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Turkey God Would Send His Beloved Servants To Datca To Live Longer


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By Banu from Turkey, Summer 2007
27th July - 5th August 2007 My husband and I decided to have a relaxing week. We would take a week off at the end of July, so we didn’t want to go to a noisy, humid and crowded place. It would be nice if neither of us had been there before. He suggested that we should go to Datca. Datca is known for its 3B's - Bal, Badem, Balik - respectively honey, almond and fish. Also, the home of Cnidion Afrodite.

This trip report was originally published on SlowTrav.com.

Leaving For Datca​

My husband and I decided to have a relaxing week. We would take a week off at the end of July, so we didn’t want to go to a noisy, humid and crowded place. It would be nice if neither of us had been there before. He suggested that we should go to Datca. Datca is known for its 3B's - Bal, Badem, Balik - respectively honey, almond and fish. We also remembered what the geographer Strabon said about Datca. Strabon, who was a historian, geographer and philosopher, is mostly famous for his 17-volume work Geographica, which presented a descriptive history of people and places from different regions of the world known to his era. He had said, "God would send his beloved servants to Datca to live longer," so we decided to go and see ourselves.

I discovered the slow travel website in April when we were planning to go to Italy. I was searching for various information from travel to accommodations, museum information to sightseeing. Our visit to Italy was wonderful but it was not slow travel. Moreover, there were already so many resources that I could not dare to write about it although I wanted to.

At the end of July when we spent a week in a district well known by sailors for more than 20 years and seeing that there is not a single line about it on the Slow Travel yet, I wanted to share this trip with slow travelers. We spent one week in one place and we saw what was near us. There is more than what we saw so I tried to mention about those things as well; I hope you will enjoy reading it.

Datca is one of the districts of Mugla. Mugla, although a city, is not as well known as its districts such as Halikarnasus Bodrum, Marmaris, Dalyan and Datca. Actually one can spend a month within the city of Mugla, because all of its districts have their own character and they all offer so many different things to see and do. I think it is a very suitable destination regarding the slow travel philosophy.

You can go by road, by sea and by air. The closest arrival airports to Datca are Dalaman (167 km) and Bodrum (185 km). From the Dalaman-Airport you can take a taxi, bus or rent-a-car to get to Datca via Marmaris which takes approx. 2.5 hours. Although Dalaman seems to be closer for travelers, via Bodrum Airport there is a daily ferry and hydrofoil service from Bodrum to Datca (May-October). I would suggest you use this route.

As for sea travel to Datca, there are three alternatives: From Italy, from Greece and from Bodrum. This will certainly be a fascinating journey if you have the chance. We live in Istanbul so we preferred to go by road. It is a long journey around 12 to 13 hours. Intercity buses run hourly to Marmaris, thus connecting Datca via operating bus services. From Marmaris to Datca it takes almost 1.5 hours, the scene is wonderful.

The timetables can be found at Datca Info (see web resources). We took a bus leaving Istanbul on Friday evening. We arrived in Marmaris around 10am.

We planned to stay the first four nights at Palamutbuku, a bay on the way to the ancient city of Cnidus and stay in Datca for three nights. We would return on Saturday in the evening. We didn't make any plan for the last day so we would either stay in Datca or we could go to Marmaris early in the morning and spend Saturday in Marmaris.

Although Marmaris is a very touristy place and it has a famous grand bazaar, we wanted to go directly to Datca, so we didn’t leave the bus station. The bus fares are 10 YTL for one way one person (roughly $7). We got on a bus and our journey in the Datca peninsula started.

The journey from Marmaris to Datca passes through many interesting places, some of them have legends too. At Hisarönü Gulf on the 26th kilometer of the Marmaris-Datca highway we arrived to Balikasiran (which means "passing over fish"), where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas meet. In fact, you can view both seas at the same time. According to the legend, a fish caught here from the Aegean Sea could be transported alive to the Mediterranean Sea.

