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"The Americans" visit Turunç

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The mission sounded straightforward: A beachside village somewhere on the Aegean or Mediterranean with enough going on to entertain a 5-year-old (and two weary parents) after several days in Istanbul, but not so much that we would be battling too many bodies, thumping discos, or stratospheric prices, or struggling to see the sun for all the high-rise hotels around. Dad was the planner, and despite many successful feats of tricky international travel-planning, time ticked away with no obvious solution in this case. Kaş, Kalkan, Fethiye, Patara Beach, Bodrum, Gümüşlük, Selimiye: something was always not quite right, not least the fact that coastal Turkey's prettiest hotels so often don't allow children. (Looking at you, Liman Hotel in Gümüşlük!)

And then, in an innocuous online listicle (beware listicles! But Dad was desperate) called "8 Quiet Villages & Beach Towns in Turkey That You Didn't Hear About," Dad read: "Turunç... is a quiet and beautiful corner surrounded by mountains covered in pine forests with a small river flowing through the middle of the village while orange, plum, and pomegranate orchards dot the surroundings. Turunç is an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful and tranquil retreat, where they can breathe in fresh air and swim in crystal-clear waters." What? The guidebook didn't mention Turunç. Almost no other place online mentioned Turunç. Was Dad going to stake half of a once-a-year vacation, and his daughter's first trip to the borderland between Europe and Asia, on a place that had somehow mostly escaped the gaze of Instagram and travel journalists, and was two hours from the nearest airport, meaning the journey home would last exactly 24 hours? (And it did, dear reader, it really did.)

The lesson here is that it's still possible to have unpredictable travel experiences in this overexposed world of ours. Of course, a great deal of the debt goes to Hugh Evans, the wizard of this site, who provided an exceptional, and exceptionally informative, welcome before arrival (and a critical loan of several peshtemals after); the Ramitos Hotel, which is a very beautiful place and whose staff all but adopted our daughter while we were there; Captain Vedat, whose boat ride we took at Hugh's suggestion, which included not only the best meal of our stay in Turunç (though Veranda and the Ramitos restaurant also did very right by us), but simply the most beautiful day any of us had enjoyed in a very long time, including a sighting of a massive dolphin pod, replete with a boat-surf by two of them. (Vedat is also the one who christened us "The Americans" on his bill tally for the day. Agnes consumed a very great deal of pineapple juice.)

Agnes
Agnes

The list goes on and on: The way our daughter Agnes made a fast, dear friend in Esma, the daughter of Felicity, one of the managerial personnel at Ramitos; my wife, who loves to sing, joining Müfit on stage at Ramitos during music night; karaoke night at Fidan's; multiple visits to Kumlubük and Pebble Beach; the warmth and generosity of the gentleman who runs Urartu; the very lovely community of people around Hugh and Glenda; the enchantedly intimate feeling in the village, where one begins seeing the same friendly faces quite quickly, and where the vibe and pace are so genteel and low-key; and much else.

Within three days, we felt as if we had been there for years, like it was home. We really left our hearts in Turunç.

Boris, Jessica and Agnes

Top Tip Boris Fishman is an American writer. He is the author of the novels Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo (2016), A Replacement Life (2014), and Savage Feast (2019). More information can be found on his website: borisfishman.com.
We're thrilled that he agreed to author this article sharing his family's memories of their visit to Turunç.