Anchored on shore - Marmaris, Turkey

N 36° 51' E 28° 16'

I hit the sea at last!

July 29, 2009

(The one and only photo worth uploading of the trip has to be that of the fabulous fully horsepowered tender to Kasim’s mighty fishing boat. Suleyman is taken to shore by his trusty “Kaptan Kasim” on the right.)

 

I was having a lovely day with my Australian friend Julie and her son Teo, who had come to visit me in Marmaris for 2 days. My Turkish friend Kasim had invited us all out on his boat for a fishing expedition. We took off at midday and was promised a day of heavy catches and blissful swimming, including a seafood feast in the evening and an arrival time back in Marmaris by 8pm.

It was Julie and Teo’s last evening and I really wanted to show them the nightlife of Marmaris and most importantly Barlar Sokak (Bar Street) where one nightclub is piled upon another, with not an inch to spare and each disco competes with the next. Loud music pumps out of each place and it is incredibly hard to believe at all that someone can enter the premises voluntarily and choose to stay there. All of them have flashing lights, strobes, huge plasma flat screens with a variety of dancing videos or mesmerising fluoro patterns to take you into your trance. This is where you arrive in town feeling a little younger than your age and leave feeling decades older!

A vast array of coloured cocktails in shot glasses were displayed in more than 10 of these night clubs and it wasn’t long before we worked out why. One of the well known Brit package holiday companies had it’s routine Pub Crawl this night. These are more entertaining than the actual places they are visiting. It is far better to watch this group when they first take off as by the 4th or 5th port of call it starts getting ugly. These pub crawls are no small event, and tonight’s was no exception with around 60 people rounded up. We watched them being trawled down to their first destination by 2 very overweight young girls proudly sporting their company T shirts and obligatory navy blue shorts, clipboard in raised hands, well above their heads, misguiding these young Brits into a night of liberal imbibing. One rep heading up the group and one at the back rounding the laggers behind so to speak, as if they were off for a foot and mouth dip in the corral.  95% of the participants were girls, 98% of them were under 24 and 100% of them had the sole ambition to get completely wiped out. The success rate on this statistic is incredibly high and the trail left in their wake is purely disgusting. This is Brit packaged holidaymakers at their best. Anyway, the reason I mention this is because we wished to get back from our Fish Feast on Kasim’s boat in time to truly appreciate Marmaris’ nightlife having no idea at the time that we would be clashing with this abovementioned cultural experience.

Kasim (61 yo) and his 2 mates spent hour upon hour trying to bribe the fish onto their hooks. This was no simple feat and I had never really appreciated how difficult it was before. Firstly, it entailed breaking up loaves of bread into small chunks and throwing them overboard whilst slowly motoring forward. The lines were strung out and the bread continued to flow. The actual lines had a small hook which had no eye. The lines had to be knotted very carefully onto these 1 cm long eyeless hooks. The hooks were just that, with no barbs at all. On the end of the hooks a lump of bread was threaded and you prayed you could catch these really stupid fish. I mean they had to be dumb to get caught on this as there was no barb and there was tons of bread floating around without hooks!

 

The guys struggled and struggled but never seemed to either lose patience or run out of bread. Within 2 hours of our journey they were into their 8th loaf of bread and we realised they must have been in on some heavy black market racketeering in the baking industry, as these guys only had enough to survive on watermelon, cay (pronounced chai) and sardine sized fish in normal circumstances. They were being outrageously generous when it came to this clever fishing system.

 

Kasim’s boat had a 10 horsepower engine on it. It was a heavy little wooden thing with an all in one saloon, galley, sink and potty. It was quite possible to sit on the loo, brush your teeth, boil a cupper and have your feet up on the bunk all at the same time. Comfortably seating 6 in the wheelhouse/cockpit, it could rocket along at around 4 knots. At the pace they were pulling the fish in we didn’t like our chances of dinner that night nor of ever getting back in time for the action down Bar Street.

