Over the course of the past fortnight, America’s most well-respected travel news journalist Peter Greenberg and executive producer-director Grady Candler have been filming with their team in a number of unique destinations dotting Turkey's Aegean coast. The show the Emmy-winning investigative reporters are filming is called "Hidden Aegean" and it is one of a series of travel documentaries hosted by Greenberg that will air on PBS, Amazon Prime and Apple TV. Last year, Greenberg also shot the magnificent hourlong documentary "Hidden Turkey" in which he uncovers “hidden” destinations and experiences throughout the country.
For this volume, I know they visited Çanakkale, Izmir, Bodrum and me in Dalyan from where we went on a number of adventures. Before they got to me, the crew shot in Bodrum aboard the famous Bastarda boat and interviewed seasoned expat and Blue Cruise organizer Dina Street. As for their other adventures, we will just have to wait and see when the show airs in early 2023.
So, Peter Greenberg, also known as the "Travel Detective," is actually a hero of mine. I grew up watching him both relay the news, which he does on CBS’ "Morning Show," as well as uncover destinations all over the world as America’s foremost travel journalist. One of his most titillating travel documentary series is called "The Royal Tour" where he was actually toured around by the heads of state in countries like Mexico, Israel, Ecuador and many more.
Greenberg also happens to be a serious boat-lover and spends a significant amount of time living aboard his yachts on both coasts of the United States. Therefore, it was no surprise that we would be boarding boats during our shoot, but in fact, there were multiple boats involved in the filming I got to witness. But as for how I got involved, well Greenberg’s team contacted me a few weeks ago after they discovered that I was an American expat from Los Angeles living in the Aegean through the articles I have written for this very column. I held a number of meetings remotely and in person with the director and Greenberg’s team and told them about my daily lifestyle in Dalyan.
You see it just so happens that my lifestyle in southern Turkey also involves a lot of boats. I explained how my week starts off aboard one of the “expat” boats that depart weekly from Dalyan to take passengers to the famous and abundant Köyceğiz market. While these boats aren’t necessarily exclusive to expats, I use the moniker in-kind gest to explain that most of the passengers and in many cases the boat owners just happen to be expats. This is because Dalyan is one of those somewhat secret enclaves for British citizens, which is something many other nationals may not know. According to hearsay, expats make up 40% of the population in Dalyan and as a result, many of the restaurants and cafes as well as boats tend to cater to them.
The weekly Köyceğiz market is a boat run I do often, especially when friends and family come to visit, but also just for the sake of taking a boat through the breathtaking Dalyan river and 4,000-year-old rock tomb that connects to the Köyceğiz lake, which is equipped with the impressive Sultaniye mud baths and their green thermal domes sitting along the vista. Similarly, whenever I feel like going for a swim, I take a boat to the beach. And not just any old beach as the entry to the closest sea just so happens to be at the famous Iztuzu Beach, known for being a protected sanctuary for Caretta caretta turtles due to the heroic efforts of British expat Captain June, who passed away just a few months ago at the age of 100 in Dalyan where she lived out her golden years.
While the Köyceğiz run is more like a “taxi” service taking a specific number of passengers to and from the weekly market, the boats that go to the beach operate as a ferry system, where you can board one to the beach and then jump on another at any time of your choosing to return to Dalyan. The boat ride to the beach is an amazing experience in itself as you journey through a winding maze of reeds on the river to end up at a 4.5-kilometer-long (2.7-mile-long), wave-breaking beach that is totally sheltered from development.
These boats that I frequently take, my lifestyle and the reasons why I chose to live in Turkey’s Aegean were the focus of our interview, held aboard a boat that set out from Dalyan and navigated through Köyceğiz lake. The boat had a very professional crew of dozens, including a drone flying above us, as I shared how I left Los Angeles, where I grew up, to move to Turkey decades ago and have never once looked back nor visited. I love living in Turkey and am so honored to have had the opportunity to share why I have chosen this country as my forever home.
Greenberg and I disembarked to have a wander around Köyceğiz, which I had also toured the day prior with the program’s director Grady Candler. I showed them the honey the region is famous for, the market and the cafes we expats sit at with our shopping as we wait for our boat “taxi” to pick us up.
For the shoot I took part in, we had our own boat filled with the production crew and surprisingly, Greenberg’s beautiful Turkish wife, Hande Bayar-Greenberg, who he married three years ago. They actually met at a dinner during his shoot for "The Royal Tour" three and a half years ago, neither had been married before and I must say they are perfectly matched! I was fortunate enough to also be with them on their third wedding anniversary, which took place in Göcek the following day, where I met up with the crew to take part in an interview with Peter that will be aired on his three-radio program "Eye on Travel" which airs on Saturdays at 10 a.m. ET on CBS Radio.
I learned a lot from what turned out to be a three-day adventure, especially from Peter and the director Grady and their impeccable work ethic. Peter Greenberg is everything and more one could expect from this hero and legend who I have watched on air for decades. Not only was he shooting for "Hidden Aegean" and recording radio programs on the sidelines, but Greenberg was also going on air in the evening from his hotel to report on the pressing situation in the news on the airline sector. The bottom line is this incredibly charismatic and intelligent man, who is just as kind, funny and fun, is always in momentum.
When I told Greenberg that Turkey, the boating lifestyle and everything else it entails is how I am “growing young,” he definitely resonated with it. We said goodbye and Greenberg whisked off on a speedboat into the coves of Göcek with the crew trailing him from another boat trying to catch up. And I realized that while I don’t miss America whatsoever, I do miss my fellow compatriots and really enjoyed my time with Greenberg, Grady and Greenberg’s assistant Anthony Prodis, all of whom spend considerable time in my hometown of Los Angeles. I am therefore truly grateful to the whole crew to have had this opportunity to share the Turkish expat experience and just how amazing this country is to an American audience.