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Hear about Hiking the Lycian Way in Southern Turkey as the Amateur Traveler talks to authors Warren and Betsy Talbot from MarriedWithLuggage.com about the month they spent hiking this amazing trail. The Lycian Way runs for a little over 500 km (not counting getting lost) from Fethiye in the west to Antalya in the east. We talk about their whole journey as well as segments people with much less time could hike.
The Talbots were challenged to tackle the Lycian Way by former Amateur Traveler guest Sherry Ott. They were looking for something fairly remote that not too many people do where they could camp under the stars along the way, enjoy the beautiful scenery and take a break from their connected lifestyle.
“This is history. You are going to see thousands of years of history. You can go back 5,000 years from there. You have a variety of cultures. There is the Lycian culture itself but there are many Roman ruins that are truly impressive. There are places where you stumble through old tombs laying on the side of the trail. Really you are walking through things that should be cordoned off and protected. So you have that along with tiny forests, shear dropping cliffs, gorgeous Mediterranean, all of that together. It is quite different from the Camino [de Santiago] in that it is quite remote. There are days that we would walk 3 or 4 days in a row and we would not see another person on the trail. Every day you are going to find a vista overlooking the sea, overlooking the mountains and you are going to be by yourself, immersed in history.”
“Every day you are going to see another ruin and there are days that you will sleep within them. There was an evening when we slept in an old Byzantine church that had been destroyed over 800 years. We spent an entire day and a night wandering around this ruin and no one came through… well, goats did.”
Warren and Betsy recommend using Kaç as a base for people who want to do day hikes of a portion of the trail or who even want to do as they did for a few days and sleep on a gulet (boat) by night and hike by day along the trail.
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Chris Christensen: Amateur Traveler, episode 420. Today, the Amateur Traveler talks about beautiful blue waters, wonderful food, and layers and layers of history, as we hike the Lycian Way in Southern Turkey.
Welcome to the Amateur Traveler. I’m your host, Chris Christensen.
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Chris Christensen: I’d like to welcome to the show Warren and Betsy Talbot, who are authors of Married With Luggage, and have come to talk to us about the Lycian Way. Betsy and Warren, welcome to the show.
Warren Talbot: Thanks so much, Chris.
Betsy Talbot: Hi Chris, it’s great to be here.
Chris Christensen: Now, I say the Lycian Way. Can you put that on a map for us?
Warren Talbot: Sure. We’re on the southern coast of Turkey, right on the Mediterranean Sea. It’s 500 kilometers from Fethiye in the west and Thalia in the east.
Chris Christensen: Okay. When I say the Lycian Way, we are talking about a place that I can go out hiking, but not just for an afternoon.
Betsy Talbot: Well, you can just go for an afternoon. There are some day-long hikes you can take within it, but we took 30 days to hike. [Laughing]
Warren Talbot: There are some beautiful locations along there that you would stop and just do a day or two. But if you want to do the whole thing, you got to strap on the boots for a while.
Chris Christensen: Okay. As we go through this, I do want, if you can, pull out maybe the best week in there, if there are people who have a little less time, but let’s talk about this trip. Why did you do it, first of all? Warren Talbot: We love to walk. We truly enjoy it. I think she’s probably been on your show, Sherry Ott.
Chris Christensen: Oh, sure.
Warren Talbot: She put out a thing on Facebook and actually called us out by name. She had identified this as a hike that she had heard about while she was doing the Camino. She said, “I know Warren and Betsy Talbot will do this with me.” So we were shamed into doing it.
Betsy Talbot: And we did. We put it on our calendar right then. I actually think she didn’t think we’d follow through. So the joke’s on her.
Warren Talbot: But it turned out that we just love to hike so much, and she knew that we would be all over a long-term hike that spanned many weeks. That was the whole goal for us. We wanted something that was pretty remote, that very few people do, and that would allow us to just camp and enjoy ourselves underneath the stars, overlooking beautiful scenery every day. It just turned out to be the perfect match for us.
Betsy Talbot: Part of our goal in doing this was also to sort of step back from technology and from our life. We all get so busy with this kind of stuff that for us, being able to be out in nature for an extended period of time is a way to sort of not only exercise our bodies, but kind of reset our brains a little bit too. This was perfect for that.
Chris Christensen: Okay. You say that, and I think of being away from Wi-Fi, and I just get the cold shivers. So I’m not sure that we’re in the same place there.
Warren Talbot: We don’t even own a phone. So we’re away from a lot of technology a lot of the time anyways.
Betsy Talbot: Well, I have to tell you, Chris. We actually did a pre-hike to get ready for this because I wasn’t sure. I’m like you. I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to get away. So we did a seven-day hike, the West Highland Way, before, just to prep for this. People think we did it to exercise and see if we could do it. We actually just did it to test our willingness to be away from technology.
Chris Christensen: And the West Highland Way is in Scotland?
Betsy Talbot: Yes, in Scotland.
Warren Talbot: Yeah, it’s on the west coast of Scotland. It was a good primer for this.
