I've just come back from an amazing 12 days in Turkey - easily one of the best countries in the world. We spent the first week exploring the Mediterranean coast, staying in Gulluk just north of Bodrum and then driving down to Kalkan on the way to Antalya, and then flew up to Istanbul for four nights. But first I'll talk about the coast.
In Gulluk we stayed in the Med-Inn boutique hotel, a cute modern place that's very reasonable and perched right on the beach, with a lovely view of the bay and a wooden pier that stretches into the sea where you can sunbathe. Here's a mini guide of what to do in the area:
+ Historical sites: don't miss Ephesus - the most beautifully-preserved classical city on the eastern Mediterranean coast. I suggest to get there early before it gets too busy. And May is actually a good time of year to go as it's not too hot.
+ Eat fresh fish and seafood. Pretty much every restaurant on the coast offers fresh grilled fish, prawns and calamaris, yum.
+ Drink Turkish coffee of tea. I opted for tea, as their coffee is thick as mud, but I'm told also rather tasty. I think I would have been climbing the walls after one sip.
+ Grab lunch at: Gumus Cafe in Gumusluk (good name). This was a great little find. It's set away from the touristy cafes further down the incredibly calm bay and is small with only a few tables which are on a little pier, meaning you literally dine over the sea. We ate the giant king prawns - see photo above, calamaris and a tasty salad - all brilliant.
+ In Bodrum dine at: Berk Balik, a no fuss fish restaurant that was the least touristy on the beach front.
Next we drove down to Kalkan where we booked into quite possibly the best hotel I've ever stayed in, the Fidanka Hotel. It was perfect in every way and looks like a giant tree house with flowers and greenery growing up the walls - I felt like Robinson Crusoe climbing the steps and then walking the little walkway to our room. All the rooms are constructed from wood - wooden floor, wooden bed, wooden bathroom, you get the picture - and we had the most amazing terrace with a stunning view over the bay (and a giant bath in the room - a must on holiday). There's also a lovely pool with a view.
It also had a brilliant restaurant dishing up the best fried calamaris we ate all holiday - we would have quite happily eaten there every night had it not been a little pricey, and if we hadn't wanted to explore a little more.
+ Best Beaches: Patara that's just north of Kalkan - one of the longest beaches in the Mediterranean -you'll pass some ruins on the road to the beach and then make sure you go to Kaputas (or blue) Beach - the most brilliant turquoise blue I ever seen - see photo above.
+ Best historical sites: Pinara was by far the best site this end of the coast and we were probably 2 of only 6 tourists there, probably because it's off the beaten track. You have to drive off a very stoney road (if you could call it a road) to get there. It's then quite a trek up to the base of the mini mountain where all the old dwellings are, along a tiny path that involves quite a bit of climbing, but it's totally worth it. And there's an incredible view. (Perhaps not a good place to take sprogs if you have them). Also Letoon is pretty good - bit like a mini Ephesus. Of course once we'd seen Ephesus, there's nothing comparable.
+ Don't miss: Kas - a pretty fishing town with a cute marina further south down the coast. We visited in the evening and had dinner at Naturel, after reading brilliant reviews on Trip Advisor, and we'll admit the food was excellent - try their homemade pasta and Kofte - a turkish favourite.
(Photos by Marissa Cox)