Not much of the news coming out of Turkey these days is positive – refugees, bombs, riots, censorship and the usual rhetoric from the imperious Erdoğan. The western media do so love to stoke up a drama. You could be forgiven for thinking the place is falling apart. Well, it isn’t. But the headlines are putting visitors off. According to some estimates, bookings by Brits are down by over a third. A glance at the travel agent’s window reveals the bargains to be had, reflecting a tourist trade going through lean times. It would be foolish to suggest there aren’t any problems but Turkey remains one of the safest holiday destinations anywhere.
It’s been four years since we returned from Turkey and we’re content with our lot in old Norwich Town. The slowish pace of life suits us well. But, we’re often nostalgic for our easy come, easy go days of Bodrum. During one particularly wistful afternoon in the boozer, Liam and I took a drunken stagger down memory lane. Over the last few years I’ve scribbled a word or two about my best bits of Turkey and I’ve even won writing competitions with my musings. So to cure me of my melancholy, Liam suggested I put them all together. So that’s what I’ve done. And very cathartic it was too. I’ve called it Postcards from the Ege, Jack Scott’s Turkey Trail.
Here’s the blurb:
With such an immense political and cultural heritage, it’s no surprise kaleidoscopic Turkey is such a feast – a prime cut of authenticity, seasoned by the West and spiced by the East. Jack Scott knows a thing or two about the country. He lived there for years and travelled widely – to Istanbul and along its south-western shores from Izmir to Alanya. In Postcards from the Ege, Scott shares some of his must-sees and personal highlights. Follow Scott’s trail. Come to Turkey.
The e-book has just been published on Kindle by Springtime Books. It’s a steal at a couple of quid and if it encourages people to sample the extraordinary land we used to call home then that’s all to the good.
Kym Ciftci is a Didim doll and a complete force of nature. Kym isn’t just a looker, she’s a talented looker. She has a gift for the song and for the word. Kym’s also got a soulful, silky voice and a heart as big as the Temple of Apollo. All this is coming together for one night only on the 5th of April in a brand new musical play called ‘Someone Like You’ which Kym has both written and directed. All proceeds will go to a local children’s charity. If Liam doesn’t receive the call from Blighty, we will be there to show our support. Be there or be square. It’s a weepy so make sure you bring a Kleenex.
For more information, click here
Old friend Gillian was vacationing in Akbuk with her husband John and daughter, Maria. Gillian had emailed to ask if they might visit when they were over. Akbuk is a small resort about two hours north so I thought it unlikely. However, I had underestimated Gillian’s steely determination, and we received the call that they were on the way. Regrettably, they missed their bus connection in Didim and were forced to take a convoluted route via Söke. Six hours later they arrived at Bodrum’s otogar. Gillian is a matter of fact kind of gal, and they all seemed unfazed by the wilting experience. We all enjoyed a rejuvenating late lunch, bijou tour of the town and a cold beer on the beach as the sun set over the castle. Maria, an intelligent, confident, pretty, curvaceous 15 year old was an instant hit with the seasonal workers with their spring loaded libidos. Waiters danced around her like bees around the proverbial without averting their stares from her perky knockers.
Take a look at:
The Juggling Smuggler
Mobiles and Megaphones
With the weather set fair, we accompanied semigrey hedonistas Greg and Sam on a road trip to reconnoitre some of the tumble down sites north of Bodrum, establishing ourselves at a secluded hotel on gorgeous Lake Bafa. We wanted a cute log cabin with charming rustic fittings. We got a Spartan concrete bunker decorated with blood red squashed mosquitos, a lumpy hard bed and stiff, thin towels. The entire complex is shabby chic but without the chic. However, the views across the lake are spectacular and the genial proprietor, Wilhelmina the beefy, bearded lady, is welcoming and helpful. She attempted to persuade us to participate on a five hour eco-trail walk. Not unless there’s an organic bar at the end, I thought.
Our first excursion took in Euromos where there’s little to see apart from the well preserved Temple of Zeus so a five minute stopover is enough for most. Onwards we drove to Didyma in search of the Temple of Apollo. We journeyed across miles of tedious, treeless, tatty flatlands broken only by occasional heaps of building rubble and skeletal erections. This is not the best of Asia Minor and provides an unappealing gateway to the truckloads of tourists who flock to Altinkum during the summer scurries. Now I know why Thomas Cook prefer to ferry their clients after dark. We passed through dire Didim, an ugly and unfinished urban sprawl, and arrived at the temple to find it fenced in by a shanty town of scruffy establishments. Despite this encroachment and the vandalism of Christian fanaticism, earthquakes and frequent plunder, the vast shrine is an impressive pile and well worth the entrance fee.
The hilarious highlight of our visit was tripping over a pair of horny tortoises. The smaller, younger male pursued his ardour with all the steely determination of a spring-loaded waiter chasing a VOMIT, banging his head on the rear of her shell until she relented. Typically, the no nonsense, no foreplay intercourse ended as soon as it started and the old broad looked bored throughout.
After a couple of hours surveying the ruins we travelled onwards to Altinkum, the playground of choice for those on a budget. We expected little and the resort lived down to our expectations. Few seaside towns look appealing out of season (and Southend looks unappealing in any season) but the pretty beach is utterly wrecked by the paltry parade of trashy hassle bars lining the frayed promenade. I don’t mind down market resorts for those on a fixed budget. I’m partial to a full English and a tuneless, tanked-up karaoke myself from time to time. Nevertheless, Spain does it so much better. It’s small wonder that a holiday home in Altinkum is cheaper than a Bournmouth beach hut.
We returned to the woods to drink the night away, star gaze and UFO spot. The frequency of alien sightings rose as the wine bottles drained.