If you’re a lover of freshly grilled seafood eaten alfresco in the sunshine, accompanied by a glass of wine and good company then this post is for you…
We were in Turkey for a family wedding which took place last week and it would be my first visit to the country. I’d been so busy with work and a trip to New York that I hadn’t had time to do my usual research and find out where might be good to go, so you’ll have to bear with me as my words wander through our wonderfully relaxed itinerary…
The flight times from NCL > DLM meant that we touched down in 18 degree heat at around 1.30am in the morning (Turkish time). We were 2 hours ahead so didn’t feel too tired at all, despite the glasses of prosecco consumed before the 4.5hr flight. Our taxi driver Ibo was lovely and even offered to stop enroute to our hotel in the Mugla Province to get us some beers to cheers and drink as we travelled. It would be our first introduction to the ubiquitous Efes – a Turkish beer found everywhere in Dalyan.
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Our hotel was fantastic. Spotlessly clean, lovely staff, spacious rooms, beautifully tiled wet rooms in the bathroom and a feast fit for a king with a traditional Turkish breakfast each morning. Oh, and did I mention THEY HAD A PUPPY??
Goldie the 5 week old golden retriever puppy was a family pet who lived at the hotel. It just so happened his little den outside by the pool was right next to our bedroom which was super convenient for me to spend every second I could fawning over him…
How could you resist that little face?
I had spotted several stray dogs earlier that night as we made our way from the airport and worried about their welfare, but little did I know that there is a fantastic charity in Dalyan who make it their mission to help care for and feed the strays cats and dogs as best as they can to help give them a more comfortable life and it makes a world of difference. The stray dogs and cats were very placid and friendly, lying in the sun or shade often on the porch of a local restaurant or park. The restaurant owners would feed them leftovers and from what I saw, none of them looked limp or poorly treat. Obviously I wanted to take all of them home. Goldie included.
We were staying in the centre of Dalyan where my partner’s mum was getting married a few days later. We’d heard that Dalyan is a protected conservation area for loggerhead turtles and a boat trip along the turquoise river to Izutuzu beach was a must-do. After a lunch of freshly grilled king prawns and sea bass by the river, we hopped on a private boat for 10 Turkish lira each (around £2.50) and set sail.
Quite rightly, the beach is fiercely protected by officials and so no building is allowed leaving beautiful, unspoilt mountainous views at every angle. Natural materials are even used for the beach facilities, including the umbrellas and sunbeds (which are made locally); three tiny cafes and a small number of changing cabins at each end and absolutely no speed boats or jet skis.
The loggerhead turtles were enormous! Far bigger than I expected them to be, and so majestic as they glided gracefully under the surface of the water, popping up for a second or so for air.
We were told the waters here are heavily populated with turtles, but we only ever saw one at a time, every few minutes or so if we were lucky which made the experience all the more special as we waited with baited breath, scanning every inch of the water for a golden sighting of these beautiful creatures. Our luck was in when we spotted three in one spot across from our bobbing boat but not for long – we were told by our captain that the turtles are territorial and will fight each other if they drift into someone’s back garden… so to speak.
Turkey, I discovered was good for my soul. Unlimited amounts of sunshine, the kind that paints freckles on your nose and warms your cold British bones. We drifted from river cruise to riverside bar where we grabbed some dinner and sat in the fading evening sun with a glass of wine, chatting to friends, sunbathing, playing with Goldie the puppy…
Over the next couple of days we spent most of our time on the water, having a bbq on the back of a boat, crying with laughter as we smothered our sunburnt skin in mud at the traditional Turkish mud baths before a swim in the hot thermal spa (those photos will never make their way to the internet, not least because we all stunk of sulphuric acid). I urge you all to give it a go, but maybe do your research as to which bath you visit… we found out later that night that the “pure” mud with its “wonderful healing properties” dried up long ago, so for 6 Turkish lira (pennies, literally) we paid to slather ourselves in mud shipped in from a nearby field. Major tourist faux pas on our behalf.
Still, it didn’t spoil our experience. We all laughed hysterically and bonded like never before as we slopped gloopy brown sludge on our skins before being hosed down with a fireman’s hose by a member of staff and floated peacefully in the eggy-smelling thermal pool.
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The Dalyan Beledeyesi Cay Bahcesi (municipal tea garden) is located at the far-end left side of the river and is a truly breathtaking spot. In the distance you can easily see the magnificent Lycian Tombs that are carved into the mountains on the opposite side of the turquoise river.. it was a beautiful day for a wedding.
The ceremony took place under a shaded canopy, adorned with greenery and exotic flowers that cast shadows on the floor creating an almost-glittery carpet of light. After the simple ceremony, we cruised along the river sipping champagne and toasting to the happy couple before disembarking at Casanova, a family-run restaurant for a wedding breakfast of mezze platters, sea bass and fruit in the most beautiful of surroundings.
Sipping Moet et Chandon on a boat in 30 degree heat, looking out at sparkling turquoise waters beyond will forever be my favourite way to spend the day.