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06511 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06492 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06439 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06533 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06474 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06404 by bryandkeith on flickr

At about 800m elevation near the reservoir, this was the warmest night of the trip. by bryandkeith on flickr

But the worst story I heard was on the bus back to Antalya from Anamur where I ended my tour.  Across from me was a Syrian couple, a man my age with a young wife and a baby.  He used to have two houses and four restaurants in Aleppo, all destroyed by bombs.  He lost a child as well.  He recently started over in Alanya.

I’ll try to end on a more positive note.  Typical for me, I found another incredible Roman ruin, Anemourion.  Ever since Antje raved about Anemourion when she visited a couple years ago, I’ve wanted to go.  Situated on Anatolia’s southernmost point jutting into the Mediterranean, Anamourion has one of the best preserved Roman necropoleis (anywhere?) and the best preserved Odeon in Anatolia, according to the signs there.  I loved wandering around the site and even in November wished I had brought my swimsuit (it was a little too crowded to go without one).

I had wanted to visit Anemourion ever since Antje raved about it a couple years ago.  Indeed it's a terrific site. by bryandkeith on flickr

They claim this is the best preserved Odeon in Anatolia.  Of course, it hasn't been restored like the ones at Patara and Kibyra. by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06588 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC06607 by bryandkeith on flickr

Wow, it was hot at the coast!  I wanted to sit in the shade for the first time since I left the coast a week earlier. by bryandkeith on flickr

antalya_anamur_via_mountains by bryandkeith on flickr

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3 Responses to Fall colors in the mountains east of Antalya

  1. armin says:

    Hello, Keith!
    Can you please help me with the translation of this expression “Utanmazsan Unutmam”. I think that is in turkish. It’s the title of a song interpreted by Adamlar. Google translate didn’t help me to much.
    Thank you and also thank you for the beautiful stories you share with us.

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