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Relaxing on the Turkish Mediterranean

Written on: Friday July 17th, 2009

Turkey was a big place.  But when Brita and I discussed what we'd like to do there, one thing was at the top of both our lists: hit the beach!  With that in mind, we left Selcuk via local bus for Fethiye.  The landscape along the way was fabulous.  The road wiggled through the dry, dusty mountains, speckled with olive trees, resulting in a rather scenic and enjoyable bus ride.   Upon reaching Fethiye we had to transfer buses to make it to our ultimate destination of Patara.   We were dumped onto the highway four miles from the town, and, hopefully, an empty hostel.  Not really sure how to proceed, a car stopped and asked if we needed help.  We explained where we wanted to go, and asked if he could help us.  A quick phone call confirmed vacancy at the Rose Pension as well as a ride to the hostel from one of the folks who worked there.  Turkish hospitality is certainly better in the countryside!  We arrived shortly thereafter, inspected the room and were satisfied. 

We went back out to the common area of the pension where we had a beer with the driver, who was actually the son of the family that owned the place.  A very outgoing guy, he chatted up the area and offered to help out in any way he could.  The first way was to show me where a local market was so we could buy some wine and water.  While I did this, I later learned, Brita had prepard an extremely thoughtful surprise for me.  Today was my one year travel anniversary, and she produced a chocolate cupcake, complete with lit birthday candle atop it!!  Oh my gawd...how sweet is that?!?  I blew out the candle, ate the cake and gave her a big hug. 

"Thanks Brita!  That was unbelievably thoughful!"

With the cake eaten and the wine drunk, we proceeded to hit the mosquito-net-covered sack.

The next day, like every day so far in Tukey, was hot.  Blisteringly hot now that we were in the south.  We woke late and meandered to the outdoor common area, where we met the owners of the pension.  A sweet older couple who spoke broken English at best, they were kind beyond belief.  Their son was there as well, smoking and playing online poker at their sole internet terminal.  As was explained last night, breakfast was included and served at any time.  So our 1:30pm request was fulfilled with a smile.  Turkish breaky was something I got used to quickly.  It was large, healthy and relatively tasty, consisting of raw tomato and cucumber slices, fresh bread with jams and honey, cheeses, olives, fresh fruit picked from the garden (in today's case, orange and watermelon), dried fruit (apricots and raisens), coffee or tea, and, of course, a hard boiled egg.  It was a solid base for starting the day.

We chose Patara for the simple reason that it had the best beach around.  While most of Turkey's beaches were stoney, this one boasted eighteen kilometers of soft, golden sand.  And today we were even offered a ride to the beach by the son.  Stepping out of the vehicle, we hoped against hope that it wouldn't be full of package tourists and whiny English children.  Our silent wish was granted, as only a hundred or so people were resting on the sands.  And there certainly was ample space to distance ourselves as much as we desired.

After laying out the sarongs and lathering up with sunblock, the water beckoned.  It was heaven!  Refreshingly mild with a lazy surf, the sea was our playground off and on for the remainder of the day.  The backdrop was sand dunes and scrub brush with mountains rising behind.  Turtles were known to nest here, and most of the dunes were off limits for this very reason.  Staying on the sands the entire afternoon, we were rewarded with an amazing sunset.  The walk home was long but enjoyable, as we passed more Roman ruins and heard plenty of bird calls amongst the all too familiar calls to prayer.

The town of Patara was adorable.  Only two roads, really, the quietness was something we both enjoyed.  But despite the small size of the town, there were a relatively large number of eateries from which to choose.  We picked an outdoor table, ordered some wine and remenisced as we waited for the food to arrive.  Back at the pension, we were gratefull that the A/C was still on, as our skin was now quite warm from the hours spent baking on the beach.  A cooling shower before bed was the perfect remedy.

The next five days were spent in similar fashion at the beach.  We'd hitchhike for rides there, set up shop and play.  It was a brilliant beach for running, as it was wide open and certianly longer than I cared to run.  There was even a volleyball net set up, but after playing with the locals just once, I decided to forego future invites...they weren't quite as skilled as I had hoped.  After another hitch back to town we'd choose a new restaurant and meet an entirely new group of folks.  It was a fun week!

One day we opted for a ride to the nearby town of Kalcan.  We had heard that this place catered more to tourists, so we thought it would be a good day trip.  Arriving early in the afternoon, our vehicle slowly drove down the seaside hill into the picturesque bowl-shaped town.  It was quite nice.  We sipped a juice from the rooftop pub as we gazed out to get our bearings.  Continuing on to the sea, we cooled off with a splash into the drink.  It was exhilerating, despite the challenging barefoot walk across the rocky beach.  Soon after we were strolling by the never-ending line of seafood restaurants when Brita spied a ping pong table.  OMG!  We had spoken earlier of the game, as we both enjoyed playing.  Well, I guess I know where we'll spend the rest of the afternoon.  And with that, we ordered a drink and the paddles.  We played for hours in the outdoor pub, occasionally stopping to let others get in a game.  We drank and laughed and had a grand time. 

Of all the restaurant touts that approached us, the one to whom we eventually gave our business was quite possibly the least likely victor.  No worries, the table was perfectly located and elegantly set.  Wine was poured and seafood was ordered.  And at the end of the meal, we both concurred that we had chosen wisely.

It was by now well into the evening, and catching a bus home was a quickly fading possibility.  Cabs were too expensive, and we knew nobody in this town.  Brita suggested getting a room here, and I was only too happy to agree.  With that decided, we went back to the ping pong pub and reconnected with the bar staff for a nightcap before heading off to our unexpected home for the evening.

When our time in Patara came to an end, we were both sorry to leave.  But as I wrote before, Turkey was a big place, and there was still heaps of it to see!