Eerily empty airport and the country’s cleanest chef produces a real Turkish Delight

The road leading to Dalaman Airport in south-west Turkey was uncannily empty – especially for a Saturday night. We had scarcely seen another pair of headlights since we had left Fethiye.

We were in a hire car which we had rented to pick up my sister Julia from the airport – an hour’s drive away from where we were anchored on the edge of the old town.

Our first boat guest on S/V Sunday

When we arrived, the airport approach was also eerily quiet – I had honestly never seen an airport so devoid of bustle – very few cars, no buses, one or two taxis, hardly any people and no planes landing and taking off!

It was so empty that while we waited for Julia’s flight to land we were able to park very close to the terminal building in a bay normally reserved for airport executives and VIPs.

It was so exciting to have our first boat visitor on Sunday – our Lagoon 420 catamaran – since taking possession of her in March 2020.

It was so exciting to have our first guest at last

We had bought this particular boat – more like a floating apartment than a conventional sailboat – so that we could share our life aboard with family and friends. Then Covid-19 hit, no one was able to travel and we were rattling round in this lovely spacious boat wondering if we had made an expensive mistake.

Great photo of Sunday courtesy of Sam Stewart
Chief Mate, Motor Yacht S

Fast forward to the end of July/beginning of August, when many European countries opened their borders and travellers from the UK weren’t obliged to quarantine on their return, and my switched-on sister Julia quickly made the decision to fly to Turkey and join us for a week.

Social distancing Sunday style

It seemed rather strange that while family and friends in Australia (where there are many, many, fewer cases of Covid-19 than in any country in Europe) were still unable even to cross the state border, let alone fly out of the country, hundreds of thousands of Europeans (and Russians who have scarily high numbers of virus cases) were pouring into top holiday spots such as Turkey and Greece. It is/was very confusing.

We love those sunsets – best part of the day

Putting our fears and doubts aside but ensuring we “masked up”, we spent the following day in the old quarter of Fethiye buying a few gifts for Julia to take home and on a mission to find coffee flavored Turkish delight for our sister Sarah whose source in London had dried up.

Shopping in the old quarter of Fethiye is a delight
These cushion covers were very tempting

At each shop the assistant insisted on us having a taste test – pistachio, rose water, vanilla, apple, pomegranate and every other imaginable flavour of Turkish delight – except for coffee!

Turkish delight of every flavour – except for coffee!

Some offered other sweets that were coffee flavoured. At one shop the shop keeper said he had coffee flavoured Turkish Delight in another shop and sent out his colleague to collect some for us. The colleague came back with a massive silver tray of “plain“ Turkish Delight that had been tossed in coffee powder. Not what were after at all!

We gave up on our quest after many attempts and feeling slightly seedy after all the sweets we had consumed in the name of research decided to go for lunch at the fish market before heading to the Lycian Rock Tombs – carved into the mountainside high above the sprawling town of Fethiye.

The fish market was a sight to behold

These amazing edifices look like the entrances to ancient temples but are in fact facades of tombs dating back to the 4th Century.

The amazing 4th century rock tombs
How long did it take to chip each tomb out of the rock?
Some were very grand and looked like temples

Apparently the Lycians believed that their dead were carried to the afterlife by magical winged creatures and so they placed their dead in geographically high places such as the cliffside – for ease of take off I guess.

The tombs were placed high up so the magical winged creatures could take them to the afterlife
Some of the tombs were quite basic but would probably have had ornately carved timber doors

The most important tomb is the impressive construction built for Amyntas in 350 BC which has a Greek inscription on the side of it which reads “Amyntou tou Ermagiou”, which translated means “Amyntas, son of Hermagios”.

The tomb of Amyntas
The ancient ruined fortress high above Fethiye town thought to date back to the eleventh century
Great views from the hill above the town
Love to look at boats from any angle

That evening we had a delicious meal specially prepared for us as promised by “Ryan” the friendly waiter who watched over our dinghy for us while we were exploring the town.

Our meze at the juice bar near to where we parked our dinghy amongst the fishing boats

There was no wind to speak of when we set off the next day to our first destination with Julia – a beautiful bay between Fethiye and Göcek called Ciglik Koyu.

The narrow entrance/exit to Fethiye

Julia and I spent many hours enjoying the clear cool water, swimming round and round the catamaran while Jonathan listened to our chatter getting quieter as we swam to the bow of the boat and then louder and louder as we neared the cockpit where he was relaxing.

Enjoying the beautiful clear water

We were very close to the beach but in deep water and successfully tied off with our new long line on a reel which made the whole process so much easier! Mind you, there were only a couple of other boats in the bay so that in itself meant it was much less stressful!

Our trusty reel
The strap on the reel made the task of long line mooring so much easier

We went for a nice but steep (and hot) walk along a track behind the bay and took some shots of the anchorage and of the ocean beyond.

Great view of Sunday in the bay below
Such a lovely view
Another gorgeous vista

Our next stop was Seagull Bay (Yavansu koyu)- one of the quieter bays in the Göcek area and one in which we had enjoyed for a few days a couple of weeks previously.

Julia enjoying the salty air and the wind on her face
This gap looked a bit narrow …..
….but we got through it fine

The water here is so clear that you can see right to the bottom even in 12 metres of water – just extraordinary and so gorgeous to swim in.

Me swimming between the hulls of Sunday – our own private swimming pool
The mosaic Seagull in Seagull Bay
Ahh, that cool, clear, water

One day we took a dinghy ride and visited the underwater ruins in Cleopatra’s Bay and then sat and had a drink in a restaurant just a short ride over the water.

