Newest Review: ... the harbour are utterly delightful. The shops and restaurants are quite commercialised, as is to be expected in such a popular resort b... more
Beware Turks bearing hammers
Member Name: grahamt
Date: 20/10/11, updated on 26/10/11 (74 review reads)
Advantages: Sun ; sea ; food...
Disadvantages: ...but no [local] sand
Those of you who know your history will be well aware that this region of Turkey was subject to great turmoil after the First World War when, in the early 20s, Kamal Ataturk guided the creation of the Turkey we know today from a very different geographical disposition.
Much of the mainland where Kalkan is situated was at the time Greek whilst most of the off-shore islands were Turkish. Conflicts between the Greek and Turkish governments resulted in the mutually agreed policy of forced expulsions of Greeks and Turks from their former homes. It is for this reason that we find today Greek islands just a few miles off of the now Turkish coastline.
If you read Louis de Berniere's "Birds Without Wings" you will get a good feel for the impact that this draconian solution had on families who were made to leave the homes that they and they ancestors had occupied for generations, many side-by-side and in perfect harmony with neighbours of the opposite ethnic origins and religious persuasion. Politicians have a lot to answer for!
We landed at Dalaman Airport on Monarch from Gatwick amidst heavy rain. Clearing customs and collecting our luggage was relatively pain-free in this modern airport. As Turkey is not [yet] in the EU, a visa for a stay of up to 90 days has to be purchased at the airport for the princely sum of £10 per person (which is payable in Pounds Sterling). This covers you even if you take a trip to a Greek island during your stay.
We were greeted by representatives of Anatolian Sky, who appeared all to be ex-pats, now living in Turkey. They were all very helpful and seemed to be spaced out at every point where we might need a decision on which direction to take to our coach to the resort. The journey took around 2 hours, including a comfort stop. The original single-track road is currently being upgraded to dual carriageway and so the transfer may well be shorter in future.
Turkey is not in the EU, although are trying desperately to join. The problem of their "zone of influence", Northern Cyprus, will probably need to be resolved first though. It is also one of those countries where you would be well advised to buy your local currency at the resort rather than in the UK. The local currency is the Turkish Lira. If you visited Turkey in the past you will probably remember getting thousands of Lira to the pound. Those days are gone. A few years ago, Turkey realigned its currency and withdrew all the old notes and coins.
I did acquire a small quantity of Liras before we left the UK, just to have something to use during the first day or so. I got 2.64 to the pound at Eurochange. In the resort itself you would be able to change currency almost anywhere and benefit from the general rate of 2.80 I even saw one shop offering 2.83. It is quite safe to change money in any bank, post office or shop but I suggest you restrict yourself to just these outlets. I suggest you don't change money at the hotels though: ours, for instance, was only offering 2.75.
I also saw Pounds Sterling and Euros widely accepted and you will get your change in Lira.
With one notable exception, credit cards are widely accepted and we had no qualms in presenting them. Everywhere we used them, modern portable terminals were brought to us although the screens only seem to display instructions in Turkish, even though this was a UK card!
...is basically an old Greek fishing village, which has grown to meet the demand, mostly from Brit visitors. The heart is still the original old town as it probably has been, more or less, for years. The tight-packed buildings, narrow alleyways and steep climbs up from the harbour are utterly delightful. The shops and restaurants are quite commercialised, as is to be expected in such a popular resort but adds a charm that never quite descends into tackiness.
Outside of the old town things get a little more utilitarian. Frankly, the majority of the commercial buildings around here would struggle to win any prizes for architectural merit. Further out and higher up, as you move further and further away from the harbour, are most of the new housing developments and some of these are quite attractive. Many are being bought by Brits choosing somewhere less expensive and warmer to retire. You can get good value for your money.
The harbour area is where the day cruise and visiting yachts moor. Running alongside the edge of the harbour are a number of restaurants and bars which have terraces on one side of the access road and the actual restaurant on the other. You can sit at either but most people take the terraces. We did have couple of beers in one one morning and, although the prices are a little higher here they are not excessively so.
