I really wanted to be away from the big developed resorts and hotels and hoped to find a quiet piece of unspoilt Mediterranean and to get back into the heart of peace and nature. Gosh! I was not disappointed! Along the historic path of the Lycian way between two steep cliffs and surrounded by hills and mountains is a beautiful three kilometre stretch of coarse sand and pebble beach, giving way to a stunning, clear, deep blue sea; which parenthetically is protected by the WWF as it is visited by the endangered Loggerhead Turtles whom return each year to lay their eggs. This is the delightful village of Çirali.
At one end lies the ancient site of Olympos a wonderful piece of history dating back many centuries BC. Nestled in the valley and bordered with a picturesque fresh water lagoon; over the centuries this magical location has witnessed many occupants from the ancient Lycians, Romans (including a young Julius Caesar) the Venetians, Genoese and Rhodians and now, today's few awe-struck holiday makers lucky enough to stumble across this enchanted place.
At the other end of the beach as you begin to climb up the pine scented hillside lay the fascinating natural phenomenon of Chimaera or Yanartaş. The pine trees give way to an eerie clearing which reveals the burning hillside. Volcanic gasses ignite flames that burn from the rocks themselves. A twilight visit is the perfect time to witness this fairy-tale place.
It is however Dionysos Lodge which for me is the highlight of Çirali. Next to the river and very close to the beach I stayed in Dionysos’ stone lodge cottages for the week. The owners Sarp & Tuğba are the nicest people you could wish to meet! Each morning I was treated to a wonderful huge fresh breakfast and Tuğba’s big kind smile. The peace and relaxing nature that this place and these people radiate must be experienced to be believed as my words could not do it enough justice. The gardens are the perfect place to relax and unwind and which gently push the reset button on the mind and soul and my room was the comfiest place to fall into the deepest of sleeps.
As the week grew older Sarp and Tuğba changed from being my kind hosts to my dear friends and in the evenings I would sample and drink some of their wonderfully tasty wines and cheeses that are sold at Dionysos. Sarp’s knowledge of the area is extensive and during my stay I witnessed him passing on advice to walkers and holiday makers that were staying in Dionysos on where to visit on the next leg of their journeys; emails of delight would come back a day or two later thanking him for directing them to theses amazing places.
A week later (I could have easily spent two there) and it was reluctantly time for me to leave. After such a stay, the perfect gifts for me to take back were appropriately from a lovely little herbal shop just 50 metres from Dionysos Lodge. Handmade soaps, teas and herbal remedies and many other delights can be found there. I took some laurel soap, some chocolate soap and some herbal teas. They are so nice I wish I had bought some more!
This was a holiday and an experience I will always remember. Having found my peace, my nature, and my relaxation (and some nice gifts); I took back with me something I never expected – two wonderful friends in Sarp & Tuğba. Like the Turtles, I too will return…
Thank you Dionysos Lodge for a magical time :-)
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