Theres always a drama…

16.4.17

Things always seem to go wrong before a trip away.

Still remember my son throwing a tantrum in the kitchen the day we were leaving for a holiday in Turkey. A mouse got in the top workings of the washing machine and fried himself and the machine by chewing through some vital part that generates steam and melts the soap dispenser if its gnawed.

We dared to suggest he could use the launderette while we were away. That idea went down so well that John went and picked up a new one from a nearby store and fitted it with minutes to spare before leaving for the airport.

Last time we went away it was our Bulgarian road trip – we couldn’t plan til the last minute as the transfer paperwork had a few glitches. Bureaucracy at its best.

Well…this has been a very stressful couple of weeks. The weather in Turkey goes from wet and cold to hot in no time at all so the race was on to get the house painted before our trip as it will be too hot when we get back and only 4 days before my Dad will be coming. And we really didn’t want him managing the project from his sunbed telling us how he would do it, so it had to be done before his arrival.

Day 1 was lovely, we scraped off flaky paint and filled walls ready for painting, a bit of music and Iced Baileys coffee break.

Day 2 didn’t go so well. When I began painting the garden walls with the typically watery crap Turkish paint John very helpfully added water to it as it says so on the instructions. Turkish houses typically have patchy paintwork that flakes within months. It was just pouring off the brush before I could get it on the wall. Fuming, I refused to paint gnats pee on the walls so John ended up painting the whole lot over the next few days. However, he didn’t dilute paint pot number 2.

Next drama..MOT due the day after our planned trip. Despite asking ( at least twice)  how early it could go in before the due date in John booked it for 2 working days before we set off.

Needless to say it failed and although the work to pass it was minor and done same day, the obligatory gas report that was dropped in as a surprise couldn’t be done because they don’t open Thursdays. Friday morning, bright & early John set off after many attempts to find the place the day before.

Horrendous queues and John cancelled the 1pm retest appointment in case not ready and rebooked for 3.30pm. So by this time I’m resigned to not going to the lake and wondering about the bus times to Kuşadası for the cruise port.

We had arranged to meet friends at 4.30pm and of course he wasnt back so I was getting dressed and carrying phone around the house anxiously waiting for news. Ultimately my phone fell out my pocket down the loo. Initially it was ok but then it had a split screen of normal and purple fuzz. I literally felt sick. My life is contained in that gadget and I bought the best I could afford after reading every review and loved it to bits, the camera lives up to everything it promised…and my blogging..oh no..

I put it in a bag of rice and set off to meet our friends. Praying. No way of knowing if car has passed or if we are going away. An hour passed and no sign of John, assumed it had failed and he was too scared to come down. Next thing he’s sauntering along the prom, long face, I’m frantically waving & waiting for a thumbs up sign. Nothing. When he caught up with us, I said…’Well???’  “Yeah all done, told you it would be ok’  in his best nonchalent voice. Would probably have killed him if we hadn’t been in company.

I kept looking at my bag of rice and resisting the temptation to switch the phone on.

Had a fab time chilling on the prom followed by a lovely evening and a delicious curry.

On the way home I noticed that a new little phone repair shop was still open and decided to pop in for advice. He didn’t speak much English but my 3.5 hours of Turkish lessons a week did me proud and needs a new main board and screen. He was very amused about the rice. ‘Come back tomorrow around 9pm it will be done’. Incredible. Not cheap by any means but no choice. And I was able to understand his conversation with the guy he rang about the cost of the parts. He will make around a fiver out of this.

Sure enough 9pm it was all sparkly and exactly how I remembered it before the loo drama. Would have been tempted to smother him in sloppy kisses if I wasn’t a very happily married woman (despite the paint & mot irritations)

I bought a new charger lead and even though he had given me a complimentary plastic back cover he insisted on giving me some headphones as a present. I tried hard to refuse as I have some and even after 6 years forget how hurt Turkish people look if you refuse their generosity. So I’m now the proud owner of new pink headphones.

