Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Chakra Beach In Kabak - Oops, Think We May Have Just Fallen For You

It happens a lot on Facebook: "______ invited you to like their page." Oh, go on then. Some you like out of politeness because it's your friend, even though you're not remotely interested in the subject matter - and then there are pages that really get your interest. Pages you actually want to like and want to visit, if just to see the photos and see what's going on.

That's what happened a couple of weeks or so ago. "Can invited you to like his Facebook page, Chakra Beach Kabak." (Obviously, it came up with Can's full name, here). Ohhh, Kabak. A new camp. Is it his camp or is he just asking us to like the page? Well, you know us; always up for a nosey around a new venture of any description (we had a good old nosey around Hotel Unique in Fethiye, recently) and, even better, we knew we would be in Kabak soon to stay at the Olive Garden. We could visit from there...

Chakra Beach, Kabak

So we messaged Can. "Yeah, it's my place with my partner, Çağrı. Come down whenever you like. We're close to the beach." We'd seen the photos of the circular bungalows and were really curious, and, despite numerous trips to Kabak of late, it was at least 8 years since we'd ventured down to sea level. A perfect excuse to put that right, again. 
Chakra Beach, Kabak
Entrance to Chakra Beach
So we set off down the hill - in July heat - in flip flops (flip flops not recommended) and arrived in the valley 30 minutes or so later. That little trek is a blog post in itself - but let's get back to Chakra Beach. Because, not only is it a camp of circular bungalows; it's a camp of circular bungalows with thatched roofs! Not seen a thatched roof since we were back in the UK. How lovely! You can already see we fell for this place, can't you?
Dining Area, Chakra Beach, Kabak Koyu
Shaded dining area
We sat and chatted for a while in the bar/dining area. We're suckers for chunky wooden tabletops and these are proper chunky. Made from cedar wood by Can and his uncle. So now we've got chunky wood for the tabletops, the bar and kitchen counters, and thatched roofs. We've even got a thatched roof on the kitchen, too. 

Opposite us is the bar area, seating areas and terraces that are going to be made into seating areas. Chakra Beach was only started in April - they've come a long way since then! 
Chakra Beach Kitchen, Kabak
The very pretty Chakra Beach kitchen
Every business needs a USP...there are quite a few camps now in Kabak, so what do you do to attract those that venture down the mountainside into your camp? Well, what they've done at Chakra Beach certainly had me and Barry gushing interested. We've never seen thatched roofs in Turkey and, apparently, these were done by a family who came from Konya to do the job; one of the only families in Turkey doing this.

"Shall we have a look at the bungalows?" 
Well isn't that just the question we wanted to hear? Yeah, let's go and look at these bungalows. We were itching to see them!
Chakra Beach Bungalows, Kabak
Chakra Beach bungalow
If you're even remotely interested in architecture, you can't not love these bungalows. Apparently, the bamboo walls insulate the structure so they're cool in summer. Apparently, after clever designs by the architect, it was hard to find carpenters who could actually do the job...but they did eventually find the carpenters - and this is the result. A circular room with large double bed, skylight so you can watch the stars at night (Kabak is fab star spotting zone), lattice wood work around the interior walls...
Chakra Beach Bungalow Accommodation, Kabak, Turkey
Inside the Chakra Beach circular bungalows
And then, behind the wood panelling, walk to the left of the bed and you'll come to the shower. Walk to the right of the bed and you've got the toilet and washbasin. The toilet and shower are separated by a brick partition. It's all just the sort of stuff that does make me and Barry gush - hence the unapologetic gushing!

And if you come to Chakra Beach and there's a few of you, and you're on a bit more of a budget, then you could always bunk down in these rooms, below:
Budget Bungalows, Chakra Beach, Kabak
Accommodation for those on a budget
These 2-storey wooden bungalows have one room on the ground floor and one above. It's a simple, bright and airy room with two single beds and small side table. That's it. Should you feel the need to shower or use the loo, there's a communal block just opposite. 

