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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Jottings and highlights of our last holiday in Kalkan

With memories fast fading of our longest holiday ever in Turkey I thought I should get my thoughts down before Christmas takes over completely.
Our apartment had been let right through the summer, and the reports coming back had been fantastic.  It appeared that the sun had been shining for months and we were we looking forward to our visit.  Imagine our consternation when we arrived to white cloud.  However, as if just to teach us not to take anything for granted, by the next morning the sun was back to cobalt, or is it ultramarine, with hardly a colour change at the horizon for the sea.  Wonderful.  We rushed down to swim, and for 20 days spent hours in the water, just lazing around for George, and for me trying to use it as a workout as I am missing my exercise classes out there. I started to do a  three quarters of an hour swim (there and back) to a little cove towards the harbour from the Yali Beach Club which this summer seemed to be our preferred place. I’m always happier swimming with someone, as I always worry about getting cramp, but so far this has never happened. At four o’clock each day the owner’s dog goes swimming with the chef, and this is always a must watch, before we go home.  

Daily afternoon swim

We had two lots of friends staying with us, neither of whom had been to Kalkan before, and we love watching people fall in love with it.  It’s always the view, then the sea, restaurants and people, in no particular order at the risk of sounding like an  X Factor results announcer.

The time just flew by. As always we explored the mountains again, and thought we saw a short toed eagle, but no tortoises roaming around.  I think they are on the move more in the spring whilst they’re looking for a mate.  We visited Bezirgan, the village over the mountains from Kalkan.  It was harvest time and  we photographed the sesame crop being put up into wigwams to dry.  (At least that’s what we think they are) In Bezirgan there are rows of sort of overlarge chicken coops which we have always wondered about.  This time with a lot of sign language  we found out that they are grain stores for the villagers.  Barley was one of the crops being stored there, and another black seed.  We took some home and gave it to our farmer friend.  We had been told it was animal food, but it wasn’t anything he recognized.   They were loading some poor patient horse with these sacks, presumably with grain in them, and perhaps they were taking them to the mill but we couldn't make ourselves understood enough to say that we would have liked to go to the mill.

We  got talking, or rather signing to a very kind local resident who took us into the mosque, beautifully decorated and quite ornate for such a small village, and then to his house where he gave us grapes, apples, and pears.  We are met with such hospitality here, it is quite overwhelming.  I am always banging on about the restaurants and how good they are.  A A Gill was critiquing  some trendy  restaurant in the Sunday Times last week, saying it seemed to be run by a committee who knew everything about catering and nothing about hospitality.  This is exactly  why the restaurants in Kalkan are so good.  Another instance of this was at Adam’s restaurant.  This is just a mile from our house, with the most wonderful views, and owned by Adam and his wife who does the cooking.  We had the best breakfast possible, everything homemade.  Jams, yoghurts, village eggs (these are fried with spices and are delicious), honey, etc. etc.  As we were leaving Adam gave us some homemade tahini, and fig jam to take back to our apartment.  Where else in the world………

Melons were in season – and figs.  A large bag of ripe, juicy, perfumed figs - £2.  We live off Mozarella, melon and figs for lunch, drizzled with honey.  Although we try and stay in a few nights for financial reasons and not eat out in restaurants all the time, we now know where to go to find just a snack, say a lamacun (pronounced lamajun) a sort of Turkish pizza with minced meat and delicious, or we have just a few mezze.  Then back to sit with a drink or two looking out at the lights of the yachts moored all round the bay, and off to bed listening to the water and the crickets, and longing for another perfect day.

More relaxed ramblings about Kalkan, Turkey

To think that a whole summer has passed since I last wrote.  We spent the summer months just longing for September and our longest stay ever in Kalkan, 18 days.

We were very fortunate in letting the apartment really well during our first year, and had some wonderful comments, which we will post so that you can read them.    Nearly everyone   says they want to come again and for most it was their first time in Kalkan, so it was lovely hearing afterwards about what they particularly enjoyed.  One couple, friends of our son, had actually proposed to his girlfriend in the Hotel Mahal just beneath us, but now married and with a baby boy couldn’t actually afford that luxury again, so rented our apartment and had the same views, but at a lesser price, and still swam in the same sea, and lunched in the Mahal’s beach club.
Lunch at Mahal Beach club (with wine)

Our 18 days were wonderful.  We had three lots of friends staying, two were going on a cruise in a gulet after leaving us.  We hired a car, and were able to show them the unspoilt parts up in the hills.  On one occasion George and I stopped near about 200 bee hives, with an amazing view of Kalkan Bay, the sun was setting, the noise of the bees was amazing, and the sky was alight with azure blue birds darting after the bees.  They were so fast it was difficult to have a really good look at them.  They were either bulbuls or bee eaters, but I’m not really sure.  A local man stopped and we asked him, and he said bulbuls (I think) and indicated that they were good to eat.  Surely not!  However, we saw several people with shotguns in the area, and certainly heard them.  We went again twice with our friends, but on the second occasion only saw a few of these vividly coloured birds, and the last time, a week later, same time, none at all.

