Friday, 23 January 2015

Winter Day Trips From Fethiye - Just Enjoying Üzümlü

After a recent drive to the snow in the mountains around Kırkpınar, we wanted to show our friends the village of Üzümlü; further down the mountain, so much warmer, but still higher than Fethiye. The air is cooler but we still had enough daylight left to have a quick wander around before the sun went down - and we all got a bit cold to the bone; that type of coldness where it takes an age to warm yourself back up again. 

These days, Üzümlü has made a name for itself because of the Yeşil Üzümlü Mushroom Festival which has taken place each April for the past five years. We're regulars at this event because it has a bit of a feel-good atmosphere about it. The winter weather is past us, spring is upon us, and, weather permitting, there's an abundance of kuzu göbeği - morel mushrooms - to be foraged, bought, eaten. We actually splashed out for some one year and made crispy fried morel mushrooms - but most people just enjoy them as gözleme filling at the festival.

Üzümlü Village, Near Fethiye, Turkey
There are also a few wine makers in Üzümlü too ('Üzümlü' means 'containing grapes,' or 'grapey,' if you can picture that non-word) and, in previous years, the mushroom festival has become more of a wine festival, really. All good fun!
Üzümlü Houses, Turkey
But anyway, this post is not about the mushroom festival. We just wanted our friends to see the old, original part of the village. Tumbledown buildings; some long-empty, some occupied and in desperate need of repair (yet which still instil a warm nostalgia) and others that have been restored to former glory - it all makes for a pretty place to walk around.

These days, in the valley below and its surrounding hillsides, there are modern villas - and you can see the clues in the village with estate agents and the odd bar offering curry nights or fish and chips etc - but Üzümlü hangs on to its roots, still...
Houses Of Yeşilüzümlü Village, Muğla
The old guys still sit in the village square at the same place they have done for years. They drink çay and play okey or tavla (backgammon) and, as you walk around the village, you can see women sitting in their windows weaving dastar. We've written about Üzümlü dastar in the past, and, in summer - and at the mushroom festival - you can see all the raw silk goods that Üzümlü is famous for, hanging in the streets on display.

As we strolled around with our friends, one of them stopped to watch a lady weaving on her loom. The lady waved us inside and I don't mind admitting at this point that I was just thinking, "Noooo, don't go in. We'll get a sales pitch." Slapped wrists for cynical me. The lady was really friendly and showed us what she was doing and warbled away to us as if we had a clue what she was talking about. My Turkish suffices...but this was one of those occasions where, with the speed she was talking at, it was just never going to happen.

And she couldn't have done a sales pitch even if she'd wanted to because there was nothing there for her to sell. She was just in her little room, weaving, happy to be filmed. I asked her if it was difficult. Difficult on the eyes, she said. "Difficult for you," she said, pointing to me. "But easy for me because I know it." Guess that roughly translates to the international language of 'it's easy when you know how.'

We watched her for a few minutes, thanked her, bid her 'kolay gelsin' (may your work come easy) and left her to her weaving. If we go back later in the year and she has dastar hanging outside, we'll buy something from her. 

After a quick stroll to the top of the street and the old mosque, it was time to head back to Fethiye. Not before we had noticed the new way markers for walkers, however. Fethiye Belediyesi (council) have dotted these yellow signs around various areas of Fethiye to point the way for walkers. They're never very frequent and not to be relied upon for taking off into the mountains or anything - but at least we get a good starting point for a route to Cadianda.

We've written about Cadianda in the past - we LOVE this place - but on the one occasion we made it up there, it was by car. All the way up the hillside, we were muttering to each other, "You must be able to walk up here." Well, yes you can. It's on our list...

