Fethiye is a small town in the south of Turkey, on the Mediterranean coast. We arrived after a five-hour bus ride from Selcuk, to Aydin then Fethiye. The good buses in Turkey have comfy seats, TVs on the back of every seat and a dude serving you tea and coffee every hour. It’s like being on a plane but heaps better because you can look out at the scenery.

Fethiye is a major tourist town as it’s the hub for a lot of cool tours and island cruises. Unfortunately this also means accommodation prices are high and you get a small, stuffy, run-down hotel room with stained carpet for your money. Luckily for us we were out of peak season so we had a bit of room to haggle. We got a dank double room with a bathroom and breakfast at the Kemal Hotel for 70 Lira a night, instead of the 90 Lira they were asking.

The main thing I wanted to do here was to visit the Sultaniye mud-baths and thermal springs in Dalyan, about an hour from Fethiye. Being out of season we didn’t know if it would be open and if the series of buses and boat trip we needed in order to get there would all line up. But the day we set out to get there, luck was on our side, or maybe it was actually just pretty easy to get there, and we got a mini-bus to the bus station, then to Ortaca, then to Dalyan, then a boat out to the Sultaniye mud baths.

Dalyan is a gorgeous little town on the shore of Lake Koycegiz. In order to get to the mud-baths, which are across the lake, you need to haggle with the boat captains that are lined up on the shore.

After much discussion we managed to get a private boat to take us, then wait for us and bring us back, for 70 Lira (about AU$50).

The boat trip was the main surprise of the day, it was awesome! Rob and I sat at the front of our private boat, dangling our legs over the side, whilst spotting stork’s nests and fish jumping out of the water, it was unbelievable.

The backdrop to the scene were mountains and forests which were perfectly mirrored in the calm water. We were in heaven.

It took about 45 minutes to get across the lake and arrive at our destination.

When we arrived a man gave us a brief explanation and said that we were to first strip off and cover ourselves in mud from the mud baths, then let it dry and wash it off before bathing in the thermal pools. The mud was grose! It was shallow, cold, slimy and had scratchy rocks and shells in it. But we’d come this far, so we did as instructed.

We froze as we let the mud dry and then rinsed off in the freezing water. The mud had special mineral properties that is supposed to make you look ten years younger, and it was good enough for Cleopatera to frequently visit, but all we felt was cold.

The best part was by far was the ancient Roman bath, which had been built directly above a thermal spring. You could see the bubbles as water welled up from the earth. The water temperature was almost too hot to stand, perfect, and we had the place to ourselves.

Once we were all pruned-up, we enjoyed the setting a bit more before heading back across the lake. From Dalyan we caught the same series of buses back to Fethiye.

As we had enjoyed the boat trip across Lake Koycegiz so much, the following day we decided to do the 12-island cruise with one of the boats that line up on the harbour in Fethiye. We payed 30 Lira (about AU$21) each for the trip and lunch, which was great value.

The cruise left at 10.30 a.m. and slowly pottered around the bay and islands in the Mediterranean Sea off the shore of Fethiye. We stopped at four islands to swim and explore (we weren’t sure why it was called a 12-isand cruise).

The water was so warm, crystal clear and full of little fish, it was paradise!

In-between stops we drank, read and lazed around on deck on the cushions watching the world go by. When we arrived back on shore at around 4.30 p.m. we were so relaxed. It’s an awesome way to spend a day.

Another trip that you can do from Fethiye is a four-day, three-night cruise to Olympos, which we didn’t have time to do. After our one-day cruise we wondered how much more relaxed you could possibly be, with a trip like that I guess you’d find out. But for us, our next stop would be the much quicker bus trip to Olympos, which I was really looking forward to. Tree-house living, here we come!

Lorna Jane is an Australian environmental scientist.

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