Beehives in the mountains behind Kalkan

We have nearly tried all the beach clubs now.  Each is very different, but we love them all.  Although our pool is wonderful, so clean and sparkling, there is really no substitute for swimming in the sea, and we have to have our daily fix.  They have wonderful large umbrellas, and comfortable sunbeds, and it so easy to doze off after a glass or two of wine at lunch. 

We always take things out for the apartment, and food we can’t get there (actually it gets better and better, but good muesli for instance is difficult to find) and always clothes I never wear.  I can never quite believe I’m not going to be wearing killer heels in the evenings, but the streets are cobbled and you could topple over so each year, two pairs at least sit in the wardrobe.  I’m an avid reader, and packing five or six books is another cause of friction with George, my case is always bordering on the maximum weight allowance, so  this year top of my wish list is some sort of e-reader.  I have a love affair with books, and don’t know how I’m going to feel about not having the book actually in my hand, but even if it’s just for holidays it will be very welcome. 

There is now a shuttle bus running past the top of our road regularly to Kalkan, and on to the other side, and back again up until 9.30 at night, and this is wonderful for all those who don’t hire a car.  However also next year I think the new footpath will be open all the way, without having to walk to the top and down.  I like to do this however, it gets some calories burned off after all the eating and drinking we tend to do.  This summer once or twice when I was walking the bus slowed down to ask if I wanted to hop on.  I resisted, and carried on walking.  There can’t be many walks into town with such a wonderful view.

Kalkan people are wonderfully friendly and very generous.  The number of times we’ve been allowed to take off the price of small change we didn’t actually have.  There are always free canapés on the table, and complimentary drinks afterwards.  We were really shown kindness this year when we had to find accommodation for son and girlfriend for two nights after they arrived, and before we and our friends left the apartment.  We were offered a brand newly built apartment near ours, complete with infinity pool absolutely free.  We will I hope be able to repay that kindness in other ways, but it is typical of Kalkan people. 

Debbie enjoying infinity pool



Spring in Turkey is magical as we keep discovering.  We’ve just got back from a week there with George’s  brother in law Ian who is a keen birdwatcher , and also very well informed about botany, ancient sites and ancient history. 
Day at Tlos
Turtles at Letoon
Wild flowers near Kaya Koy

The date we picked caused a panic – 29th April.  When we found a suitable flight on that date which suited the three of us we booked.  A week or two later we realised that it was the same day as the Royal Wedding, a day I had planned to be glued to the tv.  Obviously we couldn’t change without vast expense, so I had a brainwave.  My family had clubbed together to give me an ipad for Christmas.  This was the time it was going to come into its own.  I could watch iplayer, you tube etc. and see everything when we got to Kalkan in the late afternoon.  I set off feeling pretty smug – we didn’t even pack our laptop which we usually take for George’s tennis court lighting business, feeling pretty sure that we could cope with everything from the ipad.

As we started to go through Security, I felt rising panic.  Where was the ipad?  Safely at home plugged in for a last minute charge in the bedroom, that’s where!   I didn’t live it down all week!  We unpacked, sat on the balcony for our first drink watching the sunset, hoping Ian was impressed, and then went into Kalkan for a first meal, and chose Doy Doy which we love.  I was thrilled when about 10 o’clock their large tv screen came on with the wedding highlights.  They sweetly served my pudding at the bar, and I sat and watched it – happy lady again. 

We followed son Giles and his wife Bukky out there for their first stay in the apartment and Giles  installed a film centre for us a library of  films to view, and a DVD.  It is a wonderful addition to our facilities, and very easy to use. 

We spent a week showing Ian the sights and sites.  He had a telescope which we took in the boot.  The car is a very good hide, and although the quantity of birds was a little disappointing, we saw quite a variety.  One memorable afternoon when we were round the pool, a flock of about 40 or 50 bee eaters visited the area, and were flying around us for about an hour.  Wonderful colours, wonderful flight patterns, unmistakeable sounds.  They were definitely the birds I hadn’t been able to totally identify up in the hills the previous time we were over.    However I wasn't sufficiently on the ball to have my camera ready, so it's just a wonderful memory. 

For those who are interested these are the  birds we saw:

Great White Egret, White Stork, Lesser Kestrel, Black-winged Stilt, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull,  Eurasian Turtle-Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail,  Blue Rock-Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Common Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Black-eared Wheatear, Great Tit, Rock Nuthatch, Woodchat Shrike, Eurasian Jay, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, European Goldfinch, Cretzschmar's Bunting, Black-headed Bunting,  and Corn Bunting

Once again we drove to Ucagiz, had lunch on the quay and took a boat over Kekova, the sunken city.  There is about 8 miles of hilly countryside leading from Kas to Ucagiz, mostly scrub, it is where we saw the roller and three kestrels, and we stopped to watch a small group of people making charcoal, (see the photographs).  It was absolutely fascinating, and it seemed that no kiln was involved, but the whole huge mound of burning wood was covered with earth and just smouldered.  They walked round it putting out any small fires which ignited with a spray of water.  These are the memories you take away with you. 

