Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Drangiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Precious Sura and Andriake Bay - Lycian Coast 8

Today a visit to the ancient city of Sura is planned followed by a two-hour walk back to the boat. I’m having serious doubts whether or not to go along. Shall I take my chances and see how things work out? Or shall I listen to reason and skip another day of hiking? This is a tough nut to crack and I am very much upset with myself. After all, I joined this trip to see all these places that are not accessible by road and here I am, stuck with a twisted foot! I have a hard time convincing myself that I better rest for another day and enjoy the rest of the trip rather than forcing myself now and end up confined to the boat afterwards. Not easy and it is with pain in my heart that I watch the others putting their gear together and setting off to Andriake Bay on the mainland. I stay behind with the friendly crew as the gulet moves to Peter’s meeting point, a few hours from now.

This is a most peaceful bay, hidden away among the coastal islands with a handful of smaller sailboats for company. The stillness is healing. At a distance the fish are having fun, jumping in and out of the water with pleasant splashes. On the Lycian mainland, I hear the goats before I see them. They cleverly bounce from one rock to the next making their grunting sounds as if daring me to watch them. The waves are licking the rocks where our anchor rope has been secured and our Turkish flag unfolds in the sweet breeze. Except for the clashing of the pots and dishes in the galley, all is quiet. How blissful!

Since I am not seeing Sura “live”, this is a good time to do some reading up. Sura was famous for its oracle, not only in Lycia but all over the ancient world. The Temple of Apollo Surios, probably dating from Hellenistic times, was built next to the holy spring and it was here that the soothsaying took place based on the movement of the fish. Even in Christian times the place was considered sacred, for next to the temple the remains of an early church can be found. The origins of Sura are apparently not older than the 4th century BC, based on the findings around the Acropolis and the typical Lycian rock graves and sarcophagi. Well, I hope to visit the place some time in the future, even if I have to travel there on my own.

For now, I think it may be a good idea to get a foot massage and I climb down the ladder alongside the boat to sit on the bottom step. The water is a bit chilly but as I dip my leg in deeper water I notice a warm current underneath. Reflecting so close to the water level, I watch a school of small silvery fish swimming back and forth along the entire length of the gulet, changing course in a flash. In the crystal clear water, their belly almost looks phosphorescent. How fascinating!

Towards noon the wind is picking up, blowing almost straight from the south and our flag claps nervously around the pole. Fatuşa is starting lunch and the smell of pasta, onions and garlic drifts in the air, Turkish music keeping her company. I don’t mind the music for it blurs the harsh German talks from the nearby sailboat and the junk music from another gulet that has anchored opposite to ours and where everybody is screaming, jumping overboard with loud splashes. Around lunch time, hell breaks loose as one boatload of day-tourists after the other sets course to “our” bay to regurgitate its human contents in the welcoming blue seas. The idyllic cove turns into a playground and the serene shiny waters are disgraced by dozens of heads bobbing up and down like grim balloons.

By 1.30 p.m. my companions return, tired but happy about their visit to Sura and the walk back over rugged Lycian countryside. I am as hungry as they are, and luckily the crew is setting the lunch table almost immediately.

The plan was to return to Üçağız under sail but the winds are now too strong to hoist our sails and the captain cranks the motor instead. The conditions become increasingly more serious with choppy waves and heavy wind gusts, even here in the shelter of Kekova Island stretching its entire length in front of Kale. This area is also called “three mouths” as this bay has an opening east and west of Kekova Island and one to the town itself. We drop the anchor just outside Üçağız. As any sailboat, the Almira automatically heads into the wind, much to the comfort of her passengers.

Peter allows us some free time for a walk ashore. The zodiac is taking us there and in spite of this being in a sheltered inlet, our behinds are wet when we set foot on land. Well, the wind will dry us, right?

I am still not interested in shopping but instead, I am very determined to find out how it feels to be walking on my sore foot. From the boat I have spotted the ever fascinating Lycian sarcophagi along the coastline - Üçağız being the ancient Teimiussa - and I didn’t expect to find myself right in the middle of so many remains from the past. At the parking space next to the many restaurants, a high Lycian sarcophagus seems to be parked between the garbage bins on one side and cars and trucks on the other. I find my way to a plain asphalt road that soon leads to a gravel road, and then through the fields where I’m right in the middle of Lycian sarcophagi, Hellenistic walls, and Byzantine arches. I climb over walls, following the goat track as I see no other, to wind up on the Lycian Way covered with scree, rocks, and bits of marble. This is so exciting! Not only do I have these antique relics all to myself, but I manage very well walking and climbing without feeling any pain in my foot! Wow, wee! What a relief! The low sun throws a beautiful soft light over the trees on the opposite slopes and the rocky islands in the sheltered bay below. I feel coming back to life again!

Tombs with Lycian inscriptions seem to place the origins of Teimiussa in the 4th century BC. Apparently the city had ties with Myra and Kyaenai and the oldest ruins are a few rock-cut house-type tombs at the eastern end of Üçagiz's harbor. Well, I don’t walk that far, of course, it may be asking a little too much of my fragile foot and after all, there is still so much to see right here!

The sea squill, for instance, is in full bloom and I take some close-up photos. I watch the local daily life unfold around me with the chickens and roosters parading in the alleys, patchwork cats making a dash in front of my feet while their kittens call them from hidden boxes behind the rubble. Pomegranates shine in the low light like early Christmas decorations in the trees. From up here, the sheltered bay looks unbelievably peaceful!

I retrace my steps while the sun disappears behind the high mountains in the West. I’m thirsty and look around for the Çaibahçe for a cup of tea. From here I pass the mosque, a plain whitewashed building with red tiled roof, but the entrance hall catches my eye with its beautiful blue Iznik tiles carrying an inscription dated 1943, I suppose the date it was built?

At 7 p.m. our zodiac splashes to the jetty. The ride back to the boat is another wet one. No problem, I have dry clothes on board.

We are having a festive dinner tonight, with Kale’s castle in the floodlights in the background like a theater stage. It is funny how it keeps moving – well, our boat is moving, of course, keeping her head in the wind! Overnight the weather is calming down, just a heavy gust from time to time. All is well.

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