Scumbags!

I’ve been called a few things in my time – time spent as a soldier and then as one of Her Majesty’s prison officers tends to have that result! Yesterday J, who was a teacher so she’s used to being called names as well, and I decided it was well past time to acquire another one. So we headed off for Dalyan’s İztuzu Beach with Fethiye friend Chrissy who, I’m sure, has never been called a bad name in her life! We were going to support the group Save Iztuzu Dalyan fighting to save the beach on their ‘open day’.

protesters arrive at Iztuzu beach dalyan

getting there any way they can

Iztuzu Beach dalyan

Iztuzu beach protest Dalyan

J signs attendance register for the day number 3081 and a long queue behind waiting (and Chrissy from Fethiye)

The world famous beach has been under threat from various ‘projects’ of late, the latest of which would have done more than plonk a rather inappropriate turtle-shaped extension to the much valued sea turtle research and rehabilitation centre on a site overlooking the beach.  In a very questionable ‘tendering’ process the running of the beach and its facilities were to be privatised and handed to an entity called DALÇEV that wasn’t even in existence until two days after it won the ‘tender’. How amazing is that!

Anyway, once the word got out the s^*t hit the fan! Locals, many of whom have cut their environmental protection teeth on other hugely successful campaigns such as the defence of Yuvarlakçay, swung into action. So much has been learnt in the last few years by the small local team that guides this local movement of local activists protecting their local environment and local interests that it is hard not to believe that they can ‘do it again’. That would be a mistake, especially now that so much is micro-managed in Ankara. As someone once said, in a very different context, ‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!’ or words to that effect. Turning your back on the ‘money-grubbers’ and their facilitators in offices far away, even for a moment, can be catastrophic in any battle by the people, against those who seek to take what is, or should be, ours by right.

iztuzu Beach Dalyantwo of my great mates from the media reporting for DHA (c and r)

Speaking of ‘money-grubbers’ reminds me that a few days ago one of the partners of the company that didn’t exist when it won the non-competitive, sorted over a glass of tea, tender Tweeted his opinion of the protesters who had camped out through the freezing weather to try and prevent any further breeches of court orders by the company that didn’t exist when it won the . . (suck in a deep breath!) He described them as, and I quote, ‘Yavşaklar’ - that’s Scumbags in plain English! This from people who turned up at the beach barrier at midnight, threatened the municipal guardian, cut the padlock and drove three vehicles, rally-style, onto a protected beach, before action by locals forced the intervention of the jandarma and the courts to reinstate the status quo.

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oruc1

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scenes from the ‘rally’ on Iztuzu by the ‘responsible’ developers

So, what does ‘status quo’ mean for the campaign? It means that the company that didn’t exist when it won the dubious tender has to wait the outcome of the court ruling about the legality of the tendering process. Meanwhile the protesters agreed to withdraw their 24 hour ‘guard’, the jandarma were able to go back to barracks and the beach has been reopened to the public. Make no mistake, the locals are not blinking. There will be an alarm system in place, just like Yuvarlakçay, to thwart any further midnight raids. For now the legal process holds sway, but should it go against the will of the locals then watch out for fireworks because civil court actions by the locals’ beach protection platform against individuals and various bureaucrats will swing into top gear.

Anyway, back to this ‘Scumbags’ thing; J and I have been absent from the local protest scene for a while – there are various personal and other reasons for that. However, when some arse calls people I know and respect ‘Yavşaklar’ because they happen to believe that the beach is not for private profit and exploitation, then it was time to stand with them.

ju suis Scumbag!Je Suis Scumbag!

I hope it doesn’t come to it, because I hope they win this fight by a knock-out in this round, if not, I guess you’ll see this Scumbag huddled round the braziers at midnight listening to another Scumbag playing the saz and mourning his lost love – and that’s a promise!

manning the barricades Iztuzu Beach dalyanScumbags mourning their lost love(life) – it’s cold!

To keep up with what’s going on with the beach and to give support to those who are fighting to protect this globally renowned asset and Turkey’s first Specially Protected Area ‘friend’ them on Facebook and sign and share their petitions – here and here you may not be able to be here in person but you can be here in spirit. There are more of us than they think!

