Where to stay in TurkeyNote
Olympos beach in the foreground and the much longer Cirali beach beyond.
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Saturday 1st June
: a leisurely breakfast in the sun looking up at the Tahtali Dag, a mountain that dominates the coastline here. It’s 2,318 meters/7,600 feet high and is just 10K/6 miles from Cirali. Later we headed off to Phaselis, an ancient port city just along the coast from Cirali that we had previously visited in 2008 and had good memories of it (Alexander the Great also rated Phaselis quite highly having wintered there in 334/333 BC; but he rated it more for its wine than it’s tranquility). Driving there only took 25 minutes and it hadn’t changed at all except that there were a lot more visitors this time, mostly Russians who were coming in by the boatload; presumably as part of their all-inclusive deals with hotels at the large nearby holiday resorts of Kemer and Tekirova. Even so, it was quite pleasant sitting on the beach in an ancient harbour watching the world go by: and having a swim in the calm clear water. The only café in Phaselis
(a national park) wasn’t too good for meals so we decided to head off to the nearby resort of Tekirova to find a café or restaurant for lunch. Oddly, there didn’t seem to be many there but there were quite a few shops selling fur coats and hats (in 30C plus temperatures!). The explanation for this was that the hotels in Tekirova cater for Russian visitors and offer all-inclusive deals; and consequently there is no demand for cafes, restaurants and bars. So we went to a riverside restaurant called Meydan that we had been given a brochure for when we entered Phaselis. It turned out to be a very pleasant place alongside a small mountain stream which had been dammed to create three large ponds which had been stocked with trout. Very smart. Even smarter was the ruse they pulled when they presented the bill. It turned out that the menu had been priced in Dollars, US Dollars, the only occasion we encountered during our time when a menu was priced in anything other than Turkish Lira; and consequently our bill was 30% higher than expected. Even so by UK prices the meal was a bargain and it was delicious.
The Odile Hotel - look for the swimming pool
Afterwards we returned to Phaselis for a couple more hours of mellow reflection on the beach, then back to our hotel in Cirali and out to dinner at one of half dozen restaurants that border the beach there. I can't emphasise enough how good the food here is: always freshly prepared with fresh and very tasty ingredients. Sunday 2nd June
: assuming that Phaselis had been crowded (relatively speaking) because it was the weekend we went instead to have a look at the eternal flames of the Chimera which are in the hills behind Cirali. We were greeted by a very colourful peacock who put on quite a display for us. Then it was a 20/30 minute walk up into the hills to the open area of dry white rock where the flames emerge from the ground. In ancient times the flames were much higher, about 20 feet, and were clearly visible at night from the sea; and so they were used as a form of natural lighthouse. Now the flames are quite feeble just reaching a couple of feet above ground and there’s only 5 or six places in the rock where the flames emerge. We were hoping from
Showing most of the buildings that make up the community
a good view back to the sea but the day was quite hazy and overcast but still hot. Then it was downhill and back to the village for lunch, then back to the hotel and an afternoon on the beach. By this time the overcast had cleared and the sky was brilliantly clear. Monday 3rd June
: we returned to Phaselis in the hope that there would be fewer people as the weekend was now past. This is how it worked out and we spent a very pleasant morning by the beach. I had a swim out to the entrance of the ancient harbour to have a look at the jetties and breakwaters which had been built to create a very sheltered, almost circular harbour. Then we went for lunch at the Meydan restaurant – again. But this time we scrutinized the menu carefully to check the currency. This time all the dishes were priced in Turkish Lira. We sampled their speciality, grilled trout, and it was superb; as was the accompanying salad. Then back to Cirali and on to the beach for Jane and a swim in the hotel pool for me. Happy days.
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