THEY emerged like creatures from the deep, taking their first tentative steps on dry land after wallowing like hippos in mud, mud, glorious mud.
Slippery, slimy, malodorous, they smelt like rotten eggs as the sulphurous gloop started drying on their bodies, faces, even scalps.
It’s supposed to be good for you, this immersion in the Marmaris mud baths. Good for your sex life. Good for your skin. Good for aches and pains. Certainly good for laughs.
The pungent mineral-rich sludge of the Dalyan river in south west Turkey is famed for claims of its miraculous properties: sexual invigoration, life enhancement and general rejuvenation.
But our trip to Turkey’s version of the Fountain of Youth was a great excuse to get down and dirty before a vigorous hose-down and then slipping into warm Sultaniye spring waters for more wallowing.
We were in good company. Previous visitors, if the old photographs are to be believed, include Kurt Russell, Dustin Hoffman and Sting. So that might explain the singer’s tantric sex prowess.
Did the Dalyan Mud Bath, Turkey’s version of the Fountain of Youth, help reduce wrinkles? Or the Sultaniye spring waters relieve conditions ranging from sciatica to stomach aches? The jury is out on that.
Turkey is known for its Turkish baths. No holiday to this nation that straddles western Asia and eastern Europe would be complete without a visit to experience this cleansing ritual.
The traditional hamman is a place of public bathing dating back to the Ottoman Empire and seen widely over the Islamic world. Variations of the Turkish bath migrated to Britain in Victorian times and can be found all over Western Europe. You’ll never be so washed, scrubbed and buffed till you shine.
Sadly, none of these treats was available to me. I did a fair impression of the Turkey Trot – a popular early 1900s ragtime dance – as I arrived at Dalaman airport clutching my visa. ( Top tip – buy one on-line before you leave UK).
It was just before midnight, alighting in darkness from the airport coach and heading for the brightly lit arrivals building I tripped up on a high kerb, breaking my arm as I hit the pavement.
Fellow passengers helped me upright, dispensed lemon sherberts for shock till I was whisked off to the hotel for wine and sympathy.
It was at this point I appreciated the benefits of booking a package with a travel company that would look after me, rather than going independently.
The rep from Solos Holidays kindly offered to drive me to hospital, which I just couldn’t face in the early hours of the morning. But next day she took me with an interpreter to the nearest private hospital.
I handed over my travel insurance documents, my company was contacted to OK my treatment and all I had to pay was a £50 excess.
Two x-rays showed the break in my humerus (yeah, I’ve heard all the ‘not funny’ jokes), two chats with the orthopaedic surgeon (no operation needed),
I was fitted into a sling and in two hours left with my Fitness to Fly certificate and anti-inflammatory pain killers to the poolside haven of my Kayakoy Boutique Hotel at Fethiye.
The 3* boutique hotel in south west Turkey is just outside the ancient village of Kayaköy, a short distance from the resort town of Hisaronu.
GETTING/STAYING THERE: This year ClubSolos is offering a Sailing Turkey holiday, departing June 4, 11 or 18 from £1,699pp including full-board accommodation on a Beyzade traditional wooden gulet, return flights from Edinburgh and transfers. See solosholidays.co.uk or call 0208 951 2900.
MORE INFO: If you’re fully vaccinated, you can enter Turkey without the need to test or quarantine. At least 14 days must have passed since your second dose of the vaccine. You will need to complete the online form for entry to Turkey, a maximum of 72 hours before travelling. See gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey/entry-requirements
The hotel has colourful gardens, where breakfast is served near the swimming pool and sun terrace.
I was a Solo’s Virgin, never having travelled as a singleton. But I was exactly their client-base: tourists wanting to travel but not necessarily with a partner or friend, but not being penalised for single room occupancy.
Widowed, single, just out of a relationship, career women needing a sunny de-stress, retired men, thirty- somethings up to 80-year-olds, all happy to lounge alone by the pool with a good book or take part in guided excursions and activities – and to take breakfasts and dinners at a communal table.
There was a wide range of events on offer: horse riding with treks through forests to splash in a beautiful bay; Jeep safari off the beaten track to explore the countryside; quad biking off road around the forests and villages of Kaykoy and scuba diving to feed fish and hunt octopus.
There’s also paragliding from Turkey’s highest commercial site Bara Dag Mountain and over Olu Deniz bay (reassuringly strapped to an expert pilot) but all were sadly off my list with a serious sling as snug as a bullet-proof vest.
As was anything that involved mud or water immersion. So no exploring the hidden valley of Saklikent Gorge, wading through rapids and natural springs into Turkey’s largest canyon.
But I was happy to sail from Fethiye on a relaxing sunset cruise where we moored for a delicious selection of meze and b-b-q fish and chicken.
The seawater was warm and welcoming, deep enough for show-off diving and bombing while the rest sipped sun-downers and drank in the glorious views as dusk approached.
All the Turkish people we encountered were as warm and welcoming as the seas. Tourism is vital to the national economy.
Restaurants and cafes offered tourists snacks and drinks at reasonable prices. And to complete a meal we sampled real Turkish coffee.
Ask for medium to sweeten the bitter grounds before tipping out the dregs to read your fortune. A tiny cup packs all the caffeine punch of a double espresso.
Or try a shot of raki with water, the alcoholic aniseed tipple known as lion’s milk reputed to turn men into pussy cats after one too many.
For a sugar shock there’s gooey honeyed baklava with pistachio nuts. And the not-to-be-missed confection of Turkish delight.
Apart from a broken arm the trip was a delight, with sunny memories of mud and mezze and proof that going solo can be fun.
Three bracelets and a pendant featuring the blue and black glass Evil Eye as talismans to protect against harm were the perfect Turkish souvenirs to ward off future mishaps as I left for home.
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