Joining in on Turkish holiday festivities in Dalyankoy

Photo: View of Cesme Peninsula, Turkey. Credit: Lisa Borre.
Joining in on Turkish holiday festivities in Dalyankoy. Photo by Lisa Borre.

Logbook Entry

Dates: 4/24/10
Distance: 32 nm
Sailed from: Sarpdere Koyu
Lat: 38°21.6’N
Long: 26°19’E

It’s a holiday weekend here in Turkey but still early enough in the season that we were able to anchor in a small cove normally roped off for swimmers. Yesterday was the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day Holiday where Turkish children commemorate the life of the revered Atatürk on the anniversary of the first Grand National Assembly which convened in 1920. We enjoyed the sunny, spring afternoon relaxing in the cockpit and watching Turkish people enjoy the holiday ashore and in numerous boats going in and out of the harbor. A few hearty souls were in swimming. Others sat on the beach or in the beachside cafe. Fisherman lined the small jetty, some drinking Efes beer.

We figured that our travel angels were watching out for us when we were turned away from the Cesme marina earlier in the day because it was still under construction. We came to Dalyan which was just on the other side of the peninsula because we had the choice of anchoring out or going into the harbor if needed. We anchored in 12′ of water in a small cove just outside of the harbor.

After sunset, we launched our dinghy for a trip ashore. Inside the harbor lined with yachts and fishing boats, the harborside cafes were packed with people celebrating the holiday. We decided to join in on the festivities and found a outdoor table at the Dalyan restaurant. The manager seated us at his last table, one next to a big Turkish flag with an image of Atatürk on it. We must have been the only foreigners in town and certainly the only people without a dinner reservation that night, but the restaurant manager welcomed us as if we were old friends. He took Lisa under his wing to introduce her to the restaurant’s menu. This is done by visiting the fish counter first and selecting your fish. She listened carefully and then asked him to select the best 750-gram sea bass which was then weighed at 700 grams, priced at 31 TL (about $20) and sent to the kitchen for grilling.

Next, they visited the meze (starters) case where each dish was carefully explained. Lisa looked at the plates they were preparing for other tables and picked two of the most popular: fava bean puree with herbs and a red pepper paste. She then asked for something local or unique to Dalyan and ended up with what looked like black-eyed pea salad: small beans marinated in olive oil with fresh herbs. On the recommendation of the manager, she ordered their “regular” mixed salad which was anything but — perhaps “typical or classic” Turkish salad would have been a better translation — fresh salad greens, tomato, cucumber and onion topped with fresh herbs (sprigs of parsley, mint and dill). Rather than doing as the locals do and ordering a bottle of raki (similar to ouzo) to drink with the meal, we selected a dry white wine from Turkey.

We did have a glass of raki after our meal, since this suits our taste better. The anise liquor is mixed with cool water and ice which gives it a cloudy, white appearance. We finished the evening with a small, traditional sweet followed by Turkish coffee. A very special meal for us on a festive Saturday night in a small resort town on the Cesme peninsula.