Üçağız -- ‘Three mouths’ and three rides: hitchhiking in Turkey (2)

March 07, 2012, Wednesday/ 17:04:00/ RHIANNON DAVIES

After our hosts showed us around their place -- the Kekova Restaurant and Pansiyon -- we agreed to take a room for TL 25 each (including breakfast). The rooms were spacious and airy, with exposed stonework and wooden paneling.

The real attraction of this place is the view, looking out through the windows to see the fishing boats bobbing up and down on the turquoise water. The wooden terrace juts out into the bay making for a rather idyllic location for a glass of wine or fish supper.

Wanting to explore a bit more, we opted for an early evening picnic and walked out of the village to the ruins of Teimiussa. Although little is known about the ruins here, the scattering of sarcophagi provide a fun couple of hours scrambling (if you’re that way inclined), with many conveniently flat surfaces to enjoy a picnic and the incredibly pretty view. After the sun sets the view gets even better. The stars here are something else, especially when viewed from the wooden jetty in the center of the bay. This is due, in part, to the strict building regulations imposed on this village to protect its archeological heritage. This also means no unsightly concrete apartment blocks like those that have grown up in other beautiful spots on this stretch of coast and has allowed Üçağız to retain its village identity.

Hiking without hitches

The next day, after a filling breakfast, we set out on a 12 kilometer hike east on the Lycian Way to the small village of Kapaklı. We followed the waymarked Lycian Way via the charming village of Kaleköy. There you can visit the ancient ruins of Simena-Kekova, the famously beautiful “sunken city” -- part of which lies underwater. From here you can climb up to the castle (kale) from which the village takes its name. There’s a TL 8 entrance fee but is worth it to see the theatre, carved from the stone, and take in the spectacular views.

After this the route passes through wide plains, peacefully uninhabited, excluding a few shepherds and their flocks. Remains of ancient cities litter this area, making for an interesting foreground, to accompany the background views of the sea and mountains. The walk from Üçağız to Kapaklı took around five hours in total -- including a break for a swim in an irresistible cove at Kaleköy. Upon reaching the minor road here, we stuck out our (now slightly weary) thumbs once more and were lucky to be picked up in seconds by the first passing pick-up truck -- no need even for the cigarette trick this time.

Our final hitch-hiking encounter was with a local man whose attitude was perhaps more typical of these rural areas. Upon hearing that we had walked the 12 plus kilometers from Üçağız, he became alarmed, worried that we might be crazy -- choosing to walk when we could have hitch-hiked or taken a bus (he’d never heard of the Lycian Way). He also insisted on taking us to the otogar in Demre, despite the fact we told him we planned on thumbing a lift once again. Apparently this is a common offer, indicative of the fact that hitchhiking is still not very common here. When dolmuş, buses and coaches are so cheap and plentiful, there really isn’t any need to. However that’s not really the point. In the same way that couchsurfing (see my article “In Antalya Alone?,” published on Feb. 13) isn’t about finding a free bed for the night, hitchhiking isn’t about the free rides. It’s about exploring this complex country in a new way, gaining a new insight into the culture through the people you meet and the places you visit -- that and having a few adventures along the way.