Thursday, 22 September 2011


As some of you will know, Jane and I recently spent a week on holiday in Turkey. The place we stayed was the Golden Key hotel in Bördϋbet. It is a small place in a very remote location, with a distinctive character ideal for the sort of "do nothing for a whole week" type of holiday that we wanted, and we absolutely loved it!

The hotel consists of a number of buildings all aligned with a little river that runs through the property.

 It is about a quarter of a mile from the sea, tucked away in a very secluded spot, worlds apart from the "clubbing" resorts that many people associate with Turkey. Probably the most attractive part of the hotel though is a Beach Club situated on a rocky promontory about a mile away on the other side of a bay, which is reached either on foot (about 25 minutes' walk) or via the hotel's own complimentary boat service (about 5 minutes). Over there you can undertake a number of water sports activities (though thankfully not ones involving noisy engines, like water-skiing or jet-skiing), and there is a restaurant where you can get your lunch and drinks. Our favourite lunch dish was a sort of Turkish pizza, called Lahmacun, a thin bread base topped with spiced meat, onions and lots of chopped parsley, cooked in a real wood-fired oven.

The hotel buildings are very attractive in themselves, with lots of different types of room available, not masses of completely identical ones. This photo shows the view from the balcony of the room we had, overlooking the river.

The "theme" of the hotel is evidently in keeping with its name. Bördϋbet means something like "Bird's Bed", and all over the hotel are things which remind you of this. There are little bird-houses and nesting-boxes wherever you look, some of them ornate like this one:

And some of them simple and rustic:

Even many of the staircases are decorated with wildlife-related tiles (mostly birds):

For me, as an avid gardener, there was plenty of interest. In the main part of the hotel the chief emphasis seemed to be on plants requiring little maintenance while contributing as much as possible to the general air of green and leafy tranquillity. Apart from the ubiquitous Bougainvillea, Hibiscus and Lantana there were not many plants in bloom while we were there. Having said that, those that were in bloom were very striking. Look at this fabulously vibrant Morning Glory, for instance:

And what is this? These flowers were on a large shrub, maybe 10 or 12 feet tall. Anyone know it?

And what is this?

The fruits on this one look as if they might be edible - almost like a cross between a Custard Apple and a Prickly Pear!.

But you know me folks, flowers are OK, but veg is better I say, so when I found out that the hotel has its own vegetable garden I had to investigate immediately! In the hotel information brochure it states that you can pick whatever you want in their vegetable garden and get the chef to cook it for you , so I went to see what was on offer...

To be honest, my first reaction was disappointment. The vegetable garden, whilst large and well situated, is definitely badly neglected, and much of it is overgrown and tatty. However, closer inspection revealed the garden to contain a lot of interesting stuff, and it wouldn't take much to get it back into shape. I'm sure that a well-maintained vegetable garden would be pretty popular with most of the guests (I did offer my services as resident gardener, but the remuneration package wasn't up to my expectations!).

This is one of the first things that attracted my attention:

You can imagine how this appealed to me! Open licence to take as much as I wanted... Furthermore, since all the different veg was labelled, my Turkish vocabulary was also enhanced (from about three words to about ten!). So what was available?

Well, obviously tomatoes (Domates):

Aubergines (Patlican), in several different varieties, like this long thin and admirably glossy beauty:

Figs, (Incir), which in Turkey seem to grow like weeds, in every available space:

Pomegranates (unfortunately slightly under-ripe when we were there):

Squashes and melons of several different types:

A lot of sadly neglected Pumpkins, which really ought to have been put to use in the hotel kitchens. Jane said that this patch (next to the hotel's tennis courts) should have been labelled "Squash court"!

And chillis! I found four different types:

The one which looks like a flower was particularly interesting. I speculate that it might have a name like "Turk's Cap" or something similar. Each plant had a huge number of fruit on it. I tried one, but it was surprisingly mild.