Chris Christensen: Sherry actually did introduce us or put us together because she and I were talking about episodes that we could do, because I wanted to have her back on the show, and did just recently, talking about Nova Scotia as the listeners know. But she had recommended you. She had said you had spent more time there. So why should someone go to the Lycian Way? So what are people going to see when they see this? This is a little different geographically, for instance, than the Camino, the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.
Warren Talbot: Yeah. This is history. I mean, you’re going to see thousands of years of history. You basically have . . . They trace it. You can go back 5000 years and see ruins. Basically from there, you’ve got a variety of cultures, the Lycian culture itself, which is where the whole concept of the Lycian Way. But there’re so many Roman ruins that really are truly impressive.
Betsy Talbot: There are actually points where you stumble across old tombs laying on the side of the trail. I mean, really you are walking through places that should, I think, be cordoned off . . .
Warren Talbot: Yeah.
Betsy Talbot: . . . and protected, but they’ve been there for so long. So you have that combined with piney forests and shear-dropping cliffs, gorgeous Mediterranean, I mean, all of that together. It is quite different from the Camino, in that it’s remote. So I know that Sherry told us that in the Camino, she’s walking from village to village, and here, not so much.
Warren Talbot: There were days where we would walk three, four days in a row, where we wouldn’t see another person on the trail. So you are off by yourself. It gives you a chance to contemplate. As writers, it gave us a chance to do a lot of brainstorming, a lot of alone time, a lot of conversations and inspiration. So if you’re any type of creative, and you get creative energy from outdoors, then this is going to be the perfect place for you because every day you’re going to find a vista overlooking the sea, overlooking the mountains, and you’re just going to be by yourself, immersed in history to bring it all together.
Betsy Talbot: But if you’re looking for a B&B every night or a restaurant, things like that, you’re not going to find that here.
Warren Talbot: Not a chance.
Chris Christensen: Well, thanks for coming on the show, Warren and Betsy. It’s so nice to have you. This was my picture here of the trail, going at least for part of the time along that coast there. I pictured a lot of cliffs. I know some of the tombs that you’re talking about are also Cliffside and we’re talking about tombs that predate Caesar and predate Alexander, as I recall.
Betsy Talbot: Yes.
Warren Talbot: That’s correct. Yeah, they’ve been there for a thousand years beforehand, in some cases. As you go, you can see the different civilizations and how they influenced the land. It’s really hard to get away. Every day, you’re going to see another ruin, and there are days where you will sleep within them. So there was an evening that we slept in a church. It was an old Byzantine church that had been destroyed about 800 years. We just wandered around. We spent the entire day and a night there, by ourselves, sleeping in this ruin, and no one came through the entire time.
Betsy Talbot: Well, goats did.
Warren Talbot: Goats did. Sorry. There were goats. Yeah, but that was about the extent of it. So the experience that you have of being up close to history is different than anything I’ve had anywhere else in the world.
Betsy Talbot: I would agree. This had a lot more than just the natural element to it. There was a lot of history, and I really enjoyed that.
Chris Christensen: Now, I’m a little surprised when you talk about being as remote as it is, because we are, again, talking about a place that has had just layer upon layer of civilizations there. So I just pictured, again, that you were walking from village to village. I didn’t realize that. Where did you start? Where is the start of the Lycian Way?
Betsy Talbot: We started in a little village right outside of Fethiye, called Oludeniz, and it is the kind of place that you don’t actually want to go. I mean, to me, it’s like a typical package holiday kind of a place.
Warren Talbot: Yeah.
Chris Christensen: Okay.
Betsy Talbot: It wasn’t my favorite starting point.
Warren Talbot: But it is a good place because it’s relatively easy to get to. So you take a four-hour bus out there, four or six hours from…
Chris Christensen: From Istanbul? Warren Talbot: No, from . . .
Betsy Talbot: Antalya.
Warren Talbot: Antalya. So on the east, you take a bus from there.
Chris Christensen: So you hiked east to west.
Warren Talbot: West to east.
Chris Christensen: West to east. Okay.
Warren Talbot: West to east. So you basically take the bus in, and you drop off, and then you start walking. Your first few days, you do go through villages. There are villages occasionally along the way. It just seems like as soon as you walk away from Oludeniz, you’re kind of by yourself for two weeks until you get Cash. Then when you get to Cash, you’re in a good sized village.
Betsy Talbot: A nice little seaside resort village. Actually I very much enjoyed Cash.
Warren Talbot: Yeah. It was a beautiful, beautiful place, right on the water. So we spent a couple days there and enjoyed the time, overlooking the sea and spending time on boats. It was a nice way to spend it.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, there are a few places along the way where you can have a really nice sort of beachside experience, but it is certainly not something that’s available every night.
Warren Talbot: Yeah. If you do go through a village, you can stay in the village, but most of the time you want to walk further. So you end up between two locations in the middle of nowhere. In those scenarios, you need to camp. There’s a couple times you go up over mountains, where you won’t see civilization for a few days. So you need to bring your own food. Betsy Talbot: So you have to have a tent. Yes.
Warren Talbot: And a tent and everything.
Chris Christensen: When you stay in villages, are you staying in guest houses? Are people inviting you in? Are you staying in hotels?
Betsy Talbot: Well, it’s a combination of guest houses, which they call pensiones and then also staying in people’s homes.
