I arrived in the early hours of the morning to be greeted by a huge warm smile from Naz who runs the Samira Garden. I was shown to a lovely room and settled in. The following day I climbed the stairs to the roof top restaurant and was blown away by the stunning views across Kalkan. I love the Turkish breakfast so tucked into goat's cheese, fresh fruit, bread rolls and a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
I stayed at the Samira Garden for the last two weeks of October 2009. The hotel is tiny but perfectly formed with a small pool, plenty of sunbeds and shady seating areas. The pool is ice cold and it's kept at that temperature to stop algae growing on it. The hotel even has a little library in the basement, so you won't be short of reading material.
Without me even asking I was moved into a fantastic room with a balcony and jacuzzi bath halfway through the first week. I never expected it but Karen the Thomas Cook rep thought I should have a room with a balcony ( I never expect anything glamorous as a solo traveller, but that was an unexpected treat).
Naz and her team do everything they can to make you feel welcome. Everyone hangs out in the bar area between 6-8pm before walking down the hill into Kalkan. I was adopted by a fabulous group of people from High Wycombe on the first night who asked me to join them at The Fish Terrace. I have to say that the company and the food were fantastic, they really made my introduction to Kalkan memorable.
In fact everyone I met in Kalkan was very friendly, by the end of the first week I felt like I had lived there for years! I was never alone for long and often took people that I'd met into the shops I'd been in and recommended the restaurants that I'd tried. My favourite restaurants were Kaya (great magic tricks at the table and heavenly grouper fish on mustard mash), Kosk (fantastic meatballs), The Fish Terrace (very special), Kaptans (fantastic views over the beach, good vegetarian menu as well as the meat option), Fez (delicious Manti), Pide (Turkish pizza) at BBQ and Cafe Del Mar (my favourite hangout in the late afternoon, famous for its cakes!). One of my favourite nights was at The Samira Hotel's belly dancing night, it was fantastic fun and great value for money, do not miss it!
It's only a ten minute walk into town, but it is very steep, do not, I repeat do not take high heels to this town, it's impossible to walk in them, not only are the paths steep but the stones are slippy too. Take flat shoes with a good grip on the sole. Leave some room in your suitcase as the shopping is good! There's also market in Kalkan on Thursdays and one in Fethiye every Tuesday.
Kalkan is famous for its 100 plus restaurants which clamber up the steep slopes of this pretty town. It can be found in the Lycian region of Turkey, which makes it ideal for the more adventurous traveller who likes to get out and about. You can book trips to the Greek island of Meis, walk through the ice cold waters of the Saklikent Gorge, stroll along turtle beach at Olu Deniz, or snooze on Patara beach (which is said to be one of the best in Turkey). It’s easy to book an organised tour, a taxi or even go by local dolmus to many sites of interest including the church of St. Nicholas in Demre and the World Heritage site of Xanthos. It’s also possible to go to Istanbul by overnight bus from Kalkan.
Alternatively, you could enjoy the fake mudbath that’s available on the daily boat tours from the harbour. I say fake because when the Captain stopped in a little rocky bay yelling “Mud bath! Mud bath!” I was hard pressed to see where the mud actually was. The beach looked bone dry to me. It could only be reached after clambering over very sharp rocks (invest in a pair jelly shoes for this, 10 lira from the shop in town). There were a group of walkers sheltering from the heat of the sun under an overhanging rock at the time. I soon realised that the ‘mud bath’ was going to involve a bit of creative thinking when the captain’s helper shot off the boat with a plastic bowl in his hand. As soon as he arrived on land he started grabbing handfuls of clay and mixing it with seawater, soon the ‘mud bath’ was ready to be slapped on any brave tourist that made it across the rocks! Everyone swore that their skin felt softer afterwards.
It often says in the guides that Kalkan doesn’t have its own beach, I can confirm that it does, it’s just a small one. It’s also an experience. There is an art to getting in and out of the sea on Kalkan beach and I didn’t work it out the first time I went in, or rather fell in! The rocks spread beneath your feet as you attempt to clamber down the slope to it and your feet sink up to your ankles. I stubbed my toes so many times getting in, but it was worth it as the sea was like a warm bath. The inclination to stay in the sea was quite strong as I couldn’t see how I was going to clamber out again! As I looked around some people shuffled out on their bums and others opted for the hands and knees approach which is what I did. That was when I noticed a lady walking as though nothing was sucking on her feet dragging her down. She was wearing the jelly shoes and that’s when I decided to invest in a pair.
Kalkan is one of the friendliest places I have ever been too. Nothing is too much trouble as the people like to ensure that you are having a good time. As a solo female you will get chatted up. I got a tip in Northern Cyprus to say ‘maybe’ or ‘I’ll think about it’ if asked out as most Turkish guys would leave me alone, whereas if I said no outright they would keep pushing. It was a good tip, ‘maybe’ works, its non-committal. It’s easy to be flattered by the chat up lines until you realise that any solo female will do!
You will also be offered chai from the shopkeepers, I recommend that you take up the offer, you won’t be put under pressure to buy and it’s a great way to get to know everybody. Although if I’d accepted every offer I got on my last day I might have missed my plane home!
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Samira Garden