Day 28 and 29 - Fethiye Old Town, Oludeniz, Calis Beach
Just past the entrance to Paspatur, the old market of Fethiye, there's a duck pond. It's a brilliant emerald green, choked through with algae, and fat fish swim lazy circles around the perimeter. I stare into it and make vomiting sounds. It's yuck, guys. The old market is full of restaurants and souvenir shops underneath thick grape vines and an alley of rainbow coloured umbrellas. I take far too many pictures in umbrella alley.
We walk down to the harbour to look at all the cruise boats and yacht that we've decided not to take. Jamming ourselves into a boat with 20-45 other strangers and being marooned with them for 12 stops at different, unknown islands, all the while dressed in my bikini, is my personal idea of hell.
One boat has a water slide on board. That's vaguely tempting. Other cruises are quite killjoy, stating that they have "No Loud Music". In the car, Rob and I have been listening to Power 100 FM which plays some lovely untz-untz versions of English-speaking hits. You haven't heard Lorde or Sam Smith until you've heard Turkish club remixes of their best ballads, guys. Sia's Chandelier and Ariana Grande are firm favourites with the Power 100 FM crowds.
Like the tourists we are, we want to see Fethiye Bay from up above. Looking at views is Tourist 101. In the midday heat, we crawl like turtles up some very steep streets, winding through people's homes to get to the Crusader fortress. We take overly intrusive photos of people's front doors, and their laundry, one lady's sheets printed with giant strawberries. It's like a povvo Santorini; all white washed walls, clay roof tiles, bouganvillea, and windows and doors picked out in pastel colours. Rob obsesses over the three-wheeler bikes all the the locals have. One wheel at the front, two out of the back with a wire basket to carry stuff in.
Instead of getting to the Crusader fortress, we wind up at the Tomb of Amyntas. You have to pay to get in. Rob asks if I want to see it. Actually, you can just look up at from the street. I have no compulsion to walk up the hill to see it up close. Once you see Petra, you're spoilt forever for tombs carved into the side of mountains. That's your rock-carved tomb bucket list done and over with.
Instead, an old lady is hosting a totally made-up cafe on her rooftop across the road. It's like she woke up one day, looked at all the red-faced, huffing tourists that have just missioned it up the hill and thought, I need some pocket money. So, she dragged out some garden chairs, got her husband to make the Turkish coffee, bought a juicer, picked some oranges from all the random trees around town, and got her business up and running. She smiles a big, toothy smile at me. She's wearing a headscarf, loose pants, and a shirt; they're all different floral patterns. She says, "Orange juice?" And I say, "Yes." Before Rob knows it, I'm sitting on the chair, looking out at the vine-framed view, and waiting to be served.
When we pay, the lady beckons me over and points to something behind her like it's a great secret. I look where she's pointing, expecting to see something else she wants to me to buy, but instead, it's three tiny turtles mucking around in a plastic container, littered with lettuce. Brilliant! We've earned our lunch with our hill climb and we make it to a corner lokantasi we passed on the way up. It's the Fethiye Lezzet Lokantasi.
Earlier that morning, it was packed with locals on the pavement. When we get there, we pick all sorts of unidentified things from the counter, the guy slaps some rice on the side, and we chow down. The lady of the lokantasi has to refill our bread basket. It is such an awesome, home-cooked meal. There's green beans, moussaka, aubergines, white beans, chicken in a tomato sauce, and salad. There's a picture of two melancholy clowns on the wall.
In the car, on the way to Oludeniz to bum around the beach, I moan about not getting any dessert and spot a large LED sign for lokma. Remember lokma? Rob, like a hero, executes a U-turn on a busy Turkish city street so that I can buy lokma and helvas from the lady at the side of the road. She is very, very pleased when I ask for helva. She shakes her finger at me with a wide grin and says, very appreciatvely, "Helvasssssss". Helvas and I have a good, working relationship. The best helva in Wellington is at the Hare Krishna buffet place.
The rest of the afternoon and early evening is spent at the Oludeniz Tabiat Parki. It is honestly the best beach I have ever been too. To establish some credibility for this claim, I've been to beaches in Krabi, Thailand, all around Honolulu, a smattering of Croatian ones, and Rarotonga. This one is just spectacular. You pay to get in; for two people plus a car it was 22 lira. But everything's there for you - showers, changing cabins, bathrooms, restaurants, loungers (for a fee), watersports. Everything. You never have to leave. The water is crystal clear ranging from a safe pebbly pastel blue to the deepest, deepest navy. It's also a pretty sheltered lagoon so there's fish to see if you're snorkelling and no crashing waves to contend with. It is a watery, watery paradise with many paragliders to watch while you're flat on your back, floating in the water. Also, after 5 pm, a big turkey wanders round the sun loungers and that's hilarious. Because you're in Turkey.
As we're packing up to leave, I hear a guy in the water shouting, "DUDE! The water goes blue right f***ing THERE." Rob finds out the reason for that the next day when he looks under water with his snorkelling gear and realises there's a sheer drop from shallow to not shallow at all. A cruise boat marooned in the distance blasts out the song, I'm On A Boat. It's deliciously bad and I love this tiny little lagoon. I cannot believe I've made it here.
With thirty minutes to spare, we're at Calis Beach to watch the sunset. Apparently, you can't leave Fethiye without watching a Calis sunset. Barry from the internet swears that no Calis sunset is ever the same as the last one. Pro tip. Don't go see a sunset at Calis Beach when a thunderstorm is rolling in. Well, that's not so much a pro tip but just a generally sensible thing to do. When we get back to Yonca Lodge, there's lightning and thunder rolling through the skies every couple of minutes and the electricity is out. We walk up the stairs using our flashlight apps.
The next day, we're sick of the Turkish breakfasts. We complain to each other about the cold cucumbers, cold tomatoes, cold boiled eggs, cold olives, cold everything. We're pretty much mezze'ed out. People on Tripadvisor are raving about Maria's English Brunch Bar in nearby Calis Beach. We drive for two hours and follow 3 different directions (Google Maps, our GPS, Tripadvisor direction) to try to find Maria's joint. But it's nowhere to be seen. We're diverted back to the Tomb of Amyntas. Then directed to drive 15 minutes back to Calis beach and dumped in the middle of suburban street. Maria's famous breakfast brunch eludes us. We give up, park up at Calis Beach, and end up morosely eating average omelette's at a place called EJ's. Rob is put in a bad mood by all the ex-pats wandering around.
There's something off-putting about towns completely overrun with ex-pats where everyone speaks English (I'm looking at you, Kalkan). I personally would be very disappointed if I'd booked a hotel in Calis Beach. Rob turns his nose up and goes on further, "This place is tacky," he says. We buy goggles, snorkel gear, and the world's scratchiest Turkish towel ($2.50 NZ!) and beat it out of Calis.
We make a quick return to Oludeniz and we don't leave the beach till 6 pm. We dive bomb off the pontoon, look at the little schools of fish underwater, eat chocolate, people watch, and snooze in the shade. We have our last Fethiye dinner at Megri Lokantasi, back inside Paspatur and watch the basketball (Jerusalem vs Bandirma) over Turkish tea.