The photos are from many sources, I hope they will not be too angry that I’ve not credited them individually. Thanks to each of you.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Scumbags!

Judgement Day 2.0

rup winners

By way of an update on the previous post, here are the photos and names of the three winners of the ‘Okçular Village Guide’ book. These three entries were considered to be ‘most promising’ and I hope that the books will encourage the recipients to explore the beautiful countryside around my village where they will find lots of wonderful subjects to fill up the hard-drives or storage cards on their electronic devices!

For any of you reading this post who are curious about the book and the ‘Okçular Book Project’, you can click on the tab at the top of the page, or the ‘Okçular Book Bazaar’ tab where you will find information about our secure, worldwide order/delivery service.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

 

Judgement Day 2.0

Judgement Day

photoc-camera_w2Several moons ago friends, fellow nature lovers and environmental activists from Dalyan asked me to join a judging panel for a photo competition they were organising. The logic behind our Okçular Book Project has always been to encourage people to get out into the beautiful countryside around here, use their eyes, and discover some of the amazing flora and fauna, people and views to be found. That being the case I was delighted to accept the invitation, not least because it is always enjoyable to see things through the eyes of others.

Each month the panel would sift through the entries in three separate categories and select winners and runners-up. These were then printed out and put on public display.

jury2(credit: Co Jonker)

Dalyan photo comp jury

Finally, the panel gathered yesterday to select the overall winners and runners-up in each group. We were not looking for the most professional photos, this is after all a competition for enthusiasts and total amateurs. What we were looking for were moments in time that captured the essence of Dalyan, its human and wild inhabitants and the surrounding area. It was interesting how few photos that had been ‘colour enhanced’ or otherwise ‘fiddled’ with made it through the earlier rounds.

Here are the category winners and runners up:

Flora and Fauna

1st flora and fauna

‘Squacco Heron’ – John Codling – a great capture with terrific detail

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‘Jay’ – Mark Mills

Village Life and Scenes

1st village life

‘Crocheting Lady’ – Serhad Özsoy – the detail of the scarf oya really draws you in

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‘Honey Colours’ – Quentin Alder

Landscape

1st Landscapes

‘Foggy Iztuzu’ – Monique Boon – this beautifully balanced, moody shot of Iztuzu Beach captured the eye of more panel members than any other and was judged the best overall picture in the competition

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‘Serene Köyceğiz Lake’ – Carla de Cuijper

Generous prizes donated by local businesses will be sent to the category winners and the runners up will receive a copy of the Okçular Village Guide Book courtesy of yours truly. It was a lot of fun to see so many excellent photos and it has spurred me on to ‘see’ stuff around me in a different light.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Judgement Day

Sea-nior Dogs Aboard

J and I have had the considerable delight of hosting our dear friends and bloggers supreme Mark and Jolee of Senior Dogs Abroad fame. We originally met these guys because another blogging friend, the esoteric Liz at Slowly By Slowly suggested that we just might get along – how astute of her!

M and J live in Istanbul where they are very acute observers of the Turkish and regional scene and I really do commend their blog to you – apart from anything else it is a pleasure to read well constructed stories in real English like what she is spoke! Anyway, Mark’s brother and his wife are over for a visit and the quartet have been touring their way down the southwestern coastal corner of Turkey taking in the sights and sites. Yesterday they breezed into Okçular and once all the hugging was done and dusted, J and I set about giving them a bit of a taster of retired life in our neck of the woods.

Today has been mostly watery – from the moment we picked them up from their holiday apartment on the river with our favourite captain and his big boat it has been all river, beach, sea, lakes, lagoons and sulphurous hot springs with just a small diversion on foot to explore Caunos and visit the delightful couple who run the Nomad Museum and tea house in Çandır Village.

Dalyan beach Turkey

Sea Dogs wallowing

Dalyan river boat trip

Ship’s Dogs

Wet Dogs Stink Something Awfulwet dogs stink something awful!

