Sneaky road trip, riders in the sky, a ghost town and a fabulous breakfast

Lockdown in Turkey has meant we haven’t been able to realise our plans to travel – during the cooler months – to various locations inland. There are so many wonderful places to explore in this amazing country so it has been slightly disappointing.

The village of Kalkan

Restrictions have been loosened now however, and we are back travelling over the water. This is just wonderful but the urge to explore some places of interest on land was still there so while we were anchored in Kas we decided to sneak in a quick road trip – just for the day – with our friends Sue on John of S/V Catabella.

A profusion of bougainvillea

We hired a car and drove first to Kalkan – only just over half an hour from Fethiye. Kalkan was an old Greek fishing village which became part of Turkey in 1923 during the Greek/Turkish population exchange. Now it is a thriving, sprawling, town, a haven for tourists, especially from Britain.

Kalkan reminded us of Greece
Take away the minaret and this could be a Greek Church – perhaps it was once

The old fishing port still maintains its Greek character, with narrow, paved or cobbled lanes, a profusion of bougainvillea and small and simple whitewashed houses.

The small fishing port still retains its Greek character
One of the narrow cobbled lanes
Bougainvillea and whitewashed houses everywhere

We had a lovely time browsing in the shops – empty of people but not of tempting purchases – and admiring the wonderful view of the sparkling sea.

Who could resist this soap – it’s packed with vitamins!
Such inviting window displays
Another carpet wonderland!

Apart from seeing the old village, the reason for stopping at Kalkan was to find a suitable spot for a nice cup of coffee.

The Doy Doy restaurant seemed the perfect spot

The good news is that we found the perfect spot – the Doy Doy restaurant which boasted glorious views and every coffee choice you could wish for. The bad news was that the coffee machine had broken down!

The restaurant boasted glorious views

Faruk, who welcomed us in, and who turned out to be the son of the owner, was mortified and insisted on us sitting down anyway for free çay. When you consider a cup of tea in Australia costs between $2.50 and $4.00, and the fact they have had no customers for months, this was so generous.

No coffee but Faruk insisted on us sitting down for free çay

Next on the itinerary – the ruins of the Lycian city of Xanthos. This fascinating city, which was once the capital of Lycia, is perched on a hillside with extensive views of the surrounding countryside.

Xanthos is perched on a hillside with extensive views of the surrounding countryside
Many greenhouses can be seen in the middle distance
A closer view of some of the thousands of greenhouses in the district

The city has played a prominent role in understanding Lycian history. In the 19th Century stone carvings were discovered in both Greek and Lycian which led to the unraveling of the Lycian language for the first time.

Xanthos has played a prominent role in understanding Lycian history
Stone carvings led to the unraveling of the Lycian language for the first time
This column was covered in writing carved in the stone

It is also famous for its funerary art but very sadly, many of architectural and sculptural pieces were taken to England in the 19th century, by the archeologist Charles Fellows. Among these artefacts were the Monument of Harpy, the Tomb of Payava and the Nereid Monument. These remain in the British Museum to this day.

Xanthos is also famous for its funerary art
Sadly this tomb was plundered and the carvings taken to the British Museum in London
This is a copy of what was taken

Due to Covid there were very few other tourists there so we were able to spend a pleasant time wandering around the ruins undisturbed.

We were able to spend a pleasant time wandering around the ruins undisturbed (photo credit Sue Done)

The peace and quiet belied the city’s violent past. When invaded by the Persians, rather than be captured by the invading forces, the Xanthosian men gathered their women, children, slaves and treasure at the acropolis and set them on fire before taking their final doomed defensive action.

The peace and quiet belied the city’s violent past (photo credit Sue Done)
A section of mosaic which had probably been covered to protect it
Jonathan examining a column

In 42 BC the people of Xanthos again used murder and suicide to avoid being taken in the Roman civil wars.

Beautiful poppies in Xanthos
It’s hard to imagine the violence that was perpetrated here (photo credit Sue Done)

The amphitheatre with its 2200 person capacity was very atmospheric and had spectacular acoustics. Built originally in the Hellenistic Period, it was renovated in Roman times.

The amphitheatre with its 2200 person capacity was very atmospheric
It was a great place to sit and soak up the atmosphere
Some of the large blocks of stone had collapsed – maybe during an earthquake?
It was very impressive
John trying out the acoustics

From Xanthos we headed to the popular beach resort of Ölüdeniz.

The first thing that struck us about this lovely spot on the “Turquoise Coast” is that it was full of cars! It really was very busy and the little car park we used was chock full!

The restaurant at Ölüdeniz

The second thing we noticed was that the sky was absolutely filled with colourful paragliders soaring and dropping like gorgeous mythical birds.

Riders in the sky!

Apparently, Mount Babadağ which towers above Ölüdeniz, is regarded as one of the best places in the world to paraglide from. This is due to its unique panoramic views, stable weather conditions, and because the mountain has incredible thermals.

Mount Babadağ which towers above Ölüdeniz, is regarded as one of the best places in the world to paraglide from

It was quite a sight to see the scores of paragliders floating gently in the sky, soaring upwards when they caught an air current and meandering slowly downwards and turning to land perfectly at a special spot in the middle of Ölüdeniz.

A quick lunch in Ölüdeniz

After a quick lunch in a waterfront cafe we decided to walk to the famous Blue Lagoon – we almost made it but were put off by all the commercial activity we could see in the distance – sun beds, cafes, craft of all kinds for hire and hoards of people.

On the way to the famous Blue Lagoon

Time was marching on and we had one more place to visit so we decided to turn back, leave the crowds behind and find our car.

We almost made it but were put off by all the commercial activity we could see in the distance

Just 20 minutes later, after travelling along a rather bumpy road on which we had to make an emergency stop for a slow moving tortoise trying to cross the road, we made it to the ghost town of Kayaköy.

