Turkey

Bitez, Turkey

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Excerpts from a family diary

    Monday: Taxi arrived 7:15. Boys ready (that’s a first!) Taxi driver drove two sides of triangle at end of lane. Family remained silent. Lots of eye-contact.

   Flights okay (slight dispute at check-in over weight allowance.)
Collected hire car – pretty white mercedes with silly foot brake. Many many miles on clock.

   Drove to villa. Nice. Dispute over room allocation so they drew lots and Mark won the double room.

   Turkey has bad drains, so lots of signs up explaining you cannot flush toilet paper and have to deposit it in a bin. Horrible.

   Nice meal at a beach side restaurant, The Lemon Tree.

   Tuesday: Walked along beach path. Lots of cafes, big cushions on beach, little shops selling beachy stuff. Can hear ‘call to prayer’ from mosque next to beach. Is a nice sound.

    Swam in pool. Played Catan. Boys singing Vegetales songs (thought they had outgrown them ten years ago. Obviously not.)

   Met friends and had dinner at The Lemon Tree again. Three course set meal 38TL. They gave us free cocktails at the end. I had lovely apple pie for pudding, with surgical spirit flavoured ice cream, which was somewhat odd.

   Wednesday: Lazed around. Kids introduced me to ‘Flow’ on my iphone. Tried to read by pool but boys much too loud and splashy so retreated to balcony. Pleasant.

   Went to Bodrum with David. We went on the local bus, such fun! It stopped wherever people wanted to get off, the price was displayed and people just threw money into a little basket next to the driver.

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  Bodrum was nice. Pretty harbour. Men outside mosque washing feet, call to prayer, lots of ethnic shops, street sellers, cafes. We had a turkish coffee. Not completely disgusting – an experience! Not sure what one is meant to do with the inch of sludge at the bottom.

   Went back to villa. Don’t think boys had moved since we left. David decided to allocate jobs (so I have a break.) Mark refills the water bottles from the giant one we buy at the supermarket. Becky sorts the dishwasher. Not sure what James does. David empties the bins (containing used toilet paper.) Boys now call him “Shit Man”. David rather disgruntled and can be found muttering “international business executive” under his breath.

   Nice dinner in restaurant over looking the sea. Perfect warm breeze, palm trees, comfy seats. Food was okay. Most of it arrived actually on fire, which seems to be a turkish custom. Also discovered that “tirimasu” means ‘chocolate synthetic sludge’ in turkish. Worth avoiding.

   Thusday: Went to supermarket again. Buying milk a challenge. A picture of a cow on the bottle does not necessarily mean cow’s milk. Have tasted some very sour liquids this week.

   Drove to Yalikavak to meet friends. Wandered around a brilliant market. So much colour.

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James bought his girlfriend turkish delight. I bought a cushion cover (“You Turkey, I Turkey, I give you a very good price. I not make up english price. You know what I say?” Hmmm, why do I NOT think all turkish men want to be my best friend?)

    Had dinner next to the sea. Very pretty, lots of candle light and waves splashing next to us. After dinner entertainment very turkish! A strong man picked up people, then another man gave volunteers electric shocks! The boys joined in with turkish line dancing. It was all good fun but not necessarily what you ever need to see a second time. (It wouldn’t have taken very long for them to learn the dances I feel.)

    Walked along the quay and looked at all the huge yachts.

   Back to villa about 1am. Still not sure what James’ job is.

   Friday: Extremely lazy day, did nothing. James washed up a pizza tin – maybe THAT is his job. Mark moans every time someone has a drink from the water he has refilled. Not sure he fully understands his role. Becky has instigated a lot of rules around the dishwasher loading, might try some of them when we get home.

   Dinner at Lemon Tree. We were tired so didn’t accept their after dinner drinks this time. Worried this might be considered insulting.

   Watched Jack Reacher while Becky played Flow. Mark groaned every time she missed an obvious connection (so groaned constantly), James texted girlfriend.

   Saturday: Went out for breakfast. Tried sitting on big colourful cushions under palm trees on beach. Way too many ants.

   David and I shared a turkish breakfast – cheeses, fruit, dried fruit, breads, honey, yogurt, olives. Very nice. James had ‘full english’ which was not very english, though did contain pork (but not bacon) and eggs. Becky had pancake and hot chocolate. Good choice.

   Wandered around the shops. James bought a wooden trinket box. I bought another cushion cover. Everyone very friendly.

   Went back to Bodrum on bus and met friends.
Wandered around the shops (too many, I hate shopping) then had dinner. Some restaurants have very aggressive salesmen outside who try to ‘entice’/force you inside to eat. It is a shame, because on the whole, this is the most friendly country I have ever visited.
Walked to an ice cream parlour. Great ice cream!
Bus back to Bitez.