These ones are supposed to be mild I think. They were available on the hotel's buffet table all the time, to eat raw, even at breakfast.

This is a variation on the theme, with purple splashes enhancing the visual appeal of the light green peppers.

Another thing I noticed was Purslane, growing in profusion amongst many of the other crops;

Not something you often see grown in any quantity these days. It was gratifying to see it appear on the buffet table as a salad ingredient a couple of times during our week at Bördϋbet.

This post could go on for a very long time. I've hardly mentioned the fruit trees. There were peach trees, apricot trees, avocadoes, pears, oranges, lemons, kumquats, and lots of other things I can't remember. As I've said, most of the plants, trees etc were in serious need of some attention, but it would not take a huge amount of effort to put the garden into a respectable state. I never did put to the test the offer to pick stuff and get the chef to cook it for me (I suspect that this is not something which happens very often), but I did pick a few things to try:

The verdict:
Figs: amazingly good (both types)
Tomatoes: not very tasty; rather bland.
Pomegranate: Under-ripe, not edible
Chillis: Only the small red type seemed to have any real heat.

Jane and I loved Bördϋbet so much that we are thinking of going back there again next year. The weather was great, the hotel was comfortable, the food was good, and the staff were friendly and helpful without being pushy or obsequious. Our stay at the Golden Key was booked through Exclusive Escapes, who did a grand job for us. Full marks to their efficient and sociable ladies Anne and Monica who made us so welcome. [Just get that veg garden knocked into shape, eh girls? :-) ]


  1. A travelogue and a produce show - and a staicase I'd like in my house.

  2. A long post but a good one Mark. Very interesting...I love armchair travel. I also like the way you managed to get some fruit and veggies in your holiday post. LOL

  3. Looks like a great vacation Mark. I am in love with the little red pepper. How cute is that!!? Thank you for photographing veggies for us while on vacation. :-)

  4. Looks a relaxing holiday destination. The hotel looks fab! Never thought of Turkey having a hotel like that, looks really super.

  5. The hotel looks wonderful, so nice that each room was individual rather than all being identical. The grounds look lovely too, and private. I've been thinking about growing morning glory myself, they're such a striking colour. What a shame that the vegetable garden wasn't up to par, I'm sure you'd have had it knocked in to shape in no time.

  6. Goodness, a hotel with lots of water, a free ferry to a beach, and a pick-your-own veg patch? Sounds perfect!

  7. My in-laws really liked Turkey and it was a place that they frequented a lot, sadly no more as my father in law passed away last year.

    I've enjoyed looking at your photographs, and this sounds like the kind of place I would love - esp, pick your patch! I am really adoring that staircase too. I'd love to have a bite of the 'Turkey Cap' chilli too - for breakfast you say :)

  8. The red flower tree is called "ceibo", and its flower is the national flower of both Argentina and Uruguay. The green fruit could be a variety of "chirimoya", a very popular fruit here in Chile.
    Have a lovely day, everyone!

  9. Looks like a fine holiday.... Luxury and pick your own - best of both worlds!

  10. Yes, the red flowers belong to Erythrina crista-galli, as Karen said. The next shrub might be some variety of Lantana, and the prickly fruits belong to some of the Ficus species, I am pretty sure of it.
    Very nice holiday and very good photographs.

  11. What a wonderful post! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Those flower shaped chillies are so pretty! And what a great many pumpkins in that "squash court" picture.

  12. I am so glad that you have a nice holiday in my country. Your Turkish improved since your last visit to my blog :) Previously tomatoes were nice in Turkey too but producers prefer to use hybrid seeds that taste is not nice nowadays but producers who prefer to produce organic vegetables begun to find original seeds like as previous times. Next time you'll ask pink tomatoes.

    The plant you said like cherimoya is looks like magnolia seeds.

  13. A perfect holdiay for the perfect person, to admire vegetables. the chillies steal the show.

  14. seems a perfect holiday destination with the loved ones and having some of the best panoramic views and mouth watering dishes


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