Warren Talbot: And staying in people’s homes.
Betsy Talbot: If you walk into the village, they’ll see you walking in with your hiking backpack and your walking sticks, and people will come out and invite you into their homes. Of course, you do pay to stay in their homes with them, but there’s never a shortage of finding a place in one of these little villages if you want one.
Warren Talbot: And there’s never a shortage of food. The people are so incredibly friendly, and they are wonderful. So they’ll bring you into their home. They will feed you more than you can possibly imagine.
Betsy Talbot: They’ll send you food along the way, bread, cheese, olives, everything.
Warren Talbot: Yeah. Most of the people that live along the route are farmers of some sort. So you pass through all these different agricultural areas. So you get into the apple area, and they will just load you up. Apples are not the lightest thing that you want to be carrying as a hiker, but they will give you two kilos of apples. Then you get into the grapefruit area and the orange area, and everyone wants to give you food.
Betsy Talbot: And the pomegranates.
Warren Talbot: It’s just fantastic. The people really, in my opinion, are one of the real highlights of this walk.
Chris Christensen: Now, you mentioned planning for this or prepping for this by doing the hike through the West Highlands Way.
Warren Talbot: Yep, absolutely.
Chris Christensen: Then how did you plan for it though? How did you know? Is there one route? Or are there different routes?
Betsy Talbot: Well, it’s a combination of several small routes that have been put together. There is a book called Hiking the Lycian. It’s by the woman who originally put all this together back in the ’80s, I think.
Warren Talbot: Yeah, the late ’80s.
Betsy Talbot: Her name is Kate Clow. The book is helpful in the preparation because you kind of know what you’re looking at, but I will say that we didn’t feel like the book was adequate preparation for us once we got on the trail. I wish we would have brought a GPS. I think it would have been much more helpful to us.
Warren Talbot: Yeah, but as far as preparation, there’s only that book, and then you of course can read about other people that have done it, but there’s so few. I mean, if you go out and do a Google search, you’re only going to find a few instances of people that have walked this. We read and poured through all of that information and just tried to figure out, one, how fit they were to find out, because there’s one couple that did the entire thing in like 17 days. That is insane to me.
So you kind of figure out what it is, and then you understand what they took. Because we had done some prep hiking before, we had a sense of what we would need. But no matter what you do, the hard thing is knowing, once you get there, where to find food and where to find water. That’s probably the two elements that we really didn’t have a lot of ability to prep for.
Betsy Talbot: But that’s one great thing about this hike, is that there are lots of water stations along the way. Especially in every little village, there’s some sort of mosque. Because it’s a mosque, there is a water station outside . . .
Warren Talbot: Always.
Betsy Talbot: . . . both for drinking water and for washing feet.
Chris Christensen: Oh, sure, for the preparation.
Warren Talbot: Yep.
Betsy Talbot: Yes. Yes. So it actually works out very well to hike there, to get water.
Chris Christensen: Interesting. You mentioned that you didn’t feel that the book completely prepared you. What were the surprises? What do you think the people should know that you didn’t know?
Betsy Talbot: Well, the trails are not marked well.
Warren Talbot: That’s a gross understatement. We got lost. I mean, in 30 days of walking, we got lost every day. There were days where we would get lost for an hour or two at a time. That’s challenging when you’re carrying an extra 30 pounds on your back, and you’re hiking for eight, nine hours a day. It makes for opportunities to grow in your relationship.
Chris Christensen: I was going to say since you guys do Married With Luggage and talk on your podcast and in your book a lot about relationships, was it one person’s fault or the other’s that you got lost so much?
Betsy Talbot: Oh, no. We teamed up together.
Chris Christensen: Oh, that’s good. Okay.
Betsy Talbot: We blame the person who wrote the book. [Laughing]
Chris Christensen: That’s much better. That’s much better.
Warren Talbot: It actually became a bonding experience because it is so challenging to find the little marks, and sometimes they’ll be gone. They’ll have been obliterated over time. So what happens is that we just bonded really closely together in the course of that. But I do think that the book does a really poor job of explaining how you’re going. It’ll say, “Okay. Walk across this field and turn left.” But if you’re walking across a field, and that field takes you three hours to go across, when do you turn left?
Chris Christensen: Right. Right.
Warren Talbot: So those types of experiences are repeated throughout the book. While we were really resistant to the idea, I think it’s critical. That’s the one piece of equipment I would take with me if we did it again.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, because I think part of the problem is it wasn’t very well described. There is not a detailed map that you can take with you.
Warren Talbot: No.
Betsy Talbot: The sun is very brutal there. So the markings fade because they’re just done with paint. There’s also the movement of the land, if there’s a landslide, if there are things like that that happen, the marks are gone.
Warren Talbot: Yep.
Betsy Talbot: I would recommend the GPS definitely.
Chris Christensen: Well, it doesn’t sound like this is a major effort by, for instance, the tourism board in Turkey or something like this if this route isn’t taken that often.
Warren Talbot: Again, there are some day hikes in there.
Chris Christensen: Okay.
Warren Talbot: There are certain elements. So for example, if you’re hiking up to the lighthouse, there’s one at the end of a peninsula. As you hike up to that lighthouse, it’s extremely well-marked. The reason it is is that there are two villages on either side, and they have day hikes every day there. So you’ll pass a couple people.
