Turkey

Neil, Philip and I flew into Dalaman airport in Turkey for a 2-week holiday in Ölüdeniz (www.oludenizbeach.com), just south of Fethiye on the Mediterranean coast. Our flight was delayed by almost 6 hours, due to technical problems. When we eventually arrived at Dalaman airport, we each paid £10 for a tourist visa before going through passport control. Then we took the 1.5 hour coach journey to our hotel in Ölüdeniz, it was called the Magic Tulip Beach (www.magictulip.com). If you go, make sure your hotel is near the beach, and not in the main part of the town a mile or so away.

Hopefully you are able to see the google map above, if not, click on the following link: &s=AARTsJqzARj-Z8VnW5pkPMLMmZbqrJcYpwMap

The first day

This is a small hotel (most of them are in Ölüdeniz), with pleasant staff and a more than acceptable pool, but the room was a bit small for the three of us, though this didn't affect us too much as we didn't spend too much time in it. We decided to take it easy the first day, but we booked several activities for subsequent days including whitewater rafting, microlighting (powered hang-gliding), paragliding and scuba-diving, as well as several excursions. Some of these excursions we booked through our Thomas Cook representative, Gina Scott - the best holiday rep I have ever come across. Other activities we booked through 'Gorgeous George' at the Easy Riders shop on the beach-front.

Whitewater rafting

The whitewater rafting was brilliant. A minibus took us back past Dalaman and into the mountains to the north. At the end of this 2 hour journey we were kitted out with life-jackets and helmets and then taken by jeep another 1 hour up high into the mountains to the base of a dam. Beware - some places say you can be as young as 6 to do this activity, but we had to sign a form to say that my son was 16! Make sure you carry plenty of water with you, we didn't. We got the rafts together and at about 1pm the dam floodgates were opened and the trickle that was the Dalaman River became a torrent (slight exaggeration here). We got the rafts into the river and then spent the next 3 hours sailing the river, working our way through class 3 rapids. Expect to get wet. We didn't capsize, but quite a few of the other rafts did. Besides going over rapids, you have the chance to jump 4 metres into the river and to float the last section in the water (minus raft). The scenery as you pass through the gorges is stupendous. We had an excellent time, especially after I 'rescued' a 1.5 litre bottle of water that had escaped from an overturned raft. We had a well-deserved meal afterwards and then made the trip back to Oludeniz.

The microlight flight

The microlight flight was excellent. A car took us just past Hisaronu, which is a couple of kilometers outside Oludeniz and Neil and Philip took the first flights in a pair of micro-lights. Philip was quite apprehensive (it being his first time), but once he was airborne he had a great time. The views of Ölüdeniz, the blue lagoon and butterfly valley are spectacular.

Paragliding

We swooped low over our hotel and waved at the other guests that were in the pool. You can see the pool in the photo on the left. While flying we looked up to see the top of Babadag mountain, which is where the next day we would be launching ourselves from 6,500 feet (soaring evn higher on thermals) on our tandem paragliding excursion (www.gatetoturkey.com/turkey_a_z_tour/01004). While we did enjoy the microlighting, the paragliding was better. Neil and I decided to do it at mid-day, to try to catch the thermals for a longer ride. The air is clearer in the earlymorning, but the rides are shorter. A landrover picked us up outside our hotel and took us to the top of the mountain. The journey is an adventure in itself, especially the last hundred metres or so. Our group was a mixed bag. There was Neil and myself, a young Turkish couple and a grandmother with her grandson and 3 other children (ranging from 10 years-old to 14), who belonged to people at her hotel who didn't want to fly themselves. I was quite apprehensive about running down a slope and throwing myself off, but when it came to it I only had to take 2 paces then I was off the ground and soaring up to 8,000 feet. The views are out of this world and its an experience I can't wait to repeat.

Pamukkale

We went on a day excursion to Pamukkale ('cotton castle' in Turkish) and really enjoyed it. The journey was quite long, but we stopped for breakfast at a small restaurant on the way. We travelled through the mountains and on to the plains, passing through Denizly, one of the main centres for the manufacture of Turkish carpets.

Heliopolis

When we arrived at Pamukkale we first visited the Roman ruins of Heliopolis, which are quite impressive. A team of archeologists from Italy are busy excavating at the site of the amphitheatre.

Snow white cliffs

Having spent some time wandering around the ruins we made our way to Pamukkale itself. There is a spa pool there, but we spenta couple of hours instead walking along the course of the stream that creates the white cliffs, bathing in the pools and gazing at the fantastic sights.It was great seeing the shapes that looked as if they had been fashioned out of pure white snow, but which were made from calcium deposits instead.