Yeşil Üzümlü - Useful Information

  • Üzümlü is just a short drive from Fethiye, off the main Fethiye to Denizli mountain road. Leave Fethiye via Günlükbaşı and head towards the D400; the main road towards Dalaman (west) and Antalya (east). At D400 junction, cross it and head straight on towards Üzümlü. You'll see the signposts.
  • There are a handful of cheap and reasonably priced places to eat and drink in the village.
  • There is a dolmuş between Fethiye and Üzümlü but they aren't too often. Check at the main dolmuş station (behind Konya Etli Ekmek and opposite the entrance to the Tuesday market) in Fethiye for times. Check what time the last one is, otherwise you'll need a taxi.
  • There is also a municipality (belediye) bus that, at the time of writing, runs three times a day on weekdays.
  • There are a few places to stay in Üzümlü, if you want to stay over for a night or few.
Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Winter Day Trip From Fethiye - The Mountain Area Of Kırkpınar

We're continuing a bit of a tale, here; the tale from when our friends were over for New Year - when we hired a car to enjoy the rare occurrences of sunshine that graced us at least for a couple of days while they were in Fethiye. On the first day, we went down to one of their favourite places and took lots of photographs of Gemiler Bay before heading on back up to Kayaköy to meet friends and enjoy a winter's evening at Cin Bal Restaurant.

So where to go the following day? There are so many easy day trips from Fethiye that you can make but we wanted to stay relatively local - for us, winters are for chilling out, remember - and we also wanted to go somewhere our friends hadn't seen before. What better than to enjoy the easy contrasts of the Fethiye day, we were in the sunshine, enjoying the beach at Gemiler and the next...we were in Kırkpınar.

Snow At Kırkpınar, Near Fethiye
A short drive from Fethiye is the village of Yeşil Üzümlü, famous for making dastar. Wow, our friends hadn't been there, either, so it was a drive up the mountain to get to the snow and then a drop back down to Üzümlü. An easy - and completely different - day out from Fethiye. We headed towards Üzümlü, ignored the turn off for the village and continued up and up and up and up along the main road that eventually takes you to Denizli via huge mountains.

Kırkpınar Near Fethiye
Passing Nif (famous for its huge, juicy cherries in springtime), we continued upwards until we reached Kırkpınar. This is the place where everyone comes to play in the snow - especially on a winter Sunday afternoon. This is the place where we went to make snowmen and sledge on a Sunday afternoon a few years ago. On that day, the place was heaving - but on the day we were with our friends this time around, it was Monday and we had the whole place to ourselves, bar a few mountain goats. 
Kırkpınar Near Nif
Heading away from Kırkpnar towards Nif
There's very much an alpine feel to the scenery at Kırkpınar and it's always a weird feeling to be up here, knowing Fethiye and warmth are just at the bottom of the hill. Since we took these photos, much more snow has fallen so the rocky hillsides are probably completely white at the moment.
Snow Near Fethiye, Turkey
Winding, snowy mountain roads
The winter daylight hours are short in January and these are roads with ample warning signs telling drivers to use snow chains. As there were ominous looking grey clouds tumbling in above us and the temperature was starting to plummet, we decided it was sensible to start heading back towards Üzümlü after taking a few photos...because we had no chains, and, even if we did, messing about trying to get those on is not really chilling out is it?
Looking Towards Fethiye From Nif
Fabulous views over the Fethiye region from the Denizli mountain road
And this is the contrast that we just love so much. 10 minutes further up the road, behind us, is all that snow we've just left in our wake. Now, we're overlooking the lush green of lower mountains, we're overlooking Üzümlü (in the distance on the left) and we're overlooking the whole bay of Fethiye (you can just make out the sea on the top right of this photo). Late afternoon and the sun is reflecting off the sea below - we stood here, on a peak at the side of the road, for some time, just taking in the scenery and taking photos.

And then it was time to enjoy the rest of the daylight and take in Üzümlü. We'll tell you about that in the next blog post, though...

