Saturday, 9 August 2014

Our visit to Kabak and the Lissya Hotel

This week we are 'on holiday' and we are trying to tick some of the things off the list of places that we have wanted to visit but somehow never have. One of these places is Kabak. We have heard many people extolling the virtues of the place but for some reason we have never actually been there.

So yesterday we set off to have a look. We used to be a bit confused when people talked about visiting Faralya and Kabak because we couldn't find these places on our map. That is because officially the villages of Kozağaç and Kirme on the Lycian way to Oludeniz, along with Faralya, Kızılcakaya and Kabak are jointly known as Uzunyurt which is indeed the name on the sign you see as you pass along the road and on most maps. The reason for this is that none of these hamlets have sufficient population for them to be officially declared villages in their own right.

Leaving Oludeniz past Lycia World hotel which we visited last year, the winding road climbs very steeply offering both amazing views back over Oludeniz and a fairly scary ride. The road is tarmac, but is not particularly wide and you have a very high sheer drop to one side of you. There are however, several places where you can pull over to enjoy the views and to take photographs. We actually saw a Turkish bride and groom having photographs taken by the side of the road, with the bride looking very beautiful in her stunning wedding dress.

Stunning views along the way

The road passes over the top of Butterfly Valley, famous as one of the long standing boat trips out of Oludeniz, and on into the hamlet of Faralya where there are several places to stop for a drink and/or a meal. Other than bearing right at a fork in the road, this road carries on until it finally finishes in the hamlet of Kabak. The next village along is reached by taking the left fork which goes up and over the mountain before reaching the village the other side.

People tell me that not so many years ago Kabak was totally unspoilt but that tourism is gradually making its stamp in the form of various forms of accommodation ranging from camp sites up to a new boutique hotel. Well because we are on holiday we thought blow the expense so we headed straight for the New Lissya hotel which sitting at the top of the hamlet offers outstanding views of the area.

The hotel is situated up a 700 metre very steep, single vehicle earth track which is not for the faint hearted driver! If you are visiting Kabak on public transport the staff will provide transport from the bottom if you request it beforehand.

On arrival at their small car park there is a lovely water feature set in a small cave and this is indicative of the whole site because there are interesting little bits and pieces spread around throughout the area. I loved that.

Interesting water feature at the entrance

We received an extremely warm welcome from Sabriye the hotel manager, in fact all of the staff we came into contact with were welcoming and friendly. I certainly got the impression that because the hotel only accommodates a maximum of 18 people the service would be friendly and attentive.

Loved the bits and pieces laying around the site

We were jolly hungry by the time we reached the hotel so we decided to eat before even looking round. We opted for a Turkish Breakfast and we weren't disappointed. We had a good selection of food, washed down with water and coffee, which we really enjoyed on a terrace offering stunning views of Kabak and the coastline down below.

Khavalti - yum yum

The hotel which was five years in the making opened it's doors for the first time last year, and offers 6 standard double rooms, each in individual bungalow style accommodation with their own terrace overlooking the village and the bay and 2 suites with sitting room and jacuzzi. The rooms have a mini bar, flat screen TV, air conditioning, free wi-fi, telephone, safe deposit box, hair dryer, bathrobe, free toiletries a king size orthopaedic bed and the hotel offer room service. The suites also have a fireplace and can sleep three people as there is a sofa bed in the sitting room.

The bungalow style accommodation. Each have a terrace at the front to enjoy the stunning views

The grounds are steep in places with many steps so would not suit everyone, but are well maintained with a köşk, two swinging chairs and a day bed with chiffon curtains around all facing the stunning scenery, where one could savour the beauty of the place and truly unwind. It is such a peaceful setting.

köşk with a view!

The pool area is adjacent to the well stocked bar which had several different malts on offer, several liqueurs, JD, Bombay Sapphire Gin to name just some as well as the standard beers and spirits you would expect most bars to have. We noticed when we were in the restaurant that there was also a wide selection of wines available too. They even had Cuban cigars kept in a humidor - a special box which maintains the correct humidity.

A selection of Cuban cigars 

The infinity pool is divine, I have never seen a cleaner pool, the sun deck which surrounds it is all decking and the sun loungers are wooden ones. It's a very relaxing and pleasant area.

Even the pool has a view

The hotel say that their menu includes Ottoman, Greek and Armenian meals which are known as the "Turkish cuisine", although their chefs can offer alternative dishes on request as well as being able to provide for special dietary requirements. A lot of the ingredients are grown organically in their gardens. They offer a snack menu during the day and will provide packed lunches. As the Lycian way runs literally beside the hotel, it is perfectly situated as a base for anyone wishing to enjoy some walking. 