Turkish rugs

Unfortunately we only got to stay a couple of hours here, then we had to get back on the coach and go to a local hotel for a late lunch. On the way back we stopped at a carpet centre in Denizly and we bought a rug that will look stunning in our new villa in Cyprus. The trip back to Ölüdeniz was eventful, when our sister coach blew a tyre and we all got out to help and give 'useful' advice to those changing the tyre. We arrived back in Oludenizat about 9pm, having left just after 6pm that morning. It was a very tiring day, but we enjoyed it thoroughly.

Boat excursions

We went on several boat excursions. The trips lasted the whole day, they included lunch and were very inexpensive. The boats would visit several islands in the area of Oludeniz and Fethiye, stopping off at some for a hour or so for you to snorkel or explore the vicinity. The weather was brilliant and we had a fantastic time.

Boat trip

On the first such journey Neil and I ended up bathing in a pool of foul-smelling mud. This was actually fun, but it almost ruined my best bikini. We did the second trip with Janis and Steve, a lovely couple that we met at our hotel. We visited some lovely places and although the boat trip was a bit rough at times we always moored close inshore where the waves died down to a gentle swell. On the trip from Fethiye it was one of the crew's fifteenth birthday. As part of the celebrations he and three other guys jumped in the sea and were pulled along for a while while hanging onto ropes trailing from the stern of the Gullet. The Health and Safety Inspectorate in the UK would have had a field day, but everyone involved seemed to enjoy it.

'Turkish' night

We went on a couple of 'Turkish Night' trips, which were interesting. Neil got roped into making an exhibition of himself by the belly-dancer and his attempts were hilarious. Not quite bad sight of the week, but one that had our son disowning him for the evening. The second trip was just outside Ölüdeniz, just past the 'Ghost Town', which is a village that was abandoned by its Greek inhabitants in 1923 when the treaty signed in Lausanne called for the expulsion of all Greeks from Turkey and all Turks from Greece. It is quite a haunting sight to see a thousand dwellings left to go to ruin in this way.

Collage

Scuba diving

We also went scuba-diving a couple of times. Once with the European Diving Cetre (www.europeandiving.co.uk), based in Fethiye, once with Dive Med (www.meddiving.com), which has its headquarters in a small shop just 20 metres from the Magic Tulip Beach Hotel.

Misplaced equipment

While that part of the Med is more or less dead, regarding fish, we did see some impressive underwater seascapes. On the second set of dives I managed to spot a stingray below me that had a wingspan over 2 metres (more like 8 feet). I pointed it out to Neil and another of the divers and they were well impressed with my powers of observation. We also saw a defensive ball of sardines being preyed upon by barracudas. Neil managed to leave my mask, fins, snorkel and dive computer at the dive shop in Fethiye after the first set of dives. It took quite a bit of messing about to get them back to Oludeniz. In the end Gina got involved and sorted it out straight away, she really is a treasure.

Turkish bath

Although the diving was not spectacular, we still enjoyed it and will do it again next time we go to Turkey.One thing that we all did was to have a Turkish bath and all-over massage. It was great. The techniques that the guys employ are interesting to watch, especially when they blow into what looks like a pillow-case and squeeze the foamy soap suds all over you. You end up feeling fantastic, with skin like a baby's bottom (and in Neil's case, twice as ugly).

Dalyan

Our flight back to the UK was not scheduled until early morning on the Friday, so we decided to take Thomas Cook up on an option to have a day trip to Dalyan, bathe in the mud baths, visit Turtle Beach, spend a few hours in an hotel there and then get ferried the short distance to Dalaman airport.

Turtle beach

Dalyan itself is lovely, especially down by the river-front. We had a great time wallowing in the mud, before sailing down the river to spend an hour or so on Turtle Beach. The beach slopes gently into the sea and is a favorite with families. We didn't see many turtles, you have to leave the beach before 8pm and the Turtles don't normally appear till later.

End of the holiday

We did see some fantastic royal rock tombs, carved high up in the face of a cliff - most spectacular. The Hotel wasn't that brilliant, but we only stayed there a few hours before transferring to the airport and flying back to the UK.

Summary

We really enjoyed our two weeks in Turkey. The people were friendly, the weather fantastic, our hotel very comfortable and the countryside beautiful. We can certainly recommend Turkey as a holiday destination and will be visiting it again in the future.

Summary of dives in Turkey 2005
DateDepth (m)Time (min)EANxTurkey Dive
4 Aug 28.4 32 - Fetiye, Mexican Hat - Cave & tunnel
4 Aug 17.7 42 - Fetiye, Kaya Bay - Wrass, grouper and interesting scenery
4 Aug 18.9 48 - Fetiye, Aquarium Reef - Not many fish but interesting landscape
8 Aug 25.3 48 - Oludniz, Faralya - Lovely dive, best so far in Turkey
8 Aug 23.8 58 - Oludniz, Butterfly Valley - very interesting, backward sommersault from a rib

Sue - August 2005

 
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