Cirali – Chimaera flames – and flaming hot…..

Second update from Cirali, Turkey.


There are surprisingly beautiful coloured stones on the beach.  Being me, I have collected loads…
      The other night we went to see the Chimaera flames, which burn on a mountainside near here.  Our neighbours, Lynne and Peter had hired a car for the day, and drove us up there in the evening.  I say drove, but you can only drive to the bottom of a rocky track, which according to the notices is a 1km walk up to the flames, but in reality, is nearer 3km. We were already hot and bothered because we had driven down to the far end of  our beach and the car got stuck in the soft sand….fortunately we all managed to push it out OK but at some cost to bodily cool.
     The Chimaera fires, here in what was ancient Lycia, have long been thought to be the source of the Greek legend of the fire-breathing monster of the same name, slain by Bellerophon, riding Pegasus. They have burned for at least 2,500 years, and no visit to Cirali is complete without a sight of them.
     We only had one torch between the four of us.  The going was steep and treacherous, the heat and humidity overpowering… The path was as steep and difficult as any Cornish coast path, and nobody in their right mind would fancy tackling one of those in the pitch dark and 30 degree heat.
     Anyway, we eventually dragged ourselves up, literally dripping with sweat.  The flames looked suspiciously large to me, as if they might have been boosted with a bit of gas, but we also saw smaller, more authentic-looking flames flickering out of  little crevices in the rock.  There is also an ancient temple up there to Hephaestus, Greek god of fire and metalworking, who forged the weapons and magical armour for the gods on Olympus, and also made Pandora. Too dark to see it.

     We have also been on a cable car trip

up nearby Mount Olympos, at 7760 feet,

one of the highest peaks in the Taurus Mountains. Expensive, but worthwhile.  The cable car has only recently been built by Swiss engineers at presumably vast cost. We were thinking about the bravery of the developers – hacking a 7 km road up the lower slopes of the mountain through rocky forest, building a complex of carparks, cafes etc at the bottom station, cabins that take 75 people at a time up to the summit of the mountain, where there are viewing decks, more cafes, shops, loos etc.
     Our only other outing was a walk to the ruins of the ancient Lycian city of Olympos, spread along a river mouth at

the other end of our beach, with towering pinnacles of rock all around it. Unusually for Turkey at this time of year, the river had water in.  There were ducks, and a fishing heron.  We went at dusk – it was beautiful, but felt very spooky to me, and a tiny bit menacing.
     Mostly, though, it is beach, swimming and snorkelling, reading, snoozing and trying Cirali’s many restaurants – very cheap, fortunately.

      Philosopher was bitten by some horrible horsefly thing which had  hidden in his towel, or it could even have been a scorpion…. Thank goodness it has got better, but was very painful.

      Today, after years of fruitless scanning of various Med seascapes, and even looking vainly out to sea at St Leonard’s, they finally appeared – dolphins, circling a shoal of fish, about 100 metres from the shore. We just told Ishan, and he said he had never seen them in his life…  

Watching for turtles at dawn…nest is under the cage. No luck.

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