Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Dummies guide to Turkey :)

Our annual holiday is something I always look forward to.  I love the planning, the anticipation and even the packing!  This years holiday couldn't come around sooner.
Our last holiday was September 2010 in Rhodes.  It was a week filled with peace, hope and sadness.
I was possibly at my lowest both emotionally and physically.  There was a point in the few months prior that Kev was contemplating cancelling as he did not think that physically I was able to cope.  I have always needed something to look forward to, something positive in my life, something good to balance out the dark days and this time was no exception.
The holiday venue at the time was immaterial, I just needed the time out, a change from problems that were dragging me down and some quality time with the other half.
Despite having a great time the food issues were always evident.  A week of living on salad, not having the energy to walk in the heat from A to B and the  constant worry of weight gain and the dreaded weigh in with the ED nurse on my return also left a bitter taint to the otherwise sunny time.......this year was going to be different.
So skip back 2 weeks to July 1st, the trip to Bristol airport, one point of Guinness, 2 Valium, a quick frisk in security and its Bye Bye Burnham On Sea, hello Antalya Turkey.
In order to make things less boring for my reader I will split this post into sections.....

The Hotel.
The Cennet hotel is on the bustling resort of Side in Antalya, Turkey.  the brochure boasted a double room, balcony with garden view and private beach with free sunbeds.  Translation, beach is shared with numerous other hotels as far as the eye can see, sunbeds are free but you need to pay for mattresses.  Rooms you can hardly swing a cat in, very little storage (or maybe I packed too much!!) Balcony is approximately 5 foot square, garden view was a bush with someones pants from the room above which overlooked the hotel shop!!! 
After reading trip advisor I was concerned about the noise from a local disco but my fears were unfounded, the only noise we had to deal with were the delivery lorries and laundry vans...we were luckily enough to have our room situated in front of the lorry loading bays!!!
We decided on half board this year, firstly to keep the cost down and secondly I wanted to make the most of my freedom from the hatred of food. I can honestly  say the food was good, well presented, lots of choice and constant flowing wine on the house.
The waiting staff were friendly, polite and very hard working.  The downside was we were generally 2 hours behind everyone else for Breakfast and Dinner so it was a bit rushed at times.  I learned to keep a fork in my hand at all times otherwise my plate was removed.  For someone who is seriously getting into hummus I was not impressed when I had disappearing dip!!
I have to mention the Turkish flat bread. (ekmeği ) It was never served at the hotel but we ate it often on the occasssions we ventured into town. Delicious served with seafood, tadziki and salsa dips.

The table arrangements were something I had only encountered at Butlins, we were always seated in the same place and had other guests with us, more on those later!

Health and Safety.
Remember to wearr suncream at all times!  The sun was so hot that I needed factor 50 whilst in the shade and sat under a parasol.  On two occasions I used the wrong bottle and ended up with severe sun burn, my legs resembled burnt sausages which hadn't been turned and going home on your last day with a red chest and white marks from a halter neck bikini is not a good look!!
Buy a hat. Preferably not one which makes you look like someone from brokeback mountain; unless of course you want to be heckled by waiters shouting 'sexy cowboy'whilst walking down the prom!!!  Thanks Kev  :)


Be careful of the dodgy electrics.   Quite difficult sleeping with a live electrical wire hanging above the headboard stuck together with a bit of gaffer tape.


Toilets.
My first experience of a Turkish toilet was at the airport.  Trying to pee whilst keeping feet in position and squatting is not easy when still a little drowsy from Valium.
Was caught short when in the centre of Side so decided to pay the local public loos a visit.  Very clean and presentable, impressed with the polite attendant who said we didn't need to pay until we came out.
Wasn't until he asked 'one or two' that we realised you payed dependant on what your ablution was!!!!

Shopping.
Turkey is counterfeit central, but unfortunately no fake Vivienne westwood shoes.
Most of the shops and bazaars work on the basis of haggling, which is difficult when you are unsure of what is the starting point.  Did manage to pick up some 'quality' souvenirs for friends...hope they agree.
You are constantly hassled when out, owners trying to get you into their bars, gift shops with 'you look like you need a drink' 'you hungry.'  Can you imagine going to your local shopping centre and the owner of asda shouting,'do you need bread, milk, you look like you could do with a doughnut.'

