Ask those that return to Turkey time and time again what it is that keeps them coming back and somewhere in the top 5 reasons you’ll hear “value”.
1 million old lira – not worth the paper…
25 years ago when we first discovered Turkey as a holiday destination there were literally millions of lira to the £. Inflation was out of control and the bank notes changed hands so often that they were disintegrating. In late 2003, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey passed a law that allowed for the removal of six zeroes from the currency and the creation of the new lira.
Since then, with a few odd little swings in either direction, we’ve usually enjoyed an exchange rate of around YTL2.5 for every £1 exchanged and in Turkey 2.5 lira buys you quite a lot! Now, with the rate standing at an amazing 3.19 to the £, dining out, shopping and excursions are even better value. Don’t be tempted to stock up with lira here in Blighty either – there are plenty of ATMs around the town and you don’t need to head to the bank or the Post Office if you want to change sterling. The shops are happy to change money and you’ll get as good a rate there as anywhere.
While many other places in the Med seem to be getting more and more expensive (we were gobsmacked by the cost of everything on our 2-day trip across to Rhodes last season) Turkey is delivering even better value at the moment. Treat yourself to a slap up meal for two on the harbour, somewhere like DoyDoy or Mussaka, and even with a bottle of wine, you’ll see change out of 50 quid. Can’t be bad!
Click here to check out the latest exchange rate.
If you grew up in the 70′s your mum probably hurled around the same cliched accusations as mine about my and my siblings’ bad behaviour.
Sufi Dervishes spinning…
Traipsing in and out when we were supposed to be making ourselves scarce and playing outside resulted in the house being “like Piccadilly Circus”, while leaving lights on in an unattended room transformed it into “Blackpool Illuminations”. Similarly money didn’t “grow on trees” and neither were my parents “made of” it!
We took all of these in our stride and though we couldn’t point to Piccadilly Circus (or Blackpool either for that matter) on a map we pretty much got the gist of what we were doing wrong.
It wasn’t until many years later that I understood the meaning of one such cliche. Ours was a busy house, and noisy. During the school holidays in particular, mum had her work cut out to keep us all fed, watered, entertained and out of mischief. It was on those days she’d complain about being like a “whirling Dervish”. The fact that we didn’t know what that was, or what it meant, didn’t matter to us – and probably not to her either!
Now whenever I see images of these peace-loving religious men spinning entranced by the music, (my very favourite pic is on the 1st floor landing of the Villa) it makes me smile. They seem so calm and at one with universe, not at all like my poor frazzled mum counting the days until the beginning of term!
I’d love to see them dance live but for now I’ll have to make do with one of the many videos on YouTube. Click here if you’d like to see them for yourself.
If you’re in Kalkan for just a week here’s our list of restaurants to keep your tastebuds tingling for each one of those seven nights. As anyone that’s ever visited will tell you, the food and the restaurants are a major draw. Narrowing it down to just seven restaurants isn’t an easy task. These are in no particular order as, while some are more “fine dining” others (most notably Hunkar) are just good, fresh food cooked traditional Turkey-style!
1. DoyDoy – good food and even better views this is our “celebration place” and where we head on our first full night. The staff are so friendly and welcoming and, of course the food is yummy! Click here to learn more and to check out the location and a sample menu.
2. Mussaka – another harbourside treat. Their signature dish (you guessed it, Mussaka) is to die for. They don’t seem to have a website of their own and so TripAdvisor is the best bet to learn more.
3. Ada – you could easily drive past this unassuming little restaurant (in fact we had done many times). It’s well on the way to Kas, on the right hand side of the road with stunning views out to sea and to the Greek Island of Kastellorizio. Best time of the day to visit is at sunset…you won’t be disappointed! Again, no website but TA reviewers tell you all you need to know.
4. Adams – visit as diners but leave as friends. Such a lovely family and the restaurant has lush views and brilliant ambience. Great for lunch and dinner PLUS Adam will pick you up and drop you off back at Mavi Manzara!
5. Moonlight – not to be confused with the bar of the same name (though this is also a brilliant venue and we’ve passed many a happy hour or hundreds here too) this restaurant on the Kalamar Road is easily passed by. But, once you’ve eaten here, you’re sure to return over and over. It has spectacular views of the the town, the harbour and the Mosque….A romantic choice for lovers and honeymooners
6. Hunkar Okabasi – romantic it isn’t but great value, good fun and Turkish grilled food at its absolute best. The waiters are cheeky and so expect some banter to accompany your food.
7. Small House – the clue is in the title and both because it’s so small, and now so popular, you need to book early on this one (particularly if you want the balcony, the best table in the house). We’ve never eaten anywhere quite like this on our travels…food as lovely as any restaurant but that feeds your soul like only home cooked food can. Don’t just take our word for it though.
Don’t forget too that, if you’re a Mavi Manzara guest, it’s always worth letting the restaurant know that (take one of the Villa business cards with you when you go) as that can often get you a better table and even sometimes a free glass or two of something nice!
beautiful views from new walkway
When we’re back in Blighty and far away from Kalkan we keep up to date courtesy of those lovely folks at KTLN News. It’s a great resource and always covers the bits and pieces of local goings on that we take a keen interest in. Like this renovation project in the Old Town.