Fethiye to Kırkpınar Day Trip - Useful Information 

  • If you want to drive up towards Kırkpınar in winter, the road is cleared of snow often as it's a main route to Denizli. However, check the weather before you set off because, when the snow starts to fall, the road can cover with black ice and snow in minutes. We knew the road was clear because friends had been up there the day before and the weather had been clear all night.
  • Fethiye to Kırkpınar is about an hour's drive (maximum).
  • There is a restaurant at Kırkpınar famous for its homemade village bread. It's signposted as you drive up the road.
  • For more ideas of day trips and other activities, here's our blog post of 5 things to do in Fethiye in winter.
Saturday, 17 January 2015

Köfteci İmadettin - You Learn Something New In Fethiye Every Day

So there we were, sat in Cafe Park Teras, and we were just chatting to owner, Tayfun, about different places we like to eat around Fethiye. 

"Köfteci İmadettin," says Tayfun.

"Köfteci İmade... Don't tell me you've never heard of Köfteci İmadettin."
"Nope. A new one on us."
"Köfteci İmadettin. Can't believe you don't know that. It's legendary. It's been there since I was a kid. You get köfte ekmek and it's spicy and they serve it open with lettuce and tomato. And - everyone knows Köfteci İmadettin."

How on earth do you live in town the size of Fethiye for 11 years and not know about a köfte place that is supposed to be legendary? Well, we've managed it, it seems!

Köfteci İmadettin, Fethiye, Turkey
Köfteci İmadettin 
You know us; we're suckers for a good köfte ekmek, so of course we needed to go and hunt out this Köfteci İmadettin. But not until we'd asked a couple more friends the have-you-heard-of-Köfteci-İmadettin question. And when the reply from both was, "Everyone's heard of Köfteci İmadettin," you just wonder where you've been for the last 11 years.

"Is it good köfte," we asked.
"They use the spices." 

That was about as far as we got with the other two friends. Not quite as enthusiastic as Tayfun, then, but we were already sold. Tayfun had told us where Köfteci İmadettin is - and we wondered how we'd never noticed it. Granted, it's tucked down a side street in the centre of Fethiye, but still...11 years and we didn't know about it? Exasperation! Today, we needed to put that right. Saturday, the sun shining...a little stroll into town for a cheap köfte ekmek lunch sounded just perfect.
Turkish Food - Köfte Sandwich, Fethiye
Trust us - there is enough good köfte hiding under the salad
So off we went. It was busy! Maybe we were the only people in Fethiye not to know about this place. We sat down and ordered our köfte ekmek and an ayran. And we can be quite picky when it comes to köfte ekmek - we've sampled more than a few in our time. It arrived within minutes. And it was indeed a piece of paper with an open, toasted ekmek filled with köfte, shredded lettuce and chopped tomato. We sprinkled more chilli powder over the top.

Verdict: Köfte ekmek at Fethiyespor is very decent (match day food's always a winner though), and the little cafe at Kuleli Koyu do a lovely one, too (if more pricey these days), as do Paşa Bufe at the boat yard. But none of those three options are town centre. Köfteci İmadettin is; and we now have a new go-to to add to our we-fancy-a-cheap-snack places. We were full and it was a very decent köfte ekmek! And we do like to think we know what we're looking for in our köfte ekmek...

And Barry knew what he was looking for, too, when he started laughing and shaking his head.
"What are you laughing at?"
"Turn round and look at the fridge," he said.

Yes. We didn't know about Köfteci İmadettin's famous köfte but there, in their little establishment, stuck to the fridge, is a Turkey's For Life photo. It even still says 'Turkey's For Life' in the bottom corner. And, guess what? The photo is taken from Cafe Park Teras...Tayfun's bar. Now, there's a little coincidence for you. Guess we were destined to go to Köfteci İmadettin one day...

Köfteci İmadettin - Useful Information

  • Köfteci İmadettin is in the centre of Fethiye on a quiet side street that runs between 96 Sokak and 97 Sokak.
  • The 96 Sokak entrance to the street is directly opposite Şamdan Restaurant.
  • Both 96 Sokak and 97 Sokak run off the main Çarşı Caddesi in the centre of Fethiye.
  • For other ideas of where to eat and drink in Fethiye and around, take a look at our Fethiye eating and drinking page.
  • Köfteci İmadettin Göktaş was well known all over Fethiye and sadly passed away in 2009. His family continue the business. This is his photo, embedded from the Unutulmaz Fethiyeliler Facebook page.
Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Winter Day Trip From Fethiye - Photographing Gemiler Bay

Okay, cards on the table...

