Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Someone in the dining room is singing a song about the playing of the violins, only the vocalist is singing it in Turkish (an educated guess on my part). It's evocative and so I forgive her ,even as her rendition is a bit loud. A singer should not feel compelled to project, especially when there only two diners listening. (For the record, I doubt that Ed forgives her: he's not a fan of 'loud.')

Why are we here at all, in this empty room with a too-loud singer? Well, I wanted fish. I wanted it so much -- a plate of freshly grilled fish from the sea. In the Midwest, we can never have that. Never ever. So I pushed hard. Even when Ed identified another eatery, crazily busy, with many food options on it, and with a warm fire blazing away as if we were in some northern place -- I ignored it all and got stuck on this one fact: the fish is really fresh here. Our hotel guy said so.

But being stubborn is no fun. I glance at Ed's tired face and I recoil and want to send the fish right back to the sea and leave this place quickly and forever.

Ah well. Remorse.

But again, I'm ignoring the beginning of the day! -- the travels that got us to Datca.

Do you know Turkish geography? The Datca peninsula is a thin, wildly mountainous strip of land, jutting out into the sea at the southwestern corner of the country. Right in the middle of this peninsula, you'll find Datca the town.

Datca (pronounced dat-che) is the place of the three ba's: almonds (badem), fish (balik), and honey (bal). You can see the blue bee hives on the ride up. The almonds -- they should be in bloom in about a week or two. The fish? Yes, well -- I'm eating several of them tonight.

And the trip? How was it? How were all those tricky connections? Well, the upshot -- very long but with only positive outcomes. Let's just recall the basics. Breakfast. Copious and delicious. A good blend of Turkish (olives, greens, cucumber, tomato, halva)  and continental foods. Here's my plate (with yogurt and apricots at the side.)

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After, we managed to catch the elusive free shuttle to the airport and once there, had no trouble at all getting on our domestic Turkish Airline flight. Do note the crowd at the gate  -- many people use these extremely cheap flights (less than $30 for ours today) to move from Istanbul to the more remote parts of the country.

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Turkish Airlines, as always, gets top grades for comfort and service. It's a fifty-five minute flight and we still get a lovely meal!

The flight is to Dalaman -- an airport that serves many of the coastal communities in southern Turkey. ('Coastal' here does not mean flat. The landscape on the approach is anything but level.)

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From there, a bus takes us to the resort town of Marmaris. It's not a short bus ride. A good hour and a half. Past so many orange groves! So many! And orange stands too! (Just one photo, taken at a fast spin past one such stand.)

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In Marmaris we're to catch the little local van to Datca. And we would have missed it (our bus was late getting out of the airport), but the nice, super nice mini-bus driver waited, just in case, and there we were! Boom! On our way, on the van now, weaving through the mountains to Datca  town (another hour and a half ride: yes, it's that hard to get to Datca!).

And so now more on Datca. First of all, before we even put our bags down, Ed introduces himself to the cats of Datca.

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A few steps and we are at our cheap, super cheap hotel (perhaps I overdid it here -- the place is fine, but has zero personality). It's right on the water and so our stay here should be just about perfect.

There is, of course, the "just about" qualifier. The big one is that the hiking trails are not that easy to discover. There is a massive long distance trail (marked and described by a British hiker), but it's clear as anything that  the locals aren't really keyed into it and  it will be hard to locate it let alone shuttle to it. Secondly -- my expectations for these port-side towns are huge. (I was spoiled by Chania, Crete.) Datca grabs you, yes it does, despite its ordinariness. But you have to give it a minute befoe it works its way into your bloodstream.

We take a walk along the shore and here, we find plenty of lovely views onto the sea and, too, the fishing boats that routinely plow their way out over these waters..

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the man fixes, the cat unfixes the nets

It is, of course, just an ordinary January day and the kids are now returning from school and that's always fun to observe. (It's all about girls in my after-school photos toady!

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best friends

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cat on a scooter

We  then stop at one of the numerous shops selling almonds and honey (and locally dried immortelle buds)....

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And we end our walk with a pause at a delightful bakery, with the best baklava and a charming young woman serving these delicious little honey cakes...

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...and so that will put anyone into a state of loving Datca, sort of by proxy.

But will we stay here the full five days? I have a very  "let's wait and see" attitude. Maybe. If the weather holds and the trails turn out to be accessible. (I'm reading that the rains are coming in a few days and that they are here to stay for a long long while.)

So now let's get back to the dinner tonight: the fish was served. All six of them on my plate. Fried, because I forgot to say the magic "grill please" words.

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And the singer took a break -- how good is that! And three boys outside were just delightful as they tried to figure out if we had lost a dog collar (or a dog -- it was a bit confusing, not helped by the fact that we didn't speak each others language).

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through the restaurant window

There were a few other food related confusions -- none of them tremendous and the evening ended with a lovely dessert of almonds and baklava in our room. And the fact is, you don't really notice stark interiors in the evenings. Not when the lights start to twinkle over the water and your windows look out on the little bay...

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...and the warm breeze blows in, and you think you really are in some place of great magic. And maybe you are. Maybe we are.