Turkey has been given a bad name recently with all the negative press in the media due to all the current goings on in the world but I have to say every time I go I just love it.
This time we stayed in a small town called Davutlar which is near Kusadasi. This is one place I refer to as 'real turkey'. As my stepdad is Turkish, I've been holidaying in Turkey since I was 6 years old rarely going back to the exact same place twice. I have seen 'tourist turkey' and 'real turkey' and I love one just as much as the other but for very different reasons.
We flew with EasyJet to Izmir which is approx. 45 minutes away from the small town of Davutlar. The flight to Turkey is around 3.5 to 4 hours long, so not too pressing with young children in tow. That said you will want to think about Flight Must Haves to keep your little ones entertained and occupied - and remember things for the flight home too!! I didn't! Although luckily for me the girls and I slept and as for the hubby and the boys, well there was a thunderstorm going on underneath us that they we fascinated with. The flight cost us around £1200 (£200 each) return as we bought the tickets as soon as they were released.
My stepdad organised a minibus through Katar Turizm to take us from the airport to our villa. There was 11 of us (two families) and it cost £140, including the trip back at the end of our stay. So divided by the two families it cost us £70
Therefore in my opinion travel costs to Turkey, even during the summer holiday is reasonable.
We stayed in a standard yet beautiful 3 bed villa, with 2 bathrooms, a balcony off every bedroom, open plan living / kitchen area with 2 comfortable sofa beds, a good sized terrace for al fresco dining and 2 swimming pools; 1 kids and one adults. It had everything you needed for a self-catering holiday; cooker, fridge/freezer, washing machine, crockery, cutlery etc although to be honest we could have done with a few more drinking glasses but that's a minor issue. All of this came to £700. Electricity wasn't included. That said we didn't use much. We only had the air-con on when it was absolutely necessary as we spent most of our time at the villa my stepdad stayed in. The fridge/freezer we turned on when we got there so was on constantly, the washing machine and cooker was used but only a few times. We paid 40TL which is less than £10 for the whole 9 days we were there. Bargain!
The villa was on a secure, guarded estate that had a manned iron gate and CCTV so we felt very safe. There were several blocks of villas that were situated in squares with the pool for that block in the middle. Be sure to read the pool rules though. It saves the embarrassment of getting told off by the fun police!
Food & Drink...
Our food shopping was approx £100 for a week. With alcohol you are looking at A LOT more as the government have placed high tax on alcohol. For example a 70cl bottle of Smirnoff Vodka cost around £25!
There was a small local shop but much like the corner shops at home it was much more expensive and you couldn't get all that you needed from there. My stepdad had hired a car so the two of us went to the larger (although still small compared to the shops at home) supermarket.
We did eat out occasionally too and our meals normally came to around £30 for my family of 6.
I'm sure I'm not far out in saying when people think Turkish food they think Doner Kebab...right? Well there is so much more to it than that...
We were eating Sucuk and eggs for breakfast, sometimes hard boiled, sometimes fried and seasoned with salt and cumin and we had salad with almost every meal. There were the most delicious mezze's for starters as well as Kofte, chicken sausages, pizza with spicy minced meat toppings, chillies both sweet & spicy, bread, beef kebabs, lamb chops and so much more (except pork of course) for mains!
We had watermelon, cherries and grapes which we had bought fresh from the fruit an veg stall.
This time of year, July, is hot and August will be hotter still. Temperatures were in the high 30's (Celsius) most of the time with evenings dropping to low 30's high 20's!
I put 50SPF on my children the whole time we were there and they still came home with tan lines..so its hot and the sun is strong! It really is best to stay out of direct sunlight during the hours of 11am and 3 or 4pm.
Things to do...
If you don't have transport and you are staying in 'real turkey' in a place such as Davutlar then you may find it a struggle to get around. There is a public transport service and you can get taxi's but I wouldn't be able to tell you how to go about getting them. In our villa was a card with a taxi number on it but had that not been there I wouldn't have had a clue. I guess the only option you have under these circumstances would be to ask other residents on the estate in which you are staying, but bear in mind you may have difficulty with the language barrier.
We found some leaflets laying around the villa and came across one for a waterpark and one for boat trips. We saw the waterpark on our way from the airport and it looked incredibly fun so it was a unanimous decision to go. Upon calling the numbers on the leaflets we arranged a trip by coach (we couldn't all fit in the car) to the waterpark, Adaland for the next day.
Adaland was fantastic!
It cost around 185 TL for the 11 of us to get in which is around £40. That is a price you can't argue with! There are lockers so you can keep your belongings safe and you don't even need to carry cash around for drinks. You put money on a card and use it much like debit card. Then at the end of your day, if there is still money left on it when you return the card you are given back the remaining balance in cash.
There was a huge amount of sunbeds by the childrens area, under shade and by the drinks and ice cream stand which is where we set up for the day.
Also within the water park was a dolphin park (extra cost) and a seaside park (extra cost) but we didn't go to these attractions.
I have been to a few waterparks when abroad and I have to say the kids area at this one was simply fantastic! All four of mine loved it!
There was a wave pool, rubber dingy rides, loop slides, tube slides, diving boards and so much more. When it came to lunch there were two food places; one that offered burgers, chips, pizza and such like and one that served more traditional Turkish food such as kofte.
We also went on a boat trip which was sensational. If you get the opportunity to do a boat trip take my advice and DO IT! You won't be disappointed. I cannot stress how much it's worth every penny, how amazing, how inspiring or how breathtaking they are. Even with your children on board! There were moments where the boat was silent, with people - adults and children - looking out over the edge in awe of the natural beauty we were surrounded by.
Again the cost of this was excellent at around £10 a person, including lunch & a soft drink. We had chicken burgers, pasta and salad. It was lovely but I would recommended taking snacks and water with you though as you're out all day.
We shared the boat with other people meaning there was about 20 of us on board. We would have preferred a smaller boat with just us on it but we were happy with this. There were much bigger boats, with many more people on it. Personally I wouldn't I feel relaxed on a huge boat with my children on board too as there are too many people for you to be able to properly keep and eye on them.
The boat stopped at 3 different beaches and we were able to get off for a swim. My children got in for dip too. It wasn't as warm as I would have hoped or as warm as I have experienced before but still delightful nevertheless.
Whilst making our way back we were lucky enough to see dolphins!
They were leaping right out of the water and playing in the wake of the boat. It was truly breathtaking being able to witness them playing in their natural environment. The emotional being I am even shed a tear at this point - it was incredible sharing this with my kids.
So, whilst the media can be off putting don't let it blur your vision of what Turkey is really like.
Whether you choose a tourist location or 'real turkey' I'm confident you won't be disappointed.