map of Turkey – way from Balcova to Cesme
Unicorn wire statue in Cesme Marina
So we have come back from our short trip to Turkey. It was fantastic, I didn’t want to go back to London. We went there for Anya and Basak’s wedding, having planned it several months ago. Got easyjet tickets, booked apartment via airbnb and set off to Gatwick last Thursday. I didn’t know anything about Turkey, haven’t even checked the flight duration – it turned out to be about 4 hours. Having arrived we got our visas, £10 for Ben, nothing for my Russian passport :p
Turkey is much cheaper than UK and some Western countries and some things are veen cheaper than in Russia. Food, transport, service, clothes and shoes are just some examples.
Except for the fact that Istanbul is the captial of Turkey and that August is a really hot month I did not remember anything from my one week May trip to Izmir several years ago. I stayed in a five star hotel and all I did was spending time by the swimming pool and attending all inclusive meals. =)
Our friends picked us up at the airport, took to the apartment to check in and leave our bags and then took us out for dinner. When I say took us out, I mean literally – Ben had to trick Basak in order to pay the bills, because Basak wasn’t letting him to. This is Turkish hospitality.
That night I have tried midye dolma for the first time in my life. They are delicious: smoked cooked rice is stuffed into mussels and served with lemon. You can buy them in restaurants or from a street seller and eat like sunflower seeds. they are addictively yummy.
I was so glad to see Anya, we were laughing all the time, chatting aout life and as we were with our partners it was double fun. Basak was a perfect host – drove us around, entertained, treated to nice food and all of that while he needed to also take care of his wedding organization. We were really please to have been so nicely treated.
After a late dinner (balik ekmek – a butty resembling fish and chips, and a kebab) we went home and fell asleep listening to a/c humming.
I discovered the optimal a/c mode – 27 and dry – this doesn’t make my throat sore and I can sleep well throughout the night. Next day we went to explore the area and get a breakfast.
Having stuffed on sandwiches (fantastic sweet bread, cheese and local tomatoes to die for) we went shopping – Ben needed an outfit for the wedding. He got upset that I haven’t packed his suit but as soon as we thought of buying him white pants he cheered up (such a sweet spot).
We were well impressed with Turkish service – expensive shops, cheap ones – everywhere they treat you like their favorite family member – they tailored the trousers we picked, offered us various options to pick them up and made us feel really good.
Turkish food – OMG! I thought there is nothing better than Italians and French but Turks mastered it too!
After the shopping spree we went to Cesme for a swim, of course I spotted a watermelon and we had loads.
Anya’s mother was with us and we chatted away about Turkish shopping and the forthcoming wedding.
After the beach we went to a local restaurant – Topcu.
That was the feast of the century – corba, kofte, salads, mezze, ayran, cay – we were so stuffed that couldn’t accommodate desssert on top and instead went to Alacati. Alacati used to be a small village in the middle of nowhere up until locals decided to turn things around and voila! Today it is one of the biggest attractions with lots of locals going to the restaurants, having cocktails at numerous bars, window shopping and bargaining at the market. They had silver, local deisgner, pickled juice, plenty of things to see and try.
The next day having some extra bit of time on our hands we got a huge watermelon for breakfast and went to the mall to collect our purchases.
Had a cup of tea at the mall enjoying the sun and then decided to look for adventures.
Instead adventure found us – we got lost on our way to the sea, came across some animal’s sceletone, which made me jump and rush back to civilisation. Every time we travel we get into some kind of
trouble action – I said to myself “never again – until next time” =)
That night we went to the wedding!
I danced and danced… several hours… the next day all my muscles were sore, especially arms because you have to keep them in the air when dancing. Boys had blisters (!) from clicking their fingers. This is traditional Turkish dancing. Another funny thing about Turkish weddings is the photos – you can buy your photos right there for 5 liras =) (about 2 pounds).
We got home long after midnight and watched a bit of a movie (Elena and Trance, both of which were really good).
The enxt day was my birthday – I kept forgetting about it until Ben reminded me by getting me a cake first thing in the morning =) We also had kebab for breakfast (why the hell not) :)
We were picked up to go to Cesme again and I really loved swimming in the sea this time – I actually felt how thick the water is and how it holds you on the surface – lots easier than in a swimming pool.
Cesme Marina, where we went for a walk and a quick bite is only 5 years old but it looks like some London docks – modern and historical at the same time. Before they built restaurants and shops – there was nothing there.
Then we took a bus back to Balcova.
Turks are really hospitable but if I was on my one – it would have been a lot harder. Every time Anya and I were stranded behind boys because we got distracted or were looking at something some men were surrounding us trying to get us into talking. I had a feeling that they would not understand if you tell them “no” and if you are polite they would consider it as an invitation. The most Turkish man I have encountered was Basak – he took care of us, told us where to go and what to do, paid for us, he couldn’t stand the thought that someone would look at us, girls, the wrong way, let alone try to talk or do something.
That night we went out to a local restaurant to celebrate my birthday and say good byes.
I didn’t want to go back to the city – I would rather be in a village with simple food and where the biggest event if your day is an ant trail you come across.
But jobs that pay the rent require us to be back in London and here we are. I am looking forward to new trips =)