 

After anchoring in about our 5th location, each one supposedly ultimately luckier than the last for catching fish, our Turkish hosts chatted about 3 sentences to the boat beside us, a similar version but slightly larger and the next thing we were on our way. They were going to tow us to this very secret location where one could just look at the fish and they jumped on the line. When we enquired why we were being towed they explained that diesel was expensive. So ?? What about the other guys? They were going to have to pay twice as much as normal to get us there, with the weight of 2 boats. Well, we got towed, and towed and towed and we started wondering if we would ever be able to get back in time for nightfall. We seemed to be going so far away and it was a good hour before we finally pulled into this very pretty secluded bay. Another 5 loaves were broken and distributed all over the top of the water. Any chance of a clean swim was dashed, besides, you could scare away dinner! I gave up and decided to have a sleep on top of the wheelhouse and another few hours later, our friends finally decided to call it a day. I came back down to have a look at their mighty catch and they opened up their little cockpit fish tank where they had 5 fish that white bait would call prey.

 

The larger boat had fared no better and called out they were going home and thank Allah, they offered to tow us back. We arrived in Marmaris by 7.30 and by the time we desalted ourselves we weren’t far off our schedule.

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N 36° 51' E 28° 16'

Road Trip to Northern Aegean

July 15, 2009

Marmaris is starting to be fun. After returning from my sailing sojourn (of 4 days) and having a few nice pieces of clothing to wear once my luggage finally found the right country (it took a a 6 day holiday to Asia I believe)  I felt ready to pay some visits around town. Firstly however, my next door neighbour, the Casa Mare Hotel (doesn’t sound so Turkish, does it?) invited me to their opening party.

 

It was to start at 7 o’clock and had a pop band set up and lots of tall round cocktail tables perfectly aligned out the front, with white organza table cloths dropping to the ground and big pink bows tied around the table leg. I kept popping my head over the wall to see how many had arrived as I couldn’t bear the thought of being one of the first. Many men were milling round the beachfront but I had not yet seen any women by 7.30. I was ready and raring to go but didn’t find the courage till 8 o’clock as dusk was just starting to fall. I bravely went up to a table of 2 ladies who had arrived and introduced myself and ordered a drink from the passing waiter. I spent about half an hour there and then slowly moved on to chat to some others. It was really hard going for me as I knew absolutely no one and it turned out that most of the guests were quite important and knew each other. A couple of mayors and many from the hotel industry. Finally I sat myself down on the breakfast balcony where some others had congregated and ended up chatting to a terrific couple of women who were both hotel managers. We got on really well and they invited me to meet up with them Sunday, their one day off and spend the day on the beach with them.

 

Emil and Shadan were lovely company on the beach and we spent the whole time chatting and then they decided to join me for a white wine on Han’s balcony, overlooking the sea. They gave me 10 minutes lead time to be able to race upstairs and try to make the balcony presentable. It is covered in pots with banana plants and hibiscus trees but they have been greatly neglected and then when they have been watered, dirt has been splattered all over the place. Sadly for Han, during the winter break he received news that his balcony must be knocked down and only because he was not in Turkey did the council not pull it down. He knows he is safe to return now as construction is not allowed in the tourist season but as soon as it ends, his house will be sadly semi destroyed. It is an amazing house and is the only residence on the seaside. Should a hotel replace the house, it would be worth an extraordinary amount.

 

Wolfgang my sailing buddy the last week had given me the remainder of his Greek white wine luckily which meant we were able to have quite a party on the balcony. It was lovely and around 6.30 my 2 new friends left.

 

Seconds later I had a call from a 24yo Turkish guy who lives in Florida and had seen that I was in Marmaris on the couchsurfing site. He asked if I would like to join him for a drink in town. Luckily he recognised me as he had a ponytail which I had not seen in his profile photo. He turned out to have a Doctorate in Music and is a violinist in an American orchestra. He was really fascinating and soon rang 2 of his friends to come and join us. They were in their 30s and one was a jazz guitarist and looked like Lenny Kravitz only paler whilst the other was clean shaven and short hair and a lawyer. All spoke great English and we had a complete laugh and I was shocked when they dropped me back at my place at 1 in the morning. Where do the hours go?

