Voices travel columnist Natalie Sayin takes a dip from the delights on offer at Bafa Lake. For more details on her Turkish travails, check out her leading blog: www.turkishtravelblog.com
SITTING by Bafa Lake eating breakfast, always makes me feels creatively bohemian. Even better, is that it is a traditional Turkish breakfast, and not my native English fry up that cures my hangovers.
In my mind, the rustic lakeside settings, fresh organic ingredients, and the ideal summer weather takes me away from the standard 9 to 5 lifestyle. I love saying to my friends “Oh hey, let’s pop down to the lake for breakfast” as if I do it every day of the week.
Luckily, Bafa Lake, flanked by the Five Fingers mountain range is just half an hour’s drive away from my home in. My visit in winter was marred with the drizzling of rain and cold winds, so albeit, we were still lakeside per se, but plastic coverings were pulled down over the edge of the wooden veranda, and the waiter placed us on a table by the traditional stone fire with logs burning.
I am not grumbling, but it just wasn’t the same bohemian vibe I wanted, so I returned last week when the sun was shining.
Restaurants and Breakfast at Bafa Lake
Although the lakeside setting is a key theme, another strong promotion point is the organic Turkish breakfasts, laid out across your table for everybody to share and nibble as and when. It is not to be a rushed affair and just savoured in the moment.
On previous visits, I always went to Ceri restaurant that is also immensely proud of their black eels, swimming about in a pool of shallow water. Apparently, it is a great delicacy, and they make a roaring trade at nighttime for this unique cuisine.
As adventurous as I am, eel is not on my list of dishes to sample, and on this occasion, eager to seek out something new, I headed to the neighbouring Silvia Olivia establishment.
This place turned out to be a lot more than a lakeside setting with a pool of ugly eels.
The entrance is set back from the lake, but wooden patios strategically placed in various positions down the hillside allow visitors to take their pick of lakeside views.
Following the cobbled path that leads between them and down to the lakeside, I passed through gardens full of the fragment smell of herbs, and flowers mixed in with the visual appearance of olive trees and cactus plants.
Standing on the lakeside jetty, a man in a kayak rowed past me while cheerfully shouting good morning before mooring the kayak on shore. Walking uphill and back to the main restaurant, I saw him drinking coffee at one of the tables. He told me he was staying there, cue immense jealousy on my behalf that he can act bohemian every day of the week with such ease and finesse as if it comes naturally to him.
Looking around, my attention was also drawn to the ice cream machine sitting by the entrance. Unfortunately, it was empty, but the owner upon noticing my interest took me into their back room, a hive of activity for everything organic.
Their ice cream is homemade and apparently one of their best sellers in the summer, after everyone has eaten the organic Turkish breakfast.
Within their grounds are a mass of olive trees and after picking, they are taken to the village press to be made into oil, which is also sold as well as used in their kitchens.
The owner was also eager to show their giant vat where they made their own honey and jam, both to be served at breakfast and sold as souvenirs. He invited me to sit down and try some along with their own home-made rye bread.
At this point, I’m wondering if there is anything that this man doesn’t do before he tells me about the rest of the grounds that include a chicken coup, gardens with tomatoes, cucumbers and salad ingredients as well as bungalows for overnight accommodation.
I suddenly felt like an underachiever in life.
Bafa’s other highlights
Breakfast is not the only highlight of Bafa Lake. On a previous visit, I made my way deep into the hills, to visit Herakleia.
Now some holidaymakers complain about the intense hassle that staff of restaurants in typically tourist resorts dish out, but they don’t have a patch on the elderly Turkish women of this village.
They made the pretense of providing a historical tour of the nearby ruins before pouncing on us in a deserted field so that we would buy their handmade tablecloths and headscarves.
I would have said no, but did not have a clue where I was and had I marched off in a huff, probably ended up wandering the green hills of Lake Bafa never to be seen again.
So, on this visit, I stopped off in the village of Pinarcik instead, with a population of approximately 400 people. I had been here, roughly ten years before and everything was the same. Likewise, it has the typical story of most small villages in Turkey. Deserted houses and old people.
The younger generations have left because they realize there is more money to be made out in the big wide world. My guide introduced me to a frail old woman. She has no idea of how old she is but can remember meeting Ataturk when he came through this region. Her son left many years ago to work in a city. He sends money but likewise she can’t remember the last time he visited.
Anyone who is physically active will enjoy hiking and trekking around Bafa Lake. Alternatively, much further down the Milas /Bodrum road is the ancient ruins of Euromos and the unfinished Temple of Zeus.