It's now been 7 weeks since our short break in Turkey. As all that time has passed, I thought it would be a good idea to resurrect the old "10 things to love about....." format from the early days of this blog rather than the day-by-day account which I usually do. We only had 4 nights in Icmeler this time and a day-by-day report would probably not be too different from the one from September 2009. If you're reading this and you've ever been to Turkey, you know what to expect by now, and some things never change...!!
1. The Turkish hospitality
Is it annoying? Nosy? Intrusive? Maybe, but it's also filled with genuine warmth, affection, cheeky banter and above all great fun. And wherever you come from, they're guaranteed to have a cousin or a brother who lives nearby. Those who work ridiculously long hours in Turkish resorts, pushing themselves to the limit and beyond just to keep their valued customers fed, watered and entertained really deserve the highest praise. This commitment to customer service also gets the best reward, as holidaymakers keep on coming back time after time. I never used to understand why people kept returning to Turkey for their summer holidays, but you actually have to experience it yourself to understand the reasons why.
2. The beautiful scenery
Although Icmeler has significantly developed over the years as a holiday resort, it has not lost its natural beauty. Apart from that magnificent coastline (more about that later) there are areas of the town which are just jaw-droppingly pretty, with beautiful flowers and exotic foliage, for example alongside the canal, which make it extra special...
3. Something old, something new....
The powers-that-be in Icmeler know that apart from keeping the punters happy with the tried and trusted resort favourites, they also have to make changes and improvements as time goes on. The removal of the old canal stalls and their replacement with small shop units hasn't been too popular with many holidaymakers, but there's another recent innovation which has given the town a new focal point and revitalised the surrounding area. I give you...the Square!!
4. Food....glorious food!
We've been three holidays to Turkey to date and what makes it really stand out is the quality of the food in the resorts. There really is something for everyone: whether you want traditional Turkish fare or "British" food, or most other international cuisines. The menus are vast and varied, and I'm particularly impressed that as an 'almost-vegetarian' there is a great selection of meat-free choices whereas in some countries these are so hard to find.
I do still eat chicken though, and there is lots of it in Turkey. The humble but tasty chicken shish turns up everywhere, and nowhere more tasty than at the Hanedan restaurant which for a while topped Trip Advisor's list of best restaurants in Icmeler, and even at the moment it's rated 3rd best restaurant. It's easy to see why: traditional, authentic, varied and totally Turkish. They sell a lot more than chicken shish, but sometimes you've gotta have it :)
A Turkish meal is always a feast and many of the restaurants kick it off by delivering a big tasty bread to your table. It's like a more hollow version of a naan bread. And absolutely delicious!
5. The wine
Then of course you need to wash it all down with some Turkish wine, which of course we are always willing to try out for the purposes of research (!) and which we can also highly recommend.
6. Turkish coffee
For a pair of coffee obsessives like us (the stronger the better) Turkish coffee is a must. It's like espresso only turned up to 11. One mighty strong coffee in a little cup, and it will keep you going when the excessive heat threatens to wear you down. Yes you're probably wondering about the logic of drinking coffee in those kind of temperatures, but hey, it works for us ok???
7. The boys can dance
Those lovely young waiters are indeed a multi-talented bunch. Not only are they working all the hours but in many of the bars on any night they're providing the entertainment as well as serving the food and drinks. Search 'Turkish dancing waiters' on YouTube and you'll find a variety of them, not just from Icmeler but in almost every Turkish resort. The repertoire never changes that much though!
But that's not all. Get your dance steps ready as you could be hauled out of your seat at any time for some audience participation. So get started rehearsing the Cha Cha Slide and the Kiss Kiss routine!
8. The surrounding areas
Icmeler really is a little piece of paradise on the Turquoise Coast and you can easily spend a week there without venturing further afield. But the resort is also in very close proximity to its bigger, rowdier neighbour Marmaris, just minutes away by bus. We prefer the taxi boat trip which lasts just over half an hour, which is a very scenic route indeed, passing the stunning coastline and through the shimmering sea.
9. Hello! Yes please!!
As always, the concept of window shopping doesn't exist in Turkey :) Make the least bit of eye contact and before you know it, you've been whisked into a shop, plied with the offer of an apple tea and sweet-talked into buying some 'genuine fake' or other. Lovers of the current labels-du-jour however will find lots to use up their baggage allowance on the way home (and then sobbing at the airport when they've got to pay for that excess baggage!). Personally speaking, I'm a bracelet fanatic and no trip to Turkey is complete without buying at least 10 of them :) As for CDs, there aren't really any big record stores in this part of the world and they tend to be smaller shops mainly stocking the top 40 albums. If you're looking for something more obscure you would probably be better waiting till you get home and check if it's on iTunes etc: at least I got the Power Turk compilation and the old Mor ve Ötesi CD which I came for.
10. Turkish Night
If you're in Icmeler on holiday, don't miss the Turkish night at the open-air venue, the Kervansaray, up in Marmaris. Book with one of the numerous tour operators in town for a good deal, however don't always rely on luxury transport to get there (that's another story ha ha...but we made it anyway!) For 22 quid you get a meal, unlimited wine/soft drinks and an evening of folk dancing, bellydance (both male and female), numerous moneygrabbing photo opportunities to help you part with your lira and a generally all-round fun night. To round off the evening, 3 females from the audience take part in the bellydancing contest. (No, I wasn't one of them!!) Which is always won by the English contestant, and there is always a Russian exhibitionist who has to settle for second place.
That's about it then. Till the next time, whenever that will be.....