(Anyone who hasnt lost the will to live reading all this – the shop is next to Meri Bar & A101 in Calis)

In 2 years time I’m getting someone in to paint the house. And I’m in charge of the next MOT.

Thanks for reading my dramas. Its good therapy to get it all out there.

We are en route to the beautiful Bafa Lake, sun is shining. John just bought me a Karam bar. Life’s good.

Well almost…it’s Referendum day here in Turkey.

Tonights result will have a massive impact on the future of this incredible country. A huge moment in history.

Why is it always us? 

16.4.17

We arrived in Bafa at lunchtime and had the best katmer in a little place on the main road before the turn off to the Hotel Silva Oliva where we are staying. 

Mehmet greeted us and showed us to our room. Its all arranged into small blocks of 4 rooms. The rooms are very dated and paintwork is a bit crumbly but huge with the biggest bed in the world which turned out to be 2 large singles with a scary gap down the middle ! No one else around so perfect for much needed chill time. 

We ventured off down to the edge of the lake where there were 2 sunloungers and dozed while reading. Heaven. Well for about 15 minutes until 2 couples and their children appeared from the reeds and talked to each other as if they were the other side of the lake. We had no idea fishing was such a noisy sport.
Eventually they left and we dozed until the sun started to fade. We decided to go over to Kapikiri the village where we stayed last year. Its definitely the prettiest side of the lake with its gorgeous rustic village and views of the islands. Sadly the flamingos we saw last year have gone west, but plenty of other wildlife around. We decided to see if we could find someone to take us trekking the next day and stopped and spoke to the guy at Agora Pansiyon. The Agora is a stunning rustic place, the owner was a bit grumpy but hes anxiously awaiting the referendum results so fair enough. He said €50 euros for trekking, a deal as normally €38 euro each. At just short of 200tl it seemed high so we declined. 

We decided to go across to Karia Pansiyon where we stayed last year. We would have stayed there again but the price he wrote for us on his card jumped crazily when trying to book this time. Emin greeted us like old friends. As we were hungry we decided to stay for dinner. He was dismissive about menu and prices saying we were friends.

He said he would take us trekking for 150tl so we agreed we would meet him in the morning. After our ridiculously large bill we decided no way we would go. In 6 years we’ve never been charged extra for a side salad and the included chips never came despite asking twice. Feeling disillusioned we went back to our base asked our host Mehmet if he knew anyone to take us trekking and a few minutes later it was all arranged to meet Yusuf at the kahvehanesi at the top of Yaka village tomorrow at 11am. 80tl. That softened the blow of being ripped off by Emin. Seriously.. It does my head in. I emailed Emin and explained why we wouldn’t be joining him in the morning. 

We did however get some stunning sunset photos from Karia Pansiyon.

So looking forward to tomorrows trek, our reason for returning to Bafa.

 

Wow, trekking was extreme in parts but so very worth it.

17.4.17

The referendum result was only just over 50% with questions being asked about the counting process which may or may not be investigated. 

At 1.30am John had enough and went and asked the people in the next room to be quiet. To be fair they thought they were the only guests too. I never understand the need to speak so loudly and to move furniture in the night. Our neighbours are the same. Maybe its some sort of Feng Shui ritual.

We had a lovely breakfast, Mehmet is such a perfect host. We set off to meet Yusuf, and found him up the top of a very steep hill where lots of men we sitting outside the coffee house and a van was selling tools. It was like a different world up there, like stepping back in time. 

Yusuf doesn’t speak any English but thats good as I dont often get chance to practice my Turkish. We continued up a narrow roadway and parked high up outside his grandmothers tumbledown stone house. We were somewhat surprised as he looks at least in his 60’s. Assumed it must be where she lived when still alive until he went and said hello. 

We had worried about having walking boots, Yusuf had normal shoes, a shirt, jumper and a body warmer despute being 21 degrees. We set off in the direction of the monastery, clambering over dry stone walls, up the side of the mountain. The views were absolutely breathtaking and my task next week will be narrowing down which photos to keep. 