Because let's just be straight, here. This is Kabak. You're not coming here to open your massive suitcase and hang up all your clothes and spread your make-up and toiletries all over the place. You come to Kabak to chill out with minimal baggage - the smaller your rucksack, the better; especially if you're hiking down the hillside to get to sea level. Kabak is about camping (albeit with beds), relaxing, hiking, swimming, reading, just enjoying 'being.' For some, that's gonna be your worse boring nightmare...but for others, well Chakra Beach is just going to be your paradise.

As usual, I took loads of photos so we made a short slideshow to include more images of the bungalows and around the camp. Don't worry, it's only 1 min 45 seconds. You can make it full screen if you want to see bigger photos.

Chakra Beach, Kabak - Useful Information
  • Chakra Beach is in the valley at Kabak, just a couple of minutes walk from the beach.
  • You can either hike down to the beach (around 25-30 mins) like we did, or take the service bus. Please see our next blog post for more details about this.
  • If you are travelling in Turkey or you are in Kabak as part of a longer hiking trip, there are facilities to wash your clothes. 
  • In high season (2014), the circular bungalows are 260 TL per bungalow per night and this includes breakfast and evening meal. The wooden bungalows are 200 TL per room per night, again with breakfast and dinner included.
  • If you fancy staying here, we recommend you book in advance (they're already fully booked for Bayram next week). They'll be listed on the Kabak Valley pages of booking.com soon - but for now, you can message their Facebook page or phone them - they speak really good English.
  • And let's finish off where we started. Can invited us to like his Facebook page, Chakra Beach, Kabak. We're now inviting you to like it, as well. Click this link to like Chakra Beach, Kabak on Facebook.
  • Very best wishes to all involved in the Chakra Beach venture! 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Dalyan Restaurants - Meze Makes A Meal Special

So, we got from Fethiye to Dalyan by bus. We've told you what we thought about Hotel Konak Melsa; the place where we stayed. But our whole reason for being in Dalyan was just so we could experience Dalyan at night. We were curious. And we wanted it to be good. We wanted a meal by the river, overlooking the Lycian tombs - and we wanted that meal to be memorable for all the right reasons. 

So there we were. Two (Turkish) food enthusiasts, wondering where to go. What if we ordered our food and then it wasn't quite what we were expecting. A good meal but nothing really special. Well there's only one thing to do in situations like this. The meze table guarantees variety, flavour and conversation. We'd just hit the meze fridges and point. No big main meal, just lots of different dishes to take our time over.

Turkish Meze Dishes, Aktaş Restaurant, Dalyan
Aktaş Restaurant meze selection
Aktaş Restaurant was the restaurant we plumped for, for no other reason than we asked the waiter at the entrance if they had geren. They did! Sold. In we walked and chose a table by the water's edge, overlooking the tombs. Then it was to the meze fridges to begin the pointing process. We can't have a meze selection without Antep Ezmesi so that was first on the list. Next was aubergine salad and geren (on this occasion, minus the yoghurt). 

As soon as you choose a dish like geren (samphire marinated in oil, lemon and garlic), you're heading in the seafood flavour direction. So then we ordered pickled rock seaweed (kaya koruğu), marinated hamsi (anchovies) and - the best of the best - tasty, tender, marinated octopus (ahtapot). Yes, we do love us some octopus. 

And, as with Antep Emesi, these days, we also feel a tad distressed if we can't see tangy pickled beetroot (pancar) in the fridges. Where this beetroot obsession has come from, on my part, I have no idea - because, when I was younger, I couldn't even bear to look at the stuff. Anyway, beetroot was duly ordered and then, just for good measure, a portion of liver and onions. Does liver go with seafood flavours? No, not really...but that's the beauty of meze. You can order what you want and we fancied some liver, too.
Dalyan River & Rock Tombs At Night
View of the river and Dalyan's Lycian rock tombs from Aktaş Restaurant
As the sky darkened, the food arrived at the table. Now, you can't really tell in the photo - the liver plate gives you an idea - but we started to think we'd ordered a tad too much food. The meze plates and portions were of generous sizes. We'd already been given warm bread with olives and cheese (that we had tried not to eat too much of) and now here was more warm bread and all this food.