I hope they’ve enjoyed it – they certainly give every indication that they have! For J and me it’s been great to have our eyes opened once again through the eyes of others to the beauty that surrounds us. Thanks guys, you made our day and we’re looking forward to tomorrow!

Incidentally, Mark’s brother confided in me that he thought the hot springs were ‘disgusting’ what with the smell of sulphur and the algae floating like scum on the surface. Now, I’d be the first to admit that it looks a bit like they haven’t changed the bathwater since the Romans were here, but it’s all natural and very good for you, so do like your brother, pinch your nose and take your medicine!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

 

Sea-nior Dogs Aboard

Derin Vadi – Deep Valley

Faced with the belting hot weather of summer there is a place a little way up in the mountains that J and I love to slip away to for a late lunch, peace and some refreshing coolness. It goes by the name of Sarmaşık Restaurant on the Yuvarlakçay River, but we prefer the name on the original, hand-painted sign that first pointed us in its direction – Derin Vadi – Deep Valley.

. . down, down, diggery down – much improved these days

It’s all of fourteen years ago now since J spotted the board with its drunken lettering pointing along a dirt track to gawd alone knew where! We had two friends visiting from UK who were horrified, and I do mean horrified, as we turned onto a steep switchback that had been recently semi-carved from the side of a fairly precipitous valley. ‘We’re not going down there, are we?’ as knuckles whitened on the backs of our seats! Around the second hairpin we stopped by some young guys who were busy hacking out the track with picks and shovels. At our arrival they downed tools and galloped ahead down to a flattish plateau on which stood a simple, wooden shack where they promptly started to wash themselves down in a mini-waterfall that was splashing down the vertical side of the valley. ‘That’s not it, is it?’ gasped our traumatised and naïve guests. ‘I think it probably is’, said J matter-of-factly, ‘let’s go and have a look.’

Derin Vadi Restaurant Yuvarlakcay

water the colour of translucent aquamarine

Led by our freshly douched navvies now transformed into dust-free, spring-water dripping waiters we stepped around the side of the shack and were confronted by our idea of, if not paradise, a close-run second. There, under the shade of great Çınar/Plane trees, wooden platforms had been cobbled together over a fast-flowing little lake created by a home-made log dam. The water was the colour of translucent aquamarine from the malachite in the rocks. As we walked down the path that amounted to little more than a goat track the temperature began to drop the nearer we got to the water.

Yuvarlakcay

On the platform our shoes came off and hot feet were plunged into icy waters – our smiling navvy/waiter delivered four chilled beers and welcomed us to their family restaurant. I do believe we were their very first customers. So began a relationship that grew from regular customers to family friends. Now we get invited as honoured guests to the family weddings – with eight children it’s a case of three down – five to go!

Lois 112

‘Last of the Summer Wine’ or ‘One Foot in the Grave’ – with California hippy friend Lois

Sarmaşık/Derin Vadi is not a sophisticated place – the menu is simple and limited – trout; köfte (meatballs); chicken shish; delicious kid (as in goat) tandır and there’s fresh carp as long as you give them at least a few hours warning. There’s always plenty of fresh starters and salads and fruit for afters with a glass of rakı.Yuvarlakcay013It has changed little over the years – the navvies have improved the track a bit; the shack has been extended and made into a more practical kitchen and the toilet block is pretty decent and always clean. When you consider that but for the determination of the families of Pınar Köy, the local village, and a battle group of outsiders from around the area, all this would have been lost to the greed of big money that was hell-bent on destroying this beautiful place with a hydro-electric scheme. There is one thing that has not changed from that first day and that is the absence of concrete. Where others have sought to ‘improve’ their image with concrete terraces and water features, Derin Vadi has remained what it always was – an unspoilt bit of village culture and enterprise – family owned and family run. Long may the rest of the world continue to pass it by! I commend it to you.Yuvarlakcay006

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü – or, depending on the time of day – Derin Vadi!

The restaurant is easy to find – leave the Köyceğiz-Ortaca road and drive through Beyobası. Immediately past the big fish farm and over the bridge bear left (there are signs). Drive for a few kilometres through the forest to a small shop/market and turn left (again signed) down to the restaurant. Tel: 0538 628 1540

Derin Vadi – Deep Valley

The Başar Otel – A Family Affair

Turks fascinate me! The way they network and the way they ‘keep it in the family’.

