After abandoning the Lycian Way walk, we continued our journey west, with a few more stops on the way.
Patara and Tlos
The next place we’d planned to visit was Patara. This is the birthplace of St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra/Santa Claus. It now boasts one of the longest stretches of white sand beach in the Mediterranean, and there are significant remains of the ancient city near the beach. The accommodation, however, is in the village of Gelemis, two kilometres inland. We’d booked a room, and arrived about noon, so we had time to walk to the beach, stopping to visit the ruins of ancient Patara on the way there (and on the way back).
This was all good, BUT we were not impressed with our ‘hotel’, or with the village where it was based. We’d booked for two nights, but decided one was enough – we were not sure what we’d do the next day! – so decided to press on. We’d planned to visit ancient Tlos on the intervening day, but were not keen to return to Patara. So we struck a deal with a local man who arranged transport: he (or his son, as it turned out) would drive us up to Tlos, wait for us there and then take us to our hotel in Fethiye, our next stop. This worked well. Although by this stage we’d visited many ruined cities, the dramatic location of Tlos made it well worth the detour. The tombs cut into the rock are amazing.
Fethiye and around
Fethiye was a late addition to our itinerary. As we’d cut a day off our Lycian Way walk, and a day off our stay in Patara, we had two days spare, and decided that Fethiye sounded an interesting place. We were right, and really enjoyed the time we spent there.
Fethiye has a beautiful picturesque harbour, and our hotel was ideally located close by. On our first afternoon there we walked around the harbour, and visited the small but interesting museum. There are yet more rock tombs on the edge of the town, and we climbed up to see the most famous, the Amyntas tomb. In the evening we took a sunset cruise. Although there are plenty of boats in the harbour, many advertising sunset cruises, some were not running (because of lack of passengers) and others did not suit our needs. So we ended up with a small boat all to ourselves, and watched a beautiful peaceful sunset out on the water.
On our full day in Fethiye, we ventured outside the town itself. We took a bus to Kaya Koyu, the so-called ‘ghost village’. Back in 1923 the Greek Orthodox Christian inhabitants were forced to move to Greece, in the compulsory exchange of populations that we’d learned about in Cappadocia. The Macedonian Muslims sent to Kaya Koyu decided the land was too poor and moved elsewhere, so the village was abandoned and has an attractive if somewhat eerie atmosphere.
From Kaya Koyu we followed a path suggested in our guidebook, down to the village of Oludeniz, Turkey’s most photographed beach. The path was difficult in places, but gave us great views of the coast. All round the beautiful blue lagoon, there are private beach clubs where you can eat, drink and hire sun loungers. We did just that, relaxing for a couple of hours before walking on to Oludeniz village itself. The beach there was disappointing, in our view. But Oludeniz is one of the top spots in the world for paragliding, and Sandie could not resist the opportunity to take her third ever tandem flight. This was the highest she’s done (starting from 6,500 ft) and the longest (30 mins in the air), yet it was also by far the cheapest. And for her it was wonderful – even if Ian thinks she’s crazy!
On Tuesday 7th June we had to leave Fethiye and go by bus to Marmaris, to catch our pre-booked ferry to Rhodes. Since we had plenty of time, we decided to take a walk up to the ruins of Fethiye castle (the one place of interest we’d not already visited) before setting off. We had a pleasant stroll and got some good views over the town, but did not quite make it up to the castle itself, as the path was so difficult and dangerous.
On to Marmaris
One thing that struck us forcibly in and around Fethiye was the prevalence of English. During our previous month in Turkey, we’d heard little if any English spoken. Prices might be quoted in euros, and if we were lucky we might get a menu in English, but that was it – no English-speaking tourists, apart from a few Australians here and there. So it was something of a culture shock to arrive in Fethiye and find lots of British tourists, with tastes and prices geared to their needs. It took us a while to realise that prices were being quoted in pounds rather than euros. Not only were there things like ‘full English breakfast’ on offer, but there were supermarkets obviously designed to make Brits feel at home, without infringing any laws. On our way to Kaya Koyu, we spotted examples of Azda, Saintsbury’s and Morrissons (sic).
It was much the same in Marmaris, when we arrived there. As we had our luggage with us, we had lunch in a harbour café, and then took it in turns to have a brief look around the town. Then it was time to head for the ferry; our five weeks in Turkey had come to an end.