|The Datca Peninsula is a narrow, mountainous finger of land that stretches from Marmaris for about 100 Km into the Aegean Sea between the Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes. Because there is only one narrow road leading out to the point at Knidos and back it must dissuade many tourists - we found it quiet, unspoiled and absolutely stunning.
As we drove along the narrow highway, we were reminded of the words to the old John Denver song, "You fill up my senses...." as it is a perfect way to describe this place: the taste of salty feta cheese and pine scented honey; the sound of sheep bells and the call from the minarets; the smell of wild thyme all over the hills; the sight of the olive-tree covered mountains plunging into the turquoise Mediterranean; and the feel of all the Turkish hands you shake after any exchange. That may sound very poetic, but Turkey seems to do that to you!
As in every other place we have stopped, we were scooped up during a walk by Zarife, a vibrant and friendly Turkish woman, and taken home for ay (Turkish tea, pronounced chai), which turned into lunch, which turned into us having her over for dinner in Gypsy, which turned into us using her shower and having breakfast, and on it went! She steered us down to the almost deserted beach below her house where we camped beside the Mediterranean for several days - bothered only by having to share it with the local kids on Friday night....
We drove out to Knidos at the end of the Peninsula along the winding mountain road. Parts of it reminded us of the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler with the mountains on one side and the sea on the other - however, here the road is only one lane wide, is likely to be overrun by goats and tractors (the main means of transportation here in Turkey), and is slowed further by the small villages you have to drive through - creating excitement for the men sitting outside the tea houses playing some kind of game with tiles. Knidos was a prosperous port city dating from 400 BC and the ruins are scattered along 3 Km at the end of the peninsula occupied only by goatherds and their flocks. The setting is dramatic: steep hillsides terraced and planted with groves of olive, almond and fruit trees rising above a picture perfect bay. The ruins are interesting - but it is the feeling of being there, all alone, in this remote location that gives it such a special feeling.
We also met the first other campers we have encountered on this trip - a delightful couple from near Limoges in France. They flew out of their motor home as fast as we did when we saw each other parked on a lookout high over the Mediterranean near Marmaris - they had driven through E. Europe as we had and for each of us, it was the first encounter with another camper! We camped together at the harbour in Datca and shared a good bottle of Hungarian wine and agreed to meet at Dalyan, further along the coast, to share Christmas dinner.