Thinking about summer travels? Check out this guest post by Chloe Sherriff, and if you aren’t sorely tempted to book a flight to Turkey after reading this then go take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why you are standing in the way of your own happiness…
My family and I have been visiting the Mugla region of Turkey for years – it holds a cherished spot in my heart. My long-standing love affair with this country made it my top choice when booking my honeymoon earlier this year; however, the unexpected termination of the relationship had me searching for a new travel companion… And who else would be first on my invite list but my blogger bestie Alex Saint? Forget romance, it’s all about the hoe-mance! Here are my 10 reasons to love Turkey – a place I can’t stay away from…
10 things to love about Turkey
1) The truly, madly, deeply turquoise coast
These turquoise waters truly live up to the name ‘The Turquoise Coast’. Dotted with many lovely bays and beaches – such as Patara, Calis and Ituzu – the one one I feel truly owns the turquoise title is Oludeniz.
Its name literally translates as the Dead Sea, due to its serene stillness. The pale, shingle beach slides into a sedate sea where you can happily bob about watching the para-gliders soar over Babadag Mountain.
Explore the shore where it takes a dramatic inward curve, creating the nature reserve enchantingly named the Blue Lagoon. Beautiful palms and flowers decorate the winding trail that leads to fabulously framed views of the sea and mountains. The water in the lagoon is placid and a pleasurable paddling depth, making it a perfect spot for children. Top tip though – avoid visiting during weekends and Turkish holidays – the place is sure to be jam-packed!
2) Cruising the Dalyan river
It’s easy to see why Marc Anthony offered this impressive region as a wedding gift to Cleopatra. Like an emerald stone, the glistening river reflects a luscious landscape with monumental mountains rising from the water, surrounded by swaying reeds. Take a peaceful boat trip, stocked up with coolers full of beer and local wine on board, and drink in the views. Remember to keep a beady eye peeled for the weaving river snakes, soaring storks and tentative turtles.
Your voyage will likely deliver you to the famous Ituzu beach, home of the loggerhead turtle! Upon arrival, take in the expanse of golden sand stretching out to a shore that is alive with motion. Unlike Oludeniz with its deep placid waters, the sea here has a touch of surf which I love for a spot of wave jumping. Make sure you pay attention to the signs on the beach that cordon off the turtle nests though. We wouldn’t want to wake the babies!
3) Food, glorious food
With national dishes such as shish and shashlik kebabs on offer as well as lighter, vegetarian options, you’re spoiled for choice in Turkey. The ones I adore are all about the aubergine! Try the tangy saksuka – a roasted aubergine and pepper dish – and seek out my favourite, the hunkar begendi or ‘Sultan’s delight’ – rustic lamb in pureed aubergine sauce. I sampled the dish at a small but stylish venue named Inci, near Oludeniz beach – the presentation of this dish alone was fit for a king!
In nearby Ovaick, Yoruk Soffrrasi was my favourite place to eat. This name translates roughly as ‘endless table’ which really sums it up. The family that own this place have endless hospitality and endless delicacies! I gorged on chicken roasted in honey and sesame seeds, the best stuffed vine leaves I have ever tasted, crispy curls of calamari and huge hot air balloons of lavash bread, dripping with dollops of homemade hummus! Divine!
4) Breath-taking mountain views
There ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from those stunning views… Nestled high up in the Fethiye Mountains is a pleasure palace named Sundial hotel and restaurant. It is an absolute must if you are a sucker for a mountain view like me.
This classy resort is a great place to indulge in the finer things in life with an elevated jacuzzi and an elaborate drinks list. I personally felt like royalty looking out across my vast, mountainous kingdom sipping on my kir royale. However, it’s sunset when this place really comes to life as the sun descends behind the mountains accompanied by a blast of operatic music to accompany its voyage – a magical moment.
5. Falling for for Fethiye’s markets
I was lost to the ancient streets of Fethiye – quite literally at times! The Old Town is filled with wondrous walkways where canopies of colourful umbrellas meet criss-crossed networks of streets dotted with eateries and markets selling textiles, spices, lamps and gorgeous trinkets. You will want to fill your home with these beauties so leave some room in your suitcase.
Another great landmark is the open air fish market which seems to be at the heart of all the action and an absolute must for an evening meal! Here you can find Oztoklu, a tiny fresh seafood restaurant hidden amongst the eye feast that is the fish market. Friendly staff will escort you to select your catch of the day from the surrounding stalls before whisking you back to your seat to enjoy your fishy dish – fried, grilled or served in white wine sauce.
6. Sailing the high seas
Visit Fethiye harbour to admire the traditional Turkish gullets which bob gently on the glittering water against a marvellous mountain backdrop. Whether it be an afternoon amble, moonlight meander or sunset stroll, the light bouncing off the rippling waves is always fantastic.
Island tours can be booked here, from day trips to full cruises if you fancy finding your sea legs. The top decks are great for sun worshippers, and the open-aired lower deck is a great way to continue to feel the wind in your hair without braving the intense sun. However, if you are a dry land dweller to the core, you can still drop into one of the many waterside bars for a cheeky cocktail, freshly squeezed juice or ice cream treat.
7. Quirky retro nightlife
Turkey is a secular state, so attitudes to alcohol are extremely liberal. My absolute favourite venue to take cover from the midday heat is HELP bar. Situated on the Oludeniz sea front, a funky 50s Cadillac crashes onto a stage which is the place to be watch some excellent live music with a fun-loving crowd at night.
Prop yourself on the retro stools and work your way through the largest champagne cocktail menu I have ever sampled. They don’t stop at bubbles though. The most decadent drink I found in the ‘Dirty Mother’ – thick, creamy and chocoholic! If it’s a food frenzy you’re after then dine out, celebrity style, by adopting one of the many A-List personas listed on the chair backs. From Scarlett Johansson to Bruce Lee, they’re all here at HELP bar!
8. Natural miracle mud baths
Back to Dalyan for a bit of mud bath mayhem! The smelly sensory experience of this seems to utterly defy instinct at first, it is sticky and stinky! Squelching around like a swine was good enough for Cleopatra though, so who am I to sniff at it? It is also said to contain powerful rejuvenating minerals that tighten your cellulite and loose skin. Free tuck and facelift anyone?
9. Belly-dancing babes
The female form is celebrated in Turkish culture through the art of belly-dancing. I could be found ‘shaking it like Shakira’ in my hip scarf through the streets of Fethiye last summer! This entrancing dance has me utterly seduced with its shimmying abdominal contortions. Some say the dance dates back to pagan society’s worship of the magic of female fertility – OK, the evidence for this is sparse, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the physical movements help prepare the female body for birth!
10. A history rich in Lycian legend
Turkey has a rich and fascinating history with influences from the Ottoman Empire, Persia, Ancient Greece and Egypt. None however, have left such a magnificent mark as the Lycians. Look out for their intricately carved, rock tombs along the Turquoise Coast – towering high over Fethiye’s Old Town and standing above the Dalyan River.
It is wondrous how they came to be carved into the hillsides. Many believe slaves were hung upside down on the cliff with chisels, so that their kings could remain close to the heavens. However, these tombs have been raided for their gold many years ago and now lie open for exploration.
Well, there we have it – 10 things to love about Turkey. There are just two words left to say to this beautiful country – “Seni sevyorum!” In English – “I LOVE YOU!”
Pics by Alex Saint