29th December
written by Hope

What comes to mind when you hear the word “Mediterranean?” Heat. Blue. Yachts. Olives. And…Turkey? Yup, Turkey shares that same incredible blue sea…the same glorious shining sun…that same fresh, delicious cuisine…and all at about a quarter the price of those Western European countries.

When we were in Istanbul, J and I met a really nice Finnish guy who told us about his favorite places in Turkey, and Patara (a small town with a 20 km beach and ancient ruins right past the sandy shore) was high on the list. So to Patara we went! It was our first stop on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, and our Finnish friend was right…it’s a nice frickin’ beach!

patara beach at sunset
Sunset on Patara Beach.

A beach like Patara can hold any traveler hostage for several days, but what really stood out about our stay in Patara was our pension. Once again, we went with the hotel touts at the “bus station” (if by “bus station” you mean “random spot on the highway”), and once again, we weren’t disappointed. J and I ended up in a room at Rose Pension, which is a warm, family-run place that felt like a home away from home…if yo momma is Turkish. For a few days, we felt like we were part of one big, happy Turkish family, with other travelers from Italy, Russia, and Belgium as our siblings.

rose pension patara
The Rose Pension family: Mehmet, Hope, Mesut, our Turkish momma, and Jeremy.

One day, some of our Belgian and Turkish “brothers and sisters” invited us on a boat trip with them from nearby Kalkan. By the end of the day, we were HOOKED.

swimming in the deep blue mediterranean, kalkan boat trip

What a incredible way to spend a day…motoring from island to island, swimmin’ hole to swimmin’ hole. And at 35 lira (approx. US$20) each, including a yummy buffet lunch, we thought it was the best deal in Turkey!

We planned to stay in Patara for several days to relax and swim in the ocean (an activity that has really captivated us since our visit to Ko Lipe), but we ended up moving on after a few days because:

  1. The beach is pretty far from town. We were told that it was a 1 km walk, but we didn’t realize that it was actually a “Turkish kilometer” (i.e., anywhere from 2 blocks to 4 km).
  2. The beach is indeed big, but there is nowhere to hide from the overpowering sun, unless you pay to use some umbrellas and loungers crowded together on one small plot of beach. The result? A very crowded 0.5 km of sand, with 19.5 km completely void of people.
  3. Mosquitos. ‘Nuff said.

So, after a few days hanging out in Patara and enjoying our temporary Turkish momma’s amazing cooking, we hopped on a bus towards another town along the Mediterranean called Olimpos. On the way there, we got a bit sidetracked when we met a really nice Dutch guy who lives in Patara part of the year. He recommended we check out a town called Kaş, so at the last minute, we hopped off the bus before our intended destination. Once again, taking the advice of a fellow traveler was the right move. Kaş had everything we wanted: good food, a view of the water, and more boat trips! There are also some nice ruins in town, where you can watch the sunset.

view over kas
Watching the sunset over Kaş.

Our Dutch friend also supplied us with one of our favorite quotes of the trip. I was asking him about the British travelers who come in for the weekend and fry themselves to a crisp before returning to the rainy UK, when he exclaimed, “I know! They come in looking like a glass of milk, and they leave looking like a bottle of rose!” Thank you for the comedic interlude, funny Dutch guy!

And another thank you to our funny Dutch traveler for convincing us to check out Kaş. We loved it there! Day after day was spent enjoying the sea…either via boat (where you can explore sunken ruins), or by lounging on one of the “beaches” in town (a lot of the Mediterranean coast in Turkey is rocky, so restaurants will set up a bunch of loungers on a rocky outcropping, and you can use the beds for free, with the implicit agreement that if you want something to drink, you buy it from them).

kas boat trip
More boat trips!

swimming in the deep blue mediterranean, kas boat trip
And swimmin’ holes!

View of the rock “beach” restaurants in Kaş.

Each night, we dined at one of the many delicious open-air restaurants in Kaş. Turkish food can be pretty repetitive—kebap with cucumber, tomato and olive is really delicious for the first week, but the same meal for lunch and diner every day gets pretty boring. Luckily, Kaş has a pretty developed culinary scene, and we happily dined on freshly caught fish and homestyle Turkish casseroles.

open-air dining in kas
A cute street full of outdoor dining options in Kaş.

Each night after dinner, we’d ask each other “should we stay one more day?” And the answer was invariably “YUP!” But eventually, we had to tear ourselves away from Kaş. Our final stop on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast was Antalya, mostly because it is a major transport hub, but it turns out the Kaleiçi (Old Quarter) in Antalya is quite charming!

street scenes in the kaleiçi (old quarter), antalya
Street scene from Antalya’s Kaleiçi.

Antalya’s also got some surprisingly nice beaches for such a big, bustling city, though you do have to pay to use them (8 lira for this beach, or about US$5…which is pretty steep by Turkish standards, but we were desperately hot).

antalya harbor
Antalya harbor.

Though we only spent one night in Antalya, we managed to cover it all in this city—our single day was spent exploring the Old Quarter, topped off with just a little more time enjoying that incredible blue sea.

the view from here, antalya
Our last evening on the Mediterranean.

And with that, the sun set on our Mediterranean excursion. :)

Transportation from Pamukkale to Patara (and Kaş and Antalya): There are no direct buses from Pamukkale to Patara. You must take a bus from Pamukkale to Fethiye (16 lira each, approx. US$10) and catch a bus that drives the Fethiye to Antalya route, where you can hop off on the main highway near Patara (10 lira or US$6 each). From there, you have to catch another bus that will take you down the hill into town.

From Patara to Kaş and then to Antalya, you have to catch that same highway bus that runs between Fethiye and Antalya. It cost us 7 lira (US$4.50) from Patara to Kaş and 16 lira (US$10) from Kaş to Antalya.

Bus prices along this route can be pretty arbitrary, and tourists invariably get charged more than locals. There doesn’t seem to be a system for when you pay: you can hand over your hard-earned lira at the beginning, end, or middle of the ride. Miraculously, the driver somehow keeps track of who has paid and who hasn’t, making change while driving the windy roads. Turkish multi-tasking at its finest.

Where we slept in Patara, Kaş, and Antalya: Though the rooms at Rose Pension in Patara (double ensuite with AC and deck for 45 lira, or approx. US$30) are pretty standard, the homey feeling makes it a total standout. We even received a couple emails from Mesut asking about our travels and wishing us a Merry Christmas! Plus, our Turkish momma is an absolutely incredible cook. Rose Pension MADE our Patara experience.

In Kaş, we stayed at Hilal Pension in a double ensuite with AC and deck for for 65 lira (approx. US$42). Our room was comfortable, the buffet dinner was cheap and tasty (though nothing compares to Rose Pension’s home cooking), and this was the view from the roof deck:

beautiful kas
View from the roof deck of Hilal Pension in Kaş.

The only accommodation homerun we failed to hit was in Antalya. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the name of the place in my notes, but it is the pension that the Lonely Planet says is “for the homesick,” due to its motherly owner. The room was fine and the view was spectacular, but there was no wi-fi and at 60 lira (approx. US$40), we thought it a little overpriced.

Check out all our photos from the Turkish Mediterranean:

1 Comment

  1. Tomkat

    Excellent stuff! You had a great time and it shows!

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