Many of us have felt like hurling ourselves off the side of a mountain in the past 12 months. And now, my fiancé Chris and I are doing it for real on an all-inclusive holiday in Turkey, of the kind that might just be possible later on this summer.
The original plan was for us to be on the other side of the world on our honeymoon.
So, what better way to shake off the disappointment of a postponed wedding than a tandem paragliding session from one of the highest take-off points in the world — or so we’d think after downing a daiquiri or two.
Top of the world: Oludeniz beach in Turkey. Babadag mountain overlooks Oludeniz and paragliders from all over the world travel to this spot to take to the skies over the ‘blue lagoon’
But as we stand atop Babadag mountain overlooking Oludeniz, a village near the port town of Fethiye on the south-west coast of Turkey, the idea suddenly seems almost as idiotic as our matching ‘almost wife’ and ‘almost husband’ T-shirts (a gift from my bridesmaids).
Paragliders from all over the world travel to this spot to take to the skies over the ‘blue lagoon’. From the ground they look like large graceful birds circling the beach.
The minibus ride to the 5,600ft take-off site is terrifying, with hairpin bends and sheer drops. ‘Is it your first time?’ asks a worryingly young looking Turkish man who claims to be my pilot. ‘Yes,’ I squeak.
‘Me too,’ he grins, as he drags me towards a perilously steep paved slope and starts wrestling me into a harness.
‘When I run, you run and you don’t stop,’ he says. That’s the safety briefing done.
I look over my shoulder just in time to see Chris’s red parachute being yanked upwards by a strong gust of wind.
The Daily Mail’s Victoria Bischoff tries paragliding. She got a dazzling view of the green mountains and blue water
Then it’s my turn and all thoughts of coronavirus and cancelled weddings dissipate. Beneath my dangling feet is a dazzling view of green mountains and the most incredibly blue water. As we swoop lower, I start to relax (as much as you can at that height) and a mere half an hour later my feet are grazing the heads of sunbathers on the beach.
Then it’s straight back to the hotel for several stiff drinks.
Our base for the week is a 30-minute drive away at adult-only The Residence at Tui Sensatori Barut Fethiye, which opened last year. We’re staying in one of its Lake House suites and couldn’t be more spoilt. There is one Jacuzzi on the balcony, a second in the bathroom and our own private sun loungers by the pool.
We are also presented with a ‘press for service’ button — not that we need it. Our smiley ‘butler’ Engin has already taken to bringing us fruity frozen cocktails every hour on the hour, even turning up with a chocolate soufflé for each of us one afternoon. The pool is like a mini Waterworld, snaking around the grounds to cater for the many ‘swim-up’ rooms.
Guests float lazily on inflatables, seldom without a brightly coloured cocktail clutched in their hand from the swim-up bar.
The Lake House suite at The Residence at Tui Sensatori Barut Fethiye. Victoria says that when staying here, she couldn’t have been more spoiled
If you tire of the pool you can reserve a cabana on the hotel’s private beach or lounge in a hammock in the woods.
And if you’re still struggling to relax, treat yourself to an authentic sudsy scrub down, or hammam, at the spa. It feels like you’re a small child again, being lovingly bathed by your mother.
At the hotel there are three restaurants to choose from, including a fine-dining option, Asmani, and an open-air bistro, Cuphea. You can also use the facilities at the family resort next door, which has six more restaurants. We become obsessed with the Turkish breakfast dish menemen — scrambled eggs cooked in a pot with tomatoes, onion and green peppers. Perfect for dipping in buttery toast.
For dinner it’s a meat feast. While usually vegetarian, we couldn’t resist sneaking off for some traditional Turkish food in Fethiye old town one evening where we merrily gorged on Turkish kebabs, with lashings of Turkish beer, Efes. The restaurant, Megri, is in the middle of a bustling marketplace so while Chris enjoyed a close shave at a nearby Turkish barber’s, I hit the shops.
According to our tour guide Rose, if you buy something with a Blue Evil Eye on it as a gift for someone it brings good luck
Fethiye old town where Victoria and her fiancé merrily gorged on Turkish kebabs with lashings of Turkish beer, Efes
TUI offers seven nights at the five-star Tui Sensatori Barut Fethiye on an all-inclusive board basis from £858 pp (includes £100 discount with code summer 100, based on two adults sharing, flights from London Gatwick on June 22, 2021) tui.co.uk.
Also, a top tip for gluttonous tourists: Turkish Delight sellers are slick salesmen who charge by the kilo so watch your Lira. And I’m not talking about the rubbish pink powdery stuff you get here. There’s every fruity, nutty flavour imaginable. No amount of tennis at the resort’s seafront courts could protect our waistlines.
If you opt for just one day trip, let it be Dalyan at dusk. The tour begins with a visit to a sea turtle rescue centre at Iztuzu, or Turtle Beach, where we cooed over babies who hadn’t made it to the sea after hatching the previous night, before enjoying a barbecue dinner at riverside restaurant Paradise Club.
When the sun sets, you’ll take a boat to see the spooky-looking Lycian tombs that were carved high up into the rock face thousands of years ago. Lit up at night, no photograph can do them justice.
Our trip was pre-lockdown. Each time you walked through the door of the hotel, someone took your temperature by pointing a thermometer gun at your wrist. Hand sanitisers were dotted about. But while the staff always wear a mask, most guests only pop one on when inside — as well as gloves when visiting the buffet.
The hotel is now also paper-free. So to view menus you must scan a QR code with your smartphone and click on the link that appears. This is likely to be the rule throughout 2021.
With so many sun loungers and dining options, social-distancing is easy — unlike the Turkish language. Even with the diligent tutoring of our favourite waiter, Bayram, I’m still not convinced I’m pronouncing ‘thank you’ or ‘teşekkür ederim’ correctly.
Strangely, it didn’t take us nearly so long to master cheers or ‘şerefe’.
A week in Turkey might not have been the honeymoon we’d planned — but it was a love affair all the same.