11 July 2011

A beach walk in Çaliş before sunset in Levessi

The beach at Çaliş stretches for 2 km (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

I made a number of vain attempts to get to Rhodes this week. I have been there up to a dozen times in the past two or three decades, but this time I wanted to revisit the Jewish Quarter, including the Square of the Hebrew Martyrs and the Jewish Museum nearby, and to write about the colourful and tragic stories of the Jews of Rhodes.

But I never got there. The boat is not sailing on Sundays at the moment. And Monday’s booking was cancelled – I was told there were mechanical problems, and I was also told there were not enough bookings.

I tried to rebook for Tuesday. But the only sailing was in the afternoon, with a return sailing the next day. And that would have involved cancelling plans to visit the island of Kastellórizo, the most easterly of the Dodecanese Islands, and the most remote part of Greece.

And so I booked a tour of 12 islands around the bay and coastline near Fethiye for Tuesday, and then took a water taxi to Çaliş, a resort 5 km north of Fethiye.

The canal leading from the Bay of Fethiye into Çaliş may not be Venice, but it is colourful (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

The water taxi takes no longer than the journey by road on a dolmuş, first crosses the Bay of Fethiye, and then works its way up through a canal, lined by reed-filled marshes. This is not Venice, but I had memories of arriving by ferry from Venice in Torcello.

After lunch in Mangal, I crossed the canal by footbridge again, and walked down to the beach below Çaliş. This white, pebbly beach stretches for 2 km and looks out onto the Bay of Fethiye and its islands. Despite what the guidebooks, say the waters offered a refreshing opportunity for swimming, and the beach was a pleasure to stroll along.

The esplanade is lined with restaurants aimed at tourists, but they also seem to provide wonderful opportunities to watch the sunset in the evening.

Heading back down the canal from Çaliş to Fethiye (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Instead, I headed back into Fethiye on the water taxi. Colourful boats plied their way up and down the canal, others were moored amid the rushes and marshes. The Fens of East Anglia and the canals of Birmingham and West Midland could not compare with this.

As the small boat approached Fethiye, there were breath-taking views of the Lycian rock tombs in the hills above the town, and of the castle built by the Knights of Rhodes on the ancient acropolis. From there, it was back to Ovacik. The sun had sent behind the mountains as I made my way up to Levessi (Kayaköy) for diner in Istanbul restaurant near Levissi.

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