If you’ve been to Turkey before, the chances are you have had the ‘dolmuş experience.’ We’ve read somewhere recently that this (probably) most famous form of public transport in Turkey is slowly on its way out as a way of getting about in the big cities. Well, we can’t speak for the big cities but, quite honestly, Fethiye wouldn’t function if it wasn’t for the dolmuş. If you read a lot of our posts, you’ll know we’re big fans of public transport – especially in Turkey – so a lot of our time and money is spent on the good old dolmuş.
The Meaning of ‘Dolmuş’
A while back, we did a post on a suffix in the Turkish language called ‘miş’. It means, among lots of other things, ‘apparently’ or ‘must be’. ‘muş’ is the same as this and ‘dol’ means ‘stuffed’. So, the meaning of dolmuş (roughly) is ‘apparently stuffed.‘ And if you’ve used the dolmuşes in times gone by, you’ll know how true this is. People were almost stood on top of each other as the driver stopped every 10 metres or so to let people on and off. It was all part of the ‘Turkey experience’.
When we first came here on holiday in 1998, we used the dolmuş to get to Ölüdeniz. It was a big adventure for us, that we were doing something independently, and we can’t tell you how pleased we were to get out alive when we got to Belcekiz Beach. The dolmuş was a proper charabanc and it was ‘apparently stuffed’ (no ‘apparently’ about it – we were squished) to the rafters. Chug, chug, chug up the mountain, crawl through Hisarönü and chug, chug down the other side of the mountain to the beach. No air-conditioning and a bus load of old Turkish ladies who don’t like draughts and so insisted on all the windows being closed – it was a heatwave that year, touching 50 degrees! Now, that was a travel experience!
Fast forward a few years. Okay, a few people still dislike the dolmuş – but personally, we love it and, not having a car, we rely on it. Sometimes it will crawl along the road looking for potential customers and if it’s full, you’re likely to be going at a decent speed. Okay, you might be a bit squished but at least you’re getting to where you want to go for a reasonable price. If it’s too full you can let it go by because another one will be along a few minutes later.
Dolmuş drivers are also quite proud of their vehicles these days, too. The Çalış dolmuşes seem to have come out relatively unscathed and you’ll get the average minibus experience. If you’re arriving to Fethiye from the Otogar and heading towards the hostels along the Karagözler or if you’re heading towards Taşyaka from Fethiye then you’re going to be travelling on the Taşyaka / Karagözler dolmuş. The fashion on this route is the ‘sports minibus.’ Think blacked out windows, big silver exhaust, low suspension, ultraviolet lights inside – don’t get excited. You’re still going to be going at snail pace if the bus is empty and normal pace if the bus is full. It’s all image. And as for the Fethiye to Ölüdeniz / Kayaköy dolmuş – well, nothing short of luxury. Most of the minibuses are brand new, regulations mean they shouldn’t be over full AND you get air-conditioning. Bliss. We’d become accustomed to getting off the dolmuş with wet backsides because we were so hot. No more!
Fethiye Dolmuş Station
Apart from the Taşyaka / Karagözler dolmuş, dolmuşes that most of us are likely to use, come to Fethiye dolmuş station. We use the word ‘station’ lightly because it’s just the side of the road near the central mosque and this brings us nicely onto our Fethiye and Turkey map. Too many times we’ve spoken to people staying in different areas of Fethiye for their holidays and they’ve said, ‘Oh, we went to Fethiye. We didn’t like it. It’s all electrical shops. We couldn’t find the shops/bars/sea.’ Or we’ve had to show people where to go because they get off the dolmuş and just stand, hovering with blank faces. Not surprising. It’s actually really easy to get to all the good bits – just not very obvious.
If you do arrive in Fethiye by dolmuş and you’ve never been before, have a look at our Fethiye map. It shows you a few places to look out for. The mayor of Fethiye is doing a tourism push this summer too. What would be amazing is if the council would put a signpost at the dolmuş station. Very simple. All it needs to say is, ‘Sea this way. Paspatur this way.’ Let’s see. For now, this was one of our reasons for doing a map of Fethiye, along with giving a bit of context to all the places we warble on about so much. We’ve been asked on the comments page and Twitter in the past where Deep Blue Bar and other places are. Hopefully, our Fethiye map will help a few people out.