Turquoise Coast of Turkey, Tour Diary Days 1-2
Our inaugural tour of the Turkish coast has begun! I’m here with my longtime friend turkeywithtaylan and a group of 9 adventurous souls exploring this lush region.
We met in the sea village of Fethiye, and dove right in with a visit to an abandoned Greek ghost village. In the evening, we walked along the harbor to have dinner in the old fish market. Our tables were right next to the display counters, and they served us the freshest grilled fish you can find. We retreated to our gorgeous cliff side hotel for the night.
The next day, the tour took us to an estuary that harbors sea turtles. This being Turkey, there is always history around you. Our boat took us out to see ancient tombs carved in a cliff, like a mini version of Petra. The boat captain found a blue crab for us to see, and then prepared a few for us to eat. We got the beach for a swim, then headed back to the cute village of Dalyan for lunch.
Our day finished with a drive to Bodrum, where we are staying for three nights. This is Taylan’s hometown, and he took us out to one of his favorite meze (small plates) restaurants where we dined and learned to drink Raki.
A land where east melts into west, Turkey’s Turquoise Coastline…
This is where cultures of the Middle East and West melts into a whole new lifestyle. Discover the ancient world of Lycians, Carians and Romans around the turquoise coasts of Turkey. We’ll trace the life of a Roman merchant in the lagoons of Caunos and the greatest city of the Romans, Ephesus the sacred port city dedicated to fertility for many ages. Experience the daily life of the eastern Aegean villages while comparing the grapes of ancient vineyards where wine was first fermented and traded all around the old world from Greece to Egypt.
The sunset from our view hotel was absolutely on fire, and I think we are all impressed by the beauty we’ve seen in such a short time.
Turquoise Coast, Day 3, Bodrum
We spent our day exploring the seaside town of Bodrum, starting with a beautiful overlook. From atop a hill, we could see the harbor and castle, but also got to see old windmills from Ottoman times. We passed a Greek theater—Bodrum is the ancient city of Halicarnassus— and got a quick overview of the waterfront.
Our next stop was inland to a small, rural village. Carpet making is a big part of traditional Turkish life, and even today, colorful works are collected and given to new couples as they marry. We first ate an incredible Turkish “brunch” of a million little plates of goodness, and then got to see the techniques used to make a traditional carpet.
Let me tell you, it’s a ridiculous amount of work that takes enormous skill. The village where we visited focused on wool carpets, which use materials readily available to them, but they also had some gorgeous silk carpets that can take years to complete. I may or may not have purchased something, but you really couldn’t blame me. Taylan had made an arrangement for them to give us the best price as we don’t take commissions on this kind of thing, so prices were shockingly affordable.
We finished our day together at the beach, sipping wine and dipping our feet in the water. Not a bad way to spend a day in this beautiful part of the country.
Day 4 of our Turquoise Coast of Turkey tour was all about water. We started the day at the castle on the harbor, which is used as an underwater archaeology museum. We got to see ancient ships and all of their finds, excellently presented.
Next, we chartered our own “gullet” or wooden Turkish boat, for a sail along the Aegean coast and a swim. The water is quite salty and we bobbed like corks, and later returned to a lunch on board of salads and fresh fruits. Summer is still in effect here in Turkey, and we enjoyed every second with our group.
Turquoise Coast of Turkey Tour, Days 5 & 6
Ancient Greek and Roman Turkey
We traveled from Bodrum along the coast in the direction of Kusadasi and up to the tiny village of Sirince. Along the way, we stopped to admire some of the many ancient sites that quietly sit along the roads in this part of the world. The highlight was the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, with its massive columns that take a crowd to hug. People forget that Turkey was once also part of greater Greece and later Rome, and evidence is absolutely everywhere along this coast.
In our little village, we rated the local wine (which was decent) and got to participate in a wedding celebration in the village square.
The next day, we started the day with a visit to a historic mosque in Selcuk, and Taylan gave us an excellent talk on Islam and Muslim life. Because Turkey is a crossroads of cultures, quite close to the mosque is a Catholic pilgrim site, the house of Mary where she was said to have lived her final years. After lunch of pide or Turkish “pizza”, my favorite specialty here, we went for a visit to a leather designer and saw a fun fashion show.
Our final treat in these days was a visit to the ancient Roman city of Ephesus, which you can have a glimpse of in a previous live-streamed post. Watching the sun set over a 2000 year old city capped off a couple of excellent days.
Side note: The Cats of Turkey
The most ubiquitous sight in the whole of Turkey is the incredible number of stray cats. Stray is maybe not the right word, they are basically free range. Cats here are community property, and everyone feeds them. Rather than euthanize wild cats, the government collects them (dogs too) and gives them care, sterilizes them, tags them and returns them to the streets. The result is that we’ve seen a million well cared for wild cats, but not a single rodent. Seems like a pretty good deal. My colleague Taylan even has a bag of cat food in his backpack because, as he noted, even cats need breakfast. It’s an unusual solution to a common problem.
They say that you can tell a lot about a person based on how they treat animals, and how animals react to them. I’d also say that you can understand a lot about a culture through their policies towards humane treatment of animals.
Turquoise Coast Wrap up
We finished our tour, first by staying in the hill town of Assos and visiting a beautiful Turkish island nearby. Our last days have been spent in Izmir, and visiting ancient sites