 

Dommy finally arrived back to Turkey and I had to get down to the airport to meet her. I had the choice of a Thomas Cook transfer, another Turkish transfer company or the local bus. Being me, there was really no choice at all. So, on the 12TL bus I hopped. Before taking off the ‘Kaptan’ had the Top of the Pops belting out, a DVD  set to go and the promise of yet another wonderful cultural experience was under way. Our first stop for a roadside pick-up, a good 100m down the road from where we had departed. This man had over 40 5 litre empty water bottles all strung together. He was soaked in sweat, had his greasy T shirt all balled up in his otherwise free hand and his hairless chest dripping from standing on the side of the road in 40C heat. Yep, that’s right, this bus is stopping all stations.

 

2 rows down, a baby wrapped in 4 layers of clothing was bellowing, quite naturally in this heat and the conductor was calmly walking down the aisle and splashing everyone’s palms with lemon cologne, offering welcome relief for all of 5 minutes. How good it was to be in this bus and not squeezed in the Thomas Cook express  with the 99pound special Brit holiday packaged tourists.

 

Along the pine tree laden forest road we climbed, slowly rounding the mountain curves and leaving Marmaris behind. We passed many parked cars, where the passengers were milling around the free spring water outlets of fresh mountain freely flowing water. At this point our little sweaty man disembarked to join the throng.

 

I had actually been offered a lift in Marmaris all the way to Dalaman by a tomato truck driver but one whiff of him and there was no way I would have made the distance. His truck only going about 30km on a downhill run made it tricky too and looking at the actual vehicle I couldn’t even see it getting out of Marmaris at all. However, his kindness could not be neglected. Had he not had BO and his truck could have done the trip, I still don’t think I could have found enough conversation in Turkish to jabber on continually. I would have been exhausted by the 4 hours it would have taken. I pretended Dommy was arriving earlier by 3 hours and jumped on a dolmush heading for the bus station as quickly as I could.

 

I had quite forgotten to pack any nibbles and realised I hadnt eaten in the heat. It was now late afternoon and I was famished. Driving along praying we would stop soon for a short break we crossed over totally dry river beds. On one of these, a middle aged man stood, pulling sheet after sheet of newspaper out, and letting it  float in the air down to the river bed. We would call this littering but was perfectly fine for the Turks so it seemed. This reminded me of when I went and bought my bathers so I could go sailing with Wolfgang a week earlier. I told the lady I would keep the bathers on and gave her the tags to put in the bin. She told me to throw them out the front door of the shop. I was shocked and she was even more shocked to see me shocked!

 

On arriving in Dalaman I asked the driver to drop me off near the main road rather than in the bus station. I wanted to buy something to eat and continue on my way without going right into town. I found a little restaurant nearby with local food and they insisted I walk through to the garden. There was not a plant in sight and actually consisted of 3 crooked wooden walls added to the main building with a bamboo type of roof which may or may not last the season. Hard to tell. There were little low tables with mats to sit on, on the floor and the menu was basic, simple and very cheap. I ate a wonderful pizza, salad and had an ayran (yoghourt drink) for 4TL about $3.50. I couldn’t eat it all and they insisted on packaging for me to take to the airport in case the plane was delayed.

 

I killed as much time as I possibly could, however the ‘garden’ was filling up and I felt guilty taking up one of their tables. As I was packing up my book and bag the waiter begged me to stay longer and said he would drive me to the airport however there is only so much hospitality one can take and it was best to leave.

 

Reluctant to take taxis I stood on the side of the road and within a couple of minutes a 30something guy stopped and said he was on his way to the airport. Perfect. On the backseat were the 2 cutest kids. Two little boys not yet three. One with a pistol and the other with a big long rifle. They were as happy as Larry, standing on the back seats, jumping here, there and everywhere, shooting each other and swinging around as the car took the bends. We needed to pull into the service station and I stupidly turned round while I was waiting, pointed my index finger at each of them and went ‘pow pow” and then all turned to hell. The next 25 minutes passed with me protecting me head as they tried to shoot it off. Each time they pulled the trigger we had electronic noises drowning out the blaring Turkish radio, if I turned my head to talk to the driver, I nearly lost my eyes as the rifle got me in the face and all I could do was thank God that the windows weren’t open so we couldn’t lose one of the boys out of the car as we rounded the corners.

 

As one enters Turkish airports by road, there is always a security checkpoint for all cars. We slowed down as we neared the sentry boxes, a policeman stuck his nose in and as he checked out the back seat, the 2 kids took several pot shots at him whilst still jumping on the seats. We were rapidly waved in with a smile. It all seemed so ridiculous after the terrorist security checks with which we have become familiar.

