Friday, 6 October 2017

Tales from the Turquoise Coast

Last year, we had a new experience in the form of holiday in Turkey staying in a beautiful apartment owned by one of our four children and her husband. This sojourn in their holiday home feels like a very a good return on the investment we made over thirty years in our children! At last, the financial tide is flowing in our direction!

So this year we're back, travelling a deux rather than with the aforementioned child number 2 and her husband JS and Kalkan is once again a welcoming, relaxing and friendly experience. Has much changed since we were here last? Well, on the upside, we've discovered more lovely places to eat (very important when travelling with my beloved) with Gourmet the stand-out choice on our last night. And we've visited a few new places - Kas (pronounced Cash) which was nice to see, larger than Kalkan but probably not lovely enough for a repeat visit, and Patara where the beach is stunning and runs for miles of soft sand. But actually the star attraction at Patara is the Roman town about a quarter of a mile inland. The ruins of the amphitheatre, main street and other major buildings have been restored and maintained and unlike many other archaeological sites, they have not been plundered for their stone to build other later settlements, thanks in part to the silting up of the estuary which made this a port in Roman times. Regular readers will know I have a passion for the Colosseum in Rome where genuinely (weirdly - according to my family) I can almost feel the vibration of the gladiatorial battles through the ancient stones. Or maybe I've watched the film too many times, who knows? So this is like a mini-mini-Colosseum.

Here at Patara, the amphitheatre is much smaller but still seated 6,000 at its peak. And right in the centre of the tiered seating that surrounds three quarters of the nearly semi-circular edifice is a tall stone with a perfectly carved gladiator's breastplate and sword. It gets a big thumbs-up from me (classical pun here!) and I'd like to come back when it's not quite so hot. Also, on a different note, the beach is cleared of sunbathers at 7.00pm each evening in the summer so that the turtles can come up the beach to lay their eggs in the sand. Not that we saw any, of course.

Whilst we were alone (before being joined by number 2 and JS for the last few days of our holiday) we returned to two of our favourite places from our first venture here last year. Adam's Place is a roadside restaurant outside Kalkan on the road to Kas and boasts the most stunning views - perfect to watch the sun going down into the sea - ssssss, as we used to say to the children (sound of something very hot going into cold water, obviously). Also the food is superb: home-cooked by the family with the fruit and vegetables grown on-site in the abundant vegetable garden that you can admire from your table on the terrace. Adam is a charming host and we will continue to return here each year. The other must-visit is Villa Mahal villa mahal, a short boat ride across the bay to the stone terraces of sunbeds and the best place to swim - ever! The water truly is crystal clear and turquoise and the food at the restaurant is sublime. We managed two trips here this year and it is one of my favourite places on the planet - a description never spoken lightly! Definitely out of our price range to stay here but bliss to go for the day.

The only less attractive changes were the number of road blocks now operating though on each occasion we were swiftly waved through - whatever the Turkish Police/Army are looking for, it doesn't look like we have it. And the stray dogs in Kalkan who were in evidence last year but mostly further down into the town. Now some have migrated to the roads outside the apartment and their spasmodic barking can be irritating. But those things are merely minor irritants compared to how absolutely lovely Kalkan and Apartment Antonia are.

So we've had a week of spending time together, me and my beloved, catching up on all the stuff that can't be packed into the weekends which now make up our only time together because he works away from home and now we're ready and excited to be joined by our generous hosts.

Number 2 and husband JS are collected by us from the airport for the last few days of our holiday and the first few days of their's. Both exhausted from their hectic lives, they are more than ready for a long break. It's lovely to spend time with them when it's more than just a Sunday breakfast or the collection or delivery of their dog Milton aka Hilton as he spends more time staying at his second home with us than at his own pad. But all that will be changing soon...

One of their regular treats is a visit from Dimitri, the masseur, who gives three of us a proper pummelling! He also gives me a big telling off about not warming up properly before sport and - this is not good news - what running is doing to my knees. I have been running 5.5k every morning here before breakfast and absolutely loving it - despite the odd Cosmopolitan in a rooftop bar the night before. I may have another thirty years in me but my left knee probably doesn't. Need to think about this...

So today we said a sad farewell to number 2, JS and Apartment Antonia and now we are flying north to Istanbul for two days - our first visit and a new adventure. Just a brief detour before we face what promises to be a difficult few months in Blighty. But first, the mysterious and exotic city of Istanbul beckons.

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