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.
I recently entered a travel writing contest. The piece was about my favourite part of Turkey, the Lycian coast. It’s not hugely detailed as I was limited to 1,000 words but I managed to pack a lot in. The entry was adapted from my recent e-book Turkey, Surviving the Expats. The last time I entered a similar contest (featuring my best bits of Istanbul, also lifted from the same e-book), I failed to win any gold stars. Boo hoo. Guess what? I didn’t win this time either. Boo hoo too. Mind you, the reference to wet dreams probably didn’t help.
So, ladies and gents, I give you my Highlights of Lycia, the article that didn’t win a bean. Never mind, I like it anyway and I hope you do too.
I later found out that my article did, in fact, make it in to the top twenty and I won a prize – Worlds Apart by Smitha Murthy and Dorothee Lang. The book arrived today (8th October). Thank you!
We honeymooned in Kaş on the Turkuaz Coast. I was by then a seasoned Turkey traveller but Liam was an excitable novice. Kaş is a beguiling Bohemian jewel, surrounded by a pristine hinterland that has been mercifully spared the worst excesses of mass tourism. No expense was spared and we took a suite at the Deniz Feneri Lighthouse Hotel through Exclusive Escapes, an altogether superior hotel by an altogether superior travel company. No one star Gümbet with no star Thomas Cook for me on my first and final honeymoon. We bathed in the sparkling blue waters, strolled along the relaxed hassle-free promenade, feasted by candle-light and danced the night away with the locals in Bar Red Point, the best watering hole in town. I promised Liam the genuine Turkish shave experience and we got a lot more than just something for the weekend from the predatory married barbers on the pull. It put Liam off for life.
We hired a car and explored some of surrounding must sees in old Lycia. The area is stuffed with them. We lunched in pretty but twee Kalkan, meandered through the grand ruins of Patara, relaxing awhile on the adjacent beach – a stunning 18km protected stretch of soft white sand – and bathed in its shallow waters. We stumbled across the intimate ruins of the cult sanctuary of Letoon and watched turtles play in the warm pools. Letoon seduced us with its intimacy while nearby Xanthos, one-time capital of Lycia, awed us with its monumental scale and picture postcard aspect.
My first visit to Kaş was ten years earlier and it had hardly changed a bit. It was then that I met a middle-aged Scottish emigrey couple. They were ex-publicans with money to burn. The lazy town had worked its magic and they instantly decided to buy a house – no research, no cooling off, no going back. Prices were cheap and they visited a cashpoint machine each day to gather the deposit. I wonder if the dream lived up to the reality.
It was in Kaş that the seeds of our own change were sown though germination took another year. As we sipped chilled wine by the glorious infinity pool, we idly speculated about dropping out of the rat race and finding our place in the sun. We dreamed of Kaş and the Turkuaz Coast as if our lives could be one long honeymoon. Common sense prevailed as it must. Kaş is what it is because of its glorious isolation, protected by a wilting three hour drive from the nearest international airport. I hear talk of a new gateway to open up the coast. I would gladly chain myself to a tree like Swampy or pitch a tent like a Greenham Common lesbian to prevent it.