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There are myriad reasons why you might choose to visit Patara: its breathtaking beautiful scenery - miles of unspoilt beach (voted one of the best in the world and meticulously maintained); its stunning national park; its history - Patara was the birthplace of St Nicholas (no, he's not from the land of ice and snow ), and it was once one of the foremost ports of the mediterranean - as its marvelous ruins bear still testify. But while these things in themselves might prove enticingly attractive to would be holidayers, the deciding factor for many who return again and again to this unspoilt village, are the villagers themselves.
Patara is about as far from a brazen 'resort-style' holiday as you could hope for and this is due to the fact that everything here is village-run. It makes a huge difference. There are tours and trips offerered to guests of the pensions and small hotels based here but these are organised by local people who care about Patara, its history and its future; and who take a genunine pride in their reputation for hospitality. The result is that feel yourself to be less the proverbial punter sampling the carousel of tourist activites, and more the welcome guest of 'the family'. For example, you might find one family member hosting you, his cousin taking you canooeing and his brother or sister serving you food at a restaurant down the road.
Patara is undeniably hot in high summer so July and August are perhaps best avoided by the elderly or by families with very young chidren but many places have air conditioned rooms and shady terraces in the garden so it is possible to avoid over-heating. This aside, there is something for everyone almost all year round. January and February can be rainy and cold but it's not unusal to find yourself enjoying temperatures or 20 degrees or more in November or December and of course, if you're not bound by the school holidays, it's much quieter then too.
Activities a plenty are offered in Patara - fun canooeing trips through the national park, boat trips around nearby Kalkan and Kekova, walks through beautiful gorges and expeditions to local sites of archeaological importance and historical significance such as Xanthos and Myra.
Local characters add colour - the family behind the 'Golden Pension' are the most charming and congenial hosts for both accommodation and dinner; young Nadi is particularly adept at making guests feel relaxed and welcome but his whole family and business are heartily recommended; 'Golden Hands Ali' Patara's resident masseur offers what many declare to be the 'best massage of their life', the friendly Flower Pension serves fabulous home-cooked food in their secluded small garden and the head canoeing instructor will sculpt you a fabulous hairstyle from the clay mud pools you visit during your day out in Patara National Park.
Where to stay in Patara depends on your budget. The View Point Hotel is beautifully clean, orderly and welcoming with a stunning balconied, mountain-view pool. Anne-Louise, one half of the Turkish/English partnership that runs the hotel is particularly good at making guests feel at home. Two meals a week are offered to guests and a tractor-ride to the beach is supplied in the mornings and afternoons follwed by a welcome complimentary tea on your return. While this isn't expensive as hotels go by any stretch of the imagination, the village pensions provide an even cheaper, very attractive alternative(such as the afore-mentioned Golden and Flower), although you might not have the luxury of a refreshing 'on-site' pool.
Do try as many of the local restaurants and small, friendly bars as you can, and make sure you visit the patisserie - a new addition to Patara, nestling in a quiet spot next to the post office, it's friendly owner is fast gaining a reputation as a master cheesecake and rice pudding creator - and the little cafe is air-conditioned.
But for a truly tradional, Turkish experience - visit one of the pancake houses, relax on the ottoman-style cushions and watch the world go by - much more slowly than it normally seems to.