   Sunday: Went to a bigger supermarket (a carrefour.) Becky and I chose a slice of cake at the deli counter – it looked fabulous, tasted synthetic.

   David bought snorkels for the boys. Children’s ones. Think they were cheap. Pink and orange. They were not delighted.

    Did nothing. I read on balcony, family swam in pool. I was annoyed because someone’s bonfire was blowing smoke at me. Then looked up and realised there was a HUGE forest fire on the other side of the hill, you could see the glow along the horizon. A helicopter and water plane were flying over and dropping water. The sky was black with smoke and the pool was full of ash. Rather exciting!

   Went to dinner. Mine was horrid.

   Monday: Up early (8:30!) and met friends in Yalikavak. Hired a boat. Not very expensive for nine of us and absolutely brilliant!

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   Spent the day swimming in coves, diving off the boat, sunbathing. Water really deep, so jumping and diving very safe. Sea quite choppy in places so the spray came right over the front. Lots of squealing and holding on tight!
The boat people catered for us. We had salad and steaks for lunch, a fresh fruit snack, then turkish tea and biscuits.
David swam with his phone (his work one) to take photos (I sooo hoped he would drop it! Nearly drowned due to laughing so much!)
A really happy day. There was even a little ‘ice cream boat’ that came round the coves. James swam across to check prices, then we all had one.
Went back to town very salty with wild hair – David called it: “happy hair”.

   Tuesday: Went for a drive. Recognised one of the bays that we visited yesterday in the boat.

   Found an old church. It’s the first church I have seen in Turkey. When you think about how much this country was part of the early church, it’s kind of sad that there are so few churches here today. It was locked up and disused.

   Went to ice cream parlour in Bitez. They had sold out of nearly everything and then got the bill wrong.

   Swam. Boys did ‘charades’ of everyone in the family. Not kind ones. Unfortunately I could guess who everyone was….
They played Catan. I moved some of the pieces when no one was looking. Person who loses will be outraged but I cannot bring myself to care. They played for another two hours in the evening.

   Had dinner at The Lemon Tree. James bit his own finger. Embarrassing.

   Wednesday: Met friends by beach and had breakfast. Very relaxed.

   I ordered a banana crepe. When it eventually arrived, it had no banana inside, just a long slice of melon. The waiter (who clearly didn’t believe me) took it back to the kitchen. He returned to inform me that the chef said they had no bananas, but he could cut any fruit I wanted into a banana shape! I had a very nice plain crepe with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

   Swam in pool then had a drive around area.

   Stopped on way back at a kebab restaurant. They didn’t speak any english (all the restaurants near the sea speak excellent english.) The waiters arrived with many plates of salads and meat kebabs. We had no idea what was going on! All delicious.

   Boys went to watch an Arsenal game in a bar on beach. I hoped they wouldn’t get attacked.

   Thursday: Bought turkish delight to take home as gifts. Opened one box – there is much less turkish delight than I was expecting! Pretty boxes though…

   Walked past The Lemon Tree and the owner invited us for coffee. Nice coffee! Had a nice chat. In ‘real life’ he is an engineer. He’s owned the restaurant for six years.

   I went back to villa and changed into a long skirt and headscarf, then went with Becky to look at the mosque. It felt kind of scary, I was worried we would do something wrong by mistake and be shouted at, though there was an english sign on the door explaining that visits were allowed so long as it wasn’t a prayer time. Inside, it was just a room. I had been expecting something else, something more ornate or ‘foreign’. It was just a room with a carpet on the floor, an indentation in one wall which marks the direction of mecca and a section which is divided by a large white cotton curtain. It looked like a sheet. I assume that the women pray behind it so they are separate from the men. Outside there was a place for people to wash their feet. (We have seen men washing their feet when the call for prayer is sounded.) It was interesting, very plain, certainly did not feel either ‘holy’ or ‘evil’, it was just a room.

   Swam in sea. Cold. Ate at Lemon Tree.

   Friday: Drove two and a half hours to Ephesus. Interesting scenery. Ephesus (Effes) was brilliant.

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Smaller and less hot than Pompei. It didn’t have the same ‘wow’ factor but hugely interesting to actually see places you can read about in the Bible. Makes Acts and Ephesians come alive in a whole new way.

  David shouted at for climbing on rubble (dangerous). I was shouted at for posing at library (spoilt grumpy man’s photo. Apparently.)

   Dinner at Lemon Tree. Becky noticed James had cream in his hair. And on his nose. And his chin. He explained that he had blown on a rosette of cream and it had exploded. Why? Why would you do that?

   Saturday: Got up late then walked to the beach for coffee. Got directions to a bakers. Everyone here is so friendly and helpful.

   Returned to villa to find a minor crisis. Boy had no clean underwear and had developed inability to use washing machine. Helped him. He managed washing line bit.

   There is a toothbrush living on the dining table. Why would that be a good place?

   Sunday: Home

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