Take my dentist for example. Kadriye is the best diş hekimi (tooth doctor) I’ve ever had in my life. Now her daughter has qualified and they operate side by side out of their state-of-the-art surgery. Across the road are the beautifully turned out offices of a successful building engineer who happens to be . . . Kadriye’s son. Together they own and run the superb Başar Otel (say Bashar) in the famous holiday town of Dalyan.

Nearly every day Kadriye tends her garden, prepares a few dishes for the hotel and then spends her day doing what dentists do. In the evening she arrives at the hotel with her daughter in a car laden with home-made dishes to be met by her son Başar who has already been there for a couple of hours from his offices. Her daughter Başak smiles and describes her this way – ‘My mother is a working woman, she is always working!’ And smiling – I marvel at her energy!

Between them this family, together with their staff, have created  an oasis on the edge of Dalyan. The majority of their customers are regular returnees and with good reasons.

Basar 2_1

Just five minutes walk from the bustling centre of town the hotel is far enough away that you will not be disturbed by blaring disco bars competing for your attention.

Rest.

With 34 good sized rooms in four blocks grouped around the gorgeous pool and terrace, the hotel looks out over unspoilt views to the nearby mountains. Rooms, dining room, gardens and pool are well maintained and cared for.

Büfe Aksam

Most guests settle for half board, again, with good reason – fine Turkish cuisine and plenty of it. Visitors are welcomed and because of the very reasonable prices the Başar is popular with ex-pat regulars and locals alike. As a guide, evening buffet is just 10 euros, breakfast 6 euros and a snack lunch ranges from 6-10 lira. At these prices you can afford to dine out often with the added bonus of no washing up! Drinks are also modestly priced and there is live music every Monday throughout the season with ‘gentle-on-the-ears’ English and Turkish standards.

Basar pool at night

A moonlit evening sitting on the pool terrace or your balcony, glass in hand, looking out over the silvery fields towards the mountains is a magical experience. Add in that delicious meal and you have all the ingredients for a perfect holiday hotel in an area of the world that is rightly described as a ‘corner of paradise’.

Başar Otel, Maraş Mah. Şavkar Sok. No 26/28, Dalyan

info@basaroteldalyan.com.tr

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Inflamedps Archers does not generally do hotel/restaurant promotions. Truth to tell, the Başar is its own best promoter by the service it provides. That said, when your dentist is in your face doing some serious root canal work it would not be nice (or sensible) to decline her very reasonable request to write something about a place where J and I have enjoyed some delicious meals ‘socialising’ with two of the finest exponents of the dental drill!

 

The Başar Otel – A Family Affair

What You Do Speaks So Loudly . .

. . that what you say I cannot hear! A variation on ‘Deeds speak louder than words!’

Here in Turkey I am lucky enough to live in a country that is so enthusiastic about protecting its natural environment that it has probably signed up to more treaties, conventions, agreements and memorandums of understanding than any other on the planet. Turkey ‘Talks the Talk’ like few others. The obverse of the coin, ‘Walking the Walk’ leaves something to be desired!

It would be more accurate to say that ‘Money Talks and Walks the Walk’ – in 16 years of living here I have seen example after example. I want to stress that Turkey is no better and no worse than most other countries around the world – greed, ‘primitive accumulation’ lies at the heart of the economic system; a system that commodifies everything – including the environment! If tiresome protection laws get in the way of the ‘fast buck’ then they are to be ignored, rescinded or bribed away.

The small town of Dalyan is a case in point; it sits at the heart of Turkey’s very first Specially Protected Area – the setting is stunning! Carian tombs, mountain views, amazing beach and Loggerhead Turtles, the potential for exploitation was enormous and so exploited it was!

