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Turkey's Mediterranean Coast

While northern Europe shivers, Turkey's Mediterranean coast basks in sunshine - ranging from very hot in the summer to moderate (50° F) in the winter - thus attracting tourists from April to October.  Lounge chairs line the beaches and gulets (large wooden sailboats) ply the protected waters, turning bleached-white skin into shades ranging from pink to red, and if lucky, a nice tan.  Most tourist locations are on the coast between Izmir on the west coast to Alanya on the south.  We stayed in Antalya for one winter and Marmaris the next - read on for more.

Antalya

We landed in Antalya in 2003, a modern city on the Mediterranean that caters to sun-deprived Northern European tourists. Cruisers are small potatoes to the locals; the well-heeled German sun-seekers are their life's blood and the hotels and discos speak Turkish and German, with English as an after-thought. It is in the lee of the Taurus Mountains, and thus drier than the west coast.  Look at some photos or read about our highlights:

  • Symphony concerts at the State theater - for $3/show
  • Weekly hikes in the hills and through Roman ruins
  • A stroll in the Old Town, Kalici harbor (to the right--->)
  • Eating out at trout farms
  • Accessible shopping and restaurants
  • Good transportation systems
  • Summer theater in ancient Roman amphitheater
  • Nice weather during most of the winter
  • Cool walks at Duden Falls, where it was 75°F on a 100°F day.
  • Walks among the touts in Kalice - the ancient harbor in the middle of town.

Alanya and Side

We visited these on a 'Sunday excursion' and on our return to Europe in 2004.  A medieval castle sits on a hill overlooking the city and sea in Alanya while ruins at Side and on the coast remind us that Rome used to rule this part of the world.  Along the highway to the east of Alanya was a 5-kilometer stretch of highway with walls, aqueducts, columns, and ruined buildings dating from the Romans, apparently unattended and unprotected - a tourist venue for the future perhaps?  At the base of the Alanya fort was Cleopatra's Boatyard, a covered stone boat-shed where ships were careened in Roman times for storage and repair. Check for more Alanya Photos.

Kemer and Finike

To the west of Antalya the coast is beautiful with steep cliffs, turquoise waters and several harbors frequented by cruisers and charter yachts.  Park Kemer is a marina 30 km from Antalya with a vibrant social life where many cruisers spend the winter.  Kemer is a smallish town with limited facilities but buses to Antalya an connect cruisers with shopping, concerts, and movies at a modest cost.  On the southern-most coast is Finicke, an agricultural town with a good, inexpensive marina and the best toilet and shower facilities in Turkey!  Inshore from the marinas are many Roman ruins, deep valleys for interesting hikes and plastic-covered farms that produce tomatoes year-round.  On the coast south of Kemer is the Chimera, a crack in the hillside where gas escapes and burns 24-hours/day - it is clearly visible from the anchorage below - and we walked to it, with hot dogs for our lunch.

West to Marmaris

Continuing west, the coast has bays and sheltered waters with anchorages that are a delight for the cruiser.  Kekova Roads, Kaş, Kalkan, Fetiye, and Gocek - our page with pictures of Bekah's Visit shows some highlights.  Each has special treasures: seafood restaurants, or sunken ruins, or underwater springs, or a cute village.  We visited much of the coast by road and later by yacht and enjoyed it each time.  Kaş was perhaps our favorite spot on the coast with the cutest town and sheltered anchorage.  We spent our second winter in Turkey at Yacht Marine in Marmaris, a modestly-priced marina in the well-sheltered Marmaris Bay.  During the winter we made friends with other cruisers, the marina staff, and carpet and souvenir salesmen and went on several Excursions to nearby areas. The latter sounds unusual, but Ali, Savat, and the rest were very friendly, always ready with a cup of çay (aka tea), good conversation and little pressure.  The weather was cool and wet, but the bay is so well-protected we never felt at risk like we were at Setur Antalya marina in Antalya. Check some of our images or read about our winter activities:

Datça

To the west of Marmaris lie several peninsulas that jut into the Med and Aegean Seas, providing hundreds of miles of sheltered shorelines for anchoring.  We made it as far at Datça on the southwest corner of Turkey - close enough to Greece see Simi only 10 miles away.  It is a cute town and we succumbed again to carpet fever and now have small Turkish carpets decorating our cockpit - we tell ourselves it is because they are more comfortable for sitting!

Scirince and Ephesus

Past Bodrum, a tourist mecca that we missed, we visited Ephesus and Scirince, each very interesting in their own way.  Ephesus is an ancient Greek city, reputed to be the best preserved in the Eastern Med. It has broad boulevards, a large library, an amphitheater, and many buildings in remarkably good state considering most structures are 1800-2000 years old.  It also became a center for Christianity as Mary, St. John, and St. Paul all spent time here. It was one of our more interesting places to visit in Turkey. Nearby is Scirince, a more secular and less historic town where vineyards and orchards vie to attract the tourist $$ to a cute and friendly village.

Gallipoli

At the entrance to the Dardanelles (and beyond the scope of the map above) lie steep cliffs, viewed by strategists early in WWI as the key to opening up the straits so that the Allies could get through to the Black Sea.  British, French, Australian, and New Zealand soldiers laid siege to the Turkish defenders for 8 months before they gave up and withdrew in the night.  Colonel Mustafa Kemel, later known as Ataturk, lead the Turks brilliantly and defended the high ground with valor and talent.  We visited the monuments and cliffs and visualized how difficult it must have been for the Allies to crawl up the cliffs under withering fire from above. Reading about it later, it is clear that the mission was almost impossible and the few chances that the Allies had were bungled.  We would recommend a visit for any history buff.

The center of Turkey is a high plateau, punctuated with mountain ranges - check out our stops in Central Turkey.

 

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