We decided to spend three nights at our Szencir hotel but day by day as we added another night after the first. The owner didn't speak English and our Turkish is pretty bad. We thought we had everything settled after the first night to stay a second but she came to our car as we left in the morning (without our bags) thinking we were skipping out. A few pictionary rounds later from both sides settled it all amicably. Everyone wants the same things in life, the path just sometimes gets a bit clouded.
Well this part if Turkey, the south west was ancient Caria in Greek and Roman times. I really like the coins from the various cities and we planned to comb a small (relatively) area contains the ancient cities if Stratonikeia, the sanctuary of Hekate at Lagina, Euromos, Myus, Amyzon, Alabanda, Alinda, the sanctuary of Zeus at Labranda, Mylasa (Milas) and Herakliea ad Latmos, which is actually considered an Ionian city for some reason. Gerga gets a post all to itself. To avoid boring my one or two readers I won't go in specific details about the visits to each of these ancient places. What I will do is give a general feeling of these three days.
We have of course been to half or more of these places and due to the ongoing trend by the T's of continuing to develop many of the ancient site a repeat visit offered new insights and things to hop around on. At Lagina the newly uncovered streets and buildings, temples were amazing, with all kinds of neat graffiti carved into the steps. We had a great time here, our third or fourth visit. At Stratonikeia the T's tied the various monuments together so the visitor can walk around and get a sense of the place. The bad thing there is the 18th - 19th century village ruins that were there were wrecked in my opinion, though they are still a big part of the place as they present it. The old remaining houses were too tidied up compared to before and the fantastic dilapidated jami (mosque) with the earthquake split walls was restored to just looking like another old mosque, one of thousands in T-Land. I was pretty bumbed about that. Add to it there are now places you can't go and more people around means although a good site to visit Stratonikeia has lost some of her old charm.
We decided to visit Alabanda, then drive down to Alinda then over to Labranda. These mountain roads really sucked five years ago and I was a bit hesitant but Michelle thought we would be ok as the roads seemed to have been improved. Sceptical still I went along with it. We reached Alabanda around noon (after Stratonikeia) and found this great Carian city was as unexplored and developed as before. We jumped around the theater, which is in bad shape, and as we were leaving a local T who was the ticket guy found us and asked for the 6 TL entrance fee. Really! For Alabanda? Geesh! I dug around and only had 5,70 TL. He had no change. I was 30 kurush short, like 15 cents and though extremely friendly wouldn't let us slide due to HIS lack of having change. So we had to go all the way back to his place to get change. He was a by the book kind of guy with obviously nothing else to do. We did see 6 tortoise, each with a partner. Alabanda is cool in as much there is a neat area next to the road where rows of columns protrude from the ground. In situ and in excavated, the ancient streets some 6-7 feet below.
We left and drove toward Alinda, the mountain road extremely narrow and winding with steep drop-offs, no guard rails and often cows in the road. We meandered about, had a nice picnic pb&j sandwich and then realized we were lost. See the T's will have signs, but when you take your path the road often splits without a further sign to guide you. We often have to just choose and we did, the result was a nice drive right by Alananda a second time, but just about an hour or so later.
Michelle would not be stopped and eventually we found Alinda right where I left her three years ago. We had great light at Alinda but unfortunately it is a site that closes now. We had to be out by five and the guy waited for us when we left at 5:15. That sucks, we slept there a few years ago! The frontier is being closed down by order and little gravel-lined parking lots.
Now we had a 30 drive back to Mila, Labranda supposedly on the way. I knew the road was bad from before, but they are working on it now and it was just awful! It was first miles of loose gravel and deep mud. I luckily let a local bus pass me so I could use his experience to guide us over the safe parts, as a bad area could sent us into a tree or over the side. At one point a huge backhoe tractor thing was digging at the road and he just backed up and invited us to drive through the mud hole he was digging in. We drove right under the huge digging claw and barely slipped through, the buses tire tracks saving the day for our tiny Opel. They would never let cars on a road like that in the US. We has to put our front license plate back on as the fre got destroyed! After the gravel and mud our bus left us and we continued, one steep switchback was so steep that first gear barely got us up as the gravel was inches deep. The back fish tailed around and such. I am telling you that road was bad! We finally hit asphalt once again and it was full of pot holes and depressions. Anyone with dentures would have had to take them out, the bumpiness and all. Add to this groups of sheep and cows in the way which slowed us down. One other annoying thing is due to the amount of beekeeping in the area our car continually had unwanted passengers. What a trip down this 'road' we had. Eventually we found Labranda, as the light waned the nice caretaker allowed us to enjoy the lovely place way after closing, understanding I guess what we must have endured getting to the place.
On the way back to Milas, there were gravel trucks speeding down the tiny windy mountain road and after nearly having one hit us head on and scaring the bejesus out of us I flashed the high beams until the road widened and we avoided any further incident.
The trips to the other sites were enjoyable and we love Caria a lot, Michelle naming it as her favorite part of the T.