(Merhaba from Turkey! My friend Steph Barnhart and I are currently traveling through Turkey and Greece and want to show you some of the awesome things we see and experience. The writing is Steph's. The photos are mine. Enjoy!)
In March, I ordered Lonely Planet’s copies of Turkey and Greece. But, due to the chaos of finishing an undergraduate degree, I didn’t read a single thing in them before Zach and I got on the plane on May 9. And even then, the only thing we knew for sure about this trip was that we’d start it in Istanbul. So I flipped briefly around that section in LP, but didn’t take any detailed notes or make a “Must See In Istanbul” list.
What we’ve found ourselves doing this month is discovering things while walking around, wondering what they are, and THEN looking up the city or the attraction in the guidebook, to learn about it. It’s more fun this way, we think.
Our experience at Fethiye’s fish market is the epitome of this travel strategy.
We went there for dinner last night because someone on our scuba diving boat said it was their favorite part about the town. Without a map, we wandered until we found it, asking only one shop keeper along the way to point us toward it.
Barricaded by four stone walls and a vine-laden, open-air roof, the quaint, bustling marketplace has restaurants on all sides and one centerpiece: the fish kiosk.
Aggressive fish purveyors vie for our attention each step we take around this pentagon-shaped stall. The smell of seafood is overpowering as we eye salmon and sea bass, calamari, prawns, white grouper, red snapper.
We chose a slab of salmon and a whole red snapper, and take it to restaurant number 43, because that’s where the scuba diver said he likes best. Run by chef Isa, and his wife, Canciger was a great choice. For 6 TL each (around $7.00 US total) they grilled our fish, let us watch it as it cooked. They provided endless baskets of bread, a delicious salad, and some decadent butter sauce for dipping.
At a corner table, an old man with wispy white hair sat peeling parsley sprigs from their stems. He kept stealing glances our way. I waved. He waved. I tried speaking with him but quickly learned he knew no English at all. Our limited Turkish vocabulary didn’t get us very far, so we communicated through smiles and gestures, somehow learning that he is the wife’s bapa, (father).
Feeling happy about our delicious meal and our new friends at Canciger, we left. Later that afternoon, I was paging through the Lonely Planet looking for a hostel option in the town we’d venture to next, when I came across their advice about the fish market. It was listed as a Top Choice for budget travelers, and I just read it and smiled, proud that we discovered it without any help.
Sometimes, you just don’t need a guidebook.