Some months ago a public holiday was announced back in Blighty due to some bloke - being the son of a Prince - getting married to a girl who had also never really had a proper job. An opportunity was spotted for a rare mid-term escape for our little gang as the date fell between a four day Easter break and the May Bank Holiday weekend meaning that three official days off work would reap a twelve day holiday. Mum took the organisational reigns on this one and started scouring the internet for a suitable bolt-hole, deciding that the Aegean coast of Turkey would be a worthwhile destination.
I'd not done a trip like this before. Previously our jaunts have pretty much involved buying a plane ticket to somewhere warm & sorting out the details once we arrive. This time a new method of getting away, a variant on the Package Holiday euphemistically known as an All Inclusive Deal was sourced. The thinking behind the concept is that everything you may need whilst away is organised & provided free of charge in return for payment up front. Initially the quoted figures look very appealing but once their crafty little extras
like a half sensible luggage allowance, the luxury of plane food and not having to walk sixty miles from and to the destination airport have been added, it becomes a little more realistic. Dad thought it sounded great & was looking forward to a week surrounded by boobies but Mum said he'd mis-read the destination, it was in fact Marmaris, a bit like Blackpool but without the roller coasters. Having said that, we coughed up £1200 for the three humans & me for the week. As long as we could manage fifty quid a day in food & local booze each - we'd at least break even.
Getting off to the usual shaky start with a 2 hour delay at Leeds Airport to fix a broken plane (no brakes this time), we left the sunny climes and 25 degrees of centigrades on a ropey old Thomas Cook No Frills A320 Airbus for the surprisingly smooth 4 hour flight to Dalaman on the Aegean Sea. Arriving there around 4am we then herded ourselves onto a coach for the last leg to the Hotel Mares, located halfway between Icmeler & Marmaris, a couple of hours away over
Hard To Beat . . .
On A Good Day - Its Stunning Here.
the mountainous roads. The next stumbling block came just before sunrise at checking in time. Proudly handing over the various print outs of booking details caused a few murmurs from the desk staff followed by a polite smile and a "One moment please . . . ." There was an obvious problem.
We hadn't foreseen this one. Generally, when sorting out the sometimes complicated linking up of trains, planes, buses & hotels off your own back, there are plenty of little travel demons lurking in the background. Never seen but always present, they have a distinctly nasty sense of humour and teeny chain cutters, ready to snap a link & snigger as the unaware victims get led a merry dance or have to risk a near death experience, as the stress of having to wade through logistical quicksand at short notice in a foreign land can be something of an emotional jolt. With only a seven day window on this jaunt, we were under the misapprehension that having a reputable company to do the hard work would keep the gremlins at bay. Not this time however. Someone at Travel Republic had forgotten to press a
2 Bedrooms, Lounge & A Decent Bathroom Makes It A Home From Home.
button. The hotel had no advance record of our existence, nothing had been prepared & they were full.
To be fair, they were pretty good & found us an apartment type suite within an hour although alarm bells started to ring when they loaded our bags onto a golf cart. You know that if they need powered transport to get you there, its a good bet you're being dumped a pretty long way from anywhere. Grateful for the gesture, at 7:30 in the morning, we dumped our bags & started to think about a well needed kip. Only a few minutes later it became apparent there was something of a nasty whiff in the room getting stronger by the minute. The humans sent me scuttling round beneath the beds thinking it may have been a rotting corpse of a previous guest but I couldn't find one. We took the long walk back to reception to ask if anything could be done - they were one step ahead. As we approached the desk the friendly night manager smiled & said "You need to change room, yes?" Turned out to be a long term problem with the
I Luv You!!
Free beer is brilliant!!
sewers at the far end of the complex, no-one stays there very long. Nothing could be done for a couple of hours so we settled for a snooze, still fully clothed on the sun loungers down by the sea. By lunchtime all was well in a much better smelling apartment with a proper size telly, a big bath & closer to the action. Time to start taking advantage of the Freebies!!
With six restaurants and seven bars to choose from, we started at the nearest bar for drinkies then nipped to the Italian for pizza & spag bol before heading back down to one of the sunbed laden jetties for another couple of tipples at the Beach Bar & a couple of hours of soaking up the sun. Mum ordered a beer, white wine & two cokes for me & the young 'un. "No wine Madam. Alcohol prohibited. You can only have beer." Bit random we thought but 2 beers & two Cokes it was & that seemed fine. They call it a Beach Bar although strictly speaking there is no beach as such. The main drag along the seafront is a wide raised walkway
One Of The Best Beaches In Turkey?
Maybe When Its Finished - Bit Of A Shithole In Reality.
littered with recliners & parasols and works much better than a beach as you don't end up with sand stuffed up your personal bits after spending some time tanning. Most of the sand in these parts, unless its been shipped in, is a disappointing dark brown colour with a distinctly soily texture anyway, rather like the allegedly beautiful beach at Icmeler which we walked to the following morning.