Good selection of wines

This hotel does not come cheap with rooms which are around £240 per night (prices per room not per person) on a half board basis. Turkish breakfast was 30 tl per head and a bottle of Efes is 13tl. However as it has limited capacity the staff can offer attention to detail and cater to individual tastes and requirements. It is certainly perfect for anyone needing time out from a stressful job, a weekend away for a special occasion or to just spoil yourself. I could easily have been persuaded to stay if it were not for the fact that four hungry dogs were awaiting our return.

It is possible to visit the hotel for the day and to use their facilities, and there is no charge to do so but you would need to check beforehand as they do restrict the numbers visiting. They also do not allow children under 14 years of age. 

After a great afternoon enjoying our time at Lissya we were back on the road heading for home. Again enjoying the spectacular views that the drive provides. We decided to have a pit stop when we reached Faralya and chose a restaurant at random because they seemed to have a terrace making the most of those spectacular views. It was a fantastic choice, the Turkish people there were lovely and we enjoyed an Efes on the terrace before we reluctantly left this beautiful area. We will definitely be visiting Kabak again sooner rather than later - we loved it. Next time we will head down to the beach.

Pit stop on the way home at Yoruk Evi in Faralya

If you want to visit Kabak and do not fancy the drive the dolmuş run a regular service from Oludeniz which is around 25 km away. There are several places to eat and drink both along the route and in Kabak itself. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The best birthday ever on board Alis 1

Wow! What a fantastic birthday I enjoyed yesterday. As this was such a big deal - the 60th, I had thought long and hard about how I would celebrate this special occasion. Then suddenly in a flash I realised that the very best thing I could think of would be to hire Ali Tugsat's boat Alis 1 for the evening and I could not have made a better decision. We have hired Ali's boat Alis 1 privately twice before and were so impressed that I wrote a piece about the Calis co-operative boats and Ali's boat in particular last year.


So with Ali's boat booked and the birthday cake ordered from the amazing cook Granny's Orange I was able to enjoy a quiet and leisurely birthday. David insisted that he do all the housework yesterday so I was truly spoilt. How nice was that?!

Our adopted daughter Aylin drove all the way from Antalya to join in the celebrations and arrived at lunchtime with pide from the village so I didn't even have to prepare any food yesterday - what a joy!

We enjoyed an afternoon of catching up and then went down to Calis on the dolmus where we all met up for a drink before we went to Ali's boat.

As always we received a warm welcome from Ali and his family. It was lovely to meet not only his mum again, but also his lovely new wife who joined us on the trip. They had gone to the trouble of putting decorations on the boat and some friends had brought balloons and banners so it was quite the birthday setting!

I extolled the virtues of hiring Ali's boat last year but I make no apologies for repeating my sentiments now, because to us he is the perfect host. His mum does all the cooking and after a swim in incredibly warm water and watching the sun go down, we yet again enjoyed the awesome food that she cooks. It is Turkish home cooking at it's absolute best. I have never had food that comes close on any other trip or indeed in many restaurants. Worth the trip for the food alone believe me.

'Mum's' cooking - Turkish food at it's very best Yum ......

.......... yum ...............

............ yummy!

Feeling rather over indulged Ali put some music on for us so we could dance a bit of the excess off before the grand cutting of the cake. We opted for mainly Turkish music and also had great fun attempting to dance to Zorba the Greek, which of course gets quicker and quicker as it goes along culminating in tangled limbs and lots of laughter along the way.

After some of the guests enjoyed a night time swim, it was time for the cake to be presented. Then a wonderful surprise when Ali set fireworks off from the front of the boat.

Here comes the cake ..........

followed by surprise fireworks from the front of the boat!

The ride back to Calis at night is always a joy with the views of the lights of Calis and Fethiye town, and was a perfect ending to a perfect day. Thank you to all my friends, Sam for her wonderful cake and to Ali and his family for making it such a special and memorable day. A great time was had by all.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Happy Birthday to me!

Well this is it, the day has arrived. I am now very old - 60 years! Where have all those years gone. I have been dreading this birthday and for the last few weeks I have been getting increasingly grumpy and difficult. I just don't know why this birthday has affected me so much.

However, after the depressing build up, now that the day has arrived the irony is that I feel fine. This morning on my Facebook page Birthday wishes have poured in from all over the world, and that has made me feel so loved and I realise just how very lucky I am.

I googled '60 years old' this morning to see if there were any words of wisdom. One I didn't like and would have been mortified if someone had sent me was: "Every wrinkle has its story. You must have a lot of stories to tell" Not really what you want to hear is it?!

But two others made me feel a lot better. The first "Who said you’re sixty? You are just a 20 year old with 40 years of experience" and the second - You are not turning 60. You are just turning 20 for the third time. Much more palatable words to hear.

So this morning I am feeling good to be enjoying my birthday in this beautiful country with the sun shining down. Tonight we have hired our favourite boat Alis 1 with the fantastic captain Ali and together with some very dear friends we shall watch the sunset over the water and celebrate together.

What more could I ask?

