Yalikavak Turkey – It’s not Bodrum, but a better neighbor

(updated 07 September 2015)

If you are over the age of 25, Bodrum isn’t the place for you.  And by a happy misunderstanding, I happened upon Yalikavak, approximately 18 km over the hill and around the bend, for a relaxing and amazing holiday experience.

Nights

Okay, so I’m going to start off with my complaint, and that’s pretty much because I just looked at their website again (so that I can provide it to you) and remembered what my issue was.  The 4Reasons Hotel (http://www.4reasonshotel.com/) states on their website “a hip, small, luxury boutique hotel in Bodrum.”   Traveler beware: they are NOT in Bodrum.   They are in Yalikavak and it will take you about 40 minutes to arrive, and cost you 110 TL to get there and back if you don’t have a car.  So be forewarned.  But truly, if this is the only flaw that I can note – and it is! – then this is where you want to stay!

The above said, however, I loved this hotel!  The staff were amazing, the rooms lovely, and depending on what room type you choose – I had the Passionate, even though I was traveling alone, simply because I wanted a large room with a view to the sea – it can be the perfect vacation location.  Within 45 minutes you can walk down to the beach and rent the requisite sun bed and umbrella but, really, why?  The pool is amazing and peaceful!  And since the previous writing in 2014, the rooms have been updated with larger beds and a lovely banquet along the right-hand wall that is far more functional than the 2 wicker chairs that used to be in the room.

4Reasons Passionate Roomview to port from Four ReasonsP.S. If an all-inclusive place to stay is  what you want, there are a number lining the road to Bodrum.  I can’t vouch for any of these, but here are some options that you can investigate further: Club Blue Dreams, Rixos (looks like Vegas!), Golden Savoy (another that looks like Vegas!) and Kervanesse (I think that is the spelling).

Bites

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you will know that I prefer not to eat at hotel restaurants.  As luck would have it, my first night in Yalikavak, I didn’t have a reservation so I stayed at the hotel and ate at their restaurant.   What a joy!  The views to the sea were stunning, the soft jazz a perfect accompaniment, and the food truly outstanding!   By the time I arrived here, I had already started to go through pasta withdraw so how happy was I to see their version of pasta with 4 cheese sauce?  The pasta was cooked perfectly, and the different cheeses than what I was used to was a happy experience.

But don’t stay here every night (although you could).  Walk down to Yalikavak and you will find the “boardwalk” lined with all variety of restaurants.

Although I didn’t eat here, I met two fellow travelers who ate at Sofi’s and they said it was outstanding.  Apparently, there was a “show” of belly dancers and whatnot, which I wouldn’t have enjoyed, but if that’s your thing, I trust their judgment.

I opted to go to Elma Restaurant (regrettably, this restaurant is now closed due to the growth of Yalikavak with the new, large, Marina). I had heard that they had vegetarian options – they don’t, really, at least nothing that is different from every other restaurant in Turkey – but the mezzes were amazing and the Mediterranean salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and cheese the absolute highlight.  And the owner/manager, Ali, was a charmer and totally engaging with stories of Turkey, literature, and the books he’s read.  I would return just for the conversation!

1 new find, which I think is also new to the Yalikavak dining scene is Giggles (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Giggles/239981516202222) which was an absolute dream recommendation from the Four Reasons. The night of our reservation, there was some confusion about a rental car we arranged and, as we passed by, the staff asked if I was Mr Panner, I said I was, and he said that Ali from the Four Reasons (Ali is the best!) was coming to meet us, and that Giggles would hold our table until we were finished! 1 hour late, we returned and the mezze were phenomenal and the pasta and fish outstanding. And the staff?! They were so nice and attentive that, on subsequent nights when just passing the restaurant, they would wave and smile. Love it!

And very new to the restaurant scene in Yalikavak is Ege Restaurant (https://www.facebook.com/Egerestaurantbar) as it has only been open for a couple of months. Once again, Ali from the Four Reasons recommneded this (in place of another reservation we had) and it was incredible.   I tell you, make this the first restaurant you run to when you arrive in Yalikavak! Situated on the water front, with lovely views out to the sea, are reason enough to run to this restaurant.   But then the mezze selection is simply over-the-top incredible! My friend had the catch of the day and couldn’t stop raving about how tasty it was and utterly perfect.   And for this vegetarian… I was a very happy boy; they didn’t have anything on the menu for a vegetarian (other than more mezze) so the owner, Esat – an incredibily lovely and helpful man – said “leave it with me” and I did.   And up comes a lovely tomato and cucumber salad and although not much, I would have been fine with that. But then comes the most incredible pizza/flat bread type things that I have ever seen, nor eaten. I can’t really describe them, but I can tell you that I am drooling about them right now.   And still smiling!   Love. This. Restaurant.

view from Ege Restaurant 02 Ege Restaurant mezzeSights

I can’t comment on Bodrum and couldn’t even fathom to venture over there – crowds aren’t my thing I’m afraid – so I’ll leave it to you to venture out and explore.

The one thing that you must do is take a bus tour to Pamukkale.  Your hotel may try and arrange a private car service but, to be honest, it’s a long haul and you see a lot of villages  and nothing else, so why not take the cheaper route and do a bus tour?  Traveler be warned however: it takes about 4.5 hours to get to Pamukkale from Bodrum, and they stop along the way for a “break,” a carpet tour, and “lunch,” but as long as you know what you are getting in to, it’s worth it.

Since I’ve been to Pamukkale before, and absolutely loved it, and recommend that everyone go at least once in their lives, I now have more insight! On my second return, I opted for the rental car option with a GPS. You can do an organized tour as described above but I honestly thought the car option was better. But be warned: GPS in Turkey is not the best and we were often concerned that we were lost and it took a bit longer to drive than the tour bus did, but it was worth it. My recommendation: pay attention to how you arrive at your hotel – if I hadn’t, I may still be driving around! – print maps from home that you understand, and be prepared for an adventure!

Pamukkale terrace 03

Pamukkale and the ruins around it are absolutely stunning and even though it may be 105F/43C, the sheer beauty and natural wonder of the place will make it all worthwhile!  And for about $15, you can wade in an ancient pool that is supposed to cure some of our ailments.  (I didn’t do it because it looked overpriced and not worth the crowd!)

Hierapolis amphitheatre inside 02So Yalikavak isn’t in Bodrum.   And  so it may be a “suburb” albeit a hike away.   Don’t hold it against them and go here for further recharging.   And if you need a bit of culture, do the trip to Pamukkale: it’s worth your time and a numb butt!

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