Who loves Turkey more than me? What feeds my soul more than the beauty of carpets, kilims and textiles? What are some of my most restoring activities? A long swim, a hike through the quiet of archeological ruins, a day at the beach or just relaxing in beautiful, peaceful surroundings with a good book are all ways that I love to unwind from the daily routine of city life.
Jack and I have found the perfect place to settle for a week of rest and relaxation. We are guests this week at Peter Scholten’s newly opened Lycia House on Turkey’s south coast. Located high above the Mediterranean in the small village… of Islamlar Peter’s traditionally built stone house is proving the perfect retreat for us. The ground floor has been mindfully planned into a suite with three bedrooms ( 2 doubles and one bedroom with twin beds), en suite bathrooms, a small TV/reading room and a shared lounge with a kitchenette complete the layout. The french doors open onto the stone terrace adjacent to the pool. When booking this accommodation we chose to pay a premium that ensured that we would be the only guests this week. For Jack and I and our love of privacy it was a good decision.
Peter, a retired carpet dealer from Pennsylvania, has decorated the ground floor suite with wonderful Central Asian carpets, textiles and kilims and the upper floor has his impressive central Anatolian collection. I love waking with not only the sea view and breezes but the visual delight of the textile art on the walls and the rugs and chuvals on the floor.
Breakfast is provided on the second floor balcony overlooking the sea, mountains and valley. Peter willingly provides a breakfast suited to personal tastes and dietary needs. We have been served oatmeal sweetened with pekmez (a grape molasses), local cheeses and village bread. Fresh fruit, tomatoes, olives and eggs from the village hens make for a great start to the day. Jack loves the flexibility of being able to put a pot of coffee on in the suite early in the morning and having that quiet start to the day that includes his cup of coffee.
Islamlar where Peter built his home remains a true working village. The grapes are being harvested now in the valley. In the mornings as we drive down the hill the empty wooden flats are on the roadside and on our return in the evening the flats are full of the grapes waiting to be picked up and taken off to the central distribution depot. Women drive flocks of goats up the road. Baking bread is communally undertaken at the wood burning ovens. For me staying in this village holds much more appeal than staying in one of the seaside resorts.
Close by the towns of Kalkan and Kas have a bumping nightlife and a myriad of restaurants. We followed up on a recommendation from an Istanbul restauranteur and had a dinner at Coast, a harbour side establishment in Kalkan. I had the house speciality of a braised lamb dish cooked with spices and pomegranate molasses, tender and delectable. Jack had the sea bass in a very light sauce that he enjoyed thoroughly.
There are also a collection of smaller, simple restaurants that line the road as one climbs the 7 km from the coast to the village. We had a couple of meals at Bodamya Tepe, a small restaurant with a lovely garden terrace serving traditional Turkish cuisine and trout, the local speciality. The restaurant names harkens to the former name of the village when it was a Greek community.
For me it is the perfect start to the day to be able to roll out of bed in the mornings and into the pool to swim some laps followed by yoga on a private terrace. Lycia House offers this option and I love it.
We joined Peter on a day trip yesterday. We were meeting a colleague in Fethiye for lunch at the fish bazaar and en route we stopped and visited the ruins at Pinara. Peter was very familiar with the site and his recommendation to visit was excellent as the ruins were absolutely wonderful. They are so interesting with some unique archeological features including heart shaped columns and a Lycian tomb crowned with carved bull’s horns. The site is overlooked by a massive stone cliff with dozens of Lycian tombs carved into the rock face.
Next week we join a small group in Istanbul for a tour in Eastern Turkey. I am looking forward to visiting monasteries, medreses, bazaars and ancient sites. This week has been the perfect preparation for time spent in a group – lots of solitude, reading, walking and being pampered at Peter’s place – Lycia House. A great destination for anyone with some time to retreat to Turkey’s south coast.