Then comes the Bencik Cove. It is at the narrowest point of the Datca peninsula, which separates Marmaris from Datca. Dislice is a rocky islet in the middle of the cove. When Persians invaded the Aegean coast in 450 B.C., they came to this area and so the cove is mentioned even by historian Herodot. The cove is protected from violent winds and is preferred by yachts. The cove’s east part belongs to Datca and west part to Marmaris.

It appears from looking at a map as if it could be split from the mainland at anytime. The distance between the two sides is as little as 800 meters. There were even plans in the past to cut a channel across the peninsula, thus turning Datca into an island. According to the historian Herodotus, the locals of ancient Knidos thought of digging up the narrow strip of land in the Balikasiran region and turning the area into an island after the Persians invaded Ionia. They tried very hard according to history but the peninsula resisted being separated from the mainland. Those who worked to break the stones and dig through the soil began to suffer from injuries to their eyes, forcing them to give up their efforts.

The scene is wonderful. I hope it stays like this for many more years.

The geographer Strabon said, "God would send his beloved servants to Datca to live longer". These words were not uttered in vain as a story told in the region confirms what Strabon wrote. Some 450 years ago, Spanish pirates sailing near the peninsula decided to throw members of their ship’s crew suffering from the plague off the vessel. They pulled in to Sarigerme Cove and left their dying crewmates. However, those who were left to die recovered thanks to the oxygen rich air of Datca. Legend has it that they founded a village on the foothills of Emecik Mountain, becoming one of the many peoples of these lands. However, in Emecik no one remembers the story and moreover they do not like it. It is not known whether the story is true or not but the fact is that the air of Datca makes one feel healthy. This may be why the Dorian people established more 50 settlements in the region. Some 2,700 years ago, the population of the peninsula surpassed 70,000. If you consider that today the population is under 15,000 you can see that there must have been an extraordinary civilization.

Back to or journey from Marmaris to Datca, after Bencik cove we passed through Değirmen Burnu (Wind Mill Cape). I marked that place as to be seen because of the interesting building and its spectacular chimneys which couldn't be seen from the road.

Then we passed through Gebekumu. I had read a lot about Gebekumu while I was gathering information about Datca. I was very excited to see it because nature created a dune landscape on the lovely Datca peninsula in south-west Turkey that is six million years old. The villagers have always called this natural wonder Gebekum (Pregnant Sand), as though they knew that the unique history of the Mediterranean Sea was buried within its sands. There is very detailed information at the resources about Gebekumu. I will not repeat them here but it is fascinating to be so close to a dune two kilometer long and up to 500 meter wide which dates back 6 million years. These dunes, according to research carried out by ecologists and geologists, as well as the forestry and soil scientist Prof. M. Doğan Kantarci, are six million years old. They have provided shelter for all life forms of that time until today, in the form of fossil deposits and thereby show us evidence of the past of the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time they offer an ecological system in which 19 species of birds and more than 100 plant species live (five of which are unique to this area), protected by sedimentary rocks which form a wall to stop the sea from reaching the dunes (the formation of the sedimentary rocks was made possible due to the lowering of the sea level and drying out of the deposited material.) For more information and photographs see resources.

At this point, I have to mention about the non-profit Society for Environment and Tourism in Datca called “DACEV” an NGO, without their hard work and insistence to finance nearly three kilometers of wire netting fencing would not be possible. The protective fencing to stop building constructors taking away the sand and car drivers’ from leaving their rubbish in the dunes, was able to be completed in early 2004.

After Gebekumu the road passes by several summer houses and the scene is very beautiful. There are olive and almond trees on the sides of the mountains. It is hard to try to explain with words really. There are small villages and locals got on and of the bus at some of them. I also heard that there are jeep safaris organized but we didn’t attend.

The journey lasted almost 1.5 hours and I was surprised when we arrived Datca bus station. We got off and took our bags. He looked at the Palamutbuku minibus timetable and told me that the minibuses worked bi-hourly.

I was already hungry. After sitting so many hours I also wanted to walk and get some fresh air. We had a whole week, no need to hurry to go to Palamutbuku, so we decided to have our late lunch in Datca and wander around a little then take the 17:00 minibus to go to Palamutbuku.


