Feeling a little bit sad about saying good bye to the crew of the Nirvana, we got on a bus for a day of mostly driving. The route took us along the Mediterranean coast past massive quantities of green houses growing fruits and vegetables. We had seen a similar set up in Peru growing flowers for export, but we saw them for more than half of the 200 miles we drove today. The coastline was as beautiful as the part we had sailed past on the gulet and every so often we passed a touristy looking resort town. In the summer it appears that much of northern Europe migrates here for holidays.
As a nice break in the day we stopped at the ruins at Myra. They are still being excavated and the stones of the arena looked gray where they had been exposed to the elements for a while and brownish orange where they earth burying them had recently been removed. Myra also has rock tombs built into the cliffs as we saw in Dalyan.
Myra's other claim to fame is that it was the home of St. Nicholas - of Santa Claus fame. At previous stops we've seen a surprising number of Chinese and Japanese tour groups, but here things turned Russian. There were Cyrillic signs every where, icons for sale, and tour guides speaking Russian. A church was built here in St. Nicholas honor in 450 and since the Russians revere this saint, the tsar bought the church ruins property and began to restore the church. Today is belongs to Turkey and is a museum, but much restoration still needs to be done. The frescoes were the most impressive part of this church and we struggled to make out the Bible stories they portrayed.
As every fan of Christmas knows, our Santa Claus is modeled after Saint Nicholas. He was a rich man, revered for his generosity to the poor. Today images of the jolly version of the saint are seen all over town - as Russian stacking dolls, as a welcoming figure in gift stores selling Christmas decorations and ornaments. It was quite a surprise to find so much activity that belongs at the North Pole here in Turkey.