Betsy Talbot: Or any of the hikes around Cash or any of those places.
Warren Talbot: Yeah, but that’s it.
Betsy Talbot: They’re all very well marked. So you could easily make a holiday and do part of this hike and have no problems whatsoever.
Warren Talbot: But if you want to do the whole thing, there are huge stretches for a week or two in the middle that there’s nothing. You can go for hours without seeing a mark. So there’s no one that’s going in and painting those. There’s no one that’s gone in and hiked them from an official standpoint for some time.
Chris Christensen: Okay. Let’s talk about that for just a little bit. As I think of my wife and I, for instance, who did go hiking last weekend, but we went hiking for an hour and then got pie. [Laughter] Is Cash the place that you would recommend for that?
Warren Talbot: I would recommend Cash for that, absolutely.
Betsy Talbot: Yes.
Warren Talbot: It’s a beautiful, stunning place for one. It sits right on the water with wonderful, wonderful people. You can go paragliding. You can get on a boat. You can rent kayaks. You can rent mopeds. Then you can also go hiking. You can get right on the Lycian Way. It runs in the middle of town.
Betsy Talbot: It runs through the middle of town. It’s fantastic. Warren Talbot: So you could go, and there are a variety of hikes that you can do from there. One is straight up a cliff, a few hundred meters, but it is beautiful when you get up there. This is the thing about hiking and walking. If you go 10 minutes outside of where everyone else is, you’re going to see something amazing, and no one is going to be there.
If you walk up that cliff and then go maybe walk three kilometers, you’re going to be in the middle of an ancient Roman ruin, and you’ll be there by yourself. You’ll be overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, 300 meters above the floor, and you’ll be looking down on Cash. If you go the other direction, you’re going to walk essentially on undisturbed beaches, by yourself, for hours. You can walk for as long as you want, stop and swim, and then walk some more.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. You say a Roman ruin. I’m picturing this as sort of the anti Ephesus experience here, where you’re standing in a Roman ruin and you’re trying to get a picture past the thousands of people who are also trying to get their picture.
Betsy Talbot: We never went in one where there was another person.
Warren Talbot: Yeah. Your biggest challenge is you don’t have anyone to take a picture of you.
Chris Christensen: Right.
Warren Talbot: That is literally the only problem you have here. There will be days, even from Cash, where you can go into these ruins and spend hours by yourself. If you’re a history buff, it’s so beautiful. That’s the one thing that I would recommend to anyone. If you like history, read a little bit about this area. Read about the Lycian people. Read about how the Romans and why they were there. That will help you as you get on there.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. With your pack, you mentioned a GPS as one thing you would have thrown in your pack that you didn’t. What were you glad you packed? And what would you pack next time?
Betsy Talbot: I’m glad we packed a little air mattress to sleep on.
Warren Talbot: Yeah, absolutely. We had nice air foam mattresses from Big Agnes, and that was probably one of our greatest assets. Our shoes were fantastic, because about 95% of the walk is on rock of some sort. So having great shoes is really critical. Then I think the other thing is being able to make sure that we had enough water. So we had really large water bottles. While it added to the weight, there are two or three stretches where you go about 48-56 hours where you can’t find water sources. I think those were the things that we liked the most.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, I didn’t have to worry. I never felt that we were going to run out of water, and I was really glad about that. I would also say a headlamp.
Warren Talbot: Yeah.
Betsy Talbot: We have little headlamps.
Chris Christensen: Okay.
Betsy Talbot: When it gets dark and you’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s dark.
Chris Christensen: Now, Betsy, and particular additional issues with hiking, your normal hiking gear, and what is socially acceptable in an Islamic country? Granted, Turkey is a more secular country of some of the countries that are Islamic. But still, you’re out in the countryside. Are you wearing your usual hiking gear?
Betsy Talbot: Well, I am, but I have to say that my usual hiking gear is pretty conservative.
Chris Christensen: Okay.
Betsy Talbot: I burn really easily. So I typically do wear a loose long-sleeve shirt and pants. Because of the scrub in a lot of the area on this hike, you’ll want to cover up. But I went to Morocco after this hike. So there is a vast difference between Turkey and Morocco in the way that you can be, but I would still suggest being conservative in your dress in Turkey, even though it’s not nearly as restrictive as Morocco. There were some instances where if I wore a sleeveless shirt, that there was some inappropriate attention. But for the most part, I would say that it was fine.
Chris Christensen: Yeah, sleeveless shirt, even in Turkey, I don’t know that I would recommend. But on the other hand, we had a Turkish exchange student who lived just east of there, in Gaziantep. When I visited, his mother didn’t wear a hijab or anything like that. It’s quite common in Turkey that you would not, although some do.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, we didn’t really see any of that.
Warren Talbot: Not the entire time.
Betsy Talbot: Even when we were in Istanbul, we didn’t see a ton of that, which is strange. Chris Christensen: I saw that in Istanbul, in the Asian portion of the city.
Warren Talbot: Yes.
