"Cruising the Lycian Shore" is our first cruise in Turkey since October 2019, On this occasion, to give an impression of the experience, we are providing a kind of travel diary. Every day we will pick one image we took that day, accompanied by some explanations and thoughts.
Well, today our plans were made spontaneously - but informedly - once again, and they led us to a wonderful succession of experiences.
Due to the continuing strong winds (finally abating as I am typing this), we spent a second night in the same cove. After breakfast, we set out for the ancient city of Patara, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in Lycia.
I have written about Patara before. The site, originally the harbour town for Xanthos, became the vibrant hub of Central Lycia by the Roman era and thrived through the Early Byzantine years, too. After its abandonment, it was covered in wind-blown sand, leading to the excellent preservation of its key monuments. The city was enormous and excavation is ongoing, but it already features one of the most beautiful Greek-style theatres in the region and what must be the most impressive bouleuterion or council chamber in the ancient world - probably the parliament of the Lycian League or Confederacy, an early example of a somewhat federal supra-state organisation. The site is monumental to a staggering extent, and its setting between sand dunes, wooded limestone hills and a swampy lagoon (the former harbour basin) is unforgettable - we love it every time we go there and so do our guests. On any other day, my diary image would be of its monuments, but today, I refer you to my earlier post, or to the final diary entry I will write in two days. Incidentally, there are finds from Patara in Antalya Museum and in the museum at Andriake...
We returned to the boat for lunch and a leisurely afternoon, including the kayaking and snorkelling time we so love. The cove is quite rich in fish of various species, so there are things to see. In the late afternoon, Uğur (our local guide) and I set out for a mini reconnoitre, checking out pathways from the cove to the Roman aqueduct that fed Patara. That's a different story for another post.
Today's image is not of archaeology but of wildlife. As we were strolling through the ruins of Patara, one of our guests spotted what she thought was a large lizard. In fact, it was a rarer sight: a chameleon. To be exact, this was a Common Chameleon (chamaeleo chamaeleon), an endangered species and a fascinating creature. It is always a special moment when we encounter wildlife, but especially so when it is something unusual, so we spent quite some time observing the reptile. Its bizarre zygodactylic (yes, that's a word) feet, adapted to climbing trees and its extraordinary eyes, covered in scales except for the pupil and moving independently of each other, caught our attention as did its gradual (and famous) colour changes - apparently they are not so much camouflage as they are a way to communicate! In the same way that the ruins we visit are monuments to the amazing achievements of past human societies, such rare meetings with animals are reminders of the no less remarkable diversity of nature, another way to bring us closer to the regions we visit. Chameleons have been around for 30 million years, or maybe more. We felt that the encounter was a privilege, a reward for our patient acceptance of adverse conditions - in other words, it was a karma chameleon [am I showing my age here?]. Of course, we let the little creature continue on its very determined way (it explored us with as much curiosity as that with which we observed it, but after some time it gave us a sense of having more important things to do than meeting some foreign and non-reptilian visitors), but it will remain in our memories for a long time to come...
Tomorrow is another day.