I arrived in Dalyan on the south coast of Turkey last night around 10 pm. The driver from Kaunos Tours picked me up at the Dalaman airport and drove me to the Crescent Hotel on the outskirts of town where I have a room overlooking the secondary school across the street. I awoke to the sounds of roosters crowing about 5 am but managed to drift off to sleep again until quarter to eight. Enjoying breakfast in the downstairs bar/restaurant, I chatted to Nermin, who with her husband Ali, owns this place. She told me that they opened on April 1 for the first time this year, really just to receive the mountain bike tour people. I am their first guest; two more arrive tomorrow and two the following day. They don’t usually open for the season until later on, usually May first. It’s a bit odd being the only guest here as the family and workers bustle around getting the place ready to go. The carpenters are building a bar outside because, as of this Spring, no smoking is allowed inside and, of course, most of their guests are smokers – hence the necessity of the external bar. Nermin et al are super friendly and pleasant.
After breakfast and a chat with my sweetie, I met Sonja, my guide for a week of mountain biking through the countryside here. I’m looking forward to cruising through the hills and along the beaches on a 24 speed machine. About 11 I headed out to town, purchased a few supplies, and made my way down to the river where the boatman ferried me across the river Dalyan en route to the ancient city of Kaunos, whose ruins lie a few kilometers from the hotel. I made the trip across with a small group of English folk; this town is full of English tourists and homeowners. Once on the other side of the river, the rock tombs on the hill were gloriously visible above small orchards of lemon and orange trees and the small graveyard nestled against the hills. We walked slowly along a small paved path to the accompaniment of cow bells, goats, sheep and bees buzzing. The locals raise bees and poultry here, as well as herd goats, sheep and cows. Flowers are everywhere, mostly colourful daisies but also blue and purple blooms. After a walk of about one kilometer, I could see the turnoff to Kaunos.
Kaunos was an important town in the 7th century bce. Then it was a seaport; now the sea is at least 6 kilometers away. The river silted up over the years and from the ruins, I could see the Mediteranean far away in the distance over a length of mud flats. The ruins are magical – peaceful, with bees buzzing in the trees and cows, goats, donkeys and sheep grazing on the hills. In the ancient theatre a woman and her husband sell fresh squeezed orange juice and play with their beautiful tortoise-shell cat whose 4 kittens hide in the stones. There are lizards, snakes ands scorpions in these hills; Sonja warned me not to pick up stones without looking carefully under them first. These creatures, drawn by the sun and warmth, are waking up from hibernation. After spending some very pleasant time there, I walked slowly back to the river and from there, to the hotel. The sun had come out and it was quite hot so I decided to take a swim in the hotel pool. Without checking the temperature first, I jumped in – my god, it was cold. Not heated. But very refreshing. I swam several laps very quickly to warm up and then lay in the sun for an hour or so – when I got back to my room, I saw that I’d actually gotten a sunburn on my chest and legs. Yikes! What a change from the Cappadocian snow! I forgot to mention that there is an Airedale terrier here named Pancho who runs frantically around the yard chasing birds.
I’d arranged to have dinner at the hotel and enjoyed a barbequed sea bass cooked by Ali, to the accompaniment of English rock and pop tunes. Right now, I’m working on this computer in the lounge area in front of a very nice fire – lovely.
See pictures here.
See pictures of the hotel and neighbourhood here.