Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Dalyan, Turkey...A bit of a mixed bag

The Lycian tombs in Dalyan
I didn't think much of Dalyan to start with.  The town was overrun with Brits on cheap package tours, the shops were full of terrible tat, there seemed to be a lot of hippy types aimlessly milling around  and our hotel, with broken plumbing and poor service, was nothing to write home about.   My friend,  Hils, and I took a walk around town and after a long awaited cup of coffee started to head back to the hotel.
 It was then that we spotted the  jewel in Dalyan's crown; the elaborate and spectacular Lycian tombs carved into the cliffs on the other side of the river. It was worth everything else just to see them.  Later, in the evening, our whole group ventured up town again for dinner.  We dined at a river's edge restaurant right opposite the tombs which at this stage were softly lit and seemed to float eerily above the river in the darkness.  It was quite a sight.

Opening my clay pot dinner
We dined on chicken, served in sealed clay pots which had to be broken open to eat the contents. In a fun little ceremony the waiter assisted each diner to slice the pot open with a large knife. I warmed to Dalyan as we sat by the river, the odd boat chugging past, the ghostly tombs watching over us and, on the walk home, enjoyed the lively party atmosphere in town.

This is the life!

We were in Dalyan mainly as a base for a couple of leisure activities.  The next day we were booked onto our own chartered boat to take a 12 island cruise around the coast.  What  bliss to cruise the Mediterranean without a care in the world, anchoring now and then near different islands to swim in the clean, clear, aqua green sea, sunbathing, snoozing, chatting, laughing and relaxing.  At lunch we were served a feast on deck, the aubergine and garlic in yogurt was a big hit.

Lunch on deck; 12 island cruise

Ancient ruins and the ice cream boat

The busy boat harbour in Dalyan

At one point we were visited by the ice cream boat, a small speed boat which travels from charter boat to charter boat selling ice creams.  Of course we all bought one for the sheer novelty of it.

The following morning it was another boat trip, this time a serene river cruise past the Lycian tombs, the township, the bustling boat harbour and up to Lake Koycegiz.  Along the way we saw flying fish and turtles, hot mud pools and fishermen quietly contemplating on the river side.

Fisherman on the river
Aboard the river boat

Our boat dropped us off at the ruined city of Caunos.  Although it was an easy hike up to the town, past pomegranate trees dripping with fruit, it was so searingly hot that rivers of sweat ran down our backs.  Dating back to the 4th century Caunos has the usual theatre, baths, shops etc but it also had the best ancient town street I had seen so far.  I was thrilled with it.  It was a long street which ran down the side of the hillside, paved and with short flights of steps at odd intervals.  It didn't take much to visualise life there 1500 years ago. Over the hill and down the other side we re-joined our boat and continued to Turtle Beach where we stopped for another swim in the warm fresh sea.

With Hils on Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach is a very popular spot and  was crowded with people renting deck chairs for the day.  We didn't stay long, had our swim and took the boat back to town.  As we cruised through high reeds with a procession of boats following us I was reminded of the river cruises I had taken in Africa.  It had been another great day.

Cruising back through the reeds

So there you have it.  Dalyan, good and bad but in the final analysis, mainly good.  Just make sure you get out and do things and don't hang around town too long.