A 1,700+ mile flight, a 1+ hour transfer each way… is it possible to go for just a weekend to Marmaris, Turkey? Absolutely!
This time last week we were walking in the beautiful Turkish sunshine on the long path between Marmaris and Içmeler. For those that have taken that walk, you’ll know what I mean by ‘the long path’. It’s one we’ve walked many times. We’d been in Turkey for just 40 hours and had already packed so much in to our weekend, a trip that was a surprise for my husband’s 50th birthday. It had been a very difficult secret to keep, I was bursting knowing we were returning to a place we love so much, and neither Roger nor our daughter knew where we were going until we walked up to the departure gate at Stansted and they saw ‘Dalaman’ in big letters on the display screen.
I could have chosen other places for his surprise, destinations that maybe haven’t had the constant media bashing about safety concerns, but there was never any doubt that Marmaris would be the place to celebrate. It won hands down.
It’s such a special place for my family and I. We celebrated our first birthday together in Marmaris 17 years ago during a trip which started off as a normal holiday booking but turned out to be our honeymoon. Then we visited a couple of times annually for a few years, including when I was very, very pregnant with our daughter, followed by a trip months later when she was just 11 weeks old. We’ve holidayed there with friends and with family and every street, and every corner, hold precious memories for us.
Yes, there’s no denying that Turkey has its problems at the moment with attacks concerning the Islamic State and Kurdish militants, but many other countries are under threat too, my own included. The FCO has warnings about travelling to Turkey, but let us not forget that the main worries are related to travel within 10 kms of the border with Syria which is extremely far away from Marmaris and other resorts. Yes, we can’t ignore the fact that it’s increasingly likely that tourists from Western countries may be targeted, but that’s true for virtually anywhere now. This country is seriously suffering from the decline in tourism due to these threats and the terrible attacks in Ankara and Istanbul. Turkey needs our support.
So, what did we do for the weekend? Well, here’s my top 5 tips and suggestions for making a weekend to remember in this beautiful country. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.
There are many flights from the UK to Dalaman but it’s being made very difficult this year due to cancellations by companies such as Thomas Cook (who apparently ‘anticipated a decline in demand’ and thereby caused complications and chaos for the many that had already booked holidays. Luckily, easyJet didn’t let us down. We chose the early morning flight on Friday morning from Stansted, arriving in Dalaman at 1pm local time which gave us the whole of Friday afternoon and evening to make a start on our birthday celebrations (it was both our birthdays on the flight day). Stansted is a bit far for us so I booked an overnight stay on the Thursday night at the Radisson Blu which is located right at the airport, with a good deal which included parking. It’s a 3 minute walk, totally undercover, from the hotel to the terminal so our day got off to a stress-free start. Add to that easyJet’s speedy boarding and you’re laughing. The flight home wasn’t until late into Monday evening, giving us almost the whole of the day to complete our little holiday.
So, as it was Roger’s 50th birthday, I wanted to do something a little special and different. Our friend Zeynep suggested 8 Oda and… wow. Absolutely fantastic and a true gem, tucked up by the Castle near to the Marina. Although I’d booked the ‘Green House’, one of the authentically restored houses, the lovely owner Ali had moved us to the ‘Luxury Suite’, and luxury it most definitely was.
A gorgeous home set over 4 floors with the best Seaview in Marmaris looking right across the Marina. Everything about it was perfect, from the bathrooms and bedrooms to the furniture and location, it really was a treat.
When we first arrived and had our tour, we were greeted with a tray of three birthday cakes, decorated with ‘50’ for Roger, ‘48’ for me and ‘nearly 15’ for our daughter. Our friend Zeynep had something to do with this gift… and we met her that evening, along with her children, for a catch up chat having not seen them for almost three years.
Get in touch with 8 Oda for that special place to stay.
Private Boat Trip
Boat trips in Turkey are fantastic but we’re not fans of the packed trips. So, I wanted to find a private boat trip for the three of us and came across Tülübey on Facebook. We arrived at the boat, located just opposite Burger King at the start of the Marina, at 0930 on the Saturday morning and were greeted by Umet and Soylu, our crew for the day. The deck was covered in birthday balloons for Roger, which slowly escaped to the freedom of the sea throughout the day.
