Wednesday, May 19, 2010


OK, by this point, I'm beginning to notice that something is different about Turkey. Namely, it's more expensive - like three times more expensive than when I was last here in 2002. That hotel room that used to be 8 bucks is now 25. The five-dollar meal that had me so full that I swore off food for the next few days is now 15. Everything costs more. I was not fully prepared for this, but it's OK now. I mean, everybody pays the same, Turks, tourists and all others. It's not like they raised the prices on just tourists. But they've also redone the money. You used to have to deal it out in comical amounts. In 2002, the exchange rate to the dollar was something like 1.7 million lira to one dollar. This made everybody feel rich. But then in 2008, they wıped out a bunch of zeroes and now the exchange rate is a relatively boring 1.5 lira to the dollar. Without the new valuation, I believe it would exchange at 15 million to one. Anyhow, Turkey might no longer be the ultimate bargain basement, but even at higher prices, it's worth every penny.

OK, I got to Patara, intending to spend an entire week. I was true to that, spending a day at the beach and a day exploring around. It worked out very nicely. A word about Patara: it's very small. Most people grow tomatoes in the many, many, many greenhouses in the area. It would be a one-horse town if somebody had a horse. But it's that small-town vibe that draws people. Osman stands in front of his restaurant in a ridiculously tall chef's hat talking about the weather, while his brother, Ramazan, does the same thing at his restaurant around the corner. All in all, there are eight restaurants, four bars, a post office (that's never open) and a mosque, all on one street. That's Patara. As I mentioned before, it's the birthplace of St. Nicholas, but nobody seems to care about that. They're more interested in showing off their beach. Here it is:

This is just the beginning of it. It continues on for another 10 miles. Most of the day when I was out there, the closest person to me would be half a mile away. Yes, this beach was so inviting that I burned the holy heck out of my ankles my first day out. Yeah, it's just as painful as it sounds. Anyway, the Mediterranean is as warm as a cool swimming pool, which makes it absolutely perfect in my book. When the wind whips up in the afternoon, you can do some fairly satisfying body surfing.

Between the town and the beach are the ruins. Keep in mind that Santa Claus once trod these streets. Oh, and I should mention that they've done a lot of work on the site since I first saw them in 1998. Back then, the theater was half-filled with sand and the acropolis was a friggin' death trap. But all that has changed. Have a look:

While I was there, a had an interesting conversation with one of the foremen working on the site. Here is the gist of it:

(I' sitting on a slab of marble in the shade, watching a crane lift other slabs of marble.)

Him (ın Turkish): Do you speak Turkish?
Me (in Turkish): No
Him (still in Turkish): You shouldn't sit there.
Me: (also still in Turkish): What?
Him: You understand Turkish, right?
Me: What?
Him (in English): Do you speak Turkish?
Me (in English): No.
Him: You no sit there.
Me: Why?
Him: If you speak Turkish, I tell you. No sit.

He really didn't want me to sit there. It was very interesting watching them hoist those slabs in the air, though.

Finally, I suggested to Soner, my hotel owner, a new slogan for Patara - something simple and to the point. Check this out: Patara-dise. I told him that he should run it by the Patara chamber of commerce at their next meeting. I believe their current slogan is 'We have very nice beach.' He said he'd test the waters with a few cronies.

I made a few side-journeys during my time in this wonderful little town. These were not always easy, as it was 6km to the main road and bus service was unpredictable. But every evenıng I'd head up to the hotel's roof terrace and hang out while it got dark. This is what it looked like:

The town is to the left, the ruins and beach are to the right and millions of frogs are in the water. They didn't make the standard ribbit-croak noises like most frogs we know. They were more like creeeeeeeeek and nyuk-nyuk-nyuk. They were tremendously loud, but I really loved the sound. There's nothing like it. Patara was very nice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OK, OK; you have gone from turtles to frogs. Don't forget the quest for squirrels.

To make you homesick, big news in Tacoma: Brown bear tranquilized in the neighborhood. Now there's a critter who could liven up Belltown!