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Into a fairy tale dream from the harsh reality of war

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Author: Liudmyla Tuteiko, Ukraine
Teamleader: Olha Vasanova
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I had been dreaming about this hiking trip long before the full-scale one started. Moreover, I already had thought-out route and bought tickets for April 2022. What happened next is clear...

The war affected different people in different ways. But there is one understanding, I think, that everyone has – the realization that life is extremely fragile and fleeting, today you are here – and after another arrival you are already there… That’s why somehow having adapted to the new realities and continuing to systematically join our victory, I decided that I should also gain strength and realize my long-held dream.

It was not easy to decide – a million objections were swarming in my head – “not the right time”, “I’m ashamed to leave my man here”, “wouldn’t it be better to give this money to the VSU”, “I’ve never traveled by myself – I’m scared” – and so on… So I “waited” until November – and then I clearly understood: I really need it now and who knows if I will have another opportunity.

I applied for the program almost a week before the start of the trip – I literally jumped on the last carriage… I knew what was waiting for me – a minimum of 24 hours on the road, with several transfers and a great opportunity to “poke” somewhere – so the level of anxiety before the trip itself was very high. But as soon as I got on the bus Lviv – Warsaw, I felt that I was doing everything right and this trip was long overdue.

Turkey – as well as our guide Olya – greeted us with gentle sunny warmth. As soon as we were all together in blooming Antalya, all remnants of anxiety were instantly dispelled. It was a little strange and new to me – a feeling of complete peace and relaxation – because I had never gone on a trip with a guide before, I organized everything myself with my husband and friends! Given the circumstances in the country, the group gathered a small – 3 people only (girls-sisters and me) – which also at first caused some apprehension. “I don’t know these people – what if I don’t feel comfortable with them? In a large company, after all, there is a better chance of finding a companion to your liking! I even got myself an e-book for that case – I thought if it was that bad, I would sit by the sea and read a book. By the way, I left the book in my luggage at the end of the first day sightseeing in Fethiye – I immediately realized that I do not need it. The soulful female company promised a terrific trip!

We got to know each other fully on the first evening at the fish market in Fethiye. After a stroll
evening promenade and our first adventures in search of a drugstore, we spent an extremely warm and intimate evening in the company of women with a glass of wine with incredibly delicious fresh and just cooked for us seafood. There were just fun conversations, introductions to gifts from Couloir, first revelations, and just heartfelt conversations. The beautiful evening ended with an evening stroll around Fethiye with old tombs and an incredible panorama of the whole city.

From there, the whole hike flew by like one beautiful, vividly saturated dream. A dream, because everything was too perfect to seem real. Picturesque bays, boundless sea, majestic mountains, the best sunsets in my life, delicious güzlimeks and tart pomegranate freshes, and unusual female company. Each day was like the previous day (you wake up and go!) – but each in its own unique way! In addition to the incredible scenery, the girls and I really liked the hotels that we were picked for the itinerary. In fact, each one was different and each one was even better than the last. Somewhere there were fabulous scenery, somewhere – the life of an old Greek village, somewhere – an incredibly homely atmosphere, and everywhere – very friendly hosts, often with their “chip”.

The route itself seemed easy enough at first, I usually went on heavier hikes. However, I realized that this was exactly what I needed at the time, as I was not in the best physical shape due to the constant stress. Being able to get a really great night’s sleep, eat super delicious food, swim and bask on the beach between hikes was perfect for me! In addition, when there is no constant heavy lifting and after a day of hiking not fall off his feet – there is a lot of time and inspiration for mental conversations or fun games, whether during the transition, contemplating the fabulous scenery, sitting by the fireplace with a cup of tea.

I especially enjoyed and was inspired by guide Olya’s stories about her incredible adventures during different hikes. We all discussed funny stories together and often got practical tips and advice on the next trips. The girls and I each discovered a lot of great tips and planned for ourselves a bunch of things we want to do next and where else to travel, and it was much needed inspiration to dream and move forward in these very challenging times!

The weather was just great. When I was buying my tickets, the forecast said rain for the entire trip. And I wasn’t hoping for any warmth either – it was mid to late November, and I kept kicking myself for missing the trip in October. Extremely strange sounded back home Olya’s advice to take a swimsuit and shorts. So glad I believed her and not the forecast! We enjoyed the warm, sunny days with the perfect temperature for me (+20-+25) – it rained only once, and then only at night! Swimming in the sea at this late hour was a real eye opener for me! Especially when my relatives from Ukraine started throwing pictures of the first snow. appreciate every moment under the warm sun – and thanked the weather for the pleasant coolness during the heavier climbs higher in the mountains. Now I think November in the Lycik is the perfect time to hike! All in all, I think this hike was almost the best trip of my life! I came back full of strength and incredible energy, and although the situation around with new air alerts and arrivals and constant power outages that promise to be even longer, quickly brought me back from a fairytale dream to a harsh reality, I feel very clearly that I have some magic box of warmth and energy in me, from where I can draw strength to move forward and strive hard for our victory. For this I am incredibly grateful to my hiking companions as well as the Kuluar team – Lyuda and Olya. I am already planning my next trips with you, so see you soon!

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