Some of you may be aware of Brightonfit’s first fitness holiday in September. As part of the preparation for this holiday I went to Turkey last month.

So I just got back from a whistle stop tour of Turkey’s “turquoise coast”, cupping the south westerly corner of the country. The agenda ranged from measuring mountain running routes through to sampling local cuisine, primarily for the alpha phase of extraordinary fitness holidays yet mindful this was just a launch pad for future Turkish forays!

My top tip for an off road Turkish visit would be don’t bother looking for a map. They don’t exist. As one guide book said “asking for a map in Turkey only makes you look suspicious!”  My advice would be to instead do one of three things; EITHER find a walking fanatic who has written a little booklet of local walks with sentences in it like “upon approaching the tree with the red bark you will see a rise in the land line at which point turn immediately left down the ravine until you come to the third great boulder….” OR find a walking fanatic who has painted daubs of coloured paint onto rocks along a route he/she has mapped out and hope that when you are in the middle of nowhere, disorientated by the glare of the midday sun as you realise you are starving and without food, that you will find the next painted rock before you wring your sweaty socks out for a drop of moisture to drink….OR finally and perhaps most sensibly with hindsight would be to get a local to guide you.

And so it was that I drank my own sweaty sock drip.

The other surprising local oral delight was salad for breakfast. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were staying in a 2* pension or a 5* boutique hotel there was always some variant on a cucumber, tomato and olive breakfast. Most places would pad this out with eggs and toast, and there was always a selection of home made jams with huge chunks of “jammed” fruit floating in jellied suspense. After a week I began to suss a good salad requires kitchen love: you must peel your cucumber, roughly chop your home grown vine tomato, pick both black and green olives from your grove and serve with both virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and of course a freshly squeezed orange juice comes as standard. In fact “kitchen love” more commonly known as good cooking with fresh ingredients and no fuss was king in Turkey wherever I went.

Of course there were the obligatory British ambassadors sporting lobster red shoulders and patriotic tattoos who were catered for amidst the natural beauty and calm of the country in small but all to frequent pockets of plastic fantastic. Fortunately the tell tale signs of blackboards advertising happy hour outside bars and gift shops with wrist band stands outside them gave away the trash and you could drive by quite easily… stark contrast the photo for this blog entry was taken after about 3 hours of trail running/trekking having not seen a soul for the whole time. A lot of the place is covered in national parks and/or has no road access which makes for idyllic secret hideaway beaches and a fabulous natural escape.

My main objective this visit was to lay some foundations for future trips which was successful, I made some good contacts and stayed in some very contrasting areas and accommodation, in so doing picked up a little about the culture, tourist trade and geography. But the focus was most definitely on trip 1 in September: Whether you choose to hike/climb for a couple of hours to get to paradise beach or take the boat option you will deposit yourself on what is essentially a deserted beach with turquoise crystal clear water. My only complaint would be the lack of 100% sand coverage as this coast line seems to comprise 50% shingle. That aside the sheer mountainous drop in the background and the amount of sweat involved in getting here almost overrides that! Of course once we are there its up to you whether you relax and soak up the rays or carry on sweating to the beat of my shrills.

A slower session is planned in an disused church. In fact its a little more than just a church as it sits amidst 500 abandoned stone houses in a ghost village, latterly adopted by UNESCO as a peace village. I came across this whilst in the woods above Kayakoy where we will be staying and ran down into it out of curiosity. The church would have formed the centre of the village and is cavernous and dark thus providing welcome shade and cool. We will perform a primal fitness circuit once there before we loop around and down to the tarmac civilisation.