If you’ve ever taken a wander around the town after (or even before!) a long lazy lunch, you might have stumbled upon the water channel that carries rainwater from close to the Öz Adana restaurant, through the old town and down to the beach. The council has almost completed the project to redefine the path of the water and, at the same time, create a walkway on the adjacent land.
It’s not quite finished (though certainly will be before the start of the season) but is already looking great, and very traditionally Turkish with lots of timber used for the fences, seating and bridges, and traditional stone bricks for the walkways.
We’re looking forward to seeing it in person but, in the meantime, have to be satisfied with these pics (courtesy of Eylül Tasarım.)
craftsman at work
…luckily, it’s not for too long and not very often. Most visitors to Mavi Manzara are like us – they love the sunshine and can’t get enough of the famous Turkey climate. The graph above shows the average temperatures, by month, to help you plan the best time to visit. Rest assured that, even as the thermometer nudges 35 degrees, the aircon in the Villa (coupled with the refreshing infinity pool outside of it) is on hand to cool you down.
While we’re on the subject of weather, if you like a spectacular thunder storm, Kalkan can deliver on that too. The tail-ends of the season are when you’re most likely to catch one of these. Usually at night and short-lived, they leave the air fresher and cooler are truly something to behold!
We love this pic. If you have any of your own, we’d really like to see them.
and a glass of chilled white?
Kaputaş beach is a firm favourite for us and for guests. It’s only a few minutes drive away and, if you can drag yourself away from the pool, is a fantastic place for a dip in the shimmering, turquoise sea.
Brace yourself for the almost 200 steps to reach it, but the beautiful cove at the bottom of them makes it definitely worth the effort.
New facilities for the beach have just been announced and the council are planning to install toilets, showers and changing cubicles. Seems there’s likely to be a small cafe selling drinks and snacks as well sunbeds and parasols for hire.
Take a picnic for lunch or, how about a chilled bottle of white wine as you watch that famous Kalkan sunset?
One of the many reasons guests keep on returning to Kalkan has to be the restaurants – let’s face it, it’s “foodie heaven”. The only worry we have when we’re there is narrowing down where to choose for dinner that night. Tough enough at the best of times (I know, I can hear you striking up the violins!) but now it’s got even trickier.
The balcony is fantastic for a spot of people-watching!
CH is a fan of Tripadvisor (to the point of obsession, some might say) and so he was keen to try Small House. We couldn’t recall ever having seen it and so, almost immediately, he was on a mission. We tracked it down – it’s not hidden away particularly but, as the name implies, it’s not the biggest eatery in town – and wow, it was worth the search. Try it yourself but book early. Its popularity, coupled with the fact it has less than 20 covers, means that you’ll need to make a reservation as soon as you arrive to guarantee a table by the end of your holiday. Click to read ours (and plenty of other people’s) reviews here.
Turkey’s a great place for a holiday, that’s a given, but for a honeymoon it’s got it all “going on” too.
getting ready for the bride and groom
Great views, sunshine, fabulous food and sunsets to die for. While the Villa is big enough for a whole (even extended) family it’s also perfect for couples – sitting on the veranda with a sundowner, the pool lights on and that vista of Kalkan bay or, just as romantic, lounging together in the chillout area watching the sun drop behind the mountain.
We’ve had two sets of honeymooners at Mavi Manzara this year – Emma and Matt and Laura and Scott. Congrats to you all! The team from Lycian Coast Homes that look after the villa are a romantic bunch; check out how they welcome the happy couples!
Beautiful but a tourist trap
Leaving Mavi Manzara at the end of the holiday is a struggle. So, half way through this year’s start of the season break, we surprised ourselves by heading not only away from Kalkan but by leaving Turkey altogether.
During high season the hydrofoil from Fethiye to the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes runs every day and drops you only a 5 minute stroll or so away from the Old Town. After despatching our overnight stuff at the charming little Avalon boutique hotel, we headed to the New Market for lunch. Here there are any number of little restaurants serving a mountain of barbecue meats with salad and giving you the opportunity of some serious people watching – two of our favourite pastimes in one hit! Walking to and from the hotel we resisted the temptation to stop at coffee shops displaying some of THE most tempting cakes and pastries ever (another favourite pastime!)
For shopping Rhodes is a different experience. Altogether more European than Turkey (with prices to match) we easily found Villa “bits and pieces” here that we’d hunted high and low for in Fethiye. It’s a beautiful medieval town which, particularly when the cruise ships are in, means it’s chock-full of tourists. We didn’t see much evidence of austerity or the economic woes we hear so much about. Definitely worth a visit we enjoyed our little Greek adventure but, when push comes to shove, it’s no competition for the beautiful little Turkish gem that is Kalkan!
Keep those Kofta cravings at bay!
After a holiday in Kalkan the thing we miss most on our return to Blighty is, of course the sunshine. But, coming in a very close second, the food.
Simple, fresh and tasty ingredients is what Turkish cuisine is all about and we still ooh and aah at the beautiful produce on offer which is not only great quality but also, well, “cheap as chips”!
If you like Turkish Koftas then while you’re in Kalkan head to Hunkar Ocakbasi for the best value in town and, if you’re looking for a really great lunchtime salad, then White Table should be your venue of choice. If, when you get home, you want to recreate either/both of these try this combo from the Meister Rick Stein. Should keep cravings at bay until your next back in Kalkan.