Things we found interesting, fascinating and amazing in no particular order:
- State of the roads. A friend of ours was horrified that we were planning to drive in Turkey. I thought that if I could drive in Albania, Rome and South Africa, I am sure I could drive in Turkey. And we have been pleasantly surprised. The roads are a very good state, drivers seem okay and it is simple to navigate. We used Google maps to get from A to B, which worked like a dream!
- Pomegranates. They grow everywhere. Every household has at least one tree in their garden … yet we haven’t seen it in any dish or on any menu.
- Friendly people. Everyone we met has been lovely and friendly. Even where there has been a language barrier, people are generally genial
- Moderate Islamic country. Even though it is a Moslem country, most of the people seem to be only moderately religious. It feel similar to being in a Catholic or Greek Orthodox country.
Also read: Albania still unspoilt – for now
- Seaside ducks. I have never seen ducks at the seaside, until now!
- Bees. There are so many beehives. I stopped to take some pictures and counted approximately 300 hives on just one site! And bees means honey, delicious honey. The pine honey is delicious.
- Affordability. Turkey is normally a good value destination, but recently their currency weakened which has made even more affordable!
- Food. Most food is local, organic, flavoursome and fresh. We’ve loved the “caught today” fish, variety of Turkish cheeses and local bread served with every meal. Only problem is, once you start you can’t stop!
- Bread. I think the bread is so good, it warrants a special mention. Bread is bought / baked daily and served fresh. My favourite is one that looks like a cross between a flat bread and traditional round sourdough. So good!
Also read: What makes Vietnam unique?
- Forests. At one point driving towards Söğütköy from Dalaman airport, Mr Google took us on a scenic route, through a forest. It was so unlike the landscape I was expecting. I felt like I could have been in an American or Canadian pine forest!
- October sun. It is a great destination if you’re not yet ready for winter. Expect about 24 – 28 C during the day. The sea is also warm enough to swim in. The season is really drawing to a close in October, so expect everywhere to be quiet. Some places may already be shut for winter.
- Tractors. As it is quite a rural community, there are many tractors on the roads. They’re also used to pull the boats from the sea for winter maintenance.
- Traffic police. There cannot be enough traffic police, because they have a very clever idea of using life size cardboard cut-outs of police cars to make it look like traffic police! Clever idea if you ask me!
- Vodafone roaming. By getting a Vodafone Pay As You Go sim card and topping it up in the UK before you leave, you can use the UK minutes, texts and roaming in Turkey. Saves a lot on roaming prices if you’re planning to use e.g. Google Maps! Other UK networks don’t include Turkey in their Europe Zone for free roaming.
- Boats. Boats play an important role in the local community. Many locals are fishermen, others do pleasure cruises or schooner trips. And of course, this area is a yachtsman’s paradise, so many yachts mooring for a few days at a time.
- Bedding. We were surprised to learn that bedding didn’t consist of 2 sheets, like you get in most hot climates, but rather one sheet and a type of throw.
- Scenery. The scenery is stunning and varied. There are hills, dramatic mountains, pine forests, seaside, farms and arid sections in between. Roads take you up mountain passes, through valleys, up and through hill villages, then drop down to towns or villages with marinas on the coast. There are look-out points with spectacular views.
- Authentic vs manufactured destinations. But alas, it is not all beautiful. Travel towards Marmaris, and you’ll come across Turunç. In my opinion, it’s holiday hell. It may be set in the most beautiful bay, but has shop after shop and street after street of cheap tourist tat, restaurants that cater for Brits who prefer their home comforts (like full english breakfast, roast dinners and pizza) in a setting that is entirely manufactured. There is nothing authentic or Turkish about it. Marmaris is similar, I understand – I won’t waste time in driving there to find out. Give me authentic experiences any day.
- Rummikub. Drive through any small town and you’ll see the retired old men sitting at coffee shops playing Rummikub. As we understand, they are joined by the young men in winter, after the tourist season when there is no work about. I love Rummikub! But I couldn’t join in – it’s a men only pastime. And apparently there are many different games with different rules, which are played
- Water. No you can’t drink the water throughout the year. Late summer and early winter the water from the tap is salty! But bottled water is cheap.
- Accommodation. We loved the hospitality of Sabit, Carlos and family at The Captain’s Table. They have simple, affordable rooms available, fantastic food and I am sure we will return!
- Our favourite hide-away. Orhaniye Restaurant and cabins has a lovely quiet, scenic spot, beautiful beach area and the food and coffee is excellent.
- Easiest way to get here, is fly to Dalaman and hire a car. The drive should take you about 2.5 to 3 hours.
I think it is fair to say we’ll come back. We have loved every minute. Have you been to visit? Do you have any suggestions for others in the area?