 

After picking up Dommy in Dalaman, the mozzie pit of all time. ( I thought I had covered myself in repellent but found I had dozens of bites on the top of my head in the end.) we drove to Gocek where the boat she is working on, was waiting. We had a good trip where we were able to catch up properly and I booked a tiny little basic pension for a ridiculously high price. Gocek, once a sleepy one donkey village has become a hive of industry with 5 major marinas now. It is now very overpriced.

 

The following day Dommy and I carried out her errands together and then I left at 4pm in order to get back before dark. Waiting at the bus stop, a car screeched to a halt and offered me a lift. At first I could only see the driver and his English girlfriend but then I realised there were 2 more guys in the back. Lisa was from Liverpool and 55. Her boyfriend, around 29 was driving and 2 of his mates were in the back. I told them I was happy to take the bus but they had already thrown my bags over their shoulders into the luggage area behind and so in I got. It was a good, fast ride but a smelly one. They smoked continually, all 4 of them and none of the guys wore a shirt. It felt like 50C in the car and I had a silk skirt on. It was hot and I pulled the skirt above my knees to get some air and showed a whole 2” of skin there. The guy beside me then gave me his shirt and told me to cover my legs. He was around 26 but my legs were offensive. I asked him why he thought it was ok to not wear a shirt when he was so hot but I had to cover up all over. He told me I could do as I liked once I was out of the car. Lisa and I swapped numbers and for days afterwards, this same conservative guy kept ringing me until he got the message when I no longer picked up.  There is a huge pick-up culture here between young men and older foreign women and it is really quite sick and I feel very sorry for the women who really think they have found ‘love.” The ‘Love” seems to die right after the woman has bought a property and due to certain laws, the title is put under a local’s name. Voila, these men win Lotto, time and time again.

 

Just a day later I was invited by the CS (Couchsurfing) group to join them for their 4th Annual Greek and Turkish meeting, to be held on Cunda Island up not far from Gallipoli. I contacted my CS friend Julie, another Aussie who I met last year and she was interested to go. She had already hired a car to take her kids on holiday and so we all went off in search of the fun. I travelled up to Selcuk to find her, stayed a night there and then we took off from there directly up North.

 

On my way to stay with Julie I caught the bus to a major intersection. It was going another way and I needed to catch one taking the high road. I got out and stood on the side of the road, blessing the amazing bus network that links every part of Turkey. A young guy also waiting started chatting with me and we got on like a house on fire. He was just out of the army, having been a paratrooper in Israel for 15 months. He lived in Aydin, on big town before Selcuk where I was heading. He asked if I minded hitching with him as he loved to meet people and so we made the agreement that we would take whatever stopped first, a car or the bus. It ended up being a paint truck and the guy had just one delivery on the way. Ozkan the young guy insisted to sit in the middle so that I wasn’t wedged in and would not let me carry any of my luggage. He was the perfect gentleman and when we arrived in Aydin he begged me to take a few hours out of my afternoon and see his city. First stop was a Cop Sis restaurant (pronounced Chop Shish) where we ate magnificent little skewers of lamb with barbecued tomato and onion on the side. We would wrap these in Lavash (flat hot bread) and sprinkle cumin and salt on top. A bite of this, then a bite of hot pepper, swilled down with fresh ayran (that yoghourt drink I already told you about.)

 

It was just delicious and it is always best to eat the specialities in the towns from where they are derived. I’m not sure if this is the Aydin special but with 8 similar restaurants all in a row, all advertising exactly the same menu, I am taking a wild guess and saying we are close!

