This is a place with soul, really timeless, unchanged and gently awakening to the tourist. We have now visited six times, each one brings more delights and the absolute desire to return soon. We base ourselves in Turunc, known to many visitors as Trunk! Fly to Dalaman, drive through Marmaris and up the mountain for 20 minutes, down the other side and you’re there.
It is a simple town with a narrow strip of beach, covered on every inch by sunbeds. The beach is not really for us! However, the town has a good supermarkets, banks, an excellent doctor (we’ve met him, nothing serious, nothing picked up in Turkey) and some pretty jewellery. And the limonata in the tea garden is wonderfully refreshing, about 40p a glass. In the last couple of years, we have eaten at a new rooftop restaurant, Pisces, which has lifted the culinary standard in town. Lovely food and a great view over the bay. And wonderful music too.
You can get a water taxi to Marmaris to visit the bazaar and buy handbags, of whatever quality you choose. My favourite is Bird Leather, Suleyman is a wonderful young man, who has near perfect English and a charming way with teenage girls and their fathers’ wallets. He is irrestible! Men who fancy a true Turkish shave, razors, flames, green goo and massage all in, threaded eyebrows too if wanted, must stop into the Brothers Barbers, they are funny, helpful and will escort said daughters if you need a break, which I often do.
So back from Marmaris and in need of rest and relaxation. We stay at the Piynar Villa Hotel, a glorious cluster of ten villas with pools, on the mountainside. The owners, Sevgi and Mustafa provide a home from home service at the clubhouse and bar, with Zaki’s excellent cooking and Murat’s marvellous cocktails. If you fancy the beach, the The Sea Club at Kumlubuk is the answer, part of the Dionysis Estate, perched way up above the bay. The restaurant here is great, waiter service to beds and giant cushions on the beach, or tables high up, looking at the boats, open late into the evening. The Yacht Club at the other end of the bay is good too. Or you could visit Amos Bay, a small cove with just one restaurant, overlooked by a ruined amphitheatre, which nature is reclaiming.
Glorious as all this is, the treats of the Bozburun Peninsula must be enjoyed. Dereozu is a special place, I prefer to walk here, driving the car around seems a bit rude somehow. It is a contrast of a few new villas with a traditional way of life, outside kitchens, goats, veg gardens and little in the way of luxury. Drive on to Bayir, the place to and from which all roads lead. The forests are lush, old and so peaceful. You might spot an old lady carrying a huge sack of bay leaves on her back. Or see blue wooden boxes, beehives, under the trees. Honey is sold at roadside stalls, it’s delicious. If you walk down one of many intriguing tracks, just to look, there are often remains of stone houses, left by the Greeks during the exchange of people in 1923. It is surprisingly touching to see these dwellings untouched, just in case families might someday return.
The pace in Bayir is so unhurried you have to slow down, rushing just isn’t an option. You must walk around the enormous tree in the centre three times for good luck. It, and some of the moustaches sported by elderly backgammon players around the square, would be on heritage lists anywhere else in the world. This is a fantastic place to enjoy a glass of ayran (yoghurt, water and salt, beloved by Turks and some odd Brits, one of mine included). I bought a goat bell in the weekly market and the vendor was keen to know about my herd at home. Fortunately my limited Turkish failed!
Here you take the road to Selimiye, which is most beautiful when approached from the sea. Roadside, you get the back of houses and restaurants. My absolute favourite holiday treat is a day at Nane Limon Pansiyon. Simple, easy and yet gently sophisticated. We are usually the only non-Turks there, although boats sail into Selimiye from all over. You take a sunbed on the pontoon, sunbathe a little, swim in warm, clear sea, have a drink, sleep a bit in the hammock, watching the world on the water and the path by the sea wander past. Market day, Wednesday, gets a bit busier, buy anything from homegrown vegetables and fruits to kitchen utensils and gardening equipment. The countryside people really do have to wait till Wednesday for a new saucepan or hoe. Lunch at Nane Limon is outstanding, a simple fixed menu, which is fresh, Turkish and very filling. More sleep is needed, and then a leisurely stroll to buy an ice cream before returning to Turunc. Dinner in Selimiye is taken practically in the water with twinky lights dotting the seafront, truly idyllic.
Return via Bozburun, where you see the gulets being hand built. They really do look like arks in the making. I’m sure their construction has stayed the same for generations, maybe even since Noah’s time. In fact the whole peninsula has an air of history about it, which makes it unique and oh so special. And yet, tourists from both Turkey and around the world are invited and accepted. You cannot help relaxing, knowing, in my case, that you will most certainly return. For a gloriously chilled holiday, with absolutely no pressure, possibly apart from deciding where dinner is to be, the Bozburun Peninsula gets my vote.