Chris Christensen: Much more so than in the European portion of the city, the city obviously being divided along the water there, the Bosphorus. But for some reason, it seemed like the people who had settled in the Asian portion were probably more recent immigrants, was my guess, but I saw it more conservative in that portion of the city and certainly not in the European portion.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah.
Warren Talbot: Yeah, and it’s the same, even less so out in the country. Most of them are religious. The calls to prayer are constant, almost incessant. As remote as this is, there were only two or three days where we didn’t hear the call to prayer.
Chris Christensen: Oh, interesting. Okay. One of the things that’s interesting culturally is that my understanding is that in Turkey, where it is a portion of the constitution that there has to be a separation of church and state, where they literally have given the army the power to depose the state if it gets too religious, that country is more religious, for instance, than in Iran right now, in terms of on a daily basis what the people do, even though they’re there imposing that you must be Islamic. When you tell me I have to be, maybe I don’t want to be, but if you give me the freedom to, then I’m interested.
Betsy Talbot: Chris, it was really interesting. We were in Cash, taking a couple days off in the middle of the hike, and it was during their Republic Day celebration, which is basically our 4th of July. They start the celebration in the evening. There were fireworks and music and officials who speak about the great country and all that. Well, the call to prayer started, and then the fireworks. All this stuff started at the same time to override it. I thought, “How strange that both of these are going on at the same time.” We’re sitting here watching this secular celebration at the same time as the call to prayer is fighting for attention over the airwaves. It was really interesting to see.
Chris Christensen: Interesting. Lots of posters of Ataturk, I suppose.
Betsy Talbot: Yes.
Warren Talbot: Lots of posters. Everybody has their own Ataturk statue. It was, again, a wonderful lesson in history as we were there, learning about the country and the history of the country from the people.
Chris Christensen: What was the best single day on the hike?
Betsy Talbot: I would say the best single day, for me, was when we were at the church of the Archangel Michael.
Warren Talbot: Gabriel.
Betsy Talbot: Gabriel. We were there. We had met another walker, and he camped with us that night. He was a very interesting German man, but he didn’t speak English. We didn’t speak German. So we all spoke Spanish together. I thought, “What a great night to be here, with a fire going and this beautiful setting, meeting a new friend.” I loved it.
Warren Talbot: Then for me, it would be the very last morning. We got up early with sunrise, as you do when you camp, packed our bags up, and walked to Phaselis, which was the next ruin next to us, which is one of the largest ruins that exists on the trail. It’s stunning and beautiful and huge and old and everything you could imagine. We got there, and we sat down in the middle of the ruins, on the ruins, and had breakfast. We were the only people there. We didn’t see another person for the hour that we stayed there. That, to me, was just stunning, watching the sun rise up over an ancient ruin and thinking how many people had had breakfast here over the thousands of years.
Chris Christensen: Interesting. Now, you mentioned, as you were talking about Cash, the boats. I think my picture of seeing this coast is probably not necessarily doing a 30-day long hike, but actually getting on one of the gullets, the small Turkish boats, and doing the coastal route that way. So that’s more on my list, I think. Although, I would say that I am more interested now in the Lycian Way, having talked to you, what was the biggest surprise?
Warren Talbot: We talked about it a moment ago, which was the religious aspect. I wasn’t sure what to expect. We had not been to Turkey before. We spent a month in Istanbul before, and then went down. But I think that what was different for me. I was expecting much more of the religious influence upon the culture itself. The amount of very staunch, Republic-oriented, independent, secular approach to everyone, in the midst of everyone being extremely religious, was really a fascinating dichotomy for me. I was shocked by it, frankly.
Betsy Talbot: I think for me, the biggest shock was that we finished it. I really was nervous. I really was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up and that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I felt really good when we finally did make it through. But I do want to just say something really quickly. You mentioned the boat. There was a segment of our trip when we actually did go sleep on a boat at night, for four nights I think we did.
Warren Talbot: Yep.
Betsy Talbot: We walked during the day, and then the boat would pick us up. We would stay on the boat and go swimming in the afternoon, and it was a great way to do this hike. If someone wants to go there and do that for about a week, I would highly recommend that way of doing it.
Warren Talbot: Yeah. So you still walk the entire route. You just sleep in the evenings on a boat and have someone cook for you, and you get fresh fruits.
Chris Christensen: Oh, now we’re talking. Okay. Okay.
Warren Talbot: Yeah. Yeah. That leaves out of Cash, and that was a fantastic experience.
Betsy Talbot: Yes. We took Captain Osmond’s [SP] boat.
Warren Talbot: Yeah.
Betsy Talbot: It was fantastic. So I would highly recommend that. We were not planning on doing that. That was a brainstorm by Sherry. We were a little bit skeptical of how well that was going to work out, and it was fantastic.
Chris Christensen: Well, then the other advantage, for those of us who don’t like carrying heavy packs, is that you’re basically day hiking at that point.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, you’re day hiking. You’re just carrying your water and some snacks. Then, of course, they cook on the boat, and they do such a great job. It’s a really easy, laid back, wonderful, wonderful way to see it.