Well spotted Jonathan! A helping hand for the very slow tortoise

This haunting place was once home to Greek-speaking Christian subjects, and their Turkish-speaking Ottoman rulers. The townspeople had lived in relative harmony from the end of the turbulent Ottoman conquest of the region in the 14th century until the early 20th century.

Kayaköy was a haunting place

Then in 1923 following the Treaty of Lausanne, the town’s Greek Orthodox residents were exiled and Muslim people exiled from Greece were settled there. The new residents found the land in Kayaköy inhospitable (and too full of ghosts!) and soon decamped, leaving the hillside village abandoned for a second time.

The town’s Greek Orthodox residents were exiled in 1923
The townspeople had lived in relative harmony for hundreds of years

I am currently half way through “Birds Without Wings” by Louis de Bernières – set largely in the village of Eskibahçe which is based on Kayakoy. It felt strange being in the village after imagining the place in my head so many times.

It felt strange being in the village after imagining the place in my head so many times.
The new Turkish speaking residents found the land in Kayaköy inhospitable (and too full of ghosts!) and soon decamped, leaving the hillside village abandoned for a second time.

It wasn’t hard to visualise the little children in the story, Christian and Muslim, running together through the maze of little lanes that twisted around the houses, past the old men playing backgammon outside the coffeehouse, past the women of the village gossiping at the well.

One of the Churches in Kayaköy
It wasn’t hard to visualise the little children described in Birds Without Wings – Christian and Muslim – running together through the maze of little lanes that twisted around the houses

How poignant it was looking at the empty houses and the abandoned churches, shops and other civic buildings. It all felt such a waste – all that meddling in people’s lives – people who had lived amicably side by side for generations suddenly uprooted from all they had known. And for what?

How poignant it was looking at the empty houses and the abandoned churches, shops and other civic buildings
Admiring the view from the fort
Looking over the farms from the highest point

We managed to get ourselves a little bit lost on our wanderings and ended up returning to our car via a rather circuitous route.

The Turkish flag proclaims ownership of Kayaköy
Another, very ancient Church

On our way we met a camel giving rides to tourists and then came upon its mate and baby along the way.

This was an unexpected sight
Mother and baby

We arrived back in Kas late in the evening to find the Oxygen Bar in the marina buzzing with people listening to the live music. No masks in evidence and social distancing seemingly completely forgotten, we decided to sit at an adjacent restaurant/bar to listen to the last few numbers of the night.

The Oxygen Bar was buzzing

Later we had a delicious meal at Vati one of the marina restaurants. After we had finished our waiter brought us – as a gift – a plate of fresh fruit and four shot glasses with a cocktail shaker containing a very shocking-green potion. It was a fun way to end the evening.

Lovely fresh fruit – such a kind gift
A great way to end the evening

The next day we once again experienced the generosity and hospitality that is so typical of the Turkish people.

On the way to breakfast (photo credit Sue Done)

Sue and John invited us to join them for breakfast (kahvalti in Turkish) at the house belonging to Aysun, a short dinghy ride from Kas marina.

We arrived at Aysun’s house

Aysun runs some wonderful bed and breakfast cottages in which Sue and John had stayed the previous year.

The garden was beautiful and full of olive and fruit trees

The property is situated on the peninsula opposite Kas marina and is perched high up on a hillside overlooking the water.

The house was perched high up on the hillside

We arrived at the small jetty and private beach and after tying up our dinghies walked up the prettiest flight of stairs to a shady balcony where we were warmly greeted by Aysun.

After tying up our dinghies we walked up the pretty stairs

In the middle of the deck overlooking the water, was a table groaning with the most fabulous spread imaginable.

The table was groaning
Olives from the garden and freshly cooked menemen

There were black and green olives from the garden, apple jam, fig jam, chili paste and quince preserves all made by Aysun from produce grown on the property. The honey came from their neighbours up the hill. The tomatoes and cucumber came from the family farm. There was also menemen – the Turkish version of scrambled eggs – delicious salty white cheese, Börek – thin sheets of dough, filled with cheese and vegetables, fresh bread and other delicious treats.

Aysun joined us as we ate

We ate far more than was good for us and chatted to Aysun who continually topped up our cups with çay.

Sue at the breakfast table
Jonathan and I (photo credit: Sue Done)

What a hostess Aysun was and what a paradise she shares with her many guests from around the world! We felt sure that this would be the perfect place to stay and immediately thought of family members and friends who would just adore it. To our consternation Aysun refused any payment – she just loved it that John and Sue had returned to visit her. So very generous.

There were beautiful flowers from the garden on the table
Aysun seeing us off
Leaving Aysun’s beautiful B and B, such a great sunbathing and private swimming spot!

That evening we had the first rain in months. It was so refreshing and such a novelty to hear rumbles of thunder and the sound of the rain drops hitting the water surrounding us.

Rain- it was so refreshing
Very low clouds over Kas Marina

The sky looked very threatening but apart from the downpour and a few rolls of thunder, there was no really rough weather to contend with and as if to reassure us, a beautiful rainbow appeared over Kas before the rain finally stopped.

The sky looked very threatening
Soon the rain stopped and a rainbow appeared

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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.

2 thoughts on “Sneaky road trip, riders in the sky, a ghost town and a fabulous breakfast”

  1. Dot, this is so evocative and it all looks and sounds so amazing and beautiful! I’m glad you’ve been experiencing that legendary Turkish hospitality, which was what made us want to go back to Turkey time and time again. And glad that you’ve had a chance to do some exploring inland, despite the challenges and difficulties of lockdown. Can’t wait for the point when we’ll finally be able to come over and join you – crossing fingers on that. Lots of love to you both. xx

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