These days the attractive old houses have been demolished and replaced by concrete.

the last of its kind, Omer’s ‘Old Turkish House’ bar in Dalyan – demolished and replaced by a row of concrete shops

Great swathes of once beautiful countryside are covered in villas that stand empty much of the year. Unregulated development means an excess of hotels, pansions, restaurants, fashion shops, boats on the river, etc., all chasing too few customers to make a decent living. The once magnificent reed beds of the Dalyan canal and delta are gone, replaced by sedge due to salination because of excessive fresh water extraction. Inadequate infrastructure means some parts of the town stink of raw sewage in the summer.

 

all that remains of old Dalyan’s charm

Tourists are now guaranteed to see endangered Caretta caretta turtles as the captains have taken to baiting them with kitchen scraps on fishing lines so they hang around instead of going off and living a natural life. Many are injured or killed by boat propellers, some have bitten tourists and had to go for ‘rehabilitation’. Much of what once drew visitors to the town has now gone – exploited away, and no amount of fancy floodlight illumination of the Carian Tombs or plastic turtles in the park will bring it back.

baiting endangered Caretta with endangered Blue Crab at Dalyan (travbuddy.com) and below the consequences

. . and one of the consequences (igougo.com)

Another case in point is the Lycian Way – Turkey’s first long distance walking route.

my copies of Clow’s books

Pioneered by Kate Clow, the route begins at Hisarönü near Fethiye in the west and ends, 500kms later, at Hisarçandır 25kms short of Antalya in the east. In between lies some of the most beautiful, rugged and unspoilt countryside to be found anywhere along Turkey’s Turquoise Coast – but, for how long? Truth be told, Turkey gets a lot of prestige but very little money out of the Lycian Way. The Lycian Way will never really be an income generating asset – unless that is it can be turned into a commodity!

Lycian Way above Ölüdeniz (anadolujet.com)

Lycian Way near Mt Olympus (lycianadventures.com)

‘Tadaaaa!’ Welcome to the future as Ölüdeniz Belediyesi (local council) blithely drives the thin end of a very big wedge under its end of this world famous, world class walk. How? By granting permission, admittedly together with the Environmental Agency for hotel development on the first few hundred metres of the route, and then allowing the bulldozing of the ancient path to make way for the standard, 7mt wide, access road.

getting it wrong – the future for the Lycian Way

. . is that the rustle of leaves or banknotes I hear?

It won’t stop there of course, it never does. There will be others anxious to give tourists access to this most beautiful, rugged and unspoilt path by building hotels, swimming pools and restaurants (whilst making a little honest income, of course). And they’ll be ready to grease the odd palm to do so! Just as has happened at Hasankeyf and so many other places money will trump ÇET (environmental impact) reports and the earth-moving machines will be in before you can organise a protest group. The damage will be done, shoulders will be shrugged and the wedge will get another surreptitious tap or two from the bulldozer.

One day those who jumped on the bandwagon will wake up and realise that the very things that drew visitors to the area have disappeared along with the visitors. There will be much wringing of hands and midnight flits; the once snazzy ‘butik’ hotels will become sleezy flop-houses as overheads outstrip income. I predict that the ‘patient’ will straight-line within a few years. The Lycian Way, one of Turkey’s genuine, long-term assets will have been ‘Dalyanised’ and no amount of green fluorescent strip lighting or plastic palm trees will bring it back.

armageddonMass tourism, that ‘pile-it-high flog-it-cheap’ commodity has had its day and is declining rapidly. Unless the politicos, local and national, wake up to the real worth of this beautiful, historic country that they have inherited, and start to protect and defend that worth then sustainable tourism is finished. Not in my lifetime, it’s too late for people my age, but what about your grandchildren Başkan – don’t they deserve something better than the ‘fast buck’ you are offering now?

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

What You Do Speaks So Loudly . .

The Other Dalyan 2

When J and I were on our recent wanderings along the North West coast of Turkey, not far from the town of Geyikli, we were surprised to round a bend in a rather narrow road and be confronted by a big yellow sign saying ‘Dalyan’. Why surprised? Well, because the Dalyan we, and I suspect most visitors to Turkey, know best is the one next door to where we live back in Muğla. That this was an historic site of some import was obvious – what it comprised of now was less so as it was totally overgrown and unkempt.

