Türkiye Part I - Fethiye and the Turquoise Coast
Because we havent had our fill of Mediterranean hiking yet
Where are Randi and Tyler?
We are wrapping-up a delightful month-long stay in Fethiye (pronounced fehteeeuh), Trkiye; which is a Mediterranean coastal town popular for sailing, british expats, and hiking. Fethiye has history dating back to the 5th century BC and has been inhabited by ancient Lycians, Greeks, Persians, Byzantines, and Ottomans. All of whom have left successive remnants of their civilizations that can be explored throughout the area.
What have we been doing?
Weve done a bit of hiking, exploring local ruins/tombs, eating a LOT of bread, and long walks around the three-mile boardwalk surrounding the bay (we also had a dental exam/cleaning, finished season one of Last of Us, and started the 2023 season of F1). Tyler has been killing it, maintaining several daily habits, including studying Turkish, PT exercises, meditation, journaling, reading, and spending time outside at sunrise. Despite all of this he claims he has not lost the US pounds added to the midsection (see bread). While many of the people weve interacted with at restaurants, public transportation, or the market speak impressive English, it is still nice to ask for a few things or greet locals in Turkish. Weve also attempted to be a bit more social this last month. Weve made some lovely new friends with a few locals by reaching out via Couchsurfing and Facebook groups. We met one delightful couple (shes Romanian and he is a Turk) for a hike; the following week, they invited us into their home for dinnerat 8:45pmapparently, Turkey is not a morning culture. We also busted out our swimsuits for the first time in 2023 and actually entered the Mediterranean Sea. Whoo-hoo! We also met a fellow downshifter who was a financial analyst from the city and refocused life to be a yacht captain. If Tyler wasnt thinking about a life at sea before he sure is now.
What has been our favorite activity in Fethiye?
In this authors opinion, Tylers favorite activity was watching a tractor trailer, followed by a street grader, move a ship from a shipyard to a dock, and then into the water. As we walked our regular broadwalk route, we happened to catch this exciting show. You can read the full report of the excitement here (along with pics detailing the progress). Thankfully Captain America was there to lend a hand (aka, a small child of about 5 who was walking by with his father and dad asked the tractor-driver, can my kid ride on the tractor?…or at least that’s what we think we saw happen, but we dont speak Turkish, so who knows).
My favorite activity is a tie between grocery shopping and coastal, pine-forest hiking. Every Sunday our neighborhood pops up an open-air, fresh-produce market. The produce, cheese, olives, and sausages have been especially delicious. I have never enjoyed eating so many salads, but the produce here tastes impressively better than average; like everything is fresh from a garden. It also doesnt hurt that we can buy a weeks worth of fresh produce, cheese, and sausage for under $30. This is a picture of one week of market goods which totaled $22.75 USD. (The cover photo is of an olive vendor at the market).
What is something we dont like?
Apparently, people dont really have indoor pets in Fethiye, but rather, most neighborhoods communally care for the street cats and dogs. It is very common to see people petting the street-pets and doting on them. We see little piles of pet food along stone walls, apartment buildings, and near the sidewalks. There are even pet-food vending machines in the parks. Restaurant reviews will even comment on how the establishment treats the local street animals as a sign that it is or is not an establishment to recommend. This means there are a lot of street animalsand Im not really a big fan (though Tyler says hes cool with it). We went on a 10-mile walk around a peninsula and 4 dogs followed us the entire way. They were panting so bad and licking their paws like they were sore. We were not capable of feeding them or giving these guys fresh water, but they just kept following us. Made us feel a little bad for them. The dogs knew every public drinking fountain was, so maybe this is an average day for them? Even as I type this a cat is meowing at our patio door.
Tyler has noted a few times in the last month that he has been missing time with friends and family a bit more than prior months. We understand the biggest draw-back to this lifestyle choice is the removal of ourselves from our community; but some days that hits harder than others. It has been nice to meet some new friends; however, that can almost make us miss our communities back in the US.
What stands out in Fethiye, Trkiye?
While the affordability of groceries has been welcomed, what stands out to us the most is the genuine kindness and graciousness of the local Turks. People weve interacted with or spoken to have been exceptionally kind, welcoming, friendly, sociable, and smiley. This is not to say people all over the world do not display these attributes, but, at least here in Fethiye, it is as though the locals take great pride in their hospitality and truly care that we feel welcomed and enjoy our experiences. People have gone out of their way to be friendly, kind, or helpful. We were sitting at a bus stop along a highway about 100 km from Fethiye. A man in a very eclectic van pulled over and said to us, Fethiye? and motioned for us to hop in for a ride. He then made sure to drop us on our part of town. It can be hard, as a non-stop-traveler, to attempt to positively impact the places we visit (or at least not negatively impact them). The people of Fethiye treat us as though they are happy we are here. It has resulted in us truly feeling very welcomed.
Also, baklavathat crispy, flakey, dripping with honey desertit is everywhere and Im a big fan.
If you are still reading (and still interested), here are some other highlights of Fethiye:
Hiking down a cliffside trail to the clear, blue waters of Butterfly Valley: This beach is only accessible by boat or hike/climb down into the valley. It was a fun and adventurous trail that proved to be well worth the effort. We also met a lovely Polish traveler who accompanied us and had our first hitch-hiking experience, in which we barreled down the twisty-curvy mountain road in the back of a workers pick-up truckit was a hoot.
Ancient City of Patara: We took a 1.5 hour bus, followed by a 3 mile walk to the ancient city of Patara, a major maritime city from about 400 BC in the Lycian empire through the Roman and Byzantine empires up to about 1300 AD. It is also the birthplace of Santa Claus; Saint Nicholas was born in Patara in 270 AD. We enjoyed roaming the ruins of the old city center, learning about the history and ancient civilizations. Patara also claims the longest sand beach in Turkey. Which is where we finally dipped into the Mediterranean Sea after two months of hiking its coastlines.
Fethiye Fish Market dining experience: First, we picked a restaurant to dine at from the selection of restaurants that surround the Fish Market. After getting some appetizers and drinks, we then perused the Fish Market, selected our fish (a sea base for about $4 a kilo of calamari for about $5), then pointed out our restaurant to the fishmonger. He cleaned our fish, delivered it to the restaurant, and they prepared our grilled sea bass and fried calamari for $3.
Hiking through the abandoned city of Kayaky: The village was Greek Orthodox Christians for over 1,000 years until the Greco-Turkish War of 19191922, and the subsequent Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, in which the town’s Greek Orthodox residents were exiled and forced to leave Turkey for Greece. The village is now an open air museum where people can hike through.