Just before flying out to Marmaris, Turkey, I read a typically scare-mongering Daily Mail article touting drunken youths and clashes with angry locals as the mainstay of the tourist resort. On arrival, it was easy to believe the article was all fact: gaudy night clubs, British food on every menu and rows upon rows of visiting sunbathers baking on the beach. But look a little deeper and you’ll find a gem of a holiday, as long as you’re okay with embracing your inner Brit-abroad…
I’ll start with the sun, because the sun was omnipresent and insanely strong. I thought I’d be prepared for it, what with Britain’s July “heat wave”, but 46 degrees left our summer out in the cold. The only thing I felt like doing was lying flat out on my back with a good book, an icy drink and regular naps in the shade. This was largely brilliant, as I needed rest after a hectic month at work and all the sunbeds on the beach were pleasantly comfy and completely free.
The upside to the heat was the ocean, which was gloriously icy, despite the burning shore. If you’re tempting to stay by your hotel pool, don’t. Wade into the sea and face the beach and you’ll see lines of sunbathers and crowded restaurants, but face towards the horizon and you could be anywhere, with tree-stuffed, craggy mountains and endless blue.
That’s not to say all you should do is sunbathe away your stay in Marmaris; a boat trip to Turtle Beach and the Dalyan River made my holiday. After three hours on a large ship, cruising through the ocean past stunning salt cliffs, we transferred onto smaller river boats to ferry us to Turtle Beach. Turtle Beach is a spit of sand bordered by two different waters: fresh water from the Dalyan on one side and salt water from the Med on the other. Bobbing in the waves by this remote and unique shore, I felt euphoric. The turtles themselves were huge, with big googly eyes, made visible when they poked their heads out of the water to get a taste of the fresh crab we were savouring on-board. Afterwards, we meandered through the Dalyan, bordered by yellow reeds and ancient tombs carved into the mountainside.
What amazed me the most about Maramis was the hospitality of the locals. From the bar staff who gave us tips and directions, to the men manning the sunbeds who remembered everyone’s names to the waiter who insisted on giving us ‘good’ wine, even though we’d ordered ‘house,’ but didn’t charge us for the difference. A special mention needs to go the staff at Hotel Hermes where we stayed; they had a dance routine for every old-school UK chart song and infected even the most stuffiest guests with enthusiasm, or cajoled them into joining in. At the beginning we groaned; at the end we loved it.
A week in Marmaris both wiped out and upheld the stereotypes – beauty is easy to find and the hospitality is incredible, but if you want to spend a week by the pool, eating fish and chips and getting wasted, you’d manage just fine.