Winter Sun

Winter sun
A month at a villa in Turkey… we were so excited – the dream had begun. We weren’t to be disappointed; Turkey in April is glorious.

Over the last few years, my partner and I have fallen in love with Turkey and in particular the Southern Mediterranean coast around Fethiye. We discovered the region while we were still in full time employment and as my partner worked in a secondary school, our visits were mainly limited to summer holidays.

Summer too hot!

We fell in love with the country, the people and of course the food, but on those early visits we soon discovered how brutal summers are in southern Turkey. Often temperatures reached the mid to high 40’s which was just too hot for us. We had such a great time, we vowed we’d return when temperatures were a little cooler. Following summer trips to Crete, Rhodes and Cyprus, we returned again to Turkey, but this time managed to use the spring half in May and found the weather to be pretty much perfect. Creeping into the low 30’s but of course as we were still tied to holidays and so our trips to Turkey were limited to short spring and autumn breaks.

April was perfect

We retired soon after but, like many others looking to travel in retirement, Covid disrupted our plans through 2020 and 2021. However, in early April 2022, we finally managed to escape the British weather, boarding a cheap EasyJet flight from Bristol to Dalaman with a plan to spend a month staying in a friend’s villa in Calis, close to Fethiye – we were so excited, the dream had begun.

We weren’t disappointed; Turkey in April is glorious. While the evenings and nights are much cooler than in the summer, the days were lovely with mid to high 20’s as the norm and as the month progressed the days got longer, and the temperatures increased.

What really struck me was the light – having been used to UK weather and a long winter, you forget how life giving the sun can be. For me, the morning was the magic time – following the obligatory cup of tea, I would set myself up by the pool and do simple exercises and yoga for an hour. The sun would creep over the top of the villa and flood the poolside with warmth and light.

I have never felt so alive and healthy as I did during that month. The other wonderful thing about travelling in retirement, is that you can avoid the crowds, which can be particularly bad in towns like Fethiye. While the beaches, bars and restaurants are quiet, they are gearing up for summer and so there is a palpable energy and enthusiasm that comes across in all interactions.

Cheap food

Food is of course a highlight of any holiday to Turkey and as of April 2022, the cost of living was low and the exchange rate very favourable, eating out was extremely cheap – we would often pay less than £20 for the two of us and that included wine and beer. However, we love to cook and so our weekly ritual was to hit the local market where we could stock up on local organic produce, particularly their fantastic fruit and vegetables. We found that the cost was around 25-50% of what you’d pay in the UK, and frankly the quality was better. Our diets improved immeasurably with the fresh local food, and we found that the combination of the warmer weather, good healthy food and plenty of sleep provided a perfect environment with many physical and mental benefits.

Autumn cool evenings

We loved our month in Turkey so much, we vowed to return in the autumn for another extended four week stay in October 2022. Interestingly, while it was still lovely with similar temperatures to April and warmer evenings, we found it a little less energising. Unlike our earlier stay, as the month progressed the temperatures cooled and the days shortened.

The sun didn’t hit the pool until 10am, and so my poolside exercises weren’t quite so warm and invigorating… Towards the end of the month, we would sit out by the pool in the fading light, hanging onto the last sliver of sunlight and not relishing the longer evenings spent indoors.

On top of that, unlike in spring and early summer, businesses in the resort towns are winding down in October, and the whole vibe is a little more subdued and even downbeat.

Don’t get me wrong, we still loved escaping the cooler UK autumn weather, enjoying the lovely friendly Turkish folk, the food and the slower pace of life. But we learnt that for us, the best moths to visit this exciting and magical country, are in April and May when flights are cheap and crowds are lower.

We can’t wait for our next trip to Turkey – I would urge you to consider a visit and maybe, like us, you’ll be enchanted and fall in love with the people, the food of this wonderful country. Share your favourite places for winter sun in the comments if you are already a convert!

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