A bit of Turkish we have learned; the symbol above the g makes it a silent letter, so this place is pronounced something like Ay-a-deer, and not Agadoo as Carol was fond of saying. We reached Eğirdir from Antalya using a bus which cost a grand total of £2.50 each and took around 3 hours to reach via Isparta. We had never heard of the place before; however, we headed for Eğirdir on John and Sharon’s recommendation as a place for just pure relaxation; some calm away from the Antalya storm! oh and because it is somewhat cooler than Antalya.
There is very little to do here, there is no nightlife, no entertainment, and I highly recommend it. What there is in abundance here is natural beauty. If like we did, you stay in Yeşilada you are surrounded by it, literally in every direction. Yeşilada is an island promontory, connected to the mainland by a manmade causeway, but essentially you are situated in the middle of a huge lake surrounded by beautiful mountains.
We stayed at the ChooChoo Pension, and I’d add please don’t let the silly name put you off. It is run by Huseyin and his family who go out of their way to meet their guests’ every need, has accommodation of a reasonable standard, and is situated absolutely perfectly for those seeking to get away from it all. Choo Choo staff were waiting to greet us; we communicated through whatsapp to agree a price and inform of arrival time and there was help on hand for our rather hefty bags on arrival. We were given a lovely room with an amazing view across the lake. It was a very comfortable stay at the property and we would recommend it. Also attached to the Pension is the Halikarnas restaurant which served good quality meals at a reasonable price.
The lake in the mountains is at an elevation of 917 metres, and at the time we were there, was pretty breezy every evening. Even in late October it was warm during the day at around 25 deg Celsius, but it’s fair to say the air conditioning stayed unused every evening – it was cool enough as it was. We stayed here for 3 nights, and after our breakfast each day it was easy to leisurely spend our time.
On our first trip out we were aiming to walk just to the end of the spit, when we came across an old man beachcombing for empty beer bottles. I imagine there is somewhere he can get money for them, much like the old deposit my family used to pay for some R Whites’ lemonade glass bottles from the ‘Bottle and Jug’ of the The Junction Tavern when I was a small boy. We later found out the man was called Hassan, and as well as being a beachcomber, he was also a ship’s Captain. He spoke to us in Turkish, which I didn’t understand, but his English was sufficient to offer us a trip across the lake in his boat for 100tl (£10) for an hour. Our default frame of mind is more geared towards “why not?” than “why?”, so we happily accepted.
We asked “In which boat?” He pointed to a small red and white boat, “this one” We walked round to where he pointed, then he changed his mind and got into a different boat. We have no idea if he owned either of the boats, there were 5 or 6 in the very small harbour and maybe they belong to ‘the community’. No idea really. No key was required to start up the diesel engine which kicked out a great deal of smoke for the first 5 minutes, which is how long it took us to board the boat, with no gang plank and a huge step down to the boat a good metre and a half below the harbour wall we boarded it from. Hassan’s sister took our money, we noticed that in Turkey many businesses are family orientated. Husyin ran ChooChoo with his sister, and Hassan “borrowed” (allegedly) boats for a lving with his sister as his business partner. Despite the funny start to the trip we had a lovely hour heading across the lake and we made it back safely.
Just a little aside about the wildlife, I saw a very unusual bird on the waters of Lake Eğirdir, unusual in that it appread not to be able to fly! They would attempt take off from the lake, but never quite get airborne. They would reach an altitude of approximately one inch, not quite high enough to get their feet out of the water. Their feet pedalled nineteen to the dozen, and it looked like they were running on the water rather than flying. A natural history expert I am not, so I have no idea what type of bird this was. For the sake of my discussion with Carol I called them Jesus birds, because they walked (ran) on water.
Bike hire is widely available in Turkey, and you can expect to pay around 12 tl (£1.20) an hour for the pleasure in Eğirdir . Carol and I had our first attempt at riding a tandem. And probably our last. We lasted around 10 minutes before we gave up, returned it to the store and swapped it for an individual bike each. Respect to those who make tandem riding look easy, it isn’t! Not for us anyway.
We were aware that there are snakes in Turkey, some venomous some not. The first one we came across was of the variety ihavenoroadsense, a common species found splattered across many a Turkish highway. We have no idea if this fella was poisonous but at least he didn’t pose a risk to us.
The town of Eğirdir is a quaint place with, at least when we were here, very few tourists. We were made to feel welcome and some of the locals certainly found our tandem attempts quite amusing. There were an array of different shops and restaurants and a pretty little port. Eğirdir’s fortress is said to have foundations from the Byzantium era. We were also there for the fruit market on Wednesday and the more general market on Thursday.
Eğirdir was cool in every sense, just what we needed before heading onto one of the world’s must-see places, Cappadocia!