As soon as there’s a new opportunity to get to know the country and its people, I bounce up and down impatiently, wondering where the next journey will take me. As Leman, the TUI tour guide at the TUI BLUE Sarigerme Park, comes to me and enthusiastically tells me about a new trip, I’m seized by wanderlust. “What is it?” I ask, intrigued, because I recognise the sparkle in Leman’s dark eyes that can only mean one thing: pack a backpack and go. “What’s great,” she continues in the voice of a child who has recently discovered their favourite toy, “are the new safari Mercedes that drive you through the Taurus Mountains.” “Safari?” I press further, because the topic is new to me. “The views are beautiful,” she continues, “you’ll rediscover the area. Two experienced guides provide insight into the authentic, contemporary daily life in the Taurus Mountains, as well as in the history of the ancient provinces of Caria and Lycia.”
A Shot of Adrenaline and Driving Yourself…
…but not me, not this time. I sit comfortably in the car and just ride along. Because I don’t know if I can steer the big white beast elegantly and safely. For me, rather small, sporty, red cars work just fine :).
At 9:30 we leave, three cars in a row, the two Mercedes behind the guide, on the paved road through Güzelyurt, over the Dalaman Plateau, and toward Şerefler (ancient Kalynda). After Şerefler, we continue on the dirt road and later on the forest path to our first stop. I can’t believe I’ve driven this way so many times (it’s partly the route to the airport and Sarsala Bay) and never explored the small path through the forest.
Çay Break and Panorama of Dalaman Area
Kilometre 30: We stop at a small, cosy terrace in a little village and all sit at a table to look at the wonderful panorama. Ayçan, our guide tells us the history of the region around the Taurus Mountains and explains where the tour will lead us today. At the other tables sit mostly men who are apparently engrossed in serious conversation. It’s not the case in this shop, but in general you can see so-called men’s cafes everywhere in Turkey. They gather in various shops, cafes, or restaurants, drink çay, smoke, play rummikub or cards, and read newspapers. All generations are represented: boys, men, and older gentlemen will find their home away from home here. I often pass by and curiously watch these places and the people who spend their time there. It’s a different world. Admission isn’t forbidden for women, but I’ve never had the impulse to go in. There is something that always holds me back: respect for the intimacy, the depth of the views, the fascination of the unknown.
The Glory of Göcek Bay
As we continue, the path leads us through a pine forest down to the shores of the gulf (ancient Glaucus Sinus) of Fetiye (ancient Telmessos, Makri). From the highest point of the mountain we stop, I can see Göcek Bay in all its glory. I put my inner state of mind on “mute” and suddenly stand alone, with the mountains, nature, the infinite sea in front of me. The play of green and deep blue colours would surely inspire Monet to a new, famous painting: “Impression, Colours of Turkey”.
I breathe in and out, empty my head of all negative thoughts, photograph with my inner eye this magical corner of the world. After this short break, we continue on. From time to time we stop to take more pictures. Slowly we near civilisation again and the first yachts on the coast become visible. I’m amazed at the different sizes, colours, and models. My mind wanders, a boat is actually not a bad idea. Medium-sized and navy blue, I keep dreaming, and I see myself at the wheel of an elegant yacht. Where would I sail? Hotel Manager Yavuz Bey, who accompanies me on this trip, unsettles me with an approximate price estimate for a mid-sized, navy blue boat. Well, yeah, you can’t have everything in life, but dreams are free.
“In the morning dew to the mountains we go, fallera…”
Do you know this German folk song? It’s been stuck in my head ever since we left. I used to sing this tune as a child during school trips through the mountains, and even now it does not seem to have left me.
Along the coast of the village Göcek, the road leads us for a few minutes over the state road. We turn off on an overland route and the climb begins again. After 11 kilometres we reach the Valley of Taşbaşı. Again, it’s time for a refreshment in the midst of a stunning panorama. I must make a note of the spot: a farm where the owners welcome us warmly and offer us their homemade organic products. Even though I’m full from the grandiose breakfast this morning, I eat the delicious gözleme they’ve prepared – the olives are a real treat, and the ҫay even tastes different here. I should mention here that departing on a full stomach is not a good idea for sensitive travellers. This is my personal experience of course, but during the tour it can get very shaky in the car.
Yuvarlakçay – A Magical Place in the Taurus Mountains
Continuing up into the Taurus Mountains, we pass through three mountain villages until we arrive at the dam at Dalaman . So far we’ve driven 80 kilometres. We head in the direction of Pınarköy (in Turkish: pınar = “spring”, köy = “village”, so “village of the spring”), where the mountain stream Yuvarlakçay appears. There are many restaurants on the banks of the stream, and it’s in one of these places that we will enjoy our lunch. Before lunch is served, we have the opportunity to swim in the specially designed swimming pool. This is a popular hideaway for the locals during the summer when it’s too hot. Here it’s always cool and the stream makes for a refreshing dip. I spot a swing with which I fly over the water. I’m a kid again – I feel free. The water is clear and glistening in the sun, the air is fresh, all around fly fantastical creatures with sapphire-blue wings, which sit on the branches of the tree in front of me. I’ve never seen such an intense, strong, noble, enchanting blue – they’re dragonflies.
I leave Yuvarlakçay with a heavy heart and promise to visit this place again as soon as possible. From here we begin the return trip in the direction of Dalyan. The road passes through the villages and former cotton fields of the Ortaca Plateau. Passing Dalyan, we go through Mergenli and – after 137 adventurous kilometres through the Taurus Mountains – back to the hotel.
Do you know how the song ends?
We went out
to catch the sunshine:
Come along and try it yourself!
So, what are you waiting for?