I finally won at backgammon the other day! Twice!!
Overall, I absolutely loved Turkey. There are so many ancient ruins to see, and I was only in the southwestern corner! Can’t wait to get back and see the rest of Turkey. The people in all the towns I stayed at (no, I didn’t stay in Istanbul) were so friendly and relaxed that you can’t help but go along with it. In Selcuk, a shopkeeper asked if I was a guide. “What??” “A tour guide, are you a tour guide that came with a group?” I laughed. “What?! No! How do I look like one??” “Well you look so comfortable and confident, not like a tourist, so I thought you were a guide.” Aww! I have to admit, I’m sad to be home.
Anyway, here are my overall thoughts on the towns I stayed in, brief reviews on the pensions and notes about logistics.
Kaleici, the old part of town, looks charming. The cobble-stoned streets are narrow, twisted and winding; it took a bit to figure out the orientation. I stayed at White Garden Pansiyon for 18EUR (24USD) a night. There is free wifi, breakfast, and VERY clean rooms. It was well worth the money. The owner is Turkish (but has a British accent for some odd reason), very knowledgeable and helpful.
Antalya’s otogar (central bus station) is a little outside of town. You can take the tram there for a couple of lira. From there, I paid 18 lira for the 5 hour bus ride to Patara with a bus company called Bati Antalya. Everything was on time, which included stops in the bigger towns. They drop you off on the highway at the turn-off to Patara. It seems like it’s common practice to hitch a ride to town the rest of the way.. otherwise, walking with luggage would have taken forever!
Patara is a sleepy little village with sand dunes (don’t go there by yourself), a very long beach, and ruins. It’s within driving distance of several ancient sites, including Xanthos, Letoon, Pinara, as well as Saklikent Gorge. I stayed at Akay Pension for 30TL a night (20USD). They also have free wifi. My room was huge and clean. By far, my favorite place I stayed at in Turkey! Kazim’s wife cooks a great breakfast that usually lasted me until dinner. Also, as an example of how nice Kazim is, he took us to Xanthos, Saklikent Gorge and PInara and all he wanted was gas money.
By car, it takes 1.5 hours to drive from Patara, through Faralya and Butterfly Valley, to Shambala’s door. This place is fairly remote and Shambala charges a lot for everything. Breakfast and dinner are included with whatever house, tent or bungalow you book but be aware that there is a 50% single supplement charge! Stock up on water and snacks to last you during the day if you don’t have a car to get into the main part of Kabak village and want to save money.
A dolmus (minibus) goes from Kabak to the closest big town of Fethiye at 8:30am and 12:30pm everyday. It takes 1.5 hours by dolmus, about 50 minutes driving. From Fethiye’s otogar, it’s another 5 hours to the city of Aydin. For that, I paid a little more to ride with another bus line called Pamukalle. They have wifi on the bus (though I didn’t on mine, for some reason), and an attendant that hands out water, tea and snacks from time to time. Dolmuses to Selcuk leave Aydin’s otogar every hour or so, for 6 lira.
The Selcuk otogar is right next to the three touristy blocks so unless you have a lot of luggage, there’s no point in getting a cab. I stayed up the hill from those three blocks, at Homeros Pension for 45TL (30USD) a night. I was not happy with them, which was surprising because their rating on TripAdvisor was one of the best. Dervis’ family is nice enough, but the bathrooms are shared (which was a surprise to me, especially for that price). The decorations in each room are interesting, but are also very dusty (my allergies kept acting up). There is free wifi and two computers available to use. I liked that they had a free wine hour at 7:30pm, but that goes along with the dinner there, which is 15TL. Yes it’s homecooked, but the dinner I had was all carbs… there is better food for better price in town. You also get locked out at 11pm, which is ridiculous because most shops don’t even close until midnight and bars and restaurants at 3am! Selcuk is so small that everyone knows everyone there, and if you stay long enough, you’ll start to get embedded in ah.. shall we say, neighborly drama?! The shopkeepers love to just chat. Sometimes it’s to make a sale, sometimes it isn’t. So why not just go in, have some apple tea, get to know the locals, and maybe check out some wares? This is one place that I didn’t really feel any pressure to buy anything. But the bottom line is that everyone’s just friendly there (at least to solo female travelers). The guys there are total charmers too.. it was fun! Also, you can book day tours as far out as Bergama and Pamukalle from there; both are about 3 hours’ drive away (in different directions).