Our day-trip up the Dalyan river gave us just a tiny taste of the wonders that a visit to Turkey has to offer- and it was delicious! It felt strange to be doing a cruise on someone else's boat, but it was much dryer than our dinghy would have been, and it was great to be able to relax and enjoy the view. Our skipper Walter was cheerful and friendly, although since his English was only slightly better than our Turkish, he was unable to tell us much about the sites along the way.
Our co-passengers were four Germans who had charted a boat for two weeks. All spoke good English, and we enjoyed talking with them during the cruise and hearing about their previous sailing experiences in Turkey.
On the way to the mouth of the river, Walter took us past some caves under the cliffs. We'd previously gone right by these in our dinghy without even realizing they were there.
About half an hour later, we motored past the long sandy beach that is a turtle nesting ground, and into the labyrinth of rushes in the river that would take us to Kaunos. It quickly became clear that it would have been a bad idea to attempt this journey on our own.
This protected area is said to be populated by many beautiful birds, but we saw only two- one was a beautiful turquoise colour, and one was pure white, similar to an egret.
We disembarked at Kaunos, the site of an ancient Carian city that dates back to the 9th century BC. The city adopted a Hellenistic (Greek) culture, so the site resembles many we have seen in Greece and Sicily. There was an impressive theatre, the remains of a Greek temple and an old Christian basilica and baths, among other things. A big difference to the sites we have visited in Greece was that we were permitted free access to all areas. (In Greece, the temples are typically roped off and can be viewed, but not entered.)
This local resident was a little camera-shy!
From the site, the old harbour, once open to the Mediterranean but now fully silted by the river, was clearly visible.
The highlight of the expedition was seeing the tombs along the river banks. Because Kaunos was so close to the Lycian border, these were built in Lycian style. Apparently there are many other examples of these throughout Turkey. Walter pointed to the large tombs and said "kings" the middling-sized tombs were "generals" and the small ones were "soldiers".
We disembarked in Dalyan and had half an hour to wander through the streets and have lunch. The town is pleasant, in spite of the numerous tourist-focused businesses that line the streets.
We had a great lunch at a very low price in a small sidewalk restaurant: delicious Turkish bread, hummus, eggplant salad, tiny cheese rolls similar to Tunisian briq, squash fritters, Fanta and bottled water, for 16 lira. Then it was back to the boat, where we had to wait about half an hour for the other passengers to return, but since it was a very pleasant place to sit we really didn't mind. On the return trip, at times the river was quite crowded with boats, many carrying Turkish passengers enjoying the last day of Seker Bayrami.
When we got back to the anchorage, we took a look at the calendar and decided that we should head back to Marmaris rather than continuing on to Fethiye bay as we had originally planned. The sad reality is that we have run out of time. We left early the next morning and spent one night in Netzel marina, which is more expensive and not quite as nice as Yacht Marine, but has the advantage of a location that is just steps away from the town of Marmaris. While we were at Netzel, we got another quote on the deck work, hosted a small onboard party with Bill and Karen Foss and their friends, had dinner at Ney (good, but not as good as the meal we had in the little café in Dalyan, and a lot more expensive!) visited several chandleries and shopped at the weekly farmers market. Now we are back at Yacht Marine, and the next few days will be consumed with the tasks required to get the boat ready for the winter. If we move quickly, perhaps we'll have time for a little land-based sightseeing before we fly home. And if not, we'll be back in the spring!