The underwater ruins at Cleopatra’s Bay
There are ruins on the land too in Cleopatra’s Bay
Glorious water in Cleopatra’s Bay

It was so beautiful gazing across the water watching people swimming and on paddle boards and the beautiful gulets (charter vessels based on traditional timber fishing boats) and other craft skimming by.

Nothing like a table with a view!
The gulets are fabulous boats
Fun watching the swimmers and paddle boarders
Another lovely gulet skims by

One of the things we loved about Seagull Bay was hearing the goats walk past the back of our boat on their way from Seagull Bay to goodness knows where.

First we’d hear the dull tinkling of the goat bells and then the gentle bleating as the older goats encouraged the younger ones to keep moving and not get distracted by some bramble or an interesting looking rock.

Spot the wayward goat

On a beautiful evening when the heat was less intense we decided to dinghy in to the rickety jetty in Seagull Bay and have a bit of a wander. Hopefully we would see some goats close to.

After tying up at the broken down timber jetty we stepped onto the small promontory and walked up the steep hill that sweeps up behind.

A lovely view of the anchorage from the hill above Seagull Bay

There we met a small herd of very cute goats who didn’t seem the least bit perturbed by us. Further on there were lovely views over this beautiful environmental area with all its stunning bays and inlets.

The environmental area around Göcek is stunning
We met this herd of goats
They didn’t seem at all perturbed by our presence

Closer to us we could see our catamaran Sunday anchored/moored under the protective shadow of a towering cliff.

Sunday (middle) sheltered by the towering cliff

We wandered back towards the jetty and on the way met the owner of the restaurant which we thought was derelict. He encouraged us to have a meal there but as we had already prepared our dinner we said that we could come the next day. “Yes, yes you come tomorrow, I will give you meze, fresh fish, everything…”

So the following evening we tied up at the rickety jetty once again with the plan to go for a walk before dinner and then have a meal and watch the sun go down at this unusual restaurant.

We walked up to let the owner know that we had arrived but we were going for a walk first and we noticed a huge fire burning in the stone fireplace. “Aah, heating up the coals to cook our fish,” we thought – although there was absolutely no one there.

A big blaze – ready to cook our fish?

We took the track that cut across the little beach and which meandered along the water’s edge behind where Sunday was moored and where we had seen the goats wandering – one way in the morning and back the other way in the evening.

As we walked towards the beach we saw three guys under a tree. What on earth were they were up to? Then it hit us – they were slaughtering a goat. Was the restauranteur planning a meat course too?

An enchanting view across the water
Nice having a visitor – we can have photos of us together for a change
Sunday peeping through the trees
Ruins of something from times gone by

We waved, they waved, we walked on quickly. Around 40 minutes later we reappeared and found a small group of people sitting round a table, all very friendly and telling us to sit anywhere.

Our friend from the previous night came up and asked us if wanted a beer to which we said “yes” thinking that a pre dinner cold drink would be very welcome.

Drinking beer as the sun goes down

We drank our beer revelling in the golden light that is always so glorious as the sun goes down at the end of each day in Turkey.

Such a beautiful sight

There were no signs of food arriving and disconcertingly we noticed that our host was now having a full body wash (thankfully at least partially clothed) using a huge tank of water and copious amounts of soap not too far away from where we were sitting. He was extremely thorough and left no part unwashed – a detail which we would have preferred not to have been made aware.

We love this time of day

Once he had completed his ablutions Jonathan approached him to see if he was planning to feed us or had he forgotten our conversation of the previous night ….?

Sadly it was quite clear that he was not planning to be the cleanest chef in Turkey and had completely forgotten we were coming. However, he went straight into damage control and instructed Jonathan to go and choose some fish from the fisherman sitting in the bay in his brightly coloured boat.

The fishing boat where Jonathan went to choose our fish.

We were on a roll now and before long we had some beautifully cooked fish, a big salad, bread and a little later a plate of chips (but no meze!). The fisherman even came up to check we had enjoyed the fish.

The fish is on its way!

As the sun sunk over the horizon we cracked the bottle of red wine that we had brought and tucked into the delicious meal, agreeing that we wouldn’t have changed a thing about the evening and that it felt as though we had eaten like “Kings”. Such a tremendous experience – a real Turkish delight!

A meal fit for “Kings”
It was well worth the wait and the strip wash was very entertaining.
The last moments of the sunset
And then the full moon rose – a fitting end to the evening

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

4 thoughts on “Eerily empty airport and the country’s cleanest chef produces a real Turkish Delight”

  1. Wow, such a nice upbeat post after all your latest hassle! Great to see a lovely photo of you two for once and Julia too.

    Some of your experiences are very reminiscent of Skopelos in days gone by and your photos are stunning!

    Thank you for sharing some great escapism for us on this Sunday morning.

    Love Sally&George xx

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    1. Thank you Sally and George. Yes it was wonderful having Julia to stay and we’ve had another set of visitors since! Now getting ready to put the boat up on the hard for winter as we leave for the Netherlands next week! Hannah and Pieter are getting married next month and we have two weeks quarantine to do when we arrive. Hope we can see you soon Covid permitting!! Hope you’re both well and enjoying life. Is Jack still in Rio? I’ve been thinking about how life must be for him there. Hoping you’re able to see your grand babies now. Sending lots of love xxxx

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