Arriving in Fethiye after a 12 hour overnight bus trip from Goreme, we hit a wall. With a string of busy days exploring Istanbul, hiking through Cappadocia, and one incredible balloon ride, under our belt, we finally experienced firsthand that old adage about having too much of a good thing. Run down, tired, and a bit cranky, we were in desperate need of a vacation from our vacation.
Fethiye would serve as the first stop of our 5 day mini vacation (in search of beaches and shopping we later moved on to Antalya). A popular destination for Brits in the Spring and Summer, Fethiye is known for its warm climate, access to ancient Lycian ruins, endless stretches of beach, and its proximity to Rhodes. However in December the city was all but deserted, with only locals and year-round expats milling about.
After stepping off the bus at 7am, we were picked up by the owner of our hotel, a chipper retired doctor (Dr. Can) who insisted on showing us the city, by car and on foot, before allowing us to crawl into bed. We were treated like family, and Dr. Can pointed out the best places to visit, walk, swim, and eat. Seeing as we arrived on a Sunday, and our room was equipped with a kitchen, we decided to make our way to the local produce market for some breakfast and groceries – the nap we so badly wanted would have to wait, again. After exploring the market and refueling with some delicious Turkish pancakes and fresh pomegranate juice, we headed home, the bags in our hands overflowing with fresh fruit, vegetables and local cheese; enough food to last us three days for the bargain price of just $5 CAD.
Even though we wanted nothing more to sleep and catch up on our blogging duties during our three days in Fethiye, the good doctor had another idea. On our first day in the city, he insisted on leading us into his car for a personal tour of the surrounding hillsides. Our first stop of the day was a small beach, popular with locals in the summer but deserted in the off-season; with the exception of two men working at a small convenience stand and a lazy dog sleeping in the sun, we were the only people on the beautiful beach.
As the sun beat down and the water, swimmable by Canadian standards, crashed against the shoreline we wanted nothing more than to jump in and go for a swim. If only we’d remembered to bring our bathing suits. Apparently just last year, Demi Moore (vacationing aboard a yacht) had this same beach shut down for the evening so she and her posse could dine uninterrupted by the common folk.
After marveling at the stunning sky-blue coloured water and orange hued cliffs, we regretfully loaded back into the car and set off for our second destination, the abandoned town of Karakoy. As it turns out, the doctor had a few tricks up his sleeve, one of which was a hidden admission free entrance to the deserted city.
Once a thriving Greek city of about 2000 called Karmylissos, the city was transformed into a ghost town during the Greek-Turkish population exchange in 1923. Around 500 buildings remain today in varying levels of decay – including two Greek Orthodox churches. We wandered around the ruins for about an hour, marveling at the speed at which mother nature was reclaiming the abandoned buildings, and attempting to visually reconstruct the buildings using our imagination.
After a filling lunch of (more) homemade Turkish pancakes (we finally got to try a sweet one made with sweetened and thinned Tahina), we hit our third stop of the day, the Blue Lagoon near Oludeniz. After weaving our way down towards the water, we were greeted with one of the most spectacular beaches we had ever seen. And we had it all to ourselves (save for a couple friendly fishermen). Set in a secluded cover, the beach is set in protected nature reserve and construction is thankfully prohibited.
We wandered along the long pebbled beach on one side of the small peninsula, watching as the waves crashed into the beach and a lone fisherman sat patiently in his boat. Crossing over to the other side, we were immediately struck by the colour of the water in the lagoon. Blues and turquoises like we had never seen before sparkled in the sunlight. The only disturbance to the perfectly flat water were three fishermen plying their trade with the hopes of a tasty dinner.
Suddenly, and without warning, a torrential rain shower materialized from the ominous clouds that had been following our road-trip all day. Luckily, the fisherman waved us over to the shelter of a convenience stand, boarded up for the winter. A few minutes later, the storm dissipated as quickly as it began and we moved on to explore more of the lagoon, bidding our new friends goodbye.
Finally, just as the sun started sinking into the Sea, we made our way to the final stop of our tour, Butterfly Valley. A 1km deep gorge opening up into the sea, the valley is renowned for it’s still (fairly) untouched beach with only bungalows or tents for sleeping, and it gets its name from the butterflies that congregate near the waterfall that crashes down into the valley.
We took 20 minutes to watch the sun begin to set and stared down over the cliff edge, making Dr. Can even more and more nervous every time we inched out farther to get a better view. Alas, it was time to make our way back and call it a day.
Although we initially wanted to spend our days in Fethiye laying around, trying to write, our daytrip turned out to be an absolute blast! We had to thank Dr. Can for his insistence on getting out and exploring – and we were grateful as we would not have made it to the majority of the places we visited using just public transport. After a sunny second day in the city, where we made a half-hearted effort to explore the old town and harbour by foot, our third and final day was a complete write off. As the rain came down in sheets outside, pooling up to two inches deep in the streets, we found ourselves trapped in the hotel for most of our last day. Alas we were forced to do nothing but sleep, blog, and watch television all completely guilt-free.
Have you ever needed a “vacation” from traveling? How did you go about it? Let us know in the comments section!