A couple more hours on a bus, winding down the Lycian coast, brings you through dry, rocky countryside with huge swarths of greenhouses in the valleys.
Originally, I had the idea to hike the entire Lycian way. It's a fairly recently blazed trail that goes from Antalya to Fethyie along the coast, connecting ancient cities and ruins. After much research and hemming and hawing, I realized that it wouldn't be an ideal hike. It gets very hot and dry here, and most of the trail winds through near-wilderness. Getting to fresh water on a daily basis would have been a challenge. Also, though it was beautiful, the landscape if fairly unchanged the entire 510 km of the route. You got ocean, you got cliffs, you got rocks, you got scrub brush, you got tombs. Not really too much variation there. I wanted to walk bits of it, see some amazing things, but maybe not commit to the entire trail. A little zip around the internet, and hell yes, I found an easier way.
Do as the ancients do, and sail the coast. It ended up bring a brilliant idea.
The boat was harbored in Demre, another ancient settlement on the Lycian way. Oddly enough, there were gift shops everywhere in Demre selling all things Santa Claus and Christmas. The main attraction in Demre is an ancient Byzantine church which the original St Nicholas was once buried. He was a Bishop of Myra and lived along the Lycian coast for most of his life while doing good deeds and gifting poor women coins so they wouldn't have to prostitute themselves.
We had to kind of elbow our way inside the church as it was packed with tour groups full of orthodox Christian pilgrams. I found it rather hilarious, but most of the women and several of the men were wearing skimpy beach coverups and beachwear, and yet they had the decency to wear a scarf on their heads while at the church. I must say, the whole experience made me feel much better about my own cellulite situation.
Inside the church, there was a tomb there where St Nick was once buried. People were going batshit insane over it- laying their hands on it and wailing and crying and praying and leaving objects of offering on top and pushing through the scrum to get their hands on it.
It was insane. I wonder if they all knew that the remains of St Nick had been moved to Bari, Italy about a thousand years ago, with some minor fragments of the skeleton ending up in Venice. Seriously. The Italians have been lording over his bones since the year 1087. And this wasn't even his orignal
After that brief encounter with the Saint Who Wasn't There, it was off to the harbor for lunch and to begin an adventure on the high seas.