The Ballards - Turkey Olu Deniz







 

OluDeniz is 4 hours West along the coast from Antalya on the Southern coast of Turkey.
It is famous for this long spit of sandy beach, which looks incredibly inviting from the air (I took this one...).

However from ground level the beach is dull and touristy, so we only visited once before moving on to more interesting things.

 

OluDeniz, Ovacik (where we were) and Hisaronu are a true tourist bubble.
Everything is laid on: hotels, mains drainage that actually takes loo paper (!), roads, policing, electricity, everything.
Very relaxing, but maybe a bit too insulated from the real Turkey.

OluDeniz is a popular microliting area due to the scenery and weather.
At the time we visited I did not have a Pilot's Licence and was very taken with the idea of cheap, lightly-regulated aviation but without the "now carry your aircraft to the top of this hill" joke that is Hang-Gliding.

That said, I think these amphibious microlites looked a bit too dodgy even for me. Water resembles concrete at 45mph and the drag on these once they get airborne must be horrendous, so I opted for land-based microlites.

You can learn to fly these babies in a few weekends, and although they won't go as fast nor as far as a Fouga Magister, and you're not going to do 9G barrel rolls, they are a great way of seeing the scenery, and if you run out of fuel you can land on the road, taxi to a petrol station and fill her up with 4-Star.

The pilots at Fly South in Ovacik were very patient with me and my incessant questions.
And they flew me around: the views were great...

We flew over Butterfly Cove which is inaccessible from the land side and apparently has some rare butterflies at one end, but you had to pay and they were reportedly disappointing so we passed.

Microliting is the motorbike equivalent to driving a car: better views but you are much more exposed to the elements....
The views are so good you do suffer a bit from vertigo: it's like sitting on nothing.
What worries me, with hindsight, is that the pilot made no attempt to weigh me before the flight and I later discovered the maximum rated seat load on these aircraft is 95Kg, a weight I comfortably surpass......

It's interesting how much flatter the world looks from an aeroplane.
Those hills you spent all day walking up and driving up look diminutive, and you wonder why those cars are struggling.

Among other places we visited the beautiful Gemla Bay which, apart from some very expensive and poor value for money restaurants (hint: don't rent a sunlounger) is relaxing and offers great swimming and snorkelling.


Fethiye is a different matter: a thriving market town of 56,000 people based around a port where tourism vies with boatbuilding and commercial timber and mineral exports.
It is surrounded by suburbs that have rapidly expanded over the last 50 years and huge market gardening greenhouses catering to the tourist trade in the bays around the town.

Private motoring in Turkey is still struggling to escape the license-built Renault 12 knock-offs made locally and in huge quantities.
It's unclear as to whether these are still made, but as they date from the early 1970s (my Grandfather had one) they can't be up to modern safety standards.

We visited Saklikent Gorge, one of the better known tourist attractions in the area.
On the way we noticed the interesting habit many roadside emporia had of offering free "car showers" consisting of a large-bore (Think ½-metre) pipe about 2 metres above the road simply left running so you could wash the dust off your car.
Great, but incredibly wasteful of water.

Saklikent Gorge runs all year round and is surrounded at it's bottom end by the general tourist tat, but all the restaurants use the naturally ice-cold water as "natural air-conditioning" by spraying it around or having it running under the dining tables: very effective.

The entrance to the gorge involves wading through some ice cold water.
The touts take this opportunity to latch on to the tourists, and we had to politely ask our our denoted tout to go leave us in peace as we did not want help/ice creams/restaurants/guide.

The backdrop of the Taurus mountains constantly reminds you how narrow the coastal areas are and how unpopulated, inaccessible and wild the areas further inland are.

Fehiye has a bustling market selling local produce as well as the expanding tourist stuff. We love markets and it's always worth seeing a slice of local life.

Many of the stallholders were just roadside farmers selling their small wares: loads of vegetables and fruits.
I did wonder, however, how much 'night soil' had been involved in their production.
Now Wash Your Hands.