The spring flowers were amazing. Yusuf insisted on picking lots of Karabaş which looks a lot like Scottish thistle. Apparently putting it in hot water and drinking lots of it lowers cholesterol. His grandmother is 86 so a good recommendation.

After the monastery the trek got harder, clambering over large boulders and then we reached a huge rock where the infamous frescoes are.

Amazing..so worth the climb. The hardest was still to come. After bigger boulders we reached a cave where there are neolithic cave paintings. A couple of kilos heavier and we wouldnt have been able to scrunch through the gap into the cave.

Then Yusuf joked that we were going to do some sport. I assume the downhill boulder clambering on your bum is a short cut. John said the whole trip was worth it to see how brave I was. He expected me to freak out and refuse a few times. 

After 3 hours and an amazing experience we dropped Yusuf down to the village and felt sad to say goodbye.

We needed petrol so drove to the closest little town, Selimiye and decided to have a wander and some lunch. It was another step back in time, we were the focus of lots of staring but the streetdogs loved us. One in particular.

We decided to drive back to our little parade of roadside restaurants. The lure of the katmer was irresistable. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Hotel and tore ourselves away from Line of Duty on catch up long enough to go for a toastie and chips and a natter with Mehmet.

We have to leave at 8.30am tomorrow morning to set off to Kusadasi to start our Greek Island Cruise and Mehmet is going to have the cay pot on early for us.

Bye bye Bafa. Hello Celestyal Olympia :)

18.4.17

Despite the flaking walls, the bed gap issue and the lack of hot water I had decided to give Hotel Silva Oliva a glowing review on the basis of the wonderful hospitality from Mehmet. We hadn’t met the boss apart from at from distance after he tried to open our room to show some guests around yesterday afternoon.

We had a lovely breakfast, paid our bill from last night and then Mehmet told us the bill for our room was 190tl. John had 180 ready in his hand and said we were told 180.

The boss was outside and said it was 190. John showed his email saying 180tl. The guy argued that it should be 180tl per night but he was doing us a favour at 190tl. He later emailed to say he didnt mean he was trying to charge double. Anyway..silly man. Been in the job 3 weeks. Not going to make it a successful business like that.

The 1 hour drive to Kusadasi was uneventful and we found secure parking close by. 15tl a day til I told him in my best Turkish that we will use the Belediye one for 10tl. With the price dropped to 10tl a day we parked up and joined the boarding queue. I seriously think we’ve go on try & rip us off written on our foreheads.

So excited now. Got goosebumps when I saw our ship.

Boarding took a while, tight security but who cares, better safe than sorry.

Off to Patmos

18.4.17

Once boarded we explored and had lunch. Last year there was 99% Turkish people, this year there are so many nationalities although I think we’re still the only Brits. We opted for buffet lunch and the cultural diversity was reflected in the food choices. We couldnt resist pork chops, saveloy apple crumble and custard with a bit of chicken pasta thrown in. It was all delicious apart from the potato bake.

I decided at that point I would experiment with the Atkins Diet, well until the apple crumble anyway. 

We chilled in the sun on the quiet deck with Baileys iced coffees and were miffed when some lads came to use the basketball nets and started bouncing about, but ended up enjoying watching them in the end, they were very talented. They were moved when staff started setting up some speakers and putting together a bar area. Must have been at least 10 staff involved in this process. Each time new ones turned up they moved what the previous ones had done. Was very amusing and we waited ages to see the outcome but the lure of afternoon tea dragged us away. 

Never again will I turn my nose up at gluten free cakes. Omg..to die for, and after scoffing those I realised I’d missed the scones,  jam & cream and had to go back for one. 

We arrived in Patmos as scheduled at 5pm. There was a ticket system for the tender boats which we could get after those who had booked a tour. It was so loud in the lounge waiting for announcements so we wandered down to deck one just in time for them to shout that they needed 8 more people so we jumped on. We sat right at the front with a big scary gap into the sea but the captain laughed and pointed to a handrail.

