Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brits and Boats: Fethiye and Oludeniz

After our time in Izmir, we took a few days to ourselves as a little anniversary trip of sorts.  So we hopped on a Pamukkale bus in Izmir and headed 5.5 hours south along the western coast to Fethiye, the city that serves as a starting point for the "Turkish Riviera," or the "Turquoise Coast" (Antalya marks the other end of the beachy stretch).  They served us ice cream and drinks on the bus, and each seat had it's own tv screen!

{on the bus, trying to figure out where the heck we were going}
{views on the way to Fethiye}

We spent only one night in Fethiye, then headed 30 minutes south to another beach town called Oludeniz, where we stayed for three nights.  I took so many pictures over the course of those 4 days that I had to split them up into two posts!  First, I'll talk about the cities of Fethiye and Oludeniz, and in a second post that will be up in a couple of hours, I'll talk about our day-trips to the heavenly beaches of Butterfly Valley and Kabak.  Oh, also, I brought three cameras with me to Turkey (totally necessary...), so some of these photos are film, some are from my fancy new Canon Rebel, and some are from my old point-and-shoot (and that's why some of them suck).  Ok, now for Fethiye.

We arrived in Fethiye in the evening and took a cab up, up, up the hill to the pension we had booked for the night, Ferah Pension.  Lonely Planet raved about it, it seemed to have fabulous views from the pictures on its website, and it was cheap.  But no one mentioned that it was also weird.  Now, I know you're going to look at these photos and think the place looks charming and romantic.  But sometimes film lies.

{if you're allergic to cats or dogs, this is NOT the place for you}

{our room...not pictured: the smallest, strangest bathroom in the world}

It's not that there was anything wrong with the place; it's just that the hundreds of paintings of naked women hanging on the walls, the fact that half the plants were real and half were fake so you never really knew what you were getting, and the sink faucet that was also the shower head without any curtain or door (so that the entire bathroom was soaked if you tried to take a shower...) was just all a little unsettling.  No one likes a wet bathroom floor.  Monica and Tuna (the owners of the place) were nice enough...well, besides the fact that Tuna ripped us off a bit by selling us a boat tour ticket for more than we could have bought it down at the docks, and they both seemed to be on prozac all the time.  But whatever.  If you're looking for a cheap option, or if you want to meet people to travel around with (like if you're backpacking alone), then this place will do.  But for us, we both agreed that at this point in our lives, we've graduated from hostels and pensions (yes, we're old).  Next time it's the Yacht Classic Hotel for us.

Anyway, after we dropped off our bags, and I successfully soaked the entire bathroom and myself in cold water while trying to turn on the sink/shower, we took a walk around to check out the town.  This is when we realized that we had landed in British heaven.  Never have I set foot in a place (outside of England) where there was such a high concentration of British people!  Oh man.  So many sunburns.  So many accents.  The upside was that we could speak English to basically everyone and even the Turkish people who worked there seemed to be excited to meet someone from America and not England; the downside was that it was kind of sad to see that the town had become quite touristical in an attempt to cater to all the British and American visitors.

{tourism gone bad}

But, all was not lost.  There were worthy things to see.  Fethiye is set on a harbor, and thus, it is not so much a beach town as a boat town.  This has several advantages.

First, the best thing about a boat town, of course, is the fish.  So we headed to the fish market.

{"balik" means fish in Turkish)

This is how it works.  You walk into a large open-air space with a circular fish counter in the middle, and lots of restaurants surrounding it.  You go to the fish counter and tell one of the fish mongers which fish you want (and you should get the calamari, too), and then they send it over to whatever restaurant you sit down at and it magically appears at your table sometime later.  You pay the fish monger for your fish, and the restaurant will charge you around 6 Turkish Lira (like $3.50) to cook the fish and calamari, and to bring you bread, water, and dipping sauce.  It's seriously amazing.

(I failed to document the fish, but trust me, it was fresh and flaky and tasty.)

{a bad picture of a good memory}

OMG this meal was so good.  By far the best food we had in Fethiye or Oludeniz.  We even tried to come back to the fish market on our last night in Oludeniz, but that plan was thwarted by the Armageddon scariest thunderstorm you could ever imagine that flooded the streets, knocked out the electricity, and blew a tree branch onto our bungalow.  (I was terrified.)

The second reason being in a boat town is fun is because you can take a boat tour (duh)!  Yeah, yeah, I know it's touristy, but you just have to accept that you're a tourist and get in the right mindset (namely, the mindset of expecting easy alcohol-tinged amusement for a day) to enjoy it.  As soon as it's over, you can go back to scowling at the clueless tourists when they dock on your beach and ruin your view.