But we lingered over it, took our time, chatted, took in the famous Dalyan scenery - and made our meal memorable for all the right reasons. And so, we can't even tell you what's on the menu at Aktaş Restaurant because we didn't see one. But we can tell you that their meze is just great! The setting is nothing to be sniffed at, either. 
Dalyan, Turkey At Night
Dalyan centre at night
Dalyan is a place where you go to chill out - and so long had we lingered over our meal of meze, well, the night was yet young (relatively-speaking) but we were relaxed-tired. We ambled back towards the centre, had a quick nightcap at our favourite Dalyan bar, M&M Rock Bar, and then strolled on back to our hotel. We slept soundly, that night...

Friday, 18 July 2014

Dalyan Hotels - Hotel Konak Melsa Did The Trick

In our previous post for our little Dalyan mini series we told you how to get from Fethiye to Dalyan by bus. For this post, we'll tell you about where we stayed. Because all of this was just done on a whim. After doing a day trip to Dalyan from Fethiye on numerous occasions, we'd wanted to do an overnight stay in Dalyan for some time. One day last week, we just did a quick search on availability in different Dalyan hotels for the following night, then we narrowed it down to the cheapest of those Dalyan hotels. From our budget list, we plumped for Hotel Konak Melsa
Hotel Konak Melsa, Dalyan
Hotel Konak Melsa, Dalyan
You know us; we only need a clean bed to put our heads down at night and a shower for the morning. Anything else after that is a bonus and Konak Melsa looked like it was going to more than fit the bill. It even bordered on the budget end of posh, for us.
Courtyard, Hotel Konak Melsa, Dalyan
The pretty central courtyard at Hotel Konak Melsa in Dalyan
Konaks are the traditional Ottoman dwellings that are set around an enclosed courtyard and we were pleasantly surprised to find the more modern Hotel Konak Melsa had stayed true to this style. A shaded, leafy dining area, bougainvillea cascading floorwards with three levels of rooms set around three of the perimeter walls. Higher levels are reached by marble and wooden staircases, one of which you can you can see to the left. A good start to our choice of Dalyan hotels. 

Hotel Konak Melsa is clean, basic accommodation that treats those who stay here to a feeling of being in a building from past Ottoman times. The reception area is tiled in faux traditional blue and white ceramics famous of the 15th and 16th centuries, and the seating areas complement this. Balconies are framed in wood with lattice work separating adjoining balconies and the eaves of the roof are in decorated wood traditional to earlier times in southern Turkey, similar to the dwellings in Akyaka.
The large pool area at Hotel Konak Melsa
It's all very pretty. Rooms are air-conditioned, small and basic - tiled floor, very comfortable bed, tv, fridge, wardrobe and shower room. And, as for the pool and bar area; in relation to the size of Hotel Konak Melsa, the pool is really big, pristinely clean and there's a smaller kids pool area, too. Wooden sun loungers with mattresses surround the edges...we sat at the bar and chatted with the barman. One thing we noticed about Dalyan? You speak to Turkish to people and they reply in Turkish, most of the time. A bonus for us as we get very little opportunity to use the language of our adopted country. Think we did okay...

And breakfast the morning after? Very pleasant. A buffet-style affair with dried fruits, honey, jams, all the usual Turkish breakfast ingredients (cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, cold meats) and a couple of hot choices, too. Fresh water melon slices, fruit juices, tea and coffee rounded everything off. All of this was enjoyed in the courtyard area and at tables by an area of the pool in the shade at this time of day. 

Verdict: As Dalyan hotels go, we wanted a comfortable budget overnight stay. We got that plus more. 