Warren Talbot: The thing that you enjoy the most is if you’ve been carrying 30 pounds of weight for two and a half weeks, and then you don’t, it’s like you’re sprinting down the road. You’re just screaming with joy. You’re so happy. [Laughter]
Chris Christensen: That’s funny. Now, this was your first trip to Turkey. We have actually talked about Turkey quite a lot on the Amateur Traveler. But for anybody who’s started listening in the last couple years, you probably haven’t heard us talk about it because they’re older episodes. So what was your overall impression from Turkey? Did you, as I, fall in love with turkey?
Betsy Talbot: We actually looked for real estate in Turkey. That tells you how much we loved it. Now, we didn’t buy anything, but we did really like it. It’s a beautiful place with fantastic people. We loved the food. I could easily see going back there repeatedly. Warren Talbot: I think the reason that we fall in love with places, and I’m sure it’s the same for you and your listeners, which is it’s the people. There are beautiful places all over the world, but the people change the dynamic. What I fell in love with was the small kind of homey feel of the little villages that we would pass through and the people’s willingness to step out and talk to us. We know very little, but if you walk up and just say [inaudible 00:25:45], and then say a couple words, people are happy.
Chris Christensen: Hello.
Warren Talbot: They’ll talk to you, and they’ll spend hours regaling you with conversation and deterring you from your walk, which is delightful. Betsy Talbot: There were many, many occasions where we would stop to have a little snack. We would be sitting on a rock and think that we were in sort of a vacant area, and all of a sudden someone comes out with a big handful of grapes for us or water or apples. It’s just always a smile and a brief conversation because, of course, we don’t speak Turkish. But it was beautiful.
Warren Talbot: Yeah. So we fell in love with the country and the culture by far.
Chris Christensen: I did try and study Turkish, again, when we had a Turkish exchange student. But I did find the language challenging. For example, just so people know, Turkish is an agglutinated language, meaning that you put words together like boxcars, like German does. So for instance, if I want to say, “Do you speak English?” That’s only two words. That’s the good news. The other good news is that the first word is [inaudible 00:26:40], which is English. So that’s relatively simple. But the second word is a whole sentence, which is, “Do you speak,” is [inaudible 00:26:46].
I always felt that if I could say that, I wouldn’t need to. If I could master that, that maybe I would master Turkish, except for modern words. Modern words, there were a lot of cognates. There were a lot of words that are common with English that were borrowed, and then semi-modern words. Words from, say, the 1800s, were borrowed from French. So a driver is a chauffeur, for instance. You mentioned a pensione. So a lot of the nouns that are newer are recognizable, but the conjugation and the verbs and the older words, like food and bread and things like this, [inaudible 00:27:27] and things that are not at all English-related. So I found it challenging, of the languages I’ve studied.
Warren Talbot: I’m really impressed that you dove in, because I agree. It’s a hard one. It is challenging. Like you said, the need to kind of concatenate words together to create different versions and different sentences was really hard for us, so good on you for doing it.
Chris Christensen: Didn’t get very far.
Betsy Talbot: Well, you know, one thing that we did and something that we do in a lot of places that we go is to carry sort of a cheat sheet, because you can’t learn the language of every place that you’re going to visit, of course. But if you can have 10 or 20 phrases that you have written down that you can learn to say, first of all, it shows respect to the culture that you’re going to. Second of all, it’s just going to make your life a whole lot easier.
Warren Talbot: Whole lot easier.
Chris Christensen: Right, excellent. As we start to wind this down, few questions for you. You’re standing in the prettiest spot on the Lycian Way. Where are you standing? And what are you looking at?
Warren Talbot: For me, it was early on in the hike. Maybe we were in the first week. We came down out of a very, very tough hike, and it was an extremely warm day. It was probably 35 degrees Celsius and just really blazing hot.
Chris Christensen: So in the 90s in Fahrenheit.
Warren Talbot: We get to this beach, and we’re standing on the beach. There’s just like three or four people there, in the middle of nowhere, and we strip off our clothes down to our swimsuits and leap into the Mediterranean. We are away from our backpacks, and we both float on our backs in the Mediterranean, and it feels like there is nothing around us. That moment is crystallized in my memory of absolute beauty and perfection.
Betsy Talbot: I think for me, a lot of times, it was coming up around a bend, climbing up on a hill. You come up around a bend, and all of a sudden, there’s the sea, and there’s this beautiful cliff. I know the point for me that I thought was just so magical, and I thought we were in the most perfect spot ever. We actually got to camp there that night. I mean we’ve been traveling since 2010. So we’ve stayed in some pretty fantastic places in the world. I told Warren, “This is the best place we have ever stayed in our entire lives, and it’s not costing us a dime.” Warren Talbot: Three or four hours later, it wasn’t as beautiful.
Betsy Talbot: No. A great big storm moved in, and we had to evacuate in the middle of the night. But when we went to bed, it was fantastic.
Chris Christensen: I didn’t ask. Best time to do this, of the year?
Betsy Talbot: Spring and fall is best.
Warren Talbot: I would say April and November.
Chris Christensen: Avoiding the heat of the summer.
Betsy Talbot: Well, you can’t do it in the summer. It would be impossible.
Warren Talbot: Yeah, I can’t imagine. Then also avoiding the snow, because there are certain elements along the . . .
