Yesterday was a hectic day, so today was relaxed, with a late (9:30AM) breakfast and a nice swim in the pool in the hotel before checking out at nearly 12PM! It was tempting to spend the entire day lazing by the pool, but I didn’t have a good book to read, so we packed up and left. Oh, and we’ve got places to go and things to see – I’ll rest when I’m on the airplane back to work in Brisbane in two weeks.
Out of curiosity we went and had a look at the nearby (walking distance) beach, Çajis Beach. We were both kind of surprised at how busy it was here! I guess if you just wanted a cheap holiday in the sun by the sea, then this would tick all the boxes – yes, all two of them. The water was OK, but nothing like we’d experienced recently and the beach wasn’t particularly beachy. But, we’ve been quite spoilt.
We drove out to Kayaköy, which was a Lonely Planet recommendation – which are hit or miss. The town was a recently evacuated city from Greeks leaving Turkey during a population exchange post WWII. Access was via yet antoher narrow winding road over a pass from Fethiye.
It was truly amazing seeing an entire empty village. Much like Hashima (Gunkanjima/Battleship Island) the abandoned island in Japan, it has only been a few decades, but the ruins look ancient. It’s hard to believe it could decay so quickly. It was oppressively hot again today, and Risa wasn’t feeling like exploring yet more ruins, so I went to explore solo. I walked for a while, scrambling up loose rocks and gravel up a steep hill, winding through partially standing buildings and down overgrown lanes. I spotted one building that was much larger and also looked to be in much better condition than most of the other small dwellings. I managed to find a pile of rocks that helped me climb over the fence to look inside. I was starting to feel like Lara Croft.
I didn’t realise it was a church until I was standing beneath the enormous vaulted ceilings – I thought it was a bathhouse! It was amazing inside, and I felt truly lucky and special to have chanced this encounter. It looked like access was restricted, as the other points of entry were locked. I only had a quick explore of the mosaics and frescos as Risa was waiting in the hot car – plus I didn’t want to get caught somewhere I wasn’t meant to be. I could have wondered around the town for an hour or so, looking for something unique and exciting.
From Fethiye, we continued on our eastward path stopping at Patara. I had wanted to stay in Butterfly Valley (or one of the other secluded locations nearby), but it was a pretty big detour and we opted out.
Patara is famous for the longest sandy beach in Turkey (they say 18km), as well as the sand dunes, which was surprising after all the pebble beaches we’ve seen. Access to the beach was through another set of ruins (10TL each), which was a bit cheeky. The beach was very tourist focused, with men renting umbrellas and beach chairs (18TL). I considered alternatives, but dropped the dollars and hired some chairs and a giant umbrella, and enjoyed a quick swim and some relaxation time in the shade of the umbrellas. The water felt nice, but a little murky. Surprisingly shallow, too. It was busy, but there was still lots of personal space in the water and on the beach.
We returned to the town via the ancient ruins, even though we were exhausted. There had been extensive renovations/recreations, as previously there wasn’t much left above the ground. Even though it was a recreation, it was good to see how it is supposed to look. And, my favourite part? They had models inside. I wish more areas had models to help visualise the way things used to look…
We’ve generally booked the cheapest hotel available on Booking.com, so tonight was no different (Ali Baba’s Hostel – 59TL). Ali was in the shower when we arrived, and came out with his shirt off and a towel wrapped around him. His place is pretty run down, but technically clean (apart from the first room we inspected and the shitty toilet) and we can’t really complain for the price. Sadly the restaurant in the hotel doesn’t open for another two days as the area looked nice. So instead Ali suggested the place across the road.
Ali touted it as being cheap! Ha, I think it was the most expensive place in town (maybe), but Ali negotiated with the owner and arranged a small discount. I don’t know why, but we decided to eat there anyway, as the food looked/sounded nice, and we’d missed lunch today. The restaurant, Sailing Restaurant, has a terrace that is decorated like a sailboat, complete with wooden decking in the outline of the boat, and the mast and sails.
The food was good quality, just a little expensive for what we’ve become used to recently. Sadly we were their only customers tonight, possibly due to the price as the cheaper places in town seemed busy enough. However, they had only just opened (last week) and were still getting word out. Hospitality must be tough.
And, as the sun went down, we learnt what else Patara is famous for – mosquitos. The restaurant owner had mentioned that tourism is difficult with the mosquitos that they have here in the lake. And, soon enough, as the sun went down, the mosquitos came out.
It wasn’t until we returned to our room did we notice the dozens of squashed mosquitos on the walls of our hotel room. Big and bloody. While it’s been hot during the day, it usually cools off at night and we’re able to sleep without air conditioning. However, tonight it was fortunate that we had AC so we could keep the windows shut, as the insect screen was poorly installed with gaping holes. Risa has a pretty severe reaction to insect bites (the poor thing was attacked in Dalyan), so she takes them very seriously.
It was the worst nights sleep we’d had in a very long time. Somehow even with all the doors and windows closed, they were finding their way inside the room. We’d be woken by their humming, and then spend the next ten minutes trying to find and kill it, only to be woken an hour or less later to do it again.