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)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Walking and Sailing the Lycian Coast 1 - Oct 2007

Nothing has changed in the past two-three thousand years of sailing the Mediterranean: the wind billowing the bright sails to their capacity, the cracking of wood and rope as the ship rides the waves, the flapping of the flag against the mast, even the coastline is still very much what it must have been in those days – sharp rocky formations dropping abruptly in the sea, islands floating in the cobalt blue waters and tiny towns hidden in the hazy cracks of the mainland. These are my thoughts looking around from the Turkish gulet, the Almira, as we set out from Göçek across the Bay of Fethiye where, according to the ancient historians, one enters Lycia.

“Lycia? Where is that”, people ask me. I do my best to pinpoint the region on an imaginary map of Turkey but to most inquirers Turkey remains just a faraway place. I can’t blame them for only a few years ago I could not have answered the question either, but since then I know better. So let me share this experience with you.

My first encounter with Lycia happened earlier this year when I joined Peter Sommer on his tour “In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great”. During that trip, I spent a few days aboard this same gulet sailing around the bulge that Lycia makes in southwest Turkey, roughly between Dalaman and Antalya. The rugged landscape just stole my heart and I was determined to come back, some day, not knowing it would be so soon. Peter is leading this tour, as he did the one about Alexander the Great, and to me, he is the most wonderful guide I ever met. He is very thorough and knows the magic words to bring the ancient sites alive. His love for this country and its history is simply catching!

Now there is this Lycian Way we will be walking and which I find most intriguing: a 500-kilometer long trail across ancient Lycia, partly running along its coastline. The route goes mainly over footpaths and mule trails, often over hard and stony limestone. It has been set out by Kate Clow as recently as the year 2000 and it is listed as being one of the world's top ten walks – nothing less!

My flight to Istanbul takes only 3 ½ hours and another hour and a half to Dalaman, a good six hundred kilometers to the southeast. I land there around one in the morning and spend too much time waiting for my suitcase that took a joyride of its own, but at last, it arrives. My dear friend, Cem, has patiently been waiting for me at the exit and gives me a very warm welcome. Boy, am I glad to see a familiar face! He drives me through the night to Göçek where the Almira, is moored. All is quiet on board at this wee hour but the captain wakes up to welcome me with a broad smile. I tiptoe to my cabin and it must have been 3 a.m. by the time I hit my bunk – happy to be here.

I am tired and the bed is very comfortable but my sleeping time is over. I doze off and on but don’t get any real sleep. Breakfast is planned for 8.30 a.m. and I feel I should be present to meet the other members of our little expedition, five in all, except the couple that will be joining us tomorrow in Fethiye. I am in a daze, of course.

First things first, of course, so I start unpacking my suitcase and getting my cabin organized. After that, there still is time for a short walk through the familiar streets of Göçek (I was here in spring) but the shops seem unreal, more like a stage setting. So I am glad when we heave the anchor and set course to the open sea. This is where my trip begins indeed!

In Göçek, it felt like it was going to be a hot day, rather muggy, but once we leave the shelter of the inlets and islands, the breeze is very pleasant and our captain, Mehmet, decides to hoist the sails. Now just for your information, the Almira is a gulet, i.e. a traditional two-master wooden vessel sailing the waters of southwestern Turkey. Nowadays this type of vessel is very popular for tourist charters and generally runs only on diesel power as many are not properly rigged for sailing. Our 24 meters long Almira however, is blessed with proper sails and, believe me, it is an exciting event when they are being raised. The motor is stopped and after the first moment of silence, I am rocked by the ancient sounds of sea and ship. How wonderfully pleasant! I look up at the glorious sails in a perfect setting against the deep blue sky. We are making good speed, reaching a top of 8.8 knots! No wonder that my mind drifts away to the times that once were, yet still are today’s.

In the meantime, Peter has called us to the table on the front deck to show us on the nautical maps where we are and where we are heading to in the next few days, crisscrossing the extensive Bay of Fethiye mainly. Exciting stuff!

We come in view of a high mountain range dropping straight down to sea level in big chunks of basalt-like formation and our gulet slows down looking for an anchor place for tonight. The sails are lowered, one by one, the motor is started and the captain and crew look for an appropriate rock to tie down the rear of the boat so it lies steadily with the anchor in the front. Two other boats have elected this spot before us and later a smaller sailboat is pulling up also. I move to the bow but the cushions are damp already as the evening mist is setting in. Soon daylight is failing and even reading is no longer an option. Time for a rakı?

Our meal is served outside under the awning in the back. It is getting chilly and I get my sweater. We have a lady cook on board, Fatuşa, and she outdid herself with all the goodies: a kind of pasta in the shape of rice, beef kebab, yogurt with watercress (one of my favorites) and for desert sweet grapes, pears and plums. Tea to finish it off. Oh boy! It soon is 9.30 p.m. and time for me to turn in – see if I can catch any sleep tonight.

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