"Hoş geldiniz’"

Wednesday 5 June 2013

"Hoş geldiniz’"– means "Welcome" in Turkish and is a customary greeting used by almost everyone you meet.

Patriotic bunting flying above Edirne's main street

From our first encounter the welcome has been as warm and genuine as we have always found in Turkey. Driving through Edirne, having only just crossed the border, a refuse collector hanging off the back of his lorry quizzed Dave in Turkish about our travel plans when the vehicles drew up level at the traffic lights on red. We weren't expecting to have to have a conversation in Turkish so soon but Dave managed to speak enough to satisfy his curiosity about the travellers in the van with the steering wheel on the wrong side.
Glasses of Turkish çay (tea)
On a 12km stretch of sandy beach called Panamos north of Kuşadasi we drank çay with the café / shack owner and an enterprising chap who owned a 4WD jeep fitted with a sturdy winch ready to pull the locals cars out of the sand every half an hour for 10TL, about £3, a go. We also whiled away another hour drinking more çay with a day trip ‘captain’ in Sarsala Bay who asked Dave to search the sea bed for his missing oar as he snorkeled around his boat watching the colourful fish. Filling up with diesel on Monday the attendant chatted away asking where we had been and where we were going. When he found out we had been in Akyaka the previous evening his face lit up – a popular spot with Turks visiting its sandy beach, buzzing estuary front and the cold clear river with overhanging fish restaurants. He recounted his recent day trip there which included diving off the little bridge into the chilly water and drinking a few too many rakis by the sound of it. He wanted us to stay and talk more over yet more çay but we really needed to get on.


Turkey has always held a special place in our hearts and we love driving around this vast country.  In the past we have travelled right out to the eastern border, along the Black Sea coast, through the central regions, all along its southern Mediterranean coast and out towards the borders with Syria and Iran. This time though, in our gas-guzzling van which eats up the rather expensive diesel at an alarming rate,  we decided to limit our travels to the western coast revisiting places we have been before but also hoping to discover new places at a slower pace.

Another country - another transport museum! Train Museum at Camlik
We have been coming here since the mid 80’s and it feels that while we have been growing old Turkey has become more youthful and modern. The improvement in the roads (although not always the driving standards) is amazing with smooth dual carriageways making long journeys so much easier and there are now a bewildering number of supermarkets with all kinds of goods available on the shelves. Some things haven’t changed though – Dave was in his element driving around the automotive area of the industrial estate in Mla negotiating an air filter change for the van! Half an hour later and £11 lighter we were on our way again with a new filter fitted as well as a ‘complimentary’ engine check.

Safer and speedier dual carriageways everywhere
Our trip so far has brought us across the border to Edirne from where we drove down through Galipoli crossing the straights to Çanakkale before heading south and then east towards Edremit. We stopped near Ayvalik before driving through sprawling Izmir then south towards Selçuk and a quick dash to Fethiye. We then spent a week slowly ‘bimbling’ back towards Mumcular spending time in the coastal area around Dalaman and popping into numerous coves and harbours around Marmaris and Datça. At the head of the Gulf of Gökova we ‘found’ delightful Akyaka – a place we must have whizzed past many times before but never stopped at. Slowing down and limiting the miles has allowed us to discover many 'new' places. 

Beautiful Sarsala bay (spot the van top left hand side under a tree!)

Turkey is currently hitting the headlines as peaceful protests have been turning nasty after the use of excessive force to disperse the crowds by the authorities. We’ve seen nothing of this on our travels here so far, we still feel extremely safe and in response to the ubiquitous ‘Hoş geldiniz’ greeting we always reply  ‘Hoş bulduk’ meaning ‘Happy to be here’ – and we really are…..

Busy Bozburun harbour
Driving past ruins on the road to Knidos
Rows of bee hives in the hills above Bozburun
Cluttered masts and rigging on gulets in Selimye
Tearing ourselves away from 'our' beautiful bay near Palamut
Clear blue waters - even in busy harbours
Kocagöl - marshy lake near Dalaman Airport
Amos theatre just south of Turunç
Roadside cafe in Akyaya - where we bought tea, olives and the local honey

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