We flew into Dalaman airport, which also serves Bodrum and Marmaris and waited for the transfer company which Mark had arranged with the hotel (€18). We were an hour late arriving but there was no sign of them, so Mark walked ten minutes in the scoring heat to the International terminal and saw his name on the board. The girl then explained in broken English that she would be dropped off in town, and that the driver would take us to our lodgings 30 mins away.
Dalyan Doga Otel (€40 per night) was probably the prettiest, most homely of our hotels of the trip so far, with its purple window sills, flowers and fruit trees. Great location! We were greeted by the friendly woman who worked there, who were more than willing to help us settle in, despite most of them struggling with English. We dropped our bags in our lovely room, which was clean, pretty, spacious and even had its own balcony. We then went to chill out on the practically empty sunbeds by the pool, and soon we were enjoying the water, and playing with the hotel’s black Labrador-cross.
We started exploring the area and found a nice restaurant, apparently offering free beer (on closer inspection the sign actually read ‘free internet and cold beer’, just with certain key words written in extremely small!). The enthusiastic waiter took our order of English breakfast (€4, with proper pork sausages and bacon, unlike Morocco and Egypt) and fish and chips (€8) and a local, Efes shandy, which was all delicious.
On our first full day we woke up bright and early for the trip to Pamukkale – Cotton Castle (with Aya Niccola, €66 each, 50% for the trip itself, 50% for the half-hour transfer to Mugla to join the trip), in central Turkey. We were met by a car outside the hotel which took us to a large roadside cafe about half an hour away near Mugla city. There we joined the minibus from Marmaris which climbed the mountains and stopped after another thirty minutes for a prearranged stop for a Turkish buffet breakfast in a large service station restaurant (included in the price of the trip). The choices were somewhat limited; it was bread rolls, boiled eggs, cucumber, tomato, olives, jams and feta (drinks and other pastries were extra). With a bag full of bread rolls and jams we boarded the bus for another 2 hours to Pamukkale, with a quick rest stop. Our guide explained how the same geographical features that produced the famous white Travertines, also produce excellent onyx stone, and took us to a workshop. There there was a demonstration of how the stones are cut and polished, following by an opportunity to buy in the shop. From there we stopped at a buffet restaurant just in front of the travertines which offered a cracking selection of salad and veg, plus Turkish rice, beans and kebab meat (lamb and chicken diner) from the hot counter. As the first ones in we were able to beat the queue and squeeze in double helpings and watermelon for desserts.
The coach dropped us at the top of the hill and we strolled through the Ruins of Hierapolis, to the changing rooms at the Cleopatra Ancient pool. The pool was full of 35°C spring water, with broken columns on the bottom. Cleopatra supposed sent for the waters to stay young, but at €11 entry we decided to spend our time in the main area of the site, the spectacular, ice-white travertines, and the natural pools within.
You have to remove you shoes so as not to damage the travertines. The descending pools form a beautiful spectacle. The water is warm, which is nice. We were warned not to smoother ourselves in the calcium-rich mud as with all the bathers it isn’t so clean. The guide told us we could leave our bags at his table but we should take our cameras and valuables. We were having to find dry places every now and then to put our camera and valuables down so we could enjoy the bathing pools (lucky we took our towel with us so we used it to wrap up our valuables – it would have been better if we had taken a small bag with us).
Our second day saw us take the Dalyan Classic tour (€11) from the same agency, Aya Niccola. We were driven to a boat on the river where we were taken seaward. There we saw tombs in the cliffs to a brackish lake behind Turtle Beach, where we saw a turtle chasing a crab on a line, so we could see it swim. Then the captain showed us some live blue crabs you could order for later (€4 each) before we docked at the beach for swimming, sunbathing etc. We met a very friendly Turkish tourist called Serkan.
We ate at a buffet-style fish place called ‘The Other Side’ just across the river from Dalyan, as part of the trip (drinks were extra). The food was excellent!
Next stop was the famous Mud Baths. The agency said the trip would take us to the big one, as there are two places where you can do it, but they didn’t. The tour took us to the small one. We paid €2 entrance fee, which the tour agency said was included, but it wasn’t. There was a reasonably sized pool with mud on the bottom for you to plaster yourself with, a hot sulphur water pool and showers. We caked ourselves then stood around to dry. A very different experience which left my skin feeling great afterwards.
The next morning we were up waiting for our airport taxi at 6AM, booked through Aya Niccola, but it never came. We had booked it a day before and confirmed the booking the evening before. The hotel called us one. We should had asked the hotel to arrange everything from the beginning as the price for the taxi was the best we found. Our flight was an hour late but that was no problem as we had a 4 hour stop-over in Istanbul.
Dalyan is a place we fell in love with!