To Turkey and Back!

Posted on August 28, 2019

The Journey

After my ordeal at of going to Gatwick last week (see my last post) I was wondering whether galvanising myself to travel was something I could continue to do. Since passing 50, I seem to worry about heart attacks and plane/bus crashes too much, whereas as when I was young, I couldn’t give a flying toss.

Once my flight with crying babies and the rampant couple (it turned out they were on their 3rd Tinder date) was done with, it was time to board a coach. It turned out to be a three-hour journey that we weren’t really expecting.

So, after arriving at Gatwick at half past five in the morning and waiting two hours, another seven were added to the journey with the flight and then coach. That hurts and tests patience to near toxic levels. We eventually got to the hotel where we were staying at dusk.  We had left Hampshire at 3:30 AM.

It was horribly long day, but at least we were greeted with a stunning view out to sea and a clean hotel.  Everything was adequate, without being all this 5 Star stuff people insist on telling you about when they book a holiday. I’m too fidgety to stay around a hotel pool all day, so if it is clean and had air conditioning as well as somewhere for a quick dip, that does me nicely.

Our Balcony View

30 Years since my Last Visit

The last time I visited Kusadasi was in August 1989. My memories of it are vague and largely centre around a week of biblical constipation. Toilets that were basically a hole in the ground had resulted in my anal passage behaving like it had been filled with ready-mix concrete. At 21 years old, it was my first experience of the psychology involved with simple task of having a dump.

Conversely, whilst I was walking around on the verge of needing a midwife, my friend Darren Hall, had entered the international ‘Shit Through the Eye of a Needle’ contest and was a red-hot favourite.  Whilst I didn’t shit for a week, Darren, the poor bastard, was transparent. His arse was in tatters courtesy of toilet paper that was a kind of Andrex anti-christ.

Fortunately, Turkish sanitary conditions have improved immeasurably (I needed a typhoid jab last time I came here) and Kusadasi is now a modern, clean, city. That said, in the back lanes, it still carries an exciting edginess about it that lets you know you are in the middle east and not the EU. This is reflected in your mobile phone bill, so look out if you are texting or calling anyone back home.

Out and About

At night, the sea front is a hive of activity, with markets, food stalls and kids playing in parks and baseball courts. Through the back streets there are shops and bars…hundreds of them. Sadly, there are a few ‘traditional’ Irish pubs and even a McDonalds that was pitifully busy.

On a positive note, these awful places remain a minority and the deeper you get into the town, the more interesting it becomes. I really liked it, even if the ‘Hello my friend” cries from shopkeepers selling counterfeit clothing, handbags and jewellery, can get a bit tedious.

Back at base, it turned out that the hotel we stayed in was predominantly for Turkish holidaymakers from inland (Turkey is massive) with a scattering of other nationalities including British, Irish, Italian and French. It’s a personal point of view but I have grown think it is much healthier to have a good mix of nationalities in one place.

During the day we indulged in a few days out on boats and in a jeep into the national park. They were great fun and interesting too. The chap who took us up into the mountains was very educated about the geography, climate and politics of what is a highly complex nation. It is quite striking when a bloke driving holidaymakers through a national park is so knowledgeable about domestic politics.

I suppose when your country is on a knife edge, it is important to be knowledgeable, so you don’t metaphorically shoot your own feet off. In our current climate in the UK, I found that an important reminder that apathy towards those choosing the future of your nation is not very clever.

What was obvious is that the secular folk of Turkey are not going to bow to President Erdogan (as conservative authoritarian) without a fight. His opinion is that Erdogan is a busted flush and for the sake of Turkish modernists, I hope he is right. It is not often that leaders with backward and authoritarian fantasies depart without the spilling of blood and tears.

In Summary

We really enjoyed Kusadasi. Its residents are helpful and keen to please in a way that is genuine, even though you know that they want your cash. I can handle that when the service is witty and friendly.

There is an abundance of different foods and spices to try out, some delicious, some intriguing and some just plain odd. However, if you have a curiosity for food, you won’t be disappointed. Will you get the shits? I don’t know. I was fine, but our WC did come with a telephone next to the toilet pan, so that may be a tell-tale sign.

I think it was comedian, Micky Flanagan, who said that Europe has become so civilised now, you need to go all the way to India if you want the shits these days. He makes a good and very funny point.

Do you know what though, despite enjoying Kusadasi immensely, I hated the travelling. You can’t go to there for seven days; it just isn’t long enough to recover fully from the time you have lost due to travelling.

I am going to investigate Bournemouth and Southampton more, because Gatwick is like a sick joke. Its security procedures and endless walking whilst feeling lost and helpless, saps me of my happy cells. I never want to see Gatwick again in my life.

We left Kusadasi at 9:00 PM on Monday night, eventually getting to Bodrum airport at 12:00 PM. We stood in queue with half a dozen foul mouthed Scottish women talking about the Turkish men they had pulled in Bodrum. With voices like Jimmy Krankie and looking like something created by an unlikely affair between Les Dawson and Ann Wiidicombe, I found myself questioning the taste of Turkish men.

After fitful sleep on the plane and a nerve-jangling trip around the M25, we finally got through the door at six o clock this morning. I was shattered and full of the post-holiday blues that come with being tired.

If you go to Kusadasi, go for 10 or 14 days as 7 just isn’t enough.

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