The last part of our Greece and Turkey trip with Della’s family was spent in the Turkish town of Fethiye, located on the beautiful “Turquoise Coast.” We gave ourselves multiple days in Fethiye to see the city and take some day trips to interesting nearby sites. The list of “Fethiye Must Sees & Dos” from Turkey’s for Life was instrumental in planning our time.
We had a little bit of an interesting time trying to find a place to stay. There were plenty of places listed on a certain apartment rental site, but none of them really stood out. We finally chose one place, but then were confused when we got a message from the host telling us he wasn’t going to accept our request… but instead he wanted to meet us in person to work things out. It seemed pretty shady, but we decided to give it a try. We arranged a rendezvous at a gas station by the bus station… only to discover that there were about five gas stations in the area. Somehow the host was able to find our car just based on a vague description. He took us to a rental apartment in the Çalış Beach area. The apartment itself was very spacious, and felt quite new, so we accepted. It being the offseason, the neighborhood felt pretty dead: empty streets, very few neighbors, closed restaurants, empty swimming pool, etc – but we think that it would have been a pretty prime location in the summer when the beach would be packed.
Our first evening in town, we headed up to check out the Lycian rock tombs just above the city. The Lycians (the same civilization we saw at Tlos) were a civilization that existed concurrently with the ancient Greeks and Romans, and were involved in their affairs occasionally as well. One of the things they are well known for is the practice of burying their important dead in tombs carved out of rock near their cities. They even took the time to carve the rock to make the temple look exactly like it would have if it was made of wood, with “nails” and so on. We were able to drive right up to the base of the tombs above Fethiye. You were supposed to have to pay a small entrance fee, but no one was manning the booth. We then walked up the stairs to the base of the most impressive tomb, the Tomb of King Amyntas. Time and vandals have not been kind to the tomb, but it still was nice to see up close and provided an excellent vantage point over the city.
Our location near the beach did allow us to take a walk out to the coast every day near sunset, which was quite glorious to view over the water. Wayne was even brave enough to swim one day! He reported that the water was warm, but the cold wind deterred the rest of us.
Our first night in Çalış Beach we decided to go out to eat for dinner. Since it was the low season, half of the options were closed. We chose an open small cafe that did have a couple of musicians performing. The food was only so-so; Dana was especially disappointed by the overabundance of parsley in many of the dishes (she has the genes that make parsley taste like soap).
Therefore, the other two nights we bought groceries and cooked back at the apartment. And by “we,” we mean that Dana and Peggy cooked. They made two very tasty meals! The second one was especially enlivened by the addition of local mushrooms that we bought from a vendor on the side of the road (we think they were saffron milk cap mushrooms). One night we also had the pleasure of celebrating Della’s birthday. With the help of our apartment broker, Wayne and Peggy were able to find a cake and birthday candles!
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Della’s family had to leave us. They drove the rental car back to Izmir, and we decided to stay in Fethiye and explore the town and the Turquoise Coast for a few more days.
Our Çalış Beach rental apartment dealer offered to find us a nice place for a good rate, but we decided we wanted to stay in the city of Fethiye itself and booked a double room at Yildirim Guest House. The room was nice and we enjoyed the included Turkish breakfast, but were a little bummed to discover that we were the only guest, meaning that we just kept to ourselves the whole time.
Without the benefits of a rental car, we had to find things in town to do. Our first stop was a quick visit to the Fethiye Archaeological Museum. And by quick, we mean that it only took us 45 minutes to get through. Considering that we have been known to spend four hours at many museums, it shows that there just isn’t that much to see at this small museum. We did enjoy seeing some of the statues recovered from Tlos though.
We also decided to splurge a visit a hamam, a.k.a. a Turkish bath. It was quite the experience. The first step was for the sales manager to convince us to upgrade to all sorts of deluxe treatments (although even he didn’t recommend the diamond package which included having honey and chocolate drizzled on you). Della agreed to get an extra oil massage but Eric stuck with the basic bath. Then the bath process began. We first changed into our bath clothes. Traditionally, one would remain naked under the provided peştamal (bath towel), but we chose to keep our swimsuits on. We then went into the sauna for ten minutes and worked up a nice sweat, then into the very humid steam room for two minutes (Eric could only last one). Then the bath attendants took over. We each got our own personal attendant (since this was a co-ed bath, both attendants were male). They rinsed us off, then laid us down on a marble slab. They used a rough glove called a kese to scrape all of the dead skin off of us; it was amazing (and gross) to see what they pulled off! They then put a huge amount of suds on us and gave us a quick soap massage. The massage was pretty aggressive, and also involved some pretty serious twisting of limbs to get joints to pop. (Although it paled in comparison to what was being done to another customer nearby. He was being bent violently into all sorts of pretzel shapes and screaming in what sounded like agony. The attendants asked us if we would like that treatment and we declined). The attendant then took us back over to a bench and rinsed off the soap, then gave us a nice shampoo and a final cold rinse. We then were wrapped into towels and headed back to the common area to relax. Della then went off and got her full-body massage, which she very much enjoyed.
For our final evening in Fethiye, we decided to hike a small part of what the Turkey’s For Life blog calls the Fethiye Peninsula Trek. This took us by a shipyard where many boats were being worked on and then out onto a point which gave us excellent views over the harbor and water as the sun set. We wished we could have done more, but decided to head back before it got too dark.
This capped off a nice five days in Fethiye. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and sites, but found ourselves wishing that we had visited when there were a few more people around and more things were open. This would become a common theme as we continued to the east along the Turquoise Coast.