Written for Fethiye Times and with photos by Mike Vickers
Feature photo above: This is why it’s called the Turquoise Coast, but there’s something particularly luminous about the colour of the sea at Kekova.
On landing at Dalaman, one of the most immediately noticeable differences between the UK and Turkey is the quality and quantity of the light. It’s blindingly obvious – literally – from the moment you touch down. As you exit from the cool, cavernous and blessedly dim interior of the terminal building into the blazing strength of a full-on summer’s afternoon, the dazzling sunlight promptly overwhelms your poor traumatized irises and, with a passable impression of Mr Magoo lost on a foggy night out, you stagger, disorientated, a hand clamped protectively over your eyes, straight into the nearest flower bed, closely followed by your suitcase!
Fortunately, your time spent flopping around on hands and knees squinting at the gazanias is short-lived as a chuckling, oh-so-cool, Ray-Ban-wearing coach driver gently helps you back to your feet while brushing several twigs and a family of startled cicadas from your hair. You get the impression from his easy-going expertise that this is not the first time he’s hauled some poor half-blinded tourist out of the shrubbery. You can, of course, avoid this particular embarrassment by booking a night flight, but then you’d be depriving some quality entertainment for the posse of charming local drivers waiting patiently to take you to your hotel.
Joking aside, the fact remains that for many months throughout the year, gorgeous golden sunshine streams down from a cloudless deep blue sky, and although the high summer heat can at times be exhaustingly relentless, and despite the fact that the light is so brilliant everyone has to wear welding goggles – even in bed – this light provides an underlying vibrant luminosity to life that is quite simply extraordinary. That amazing quality elevates the intensity of colours in a way that you just don’t see in good old Blighty, where, unsurprisingly, grey has been the ‘in’ colour for interior designers across the nation over the last decade. Surely that tells you something?
Thankfully, this is not so in Turkey. Colours fizz and pop out here, as any photographer will readily confirm. It’s fantastic, and all that gorgeous sunshine makes for lovely bright pictures, whatever the season. So, here’s a random collection for you, based on no one particular theme, but all full of wonderful Turkish colour.
Let’s start with terliks, those comfy traditional house slippers. As far as we can tell, the general principle appears to be the gaudier the better, and you can get some fabulously kaleidoscopic designs in Fethiye’s Tuesday market. These are ours and we take them with us whenever we visit our Turkish friends. As you can appreciate in a Muslim country, it’s polite to leave your shoes at the front door. On a personal note, I’ve also been known to use my terliks to disguise any embarrassing holes that have mysteriously appeared in the toes of my socks. Real men wear pink, by the way.
And while we’re on the subject of eating, Jan rustled up this lovely plate of kisir, one of our favourite dishes. As you can see, we’re also founding members of The Bright & Cheerful Tablecloth Society of Turkey. In our world, the only pastels we are aware of are fruity and made by Rowntree.
Not a hint of taupe in sight. The steel branches of our Trusty Rusty Drying Tree sport some wondrous colours. I’m particularly proud of my swimming trunks, which are sufficiently jaunty enough to be visible on the latest Google Earth satellite photos of Babataşi. I also have another back-up pair in canary yellow patterned with a jolly troupe of multi-coloured dancing turtles – as you do.
You don’t always have to look up at the sky to enjoy a heavenly sunset. I noticed these ever-changing patterns of bronze and black reflected on the waters of Köyceğiz lake as dusk fell.
These colourful purses caught my eye, lined up like library books in a shop window in central Fethiye. Looks like we’ve got some synchronized zip-ography going on here…
I love the contrasting rich colour of this ancient weathered door in Mustafapaşa. Sadly, the town is way over in Cappadocia so we rarely visit, but Jan and I both agree it’s without doubt one of the loveliest places we’ve ever seen in Turkey.
While we’re in Cappadocia, although most of the unique geological formations are various hues of volcanic ash grey, there are a few areas where the rocks are a wonderfully rich ochre in colour. As you can imagine, these glow like hot coals at sunset, including this fairy chimney weathered into the profile of a Whirling Dervish dancer, his face in shadow under his tall hat, arms folded across his chest and robes flowing.
A lovely spring day found Jan and I walking through this wonderful Field of Gold on our way to visit the amphitheatre in Kaş a few years ago. Sting wandered past in the opposite direction, humming his eponymous song.
Closer to home, these cheerful rainbow steps entice you up into Fethiye’s Old Town near the amphitheatre.
When you think about it, planting flowers along any road anywhere on the planet is done for one reason only – to bring pleasure! Those lovely people at Fethiye belediye have really excelled themselves this year with their choice of sunshine yellow and Jaffa orange marigolds. Packed together in a companionably colourful crowd, this is a joyous sight, especially if you’re waiting at the lights. Again. Now there’s another 90 seconds of your life you’ll never get back…
Wow! Now that’s quite an armchair. We came across this veritable explosion of pattern and colour in Göcek. It’s one of those unique pieces that will either complement your decor – or it won’t. Big time! I think this is just fab-u-lous, dahling, but I can appreciate some might not be quite so keen. If so, I’m pretty sure Plumbs still make their best-selling range of beige chair covers, although you’ll probably need to double up with two sets to totally conceal this gorgeous baby!
You don’t necessarily even need daylight to take a colourful photo. I snapped this while we were having a relaxing dinner in Datça under a brilliant full moon.
Here’s a traditional wooden Ottoman balcony in Kaş, bright with geraniums and framed by bougainvillea. Talking of flowers…
…even white blooms can take on an edge of brilliance. These alliums enjoy a panoramic view of Meis from their home on the end of the Kaş peninsula.
The minaret in Seki provides a shadow particularly suited to a very tall and thin person, so that definitely excludes me on both counts! How’s that for an absolutely flawless steely-blue summer sky.
Here’s a row of extremely pink bikes for your precious princess. I particularly like the handlebar tassels. Very stylish.
One of these is my long-standing faithful old computer case brought out from a perennially overcast UK and the other is my exuberant new one bought here in Turkey. Can you guess which one is which?
If you think olives only come in green and black, think again. These big fat creamy blushing beauties at Çaliş market invariably prove too tempting for Jan. The red ones are steeped in beetroot juice. Personally, I don’t like olives, but…
…I do love apples and beans and peppers and aubergines. There are thousands of wonderful open markets across Turkey just like this one and all are packed with delicious produce, hum with happy chatter – and are crammed full of colour.
Finally, here’s a lovely bright rainbow snack from our favourite seafront cafe in Fethiye. How’s that for a well-dressed glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice! Nothing like a satisfying drink and a generous slice of ultra-sticky cake to bolster the spirit. You will not be surprised, I’m sure, to hear we both require bolstering on a disturbingly regular basis. Come to Daddy!
A wide range of articles on Turkey and Fethiye in particular can be found on mickvicktravels.com