Datca location in Turkiye
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Datca - Palamutbuku​

We had read that for fish and seafood Fevzi’nin Yeri (Fevzi’s Place) is delicious. Moreover they had some of the local dishes and appetizers. Five minutes later we were sitting at the table, listening to the lady explaining to us the menu. Datca has several local dishes and olive oiled vegetables. One of them is “dallampa” which is a salad made with daisy leaves. I read about it while gathering information about Datca peninsula and since then I was looking forward to tasting it. There were quite a number of options to choose from and we decided to order and share, so that we could taste most of it. Although the lady suggested fish soup, because it was so hot we decided to try it later at supper.

We ordered dallampa, sardine wrapped in vine leaves, octopus salad, a local cheese, fish borek, which is a kind of flat dough (filo pastry) filled with fish puree and fried, fishball, calamari. Datca peninsula is also famous with zucchini-courgette flower filled with rice and some herbs, which was delicious. We payed $35. They let us to leave our bags so that we could walk around lighter.

First we headed to the bazaar. It was set in a few streets and the streets were covered with fabrics in order to get some shade. We just wandered in those streets; we didn’t buy anything. Then we went to the seaside and to the pier. Close to the pier is the hotel at which we had made reservations. We asked them about the daily tours and on the way back we stopped to drink a glass of tea by the sea. It has a wooden roof and sides are all open so one can get fresh air. There were many people swimming. We talked about how small Datca was and were guessing what Palamutbuku would look like. After the teas we went back and took our bags and headed to the station for the Palamutbuku minibuses. The timetables can be found at Datca Information (see Web Resources).

At 17:00 our minibus left with 8-10 people. From Datca to Palamutbuku is 10YTL for one way, one person. The scene was so beautiful, although I was feeling tired I didn't want to close my eyes. There are the mountains, olive and almond trees on the sides and a dark blue sea. The journey lasted almost 30-40 minutes. The driver asked if there was anyone staying at the B&Bs and we said we were staying at Buk B&B but we didn't know where it exactly was. He smiled and left us in front of the "Buk pansiyon."

We got off and went to the reception to get the key. The room was not facing the sea as I had stated in the reservation. When we insisted that we preferred to stay in a room facing the sea, he told us that he could change our room the next morning. We unpacked partly, only the swim wear, and went to the seaside. Unpacking can wait. The sea was crystal clear. We swam and returned to unpack. Actually we partly unpacked and left to wander around Palamutbuku.


bencik bay - the narrowest part of the peninsula
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Palamutbuku : Fresh Almonds And Figs​

Palamutbuku is a small place. Along the 2km long seaside there are a few B&Bs and several restaurants. Almost all of the B&Bs also have a restaurant very close so they can serve lunch and dinner at the same tables where you have breakfast. In the bay there is a small island, called Tavsan Adasi (Rabbit Island). There is another island with the same name in Bodrum, and one can walk to the island there, whereas the island in Palamutbükü was too far even to swim to. The sea is so clear that you can see the pebbles at the bottom even 25meters deep.

There are a couple of local shops we call them "bakkal" where you can find basic needs and one of them sells newspapers. Two of the restaurants had tables very close to the sea and I was very impressed by one of them, so we decided to have dinner there one evening. On the way, we checked the menus and saw all of them served fish and seafood with some local appetizers. The prices were similar. We walked to the pier and returned. There were more people around than we expected. Later we learned that some tours come to Palamutbuku by sea for dinner. There were also a few caravans. They stayed one or two days at most. There were more foreign tourists than locals and Turkish ones.

On Sunday morning we woke up at 7 o'clock and went directly to the sea. There are many small fish in the sea, one can see all of them so clear. Then we went for breakfast. Breakfast was moderate. Datca is also famous for its honey. Many hives can be seen around the area; we had seen many on the way from Datca to Palamutbuku. Unfortunately there was no local honey at the breakfast.

