Geraldine O'Callaghan Travel

Getting Cultured in Kusadasi Turkey

It’s not all beach and booze you know.  There’s a lot more to Kusadasi than getting drunk and nursing a hangover on the beach, with more cocktails.  Of course, the aforementioned piss-up is possible if you do so wish.
I managed to get off the beach and out to see some of the authentic Turkish sights, like sample the local food, with local people.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that a holiday resort like Kusadasi went above and beyond and even offered me an opportunity to get cultured.

Finding Cultural Activities in Kusadasi

After indulging my inner sun worshiper with a few days on a sun lounger to absorb a healthy dose of vitamin D.  I booked on to a Private Tour (they offer excursions all over Turkey) to spend the day roaming around the ancient streets of Ephesus.  If like me you are a culture vulture and smitten with history then I promise you an adrenaline rush when you meet The Gate of Mazaeus, which was dedicated to Emperor Augustus and is the monumental entrance to the ancient city of Ephesus.

Built by the ancient Greeks and eventually became under the control of the Romans, it is known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. With it being so close to nowadays Kusadasi it’s ideal to split your holiday between the beach and nurturing your inner nerd by learning all about the architecture of ancient times.

Traditional Turkish Food

sac kavurma Turkish food
Traditional Turkish Food – Sac Kavurma 

After a long day walking around the year 400bc I took the bus back to my hotel. I was too exhausted to go anywhere other than the bar about two doors away named Dream Boys.  As the name would have it, I got my hopes up. But, no such luck I didn’t meet my dream boy there.  Although, the chef was super friendly and in my opinion, any man willing to cook for me is a dream boy.  I told him I wanted to taste some traditional Turkish food. He recommended sac kavurma, which is a chopped beef dish served with rice.  I suppose it could be described as a Turkish curry for want of a better word.  It’s tomato and pepper base with onion and veg in the sauce. You can choose to add chillies depending on how spicy you like it, for me, chillies are obligatory and licking the plate almost was in this case too.

Adventure Activities

Scuba Diving Kusadasi Turkey
Scuba Diving Kusadasi, Turkey

Personally, I never holiday on a beach resort without going underwater at least 15 meters.  Scuba diving is my actual favourite thing to do. Luckily there are a number of dive types available on the shores around Kusadasi. I chose a cave dive with a depth of around 20 meters.  To do a dive so deep it’s necessary to have an underwater qualification.  I have the PADI certification.  I’ve never been in an underwater cave before so I ‘dived’ at the chance (pun completely intended) to do it.  My dive instructor as a big Turkish man called Safiye who took on the task of minding me. Even if he did appear a bit intimidating at first, once underwater he took good care of me. He was crystal clear with his hand signals and communication. He even pulled me away from the walls of the cave a few times. Also, stopped me from banging my head off the rock ceiling when trying to swim through narrow openings.   The cave dive was so adventurous. I loved exploring cracks in the earth that lead to secret pools that can only be entered using scuba equipment and local knowledge.

Local Bazaar, Kusadasi

If you like to shop til you drop then you need to get your behind to the Bazaar in Centrum, Kusadasi.  It’s bursting at the seams with knick-knacks, handbags, sports shoes, spices, teas and of course, Turkish Delights.  I’m not a big shopper but I do love wandering around these types of places to explore the local culture and chatting with the shopkeepers gives a very real sense of the ethnology and of course, no holiday shopping trip would be complete without spending more time haggling than money on purchases.  I do love a good price negotiation, I think it’s great fun and I’m always very proud of myself when I walk away with a good deal.  In this case, I bought an exotic glass mosaic Ottoman style light fitting for my living room, I really love the style and have been keeping my eye out for one for a while.  The shopkeeper, Ben wrapped it up in paper and bubble wrap and I brought it on the plan as my hand luggage so didn’t have to pay shipping, score!

Turkish Hammam

After a hard day haggling, I needed some pampering and affection so I went to the Turkish bath at the hotel where I stayed on Ladies beach.  90 minutes being steamed, exfoliated, foamed and massaged on a warm tiled bed is the definition of bliss.  I floated out of there with the skin of a baby and the mental relaxation level of a Buddha.  A glass of wine while watching the sunset from my hotel room was becoming quite the ritual.  Ladies beach offers such lovely sunset views.  My hotel was right on the beach with a massive decking area that cut out the sand.  So, you literally go from sun-lounger, down a few steps and into the seawater. Not exactly the hard life!

The Facts:

Turkish Airlines to Izmir €325 return.

ShuttleDirect.com bus from the airport to my hotel in Ladies beach, this cost €20 return.

I stayed at Marti Beach Hotel and highly recommend it. I booked through Booking.com and paid €190 for the week.

PrivateTour.com for my Ephesus tour €27 and included lunch.

Scuba diving was with DiverBees.com and cost  €35-€40

A 90 minute Turkish Bath at my hotel cost €20 and was the best money ever spent. 

Go home here.