Majestic Turkey is simply sublime. For countless millennia, the noble landscape has been wrought by Mother Nature at her most pissed off. A couple of weeks ago we felt a couple of minor tremors that for just a split second rocked our little stone cottage in the heart of old Bodrum Town. It was a gentle reminder about who’s boss. My first impression of Turkey way back in 1995 was how green it was. I was expecting tectonic drama but not iridescent lushness. That was my ignorance. I should’ve done my homework. We’d booked our introduction to Asia Minor through Simply Turkey, then a top-notch independent travel company, now just another part of a multi-national faceless cattle-conglomerate. We lodged in a modest whitewashed villa adjacent to the tiny hamlet of Taşbükü on the Datça Peninsula about a 30 minute drive from Marmaris. Our rep was a gorgeous young woman called Ruth who’d married a local lad and knew her stuff. Her enthusiasm was infectious and her knowledge encyclopaedic. We wallowed in rapture for two weeks, bathed in the gulf of shimmering turquoise, breakfasted in the tumble-down amphitheatre on Cleopatra’s Island (Sedir Island) and star gazed on cheap plonk. Well it was cheap back then. Ruth helped us plan a two day excursion to Ephesus stopping overnight in sleepy Selçuk and buzzing Bodrum. Turkey gently seduced me with a warm welcome and an incomparable backdrop. There started an unlikely chain of events leading me to the here and now. Ruth, I wonder where you are now?
Turkey today is a different place, still welcoming with an incomparable backdrop, but different. I now live in a politically resurgent and economically vibrant nation. I’m delighted my foster home is no longer a financial basket case with rampant inflation and a dodgy currency with more zeros than the Greek bailout. I’m pleased there are growing economic opportunities for the young and better security for the old. However, progress inevitably comes at a price. I’m irritated by the runaway and poorly focused over-development, half-built ugly erections and piles of builder’s rubble that are fly-tipped along pretty country lanes. It seems paradoxical to me that Turks who are so rightly proud of their country sometimes show scant regard for their countryside. Every now and then I feel that I’ve left a place where people casually chuck their rubbish out of car windows only to move to a place where people casually chuck their rubbish out of car windows. Okay, it ain’t murder but it ain’t pretty either.