While I was just thinking about it, a few children came by. We talked with them and learned that they lived in the neighboring villages. We saw them every morning during our stay at Palamutbuku. They came during breakfast time and sold various fruit, herb teas, almond etc. We bought a kilo fig for 3 YTL (~$2) which were picked a couple of hours earlier.

After the breakfast, we walked to buy a newspaper. We bought fruit; they were just picked in the morning, so fresh, peach, plum, apricot, cherry ... they were all 3 YTL a kilo (~$2). They all had the same price and we wanted to taste them all. We couldn't stop ourselves and ended up buying three kilos of fruit. The only grocery sold fresh almonds too; they were kept in the refrigerator so you had to ask for them.

Until evening we read our books and the notes about Datca we brought from Istanbul.


Seaside and the Tavsan island

Palamutbuku : Full Moon​

On Sunday in the evening we decided to go to the place we saw yesterday. So we got ready and walked to that restaurant. Some of the tables were very close to the sea. The other tables were filled with people in a short time so we were glad that we came a bit early. At the horizon line we saw a small part to the left of the island; there were orange colored, uneven stripes and we were talking about what it could be. After 10-15 minutes the moon rose; it was the moon! I have never seen such a moon rise before. Later we learned that Palamutbuku is the best place to see moon rise in Turkey. I felt very lucky because there was a full moon, it was very romantic. The photograph above is much better than the one we took.

We ordered courgette flowers filled with stuffing, sea beans and some other appetizers and red mullet for the main course. The dessert was a local one with almonds. We paid $30 for all, Turkish coffee was their treat.

We had no hurry and wanted to enjoy each and every minute. After dinner we walked down to and past the pier. There were several restaurants on the way. All of them were almost full.

The other days we stayed in Palamutbuku were more or less the same. There are small villages around but not very close to visit by foot. If you have time the village called Yaka is the closest and there is a place for lunch called Yaka Mengen (see links for their site) very local, a stone building formerly used to make olive oil from olives.

Every evening we had dinner at a different place in Palamutbuku. I would recommend all. The fish was fresh, prices are similar, the atmosphere is relaxing. We ate lots and lots of fresh almond, figs and fish. It was by all means a Mediterranean diet, healthy and delicious.

On Tuesday evening we had packed everything but the swim wear so we would have more time to swim before breakfast. On Wednesday morning we got up and went to swim. Actually I would love to stay the whole week there, but since we had only a week we had to leave to see other parts of the peninsula. At these times I feel like a toddler. When both of his/her hands are full with toys (s)he has to leave one in order to get something new. I had to leave Palamutbuku to go and see other bays and coves of Datca. We had to wait for tea to brew for 20 min. and had our breakfast.

We found ourselves talking about coming to Palamutbuku again in a couple of years. After breakfast we had 10 more minutes for the minibus so we had another glass of tea. Minibus came and we left Palamutbuku behind. We passed by Yaka Mengen's old stone building and decided to have lunch there the next time.


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We arrived in Datca and walked to the harbor. We stayed three nights at Bora Hotel, close to the harbor. We settled in. Today we planned to go to Perili Kosk. We took the minibus; it took almost 20 minutes. It is located in one of the coves around Degirmen Burnu (Wind Mill Cape). I had read that the only accommodation provided here is Perili Kosk(Haunted House) and it was built imitating the old houses of Ula (another district of Mugla). This place is good for sea sports, especially for wind surfing with services provided to yachting tourists operated by an English firm, Sunsail. I had called and mailed them the week before we left for Datca and as for the responses, only package tours are provided, they don’t provide accommodation alone. One must get the whole package.

Although it had a beach, the bay wasn't very suitable for swimming; it was more for sea sports. So we decided to go to Kargi Bay. We returned to Datca and took another minibus to Kargi. Kargi is very close to Datca harbor. There is a cafe called Yesim's cafe in Kargi just in front of the place where the minibuses stop. It has a big garden and you can use the showers. On the beach outside the garden, they also provided chaise longs and sun umbrellas but it was full. We found a table in the garden, at the corner in the shadow of the trees and went directly to swim. After we took a shower, we ordered some snacks. We read our books and chatted a while then went to swim again.

