My journey to Turkey started with a trip down to London as we were flying from Luton airport.
To get there I took a bus, two trains, two tubes, a train and then another bus. This was easy to do as links in London are pretty efficient, not as provincial as up North, where bus drivers take breaks every 15 minutes to read The Metro.
It was once I got to the airport that I experienced delay – our plane was late coming in and then this happened next to it…
The oil spill delayed us by an hour. Green powder was spread all over it and then it was brushed up before we could depart.
When we finally got to Bodrum-Milas airport in Turkey we were tired and I was hungry (I am usually hungry). We got our taxi to the hotel, which was probably the most expensive part of our holiday at 80 Lira each. You divide by about 3 for Sterling so this was about £27 for an hour’s journey to our hotel in Turgutreis. The first thing we noticed was that almost everyone smoked. Our car reeked of it.
Our hotel was lovely, having been built on the site of an old hotel only a year or two before. It was very modern and featured a spa, indoor and outdoor pool and private pier which we later jumped off to go snorkelling. But tonight I needed dinner before bed. Luckily there was a family-run outdoor diner just next to the hotel. I had some kebabs bursting full of flavour next to a Turkish family who were having dinner with their little one at about midnight.
The next morning after a great sleep I opened the curtain to heaven on earth. Before us was the light blue of the pool and just in front of that the darker blue of the sea framed by the sun blazing down from the bright sky. I went onto the balcony and was dazzled. The light was so bright that my camera malfunctioned and all the pictures that day came out white. We spent most of that day getting accustomed to the brightness, squinting British tourists sweating in the sunlight.
We thought we’d take in the local village and the new culture. It was a 15 minute walk away and we could walk along the seafront to get there.
We saw lots of dogs and a few cats, both pets and strays.
We passed a lot of cafes and restaurants with shouts of “hey bella take a look at our menu” “hello how are you English?”.
We also went down a street with tourist tack shops and also a bakers and tailors. The tailors was very busy with many alterations being made on the spot.
Bougainvillea brought bursts of colour to the white buildings.
I had some ice cream made of natural fruit juices, pistachio and blackcurrant. The locals were very friendly and cheerful.
We walked past the empty expensive shops in the harbour, admiring the tiled walls and the figureheads of Turgut Reis – the sailor who gave the village its name.
After that we spotted the villlage mosque in front of a McDonalds and headed for it.
We weren’t sure whether we would be allowed in but it appeared that all was welcome. We were both wearing long dresses so we took off our shoes, donned scarves and entered an oasis of calm. There was one big carpet on the floor divided into sections for prayer and lots of beautiful tiling and chandeliers, with a big one hanging from the high elaborately painted dome in the centre.
It was empty apart from some scholars buried in their books in the corner, prayer beads in hand. We took care to be quiet and had a rest there for a while. We heard later that the mosque had only been built about 5 years before.
On the way back we went to the supermarket to get lunch. There was fresh fish by the entrance and a man was picking out what he wanted for about £7.
Then there was a vast array of fruit and vegetables piled up and further down were dried fruit and nuts of all varieties.
On our way back we saw plenty of statues and flags with Ataturk (or “father of the Turks”). Ataturk was an army officer and the Republic of Turkey’s first president who ruled unchallenged from 1923 until 1945. He was responsible for wide-ranging social and political reform to modernise Turkey. These reforms included the emancipation of women and the introduction of Western legal codes, dress, calendar and alphabet, replacing the Arabic script with a Latin one. He briefly made the fez the compulsory national headdress and people faced heavy fines if they wore a turban. He was and still is treated almost like a religious figure, with one portrait description even describing him as “immortal”. In almost every city there is a statue of him.
After filling our bags with local delicacies we headed back to our hotel for some sunbathing on the pier. The next day we planned to go over the border to Kos in Greece.