Visiting 5 different bays, with the opportunity to swim, snorkel and play, it’s a treat from start to finish (which was gone 5:30pm by the time we arrived back to Marmaris.)
The lunch was an absolute feast, from freshly BBQ’d chicken and meatballs, to borek (my favourite) and stuffed vine leaves. More food than we could eat, washed down with a glass or two of wine. Nothing was too much for these guys and they even presented Roger with a birthday cake and played our daughter’s Vamps music on the sail back to shore. Check out their Facebook page and see the different treats they offer, including evening cruises too (you can email them at Tulubey1boat@gmail.com. Thank you Umet and Soylu!
The Marmaris to Içmeler Walk
We do this walk every time we visit…
So, you can either get to Içmeler by road (dolmuş or taxi), sea (taxi boat) or by foot. All have their own charms but the walk is heaven. Make sure you’re hydrated before setting off, and that you are sun-creamed and wearing a hat, as it’s a long, hot walk. Just follow the path along the sea front of Marmaris and you soon leave the hustle and bustle. Saying that, it’s more built up than it was when we first walked along that path 17 years ago. Huge hotels, mainly all-inclusive with private restaurants etc. In fact, there are not too many places you can stop for a drink (unless you’re a hotel guest) so make sure you take some water with you.
We did find two stops en route – Palace Beach and Café del Mar. Palace Beach is a vision of white sofas, white curtains, and ‘easy’ music. By day it’s a quiet drinks stop but their website suggests it really comes alive at night as a club. The Café Del Mar is a lovely little café looking over the sea, and with great staff. We chatted to Mustafa and talked about how much quieter the season is, and how he may have to consider giving up the café work and getting a job in the government after this season. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it won’t come to that. After our couple of stops we soon arrived in Içmeler where we spent the rest of the day. Then, a little crazily, we decided to walk back to Marmaris. My feet are still annoyed with me over that… Each way is approximately 10 km. Eek!
Ok, each meal we had during the short stay was gorgeous… but I’ve chosen two of our favourite restaurants, both very different.
First, if you love authentic Turkish food, please visit the Kerem restaurant in Içmeler (Osmangazi Cd No:30). The building itself is beautiful, winning an architectural award for its designer Nail Cakirhan, in 1992. It’s a mixture of stone and wood and decorated in a typical Turkish style. The lady owner is lovely, very friendly and really wants you to have a great meal and to enjoy the ambience. The guest book is absolutely bursting with comments by visitors from all over the world. I had a dish called Patlicanli Köfte Güveçte which is full of meatballs, tomato, pepper, mushroom, potato, onion, garlic and fried aubergine. If I try really hard, I can still taste it, it was sooooo good. You will leave the restaurant feeling full and satisfied and also determined to visit next time you’re in Içmeler. We’ll definitely be going back.
The second restaurant is very different and well worth the visit. Piccadilly’s is full of fun, great food, entertaining waiters and a welcome that is hard to beat. Recep Karaagaç (also known as Reg Piccadilly) will make sure your visit is one to remember. The food is great value and quickly served. The background music will get your feet tapping and you’ll find yourself enthusiastically doing the actions to songs such as Superman (remember that one?) Our daughter is still laughing at the waiter doing very high Irish dancing kicks in front of her, nearly causing himself an injury. Try Piccadilly’s for breakfast, you won’t be disappointed, as well as for lunch and/or dinner. It’s what my husband and I called ‘Old Skool Marmaris’. The restaurant is packed every single night. You’ll find it up on the large roundabout on the road which starts to head out to Icmeler.
So, there you go. Please, do visit this area of Turkey if you have the opportunity. We felt relaxed, happy and, above all, very safe during our stay. Marmaris has something for everyone, from touristy fun to beautiful scenery and heritage. Any bad bits? Yes, the fact you have to leave at the end of your holiday…