Last week, within a small section of Turkey’s Lycian coastline, we were players in our own adapted version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
We stayed at a farm high in the hills above Ölüdeniz. Some days we were content to play with the farm dogs, light a fire in our cottage and chat with the farm’s long-time founder/owner/manager, a British lady who was something like a cross between between Katherine Hepburn and Karen Blixen.
Most days of our trip, however, after lingering over our tea, we wound down the steep mountain roads in search of beaches to play on.
This beach is too English
The first day, we headed to Ölüdeniz itself. The setting of this oversized village is striking as it is jammed between towering mountains and the turquoise sea. Leaving the car, we walked down the pedestrianized street that runs the length of town.
It was quickly apparent from the amount of bare, pink skin on display and the near absence of Turkish being spoken, that this was a place for English people who intended to spend all day getting sunburned, all evening drinking and every (late) morning enjoying a ‘Full English’ breakfast. All fine things to do on holiday, but not the reasons we came to Turkey.
This beach is too dangerous
The next day, we decided to seek out a quiet, off-the-beaten-path beach. With the help of our farm hostess, we zeroed in on Karadere Beach, a spot situated adjacent an estuary at the top of an eighteen kilometer long stretch of sand.
Winding our way through unending rows of plastic-sheeted greenhouses bursting with tomatoes, we found ourselves completely lost several times before finally arriving at the almost entirely deserted, sandy Karadere Beach.
Gathering car-weary children from the backseat and bags full of buckets, spades, sunscreen and snacks, we started walking across the long, flat beach to the water. After a few steps, we noticed some cigarette cartons and other beach rubbish. After a few more steps, we noticed broken bottles and instructed the children that they must keep their shoes on. After a further few steps, we noticed a scattering of empty shotgun shell casings.
A white car had been sitting on the beach and at this moment a black car sped across the sand to join it. As the black car pulled up, the young man in the white car honked loudly, pointed a handgun of some kind sort out of the window and started firing rapidly into the sand.
Wishing we could suddenly make our family invisible, we instead firmly instructed the children to hold our hands and immediately walk back to the car, which seeing the expressions on our faces, they did without question.
(Back at the farm, our farm hostess made quite a few calls to her network of contacts to report the incident and the general mess. As both cars contained young men and were draped with Turkish flags, she assumed that they were guys spending a few days prior to their compulsory military service out doing a lot of stupid things.)
This beach is just right
The next day was gloriously bright and we headed back to Ölüdeniz, but this time we completely avoided the town and instead set up camp at the Tabiat Parkı, a spit with beaches on both sides. One side was rocky, but had idyllic blue water and afforded a view of the high mountain behind Ölüdeniz from which paragliders descended one after another like large, colorful petals. The other side faced a blue lagoon and had a sandy bottom perfect for sand castle building, fish spotting and wading.
It was just right.