We went on a boat called Fulya10 and booked a "12 Island Tour" for 25 Turkish Lira each (like $28 total)(but note that it's cheaper if you buy them directly from the boat people down at the dock).  We made some friends on the boat and these British girls said that they had been in Fethiye for weeks and that this was the best of the many boat tours they'd been on.  I'd believe it.  The boat had a roof deck where you could lay out, it was clean, and they served grilled fish for lunch that was surprisingly good.  

The boat stopped a few times at coves where you could swim, and a few times at random islands, but the sailing around was the best part, I think.

One more thing you MUST do in Fethiye is go see the ancient Lycian tombs (it's just a short walk up from the harbor).  There are a few things that are crazy about the ruins here: 1) they've been around since 350 BC; 2) there are no people there; 3) you can just go up and touch them and, if you were out of your mind, you could even crawl inside one of the tombs and no one would stop you.  Also, they are stunning.

Can you believe this view?  We went at sunset and had a drink at the restaurant across the street (with the same amazing view).  Alcohol always mixes well with sight-seeing.

Seriously, we were the only people there.  Hence the self-timer pics.

{self-pic fail; self-pic success}

A note on paragliding: when you are in Oludeniz, you will see zillions of paragliders.  You will look up and see the cheerful, colorful parachutes merrily floating down to earth, and you will think to yourself: maybe I should try that; it doesn't look so scary, and I bet there is a fantastic view!  DO NOT be fooled.  Did you know that SIX people per year on average die in Oludeniz alone while paragliding?  Um why are they still in business???

Now that we got that out of the way, this is Oludeniz.

{taken on the mini-bus}

Oludeniz is another British holiday spot, but this time it's a beach town, not a boat town.  There's a big main beach with lots of striped umbrellas and a touristy strip of souvenir shops, bars advertising themselves as the "biggest franchise!" (somehow that is supposed to attract customers??), and mediocre restaurants.  But then there is the Blue Lagoon, separated from the sea and the main beach by a sandy peninsula.  That's where we stayed.  The Blue Lagoon is host to only a few resorts including the Seahorse Resort, which looked nice, and where we stayed, the Sugar Beach Club.  The Sugar Beach Club is a collection of wooden bungalows (and there are also campsites), and it's so much more relaxing, and nature-y than the hotels on the main drag in Oludeniz.

{the beach at the Sugar Beach Club}

Since the lodging was pretty cheap, we opted to "splurge" on a luxury deluxe bungalow (complete with mini-fridge and hair-dryer ohh-la-la), and oh, I'm so glad we did.  It was new and modern, had a huge bathroom and shower (a relief after our sink-shower confusion in Fethiye), and it was cute and clean and comfy.

On one of the days we spent in Oludeniz, we rented a kayak from the hotel and paddled (well, Brian paddled, and I lounged...) around the lagoon and into the ocean.

{Captain Brian, hat compliments of cheap-o tourist shop; and the view leaving the lagoon}
{the public beach right on the tip of the peninsula}

It was lovely.  If I could do it over again, I would have stayed in Oludeniz the entire time and just taken a day trip to Fethiye for the fish market and the tombs.

The last two days in Oludeniz we spent on day trips to Butterfly Valley and Kabak, possibly the most beautiful beaches I've ever encountered, and just a mini-bus ride away from Oludeniz.  Stay tuned for those recaps coming up in a few hours!


Kirsty {a safe mooring} said...

It is so funny seeing these photos! We stayed in the hills up above Oludeniz on our honeymoon and went to all of these places. Damn right we were not going anywhere near those paragliders - we saw thm driving up the hill in their rickety 4x4s and even the car ride to the top looked bad enough to put me off, never mind the near-certain death.

I have to say it pains me to be in a place so overrun by British tourists. It is horribly embarrassing. Although our lovely Turkish tour guide told us that the Russian resorts are much worse, so I suppost that's something.

We went to Butterfly Valley by boat, climbed all the way up to the waterfall (in flip flops) and saw precisely one butterfly. I hope your trip was more successful ;)

Kirsty {a safe mooring} said...

(By Russian resorts, I mean the Turkish resorts where all the Russian tourists go. I have no idea what resorts *in Russia* are like...)

Ashley said...

No reason to be embarrassed - you are talking to an American (and we all know how despised American tourists usually are)! I was mostly shocked that the Brits had beat us to it in Turkey!

I'm intrigued by what a Russian resort in Turkey must be like...it's so funny that this area is so unknown to most Americans!

Also, you climbed UP? That is insane. As for the butterflies, I think we saw like 5 haha. The view was worth the trip alone, though!

Ozer Utku said...

Fethiye Güney Ege'nin en muhteşem yeri. Tarih, doğa, kültür kısaca tatilden beklediğiniz tüm gereksinimleri sunuyor. Güzel anlatım için teşekkür ederim. Fikir olsun diye bende burada Fethiye'nin gezilecek yerleri hakkında bir şeyler karalamıştım.