Family - The Drive to Cirali

Trip Start Mar 12, 2008
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43
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Trip End Mar 31, 2008


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Where I stayed
Orange Motel

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

We packed up and drove off soon after breakfast. We were all sorry to see Antalya in the rear-view mirror, but Patty and I certainly have the feeling we will return. Again, we were blessed with great weather - sunny, warm and almost no wind. We had had some difficulty deciding on an exact destination, and had an open mind about Olympos versus
We packed up and drove off soon after breakfast. We were all sorry to see Antalya in the rear-view mirror, but Patty and I certainly have the feeling we will return. Again, we were blessed with great weather - sunny, warm and almost no wind. We had had some difficulty deciding on an exact destination, and had an open mind about Olympos versus Çirali (pronounced Chirali). The tree-houses of Olympos were appealing, but with no bathrooms up top and a daughter who is a fairly avid sleep-walker, we both had our reservations. Çirali was the closest turn-off on the road, and we reached it after about 90 minutes of driving on the main road out of Antalya toward the Aegean coast. Irrespective of where we were to stay, the destination for that night would be the much anticipated visit to the Chimaera, the burning rocks.
 
The road down to Çirali from the main highway was steep, twisting and through lovely forested mountains. Once at the town, a back-to-basic appearance with small Pensions and hotels spread out along either side of the small main (and only) road, leading all the way down to and along the beach. After a while we found the Orange Motel, so named for the orange trees growing amongst the bungalows and eating areas. We had a large room that slept all 5 of us easily, and the place was spotless, comfortable and the staff hospitable. The beach was part rocky, part sandy, but from where we entered from our hotel, we could walk 500 - 600m in the direction of the town of Olympos, and reach the ancient Roman ruins on the mountainside. The climb up to the top of the site was a little challenging (the first place Hayley has not conquered so far), but the view were stunning.
 
Upon our return, we stopped in at a local super-market, bought picnic supplies and set out just before dusk for the Chimaera. It took about a 2km drive to the base of the mountain, about $2 US entry for Patty and myself (children free), and then a 1km hike up the mountain. And WOW, what a place!!! The walk itself was dramatic. Fairly steep, and rocky in places, but through a beautiful forested area. The Chimaera became visible only at the last 20 - 30 m or so, but there was no doubt about them. The whole area is rocky, and spaced at variable intervals and spaces are these flames emanating from cracks in the rocks. Their exact nature is yet to be defined, but the best theory is that they are natural methane outlets that for some reason spontaneously ignite when reaching the surface. Even when people have (for reasons that are unclear) tried to extinguish them, they spontaneously reignite. The entire area is completely other-worldly, and there is again little doubt that we will ever see anything like this again. The children were enthralled. Gracey and Hayley just sat and stared, while Asher tried to get any piece of wood to ignite. We picnicked on the mountain-side for a good hour, before wondering down again in pitch darkness. Again, all credit to Patty: she had done the research, not only about the site and the environs, but about the need for flash-lights. If not we would still be on the mountain coming down......
 
It is not only sites like the chimaera that have made this an extraordinary trip so far. We have written previously about the warmth of the people and the delicious cuisine, but it is also the variability of the physical country that has really impressed all of us. From the bustle and frenetic feel of Istanbul, the sheer geological wonder of Cappadocia, the extra-ordinary beauty of the desolation on the road between Cappadocia and Konya, to the unbelievable serenity of the colors and beauty of the Aegean - it is hard to encapsulate these sites in one country. But they do absolutely exist, and we are only too fortunate to see them so unspoilt, and at a time when there are so few tourists about. And the weather has helped tremendously........ (pronounced Chirali). The tree-houses of Olympos were appealing, but with no bathrooms up top and a daughter who is a fairly avid sleep-walker, we both had our reservations. Çirali was the closest turn-off on the road, and we reached it after about 90 minutes of driving on the main road out of Antalya toward the Aegean coast. Irrespective of where we were to stay, the destination for that night would be the much anticipated visit to the Chimaera, the burning rocks.
 
The road down to Çirali from the main highway was steep, twisting and through lovely forested mountains. Once at the town, a back-to-basic appearance with small Pensions and hotels spread out along either side of the small main (and only) road, leading all the way down to and along the beach. After a while we found the Orange Motel, so named for the orange trees growing amongst the bungalows and eating areas. We had a large room that slept all 5 of us easily, and the place was spotless, comfortable and the staff hospitable. The beach was part rocky, part sandy, but from where we entered from our hotel, we could walk 500 - 600m in the direction of the town of Olympos, and reach the ancient Roman ruins on the mountainside. The climb up to the top of the site was a little challenging (the first place Hayley has not conquered so far), but the view were stunning.
 
Upon our return, we stopped in at a local super-market, bought picnic supplies and set out just before dusk for the Chimaera. It took about a 2km drive to the base of the mountain, about $2 US entry for Patty and myself (children free), and then a 1km hike up the mountain. And WOW, what a place!!! The walk itself was dramatic. Fairly steep, and rocky in places, but through a beautiful forested area. The Chimaera became visible only at the last 20 - 30 m or so, but there was no doubt about them. The whole area is rocky, and spaced at variable intervals and spaces are these flames emanating from cracks in the rocks. Their exact nature is yet to be defined, but the best theory is that they are natural methane outlets that for some reason spontaneously ignite when reaching the surface. Even when people have (for reasons that are unclear) tried to extinguish them, they spontaneously reignite. The entire area is completely other-worldly, and there is again little doubt that we will ever see anything like this again. The children were enthralled. Gracey and Hayley just sat and stared, while Asher tried to get any piece of wood to ignite. We picnicked on the mountain-side for a good hour, before wondering down again in pitch darkness. Again, all credit to Patty: she had done the research, not only about the site and the environs, but about the need for flash-lights. If not we would still be on the mountain coming down......
 
It is not only sites like the chimaera that have made this an extraordinary trip so far. We have written previously about the warmth of the people and the delicious cuisine, but it is also the variability of the physical country that has really impressed all of us. From the bustle and frenetic feel of Istanbul, the sheer geological wonder of Cappadocia, the extra-ordinary beauty of the desolation on the road between Cappadocia and Konya, to the unbelievable serenity of the colors and beauty of the Aegean - it is hard to encapsulate these sites in one country. But they do absolutely exist, and we are only too fortunate to see them so unspoilt, and at a time when there are so few tourists about. And the weather has helped tremendously........
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