Martin, Gönül, Tyra and I woke up in our hotel in Datça and jumped into the car, eager for a full day exploring the peninsula. We thought we would stop at the first place we saw to get a quick breakfast before continuing on our way.
We were in luck! There was a sign advertising fresh Turkish breakfast just 50m off the main road at a place called Yeşil Bahçe. After passing the sign, Martin slammed on the brakes, turned the car around, and went down the very rocky road towards Yeşil Bahçe. It was definitely a bahçe (garden) and yeşil (green), but the only problem – there was nobody there!
The next village, down a steep, winding road, was Mesudiye. It was obvious there was nothing there, so we continued down towards the beach. I had researched and knew there were several pensions there. There HAD to be something open.
We followed the signs leading us to the beach, and when we reached the end of the road, Martin stopped the car. It was either go left or go right. Directly in front of us was the sea. On either path, we saw absolutely no sign of life. It was as if the entire village was abandoned.
Out of nowhere, we were startled by a car honking at us to move. As impossible as it may seem, after seeing only one car in over a half hour of driving, Martin had created a 4-car traffic jam. Where the other cars came from is still a mystery to us.
Martin made a snap decision to follow the road to the right. Pension after pension was locked up for the winter and there wasn’t a soul in sight. It appeared as if we had made a mistake. A wrong turn. Finally, we parked under a tree and got out of the car to wander around. Surely, there had to be someone. ANYONE.
A woman and her mother (probably in her 70s) rushed out of a pension, probably out of amazement that someone was actually in their village in the middle of November. Gönül asked them if there was a place to have breakfast, and without hesitation, they dropped everything they were doing and invited us to eat with them.
After a few minutes of coaxing, Gönül convinced them to let us carry a table and some chairs directly onto the beach. Martin and I were a bit uneasy about upsetting the women, but we shrugged our shoulders and started picking up the furniture.
Gönül disappeared into the kitchen while the old woman rushed off to the market to buy some bread and other food for her sudden unexpected guests. Tyra and I voiced our concern about the situation, and Martin reassured us.
“I don’t know what’s happening, but Gönül is cheeky. I’m sure she’s got the situation under control.”
About 15 minutes later, Gönül and the woman, Bilge, returned to the beach carrying a tray of plates, a pot of Turkish tea, and an unbelievable amount of food: freshly made menemen, olives, bread, an assortment of Turkish cheese, yogurt, thyme honey, mashed potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, Nutella, and homemade orange jam. It was a feast. An incredible breakfast on the beach.
That wasn’t all! Once we finished breakfast, there was Turkish coffee with fresh pomegranates and mandarines. The fruit was freshly picked from Bilge’s garden. It was incredible. We decided to scrap our plans for the day and enjoy the moment as long as we could.
After reading our fortune in our coffee cups, we had a quick swim in the sea. Mind you, it was the middle of November, but the sea was calm, crystal clear, and a perfect temperature.
We returned the tables and chairs to their original location, then Bilge’s mother took me and Tyra to pick lemons off their tree. They were huge! Imagine lemons the size of grapefruits!
Bilge finished cleaning up in the kitchen and took the time to show us their bungalows and home that they rent out in the summer. Everything was simply beautiful. The grounds were full of flowers and fruit trees. It was a mini-paradise.
We paid for our meal, said goodbye, and Bilge invited us back for dinner. We told her we would see how the day went and let her know. We couldn’t come back that evening, but the next night Gönül made a call and Bilge prepared yet another phenomenal feast.
When we arrived, it was much colder than the previous day. We warmed up a bit by the fireplace while Gönül again disappeared into the kitchen. Did I mention Gönül is also an amazing cook? She is.
When dinner was served, we had a table full of homemade mantı, köfte, salad, stuffed mushrooms, fries, and more.
Gönül surprised us with homemade crepes and Nutella for dessert, while Bilge offered more fresh fruits from her garden. After cleaning up, we once again said our goodbyes and headed back to Datça.
An unexpected detour, these two days turned into a lesson of what can happen if you just set out, follow your instincts, and hope for the best.
To make a reservation, look up Gülbahar Pansiyon in Ovabükü and send them a message. To get there, take the main road from Datça to Knidos. Turn left at the sign to Mesudiye and take the winding road down toward the beach. Follow the sign to Ovabükü, and once at the beach, turn right and continue to the end of the road.