Sightseeing.
As you can imagine it was bloody hot!!  This and the cost of excursions did deter us from going out and about as much as we would have liked.
We did manage a trip to the Manavgat waterfalls which were beautiful.  We took the cheaper option, taking a taxi from the hotel to the town of Manavgat (whilst taking your life into your hands), then a boat trip to the waterfalls. We were hassled by a local boat owner who started his price at 60 Tl for us both, then after several attempts at us walking away we boarded on an agreement of 30tl for the trip.
The boat was beautiful, small and quirky with only 10 passengers.  the problem was nothing was explained to us so we were a little shocked when after a trip up the river we docked at a cafe, led to a car park and waited for 15 minutes with a lingering smell of sewerage.  Apparently we could not cross the river any further so needed to wait for a bus to take us to the falls.  When we arrived at the falls we were lucky to be early and despite it being crowded we learnt from others that it could have been busier.  we had the opportunity (all 20 minutes) to have our photos taken by the waterfall whilst standing in the water.  I swear my body nearly went into shock as it was blood ice cold.  We were then ripped off for 2 bottles of water (to drink, not from the waterfall)


On our journey back we stopped to see a turtle sat on a tree branch, on reflection I think they may have stuck a false one there as others taking the trip saw it in the same place

The centre of Side does have some beautiful ruins, especially the Temple of Apollo.  It is lit up at nightime but is somewhat overpowered by the noise from the nightclub nearby.

Entertainment.
The hotel held its own entertainment each evening.  This started with the 'kinder disco' around 9pm.  After the first few days I came to the conclusion that the compare and music was recorded as it followed the same format every day.  Old MacDonald, Agadoo, Music man, Birdie Song, some random German song which involved chooing like a train and Adults making a bridge with their arms for the Children to go under!!! Maybe this was why I attempted more than 2 glasses of wine at dinner! Oh, did i forget to mention that our table was practically on top of the animation teams staged area!!
We only stayed for a few of the acts and I am pleased to sat the Russian dancers were very good, vibrant but made me look like a porker!!!  Was slightly disturbed by the fashion show organised by the owner of a local leather factory shop.  The promise of a free taxi to his store and a gift of a leather bum-bag or leather cap did not sell it to me.  OK, Kev may have gone for the broke-back mountain look with his cowboy hat but I draw the line at a leather cap!!  Thank goodness I threw out his cut off denim shorts.
We favoured a few music bars in town; one had a guy playing an acoustic guitar who was amazing, he was like a walking juke-box.  The other we had shyed away from at first as the singer did not quite grab us.  We eventually paid it a visit and what a find.
The act was a guitar/vocalist called Ozzy.  An odd character, very friendly even to the point of offering to take us into his home town of Antalya one day. he spend a few evenings at the end of the evening talking very passionately about his cat called Diesel.  Diesel was a cross between an Iranian cat and a 'normal' cat, Ozzy was proud to show us photos.  Poor Oz, he was torn between keeping him in Antalya and bringing him to Side. His English was very good but I was quite confused at one point when he spoke about his operation to have his balls cut off!!!  Kev did explain he was actually talking about having his cat done.   Must have been the cocktails.

Dinner Guests.
For the first week we were guessing who number 512 was as we never managed to eat at the same time.  Eventually we were introduced to the lovely Jackie from Manchester. We only knew her for 3 days but she was a pleasure to have dined with.
Our next table partners were Tony and Di from Eastbourne.  Both had been Teachers for many years, had met whilst studying and had been married for over 30 years.  I always find it difficult to meet new people but Tony and Di made it so easy.  I was a little concerned that our original opinion on our Holiday may have put them off but I don't think it did.
We shared many funny stories at dinner, several cocktails afterwards and a lovely bottle of champagne which I won at the hotel lottery!!! We shared email addresses so I'm hoping we can keep in touch.

To summerise, despite it not being what we expected. spending far too much money and coming home resembling a Lobster, we did have a good time.
It was so liberating to be on a beach in a bikini with my flabby bits, not to be too hung up over how I looked.
I did have a few wobblies but no more that than average person would have.  I was hungry, I ate, I drank, I enjoyed and I wwas living again.
I have my final weigh in with the Eating Disorders Nurse this Monday.  I havent seen her for two months and I have no idea how much I weigh. I feel good about myself and I feel good about how I look.
Catch you Monday.  xxxxx

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