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)

Friday, February 15, 2008

In the heart of Butterfly Valley - Lycian Coast 14

Today’s walk will take us to the other side of Butterfly Valley, i.e. to the north. This will be our longest walk since the one to Phellos was canceled. It is a beautiful morning, ideal weather for walking, very pleasant indeed.

The climb starts right away, steadily widening our view over the Blue Lagoon. Early paragliders are hovering above us and in their descent I notice that one of them is close to hit the mast of our Almira – or is my perspective playing tricks on me? But at our next stop I see that the Almira has moved to the side of the bay, safely out of the way of these big toys. Thank God!

The weather is as clear as yesterday’s and we are so lucky to climb this side of the mountain entirely in the shade. It is even so cool that, after finishing our early lunch in a shady spot, we are glad to be moving into the sunshine. Peter and Ivşak carried a wonderful picnic from the boat: stuffed bellpeppers, şigara börek and beans in tomato sauce. Delicious pomegranates, apples and pears for desert, juicy and sweet. All I have to carry is water and believe me that is more than enough for me!

We proceed to the high tree line of the Baba Dağı, the Father Mountain. The whitish rock looks very friable, reminding me of the Sierra Nevada (California) or dead travertine deposits from Pamukkale. The paragliders with their colored canopies keep fascinating us. We hear them yell when they jump off in ecstasy somewhere behind the top or when they perform one of their twists and twirls, free as a bird, soaring through the clear air above us.

The trail now runs among huge boulders that have come down in earlier times, flash flooded river beds filled with debris and where tall pine trees have safely anchored their roots. Occasionally we see rows of beehives, neatly aligned on a ridge and we try to walk around them at a safe distance. In one of the clearings a beekeeper is sharing his picnic with his family and we get a plate filled with pure fresh honey. Basically I don’t fancy honey, but being here in the middle of nature with a treat of this nectar as fresh as can be, I feel I must at least try it. We spot a kind of table rock and with a few smaller stones we build a little shrine to receive the amber-colored plate holding our treat. We gather around and savor the honey dipping our bread in the nectar. What a relish!

And onwards we go! We pass another few rows of beehives where the beekeeper is dressed in his protective suit to gather the honey. He stops when he sees us coming nearer and we march by in a single file in as wide a circle as possible. Unfortunately the bees have been disturbed and buzz around us. All of the sudden we are in the middle of a mass attack! Everybody scrambles, jumps, waves and dances around in a futile effort to chase the bees away. Our guide, Ivşak is the first victim, and then it is my turn. I can’t get rid of the zooming bee, I think it is in my ear but I don’t feel it – just hear the zooming close by. I’m desperate and try to knock it off, running, turning, waving, smacking my hat in the air, but the bee is still buzzing like mad. I cry out for help when I realize that the nasty thing is entangled in my hair but I have no idea how or where. At last I run my fingers through my hair above my ear and eyeglasses and then the frightening sound is gone. My face is afire now. Is the sting still in there? I have no idea. It hurts like hell! When I look around again, our orderly marching line is in complete disarray. Everybody is gesticulating and talking erratically. One of my fellow travelers has been stung in her hair and another one has several stings in his arms.

Luckily Peter is prepared for any situation and he calmly takes the sting out using the small scissors from his emergency kit as tweezers. O good, that is that. The bees are still flocking around us and we all take a run to a safer distance in the shade of the trees to assert the damage. Some antiseptic gel should soothe my pain and after a while it does just that. Ivşak however develops a serious allergic reaction, his face is swelling and his throat feels dry. He is very worried. Out of nowhere, a bus comes riding up, like a being from another planet for we happen to be on the sole stretch of asphalt road for miles around. Strange how things work out at times. The bus stops at the head of our shattered group. We must have been quite a sight for any bystander! The driver and Ivşak exchange a few words and the latter accepts the ride. Peter makes sure we are all capable to continue our walk before the bus pursues his route to town. Later that afternoon we hear that Ivşak has made it to the hospital and got a serum shot. He is OK.

All is under control now and we can continue on our Lycian Way. Are we still on it? Yes, of course we are! Although the walk is longer than yesterday’s it does not feel like it. Maybe the weather is just perfect, maybe I am getting used to the pace, or maybe the terrain simply becomes more familiar – who knows? We now reach the downhill part and realize that Ivşak took off with our food. So we “borrow” a pomegranate here and a bunch of sweet grapes there, doing very well overall. Rather suddenly we have reached the end of our trail, where our bus is waiting for us. Great! It takes us for a short drive to what is called George Restaurant, a plain clean place serving tea and beer overlooking Butterfly Valley, with floors made of broken slabs of marble. Two simple wooden cabins provide lodging for an occasional traveler at the incredible rate of 25 YTL/day, including breakfast and dinner.

We stroll to the very edge of Butterfly Valley, a steep abyss that resonates with the sound of water, somewhere in a hidden downfall. It may be the quietness of the place, or the golden light of the late afternoon sun, but it comes to me like a corner of paradise, a pristine world hidden away from 21st century’s intruders. We are very privileged to witness this!

The drive to the boat takes us over the same road as yesterday, just a little earlier in the evening and we miss the sunset altogether as the magic orange glow disappears behind one of the smaller islands. Time for a good hot shower and another delicious Turkish meal that Fatuşa has put together. Yes, I am hungry!

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