I am writing this update in the Istanbul airport; I am halfway through my journey from Bodrum to Side and my next plane will take off in about an hour or so. Let me try and recap the last couple of whirlwind days in and around Bodrum.
On Saturday, after breakfast, I grabbed my swim suit and headed down to the beach at La Roka bar and restaurant. This time, after having remembered me from the night before, I got great service from the guys there. I plopped myself down on the sun bed and lounged around, drinking iced tea and swimming in the cool ocean. I watched some young Turkish guys float around on a broken windsurfing board, having a great time until 2 slightly larger boys came by and forcibly took it from them. After about 4 hours of sun, I was feeling supremely dozey and it was time to head back for a shower. On my way back to the Gulec Pension, I slipped on the marble sidewalk and went down hard on my knee – damn. Major raspberry.
After a shower and a couple of hours relaxing, I met Ayla who had returned from her Pamukkale tour. We strolled down the main shopping drag and tried on several pairs of sparkly sandals in a shoe store after I, crow-like, had noticed them twinkling on the sidewalk. I must confess I did buy a pair of red ones with little fake diamond decorations and Ayla had two pairs put aside for her. We then entered the Kortan Restaurant, Bodrum’s oldest fish restaurant, with a deck out over the ocean and a great night view of the castle which was all lit up and looking beautiful. We sampled some appetizers from the meze table, presented at our table by two waiters: calimari, baked mushrooms in cheese sauce, tomatoes and cucumber, white cheese and some spicy peppers, accompanied by a really nice bottle of cold dry white wine. As we were finishing our snacks, we heard a great roar from the sidewalk; I looked outside to see a parade of people wearing soccer jerseys and waving flags walk by chanting and singing. One of Turkey’s football teams had just won a tournament. In celebration fireworks were set off above the castle. After watching the parade for a bit, we made our way down to the harbour and strolled around looking at the huge wooden gullet yachts. They looked beautiful in the moonlight with their masts shining like crosses against the night sky.
Sunday morning I awoke at 5:30 for a tour to Dalyan with Ayla and her tour company. I had arranged to meet her at the corner of the street at 6:10, so around 6 I was all ready to go. The lobby was empty, but I looked out the front door and saw that the closed gate had a pullable locking mechanism so I thought that I would have no problem exiting. I walked out the front door, pulling it locked behind me, only to find that, yes, the gate had a pullable pin but it was also locked – and I had no key and no key was to be found anywhere. I walked around the entire building and the perimeter of the grounds and could find no way of getting out – the entire place was locked up tighter than a drum. After having mused about banging on the door and trying to phone them, while realizing that I did not have the phone number, I eyed the iron gate. A very decorative number, it had curlicues running up its entire 10 or 12 foot length. Climbing up and over was the only way – so up and over I went, putting my feet on the iron curlicues. I managed to escape without falling and killing myself and met Ayla as promised.
I joined a group of English, Russian, Dutch and French speakers for our trip which took about 4 or so hours by big bus to arrive in Dalyan, the town I had left about 2 months ago. Then the weather had been ok but not hot. This day it was clear sunny skies and 35 as the group jumped aboard 2 river boats and headed across the Dalyan River for the mudbaths opposite. Unlike when I had been there in early April when Dalyan had been mostly deserted, today it was very crowded and there were many groups converging on the facility. It was not the same mudbath/thermal pond complex as I’d been to before but a different, slightly larger one closer to the town. I did sample the mud and slathered some stinky grey slime on myself, allowing it to air dry before hosing it off. Once again, I am still waiting for the miraculous properties of the mud to take effect. Then I joined many others in the smallish thermal pool for a soak. Since the day was warm, it was quite pleasant. After having spent an hour or so there, our group reconverged on the boat and headed down the river to our restaurant lunch spot riverside. It was very nice sitting under the canopy of grave vine leaves next to the river and sampling the cold buffet, meatballs and chicken bits, the latter of which I did not enjoy so I shared them with the two cats that immediately appeared as soon as we sat down. The kitty cats wolfed them down very greedily.