It was a smooth 15 minute crossing.

It’s a pretty little place and we wandered around the lovely little streets, stopped for Greek coffee and went back on board about 3 hours later. 
We opted for a late dinner. Might not be the best time. They had announced the a la carte was full, so the buffet was packed. So many groups of young people this year and horrendously noisy. 

We went from there to the Muses lounge and listened to Greek music from the house band and stayed for the main show event. 

It was a traditional Greek show about a love story it was lovely but not a patch on last years animation team, but still very enjoyable with a couple of strawberry daquiris and a Turkish delight – Malibu, white rum and pineapple.

Off to Rhodes tomorrow 🙂 Not setting alarms as the 7am we’ve arrived bing bong will wake us up.

A day in Rhodes

19.4.17

There was no 7am bing bong and we woke at 7.45am. Got dressed and had breakfast at record speed and set off for the 9am bus to Lindos.

Spotted this beauty in the harbour and felt very nostalgic. Our Celestyal Nefeli from last year. She wouldn’t usually be there at the same time but there’s a 5 night trip at the mo as she will be switching ports. We had contemplated this trip as it was 5 nights but the logistics of leaving our car in Kusadasi and arriving back in Cesme was a bit of a nightmare.

We made the 9am bus with a minute to spare. The journey to Lindos took an hour and a half and it was lovely to sit back and enjoy the scenery. Slightly frustrating seeing a massive Lidl and an Ikea but such is life. I wondered about splitting the return bus journey but John said no.
Lindos is very small and very white. John visited over 20 years ago and was keen to go back and see it again. Full of charming alleyways full of little gift and silver shops. And donkeys. Loads of them. Poor donkeys being used to lug tourists up the hill to the walled acropolis.

We walked up following a huge Canadian woman on a donkey who kept saying ‘poor donkey’ but saying very loudly that she had lost 20lbs. Poor donkey breathed a massive sigh of relief I’m sure.
After virtuously walking up we came to a ticket office. Like many others we refused to pay €12 each to see a few pillars that we pay almost nothing to see in Turkey.

Here are the pillars from a distance

We sat on a lovely terrace having espresso and beer before trying to pay the confused guy with a 10 Bulgarian lev note. We have a pot of random currencies for going away. He should be grateful it wasn’t Vietnamese dongs.

A bit more wandering, a couple more cats and time to climb the steep hill up to the main road for the 1pm number 30 bus.
Once back in Rhodes town we had a delicious Gyros, like a chicken doner but with pork before having a wander round the shops and historic walls. Have been before and its just as beautiful as I remember.

Once back on board it was definitely Baileys Iced Coffee time and also discovered Kahlua Dreamboat. I need to watch what goes in it before we leave.
Opted for early dinner which was excellent and quiet. Well inside the music from the outside was muffled. On the large deck just outside we watched around a hundred youngsters moving about to banging tunes. Moving in as much as they had drink in one hand and mobile phone in the other and have expertly learnt to pout and get the drink lined up in the same shot. We decided we’ve got very old and went off to the meet the Captain cocktail party.

We queued for a while and then had our photo taken with him and a glass of champagne. He later joined us all in the lounge and introduced the heads of all the different sections of the crew. We couldn’t help but compare to the charisma of last years Captain who told us where they were all from and interacted with us all asking where everyone was from.

Aferwards there was a dance competition. Couples were made up with one dancer or crew member and one volunteer from the audience.

Little Japanese Shokotan didn’t have a partner but Turkish Süleyman from the audience was cajoled into it. He towered over her, zipped up his jacket and put his heart into every dance. Whether it was waltz, jive or salsa his moves were the same just different speeds. They never stopped smiling and laughing and the audience soon got behind them cheering loudly when the judges gave their scores. Just fabulous.

