Cavus Bay, Adrasan, Turkey
Paradise is a small hotel offering personal friendly service.
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Booking at the Paradise Café
Extract from this Turkish newspaper 19th April 2008
One of the rare exceptions is the promontory west of Antalya that falls within the Beydaglari Olimpos National Park. It was to here that a group of refugees from the bigger resorts fled in the 1990s, establishing, inland from the lovely beach at Olimpos, a collection of treehouses of varying degrees of authenticity, and then, at neighboring Çirali, a low-key bricks-and-mortar resort favored by people of alternative, ex-hippy tendencies.These days Olimpos and Çirali retain much of their laidback appeal, but neither is exactly off-the-beaten-track anymore. Across the mountain to the west, however, the neglected resort of Adrasan -- or Çavusköy, to give it its modern name -- still slumbers untroubled by the demands of visitors except during Turkish school holidays.
Why would you want to holiday in Adrasan then? It is, after all, a sleepy sort of place with not a great deal to do except swim, sunbathe, take a boat trip to nearby Ceneviz Limani (Genoese Harbor) and perhaps get your hair cut at Elvis Kuaför. The actual village of Çavusköy lies two kilometers inland from the beach. Unfortunately it's not a particularly exciting place, its most striking features an unlikely statue of Atatürk in full opera-going get-up, and a line of greenhouses rearing tomatoes for sale in nearby Kumluca. Nor can Adrasan really compete with Olimpos for natural beauty -- although it does boast a long strip of beach, it's backed by a rough dirt-track road and then by a succession of hotels, which, while small and relatively discreet, were designed haphazardly for a package-holiday boom that failed to materialize. But getting to the village by public transport is trickier than getting to Olimpos, which means that it remains a refuge from the party crowds of high summer.
Adrasan itself may lack historic attractions, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's only for beach bunnies. Provided you come by car, you will find plenty to occupy you in the surrounding area. It is, for example, within spitting distance of Olimpos where the romantic remains of an ancient city lurk half-hidden amid the undergrowth just inland from the beach. Ancient Olimpos appears to have started life as a Lycian settlement, although, like all these places, it was eventually absorbed into the Roman Empire. A fine pair of Lycian tombs aside, most of the ruins date from Roman times, although the most conspicuous survival is part of a Byzantine city wall, which was rebuilt by Genoese traders in the 12th century. The remains of an ancient theater, a Byzantine church and an aqueduct are also easy to identify. Otherwise, the site is memorable as much for the fig trees, oleanders and fragrant bay trees that threaten to overwhelm it.
The local Lycians seem to have worshipped the Greek fire god Hephaestus (later identified with the Roman god Vulcan), which is hardly surprising given the site's proximity to the mysterious Chimaera (Yanartas), a collection of inextinguishable flames that flicker on the mountainside above Olimpos. Homer described the Chimaera as a strangely hybrid monster, part lioness, part goat and part snake. To avenge the supposed rape of his daughter, the Lycian king Iobates ordered the hero Bellerophon to kill the Chimaera. This he duly did by galloping over her on his winged horse Pegasus and pouring lead into her mouth to suffocate her.
Modern researchers agree that methane gas is partly responsible for the flames, but they've failed to come up with a completely convincing explanation for why they can't be put out. Written records indicate that the flames were once dramatic enough to be seen from far out at sea, and that passing sailors used them as a natural lighthouse. These days, however, the flames are hardly likely to spark a forest inferno, and they can be temporarily extinguished by cupping them with a hand (although they always spring back to life again like trick birthday-cake candles as soon as the hand is removed). But what does any of that matter anyway? They still make an extraordinary sight, especially when viewed on a dark night or by the eerie light of a full moon.
Adrasan also makes a great base for visiting the ruins at Phaselis, a bit further east along the road towards Antalya. Like Olimpos, the site at Phaselis is worth visiting as much for the beauty of its beachfront location as for its actual remains. Founded by traders from Rhodes, this was a city that used to boast three separate harbors, the ruins of which are still clearly visible alongside those of a theater and a partially overgrown acropolis.
The popular Lycian Way walking trail transits Adrasan on its way between the twin lighthouses of Taslik Burnu (Cape Gelidonia) and the steep climb over Musa Dagi (Mt. Musa) at the northern end of the beach. Serious climbers can also use it as a base for assaults on nearby Tahtali Dagi. Until recently this was pristine wilderness, but a hotly contested cable car now sways up the side of the mountain, allowing non-climbers to share in a view which was once the province of the super-fit only.
The hills above Adrasan also shelter several inviting restaurants serving fresh trout direct from the fish farms of Ulupinar. However, if there had to be just one reason for coming to Adrasan it would have to be the Paradise Café. This aptly-named restaurant can be found by following the river that runs inland from the northern end of the beach. It's the last in a chain of copy-cat enterprises which feature tables set up on wooden walkways over the river. Here, you can choose between reclining on cushions to eat a la Turca or sitting at more conventional tables set up on platforms amid a sea of greenery. As you tuck into delectably fresh meze and fish, ducks and geese will meander past in search of any scraps -- as, almost certainly, will a selection of cats and dogs belonging to the café's charmingly hospitable owners.
When it comes to choosing somewhere to stay in Adrasan the best options lie at the opposite extremes of the beach. At the southern end, overlooking Musa Dagi, the Ford Hotel is a pleasingly designed place with wooden balconies reminiscent of those in old Kalkan and a small swimming pool. At the northern end the Paradise Café also offers a few simple rooms. Otherwise, of the hotels backing onto the beach, the best choices are probably the friendly Ön Hotel, or Sazlik China House, where an unlikely line-up of Chinese lanterns above the entrance offer a clue to the interests of its owner.
Adrasan: the beach beyond Mt. Musa
These days it's hard to find any part of the south coast that has not been developed almost to extinction.