Chris Christensen: That was my next question. Okay.
Warren Talbot: Yeah. On the east side, when you get up over the mountains, there is going to be snow if you go earlier than April or later than November.
Betsy Talbot: I think most people do it in the spring. We did it in the fall, and I’m glad we did that because we got to see the Republic Day, and we also got to see the other festival, which is completely slipping my mind right now. That happens in October, and it’s three or four days, and everyone is very festive, and they invite you into their celebrations. So for me, I think that’s the best time to go.
Warren Talbot: yeah, the Feast of the Sacrifice.
Betsy Talbot: Yes.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. I didn’t ask this one, but I’m going to get in trouble with some of the listeners if I don’t. When did you feel closest to home, most familiar? And when did you feel furthest from home?
Warren Talbot: The most familiar, I think I’ve blocked it from my mind. You walk into the village. It’s not even a village. It’s more of a holiday area. We’d been hiking about a week and a half. The night before, we had slept in a field. We walk in, and all it is is English. They don’t speak anything else. Everyone is English. It was really challenging. There was nothing Turkish about the area. We had kabobs served by a guy that was English. So that was when I felt the closest to home.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, it was very much a touristy kind of a place. We could have gotten anything we wanted there, I think. Yeah.
Chris Christensen: It’s funny. I felt closest to home, and yet I didn’t enjoy it at all, is really what you’re telling me.
Warren Talbot: Yes. I think that’s the best way to say it. Yes. But unfortunately, it comes to mind as the visceral reaction that I had at that moment. But as far as the furthest away, would you agree that it was probably Saint Gabriel?
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, I would say the ruined church that we stayed on the mountain, because we were really so far away from everything.
Warren Talbot: Yep.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Before we get into our last three questions, what else should people know before they tackle the Lycian Way?
Betsy Talbot: I would say that you need to go away for a weekend, test out all of your gear, and walk with your pack and make sure that it’s okay. I’m really glad that we did the West Highland Way beforehand, because it showed me that the pack I had was not appropriate for what we needed, and I got a new one before we went.
Warren Talbot: And start early. The sun comes up around 6:00 there. So you can start hiking by 7:00, and the sun is up nicely. It gets hot. The afternoons are really warm. So you want to make sure that you have invested the time early, to where you can do it and finish at a reasonable hour. I would also say take your time and enjoy the scenery. Don’t blaze through this. It is stunning. So you want to make sure that you are allowing yourself a little bit extra time each day to just enjoy and make sure that you are taking in the sights, because it is some of the most beautiful scenery in the history that you’ll ever experience.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Last three questions. One thing that makes you laugh and say, “Only in Turkey or only on the Lycian Way.”
Betsy Talbot: I would say listening to the call to prayer five times a day, every day. I mean, I think we were woken up by the call to prayer in the most remote locations. [Laughing]
Warren Talbot: For me, it would be the bread. Everyone just exists around bread. It just is so funny. But to me, what really shocked me was the bread is always served with the same things. So we walked for 500 kilometers and had the same breakfast for 30 days.
Chris Christensen: Okay. So it’s yogurt and olives and cheese and bread.
Warren Talbot: Exactly.
Betsy Talbot: And honey.
Warren Talbot: And honey.
Chris Christensen: And honey. Sorry. I forgot the honey. Yes.
Betsy Talbot: Cucumbers and tomatoes.
Warren Talbot: And it doesn’t matter where you are.
Chris Christensen: Cucumbers and tomatoes, right. Very fresh food too, except for the olives, which are obviously preserved, is my experience.
Warren Talbot: Oh, absolutely. It’s fantastic. I’d never had it anywhere else, and I’ve never had the consistency. So to me, only in Turkey could I have that level of consistency.
Chris Christensen: Did you try the Persimmon’s sauce? Did you get that?
Betsy Talbot: I don’t remember Persimmon’s.
Chris Christensen: There’s a purple sauce that sometimes will get served, especially with the meat and with the cucumber, onion, and tomatoes, that is really good. So look for that.
Warren Talbot: Okay.
Betsy Talbot: Now, we have to go back.
Warren Talbot: All right, done. Yeah, Chris has talked us into it.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Finish this sentence. You really know you’re on the Lycian Way when . . . What?
Betsy Talbot: When you’re walking on rocks. [Laughing] I kept telling Warren, “I can’t wait for my feet to actually touch dirt.” [Laughing]
Warren Talbot: For me, it would be when your story is, “Oh, great, another ruin.” Right? Because there is just so many. You can’t keep up with all of them, and you’ll run through three, four, five in a day. So if you’re walking on it, you’re going to wander through ancient ruins.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. If you had to summarize the Lycian Way in just three words, what three words would you use?
Betsy Talbot: Well, for me, it would be rustic, blue. Everywhere you look is such a gorgeous, gorgeous turquoise blue. Then I would say peaceful.
Warren Talbot: Historic. Stunning. Hard. [Laughter] The last one is not to be underestimated. It is hard to walk 500 kilometers on the Lycian Way.
Betsy Talbot: Despite those people who did it in like 17 days.
Warren Talbot: Yeah, despite those people.
Betsy Talbot: I don’t know who those people are.
