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Back to Basic: What Slow Food (and Travel) Means in Akyaka, Turkey

Cities have always attracted ambitious people who want to make it big in their industry. It is a jungle out there. Surviving the city, and much more, conquering it can be so stressful. Times like this, you wish you can go back to a simple life the way it was for you or your parents. It is no wonder slow travel and slow food is coming back with a vengeance!

If you are in the mood to recharge somewhere scenic and serene, take Rachel Dixon’s word, head off to Akyaka. Read about her slow travel and her slow food explorations in her blog “Slow food and an easy vibe: Akyaka, Turkey’s New Foodie Destinationpublished in The Guardian – Travel Section.

Turkey “Akyaka is close to familiar Turkish resorts, but it feels a world away. Rachel Dixon enjoys a scenic retreat just starting to make its mark with foodies and nature lovers 

Over a leisurely breakfast by the Kad?n Azmak river in Akyaka, south-western Turkey, it is difficult to imagine anything disturbing the peace. Ducks and geese jostle for bread, dark shoals of fish swim past and bright green waterweed waves in the slow-moving water, which is fed by icy springs.

But this tiny town – population about 2,500 – on the southern Aegean coast is not far from some much noisier neighbours: Bodrum and Marmaris, two of the largest resorts in Turkey. Perhaps it was the cautionary tale of these tourist hotspots that prompted the then mayor, Ahmet Çalça, to join the international Cittaslow movement in 2011, making Akyaka the second “slow town” in Turkey (there are now nine).”

Akyaka has so much to offer people hungry for a serene environment. Its current visitors consist mainly of Turks (about 9- percent), but it is expected that Brits and other travellers will soon get wind of this beautiful destination. Foodies, architecture buffs and nature lovers will discover this place to be another destination worth including in their bucket list.

Right by the River

Akyaka has enough manmade and natural wonders to keep every visitor’s interest. More than its physical charms, this coastal township is now enjoying a growing reputation for great food that’s based around fresh harvests and catches. On the eastern boundary, it will only take 10 minutes for you to get to the river and conservation area. Does eating by the river sound “slow” enough for you?

Go for the freshest harvests and catches of veggies at Nadir Usta’nin Yeri, a great place for village breakfasts. Lunches and dinners are served at Halil In Yeri. The latter’s mezes such as pickled sea beans and stuffed pumpkin flowers cooked in lemons and olive oil from their groves, their sticky candied figs, quince, and exquisitely gooey plate of halva make great starters to the town’s slow-food culture.

Go slow with a nice cup of strong coffee at Mocca that can go with more Turkish delights. Just before going on a relaxing tour or rest, stretch your legs a bit by strolling to Olive Farm Shop that sells olive oil and olive oil-based soaps.

Lower and Upper Akyaka

Head to lower Akyaka for a taste of local ev yemekleri (home cooking) when you want to try more varieties of local cooking. Noteworthy names you must visit include: Ayse Ananin Yeri that serves simple manti, soups and stews, Karanfil Sokak that serves the best wines by the glass, Mev that is considered the busiest beachfront bar, and Yucelen Otel with rooftop bars is a nice place where you can drink while viewing the gorgeous sunset.

Upper Akyaka is also a good place to walk around. Being the working part of this township, you have a whole lot of experiences to gain here from its coffee houses and bakeries to its small market with fishmongers, butchers and other vendors. One good stop at upper Akyaka is Kristal known for spicy Adana kebab that goes great with a cold Efes beer.

Climb up Sakartep Mountain with its view of the Gokova Bay. Go on an otter-spotting excursion on a boat tour. Get paddling on a kayak to Cleopatra’s Beach or walk up to Cinar Beach. Take a dolmus (minibus) to Mugla for a market experience, to the ruins of Ephesus, to the charming hill village of Sirince, and to the quaint but lively Bodrum. There are so many things to do and see, and too many flavors to savor in Akyaka that can fill the void in your life. Take everything slowly, that’s what you are here for.

 

 

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