Taking the Less Traveled Low Road

March 6, 2014 6 Comments »

Road less traveled

When it comes to travel, there’s a lot of talk about deciding between 2 roads. Robert Frost probably has the most famous commentary when it comes to deciding with road to take.

However, there’s also a reference to the high and low road in this Scottish folk song Loch Lomond:

“Oh! ye’ll take the high road and
I’ll take the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye;”

I found myself faced with the decision to go on two roads along the Lycian Way from Adrasan to Cirali. My choice was to hike the 22 km (13 miles) through the ancient sight of Olympos and to Cirali over a steep climb and back down along the coast or go inland via a flatter route along the road and through villages. Warren and Betsy chose the high road – over the mountain, but I decided that I was yearning for some more hiking meditation time and decided to take the low road. Even though it was along the small countryside roads – I considered it the road less traveled as most people wouldn’t hike this way into Olympos. Most would either drive this way or simply hike over the mountain. But I was yearning for something different and a bit less technical.

Adrasan to Cirali

I started off a bit later in the morning and walked the little farm roads to Cavuskoy. Then, I turned north and took the road to Olympus, where the road met up with the Lycian Way trail. It was a gorgeous morning to be walking, and immediately, I fell in love with my route through the farms and greenhouses. Other locals walked by, people on tractors passed me and waved, and I stopped at the little outdoor market in Cavuskoy and exchanged greetings with local vendors. For the first time, I felt like I really connected to the people on the Lycian Way. It felt a bit like walking along the Camino de Santiago trail – more interactive, and so much to see regarding cultural sights. Sure – I missed out on the coastal views – but I had that for the last few days, so I welcomed this new, more cultural walk.

farming turkey
My road to Olympus was shared with tractors.
greenhouse turkey
I traded the ocean views for greenhouse views today.

After Cavuskoy, the road had a shoulder and winded gently through farmlands. I had various locals slow down and ask if I wanted a ride and I politely refused, I was perfectly content with my walking pace. I stopped to have some lunch of fruit and bread off the road under a big shady tree, taking in the lush green fields and view. It was here where my creativity came alive, and my constant nagging life questions became a little more clear. This is what I always look for out of long-distance walks – this moment of intense creativity and clarity. The noise in my head stops, the self-doubts wash away, and I can coast and enjoy for a bit. I found exactly what I was looking for along the low road.

The road ended and deposited me in the ruins of Olympos. The ruins were impressive and nestled among the high cliffs and water inlets. I walked all the way to the end of Olympos and out the exit along the beach, which deposited me in the village of Cirali, where I was to meet back up with Warren and Betsy. We had chosen a pension that was recommended for us to meet at; however, upon following my GPS to the address, I was baffled as I looked at piles of rubble and destroyed hotel rooms. It looked like a war zone – and we certainly weren’t going to stay there!

Road to Olympus
A great lunch view
Cemetery olympus
Cemetery along the low road. I went in and explored a bit.
Olympus Turkey
Ruins of Olympos

Luckily in true small town form I ran into Warren and Betsy on the beach road coming down from hiking the high road. We were excited to see each other all sharing our stories about our perfect hiking days. However quickly the conversation turned to the demolished pension that we had anticipated to stay in. We needed to find a plan B quickly as we were all in need of food and a shower!

Travel karma strikes again! A man on a bike rode by us on the road, stopped, and came back to us to say hello. We asked him about the destroyed pension, and he told us a torrid story about the government seizing it, but luck would have it – he had a pension, too, and was happy to put us up. We excitedly checked in Emin Pension into a lovely cottage with chickens, fruit trees, hammocks, and beach access across the street. Yet the best was yet to come – the meal. We were the only ones staying at Emin that night since it was off-season, but the owners (who live there year-round) took this chance to make a BBQ feast! We had grilled fish and mezes over a beautiful fire and while seated in a comfortable Turkish outdoor lounge area. A picture-perfect scene filled with cold beer and delicious food!

Abandoned hotel turkey
Our plan A pension is in ruins!
Emin pension Cirali Turkey
Emin Pension hammocks
Tree Cirali
Tree along the beach in Cirali

I don’t know if I agree with Robert Frost in this instance – the road less traveled isn’t always the one that makes the difference.  In this case, it didn’t matter which road I took – high, low, less traveled, or more traveled. All the roads leading to Cirali were rewarding. The key is to simply make the best of any road you take. It’s your attitude and outlook on your journey.  You can find beauty and meaning anywhere if you just let go, breathe it in, and move forward.

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