As we were just enjoying a meandering dawdle of a drive, we thought ‘Why not?’ and so we did!

What we had stumbled upon were the remains of what was once the ‘Rotterdam-Europort’ of the Greek and Roman empires. Starting off as Sigeia, it went through a few name changes over the years; as Alexandria Troas it was the port from which Paul of Tarsus (Paul the Apostle) sailed for Europe to set about the process of converting all those happy, tress-hugging, graven image loving pagans into happy-clappy, graven image loving christians (Archers is an equal opportunity employer of capitals). At some stage during the Byzantine era it was destroyed but for some obscure reason remains, to this day, a titular see (you can look it up, I can’t be bothered) of the Catholic Church. This wreck of a place is also still a titular see of the Orthodox Church, and the last hierarch until 2011 was, and get this, ‘His Grace Bishop Savas (Zembillas) of Troas’. This guy is presently serving as Metropolitan of Pittsburgh, USA, which goes to show that if you put the time and effort in to administer to the needs of a ruin you will earn your place in hell! During the Ottoman period the ruins were plundered for stones and fancy bits and bobs to build mosques and the like of which the Yeni Valide Camii in Istanbul is an example.

Yeni Valide Camii built for Sultana Valide (1910 photograph)

Anyway, enough of all that! Is there much to see? If you are a dedicated follower of such things, then ‘Yes!’ there is, far more than this post will convey. The casual visitor can grasp some idea of the scale of the place without venturing too far afield. Some of the original walls remain (they had a circumference of about ten kilometres), but there is, in my opinion, one very good reason to stop if you are passing by – the remains of the bath and gymnasium. Endowed by Herodes Atticus and built in the year 135AD, they stand as a monument to the strength of the arch in construction and to the precision and skill of the original stonemasons.

Bereft of all of the surrounding walls and support, 1877 years later, three of the original four arches stand; magnificent in their defiance of the forces of time and nature, silhouetted against the perfect blue of the Aegean sky.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps apologies for those who commented and have now lost their comments – there was a scripting error in the original post which led to some strange ‘happenings’ with the lay-out.

The Other Dalyan 2

Bill Stickers Will Be Prosecuted!

Archers is an ‘Ad-Free Zone’! There would be no posts, or posters, about this restaurant or that hotel no matter how good they might be. Any stray thoughts of a bit of ‘fly-posting’ would be ruthlessly hunted down and stomped upon. Company policy – no exceptions and all that stuff. And then yesterday happened!

J and I had wandered down to Dalyan’s İztuzu Beach for a late swim – the sun was dipping, the crowds were dispersing, the air was cooler and the sea very comfortable. Not being frequent visitors it was a chance to catch up with the latest in beach fashion from burqini to bikini to old men in ‘silly trouser fairy’ middies! This world famous beach has amazing views wherever you look!

sunset İztuzu Beach, Dalyan

Anyway, feeling suitably mellow we took ourselves up to one of our favourite out-of-the-way watering holes in the tiny village of Kışlar (in reality a mahalle of Gökbel) just a few short kilometres from the beach. Called ‘Sunset Restaurant’ it lives up to its name as long as you are there at the right time. The setting is stunning, especially as the sun sinks behind the mountains.

sunset at the Sunset

The ‘Sunset’ is an unpretentiously simple place with limited tables that is owned and run by Bekir and his Georgian wife. The beer is cold, the food is splendid and the setting . . well, we’ve already covered that! Their menu is limited and doesn’t vary – in fact, you could write it on the back of a matchbox or business card – which is exactly what Bekir has done! Everything is prepared to order so don’t expect ‘Ronald MacDonald’ fast food service – have another drink and chill! These guys know how to do what they do and they do it very well.

economy of scale – card and menu combo

I wouldn’t dream of promoting one dish over another, suffice to say that if I don’t get my Haçapuri (a sort of light, fluffy bread stuffed with egg and cheese recipe from Georgia) and Biber Köftesi (long, green peppers coated in Köfte (meat with spices) and grilled) I’m going to feel very deprived!

