Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Turkey Diaries - Day 5: Friday 18th September 2009

Decided to venture out of Icmeler today and take a trip to Marmaris by taxi boat. The journey takes about 40 minutes, even though Marmaris is just ‘next door’ and only minutes by bus. It’s a leisurely, visually stunning journey. This place really is like a little paradise, surrounded by mountains all the way round.

The taxi boat drops us off near the old town/castle/harbour area which suits us as this is the area we want to go to. The weather in Marmaris feels even hotter than it is in Icmeler.
We stop off at a cafe at the harbour and have doner kebabs for lunch, followed by our first baklava (dessert) of the holiday. Strangely enough, although we were familiar with this dessert after trying it in Turkish restaurants in our home country, we very rarely saw it on menus whilst in Turkey. If you haven't tasted baklava it is a very sweet pastry flavoured with honey. If you have a sweet tooth you'll love it!
As my feet are very sore and bleeding thanks to an uncomfortable new pair of sandals I buy a very comfortable pair of flip flops and haggle them down to a good price.

We then go up to the castle, where you pay a small entrance fee of 3 lira (just over £1) to go in. It also has a small museum with lots of old artefacts and stuff from the Sultan/Ottoman Empire era, and it’s quite fascinating too. There are also amazing, stunning views over the bay from the top of the castle.

We then make our way down to the covered bazaar, which is like a little shopping mall, Turkish style. The shopkeepers will do anything to get customers. One of them shouts "Hello young couple!" Which we like, but flattery still gets you nowhere :)))))

Stop off at a cafe on the seafront which is very good for people-watching. We don't really venture too far from the harbour/old town area as we've already seen other parts of the town on our journey to the Turkish bath and the Turkish night. Marmaris is very big, with countless massive hotel complexes and all-night bars and discos. It may be ok if you like that sort of thing, but I'm glad we chose Icmeler over Marmaris. Icmeler is smaller, quieter and dare I say, less 'tacky'.

Everywhere you go you see statues of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Here he is on Marmaris seafront.

We make our way back to Icmeler on the taxi boat. Back to the hotel for a rest and then we went out for dinner - another set menu with the usual mezes and a big nan bread for starters. I have a chicken dish whilst faithful travelling companion goes for the sea bream, prompting the annual "any bream will do" gag from me. A very nice meal too. After dinner we walk along the seafront and along the canal. The shops stay open till about midnight. There is a shop here called 'Turkish Primark' which I thought was quite funny and I took a photo of the sign.

Inevitably we end up at Dream Boys again, which is just as well as once you’re spotted you don’t have the option of going anywhere else. We are greeted like old friends and I get my chance to flirt with my favourite waiters!

Flirting aside, it's been very interesting to chat to the various waiters whom we've met over the week. Each has a different story to tell, but they often have the same thing in common - they are not natives of Icmeler but many of them come from poverty-stricken rural areas of the country, where life is hard, unemployment is high and there is no industry to speak of. It's when you hear these stories, you realise just how important tourism is to the Turkish economy. Another thing that struck me when reading various internet message boards about Icmeler, and Turkish holiday resorts in general, was that people keep returning there. Now I've been here for a few days, I can clearly understand why: you get a unique, happy feeling here which you don't get anywhere else. The Turkish people make you feel wanted, and seem genuinely touched if you appreciate their country too.

Anyway I digress. What's happening in Dream Boys then? Well, it's the usual script - dancing waiters, tributes to Stavros Flatley (!!!), Grease, Dirty Dancing etc and dancing to the likes of the Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, Lady GaGa and David Guetta. It may be Friday night but rules are rules and at midnight the party music is switched off as usual and replaced by slow tunes with the volume down. We leave shortly afterwards. Although Icmeler isn’t exactly jumping at this time of the night, there are still a few people out and about, and it still feels a very safe place.

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