Turquoise - the colour to end an extraordinary summer - a week around the Turkish coast
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Covid and arranging travel has been very challenging this summer. The choice of travel corridors from the Uk has been understandably limited and ever-changing. Our original plan to visit Valencia, Ibiza and Barcelona was obviously not possible this year, while cheap flights to Cyprus looked like a real alternative. Unfortunately my covid test that was required to enter the island didn’t come through in time for the Saturday morning flight.
Never one to give up, Saturday afternoon was spent researching what alternatives were left. After my experience in Corfu, I had decided to ignore newspaper headlines sending out scaremongering stories and to actually look at what criteria the Uk government was actually using to judge whether a country was safe to remain on the list. I set up a spread sheet of my own looking at the last seven days data and judged Turkey to a realistic choice over the next few weeks.
We found some last minute packages and decided to book for a Monday departure. All very last minute!
We arrived in Marmaris on Monday evening after a flight to Dalaman and an hour and a half coach ride to the town. We stayed at the Beachfront Hotel, situated along the seafront with spectacular views of the beautiful bay. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner (we were all-inclusive to keep things simple and a great choice as the food was superb) before an evening walk along the lively waterfront.
A relaxing day starting with time by the pool after breakfast followed by a sketch sitting on the beach of Marmaris old town in the distance along the shore.
After lunch we walked along the long promenade (that seemed to get ever longer as the week progressed!) towards the marina. The seafront around the old town is surrounded by scores of boats that are all jostling to sell their day trips to other parts of the beautiful coastline.
From the marina and it’s perimeter of bustling restaurants, we noticed Marmaris Castle peaking above the skyline of the small hillside area. We wandered back into the narrow streets and found winding alleyways that took us up to the oldest and prettiest part of the old town that lead to the walls of the castle. In the tradition of Turkish towns and cities, cats wander the streets as if they own them and love attention from visitors and the locals that pamper them.
We stopped at what was to become one of our favourites spots, the little Tunnel Cafe where we enjoyed delicious freshly squeezed orange juice and gave me the opportunity for a final sketch of the day of the little square next to the cafe.
On the way back to the hotel and with a little Trip Advisor research, we booked places for tomorrow on a boat to take us around the bay.
Up early to catch the 9.30am boat, the Amadeus, from the busy promenade close to the old town. Virtually all of the small boats leave before 10am sailing to various parts of the local coastline and beaches.
With Covid regulations in place, we were told that the capacity of the Amadeus was reduced to 20 people and therefore we were rather surprised when only two other people joined the boat - there was actually more crew than guests!
We had the the small upper deck all to ourselves for the entire day - a perfect place to relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape as it passed by.
We headed firstly across the bay to Paradise Island (Nimara Peninsula) and to Aquarium Bay. We anchored off the coast next to a couple of other boats where we jumped off into the warm clear water and swam to the shore. Back on boat I had a short time to sketch one of the adjacent colourful boats in the bay before we set off further out to sea towards Kumlubuk - yet another beautiful bay.
Before setting off, the captain cooked a tasty lunch - it almost felt like we were on our own private yacht and afterwards I managed to get a short black and white sketch almost completed before we set sail - it was interesting trying to finish the drawing as were moving!
Later in the afternoon at beautiful Amos beach, we flew our DJI Mavic Mini drone above the boat and stunning surrounding coastline. The picture quality and stability of the tiny machine is incredible and we managed to get some great footage.
After one final stop and some delicious water melon handed out again by the captain, we returned to Marmaris harbour as the sun began to set - a perfect day in a beautiful location.
I woke up early and before breakfast went down to the beach to watch the sun rise over the bay. It was fascinating to see how the light changed on the surrounding hills - foreground to background being defined by a series of distinct tones. It was the perfect time to sit and sketch the panorama in front of me after a short swim in the warm sea. It’s funny how sketches reflect our mood as well as the character of the subject matter in front of us - somehow a simple calm watercolour sketch suited this scene perfectly.
After breakfast, we spent the morning relaxing on the beach and a great chance to read - a few more chapters of ‘Whatever Happened To Margo’ by Margaret Durrell that I started a few weeks ago in Corfu.
During the afternoon, we researched our next day trip - we had been keen to visit Pamukkale, famous for surreal landscapes left by carbonate minerals, but it was several hours away and apparently extremely busy so we decided that might not be the best choice for this particular troubled year. Hopefully another time.
After we had decided on an alternative, we sort out the office of the the travel agency only to find that the actual booking office was a couple of miles away. We then found ourselves being driven to a shopping centre to book in a car that picked us up a few minutes later - a bit of a strange experience!
In the evening after dinner we had another stroll around the old town, stopping at our favourite cafe for a drink.
Another early breakfast to catch a coach to take us on the first stage of our day trip. We had decided on a boat trip along the Dalaman River and the coach (which was full of Russians with a Russian speaking guide) after an hour arrived at Köyceğiz, a small town at the top of Köyceğiz Lake. We boarded 2 small boats and then enjoyed an hour traveling over the serenely calm water towards the south of the lake and our first stop at Sultaniye where there were thermal springs, mud baths and hot spring baths. As the actual mud baths were not busy, we sank into the muddy slime and then waited in the sun for it to dry. To clean up, we dived into the beautiful still lake before enjoying a drink in the open bar.
Then back on the boat and after a short time we reached the top of the Dalaman River that would take us south towards the coast and Turtle Beach. The river takes you into a different world of a winding waterways passing through protected wetland areas and passed the cute town of Dalyan. The scenic drama continued when we passed the dramatic ancient Rock Tombs at the city site of Caunos. Turkey continues to amaze and surprise with its stunning variety of different landscapes.
The boats stopped before we reached our final destination, Iztuza Plaji (commonly known as Turtle Beach) to see if anyone could catch crabs. Surprisingly quite a few people were successful and no doubt helped to provide some of the food for later, although nobody can really complain about prices in Turkey - this whole day trip cost on £15, our boat trip around the bay on Wednesday £10!
A chilled weekend to enjoy our last few days here. Starting with a lazy morning at the beach, I was determined later to return to the old town to sketch.
I wandered around the town centre returning to our favourite bar for a gorgeous freshly squeezed orange. As I continued to look for a sketch view, the friendly owner of the bar asked if I would like to sketch from the upstairs roof terrace. It was a perfect location, in the shade with a great view and a refreshing beer to help pass the time.
The owner explained that his mother had been a painter and he carved wood and enjoyed seeing artists portray this historic part of the town.
We finished the day by having dinner by the marina .We knew we had found the perfect restaurant when we found a cat asleep on top of the menu board!
Another lazy morning on the beach (with a quick sketch) and a great lunch on the hotel terrace and even some cocktails on the beach afterwards.
Later we strolled back into town having a drink in the Panorama Cafe with as you can imagine great views over the bay. It was a great viewpoint to figure out where my final sketch of the day should be taken from.
I saw a walkway that stretched out into the marina and headed there - a perfect location to sit and soak in all the activity and bustle whilst watching the sunset over the beautiful old town.
After filling out our Uk PLF form over dinner, we walked back into town to hopefully see the light show around the dancing fountains - unfortunately we missed it! Home to bed then on our final evening.