Gemiler Bay in winter is wondrous bliss for us - no exaggeration there. Summer at Gemiler Bay is just no competition. We all like different things in life and, these days, watching a couple of guys bobbing about on the water in boats, doing who knows what; watching a silhouetted fisherman stood on the rocks in the distance; smiling at the only other person on the beach as she waited for the guys in the boats...well that beats jet skis, speed boats, inflatable bananas and sunbeds...because we don't so sunbathing either. Of course, for us, winter is going to win.

Anyway, over New Year, we had some friends over to visit. The weather wasn't the best. It's fair to say we've had a proper winter in Fethiye this year, and the weather gods have thrown just about everything they can think of at us: Crisp, sunny days; a big freeze; thunder and lightning; high winds and torrential rain, all in the space of a few weeks. On the couple of days where it didn't rain we made the most of it by getting a car and going out for the day, but we stayed local and took it easy. That's what winter's all about, taking it easy. 

Gemiler Beach & Gemiler Island, Turkey
Gemiler Adası in the distance
Our friends love Gemiler whatever the season (if there was a world championship competition for sunbathing, they'd be right up there in the finals) so it was a definite on their where-shall-we-go list. 

But it's winter, it's logging season...and there was a lot of it going on on the road down to Gemiler. Careful manoeuvring of our car as we weaved between other cars and trucks packed full with smaller branches - no doubt what people were taking home for firewood. The air was filled with the aroma of pine and we opened the windows to take it all in. It was all very friendly. One time, we even had to turn the engine off because we'd been waiting so long for someone to fill their tractor trailer with leftover branches from the side of the road. Of course, their tractor was parked right in the middle of the road - not much passing traffic around these parts in winter - and they continued with their mission until every last inch of their trailer was filled. 

Fishermen In Gemiler Bay
All the winter action at Gemiler Koyu
And then somehow, they managed a 3-point turn on the narrow road - which also happened to have a hefty drop on the side they were reversing towards - gave us an enthusiastic wave and off they chugged up the road! Turkish driving comes in for a lot of stick but you can't help but be impressed when you witness such feats of skill and, dare we say, recklessness. 

We were down at Gemiler for no reason other than just to be there; the scenery, the contours of the bay, the imposing angle of Babadağ, the Byzantine ruins of St. Nicholas island (Gemiler Adası), they all just sit together perfectly to make the visitor feel so wowed, no matter how many times you see it. The recent storms had packed the pebbles and sand, forming a steep shelf to the sea at the far end of the beach. Difficult to walk along but just lovely to be wrapped up warm and taking in the bay for what it is.
Gemiler Bay Near Kayaköy, Fethiye
Looking out to sea from the hillside at Gemiler Koyu
We all just wandered around doing our own thing, really. Our friends were in Fethiye for New Year, a birthday and their wedding anniversary all in one so they were taking photos of each other. And me, despite many previous visits to Gemiler, my photos of the bay are neither special nor plentiful. I was just on a photo-taking mission - and that in turn forces you to look at the bay with different eyes.
Gemiler Beach In Winter
Looking down over Gemiler Beach from the hillside
A quick hop up the hill and, all of a sudden, the beach feels quite distant, and the whole bay changes shape again. It's no second best, staying local, around these parts.

We were only at the beach for an hour or so - our friends wanted their Gemiler fix and we wanted photos. After that, it was back in the car to weave our way through the pines and back up the hill to Kayaköy. Here, we were meeting our other New Year crew of friends so that we could all go and enjoy the Cin Bal Restaurant winter experience together. Gemiler, Kayaköy and Cin Bal - a perfect day trip from Fethiye; especially in winter...

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