 

Ozkan insisted on paying and whilst we were eating his 2 close friends turned up. They then pressured me to visit a ruin called Treillis which is nearly unheard of but was once an incredibly important site with Roman baths, ampitheatre etc dating back to 4500BC and rivalling Ephesus. By now it was 7pm and no one was on the gate and we just wandered through. We had a lovely time and all the boys were very knowledgeable and loved history. Around 8pm as we were heading back to the bus stop when they begged me to come to a Cay Bahcesi (tea garden) with them. The most famous one in their city and for this we needed to drive up to the highest point in Aydin. It was truly beautiful and overlooked the whole town. Sunset was beginning and all the tables were filled with Turks and their families setting up their picnics for the evening. A concert area below was being prepared and apparently each night there was a free concert for the people in summer. It was a memorable experience to share this very special tea time with them but then we had to race to the bus station for the last bus. We didn’t make it but luckily they rang a friend Tahsin who was able to give me a lift. On the way he asked me if I had been to Efes (Ephesus) and I replied many times. He asked me if I would like to visit again and as it had been at least 9 years since the last time, I was happy to go again. He told me that when I was coming back through Selcuk to give him a ring and his relative would let me through. Tahsin dropped me at Julie’s around 10.30 at night and luckily Julie had only just got back from the beach as the day had been such a stinker. I do need to mention Tahsin’s wonderful car. The fabulous Turkish invention to stop you from having to wear a seatbelt – it had separate seat belt buckles already installed into the plug end so that the car never beeped when you didn’t wear one! Slightly illegal I would have to conclude!

 

Early the following morning we packed our car for the trip to Cunda Island. (This is a Greek word, pronounced Joonda, it is formerly now named Ali Bey Island but still all people refer to it by its original name before the Greeks were expelled from Turkey.)

 

The hire car was pretty small and we were jammed packed solidly into it with Julie, her son Teo, 18 and Marieka 14 as well as me and all our camping gear. We had 3 tents between us. The Couch Surfing event was set up for camping and a great initiation for me. It turned out that Julie virtually camped all her life around the Kimberleys and The Territory where she lived and her kids were firsthands at it too.

 

We arrived at Cunda mid afternoon and had the whole camping ground to choose from just about. We originally pitched our tents in this rocky field under the one and only semi leafed tree however, after the wind changed and we got a whiff of the loo, we carried our set up tents to another area. Slowly more people arrived and by evening there were over 50 tents. We had a lovely evening chatting, eating and drinking in the little camp restaurant, with Greeks and Turks swapping guitars and bouzoukas and playing wonderful melodies and by midnight we hit our sacks. Sadly the party continued and by 4am when the last bottle of raki was finished, several CS members felt that this was the time to then set up their tents directly beside us. Having heavily imbibed and with only moonlight to help them, the tent construction was a major event taking at least an hour. These guys didn’t have a clue that some of us may be trying to sleep and although many of us swore at them in the end, until they finally climbed into their semi constructed shelters fully clothed, we had little sleep.

 

The next day we drove into town to visit the old town. The streets having that very Greek feeling and the houses keeping the same architectural features. Truly a very pretty place with plenty of history. We bought a Sakizli Dondurma (ice cream with the special Sakiz ingredient, a speciality from Samos Island, Greece which is mainly used in chewing gum and gives Turkish ice cream that stretchy quality.)

 

The CS group had organised a boat trip for all of us at midday and 120 of us boarded the huge vessel, more like a Greek Island Ferryboat. We got a lovely big table to ourselves on the first level, in shade and laughed as the crew pushed a supermarket trolley down the carpeted! aisles offering us every beverage under the sun. Lunch was served a little later and it was as much bread, salad and Papalina as you could eat. (These are the Cunda speciality and are White Bait, deep fried.)

 

We had plenty of swim stops and snorkelling chances as well as some barefoot hiking and the day passed beautifully. The following day we had decided to go further North and headed to Ayvalik, another very Greek town, still sporting many olive pressing factories. The majority of shops here are selling olives and olive oil and until I tasted their goods, I had no idea how amazing their stock was. Totally incredible and unlike any olives I had eaten before. The oil was to die for.

 

That evening we caught the big ferry boat over to Bozcaada Island. Turkey only boasts 2 real Aegean Islands and this is one of them. It was just beautiful. By the time we arrived it was 10pm and we needed to find the camping ground. We drove straight out of the port and stuck to the coastline waiting to find this camp we were told about. We could find nothing and then passed this beautiful secluded beach on which the full moon was shining. It looked perfect and apart from standing on this killer beach holly in places, it was just perfect. We set up our tents on the Eastern side and awoke naturally rather than the sun glaring through our nylon tents. We packed up by 9am and drove into town where we ate wonderful Menemen, a Turkish egg dish that is one of my favourites, sitting amongst a pine forest in a lovely Cay Bahcesi. (tea garden.)

