I’m a big fan of Turkey. I’ve visited Istanbul on several occasions and love its clothes shopping, surprisingly metropolitan nightlife and exotic architecture. But most holidaymakers to Turkey head for the beaches. So on my most recent trip, after a couple of days in the capital, I and my wife hopped on an internal flight to the coast and headed to what turned out to be a little slice of paradise.
Low cost air travel has really arrived in Turkey. Local carrier Pegasus has routes all over Turkey and much further afield too. Their main hub in Istanbul is Sabiha Gocken airport (not to be confused with Ataturk International airport, which is the city’s main international airport). It’s about an hour’s drive from the centre of town. Our flight left on time and we touched down at Dalaman Airport in bright sunshine. I was immediately struck by the drop in tempo. From the non-stop noise and bustle of Istanbul we’d arrived in laid-back seaside holiday-land.
The drive to Yediburunlar Lighthouse where we would stay for the next week takes about four hours and it’s a winding, dipping drive with views that just get better and better as you climb into the hills. The last couple of miles were a bumping, dusty drive down a dirt track. But that journey was forgotten in moments when we stepped stiffly from the minibus. Yediburunlar means ‘seven capes’ – and from its lofty position perched on the rocky spine of a jutting peninsula – we could see every one of them bathed in late afternoon sunlight. The wavetops shimmered and gleamed way below and just down from the house a small swimming pool was begging to be dived into. We hardly bothered to unpack. We were wallowing in the pool just as soon as we could get our swimming stuff out of the bag.
It wasn’t just the wild and wonderful location that drew us here though. Karen my wife is a vegetarian. Trying to explain this to waiters in foreign countries does my head in a lot of the time. But here there would be no complications. Aside from a little very freshly barbecued fish, the food is vegetarian. I sat down to our first dinner with some trepidation – would this be a fart-fest of garlic and hummus? Well, no. Not at all. The guesthouse is run by Leon, a South African, and his partner Semra, a Turk. They met in nearby Antalya, fell in love and decided to open their own hotel. Semra does the cooking and she creates really special spreads of Turkish vegetarian delights. Feta cheese in deep-fried filo pastry parcels, zingy salads with pine nuts and parsley, all sorts of interesting dips and lovely flat bread were just some of the delights on offer – along with chilled local wine. We munched and sipped to a backdrop of the red Turkish sun dipping slowly below the waves far out to sea.
Yediburunlar’s position perched up there nearly 600 metres above the sea means it benefits from cooling breezes from all directions which is ideal in the bright heat of mid-summer, but it still gets really hot. So to get a little closer to the spectacular scenery we got up really early a couple of mornings later when the dawny day was still cool and Leon took us on a 6am stroll. The guesthouse is right on the Lycian Way one of Turkey’s most attractive long distance footpaths that winds its way for 500 km along the coastline.
We covered more like 5km rather than 500 – but that stroll in the cool of the early morning was wonderfully atmospheric. Birds twittered in the bushes, boy-shepherds called across the hillsides to their sheep and goats, lofty cliffs towered above us. We walked through a couple of tiny hamlets where it looked as if life hadn’t changed in generations. Best of all, with Leon at our side as a translator we could chat to people – all of whom were genuinely friendly and interested to meet us. We came back with a basket of freshly laid eggs – a gift from one of the villagers. Perfect for a hearty breakfast and another day of contemplating that amazing view.
Getting there: Direct flights to Dalaman from Gatwick Airport are available with easyJet, Monarch Airlines and Pegasus Airlines. Cheaper flights tend to depart really early – so you might want to park and stay at Gatwick.
Staying there: Find out more about Yediburunlar at www.yediburunlarlighthouse.com