Well just one thing that my children and grand daughter were here to share it with me. Unfortunately this has not been possible. But this morning I received a video of my grand daughter singing Happy Birthday to you. She is only 22 months old, they must have been practising for weeks. I'm so proud.

Feeling loved! Maybe being 60 is not as bad as I thought after all!

Friday, 1 August 2014

My day out to the Charity shops

I do realise that many of you will think I am a crazy woman, but today I have had a brilliant day - visiting the local charity shops. Earlier in the week a friend mentioned that they were going to pick something up from the Embrace Charity shop on Friday. Lover of charity shops that I am I had actually never been to that particular one for some reason, so I invited myself along to have a look.

Embrace Charity shop

So this morning off we went to Günlükbaşı where their shop is based. I bought two books, a blow up boat for my grand daughter to have in the pool and a toilet seat! You see you never know where you are going to find those really useful things! I was really interested to hear about the work that Embrace do with providing funding for children with health issues. Embrace have been running for around 6 years and during that time have helped school children with eye tests, and providing medication and glasses as required. More recently they have provided hi-tech hearing aids for four children thereby transforming their lives. A worthwhile cause I am sure you will all agree.

One of today's purchases - a boat for Rosie

It seemed a shame to be so close to Çaliş and not pop in to the 3C's shop based under the Eyna restaurant on the sea front.  This charity was also set up to enhance the lives of local, disadvantaged children and over the last few years they have raised a staggering amount of money which has made a real difference to so many children's lives. Also they are responsible for organising two of my most favourite things - the winter car boots and the excellent Çaliş Christmas Fair. You see you don't just improve the children's lives that you help, you improve mine too by providing with me with the opportunity to attend these excellent events. Thank you 3C's!

I found two items to purchase a pair of trousers and a dress - very nice. I spent a long time looking at some net curtain material which would have gone perfectly with the new curtains I bought earlier this week, but unfortunately I had to accept in the end that there just was not quite enough for my needs. Of course it was impossible to go there without partaking in one of the restaurant's excellent English breakfasts and superb cups of coffee.

Eyna never disappoint with their English breakfast

Well having got this far it was obvious we should also stop at the Animal Aid Charity shop in Günlükbaşı on the way back. You all know this is a charity very close to my heart and the difference they have made to the lives of hundreds of street dogs and cats over the years is phenomenal. Here I found a pair of flip flops - unusual because being size 8 I normally have a problem buying shoes here, a swim suit and a jumper. Very happy.

Animal Aid shop - picture taken on their opening day last year

Earlier today I had requested more information about a sewing machine I had seen advertised and whilst we were riding around the lady rang, so we arranged to go on to Hisaronu to see it. It looked perfect for my needs, so we bought that too. Now I just have to dredge up my old sewing skills unused for many years and then I can do all those little jobs that need doing! Those of you who read the post on my efforts to make the cats beds last year will be thinking "Yea right" - I know! So time will tell whether this was a prudent purchase or not.

This morning I copied a video onto my personal Facebook page which had impressed me. It showed a homeless man begging in the street - you may have seen it. A young lad leant down and asked him if he could borrow the bucket that the man had beside him with his bedding roll in. The man was obviously very confused by this request but eventually he hesitantly gave him the bucket. The young lad promptly put his hat on the floor, turned the bucket upside down and began to play it like a drum. Passers by started to slow down and stop to watch him 'playing' this bucket. After a few minutes a second young man arrived and sat the other side of the beggar and began to play a guitar he had with him and to sing. More people stopped to watch. Another few moments went by and a young lady came and sat next to him and harmonised with the singer. By now many people were standing around watching this impromptu concert and were putting money in the hat that the lad had placed. When they had finished the song, the first lad thanked the man for the loan of his bucket and gave him the hat full of money as payment for the loan. As they walked away the lad got a new hat out of his bag and put on his head, leaving the homeless man with not only the money but also a new hat.

Later this morning I noticed this video on my Facebook news feed from another person who had posted it. Below it somebody had commented what a waste of time this was. It would only buy the guy a sandwich and a cup of tea for today. What good did that do for tomorrow and all the other days? That it was not sorting the problem for the homeless people. To my mind this is just the kind of attitude that does not help. The point is that these three youngsters did something. For a few moments that man felt supported and valued, was going to eat and had a new hat!

Today the lady at the Embrace Charity shop told me that each hi-tech hearing aid they supply costs 5,000 tl. Now we spent 5 tl in that shop today buying our bits that had been donated. Which means that they needed another 999 customers spending the same, to purchase just one of these aids. Yet to date they have supplied four. Can you imagine hearing birds sing or your mother's voice for the first time at 15 years of age? You see together we do make a difference.

So my message is that if you have loads of money and wouldn't be seen dead buying items in a charity shop then have a sort out and donate some unwanted items. If like us you live on a tight budget, visit them - you find some amazing bargains and all our small individual inputs do make a difference to the world.