Cycling along the Koycegiz Lake

Today and yesterday the weather was not good for cycling but, since Dalyan is a small town and most things are still closed, there are not many options for entertainment so we decided to ride even though it was raining. Yesterday it rained for almost the entire trip of 40 kilometers through country villages; we did see a couple of beautiful cliff rock tombs but did not stop too long in any one place because when we did stop, our wet clothes made us cold. When we arrived back at the hotel early in the afternoon, Katherine, Richard and I were picked up by Dorul, the Kaunos Tours driver, and taken to the Altin Kurn Hamam in Ortaca where we had a scrub, soap-sud massage and sauna. Other than us, there were a few naked Turkish men in for a hamam. The attendants have a nifty way of bunching up the cloth on the private bits in front when the men are lying on their backs and rolling it into a sausage-like formation between the butt cheeks when they’re on their stomachs. However, the small plaid towels leave little to the imagination. Later on that evening the three of us had dinner together in town at the Nesli Han restaurant down by the river. It was very pleasant, especially the halva with lime and chocolate.

Last night it rained torrentially between 4 and 6 in the morning but I was hopeful that the dark clouds would be entirely blown away by the time for us to leave. Nicole and Jamie, another couple from London here for the “active week”, joined us for the cycling trip; we five, with Sonja and Murat, rode down to the river and piled ourselves and the bikes on a large boat. It ferried us along the river and across the huge Lake Koycegiz to the town of Koycegiz, from where we were to cycle to the thermal and mud baths on the edge of the lake about 25 kilometers away. As the boat travelled across the lake the clouds got darker and darker and as we rode out of town, raindrops began to fall. We waited out the first downpour at the local teahouse on the edge of town but after we’d ridden not very far, it started to rain again. After that, as we cycled along a country road through fields and up into the mountains, it rained on and off the entire time. The long uphill climb was a bit painful in damp clothes but the speedy downhill was grand. We ended up at Sultaniye Thermal Baths after riding about 2 hours or so.

This place has a hamam, a very tiny tea room, an outdoor eating and BBQ area under an awning, two thermal baths and a mud bath. Many, many cats and one blue eyed dog are resident here; they don’t belong to anyone but stay around for the feeding possibilities. Sonja and Murat laid out our lunch of rice, vegetable stew and yogurt which we enjoyed to the accompaniment of many meowing cats hopeful for a nibble. After lunch, Richard, Katherine and myself sampled the thermal bath next to the BBQ area – the water was great, nice and hot, wonderful for sore aching muscles, and we sat in it for quite a while. In typical Turkish fashion, the place is somewhat decrepit but nevertheless enjoyable. Three change rooms in an advanced state of disrepair are available and the building itself looks somewhat the worse for wear. Some kind of volcanic mold was floating on the surface of the water as the scent of sulphur wafted up from the water.

While Sonja, Richard and Katherine decided to cycle the remaining kilometers back to Dalyan, the rest of us and our bikes piled on the river boat again and were deposited dockside half an hour later. Just like yesterday, the sun came out about an hour after we got back … sigh. Even though the weather wasn’t good, today’s trip was still great.

See pictures here.

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