Turkey – Week 1

We were finding it difficult to say goodbye to the good life in Europe, to return to unemployment (Claire) and thesis (Seth), so in order to delay the inevitable, we decided to take off to Turkey for two weeks.  Good family friends of ours generously offered up their apartment in the beach town of Fethiye, in the southwest of Turkey, and so we decided to spend one week getting there, and then a week there.

We started off like many visitors to Turkey, in Istanbul.  We followed advice from a friend and found a hostel on the ‘Asian side’, in what turned out to be a lively, local neighbourhood that seemed a bit like the Istanbul version of Kits in Vancouver.  However, there, instead of the coffee shops every 9 metres, they have tea shops, located in shady gardens, where you can play games like backgammon and dominoes while smoking apple tobacco.  It was a great neighbourhood to come ‘home’ to after the bustle of the touristy parts of Istanbul.

p6030325.JPG Our hostel in Istanbul was very ‘casual’ in its signage.  That means that there WAS no sign, just a little sticker on the doorbell.

We took three and a half days there to see the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, as well as some palaces and bazaars.  Two highlights were the corn on the cob vendors that we found on every corner, and the chewy Turkish ice cream.  Hard to describe, but we think it is due to the fact that the ice cream vendors stir and work the ice cream with big long sticks ALL day.  It is kind of typical for our highlights to be edible…


We also spent a lot of time wandering along the seaside, where Seth was fascinated by the life-size symbols designating the bike path.


Next we took an overnight bus to the beach town of Marmaris.  We had heard that overnight bus trips in Turkey were no picnic, and we still have some bad memories from our bus trips in Laos and Thailand, but we didn’t really have a choice as they don’t have train lines to the south and air travel is either inconvenient or expensive.  So we equipped ourselves with a travel pillow (Seth) and earplugs (Claire) as well as copious snack food, and set out.  Even with these supports, it was still a trial.  The bus was full, the trip lasted 13 hours, we discovered too late there was no bathroom on the bus, and the Turkish people were SO excited to practice their English, even at 3am.  Claire tried to make a subtle hint that it was a lot harder to speak in another language when you are exhausted, but the Turkish man replied, ‘But I will try!’…

We arrived here, and immediately felt that it was all worthwhile.  Our arrival coincided with the regional folk dancing festival, which was fun and educational, as neither of us knew what Turkish dancing was.  It started with a big parade, and finished with the ‘dance off’ in an outdoor amphitheatre.  The instruments were really cool, like a bagpipe that looked like it was recently a sheep, and the dancing was at times boring military marching, but at other times exciting, knife-wielding, river dance stomping extravagance.


Other than the festival, we have spent the time on scooters or bikes exploring the coast, swimming, and relaxing in the sun.  It is lucky that we have the bikes, because we have had to travel a distance to find beaches with room to put a towel.  Of course, any beach is public and free to use, so feel free to put your towel wherever you want, however if you want to use a sunbed you will have to pay!

p6060354.JPG One nearby beach…I guess you could put your towel under the chairs…


The highlight in Marmaris is, for once, not edible.  However, it eats a lot.  I think the picture will suffice.  Fat Cat.  The favoured pet at our guesthouse here.  It is worth mentioning that all the other 10 cats that hang around here have a combined weight that may be less than this one cat.


We will miss the cat, but are looking forward to having our own home in Fethiye, where we will be spending the next week.

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