The Turkish coasts of the Mediterranean Sea is rife with beautiful beaches. Sunny weather is a given there. If we add the unique charm of local towns, such as Dalyan, Fethiye or Marmaris, we get the perfect recipe for a holidays destination.
When my colleagues told me about their summer vacation spent by the pool in a hotel, somwhere i nthe middle of nowhere, where the biggest attraction is 40 degrees in shaded areas, I listened with a sarcastic grin on my face. It turns out I was wrong to look down upon it. Pure rest has it’s charm. Even for lunatics, who just can sit in on place for a few minutes and always have a bilion plans, on what to do next. Dawdling by the pool surely won’t become my favourite way of spending spare time, nevertheless there always comes a moment, when you get fed up with day-to-day business, feeling simply overworked. Your body starts rebelling against you, sending signals, as if saying „C’mon, give me a break!”. In these moments, it’s best to chill out.
For me, vacation means exploring new places and tastes, getting to know people… My appetite for such activities is great… it’s a „wanderlust”, as they call it. Still, planning is important. During sleepless nights, I’ve been pouring endlessly over maps, checking trains to distant places, planning my budget for the next trip. For me, the preparations are as fun as the trip itself. But recently, I’ve discovered (about time!), that a trip without a plan can still be nice. You just have to get rid of your inner Mr. Monk, let go of OCD and enjoy life. Fortunately, my wanderlust is greater than my penchant for planning, so when I heard „Come visit us in Turkey”, my first reaction was „sure, why not?”. After getting my plane tickets, I immediately bought a guide. But after reading the first paragraph, I thought „Settle down, for crying out loud! It’s only 3 days. Try to relax”.
On my first day, while going to bed, I realized, how happy I am without the need to set the alarm clock. I wanted to do it, but then remembered there’s no need. Even without the alarm clock, I woke up early – and well-rested. I was happy to discover, that there’s breakfast waiting for me already. Just like that. No shopping, no cooking. Someone else took care of it. A small thing, yet so pleasant. Then, while I was sipping my coffee, it dawned on me – I don’t have to do anything. No risk of being late, as there’s no schedule. I’ve plenty of spare time… Why not lie down by the swimming pool and catch some sunlight? Yet idleness was too much of a sacrifice to make for just a sun tan, so I decided to catch up on my reading list.
The best things about my hotel in Dalaman, apart from low prices and vicinity to the airport, were peace and silence all around. Which surprised me, as I was expecting flocks of tourists during mid-season. Yet it was calm – and for a reason. Many of the guests were the crewmembers of passenger planes, while families of tourists spent most of their time on the beach.
It’s hard to believe that this sprawling town was once a small fishing village. It’s perfect for all those, who enjoy sunbathing during the day and wild clubbing at night.
The beach is divided into sectors, each belonging to its neighbouring restaurant. You can use the loungers for free, however it is forbidden to consume your own food and beverages. The world is within your reach, thanks to free wi-fi connection, and dashing young waiters bring you fancy drinks. It’s best, though, not to order anything too fancy and check what the other tourists are drinking beforehand. My friends were surprised (the waiter wasn’t) to discover, that there’s no mint in their mojitos. The food, on the other hand, is great, and you have plenty to choose from – traditional Turkish mezze, Italian pasta and delicious local fish – everything tastes superb.
Once the sun begins to set, the beaches become empty. British and Russian tourists switched their flip-flops for high-heels and families returned to their hotels for supper. That’s when you have a chance to take a dip or a walk. Then, finally, you feel like you’ve travelled back in time, to the small fishing village of yore.
For supper, I’d recommend choosing one of the restaurants in the port. It’s lively, but far from noisy. You can look at exclusive yachts, docking nearby and listen to live music.
Marmaris is famous for its bars and discos. Music is heard in every corner of the town and everyone can find some genre they enjoy most.
If you’re planning to stay a while longer, be sure to take a cruise to the Greek isle of Rhodos.
The Valley of Butterflies was my destination for the next day. This bay, surrounded by tall cliffs, owes its name to a black and red and white butterfly, known as the Jersey tiger. Hundreds of them show up in the valley during summer. Other species, though not in such great numbers, are seen here all year round. There’s over 30 diurnal and 40 nocturnal insects dwelling in the valley. Butterflies are not the only attraction there. These insects – and many local tropical plants – thrive in the valley due to air humidity, provided by a waterfall, created by water from the Faralya watermill, which cascades down into the valley floor. There are no buildings on this beach, except for a wooden shack, where you can buy refreshments. You can get there by boat from Ölü Deniz or reach the valley on foot, through Faralya – a village situated 2000 feet above. We’ve decided to walk there. This route offered us some amazing sights of the local landscape – all seen from a bird’s perspective. When finally I walked up a cliff and saw the bay below, I was mesmerized. No photo could give justice to its beauty.
Searching for a path leading to the valley, we happened upon an interesting restaurant. If you can call it that at all. We have different backgrounds (namely, Polish, Slovak and Lebanese), but each of us found some objects inside, that we recall from our childhood . We felt as if we were visiting our grandmas, not because of how the place looked, but because of it’s cosy atmosphere and the charming owner of the place.
It turned out the path to the valley is far too steep to brave in flip-flops, and we didn’t want to wait for a car, that would take us to the valley and back again. It would take 40 minutes to get there and there was one fee to divide between passengers – and there was just the three of us. It was getting late and we didn’t have much time. We’ve decided to return here some other time and continued to Fathiye, to eat dinner and enjoy the sunshine, as we had to return to Dalaman soon.
The local beach turned out to be a paraglider’s heaven. The promenade was full of paragliders and their instructors. The wind was fair, so they could see the landscape from a bird’s eye view. Meanwhile I had a chance to look at the local women…
After midnight, I became really hungry and had to eat something before going to sleep. The hotel surprised me again. It was the middle of the night, but the receptionist handed me the menu, telling me they’ll fix me up anything I order. The price was also astounding – only 20 pln!
My flight was in the evening, so I had plenty of time to see Dalyan. The guides described it as a crowded tourist resort, however I found it to be a lovely town with really nice people. There’s tourists alright, however fishing is still the towns main source of income. The shops and restaurants offer you many types of fish and red caviar.
The spiny turtle is the towns symbol. It’s an endangered species, hence in 1986, the government developed a conservation programme for the turtles’ breeding territories. That’s when a monument of the spiny turtle was raised in Dalyan. It’s nigh impossible to see a live spiny turtle, but souvenirs featuring this animal are everywhere. The beaches of Dalyan, where spiny turtles lay their eggs, has been the habitat of this species for centuries. As part of the conservation programme, it is now forbidden to visit the beach at night, when the turtles emerge. Regardless, I recommend going there during the day, to enjoy the sights during a cruise. It’s just a half-hour ride via a river cab.
The eastern bank of the river features some tombs from 4th century BC. They were built by the Lycians, who believed, that the souls of mortals are being carried into the afterlife by a bird demon. That’s why they placed their tombs on clifftops. The history of this region is fascinating – as seen in the tombs’ architecture, which mixes Greek and Persian influences. One of the region’s most famous statues – the Nereid Monument – is now a part of the British Museum collection, in London.
The only trace of the spiny turtle were the places, where thir eggs used to be laid. With no turtle in sight, I decided to focus on the landscape and tourists.
On my way back, I was already quite familiar with the landscape, so I decided to observe the other passengers instead.
With all those beautiful places in my memory, fully regenerated by the Turkish sunlight, I could finally return to the mundane world.
Everyone needs some R&R at a tourist resort from time to time. Only some people don’t do this often, and when they do, it’s not for long.