Saint Paul Trail

Last year we traveled to Turkey in August. We walked the saint Paul Trail. A +/- 400 km journey from Antalya to Egirdir and back.

Although the trail book discouraged hikers to walk the trail in August because of the heat and a lack of water, we went anyway. (I’m a teacher, so I haven’t got much of a choice. ;-))

Luckily there were many water sources on the way for shepherds and their flock.

1st of August

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From Lier station

Over de Alpen

Over the Alps

First we took a taxi to Perge, where the route starts. There were lovely ruins and many dilapidated greenhouses on dry grounds.

A local family offered us some tea and watermelon. We read that it was not done to decline offers in Turkey. So, although we’d just started to walk, we accepted the invitation and sat down and enjoyed the tea. Jan doesn’t like watermelon, but was too polite to decline the offer, so that was funny to watch.

We continued the route after half an hour. It wasn’t easy because we couldn’t find the white and red markings that lead the way. So we tried to find our way, using the route description in the book. Apparently the route had been altered.  A lady shepherd with sheep in the woods told us we were on private property and we had to get to the road. And so we did. A pity, because of that we missed a nice roman aquaduct. We walked on an asphalted road. Not exactly what we’d planned and hoped for. But we did meet a turtle!

Because of the unexpected tea and watermelon we arrived too late at the parc of Kursunlu. It was about to close, so we missed the waterfall. At the entrance of the parc was a tab, where we filled our bottles so we had enough water  for the rest of the evening. Jan found a nice place to camp at a little river bank. As the sun set, we cooked our first meal. In the dark we bathed in the river and took pictures of a little frog.

During the night our sleep was roughly disrupted by gun shots. We were a little scared, but also very tired, so we went back to sleep very quickly.

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2nd of August

Not hit by a bullet and very happy about that, we got up early at our river bank.

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A little crab delayed our departure, because of course we couldn’t resist taking pictures of it.

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_IGP0683 I put a compete on my foot, because it hurt. Hoping for more idyllic places to discover, we walked this long road. I said to Jan : “Look, there is the finish line!” Alas.

 This road continued for several kilometers. My feet were sweaty and it was extremely hot on the asphalt. Luckily there was a little shop where we bought some bread and cheese and a fresh Ayran. You should try it!

There were also some barking dogs. Very scary, that was. They followed a scooter and I feared for my legs. But as we passed, it seemed it was all barking and no biting.

The road became narrower and we met an old lady who gave us some fresh figs. My foot hurt a lot, but I didn’t want to take off my shoe to look at it.

We walked through some nice villages where time stood still. At the mosque we filled our water supplies.

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 And when we didn’t pass the mosque, we could refill at the beautiful graveyards. We could even refresh our feet or go to a toilet…but we preferred not to.

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_IGP0732We continued our journey and finally saw the small path with palm trees which led to the regulator we would have to cross. It was a beautiful place.

We took a break. Jan made pictures of this fisherman and I took off my shoe.

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_IGP0736 It wasn’t pretty. Lesson learned: don’t use compete.

I never saw such a huge blister in my life. The only thing I could think of was: “How am I ever going to be able to fit in my shoe again?” Because of the heat, my feet had swollen and the shoes were a bit tight. Second lesson learned: buy bigger shoes for hiking!

It was impossible to fit in the bloody shoe again. So there was only one thing to do: pierce the monster!

Although I was a bit worried because we had to cross the water. But there was no other way. Except maybe for Jan carrying me…through the water, like a tough man in the heat of the Turkish summer. Haha, as I said: no other way.

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The water was very fresh and clean. It was lovely to walk through it. I would have done it several times, I thing, if it wasn’t for the pierced blister. At the other side, we took our lunch break. That wasn’t such a good idea. The Turkish hospitality has its limits. There was a very pushy family, showing of a shot goose and insisting on touching all our stuff and on having diner. It was too much to bare, so we took off and rested under the shadows of some trees. That was a pity, because actually we wanted to go for a swim.