Then it was showtime. Cabaret. I take back everything I said last night. The dancing and costumes were breathtaking. Incredibly professional. And a heart stopping moment when 2 guys swung a dancer and launched her at another guy who fortunately caught her.

Off to bed, another fabulous day. Early start again tomorrow. Arrive at Heraklion, Crete at 7am and going to Santorini in the evening.

Night night.

Heraklion, Crete & Santorini

20.4.17

We set alarms today for 7am and were so tempted to roll over and go back to sleep.

We had breakfast, sausage, bacon, egg and mushrooms. This Atkins diet is so easy although I’m not sure last nights syrup sponge, Kahlua and strawberry daquiris are allowed.

Set off from the port around 8.30am.

Heraklion is the first port to have free maps and John was chuffed to have one and even managed not to get us lost. It’s also the first port to have extensive xray security and a few street dogs. Its a strange city, a mix of large brand names, Zara Home, Pull & Bear, Starbucks etc and derelict grotty backstreets.

Lots of graffiti and pleas to open borders and stop fascism. We walked within the city walls and saw some relics and churches along the way, my favourite was St Mina set in a square with the smaller St Catherine next to it.

The place is a shoppers paradise, beautiful boutiques and household items, but so expensive compared to Turkey. 

The market street reminded us of some of the back roads in Istanbul but on a much much smaller scale. If you’re not a shopper 3 hours is more than enough in Heraklion, although we didnt venture as far as the Palace which was in a different direction.

We strolled back to the port where they had free wifi and I hoped to upload yesterdays blog post but it was almost as slow as Turkish internet and when 2 tour groups appeared it was time to join the security queue to avoid being left behind.

We left at 11.30am to sail towards Santorini. I think this is the part I’m most excited about as every photo I’ve seen is just stunning.

We had a drink and enjoyed some sunshine before a delicious lunch. Back into the sunshine but then it clouded over and got really cold. We went back to the cabin and set the alarm for 4pm ready to disembark at 4.30pm.

Bing bong. 6 different languages later we had arrived in Santorini an hour early. They suggested everyone go on deck to see the first glimpse. In my head it was the blue domed roofs like all the photos that we were going to see. Instead it was way in the distance and really cloudy.

Disembarking went on forever. There were a lot of excursions booked as well as other groups such as the EF language school. We were ticket 4 which was the last to board the tender boat to shore at 4.30pm which was our original arrival time so was still pretty good.

The boat across took just a few minutes. There are 3 options to get up to the top. Donkey. Cable car. Walk.

We took sadistic option number 3.

It was a mere 588 long steps to reach the top. It was really hot now and really steep. Additionally the donkeys have no awareness of personal space or direction and were 3 or 4 abreast. The ones coming down were even worse.. Out of control and unable to brake.

Somehow we made it to the top narrowly avoidng being trampled to death. The views and atmosphere were gorgeous. Cute little streets of shops, bars, tavernas and churches.

We asked which direction the blue roofs are and were pointed in the right direction. North. We later learned they’re on the north side of the island. Another trip maybe? We found a coastal path which had amazing views over to the really unusual rock formations.
And some blue roofs.

The island is a real mix of orthadox, and tradition, peppered with Chinese restaurants, fish & chip shops and even a Mc Donalds.

We decided to walk back down again, so much easier than going up. Unfortunately some of the donkeys were having a late night and we met a few on the way down but nothing as scary as before.

We waited a few minutes before the tender boat took us back to the Olympia.

We decided to go to the A la carte for a change. It was superb.

Went to the bar afterwards and the waitress thought I was asking for iced chocolate Bailey’s. It had to be tried and was delicious. So many drinks. So little time !
The time is going way too fast, just one more full day before we go back to reality.

Tonights show was Greek Gods & Goddesses and once again superb dancing, acrobatic skills and intense strength.

Excellent.

Very early start tomorrow, we arrive at Piraeus port at 6.30am to explore Athens.
Guten nacht, buenos nochas, iyi geceler, bonne nuit and loads of others I can’t remember.