Today I’m wrapping summer up with one last blast of sunshine from Turkey before I move into everything autumnal. I have lots of questions coming in about Kalkan – I think a few other bloggers have been out there this year so it’s on the rise as a destination. People are asking me for more detail about what it’s like and whether I’d recommend going there now. Of course I can’t tell you what is and isn’t safe – you have to judge that risk for yourself. However we felt completely comfortable out there, far more than we do in the UK and of course now that the schools have gone back, it will be quieter still. If I were choosing anywhere for one last break away before winter bites, it’s the place I would go to. And I’m delighted to say that I have an offer for you from the owners of the villa that we always stay in so I’ll give you the details at the end of the post. But first I’ll move on from Friday’s post which was about the ebb and flow of a holiday there and bring you some brief highlights from special places in and around Kalkan – Turkey. I’m including links so that this can work as a guide too.
Special places in and around Kalkan – Turkey
A day on the open sea – chartering a gulet
August has always been an important month for us. As I’ve told you before our two youngest boys were both due to be born on 4th August – they were both very much wanted surprises so it was a big coincidence – but one that certainly taught us to approach future Novembers with care! As it happened, the middle one came along on 7th August and you’ve already heard about his birthday effervescence this year. Back in the heatwave of 2003 however we had a longer wait for the youngest who finally made his presence felt on August 13th. And so most years his birthday falls when we’re on holiday and it gets harder and harder to make it stand out.
One of our favourite things to do in Kalkan is spend a lazy day at sea on a gulet, touring around different coves so that we can swim in the deep turquoise waters. We usually go on a shared trip and enjoy meeting five or six other people for the day but this year we felt a little more cautious so we chartered our favourite boatman, Captain Ramazan and his boat to ourselves. For some reason the youngest didn’t want to do this on his actual birthday so we booked it for the day before – like his brother he seems to be getting into the swing of a birthday week. It was a lovely day and a huge treat having the whole boat to ourselves. You get more of a breeze when you’re out at sea…
Kaftan past season from Aspiga
… the lunches are simple and delicious with chicken, freshly caught fish and salad dishes that just keep on coming. By the way as far as bikinis are concerned I took quite a few but my favourites this year came from Animal. I find the surf brands cut them well, they’re designed for people who move around and so they stay put, especially on the behind.
We know Rami well now and he’d decorated the boat with tinsel and balloons for the birthday boy and he even had fireworks – the scary Turkish kind that they hold in their hands!
His fridge is stocked with ice cold wine and beers, he delivers regular ice lollies on board along with refreshing cups of apple tea.
The boys have really bonded as young adults during lockdown. Covid has certainly brought us some big challenges as far as our businesses are concerned but from a family perspective it’s come with far bigger blessings.
Lunch at a mountain trout farm
The following day was his actual birthday and he planned it well. After a lazy start we drove up into the mountains for lunch. You may remember that he was particularly happy when we stayed in a villa up there last year because he loves being amongst the hills and the trees. This was Bodamaya Tepe which is a trout farm. As people in Turkey always do, they remembered us so we had a warm welcome and we were the only people there so we were glad to give them some custom. You can see my fresh trout here with salad and borek (spinach and cheese in filo pastry rolls).
After lunch it was back to the villa for a swim and then an afternoon of board games on the roof – he was on a mission to play every one that we’d brought with us. Here’s Carcassonne, always a favourite.
And then we headed out for dinner at a restaurant of his choosing. I try to get a picture in this spot in the villa’s front garden every year, just so I can marvel at how they’ve grown.
This was my favourite dress of the holiday. I bought it on a whim one day in lockdown from a small boutique that was closing down and selling everything off online.
Rhubarb and custard dress (now in the sale)
It’s from a small Cumbrian brand called Pink City Prints which is an Instagram favourite at the moment. The owner Molly Russell is a graduate from the Glasgow School of Art and she spends six months a year living in Jaipur, designing the prints and working with artisan embroiderers. Her mum is based back at home in Cumbria and she manages the business from her cottage there. You can buy direct from them (my dress is in the sale at the moment) or find Pink City Prints in small boutiques.
The clothes are expensive because of the intensive handicraft that goes into them. They’re beautifully designed and feel fresh and cool to wear. The style I have is one that they do in a number of patterns and you can wear it on or off the shoulder. There are some really stunning prints but I’d advise you to be careful – some of them are so bold that they could end up wearing you rather than the other way round. I like the simplicity of this hand blocked rhubarb and custard stripe.
So, we had our birthday meal and then went to a cocktail bar to meet the eldest’s girlfriend and her pals. Mr MC and I stayed for one drink and then headed off for an evening on our own, leaving the offspring to enjoy the bright lights of Kalkan. The following morning I wondered if we’d have a repeat of birthday exuberance but in the end it was Mr MC who spent the morning in a dark room – a result of his excitement at us being out alone!
A Turkish village breakfast
The one place I really wanted to go back to was Bel Muar, high in the Taurus mountains. You may remember it as the restaurant that we went to last year where the dog ripped his claws through my favourite pink skirt. It was too good for me to hold a grudge and as the cleaners were due at the villa, I managed to persuade the boys to come and experience a Turkish village breakfast in the cool mountain air.
It was every bit as good as last year’s experience which you can read about in detail here.
And the middle one even had the honour of a butterfly landing on his furry face.
