From its Mediterranean ports to the resort towns of the Aegean, Turkey’s southwest coast is more accessible than ever, tempting travelers with a mix of natural beauty, fabulous food, and evocative ruins —including two of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Isn’t it time you experienced its delights for yourself?
By Christopher P. Hill
Photographs by Martin Westlake
Breakfast—that’s what i’ll miss most about Turkey. Not that my trip isn’t filled with memorable moments (it is, and then some), but there’s nothing like starting the day the Turkish way, with a tulip glass of sweet black tea, bowls of glistening olives, mounds of salty goat’s cheese, plump red tomatoes, fresh fig preserves, and wads of the paper-thin flatbread they call yufka. Savored slowly over good conversation, Turkish breakfasts are, to borrow my new friend Halit Ada’s favorite expression, “Fantastic!”
It’s over one such spread, augmented with spicy lamb salami and omelets drizzled with Anatolian honey, that I quiz Halit about life in Kalkan, the Anglo-centric resort town on Turkey’s southwest coast where i’ve based myself for four nights.
“In Antalya, you have the Russian tourists. In Alanya, the Germans. Here, it’s mostly British,” he says, flashing the impish smile that served him well as a stage comedian in Istanbul during his youth. “Twenty hours a day talking English, four hours talking Turkish. My God, can you imagine? It is like Little Britain.”
Halit doesn’t mean that as a knock. Originally from Kars in eastern Turkey, he first came to Kalkan in 1986, at the age of 23, to help one of his five brothers sell silver jewelry to the town’s trickle of visitors. “It was so small back then, maybe 300 people, just a few carpet shops, pansiyons, a marina only half the size it is now,” he recalls. “To tell you truthfully, it was a little boring. But it changed my life.” As European sunseekers began venturing beyond the Turkish Riviera’s more established resort areas—places like Bodrum and Marmaris and Antalya—Kalkan flourished. And so, too, did Halit.