If you like to feel far from the madding crowd but close enough to dip in every now and then, Kalkan Mountain Villas just outside Turkey’s prettiest port, is just the ticket. Four Bondesque holiday homes have risen from the olive groves with views across the ancient plains of Patara and Xanthos, over the turquoise Mediterranean Sea. The villas, designed by an award-winning architect, are ultra spacious and ideal for families with no compromise on style and finish. Surely the whole point of being on holiday is to feel spoilt? Well, spoilt we were.
I awoke each morning to cicadas concerting in union with bleating goats, the occasional cockerel fanfare, and the country’s ubiquitous call to prayer from Uzumlu’s minaret. I felt that I had travelled far, far away from everything that routinely filled my head.
There are adventures-a-plenty in this part of the world. Impressive Lycian ruins are scattered along this coast, with miles of sandy beach, clay mud baths drained by mountain ice melt, and deep gorges that cleave through the snow capped Taurus pathways.
We saw wild tortoises going about their business in the ancient parliament of Patara and eagles gliding on the thermals while we sipped on sundowners near the rock tombs above Islamlar. On every village corner there were open trucks filled to the brim with watermelons.
Recycled bottles of home made olive oil, honey, tahini, and grape molasses sit at every roadside. The soil is as rich and fertile as the sea, which offers divers dozens of species of fish. The submerged civilisation at Kekova – a must see by traditional gullet – is a great day trip and it is definitely worth a climb up to the ruins of Simena Castle to take in the panoramic view.
The local villages of Uzumlu (where you buy your bread each morning) and Islamlar (where you buy your fresh mountain trout each lunch or dinner) are pastoral havens for smallholders who enjoy the cooler air (it regularly hits 40 degrees plus on the coast in summer) and traditional way of life. The men sit around setting the world to right under canopies of rampant vines and bougainvillea, and the women, adorned in traditional head scarfs and baggy floral harem trousers, walk to and fro sharing their fresh garden produce with passers by.
Turks are a generous lot and hate to see you leave empty handed, and by their nature like to present small parting gifts in constant spontaneous acts of generosity. We felt well looked after by Ahmet, who overseas the day to day needs of all the villa guests, and Umut who will happily organise any tour, table or trip on a gulet (try his pizza at The Lime on the main road just below Yali supermarket in Kalkan).
The shopping in Kalkan is varied and closing time is midnight; fill yourself up on fine Turkish mezze and local Lal Rosé before you embark on the browsing and the bartering. Choose from ‘genuine fake’ Mulberry handbags, pure cotton Turkish towels, hand-painted ceramics and local olive oils. For those men who are less accustomed to hours of shopping, head to one of Kalkan’s many barbershops for a traditional Turkish shave, with a surprise finish…