Although it has been some time (more than nine weeks) since we had our Turkish adventure, it is only now that I have found the time to write about it.
At the end of June, myself, Emma (whose birthday it was on the day that we flew), Drew, his girlfriend Kinga and Emma’s son Ant all headed off to Gatwick for the four and a half hour flight to Antalya in Turkey. After arriving at the airport, we had no difficulty in checking in and made our way to find some food prior to flying, as we were unlikely to be arriving in Turkey in time for dinner.
We became a little disorientated as we had planned to visit the same restaurant that we had on our way to Menorca two years ago, but I think that we must have been in the other terminal last time, so we found ourselves joining the long queue for a table in the Nando’s.
After eating, we made our way to the departure lounge for the 1525 flight, but the journey didn’t go completely to plan as we were delayed on take-off due to the selfishness of one couple who hadn’t turned up by the time that we were due to depart, so their luggage had to be taken off the plane. No sooner had they taken the luggage off than these two fuckwits arrived, without any apology, and their luggage had to be put back on again. Personally, I’d have told them that their luggage was off, so they were too.
We eventually took off approximately an hour late and therefore arrived in Turkey an hour later than expected. Once we had cleared customs and had our passports stamped, we made our way out into the Turkish night and to the coach that was taking us to our hotel.
This was the first time that I had ever been to Turkey, although I had flown over it on my way into and out of Iraq more than a decade ago. But the temperature was similar. It was extremely warm, but not just warm, it was also very humid.
The hotel where we were staying, the Sentido Turan Prince, was located in Side, which was a forty-five minute coach journey from the airport and so we didn’t arrive until 11pm. But having been greeted with cool flannels and orange juice, we booked in and were shown to our rooms.
The rooms seemed were all on the same floor, Ant in one, Drew and Kinga in the second and Emma and I in the third. I think that we had the best room, as from our balcony we had a view of the pool and, in the distance, the Mediterranean.
After dumping our luggage, we made our way to the pool bar for a drink and caught the tail-end of the entertainment that was on. It was all over and done with by midnight, so we made our way back to our various, thankfully air-conditioned, rooms for a good night’s sleep.
We were up fairly early the next morning, Emma and I making our way down to breakfast, reserving sun-loungers on the way, to be faced with a huge choice of food. Drew and Kinga joined us a little later. We then spent the day taking advantage of the fabulous weather and the very necessary swimming pool (the temperature hit 48° during that first day!) although Emma and I did wander out and visit several of the bazaars that were located close to the hotel. These sold all sorts of things, mostly fake designer clothes and handbags, but we did buy our fridge magnets. It was also fairly obvious that this was an area that was very popular with the Germans as all of the stall holders would greet us in German.
After another dip in the pool to cool off, we all made our way to the hotel’s own beach to have a look around, grab and ice-cream and then head back for a pre-dinner siesta.
After another fabulous meal, we again made our way to the pool-bar and had a few drinks whilst watching the entertainment.
And that was generally the pattern for the next week, although we didn’t spend all of our time in the hotel grounds and surrounding streets. There was a water sports company located on the beach, although it had no connection to the hotel, but Drew, Kinga and Ant all went out for a spin on a jet ski (I would have gone out with Emma, but she was too chicken!). We then all made our way out to a speed boat and spent the next couple of hours speeding back and forth across the Med, as well as making our way into Side Harbour and getting good view of the Temple of Apollo from the sea, before we anchored briefly and were able to have a brief swim in the sea.
As we were making her way back, Kinga’s day was made by the fact the she was able to see wild sea-turtles swimming about underneath the boat.
The pool bar was where we spent every evening, enjoying, in my case, the all-inclusive rum & cokes, and in the case of Drew and Kinga, a shisha on several nights. As the humidity on each night was between 96-99%, the cold drinks were almost a necessity.
Although we visited the local bazaars most days, purchasing various items of fake clothing and a very nice, locally produced, Backgammon set, the only other excursion that we made further afield was by bus to Side Old Town, where we were able to visit the Roman ruins on the outskirts of the town, before making our way into the town for a much needed drink. We then made our way down to the harbour for a closer look at the Temple of Apollo. The only downside to this day was that Drew had overindulged the night before and was therefore feeling very delicate and “dehydrated”, so the trip was not the most enjoyable.
The night before we returned we were inundated with messages after there had been terrorist attack at Atatürk airport in Istanbul. However, we were able to reassure everyone that we were safe as we were about 500 miles away, although I had anticipated that there would be an increase in security on our return home the next day.
The week that we were out there seemed to pass at a leisurely pace whilst we were there, but looking back it seemed to have flown past. And there was increased security at the airport on the way home. At least we weren't there two weeks later during the coup attempt!
The flight was boring, but there was a somewhat spectacular electrical storm over France, which I am glad that Emma slept through, as I don’t think that she would have appreciated it.
So, since our return, it has been back to the usual routine. However, about two weeks after our return Emma and I booked our next break, a week in Rome in October, and Drew and Kinga have also had a two week break visiting Kinga’s family in Poland, where Drew proposed and Kinga accepted.
There has also been an extraordinary two weeks of sport with the Olympics taking place in Rio, but that will be for my next post.