Sun, sea and sand
The town itself has only a small, stony beach which is often almost totally submerged. Few visitors patronise it, most preferring to stay around their hotel pools or to take a dolmus or a scheduled bus the 30 minute journey around the coast to Patara Beach.
Kalkan has over 300 restaurants; you are not going to get to try every single one during your holiday; deal with it!
Gourmet - A triumph of style over substance - Highly rated on TripAdvisor (14) so we had to give it a try. Big mistake! Yes the place is tastefully decorated. Yes the views from the terraces are good (though by no means the best). Yes the food is beautifully presented; I just wish more care had been taken over the cooking and serving of the dishes as was over the squiggles of soy sauces around the edge of the plate! Our starters were brought before we had finished our tasters. They asked what we wanted for dessert before we had even been served our main course. They forgot to bring us our main course, which arrived over-cooked. They charged our wine the next table (suppose I shouldn't complain about that except they eventually realise their mistake)! And it wasn't even good value, had they service been acceptable. All in all a memorable night out, but for all the wrong reasons. We would not return.
Mango - Bob Marley! - on the Kalamar road and nearly opposite Moonlight (below), we dropped in here one lunchtime, on our way back to the hotel. The food is good and the prices here, out of the main town area, reasonable. However, the music choice is very much reggae, with Bob Marley well to the fore! The restaurant's tables are near the road and so there is some traffic noise. However, if it does rain or there is remorseless sunshine, they do have a canopy that they can wind out to cover the tables.
Akin - Sitting on the dock of the bay - Well, just a little above it actually, so you benefit from better views than you do at harbour level. Once again, the food is good (we had lunch) and the atmosphere here is very pleasant. We had the Turkish version of tapas (meze) and a couple of beers, and a very nice way to spend an hour or so it was.
Rami's Fish Restaurant - All to ourselves, nearly - I simply don't understand why on the night we ate there there weren't more customers. Rami's is closer to the harbour and has no high buildings in front of it so the views from its terrace are outstanding. The food there is superb; the choice if fish is unequalled in any other restaurant in which we ate. The fish is all fresh caught so inevitably not all will be available on the day; we had no such disappointments though.
The food is beautifully prepared and perfectly cooked. The accompanying wine, chosen for a small but well chosen selection, was delicious. The service was excellent. The value for money beyond reproach. Rami's deserves to be far better patronised than it was the night we were there. Mind you, there are always those who value style over substance.
Moonlight - Wouldn't you Credit it, the Best in Kalkan - Saving the best till last. Found purely by chance: out of the centre of town, you could walk right by and not realise it was there. Located on the Kalamar road, above an estate agents and a car hire office, a discreet sign announces its presence. Entered at the side of the building, up steps, you climb to a tiny rooftop terrace with simply staggering views over Kalkan, probably the best. There is only space for 10 tables and all were full the night we ate. You will not get a table here without booking well in advance.
The food can be chosen from a set menu or A la carte but, if the latter you must notify your choices at the time of booking. I recommend that you stick to the set menu: I defy you not to be able to find something you like and at under 35 TL it is staggeringly good value for money. The wine list is limited but contains good choices. The food is very much local in orientation and utterly delicious. This was definitely the best food we had tasted anywhere in Kalkan.
So, what's the down-side? Not discovered until we came to pay, they do not accept credit cards! Fortunately, they are happy to take any currency; we paid in Pounds Sterling - £40 for two, including wine and tip. Unbelievable.
The dolmus is alive and well but these days it no longer consists of a huge old American car with shot shock-absorbers and saggy seats. The general transportation is the minibus seating around 10 people. I even saw one where in order to squeeze in an extra person that placed a plastic garden chair by the door. Clearly H&S has yet to reach Turkey!
There are also regular scheduled buses, which you can catch from the bus stop in the town or from the bus station at the top of the town. Fares are very similar by either scheduled service or dolmus but, of course, you can flag down a dolmus anywhere.