 

Bozcaada boasts a wonderful fortress which we visited and is famous for its wines. We went on a little wine tasting tour and ended up with a small selection in our luggage then just wandered the back streets of this once beautiful Greek village. It is lovely to see that the Turks are sensitive of the Greek atmosphere and cling hard to keep it. There is no animosity at all here about the Greeks in any of the regions we visited and many have relatives in Greece. To understand this culture further, “Birds Without Wings” by Louis de Bernieres who wrote Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, gives a wonderful oversight and is a good read.

 

Many shops in Bozcaada offered fascinating jams. Amongst others were Olive Jam (with the texture of chestnuts – just awesome), Aubergine Jam, Tomato Jam, Black Mulberry Juice and a selection of amazing coffee mixes to make Turkish Coffee. Eg almond coffee, sakizli coffee etc.

 

It seems that every town has a unique food or meal to offer making tripping round Turkey an incredible culinary experience.

 

We took the 4pm ferry back to mainland Turkey and headed down South. It had been our intention to visit Canakkale (Gallipoli) out of Anzac season but time was running out for Julie and so we headed down the highway towards Bergama. If we could get there by nightfall, it was a good halfway point back to Izmir. Here we found a camping ground which had 2” thick bull grass lawns meaning bedrolls were unnecessary. It had an Olympic sized pool, the cutest little garden gazebos to sit and read in and the only thing against it was the sound of the huge trucks as they shuddered on down the highway. They did ease up after dark but it was still a bit noisy. After setting up we headed into town to find a bite to eat. We picked the first place we could, being a little pizza place with a wood fire oven. We were shown a table in the garden out the back (another concrete courtyard with no plants to be seen) and drinks were offered. Then on choosing our pizzas (pides) we were then informed that they didn’t have any. Strange! We were offered Durum, which are fresh hot flat bread wrapped around either beef, chicken or lamb. We each had one of these and our bill came to the amazing amount of 8TL about $1.75 AUD each, ayrans included.

 

Feeling so flush in this town we then walked down the street to the ice cream shop and ate Helva Paper Icecreams as they are translated. These are delicious wafers with a helva layer inside. They are the size of a side plate and round. 3 scoops of ice cream of your choice are placed inside on one half and the other half is placed on top and you eat it as a sandwich. Totally delicious and outrageously expensive at around 90cents.

 

We returned to town the following morning after a very comfortable sleep on the spongy lawn. We found a little Breakfast Salon, the first I had ever seen that offered something other than soup. This old arthritic man, obviously in a lot of pain, but forever smiling and kind, made us a wonderful breakfast of hot fresh milk (well the kids loved that!), bottomless cay (tea), special cheeses from the Bergama region, big lumps of crusty bread, green and black olives the best of all, was this amazing plate of kaymak (cream) with Bergama Honey. It was a totally naughty breakfast and one I wouldn’t choose to eat in a million years but this was a taste sensation and I had to do it. I will remember it for the rest of my life and strangely none of us were hungry for the rest of the day, it was amazingly satisfying. (Anyone knowing me, knows I am not a cream eater at all, so I am telling you, this HAD to be good!)

 

We drove up to Bergama where I was able to visit the wonderful ruins there. Dating back to around 2000BC with a semi reconstructed temple, an impressive agora, an amazing view and the most incredible thing of all, one of the steepest amphitheatres in the world. It is so hard to believe that anyone sitting up the top could even see what was going on, on the stage below. Due to land constraints, it was the only way to fit the concert area in, and so the emporer accepted that the amphitheatre should be built in such a way. It is probably only 150 degrees of a circle and is so incredibly deep. It was too hot to climb down and count the rows of seats and I was on a time limit to get back to the car as Jules and the kids had seen it before. I was so happy that they had offered for me to visit it. It seems that everytime I tick one more Must See Thing off my list, another 2 appear. As much as I am dying to see the other side of the world, South America, I really don’t feel I can let go of Europe yet, until I feel I have done what I need to do. It’s a slow process!

 

From Bergama there was no stopping. We drove directly back to Izmir and all of us just sort of flaked. We had packed in such a lot into our 5 days. Karen a friend of Julie’s and mine came to stay with Julie that night and we went out for a local dinner just round the corner. It was not in a particularly nice area and yet the outside area of this restaurant was totally delightful with the tables all sporting crisp white linen tablecloths and smartly dressed waiters, and plenty of them.

