On top of the normal decadent feeling evoked by this trip (and by not, say, going to work every day…) there’s an added layer of decadence when we go to the beach. After all, for the most part on this trip we have not been bereft of beautiful places in which to relax. But the fact remains: we love the beach. Specifically, I really love the beach, and B has come a long way from his childhood of exclusively ski vacations. And, while the latter half of our trip plans to be pretty beach-heavy, it would be silly to travel to Turkey in the summer and not explore at least a bit of the coastline.
Accordingly, on the morning of June 9, we headed to the tiny Egirdir bus station for a three-hour ride through the Turkish countryside to the city of Antalya, where we caught a minibus. After 4.5 hours, during which it picked up and dropped off a number of passengers carrying a remarkable variety of cargo (auto parts, some sort of metal girders, laundry, baskets of herbs, etc), it dropped us off on the highway near the turnoff to our final destination, Patara. At this point, we were supposed to catch a local minibus for the last few kilometers. Unfortunately, as a nice man at a nearby restaurant explained when I asked for directions, the bus doesn’t run after 5. It was 6ish, still very hot, and we didn’t relish the walk with our backpacks, so we commissioned a motorbike ride with a few guys hanging around the restaurant. We wore our backpacks and hopped on the back of their bikes, and after a 10 minute ride and only a few precarious turns, we were there.
Patara is a tiny town with maybe two blocks’ of guesthouses and restaurants. It is apparently the birthplace of St. Nicholas (which explains the sign on a tiny shop proclaiming that “Santa buys his toys here!”) and boasts some impressive Lycian ruins / sheep grazing grounds. The town itself is nearly 2 miles inland from the beach, which is protected from development due to its turtle nesting grounds and the archaeological dig sites that separate it from the town. This distance, plus the 12-mile stretch of sand, makes for a lovely and deserted beach after only a short walk. Each day we’d either walk or catch a shuttle to the beach, rent an umbrella and pick up a few beers from the one shop on the beach, then walk past that area’s sunbeds and find ourselves nearly alone.
We didn’t do much else in Patara. We did try many of the town’s restaurants in the evenings, developing a special affection for Ayse’s Pancake House, home of cheap, delicious, savory and sweet gozleme (sort of a Turkish crepe).
When it was time to move on, we caught yet another minibus to Kas, a much more developed coastal town about an hour to the east. We spent the night there, exploring the harbor area and catching a Turkish pop concert out on the pier. The following day we caught a morning bus for the six-hour ride to Aydin, followed by yet another minibus ride for the final hour to Selcuk.