We wanted to walk along the beach. On the other end there was a place under the olive trees, we walked there. We ordered two glasses of tea and looked around. Kargi is visited by all the daily boat tours, there were many boats anchored for a swim break here.

Around 5 o'clock we walked back and took the minibus to return to Datca. That evening we went to Fevzi's Place to eat fish soup. I liked walking on the streets, neither too crowded nor deserted. After the dinner we walked along the seaside.

On Thursday we took the daily boat tour to Cnidus. This tour is called the long tour. In the harbor there is a desk and you can get your name written down on the list for the next day's tours. There are five boats, every day there are two tours. One is the long tour, heading to Cnidus, the other is called the short tour, visiting the bays and coves for swimming. The short tour is named such because the distance it goes is almost half the long one, but the duration of the tour is almost the same. Some of the bays and coves can only be reached from sea, so these tours provide really interesting views of the peninsula. On Thursdays there is a tour to Symi Island as well.

The route of the long tour is; Cnidus, Palamut Buku, Domuz Cukuru (Pig Hole), Dilek Magarası (Wish Cave, photo number 51 at photo album link at the end), Akvaryum (Aquarium). The journey was very interesting for me. We had gone all the way by road but seeing bays and coast from the sea is completely different. I loved the peninsula's coasts. The mountains have small coves and they look so inviting.

There is quite a lot to say about Cnidus itself, so I put all the information I have, on a page of its own. The last page of the report has the historic information and the story of the Aphrodite. We arrived in Cnidus, walked on the 2000 years old streets and looked at the sea from the hill, from the amphitheatre. It was stunning for me. 2000 years ago ships came to the same harbor we got embarked from 20 minutes earlier. It seems that in those days the harbor was very busy. There are two harbors, one on the south and the other on the north. By building a dam across the narrow channel located at Cape Crio (now Deve Boyun) two harbors were created. Warships used the southern harbor, the trade ships used the northern harbor. We talked about the lives of the people of that era, and went down to the harbor to have lunch in the boat. The boat left Cnidus at 2pm. It stopped in all the listed bays and coves on the way back. Each stop was around 30 minutes, people swam and the captain rang a bell to remind everyone the boat was about to leave soon to head another bay or cove. That day was very windy. Normally Datca is known for its nonstop wind, but that day even the locals admitted that it was very windy.

We returned to Datca around 19:00. We went to Ogretmenevi (Teacher's House) for dinner. After dinner, we went to the pier to Cinar. Cinar (read as chinar) is famous for its ice creams. I strongly recommend the almond one; we decided to visit here once everyday. We walked around and went to sleep.

On Friday we were on the daily boat again, this time for the short tour. The route of the short tour is; Hayıt Buku, Domuz Cukuru, Dilek Magarası (wish cave), İnce Burun (Thin Cape), Akvaryum (Aquarium) and Kargı. The sea was beautiful and crystal clear. We swam at almost at every stop. At Hayitbuku the boat docked at the pier so we went out and walked along the seaside. Hayitbuku is smaller than Palamutbuku. There are a few places for accommodation and several restaurants. Tour included the lunch so we had our lunch on the boat.

We returned Datca around 6 o'clock. We changed and went to Eski Datca (old Datca). In Eski Datca there are narrow streets and stone houses with beautiful gardens. We loved to walk around these streets. It is indeed a small avenue of Datca. More information can be found at Datca Info in resources so I am not replicating it here.

On the way back we were waiting at the bus stop and a car stopped and offered to take us to Datca. They were an English couple; we talked all the way long. They had first come to Datca 20 years ago, they were sailing and over the years they visited Datca many times. Later they decided to settle down in old Datca. They had bought a stone house. They seemed very happy; we said goodbye and thanked them.

We had dinner at Papara. It serves Turkish pizza, called pide with "ayran" a drink made with yogurt. We sat in the garden under the trees. After dinner we headed to the harbor to drink spring water or tea. There is a local teahouse just at the corner of the harbor. All the tables are on the sidewalk and it is very, very popular among the locals as well. While drinking tea, one can watch the harbor; it is very busy especially in the evenings.