I took out a small Dualit mixer/blender/chopper, which was a great help.  We try and eat in once a day, even though the restaurants are very tempting, and some very cheap, and I usually cook as much in the Mediterranean manner as possible.  The greengrocer we use is superb, and for £5 you can buy about two carrier bags of everything, mostly seasonal produce, bursting at the seams.  Bread although it looks wonderful is a bit disappointing, but I think that perhaps I haven’t yet found the right bakers.  Their flat bread is more interesting. 

This was my first holiday with my new Kindle, and a much lighter case!   Whilst it is overall a great gadget to have,  there is a lot frustrating about it.  Your choice of books is still limited, and until the pages are marked it will not really feel like a book, but I enjoyed having it. 

During the winter the apartments have been painted, the railings round the pool and balustrades, and everything looked wonderful. 

We loved it so much we’ve booked to go back for 10 days in two week’s time.  Bookings are excellent this year, and we haven’t a great deal of availability left during the summer, but hope to go again in September or October, when the sea is at its warmest and the nights are still balmy.  This time I shall make sure we have the ipad, and have downloaded an app in readiness of the night sky for easy identification of stars and constellations. 

Out and about in Kalkan

Just got back from another  10 days in our favourite place.  Arrived to rather murky weather, still warm, but overcast, and some rain (a rarity in May/June).  The jacaranda trees on either side of the apartment at the back were in full bloom, and they really are a wonderful colour, more fully enjoyed by the people who are in the apartment at the back, but a lovely backdrop to the block.

Photos of Meis Island

This time we had decided to really flop around doing not much, but it is difficult when there is still so much we haven’t seen.  We had no guests staying with us, so could be really selfish, and did indeed spend a lot of time reading and swimming.  One of our trips out this time was to Meis, the Greek island with a very interesting history, off the coast, near Kas.  We drove down to Kas to get the ferry on the first Saturday, only to be told that it only sailed on weekdays,  so as we were down  there, we drove around trying to find the ancient ampitheatre of Antephellos, which seemed to be pretty elusive.  Just on the outskirts of Kas on the road to the peninsula, we saw about fifty men sitting outside a café having what was obviously going to be a feast.  There was loud music playing and a really festive spirit.  As I just love weddings, we parked and walked back, and I took a photo of the men receiving a blessing before the start of the meal.  We then sat at a patisserie owned by a Turkish/German woman and ordered a coffee.  She had two friends with her, and they were sharing a birthday cake which looked delicious.  She obviously saw our envious looks and brought us a plate of cherries which were delicious, followed by a plate each of the most delicious cake! which she wouldn’t accept payment for.  True Turkish hospitality, and the sort of thing that happens all the time. 

Another example of this happened later in the week, when we were parked outside a barber’s in Kalkan, whilst George bought some screws in the hardware shop which sells absolutely everything.  The car was next to a tree covered in a sort of canvas tarpaulin presumably so that no fruit could fall to the ground, either that or to protect it from birds.  As I watched a man came out of the barber shop, scaled the tree and started picking the fruit and throwing them into the canvas.  I asked him what fruit it was, I had never seen it before, and he gave me a handful to try.   They looked as if they were overripe – white, squashed gooseberry type things, but were the sweetest fruit I had ever tasted.  He said they were called dut – but that was as much as we were able to communicate apart from my thanking him.

I had just finished reading The Junior Officer’s Reading Club – immensely unputdownable and fascinating, and I am in awe at the modern soldier’s bravery and skill set – but I remember reading that the children in Afghanistan were scrabbling on the ground to eat the Toot fruit – obviously the same thing.  I have since looked it up and it is a white mulberry.  Very short season, difficult to pack so seldom seen in markets or shops, and sometimes made into jams, but the best thing seems to be put it in your mouth as quickly as you can and just savour it……

One morning we went with our friend Halit who owns the local glamorous silver shop, a must for every female who comes into Kalkan, to breakfast at Adam’s, which is a family owned restaurant just outside Kalkan with absolutely jaw dropping views over the sea.  He and his family have lived there for generations.  We ordered Turkish breakfast and within ten minutes the most wonderful spread was laid out.   Olives, fried halloumi cheese,  yoghurt, honey, tahini, butter, tomatoes, baked eggs, breads of all sorts, jams, mekez which seemed to be a sort of grape or maybe other fruit jelly, and which Halit taught us to mix with the tahini and spread on bread.  Delicious.  Please don’t come out to Turkey and look round for full English breakfasts, you will be missing so much.

One evening we sat next to a Turkish couple from Istanbul, who were on their first holiday together, having met on the internet a month ago, and had a lovely long conversation about Turks, the Muslim faith, the forthcoming election and food!  People are so sharply divided about the merits of the candidates  -  we are of course extremely interested to know the outcome, although it is unlikely that our position as British  owners in Turkey would change, I suppose you never know.

We once more visited our favourite carpet shop, and this time bought eight cushion covers made from a really attractive kelim for our new cottage in England.  When we got them home they look perfect.  We also bought a runner .  We also treated the apartment to a wonderful citrus green bean bag for the balcony.  Snuggling down on that with a book early evening and a glass of wine is just my idea of heaven, keeping an eye on the sunset as you read.