It’s still mighty hot here in Mersin with most days cracking on in the high 30’s (that’s 100℉ for you crazy hold-outs in the good old USA). I’m not going to whine about the heat today (I know it’s surprising even me) but instead I’ll tell you about what to do when it is hot in Mersin – do what the locals do and get the hell outta Dodge.
Yes sir when the heat gets too much for a Mersin-ite they pack their bags and migrate to the Yayla and so, in an effort to be as Turkish as possible and, with the flimsy excuse of a party, a few of us expats decided to reconvene in the little village of Yeniköy for the weekend to enjoy the cooler mountain breeze and a bevvy or three.
Yeniköy is approximately 20 km’s (about 12 miles for you backwater-type countries that still use the archaic Imperial system of weights and measures – sorry I’m pointing my finger again at you Americans) from the city. Leaving the city on the Mersin Gozne Yolu I usually turn off at the Anadolu Ajansı Hatıra Ormanı (National Forest) and take the Mersin Arslankoy Yolu up into the mountains passing Aladağ along the way (pull over and fill your bottle with pure mountain water at the fountains as you pass by). The first time I travelled up into the mountains was a little hairy with my little car unable to take the gradient on the unsealed village roads but with the current road upgrades the drive is more pleasant than terrifying for this little Aussie bird and the views as you pass through the tiny villages and mountain ranges is spectacular.
One of the small lokantlar worth a visit is Yeniköy Restoran Palanin Yeri which is on your right as you go through the village. Here they do the usual mangal, tavuk ve et dishes and it’s not bad bang for your buck (or your lira). The beer is cold, the staff try their very best and with a mix of their English and my Turklish you usually get what you ordered but the real draw for me is that after spending time in the hell that is Mersin in August a visit to this pleasant garden restaurant and it’s cool breeze (usually 10°C difference) makes the drive so very worthwhile.
Leaving Yeniköy there are a smattering of waterfalls to visit, the most famous being Santuras (St Iris) at Çağlarca or you might like to taking in some of the hiking trails nearby. As the trails are used by the local herders you will probably pass a goat or two on your hike as well as, although I have never seen one, the occasional wild pig.
Another 30 minutes past Çağlarca is the village of Arslanköy which is pretty much as far as you can go without a 4WD. At 1,475 m (4,839 ft) above sea level the summer sun is quite strong up here so remember to slip, slop, slap (Aussie reference sorry to the rest of you) and the village itself doesn’t really have a lot to offer but just past the village is a lovely lake which is a very pleasant spot for a picnic (make sure you stock up before you leave as there are only a few small shops in the village for supplies).
A weekend pass to the Yalya is just the thing to remind me just why I love living here in Mersin.
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