Why Turkey?! Welllllll, I had such good luck for finding babysitting jobs on care.com when I lived in Boulder, so I figured I could probably find a few house-sitting jobs internationally utilizing similar online resources, those being mindmyhouse.com and trustedhousesitters.com.
The first gig I landed just so happened to be in Turkey. I thought, why not? I had heard stories about the gorgeous beaches and rich culture from HeelsToHikingBooks’ Hannah Marsala, so I figured it be a great destination.
Okay, okay, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a tad bit scared, due to the current war taking place in Syria. But I did some research around the actual city I’d potentially be staying in, a small beach-town called Kalkan, and it was considered to be in the safe zone. Plus, I think it’s safe to say that terrorists probably aren’t heading to the beach.
After a call to the U.S. Embassy, who said it’d be okay but just to use caution, I solidified the job. Not to mention, I have a pretty strong opinion that bad things can pretty much happen anywhere.
So, low and behold, I went to Turkey. Now, should I start with the glamorous, or the un-glamorous? It’s always best to start on a positive note, no?
1. Patara Beach
Patara Beach is south-west Turkey’s secret. It is an absolutely gorgeous 11-mile stretch of sandy beach with a sandy ocean bottom. The best part? There’s barely anyone there (for the record I was there in October), and on the right side of the beach are jagged mountains that shoot up toward the sky, making a beautiful landscape.
If you’re looking to get in a hefty swim though, just know that it doesn’t really get that deep unless you go out very far, as the ocean floor is very shallow. And on windy days, there can be lots of waves.
There’s one little restaurant bar on the beach, and a few guys that rent out the umbrellas and chairs. No loud music and nobody selling anything. Perfect for just chillin’ hard.
Bonus: The bartenders are super friendly and aren’t shy to throw a joke or two at you. Actually, the people as a whole just love joking around and are super friendly. It’s pretty refreshing actually.
2. Yummy Food Spots
At Sunset Restaurant, I ordered this delicious chicken chili dish. It was to die for. My mouth is still salivating thinking about it. Grilled chicken tossed in a honey-soy sauce with lemon and hot sauce. Go at sunset for a dining experience that’s close to the beach and right in town.
Papatya Cafe comes in second. It’s not “in town”. You have to take a dirt road to get to it. But once you do, you can see so much more of the beach.
The food isn’t as good as Sunset Restaurant’s, but the infinity pool makes up for it. And yes, the pool can be used even if you’re just going there to eat or grab drinks.
3. Patara Ruins
Right before you get to Patara Beach, on the drive, you’ll see the Patara Ruins (right after you pay the entrance fee). These ruins are pretty awesome. While I was there, almost nobody else was, so I practically had the whole spot to myself as I unpacked my bagged lunch and sat on the very top of a gladiator ruin to enjoy my PB&J.
These century-old ruins have historically been under the rule of everyone and their mom — Ceasar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon. They’ve been under Roman Catholic rule and Islamic rule. St. Nicholas was actually born in Patara (spoiler alert if you thought he was from the North Pole), and the city is mentioned in the first testament. So lots of cool history at this spot, plus what is left of the architecture is exquisite.
Overall, it was just super cool to reimagine all the gladiator fights and what life there would have been like so long ago. Surprisingly, it was very sophisticated.
The baths that they had built some 2,000 years ago had in-floor heating from the fireplaces. It’s amazing just how many ruins are left there as well — I didn’t even walk the whole thing. If you ever go to Kalkan (or the bigger area of Kas), don’t leave without stopping by.
4. Pebble Beach + Boat Cruise
Pebble Beach is the local beach in Kalkan. I spent a lot of time here because it was closer to the house I was house sitting. Although I much prefer the feeling of sand beneath my feet versus small stones, Pebble Beach is a beautiful, low-key beach to catch some rays and watch old boats go by while relaxing (or working, if you are a digital nomad).
One of the benefits that Kalkan boasts is that they don’t have any beach vendors always asking if you want to buy something, and the hosts outside the restaurants don’t really pester you to come inside.
Bring your headphones for this beach — I heard from some of the locals that there is no music allowed.
If you are thinking about taking an all-day boat cruise, take one! It’s amazing, and probably my favorite thing I did while in Kalkan. The one I took included lunch, and several cool stops along the way, including a place where you could take a mud bath.
There are lots of boats to choose from, so make sure to show up around 8:30 a.m. and shop around before going with the first one you see. I choose the boat cruise I did because it cost only about $15 for one person, and the boat had a diving plank. We took off at 9 a.m. and got back around 4 p.m.
5. Turkish Bath
Can’t go to Turkey without taking a Turkish bath, if you dare. You basically go in a steam room for 10 minutes, come out, and then get a bunch of hot water and cold water thrown on you, then they take these special sponge-like things and literally scrape off all the dirt that’s built up on your body your whole life (kind of forcefully). And you kind of watch all the dirt and dead skin rub off of you.
Then, you get a ridiculous amount of soap put on you while you lay on this marble platform and get rinsed off with cold and hot water. It’s really interesting and invigorating. Afterwards, you can opt for a 60-minute oil massage (only $10 extra). You leave with skin feeling as soft as a baby’s. I would totally do it again.
Annnnnnnnd those are all of the glamorous things you have to do in Kalkan, Turkey! But, as most of my readers know, I don’t believe in only highlighting only the fun parts while traveling because that’s not an accurate representation. Stay tuned for my next post, Kalkan, Turkey: The Un-Glamorous House Sit (Pt. 2) posting here soon.