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Tranquil Turkey


January 19, 2004
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Kalkan This jewel of a resort has almost certainly been saved from mass development by its lack of sand. Those in the know putter off in small boats known as gulets to Kaputas beach or nearby inlets for a day's swimming, snorkelling and lunch – all for about £5. Traffic is banned from the picturesque village where a jumble of cobbled alleys plunge steeply to the harbour and the scent of jasmine mingles with herbs and charcoal. (There are at least 50 restaurants tucked away in its charming maze.)

Visit one of the coast's most fashionable watering holes, the Fish Restaurant on a roof near the harbour, and sample its seafood boreks (crispy filo pastry stuffed with shrimp) and seabass. Both are out of this world. Hidden under bougainvillea and latticed Ottoman balconies are smart boutiques which nudge elbows with stalls heaped with fakes. Cenc the jeweller allows customers to try out his creations to see if they like them, while Hayri at Orientalia gives lessons in investing in carpets. Kalkan oozes character.

Gocek Hotel rooms can be hard to find in chic little Gocek where the yachts in the smart new marina almost dwarf the resort. Many of its well-heeled regulars – Armani and Valentino drop in, and Princess Margaret was a fan – stay aboard their floating palaces, while Turkish film stars and newspaper proprietors party discreetly in luxury villas.

At first sight Gocek seems little more than an attractive resort with a laidback seafront lined with restaurants, a pretty town square behind it and a high street of classy boutiques. There's no beach to speak of, but its bay is dotted with 12 delightful islands where you can find your own patch of sand and favourite fish restaurant. Cleopatra's Island is said to have been a gift to the Egyptian queen from her lover, Mark Anthony. You can even bathe in the ruins of her hammam. It's all very classy and low-key and Gocek's aficionados want to keep it that way.

Patara Patara's shoreline may have been voted one of the world's top beaches, but holidaymakers come way down the pecking order on this fabulous five-mile stretch. Top spot goes to the endangered giant loggerhead turtle which crawls onto the sandy swathe at night to lay its eggs. This is well worth seeing and visitors are charged about ten million lire (less than £4.50) for seven day tickets, although everyone must leave by 8pm, when the turtles take over. Roman ruins and the remains of an old Lycian city, knee-deep in scented thyme and poppies, prevent the encroachment of hotels and help make Patara is one of the best-kept secrets in the Med.

REPORT: JILL CRAWSHAW

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Traffic is banned from the picturesque village of Kalkan, where a jumble of cobbled alleys plunges down to the harbour
Hotel rooms can be hard to find in chic little Gocek, where the yachts in the smart new marina almost dwarf the resort. Designers Giorgio Armani and Valentino are among the famous regulars in this Turkish hot spot
The five-mile stretch of sand at Patara is among the world's top beaches, and famous for its endangered giant loggerhead turtles and Roman ruins

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