Sunset at Patara Beach
If you go to Kalkan don’t miss beautiful Patara beach – eleven uninterrupted miles of sea and white sand. Thanks to the ruins of the huge Roman city that you pass through to reach it and the loggerhead turtles that nest there, there is absolutely no development. The gently shelving sand is silky soft, the water is as warm as a bath and the waves are fun for bobbing around in. Here are our three, as happy as they would have been fifteen years ago with nothing more than a ball and the sea to keep them entertained.
There are loungers in the central section of the beach and it tends to be quite busy there but if you walk just two hundred metres further on, you have the rest of the beach more or less to yourself. It’s one of my happy places.
Beach dress past season from Cleverly Wrapped
We spent an afternoon just reading, relaxing, strolling through the surf and swimming. And when they’d had enough of that the boys found new ways to entertain themselves as you can see, a move inspired by Baywatch apparently (although that would be more them than me). I wore a one-piece rather than my usual bikini because there are more Turkish people than westerners at Patara and it feels a little more respectful.
Patara is famous for its sunsets and so we stayed and watched as the sun sank down…
… until it hit the sea.
We stopped at one of the little roadside shacks on our way back for gözleme (Turkish stuffed pancakes) and couldn’t believe the bill when it came – £1.50 each.
Spontaneous evenings out
All of the restaurants in Kalkan are outside so there’s no worry about social distancing and our evenings out felt more special than usual after the months of lockdown. This one stood out because it caught us at the height of our holiday mood at a cocktail bar – Salonika Lounge. I’d asked the boys to dress nicely so that I could get some family photos (nicely in their book extends to a shirt rather than a t-shirt – but not an iron). By this point though they’d lost patience with sitting nicely for pictures and so instead of a nice mum and sons photo we have the middle one with his top lip covered in froth and I’ve no idea what the youngest was doing…
… the eldest doesn’t appear to be appreciating his younger brother’s unusual display of affection…
… fortunately the youngest was a little more receptive to mine…
… and as always, I was open to Mr MC’s.
You’ve seen this dress lots of times so I didn’t bother taking a proper shot but here it is anyway. I love it as much as I did when I bought it. Over the years I’ve invested carefully in a curated holiday wardrobe and every year it brings me much more pleasure than the thrill of the new.
Mara Hoffman dress past season
We went to one of our favourite restaurants for a dinner (Akin) and after a while the oldest and youngest headed back to the villa, leaving the middle one with us for one more glass of wine. A birthday table exploded spontaneously into Turkish dance insisting that we join them – so we did…
…there was even an exuberant moment of Turkish conga – followed by urgent hand sanitising. One of those evenings of holiday laughter that just comes along (and yes I look six months pregnant – bad posture… or my holiday habit of wine and chips with everything is starting to show).
The romance of Mahal Beach Club
And before I shut the lid on summer, I’ll leave you with one last evening, our penultimate night. I’m very aware that Mr MC’s 50th birthday is looming at the beginning of October and I have no idea yet of how we’re going to celebrate so I thought we’d kick it off while we were somewhere special. We’ve heard about the wonderful restaurant at Mahal Beach Club for years but we’ve never actually been there so we booked a table. The sunset was at 7.30pm so we rushed round early to try to get some photos before the light was lost and we just made it. It must be one of the most romantic places on the planet – the tables are placed on intimate rocks and decks that jut out over the sea and the water laps around you as you eat.
Mara Hoffman dress past season
We had to wait for a while until the bar opened so we sat and watched as the waiters bustled around setting everything up…
… and then indulged in a cocktail…
Until our table was ready…
We agreed that whatever we do, there’s no way we’re going to be able to beat it for his big day. As a result he’s said that the one thing he’d really like for his birthday is to go back there for a few days and stay at the hotel… but sadly I can’t see that happening. Maybe next Spring…
And that’s a wrap, possibly our last big family holiday but who knows? There are so many changes ahead for our boys over the next twelve months that it’s impossible for us to look ahead to next summer. However if it was our last, it was a very, very happy one. And perhaps it’s time for us to hand the conch over to you for a while…
Special reader offer for visiting Kalkan
I know quite a few of you have stayed at our much loved Yellow Villa now, so much so that it’s been fully booked for the last few years. The owners Sheila and Simon tell me that you’ve been the perfect guests and so to rebuild their guest book for next year, they’re offering 10% off any stays booked by readers of Midlifechic during 2020/21. It’s hard to predict how things will be with Covid next summer but I know that they’ve been flexible with bookings this year, if you’re interested you’ll just have to chat to them about that.
I can’t recommend Yellow Villa more than by the fact that we’ve returned year after year and I hope we’ll go back again when the boys’ lives are more predictable. If you’d like more information, you can read all about it and find Sheila’s contact details here. I also wrote a review of Yellow Villa here (when the boys were smaller but some of the outfits were the same!). You can also find up to date information about Kalkan itself by joining this very good Facebook group: Visit Kalkan Online.
So that’s it, a fond farewell to summer. Hopefully by the time the season of sunshine and freedom rolls round again we’ll all be able to travel again without any sense of worry or fear. Now it’s time to start thinking about the season ahead which, it has to be said, doesn’t feel quite like any other autumn. I’m going to start off on Friday with a quick look at the best of the new drops and then next week I’ll perhaps start with some planning so that together we can focus on what an A/W wardrobe actually needs this year. In the meantime I have a long train journey ahead on Thursday so I’m looking forward to catching up with your comments. Have a good week – and enjoy the heatwave if you’re in the south.
Disclosure: ‘Special places in and around Kalkan – Turkey’ is not a sponsored post
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