Haçapuri – a quick photo before it’s all gone

As I said, Archers is not here to advertise any business enterprise no matter how good; if you want to try the ‘Sunset’ you’ll have to do your own detective work to find it. Either that, or check the details on the card/menu photo (just don’t waste your time on the websites they went down long ago).

Oh, and by the way – Bill Stickers never dun it. ‘onest, Guv!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps bowing to outrageous pressure from the Fethiye mafia @ Turkey’s For Life here’s a map to help you find the place:

View Sunset Restaurant Near Dalyan in a larger map

Bill Stickers Will Be Prosecuted!

‘It’s Behind You!’

Sometimes, living as we do in a country stuffed full of biological, historical and geographical gems, a land so overflowing with wonderful, wondrous superlatives, we forget to look around our own ‘backyards’. If you live by the junction of the A303 and A360 trunk roads in Wiltshire (UK), I bet that it wouldn’t take long before you wouldn’t even notice that Stonehenge was there!!

So it was with a delightful little gem of a place in the village of Çandır just across the river from Dalyan.

Çandır was one of the first places J and I considered when we were searching for a place to call home here in Turkey. It was Christmas Day 1996 when we arrived, shaken and bruised from a grinding drive along broken tracks (it would be several years before anything remotely resembling a road broke through to the village), and we were ready for something to eat and a glass of tea. This photo is of the original road in to the village.

We found no tea house and the only ‘shop’ was a shack in some guy’s back garden opposite the village school. We piled into the shop and scanned the shelves – it was like the old Soviet Union on a bad day – they were bare! ‘Ne var?’ (What have you got?) ‘Beyaz peynir, efendim.’ (White cheese, honoured sir/madam) ‘Ekmek?’ (Bread?) ‘Hayır! Daha sonra traktör gelecek.’ (No! A little later the tractor will come) Our faces must have said it all. We were hungry and thirsty and very dishevelled and an audience of curious locals had gathered – it didn’t take long before the natural hospitality and kindness of our soon-to-be fellow country folk kicked in.

J tucking into Christmas Dinner 1996 Çandır

We were guided to a table and bench under a tree; newspaper was spread and plates began to appear with bread and a bottle of Fanta from the shopkeeper’s own kitchen, our white cheese and a bag of salted peanuts, olives from someone else and a couple of lemons from the branches above our heads. Whilst we sat chatting and eating a small procession of village ladies came by bearing plates of lokma (Turkish one-bite doughnuts), ‘Hoş geldiniz.’ (Welcome) Tea was brewed and kids from the school came by to practise their English, it was just an ordinary day for them – our exploration of an area turned into an exploration of a village culture that was to capture our hearts. It was also one of the most memorable Christmas Dinners J and I have ever experienced!

Charming as Çandır is, it lost out to Okçular as a place to put down roots due in no small part to its semi-isolation.

Over the years Çandır has changed little; the shack-shop has gone, there’s no shop at all now just a visiting van and the school has closed, a few more houses have been built and the road has changed out of all recognition, but the essential character remains. J and I enjoy walking the forest tracks and the ruins of Kaunos which are close by the village, although we haven’t paid much attention to the centre for some years, we had noted a ‘museum’ sign pointing at someone’s back yard. Recently we took some friends from the US on a ‘jolly’ that included the village and were delighted to discover that the sign really did point to a small folk museum and tea house.

. . tea and stories

sorry about the pom-pom hats!

Tea was served and we were treated to tales of this and that – friends from Okçular were recalled and it soon became apparent that they had heard of J and me and knew where we lived. We gave them a copy of the Okçular Book and it was wonderful to see their delight as they realised there were stories in there from and about folks they knew.

. . more stories

We, and our friends from the US had a wonderful time, relaxing, enjoying countless tales and glasses of tea – it proved the highlight of an already splendid day. If you are visiting or live near Dalyan, then do pop across the river to Çandır and do make a visit to the folk museum and tea house – ‘It’s Behind You’ right opposite the old village school.

Çandır Folk Museum

Çandır Folk Museum

. . lots to interest at Çandır Folk Museum – make sure you pay a visit!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

‘It’s Behind You!’