We went to Patara and met Zeus

Trip Start Nov 05, 2008
Trip End Nov 25, 2008

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Flag of Turkey  , Antalya,
Thursday, November 20, 2008

We left our hotel this morning and headed to the bus
station, Otogar (otojar) to board a small, old and rusted mini bus to Patarra filled with mostly fishermen and laborers one head scarfed older woman and bags of oranges  Travel time to Patara would be just about an hour and a half, mostly inland through olive farms and fields of greenhouses. The skies were dark and promised the first bit of bad weather we had experienced on our trip.  The bus had barely left the station when it started to rain.... hard.  After rattling along steep mountain roads in driving rain, the windows fogging every 5 minutes, the banter among the men petered out with each one straining to look out the fogged front window to see if any new boulders had come down off themountain.  As our mini van groaned around one last turn on the muddy road to the left, I kept
thinking, "Oh this can't be Patara...they said scruffy in the guide book but they
didn't say Appalachian."   The town looked like no more than a small collection of rag tag buildings  although all the signs said "pension" this or that.  Alas, the bus ground to a halt and we were in front of the Golden Pension.  We wrestled our bags off the bus and said goodbye to a busload of people who could not understand why any tourist would be going to Patara at this time of year. Convention be damned!    The Golden Pension is lovely, if deserted.  Something out of a Stephen King novel -a big wrap around porch and one long central (dark) hallway with rooms (empty) on either side.   After settling in, we went to the porch for a kahve (coffee) and chatted with the young man in charge, Aidin, whose named we learned through a rift in the language barrier. We played a little tavla (backgammon) and then decided, despite the persistent rain, to see what the town had to offer. 
Patara is  about 3 KM from the only white sand beach in Turkey adroitly named Patara Beach.  We asked Aidin, which way to head.  He gestured left and so we headed out up the road with our umbrellas Soon we had escorts.  We  noticed that we had
picked up 2 dogs - one white and black female and one black male which we promptly named Sam and Sadie. The pension owner had told us that the Patara valley had been devastated the summer before by a terrible fire that had swept through the olive groves and up the hillside. Along the way  we came across the remnants of this fire: hundreds of debarked logs arranged into piles along the roadside.  To the right was
more wreckage-this time in the form of an ancienct temple.  300 BC?  500 BC.  The
guide books are thin about this area and there are no signs and no one seems to
know.  We poked around a bit and kept walking.  The rain increased.  My tennis shoes began to squeak. The
dogs loped on sometimes by our sides, other times off in the distance but never out of sight.    
Soon we arrived at the entrance to the ruined Lydian city and beach.  There, in the middle of nowhere, in the pouring rain, late in the afternoon, a guard sat in a small metal box taking 5 YTL entrance fees to the site and beach.  At this point, we hadn't eaten and in my mind's eye, I could see abeach front strewn with arcades and hot dog stands, souveneir shacks and the
like.  It was only 5 YTL so we paid.   Over the next 2.5 KM we
passed ruin upon ruin. Old baths,
a triumphal gate (not so triumphant in the grey rain), the remains of some
temples and two theatres - one small and one magnificent.  Off-Bway and Bway.  Hugo said The Met and City Opera.  This was a city.  A fairly major one. In ancient times,
the harbor came much further in but over the years, it silted up until it was
useless by medieval times,.  St.Nicholas of Santa Claus fame was born here in the 4th century.  He grew up and became bishop of Demre which is just up the road.  The ruins were in terrible shape. Here and there you could see the frantic attempts of some graduate student in archeology - numbers written on stones, columns
lined up in some kind of order.  We passed one.  The rain continued.  Our 2 friends ran ahead, circled back
and then chased a couple of rams and were lost for a bit. Finally, as my shoes
becamse really soggy and just as I was beginning to doubt the whole day we saw
a sign that said, Parking lot ahead. Then a sign said welcome to Patara Beach.  There was a long boardwalk between pine trees and some shacks and then the white sand and the ocean.  No one in sight. 
Nothing open.  As we came to the end of the boardwalk and could see fully the layout - we noticed another
couple of huts off to the left.  There were 2 scary, thuggish-looking guys smoking under the thatched canopy of the a beach cabana as we approached and took refuge under the leaking grass
roofs.  They said they were open. We asked if we could have something and they said, "like beer?"  I said, maybe that or a soda or some chips.  He said, "Chips? Maybe a hamburger?"  You don't know how good that sounded to us at the moment.  The only store
in town had been closed when we walked by.  The boy at our pension had fried up a fish for someone when
were arriving but it looked and smelled awful. I had despaired of ever eating
again.  Our two dog friends would fight over our dead bodies - but now, here was salvation - chips and a
burger.  We came into the little hut. There was a picnic table strewn with newspapers and 2 glasses of
half-finished milky raki.  A plate of fish bones.  They sat us down  and fed us our first hot meal of the day.  We hung around the shack watching Turkish videos on T.V. - we talked a little bit about American politics and the election (they all seem to know about American politics).  We headed back to our pension in the rain.  We collected 2 more dogs for the walk home and carefully handed out bones and scraps in such a way to minimize fighting.  We got back and after a few games of Tavla, had a little chicken casserole made by Aydin and then went to bed.   in the rain
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Where I stayed
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