A Day at the Beach – Day 9 in Fethiye
Posted by Mardee on May 13, 2007
This morning, the sun was beating a path through my window and the breeze was cool and crisp. I keep waiting for bad weather to appear in Turkey but there has been no sign of anything but perfect weather. After eating breakfast on the terrace (typical Turkish breakfast of cheese, olives, tomatoes, cukes, bread and fruit), I headed down into town to catch the bus for Oludeniz. A day at the beach was today’s plan (or part of it).
First I had to find the dolmus station – I knew the general area but could not find the actual place. Finally, I stopped a man walking with his son and asked him. He not only told me – he reversed his direction and guided me 3 blocks away to the station, then made sure I could find the right minibus. The Turks are the most agreeable people – I have never had anyone turn me down when I asked for help. Three lira later, I was heading down the road to the beaches at Oludeniz, which is about 15-20 minutes away.
Part of this area is extremely built up – a lot of Germans and Brits are buying up vacation property because the area is relatively inexpensive compared to their own countries. Consequently, the main beach is packed with pale bodies baking in the sun. However, there is an area off to the rıght that is a bit more secluded – a lagoon that is reached by way of a stone pathway through a small park. There is a charge of a couple of lira to get in, so many people don’t bother.
Thıs lagoon was my destination. Once I got there, I found a spot on the beach for my stuff (I decided to forego the vinyl lounge chairs as I didn’t feel like paying 10 lira for the chair and umbrella) and plopped myself down. The lagoon was breathtakingly beautiful – a circle of deep blue water surrounded by a pebbly beach and a mountain backdrop. Most of the bathers in this area were Turks – in fact, I could see only one other body as white as mine.
The water was a bit brisk when I first jumped in, but quickly warmed up and I swam and splashed and had a great time playing in the ocean. I’m not much for laying out in the sun so after about an hour of sun and water, I packed up my gear and headed out. Before I left, I stopped at the free showers and washed the salt off (and all the tiny pebbles from the beach that had gotten inside my suit).
I managed to get a dolmus back to Fethiye fairly quickly – I was hungry but most of the restaurants in the Oludeniz area looked pretty touristy (I’m assuming that a restaurant that advertises “spaghetti” and “american burger” isn’t going to have authentic Turkish cuisine). As I was sitting in the minibus on my way back to Fethiye, a young teenage boy got on and sat down beside me. A few stops later, an elderly man got on the bus. The young teenager immediately got up and offered his seat to the older man. Again, it’s not a sight you would often see in this country.
After I got back to town, I had a quick lunch at the fish market. This is a large market where fisherman bring their catch in and sell it. You pick out a fish then take it to one of the nearby restaurants. The restaurant will then cook it for you and serve it, adding bread, salad and a drink – all for about $3. There’s nothing like fresh-caught fish. I must admit that I’m not wild about it being served with the head on, but it’s not that big a deal to cut it off and toss it to one of the nearby cats hovering around.
For my afternoon trek, I headed for another nearby town. The intent was to get to a nearby scenic area that contains a gorge. However, I got on the wrong minibus – then when I realized my error, got off at the wrong stop to go back to Fethiye. I wound up walking about 3 km. trying to find the right stop. I never did find it but I did find a Migros, the Turkish version of Kroger’s, so I decided to stop in and check it out (flexible is my middle name).
At first glance, it appears to be a regular supermarket – many of the brands are different of course, but I saw Lipton, Nescafe and Cascade, along with other familiar faces. Although the store seemed smallish by American standards, it had one aisle devoted to women’s and men’s clothing. I picked up a hat for my boat excursion planned for Sunday for around 2 lira, and a large tote bag for about 10. As I was preparing to leave, I passed by the pastry section – lo and behold, I spotted kunefe! Trying hard to restrain my drooling, I rushed over and bought a square – only 2.5 lira! A yummy treat for after dinner…
I still had the problem of how to figure out how to get back to town. The gods were with me that day, though – as I exited onto the street from the Migros parking lot, a bus pulled up for Fethiye and I jumped on board before it could get away. Unfortunately, although the dolmus was destined for Fethiye, its destination was not the part of town I knew. When I was the only passenger left, the driver made a motion that I should disembark. I frantically looked around for a familiar landmark and spotted nothing. There was no arguing with the driver (difficult to do when you do not share a common language) so I got off and starting walking towards what I thought might be the harbor.
Three blocks later, I was still in unfamiliar territory so I stopped a Turkish woman who steered me in the right direction to my hotel. Once I got there, I unloaded all my beach stuff and headed for the bar. As I sat at the bar with my glass of wine, a man next to me struck up a conversation. Burkhard was from Germany but has lived in Sweden for the last 15 years. I told him about my German ancestry and then relayed the story of “Over-the-Rhine,” the area of Cincinnati that has a connection to Germany. His wife, Ulli, came up shortly and the 3 of us chatted about Germany, the US and politics. They told me that they didn’t blame me for Bush (joke here – no political digs intended).
They invited me to dine with them at the hotel so we headed onto the terrace and had a wonderful meal and conversation. They have been to Turkey many many times and hope to retire here (for part of the year) in a few years. They introduced me to raki (the Turkish alcohol of choice – similar to ouzo but served in a tall glass with water) and Turkish coffee. I had drunk Turkish coffee before and couldn’t get past the first sip – however, I discovered the key is to add az şekerli (a “little sugar”) to the coffee. I never thought I’d be adding sugar to coffee, but in this case, it certainly makes Turkish coffee drinkable.
Burkhard told me stories of Germany when he was young (he apparently is in his early 60’s). His parents emigrated from east Germany after WWII and he was treated as a pariah in the western part of the country. He was forced to attend a refugee school rather than being taught with the other children and his family suffered poverty for many years. His wife is from the Cologne area, which is the other area where they plan to live after retirement. They also told me stories of Sweden and the horrors of the national health system run amuck.
My contribution consisted of stories of the American legal system, which seemed to interest them. They were amused to hear that many divorces take months and even years to settle – evidently in Sweden, the couple gets divorced first and then settles the property and custody issues. All in all, it was a fascinating evening and I enjoyed meeting them very much. We finally finished up around 1 am and all headed off to bed.
Tomorrow – a mini Blue Cruise where I head out for a day of island hopping.