We have decided that we need to give ourselves one day off a week. We need to get away from the project and do other things. Because otherwise we are boring, obsessed people who have very limited conversation in social settings and not everyone wants to talk about earthquake structures!
So one beautiful Sunday morning we headed off to explore the Millipark, both sides.
It was mid morning when we arrived in Doganbey the cultural centre of the Millipark, a village of traditional pre-1923 Turkish and Greek houses (this is on the Didim side of the peninsula). To be honest, whilst I appreciate the workmanship of the place it is scary and desolate and with a chill wind blowing down from the mountain peaks and cloud sliding down the sharp gullies towards the village it truly felt like a ghost town about to be dragged back through time.
The restored houses are extraordinary. The detail is fantastic and the workmanship superior to anything else I have seen in Turkey. The stonework is wonderful, the colours very rich and the woodwork on doors and windows it authentic and very elegant. Time and money and lots of care have gone into preserving/rebuilding these wonderful stone houses. We took loads of pictures to help us in our own renovations.
But the air of abandonment, the perfect houses with no people, no animals and no sound gave the place an otherworldly air. I missed the vibrant life of our village, the donkeys and chickens, the children and tractors.
We drove away feeling slightly intimidated and drove through Yeni Doganbey and along the edge of the sea until the road ran out at a charming little fish restaurant near the end of the peninsula.
Here we enjoyed coffee whilst sitting in the warm sun and watched the fishermen wading in the shallow waters and working the sand bars for bass and snapper.
It was early afternoon when we drove through Davutlar and Guzelcamli on the road out to the Kusadasi side of the park. We passed the acres of summer villas closed up now for the winter and followed the road at the foot of the mountain ridges until we reached the official entrance.
Entrance fee was 8ytl and that gave us access to the park, a nicely detailed map showing walking, biking and driving routes and an interesting pamphlet about the flora and fauna.
I love this side of the Millipark. The headlands fading off into the distance like the best kind of watercolour painting, tone on tone, the pine forests that sweep down to the Aegean, the drifts of rusty pine needles like so much prickly snow. I love the sense of peace, a living breathing growing nature at peace.
We passed few cars that Sunday. The road was quiet and we stopped often to enjoy the views and admire the huge rise of the peaks and the glorious views from the road down onto the turquoise water. The sea is so clear here, even from the cliffs you can see the pebbles on the seabed.
We drove as far as the road would allow us, waving to the friendly jandarma that guard the park (I could cope with that, 15 months of sitting under pine trees watching the seasons change).
The far end of the park is prohibited to tourists. Here is where the seals and turtles come to mate and breed and their beaches are protected.
We drove back stopping at the three public beaches. Icmeler, the first beach as you enter the park is sandy and pleasant but there are parking and toilet facilities at all beaches as well as restaurants.
We paused to take photos and enjoy the late autumn sun – some people were still swimming and I wished I had brought towels and bathers because the water looked so inviting.
The Millipark is a lovely day out. The views are extraordinary, the ambience is so peaceful and the beaches are quiet and very very clean. I’d recommend it in any season, Spring for the flowers and that first swim of the season, Summer to escape from the crowds of the Kusadasi beaches and Autumn to enjoy the pine fresh air after the dust of town.
Definately one of my favourite places but next time I want to view it from the sea, that would be wonderful.