Hotel Konak Melsa - Useful Information
  • Konak Melsa is on Atatürk Caddesi, the main road that runs towards the river in the centre of Dalyan. It takes about 5 minutes to walk to the river and the main centre.
  • Prices are for bed and breakfast. 
  • The hotel is advertised as having wifi. We could only get a signal in reception - but there are sofas etc in the reception area so if you do need to sit for a while, it should be comfortable enough. 
  • You can book a room at Hotel Konak Melsa through Booking.com.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

How To Get From Fethiye To Dalyan By Bus

For lots of visitors to the Fethiye area, Dalyan has always been that place where you go on an organised day trip from Fethiye. A transfer to Dalyan before getting in a boat and sailing along the river to look at the Lycian ruins and going on to the sulphur mud baths before caking yourself in smelly dark stuff and then taking lots of photos. All very well, if that's your wont - and the organised Fethiye day trips with companies do tend to be very reasonably priced, especially if you're a family.

But what about those of us who just want to go it alone and take in Dalyan in our own time? Well, driving there is easy enough - we've done that many times - and, of course, jumping on the bus is also easy. This is our first post in a series about our recent little overnight trip to Dalyan. Lots of you asked us how to get there by bus, so let's get that one sorted first of all... 

Fethiye To Dalyan By Bus

The main thing to point out here is, as with most independent travel in Turkey - however far your road may be taking you - it's very easy! 

Fethiye Otogar
Fethiye otogar - an entrance to the rest of Turkey
We've written about our love of Fethiye otogar in the past. It's your opening to travelling the rest of Turkey, buses labelled with all sorts of oh-so-tempting destinations, near and far...and, of course, the otogar is also that welcome sight when you are returning to Fethiye from elsewhere. We love coming home to Fethiye, as well as going away.

Fethiye Seyahat and Ortaca Coop 

These are the two local bus companies that will transport you to Dalyan. Whichever you choose, they take you to Ortaca otogar. Ortaca is the main town outside of Dalyan. Fethiye Seyahat have many buses plying that route - buses that just go to Ortaca and others that go via Ortaca to Muğla, Bodrum and the like - so they are pretty regular during the day. No need to book in advance.

Fethiye to Ortaca - How much does it cost? How long does it take?

In summer 2014, the cost of the bus from Fethiye to Ortaca (with either company) is 10 TL per person and the journey takes around 50-60 minutes. Ortaca otogar is clearly signposted and marked so you won't miss it.
Fethiye To Dalyan Bus
Passing Göcek on the Fethiye to Ortaca road
Ortaca to Dalyan - How much does it cost? How long does it take?
Ortaca otogar is pretty small. When you get off the bus, stand with your back to the main building and you'll see all the dolmuşes waiting to take you on your onward journey. The Dalyan dolmuş waits on the left hand side and they are every few minutes so you shouldn't have a long wait.
Price per person: 4 TL (summer 2014)
Journey time: Around 20 minutes

The Dalyan dolmuş drops you off in the centre. From there, if you are doing a day trip from Fethiye to Dalyan, it is easy to explore from here. If, like we did, you are staying overnight, Dalyan hotels are easy to find as the area is very compact, flat and easy to walk around. You'll find your digs soon enough.

Fethiye to Dalyan By Bus - Summary
Total cost per person: 14 TL one way (summer 2014)
Total journey time: 70-90 minutes (depending on stops and how quickly you get a dolmuş from Ortaca to Dalyan)
Fethiye Seyahat and Ortaca Coop Buses: Mini coaches and minibuses. They are air-conditioned.

NB: Buses are regular throughout the day but the last one tends to be early evening. After that, it isn't impossible to get to Ortaca, but you will be reliant on the large intercity buses heading off elsewhere in Turkey. Some of these go via Ortaca so you will be able to jump on one of those if they have room for you. The same applies from Ortaca back to Fethiye. The last Ortaca Coop bus back to Fethiye is 19:30.

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