 

We ordered our meal and the waiters were attracted to our ‘foreignness”. It will be a night to remember as they kept trying to upstage each other in presenting us with presents. First it was just glasses of tea, then bottles of water, then the most delicious sweet walnuts that are picked very unripe, and cooked in their shells in sugar and spices, served with that famous Marash (stretchy) ice cream which has to be eaten with a fork and knife rather than a spoon. If that was not enough, we were then treated to a pumpkin dessert with nuts and tahini. Had we stayed longer we would have tasted the whole menu I think! Getting out of the tourist area and having that bit of Turkish language opens the most amazing doors and the whole trip has just been made by the wonderful Turkish hospitality.

 

The following day I caught the early bus to Selcuk, having rung Tahsin to see if the Efes offer was still good. He rang his friend then rang me back to say all was confirmed. I met Shukru at the Basilica of St John and after showing me around there, he wrote a note on a piece of cigarette box cardboard saying I was his guest. This little piece of paper worked like magic at the main gates of Efes, the Terraced Houses within Efes, the museum and it would have been good for Mary’s house and the Seven Sleepers, however, I just ran out of time. It was 45C that day and truly an exhausting process making your way to each site without a car or tour guide. I had been to these places before in any case.

 

I caught the bus back to Marmaris at 5pm and was finally back home by 9.30 feeling quite ragged and laden down with my tent, wine and olives. My first day back in Marmaris I just wanted to lie low, sort out my washing, get some foodstocks in and generally catch up on my blog, read my emails and finish my book. I managed to wile away the day and before I knew it, I realised it was 4.30pm and I was still in my pareo, mucking around the house. I threw on my bathers, grabbed my towel and decided to go for a ride and a swim elsewhere rather than straight out the front door. The day was still sweltering and I found out it was 44C at the heat of the day. I wondered how far I would get on the bike and took off in the Icmeler direction away from the centre of town. I headed for the hotel packed coastline but also interested to see what the water was like there. I then realised that my lovely new Turkish hotel manager friend worked in this direction and decided to visit her. I found her 4 star hotel pretty easily and was ushered into her office. She ordered me a Turkish coffee and we chatted and then I made noises to leave, knowing she always worked late. She asked me to please wait 20 minutes and then we could spend longer together. I went off for a swim in the sea and was shocked to find this end of town, the water was icy cold. It was quite unbearable for me and I still cant work out why it would be so much cooler than a few kms up the road. It may have been because the day is so hot, but I am still not convinced.

 

I went back in to Shadan’s office and she packed up her things and said we should go for a walk. We walked along a beautiful paved road a couple of metres above the sea and on the other side lined with pine forest. We stopped in a very cute little Turkish café as opposed to the English package hotels a bit further down. We sat and drank glasses of tea on a terrace overhanging the water and by the time we walked back to her hotel it was dinner time. She invited me to have dinner with her in the hotel. A wonderful buffet and we had a fascinating talk. I asked her how she had met Emil, her other hotel manager friend who was her business partner in another venture and she proceeded to tell me about her stint in prison when she was 20. As a uni student she joined a political party and spoke at some meetings. The army broke in one day and arrested all who were present. She spent 3 months in part time solitary confinement with a fair bit of torture in the police station, then went to court where she was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. She explained to me that she was regularly tortured in prison by the army who ran it, and lost many of her friends who died there. Emil her closest friend shared her cell and there they became good friends. Shadan explained that she had quite a few health issues due to the torturing and although she was really open about it all, I could not bear to ask her what they did. She also went on 2 separate hunger strikes in her time there, one being 28 days and apparently there are some books written about her. It always astounds me how fascinating/strange some peoples’ lives are. You just have to take the time to get to know people.

 

After dinner, she insisted I pile my bike into the hotel car and be driven home as she was. Really, I needed to cycle off all the desserts I had gobbled up but she wasn’t having a bar of that. On arriving home, the disco next door was already in full swing and the house was humming. Totally impossible to consider sleeping before midnight when they are forced to drop the noise level down to a lower 10 decibels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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