After only two hours sleep, we're both surprisingly feeling alert. After breakfast we get our first daytime look at Icmeler and all it has to offer. Whilst on first glance it is a custom built resort which 20years ago was a village untouched by mass tourism) appealing to particularly British tastes, on the other hand retains a uniquely Turkish atmosphere and its position on the Turkish south coast, surrounded on three sides by pine forested mountains, provides constantly breathtaking scenery. Pictures can't do it justice - you have to be there. But I will post some lovely scenic views as the week goes on.
We decide to do as many Turkish experiences as we can on this holiday, starting with something we'd never tried before - Turkish apple tea, which you can drink hot or cold. It may sound crazy in this heat, but we enjoyed drinking it hot.
Another thing that makes Icmeler special is the little canal which runs through it, all the way out to the sea. Alongside the canal there are a number of stalls offering the authentic Turkish shopping experience, and a number of bar/restaurants which come alive at night.
We decide to book a couple of trips - to a Turkish bath and Turkish Night - more about them later....
We very quickly realise that the stories about the warm Turkish hospitality are all true. Initially the "Turkish inquisition" - what's your name? where are you from? is this your first time in Turkey? which hotel are you staying at? are you married etc etc? - may have seemed intrusive, but it wasn't long before we realised that this is all part of the friendly service that you get everywhere in Icmeler (and elsewhere in Turkey by all accounts), and which we could all learn from. "Service with a smile" is a rarity these days, but in Icmeler it was the norm.
However, so is the art of persuasion, as each restaurant tried to get you into their premises morning, noon and night. You can't visit them all, can you? So most of our eating out choices were not planned, but instead resulted from just, well, random looking around I guess. And that Turkish charm...! Talking of which....
Our first encounter with Dream Boys came at lunchtime. Dream Boys is one of the notorious restaurants on the canal. It seems quiet by day, but at night....well that's another story!
After walking around and checking out the sights (and you see some sights here, but enough about the barbecued bodies on the beach!) it was back to the hotel then out again later for dinner at the Istanbul, whose meet-and-greet charm offensive was enough to get us in for a very wonderful dinner.
After a day in Icmeler I've decided that there is an amazing choice of menus in all the restaurants, to suit a wide variety of tastes. There are of course those well-known Turkish specialities (only joking) like "full English breakfast" and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, but there are also real Turkish dishes too, and little touches like having mezes and pitta/nan bread served with every meal gives it that particularly Turkish twist. Not to mention finishing off with Turkish coffee, where you can stand your spoon up in the cup! The first time I ever tasted Turkish coffee was in....Prague no less, 4 years ago so it was nice to finally taste it in its spiritual home.
Although Icmeler is not really known for its nightlife - if you want that, then go to the all-night party that is Marmaris, and there is a local law in Icmeler which requires all the loud music to be switched off at midnight! - there are plenty of fun pubs to ensure that you have a very enjoyable evening. Most of the entertainment is provided by the waiters themselves, whether they are dressing up as Michael Jackson or Freddie Mercury, or dancing around to Kalinka and 'Kiss Kiss', or recreating 'Dirty Dancing'. it's great fun.
And so back to Dream Boys, which is packed out with an enthusiastic audience. It lives up to its name, with an appealing bunch of waiters strutting their stuff, dancing around whilst serving the drinks, accompanied by hilarious announcements from the MC.
Must mention Yahya, who manages to dance around and climb trees with cocktails perched on his head. You may have a long wait for your cocktail, but let me tell you the entertainment makes it worth the wait!! Oh look...it's 'Tina Turner'!
Add to that a pounding soundtrack from the likes of Pitbull, Black Eyed Peas, Lady GaGa, Akon and David Guetta and the party atmosphere is guaranteed until midnight...when it all goes quiet, and the slow ballads mix is put on, with the volume down.
Time to head back - the combination of two hours sleep and a long, hot day meant that it was never going to be a late night tonight. Turkish bath tomorrow!