Gocek is a port half an hour's drive along the improved road West from Fethiye, full of large motor yachts.
What is it with rich people and large boats: definitely penis extensions, most of them.
Gocek is based entirely upon the rich yacht set, trying very hard to be an up-and-coming mini-Monaco.
The boats were beautiful from an abstract perspective but truly dreadful investments (second only to a motor home), and I get seasick anyway.
If I had plenty of money I'd have a fly-yourself private jet, but not a boat.

 

Katranci Bay, just West of Fethiye, is a beautiful bay surrounded by trees. Certainly more beautiful than Gocek.

At the top of the 7,000ft Babadag mountain towering above Oludeniz (we boiled the crappy Italian buzzbox hirecar getting up there...) they paraglide down to the beach at OluDeniz.
Quite a ride, I understand: it takes just 15 minutes.

The Turkish Forestry Service have an interesting attitude towards conservation of the wildlife on the Babadag: they want to keep it pristine and unspoiled.
So they blast and bulldoze a 15Km track to the very top and blast away a chunk of the peak to make a take-off point for the paragliders.
Then they take a "Conservation Fee" off every 4x4 that goes up.
I'd love to know where that fee goes....

 

Snuggled half way up the mountainside is a hidden valley.
In Turkey, they cultivate this to provide valuable and much-needed agricultural space.
In the UK we would have let it go to seed in the name of "Set Aside" for an agricultural subsidy.
Such are the idiocies of the CAP.

The trucks go up and down this 6000ft run 4 times a day. No barriers, dodgy brakes, a slippery and steep track. Hmmmm.....

The views from the Babadag are great: well worth the effort, although the road up is scary and best tackled in a 4x4.
That said, on coming down we met a moped going up with 2 Italians on board!

The evening sunlight in OuluDeniz is bright and photogenic. The town of Fethiye offers an interesting idea I've not seen before elsewhere: in the fish market you may select your (ungutted) fish from the market stall, they will gut it on the spot, then you take it to one of the restaurants clustered around the market square and they cook it for you.
More places should do this; it works well.

Fethiye and the surrounding areas have been criticised for unfettered expansion in recent years.
A good look around, however, shows that the development is of a universally high standard.
The accommodation is clean and well-built, and the architecture is well thought-out and consistent.
No high-rise development, and good roads.
Bear in mind this used to be a marsh...

We certainly never had a bad or dodgy meal during the whole of our fortnight (mind you, Ness has steered us away from many a salmonella-infested joint over the years)

 

The harbour in Fethiye has been "done up" and hosts a huge number of day-trip pleasure boats (ugh!) who all seem to go the same places.
I'm amazed the tourist industry in this area supports so many.

From the air you can see the layout of the canals used to drain the marsh and allow building.

Over the bay from Fethiye is the ultra-swish all-inclusive resort of Letoonia (sounds like something out of a Roald Dahl novel...) which I'm sure is fine if you never want to go out during the whole of your stay and see anything of the real Turkey, but not really for us.

Fethiye is still a boat-building centre. they make mainly gulets, a particular type of large wooden yacht popular in Turkey and frequently rented by Northern Europeans.
Modern ones are very comfortable, with air-conditioning, and fresh-water showers on the decks.
Maybe next year.

My second flight in the microlite took us back over Kayakoy where the simple block house remains took on abstract shapes around the hillsides.

The area around Oludeniz and Fethitye was settled by the Romans (then fought over by virtually every major Empire since).
Many Roman artifacts remain, in wonderfully untouched (and unrestored) splendour.

One such remain is Tlos where, true to form, the uninteresting castle section requires an entrance fee whereas the far more interesting amphitheatre section is entirely open to the public (and visiting masonry thieves).
It's amazing to think that these rocks have been lying here for more than two thousand years. The Roman markings are still unweathered and intact.
Those guys knew how to build.

So, another sucessful and hugely enjoyable holiday in Turkey. No funny tummies, the girls spent two weeks in the pools and got brown as berries.
Nessa pronounced the holiday "close to perfection".

A short distance from Ovacik is the deserted town of Kayaköy, a thriving town until the Greek/Turkish population exchanges in 1923, when the Greeks were shipped off, and were to be replaced by Armenia Muslims. However, these guys decided the town was haunted, so it has remained empty since. Huh?