The ancient city of Olympos, the first of six cities in the Lycian Federation, dates back to the 2nd century, B.C. Today its scattered ruins are hidden by wild grapevines, just waiting to be re-discovered. Structures this old are typically protected and preserved by keeping visitors at a distance. Not Olympos. For only 3 TL ($2.10), you can crawl under archways or trace your fingers along the Marcus Agrippa dedication. I might be a Roma-phile, but that is just the coolest thing ever.
A mere 500 meters from the Mediterranean in Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, Olympos is now a sleepy village tucked away alongside a fig-shaded stream in a stunning valley between high cliffs. There are no ATMs, no post office, only a few shops, and the only transportation available is a large van which shuttles people 11 km up the valley to the Main Road, and it only operates once every 2 hours between 9am and 7pm. Every morning, I wake up to the smell of sage, oleander, and orange blossoms (which smell surprisingly like Gardenia). I hear the sound of chirping birds and a cool spring breeze. I have found my paradise.
I chuckle when I overhear the question: “What is there to do here?” You don’t come to “do” anything in Olympos. That’s the point. Hike if you like, swim in the Mediterranean or walk among forgotten ruins if you like, lounge in a hammock or play backgammon…but more than anything, you should come here without an itinerary and without a plan. In the 10 days that I’ve now lived and worked here, I have done precisely that: nothing. And it is perhaps the first time in my life that I can say I’m actually relaxed.
A guest asked me today: “do you know what the weather’s going to be like tomorrow?” She wanted a beach day to give her climbing hands a rest. I hadn’t checked the forecast, and asked Yusuf (hostel manager) if he knew. He promptly replied “Sunny!”
After the guest left, Yusuf leaned over and said, “You don’t need to ask me. The answer is always ‘Sunny.'” And what if it rains? “Then you just shrug your shoulders and say, “ehh, it’s crazy weather. It will be sunny again tomorrow.” This is the attitude of this village.
The mantra of the hostel is “Come for a Day, Stay for a Week.” If that’s true, what happens when you come for a month? I’ll let you know.