There are two towns nearby. Our base camp being midway between Marmaris & Icmeler, a half hour walk in either direction, is an ideal spot for a bit of a break. Close enough to civilisation but far enough away to enjoy some tranquility. The Previous internet searches for Icmeler had promised a friendly village with beautiful sandy beaches. At this time of year it is no more than an untidy construction site by the sea. A couple of stretches of beach had imported sand along the shore but the majority looked like a cross between a landfill site & a war zone. Heavily littered muddy stretches dotted with sun beds & tractors. Apparently we were there too early as they annually bring in the sand to spruce
2000 Miles To Avoid A Wedding & Its Bloody Everywhere!!
the place up, maybe they ship in the friendly people too. Not very impressed.
Heading east along the shore is Marmaris. A much bigger town looking like it was mostly built in the 1970s in a distinctly Eastern Bloc austerity style with a majority of the buildings looking somewhat tired. Our Prime Objective here was to visit the large indoor market, do a bit of bartering & get a taste of the Real Turkey. Haggling in Asia has always been kind of fun but our brief dip into the game here left something of a bitter taste in the mouth. The attitude seemed more bullish, the starting prices just plain daft & having forty-something year old men molesting our 13 year old travelling companion very nearly bought on a bout of fisticuffs. We left after half an hour to take some aspirin & find solace in some lunch. Strangely, most places seemed to be promoting the Royal Wedding that we'd crossed continents to avoid. Street party & barbecue invitations were plastered everywhere, We politely declined the many offers of returning on Friday to enjoy fish & chips and pie & mash, booking a boat trip
The No Fish Farm.
The Boat Stopped So We Could Lob Some Bread Into The Only Part Of The Sea With No Fish At All.
for the day instead.
Now then. The day trips out on a boat in these parts is a very cool way to spend a day. The slick sales patter from the nice young man had led us to believe we would get more than we ended up with. But that mattered not as an 8 hour cruise around some islands with lunch thrown in, for a tenner each - seemed hard to resist. Several stops on the way were scheduled. An empty fish farm, a couple of coves to swim in, a phosphorus cave which glows in the dark, a lunch break & a stop at Turunc, a genuine fisherman's village. Billed as being Untouched By Tourism
but was mostly full of the same Tourist Tat shops as the bigger towns. But all in all a splendid way to grab a bit of scenery & soak up a bit of a foreign land.
Most evenings were spent at one or more of the many bars & restaurants checking out the Benidorm like atmosphere created by the mainly European clientele with a smattering of Russians & Romanians. Plenty of characters around
to either laugh with, laugh at or avoid!! There were live bands playing in one or more of the bars most nights & with a Magic Wristband on, all the drinks were free so a good time was generally had by all. It was also fun to watch the outlandish drunkards from the night before, hungover & sheepishly shuffling about at breakfast time. Including us!. Needless to say, we made some good friends there.
The final day of our stay was a long one. Check out time was Noon but the bus back to the airport wasn't until 10pm. We were told the day before that for an extra thirty quid we could extend our room until 6. Seemed like a good idea but in the morning three coach loads of Russians turned up & they were full again. There was an offer of a late stay the following day but I think the point had been missed. Bags were stashed in the luggage room for safe keeping whilst we made the most of our last day of free food, booze & sunshine. Reluctantly saying our goodbyes to our chums and jumping aboard the coach
Never did find out what these where - Answers on a postcard please . . .
to get us back to Dalaman Airport for midnight. There's some kind of Turkish equivalent to our motorway services around the halfway point with a vast menu including a couple of new ones to me. Observation Meat anyone???
The 2.30am flight home was delayed by the now customary extra two hours. This time due to the shambolic tardiness of the 4 check in staff at the only open desk for our plane. A trainee sat up front with no apparent idea of why she was there. A couple were standing behind her who were either flirting with each other or texting their respective spouses and a large lady standing in the background with a stern face & folded arms who seemed to be a supervisor. There was a nice young lady from Thomas Cook there to apologise although there was nothing she could do to speed things up. I gather Dalaman has a reputation for being somewhat relaxed when it comes to actually doing anything. We were boarded eventually and enjoyed another smooth ride back to Leeds, landing 25 hours after waking up the day before. After the taxi home we went to bed for
Leading up to our little trip away I hadn't been too keen. To be honest, Turkey had never been on my top ten list of destinations but the place we stayed at has succeeded my expectations. The hotel itself was clean & tidy, the views were fab, the staff were hardworking and a laugh but the bestest bit was the All Inclusive side of things. It may well be the future as far as holidays go. We might try this again sometime but probably in another country.
Whens the next Royal Wedding then????
P.S. Travel Blog is in a transition period at the moment, not all the pictures are on the main page. Scroll down the screen a little to catch the extra photos. :-)
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