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Southern Turkey: Unspoilt Paradise

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Despite Turkey being a popular holiday destination there remains a certain charm to the south of the country, as though it has been somewhat untouched by the relentless holidaymakers known to infect other European holiday destinations. 

The South West coast line is largely made up of the Turkish Riviera, otherwise known as the Turquoise Coast on account of its luscious blue clear waters providing for stunning views and, of course, some captivating photographs. It is also home to the ancient Ottoman Empire, once known to be one of the most powerful in the world and the physical remains of which, including the oldest parliament in the world, lay scattered throughout Turkey as ruins and provide for a wonderfully cultural trip.

Similarly, the so-called ‘Ghost Town’ of Kayaköy just south of Fethiye reveals the more recent ruins of Turkey, partly left over and partly re-built after an earthquake in 1856 and a major fire in 1885 that affected Fethiye. This town also marks an entry onto the Lycian Walk, a path that has been cut into the hills of the Turkish coastline and opened up for tourists to admire the beauty of the mountains and valleys from a fresh angle. Though beware, the height of summer may not be the ideal time to embark upon this journey. Fortunately though, you are not forced to treck the whole thing and the Oludeniz beach provides a refreshing reatreat just 7km from the town.

For those who may want to have a break from the beaches (though in this weather that seems wholly unimaginable), I can recommend the little town of Mugla, an otherwise quiet and somewhat desolate town that througout the year becomes a brighter and more vibrant place thanks to the recent opening of Mugla University in 1992. The old part of town retains some of the history and traditions of Turkey, with scenes of old men playing backgammon and cards, drinking Turkish tea and coffee throughout the hot summers days along the cobbled streets and beneath fruit treas and grape tressels – how idyllic. The town is also home to a particular style of chimney designed in the shape of a Christian cross – the lasting remains of what was once a larely Italian community in Mugla and a design exclusive to it.

It isn’t only the beautiful sights and stunning panorama that attracts me to Turkey, it’s the feel of the country. There is a sense of calm, of kindness and of playfulness. It seems almost customary for the local people to take it upon themselves to be nothing but helpful to tourists, despite most people only speaking a little English. 

As I was on a budget it was equally important to able to do everything cheaply, luckily this wasn’t very difficult. Turkey has the advantage of feeling close enough to be Europe without actually being fully so, meaning the Lira has a much better exchange rate; food and travel is also particularly cheap. Rather than hotels I can recommend what they call pensions (guesthouses). These are mostly family run B&Bs that have mismatch furniture and traditional Turkish breakfasts served with Turkish tea, and are cheap, cheerful and quite often have swimming pools!

All in all I couldn’t recommend southern Turkey more highly as a holiday destination for all ages, all budgets and all tastes. With scooter hire, boat trips, hikes, kebabs, cheap lager, sand, sea and sun, it really has something for everyone. 

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