Here we are in Cirali, Turkey, a little village miles from anywhere- about a two hour drive from Antalya. We’ve been here nearly a week already.
Journey was uneventful – usual disagreeable Easyjet experience. We were in the two seats by the window, then came a woman, her husband across the aisle and then a young couple – presumably family. They drank solidly for the whole 4 hours…. The woman’s tray table was covered with empty mini bottles of vodka and empty tins, then they got a litre of duty free rum and drank that….it’s the airline I blame for letting them have it. They weren’t actively vile but got louder and more raucous as time passed.
Drove for about 1.5 hours through the night to Cirali, fortunately leaving the Easyjet horror persons well behind, presumably in Antalya, which appears to be a surprisingly big city. Clearly, Turkey has boomed and mushroomed in recent years – we belted along what was clearly a newish motorway before lurching down five miles of steep lane to Cirali.
Our place, Baraka House, is about 50 metres from the beach, and consists of five little bungalows in a fruit orchard, with a house in the middle where we get breakfast etc. The family seem very pleasant and give us enormous breakfasts. Most of the food is clearly home-produced, including masses of fruit, excellent jam and the saltiest cheese I have ever tasted. The orchard is full of citrus fruits and pomegranates – I will look like one shortly, except they have now given me a bad stomach..
Many chickens scratch about in the orchard – I can see them now, hopeful for crumbs, just by me as I write. They have long muscular legs and big feet with long claws, like jungle fowl. Their eggs have dark orange yolks, and hard, hard shells. There are also hedgehogs and wild tortoises.
Talking of wildlife, a few last turtle eggs are apparently still hatching on the beach. The nests are protected with wire cages. According to Ihsan, who runs our place, you have to get up at 6am to see them.
Cirali is bigger than I thought, but much of it is scarcely visible – lots of wooden buildings hidden in the trees. There is a strip of garden restaurants along the back of the beach, and a street with various low-key shops, and towering up behind, spectacular forest clad mountains. The beach is very long –
about 3km, so there is plenty of space. Walk along the beach and you get to the old Roman city of Olympos – the village, plus, presumably, its hippies in treehouses, is hidden up a river valley.
Cirali seems to be popular with youngish Turkish couples of quiet disposition, a few, mostly Turkish families, a few Germans and very few English. We have one English couple with us here. Many of the locals speak very little English – our rudimentary Turkish has come in useful.
We went to Phasaelis, an ancient Lycian/Greek/Roman port hidden in a pine forest. Even though it was a low key provincial outpost it still had a grand processional street, a theatre, agora, baths etc., all well preserved. But here, inscriptions on the columns are not about imperial triumphs but about locals winning wrestling contests ‘without their backs touching the ground’.
The big attraction of the place for us is swimming – the town had three harbours, and the inner, military harbour, still with much of its Roman quayside, is as warm as a bath, and you can snorkel around the fallen stones and columns. Day trip boats anchor in the outer harbours, and Turkish gulets still have the lines of ancient ships – I could see back to Alexander the Great, striding ashore in his golden breastplate, followed by his coterie of beautiful, curly-haired young men. They came to honour the philosopher Theodectes of Phasaelis, and to see the broken lance of Achilles, kept in the temple of Athena. Unfortunately they got drunk on local wine instead.
It is hot here – our bay is very sheltered, and further south than Gumusluk, our old haunt – but bearable.