We took trips to nearby Kaş and to Patara Beach. Both were 5 Lira each way, per person. They will try to get you to commit to a set time for a return journey in advance but I suggest you resist. There is no price benefit and you are then tied to an agreed return time no matter what.
Both buses and dolmus have a regularity of around every half hour and most depart on the hour or half hour.
Cruises - As I mentioned, there are a number of yachts of various sizes, lined up in the harbour, touting for your trade for a day out cruising around the bay. It appears that there is fierce competition and, it seems that violence between owners is not unknown. When we were walking down for our trip there was clearly a very unpleasant situation developing between two big guys, surrounded by dozens of others trying to keep them apart. One was carrying a huge hammer so he obviously meant business!
However, the actual trip itself was very enjoyable, aboard Sea Bella. We cruised out to a well-known swimming spot with blue waters and cliff caves. The boat provided snorkels so you could go fish spotting. I was surprised that there was so little underwater flora and fauna and can see no real reason why.
There was another stop for a swim in the afternoon, after our on-board lunch. The food was good and drinks are available but at an extra cost. Prices for drinks were slightly more expensive than ashore. The cost of the tickets for the day was £35 per person.
Patara Beach - We also went to Patara Beach where you can enjoy real sandy beaches rather than the stony one that you find in Kalkan itself. There is 18kms of beach and the bus from Kalkan drops you right at the southern end.
13 Lira will give you two sun-loungers and a sunshade for the day. The sunloungers were in very good condition, unlike the broken old wrecks we have found elsewhere in the Med.
There is a beach restaurant here, where you can get snack but don't expect anything special. Burger and chips is typical. You can also get your drinks to drink in or take back to the beach.
The restaurant also has fairly decent, modern, clean toilets but don't be surprised to find some stalls have "squat" type toilets rather than pedestal ones.
On the approach to the beach you can see on both sides of the road the ruins of the ancient Lycian city. I was interested to see that the original amphitheatre is currently being reproduced alongside it, presumably to to be used for actual concerts. I assume that the original structure was in too dangerous a condition to be reconstructed.
Kaş - A similar town along the coast, the coastal journey takes in some stunning scenery; the day out is worth it almost for the journey alone. A bit bigger than Kalkan, we went on the day we did (Thursday) because they have there an open-air market. We didn't buy anything but there is certainly a lot on offer, largely divided 50/50 between food and non-food.
The old town area is the most interesting part, with much the same sort of attraction as Kalkan: mostly restaurants and bars. We had lunch on the Harbour at the Mercan Restaurant. A very nice atmosphere and extremely good food, fish for both of us, washed down with a very enjoyable local white wine.
Tlos - Not just Patara, the whole area around here is filled with the ruins of ancient cities and the one at Tlos is one of the principal ones of the region. We enjoyed a morning climbing and walking around the site, accompanied by a guide who pointed out the various constructions from different eras.
Saklikent Gorge - After our visit to Tlos we were taken on for a visit to the Saklikent Gorge. This deep rock formation extends around 13kms inland and carries a rapid watercourse out from the mountains behind. Initially you walk along a raised metal walkway bolted to the the rock wall on one side. This leads, after around 150m to a more open area where you could picnic if you wanted.
To get beyond this is, however, a lot more difficult. A raging stream runs out into the main watercourse and you have to cross this to get to the shingle on the other side if you want to get further. However, there is nothing to aid you in your crossing. A couple tried it and abandoned the attempt; one made it across but it is clearly quite risky.
Returning to the entrance to the site you'll find the usual stalls for memorabilia, and food.
We very much enjoyed our visit to Kalkan and the surrounding area. Had the weather been better we probably would have done more but this was the middle of October so, although temperatures in general are warm, the weather conditions can be variable. The centre of Kalkan gets very busy at night and, although we didn't spot any nightclubs or things of that sort, if you enjoy eating your really can't go much wrong. We could ask little more. Hopefully it would suit you too.
Summary: An attractive and lively little resort in a historical area of Turkey