Friday, December 23, 2011

To Market

Friday is one of the three market days in Fethiye, when farmers from the surrounding countryside (as far away as the Banana Coast) come to sell their wares. Heaps of greens, from nettles to bunches of arugula (25 cents each!), sit alongside 3 foot long leeks, sugar sweet seedless mandarins (50 cents a pound!), home cured olives and olive oil, raw milk, strawberries, kiwi fruit, quince, and an endless assortment of the freshest fruits and vegetables... it is a foodie's paradise.  Products are priced by the kilo, and the vendors don't seem to like dealing with less than 1/2 kilo, so it would be hard to shop for one person! After they weigh your selection using old fashioned iron counterweights, they usually throw in a couple extra pieces of what you just bought as a kind of bonus.

After the Friday market is a stop at the fish market, probably the best thing about Fethiye. Fresh locally caught fish, calamari and prawns from the Mediterranean and hamsi (anchovies) shipped from the Black Sea crowd for space in an open air square in the middle of town. If you want to eat your selection on the spot, any one of the restaurants around the square will cook it up per your specifications and serve it up with bread and salad for around $3 per person.

Clear weather after a week of rain

Tomorrow is Christmas and Helena is cooking dinner for 15 people - a collection of expats from various countries. Otherwise, I would probably just forget that it's Christmastime since it is all business-as-usual in this Muslim country.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Muzistan (Bananamur)

Anamur (which Helena termed Bananamur) is the banana capitol of Turkey and is filled with large greenhouses and fields of banana trees.  Bananas in Turkey??? Yes, I was surprised too. Yet I didn't take any photos of the many roadside muz (banana) stands, including the one calling itself Muzistan (meaning Banana Land). Sorry.
The Banana Coast - looking west

Actually, it looked like most of the southeast coast was planted with bananas.  But only Anamur had not one, but two banana themed statues in town (again, no photos!).

Ruined Large Bath House 
The real draw for the area is Anemurium - an ancient city now just stone ghosts, occupied by the Phoenecians starting in the 4th century B.C.  The ruins still there date from the late Roman and early Byzantine periods, and the general belief is that a massive earthquake in 580 A.D. ruined most of the buildings and drove people from the town.

The site is remarkable for its setting and its number of intact living structures. Helena and I spent a good deal of time wandering through, speculating on the  way people utilized the small domed stone structures (some of which still had visible frescoes on the walls and mosaics on the floors, although most have been moved to a museum in town). We even spotted a couple tortoises taking it easy and many different species of birds thriving in this peaceful ghost town.

Anemurium 2,000 year old houses

Looking east at Anemurium and beyond
Mamure Castle

After Anemurium we raced the incoming weather to visit Mamure Castle, just south of Anamur, and from a completely different time in history. It dates from the 13th century, built on the site of an old Roman fortress (it is common in Turkey to see the "repurposing" of old stone foundations). The castle was taken in the 14th century by the Seljuk Turks, who added a mosque and baths.

Although the castle has been renovated several times, it has retained its medieval feel - which sparked our imaginations with tales of guards and kings and escapes to the sea.
Tortoise friend at Anemurium

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Running from the Rain

Inside our Pansiyon
Morning broke cloudy. More rain on the way. Helena and I decided to rent a car and head east for a few days, hoping to find promised warmer and drier weather (Fethiye is notoriously cold and damp in comparison to the rest of the southern coast).

Old Ottoman Era building

Morning in old Antalya
We made it to Antalya, at the center of Turkey's south coast before the early darkness of winter, and found a pansiyon in the kaleci (old town).

We were pleasantly surprised at the tidy cobble streets and restored Ottoman buildings, as our previous time in Antalya was only at the boat harbor outside of town.  The old town also held Roman ruins and later fortifications - all a continuous flow of history, punctuated by souvenir shops and shuttered-for-the-winter nightclubs.

Me at Hadrian's Gate
Goddess Athena
In the morning we walked around more of the old town before heading to the Antalya Museum, known for its collection of fine marble statues, as well as prehistoric artifacts from a nearby cave that is believed to have been continuously occupied for 20,000 years.

It was a lovely walk in the warm sun; we were basking in it! Unfortunately by the the time we left the museum the rain had caught up with us and we drove out of town in a downpour that instantly flooded the streets.