Chris Christensen: So we hate them is what you’re saying.
Betsy Talbot: We hate them.
Warren Talbot: Yes, we do.
Chris Christensen: What is the hardest part? You mentioned going up over the mountains at one point.
Betsy Talbot: I think it’s the perseverance. It’s not any one moment in time.
Chris Christensen: It’s the doing it again tomorrow.
Betsy Talbot: It’s doing it again tomorrow. It’s carrying the pack. It’s having the water. No matter how sore you are, you have to keep going. I’m making it sound like it’s terrible. I do want you to know I am not a super athlete. If I can do this, I think any reasonably fit person could.
Warren Talbot: You can. There’re a couple days where you go down maybe a thousand meters, so 3000 feet, and then you go up 3000 feet. Those are hard days, just the accumulative amount of down and up that you do. So just to give you a sense, the amount of ascent that you do in a course of 500 kilometers is the equivalent of Mount Everest. So you’re going up, you’ve got a lot of ascent in there. It’s a challenging hike, but it is rewarding beyond measure.
Chris Christensen: Then how heavy were your packs?
Warren Talbot: Mine was 15 kilos, so 30 pounds.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, they were about 30 pounds. Yeah.
Warren Talbot: Just about the same, when you load them up with water.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, you have to load up with food and water every day, plus your gear, your tent, your sleeping bag, and all of that. I would say it would be hard. You wouldn’t want to go much heavier than that.
Warren Talbot: Although, we met a guy, the German guy. He was carrying a 35-kilo, 70-pound pack. I don’t know how he did it. That was an insane amount of weight.
Betsy Talbot: Yeah, he was also not a very big person. He was very slight. I never knew how he lifted his pack, but yeah. I wouldn’t recommend overdoing it on your pack because you have to carry that every step of the way.
Chris Christensen: Excellent.
Betsy Talbot: Unless you get the boat, of course.
Chris Christensen: And again, that’s the option that appeals to me. Warren and Betsy, where can people read more about your travels?
Betsy Talbot: Well, you can always find out more about what we’re doing at Marriedwithluggage.com, but we did also keep a journal of our entire journey for this. It is at Hikethelycian.com. It’s a day-by-day journal with pictures.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Not with GPS maps, unfortunately.
Warren Talbot: It does not have GPS maps, sadly. I’m very sorry to say that. But it does talk a lot about us getting lost. So you can follow that along.
Betsy Talbot: We do have a link there about where you can get GPS maps. So learn from our lesson.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Well, thanks so much for coming on the Amateur Traveler and telling us a little bit about your adventures. Then as we mentioned, Warren and Betsy also have written a book called Married With Luggage and have a podcast of the same name, if you’re interested. Although, that focuses more on the relationships than the travel, but you throw in some travel there as well.
Warren Talbot: We still travel. So we still see the world. So we just explain our relationship in terms of what we’ve learned as we travel around the world.
Betsy Talbot: How we fight and love around the world. Maybe we should rename it. [Laughing]
Warren Talbot: There you go.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Thanks for coming on the Amateur Traveler.
Betsy Talbot: Thanks, Chris.
Warren Talbot: Thanks, Chris. We’re huge fans. We’re just absolutely thrilled to be here.
Before we get into this week’s interview, I do have just one news story for you. If you’re looking for the ultimate luxurious experience in air travel, I think you’ll have to look at Etihad Airways. Etihad is now the first airline to put multi-room suites on a plane that is on a commercial plane at least. They’re not big suites, but they’re 125 square foot, including a living room area partitioned off the first-class aisle, leather seating, chilled minibar, a 32-inch flat-screen TV, and of course a butler. For a link to that story, check out the show notes at Amateurtraveler.com.
Chris Christensen: I don’t have much community news this week. I’m leaving for Jordan on Saturday, and you’ll hear more about that trip later on. If all goes well, we will not skip a week while I’m in Jordan. I’m expecting that by the time I get back from Jordan, we’ll probably have the sign-up page for the Amateur Traveler trip to Morocco in April. And again, we’ll be announcing that first in the private group, Amateurtraveler.com/trip, and then in the newsletter, and then on the show. With that, we’re going to end this episode of the Amateur Traveler. If you have any questions, feel free to send an email to host at amateurtraveler.com. Also, join the Facebook community or follow me on Twitter, @Chris2X. If you listen to Amateur Traveler on iTunes or in Stitcher Smart Radio, don’t forget to vote because that’s how people find the show. As always, thanks so much for listening.
Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.
+Chris Christensen | @chris2x | facebook
3 Responses to “Hike the Lycian Way in Turkey – Episode 420”
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Tags: adventure travel, audio travel podcast, hiking, lycian way, podcast, trekking, turkey
May 18th, 2014 at 9:03 am
When the talked about how there were ruins everywhere (“another ruin), I was reminded of the year I lived and worked in Cairo. After a while, all the pyramids and other large stone structures were “BFRs” — Big F’ing Rocks.
May 30th, 2014 at 2:19 am
That is an amazing view! So jealous!
November 2nd, 2021 at 7:54 am
Is there anyway to chat to them now? Are they still running their blog etc? their website is down and I am planning the Lycian way in April and would love to pick their brains