Back on the boat we cruised slowly down the delta, through the fish trap after which the town is named (“dalyan” means fish trap), and drew up next to a small wooden boat belonging to some local crab fishermen. These guys catch the local blue crab, cook it up on their tiny boat, package it on plates with tin foil and sell it to the tourists who sail by. As we watched, one fisherman baited his hook with a small crab, threw it into the water and danced it along the top of the river to attract the gigantic sea turtles that live here. A huge one appeared almost immediately and jumped up out of the water trying to get the crab.
After amusing ourselves with that we cruised to Iztuzu (Turtle) Beach, the 5 kilometer long stretch of sand that I had visited with Sonja’s mountain bike tour. It was hot and the shaded sunbeds looked comfy, so I had a swim in the wavy ocean and collapsed on a sunbed, snoozing for an hour or so. The trip back down the river, on which that old film African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn was filmed, was pleasant and the bus trip back uneventful; we arrived in Bodrum around 8:30 or so.
That night, Ayla and I wandered through the shopping area, looking at large gourds with many, many tiny holes punched in them, painted, and turned into quite beautiful lampshades. This handwork is a specialty of the area. Along the harbour we strolled, looking at the shops catering to the international yachting community who bring their sailboats to the area. Later we had snacks and a glass of wine at a wine bar across from the harbour, listening to Spanish music and the multi-languages of the assembled company.
My shuttle bus from the bus station to the Bodrum airport was not until 2:25 Monday afternoon so in the morning, after breakfast at the hotel and arranging to leave my bags in the room, we jumped on the minibus and went out to Torba, a small village just down the peninsula from Bodrum where Ayla had lived for some years with her husband. It is a very pretty place and quite quiet. Large homes with beautiful gardens and green grass line the seaside road – it was a surprise to see grass. I haven’t seen grass like that since I left Canada, very green and manicured. It must be very costly to maintain in this climate. We had a tasty snack at a seaside café of a man Ayla knows and then onto the minibus once again for an unintended tour of Torba as he drove around everywhere picking up passengers before returning to the bus station.
At the Bodrum airport, I was waved over by the security dudes and had to open two of my bags for inspection. The man held up a pair of scissors, asking whether I intended to bring them on board, not being bright enough to see that the bag out of which he took them was at least five times too big to be a carry on … I had to pay a small fee for my excess kilos of luggage and then, after a delay of half an hour, we were off for Istanbul. Joining us on the plane was a beautiful white Bichon Frise dog who was obviously not too happy, panting and trembling the whole flight on his master’s knee (she let him out of his carry case as soon as the plane was in the air). After a fairly short wait in Istanbul, I was on the plane to Antalya, seated next to a French man with a Yorkshire Terrier named Amal on his lap. Amal was a much better traveler than the other beast, sitting quite happily and quietly as we flew. When we exited the plane, one of the airport personnel directed me to the domestic terminal, since I had been coming from a city inside Turkey, and, once there, it was immediately apparent that my luggage wasn’t. After a phone call to the baggage handlers, it turned out that one of my bags had gone to the international terminal and the other had not arrived at all. They would not let me go to the international terminal to pick it up so I had to wait while it was delivered to domestic, then, once I saw which one was missing, I had to describe it to the lost luggage people who later tracked it down to Istanbul. In the meantime the man from the housing company who was supposed to pick me up was not there.
By this time I was getting agitated, not sure of where I was going to spend the night because, without the pickup, I had no key and no way of getting into the apartment in Side. I decided to see whether he might be over at the international terminal, even though by then I was about 2 hours late. I grabbed a cab, zoomed over there and, thankfully, he was still there waiting for the last 3 people off my flight, who had also lost their luggage, to see if one of them was me. Alper explained to me that baggage handling had been subcontracted to an outside company in the last two years and that since then, this sort of thing happens with regularity. Anyway, I arrived safely in Side at midnight and my other bag is supposed to arrive this morning – we shall see. It has all my clothes and toiletries so hopefully it will appear soon.
See pictures here.