So we outran it. Straight east along the coast and after a short while it was again sunny and warm and now looking a lot like the coast of California. Citrus trees heavily laden everywhere (including orange trees in the traffic medians) have replaced the ubiquitous fruiting fig and pomegranate trees of September. But harvested pomegranates are still at full sweet and juice stalls are set up everywhere for a fresh squeeze.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Fresh snow on the local mountains
Friday brought the weekly local food market (a smaller version of Tuesday's with just food stalls), and torrential rain, thunder and lightning. Luckily we were able to do our shopping in relative dryness before the downpour started, at which point we retreated to a lokanta for some cheap eats and hot tea. e puzzled over one of our purchase (see photo), a local product only available in December. Thank god for Google, as we later were able to identify it as the fruit of the Japanese raisin tree - something I definitely have never seen before. And the funny looking fruit tastes like, you guessed it, raisins!

Saturday was dry so we met up with Jake and Lucia and Eldar and some of their American friends for a hike back to Kaya town - the abandoned village we visited the first day. The hike was the draw, as we ascended steeply through damp and fragrant pine forests, to meet up with an old Roman road linking Fethiye and Kaya, complete with ruined stone cisterns spaced periodically along the way.  By the time we arrived we were all starving and descended on one of the few open cafes in search of goezleme (Turkish kind of quesadilla) and many glasses of tea. Luckily there is a dolmus (mini-bus) linking the towns too, since we were pretty knackered from the 4 hour hike.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Walking Around

Wednesday was the day for a big walk. The sun was out, and in the sunshine it was blessedly warm, evoking memories of the long ago summer. Helena and I got the dogs (Badger's 2 Jack Russell terriers) and set out on what turned out to be a 3+ hour walk around a hilly peninsula west of Fethiye. When we reached the back side we were rewarded with stunning vistas of the Mediterranean and Greek islands to the west. The photo shows the typical pine trees that form the coastal forests, and the crystal clear water of the Med (away from the stinky Fethiye marinas).
Above is the view from the eastern side of the peninsula, looking out at Fethiye and its many bays and marinas. In the distance are snow capped mountains of the coastal range. We all enjoyed the chance to stretch our legs and sweat a bit after being so cold the last few days. We have been riding bikes around but they are all made too small for us - we can't get the seats high enough so that we can fully stretch out our legs!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Balik Ekmek

I finally had a fish sandwich! Considered an Istanbul classic, a balik ekmek (literally translated as fish bread) shows up anywhere along the coast, kind of like fish tacos in San Diego. But I had never had one before, so I was pleased to plop down my 5 lira (about $2.50) for a crusty French roll stuffed with a battered fish filet, arugula, tomato and chopped onion. More than a meal, served from a floating kitchen on the waterfront.

After the fish sandwich Helena and I went to the Tuesday market, the largest one with all the fruit and veg sellers, plus purveyors of all manner of home cured olives ($2 a pound!), crumbly white cheeses, pine and citrus honey, nuts and spices. This market also had a hundred or so clothing and housewares stalls where you can buy cheap cotton and acrylic knockoffs made in Turkey. We loaded up on supplies for a home cooked dinner (including freshly ground lamb from the butcher for kofte (meatballs)).

While lamb is relatively expensive ($10 a pound), other food is very cheap in Turkey. You can buy enough fruits and vegetables for 2 people for a week for between $5 and $10. Olives, cheese, and yogurt are also ridiculously cheap compared to the States.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Frigid in Fethiye

My left pinky turns purple
I arrived late at the small regional airport for Dalaman after a short stop in Istanbul, and here I am back in Turkey! My sister decided to live here in the coastal town of Fethiye after our trip here together in September; I had no idea I would be back so soon. I knew the temperatures would be cold at night, akin to San Diego winter temps, but I was wrong and it is much colder. I thought packing all the wool would be overkill but I was wrong. So my hands were quite cold as I was pushing the luggage cart at the airport and I inadvertently crushed a finger in the push mechanism.

small black and white stones make the floor

My first day we rented a car and drove over the hill to Karakoy, a largely abandoned village that was formerly occupied by Greek Orthodox Christians. Now over 4,000 structures stand abandoned as a result of the Turkish - Greek population exchange in 1923 after the Turkish war of independence. Helena and I strolled through the ruined ghost town (the stone houses toppled by the 1957 earthquake that also flattened Fethiye), and enjoyed the warm daytime sunshine. 

Not bad for my first day!

One of the many ruined churches