Saturday was our last day in Datca. We bought thyme honey and almonds for our parents. We went to the bazaar and bought some fresh almonds, limes and figs for ourselves. I bought a hand made sandal for myself. He didn't buy anything for himself. Then we walked to the small lake and ate the figs on the banks of the park, under the trees.

We visited Resadiye. There is a must see old house there; Mehmet Ali Pasa Konagi. Detailed information can be found at their web site under Web Resources, Mehmet Ali Aga Konagi. We liked it there so much I would love to stay there at least for one or two days some time in my life. Resadiye is also like old Datca, it has narrow streets, stone houses with gardens. It was very silent when we arrived, may be because it was lunch time.

We returned Datca and went to a place called Ada (Island) to taste (some more) local dishes. When we arrived we learned in vain that all the main meals were finished. They prepared us a plate with several different vegetables cooked with olive oil. After the meal we went back to the hotel, took our bags and walked to the bus, which would take us to Marmaris.

We want to go to Datca again soon. We liked the peninsula, the people and their food and fruits. It is a very relaxing place by all means. The life is not hectic and people are not in a hurry. The climate is very good. The locals say Datca has a second summer after August, who knows may be we will visit them during their second summer next time. "God would send his beloved servants to datca to live longer".


A stone house on one of the narrow streets of Old Datca
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Knidos - Cnidus​

The city was founded in the 3rd century B.C. With fine harbors at both ends of the city, Knidos - Cnidus became a trading center noted especially for wine. Among the remains here is the Temple of Aphrodite, dedicated to Aphrodite Euploia, the patroness of navigation.

The ancient city Cnidus is one of the 6 Dor cities.

The central cultural and meeting place according to the Greek historian Herodot from Halikarnassos (482 – 429 bce) was Triopion, a temple to Apollo on the Knidos peninsula, whose location is still being disputed by archaeologists today.

Cnidus even participated in the founding of the colonies in Egypt and Sicily in the 7th century bce. Then in the 6th and 5th centuries bce the wealthy people of Cnidus donated a famous shrine to Delphi through the export of olive oil and wine, this was the first marble building on the Greek mainland, including a hall of pillars furnished with paintings by the painter Polynot, a real treasure house.

The Cnidus historian and doctor Ktesias (440 – 380 bce) wrote several volumes on the history of the Near East. The Cnidus mathematician and astronomer Eudoxos (408 – 355 bce) calculated the spherical shape of the world, had his own observatory erected in Cnidus and divided up the night sky according to the stars. The architect and builder Sostratos (340 – 260 bce) designed the plan for the city of Alexandria for the Egyptian King Ptolemaeus and constructed the lighthouse of Pharos, which, because of its height of over 100 meters, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The doctor Euryphon and Herodikos developed new non-medicinal cures.

When the famous sculptor Praxiteles (403 – 335 BCE) offered for sale two statues of Aphrodite in Greece and the Hexapolis around 360 BC, the citizens of Kos decided to take the clothed statue as had always been the case but those of Cnidus bought the naked Goddess. This statue, placed high over the harbors, became so famous that it, according to the Roman novelist Plinius, triggered off a real tourist wave from overseas.

We climbed to enjoy a tremendous panoramic view as we walk along the ancient city walls to the 284 m. high Acropolis. That day there was an intense wind; it made our climbing really hard. The city was arranged in terraces on the hill slope. Near the city wall at the level of 40 meters, the two stone bases of the round temple are located, which in ancient time once housed the famous, naked Aphrodite statue sculptured by Praxiteles. The sculpture has long since disappeared and archaeologists are still searching for her.

The importance and size of the city of Cnidus, also known as an ancient medical center, is confirmed by the size of the lower amphitheatre with seating for 8.000 spectators. The Corinthian Temple, the Demeter Temple* the sundial, graves and numerous remains of buildings that can be seen far before arriving at the site of Cnidus.

*The famous Demeter and Lion Statue from Cnidus can now be seen in the British Museum in London.


Small amphitheatre and harbor

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