Regular readers of this blog will be well aware that Turkey has figured significantly in our travels since 2009: two trips to Icmeler and one to Bodrum. We've never been to Kusadasi though, so this cruise provided a good opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with all the joys of the Turkish experience - good food, Turkish coffee, apple tea, great scenery...and of course the great tradition of running the gauntlet, trying not to make eye contact with numerous shopkeepers trying to get you into the shops to buy handbags, T-shirts, leather jackets - designer names everywhere, all of them "genuine fakes".
But before all that, when we wake up, the ship is already docked in the port of Kusadasi, which is just literally a few minutes' walk from the centre of town. No need for shuttle buses or having to travel anywhere else.
Unless of course, you're one of the many cruise ship passengers who bypass the town of Kusadasi and head for the major tourist attraction nearby, Ephesus, with its great religious, cultural and architectural significance. However, regular readers of this blog will be award that both faithful travelling companion and I are very pale skinned people who burn very easily. Factor 50+ is our default setting on holiday. We decided very quickly therefore, that it wouldn't be such a good idea to spend our day in such an exposed place like Ephesus, and we would remain in Kusadasi.
First shopping stop is the D & R Shop in the Scala Nuova shopping centre where we buy some Turkish music CDs.
After a must-do stop for an apple tea, we head to the seafront for a nice relaxing stroll and a seat. It becomes anything but relaxing though, as we're yet again under attack from one of the perfume sellers, who seem to have accosted every tourist in town and every cruise ship passenger since they left the ship - and they do not take 'no' for an answer! Hassle, or let's call it....'persuasion' is the norm when shopping in Turkish resorts but in Kusadasi they take it to a whole new level.
One thing that doesn't change, no matter which resort you visit in Turkey, is the wide variety of food for all tastes available on all the restaurant menus. There really is something for everyone, and in my case, lunch today is that good old Turkish speciality, the chicken kebab, accompanied by an Efes beer :)
To be perfectly honest, Kusadasi is not up there with Icmeler or Bodrum when it comes to Turkish resorts. It seemed to lack that special something, and the hassle-level was at times extremely annoying, mostly those perfume sellers who continued to produce fake Coco Chanel and Armani Code right up until we were almost re-boarding the ship. Yet Turkey also has so much to offer: stunning scenery, the friendliness of the people, the quality of the food is always of a high standard, and nothing beats the ritual of drinking a Turkish coffee or an apple tea. Of course, all is not well in Turkey right now: over recent weeks we've watched the Gezi Park protests and shared the despair of the country's downward spiral into what is beginning to resemble a dictatorship, if the reactions to the protests are anything to go by. As the country enters a very dark spell we can only hope that people power will prevail.
But we have to leave the Turkish coastline behind...
...as we are now back on the ship. After a stroll on deck and a coffee break it's time for a teatime nap (I'm getting old!!) and we get ready for tonight's dinner. The theme tonight is "dress in white clothing" although all-white clothing and dinner have not been a good combination for me in the past - #messyeater - so it's a white patterned top and white cardigan tonight.
More pasta, preceded by a new adventure on the ship....cold soup!!
Now we have tried cold soup before - gazpacho in Barcelona - but I've never tried cold mango and pineapple soup. Until tonight. And do you know what? It was very tasty indeed.
More pasta for the main course, followed by a nice fruit dessert. Unfortunately my pictures didn't turn out too well tonight :(
One event I was looking forward to prior to the cruise was the "white party" which takes place out on deck, late at night, with everyone wearing white clothing, party/latin music being pumped through the speakers and lots of dancing going on. Sounds right up my street (or should that be my ship). However, it was an extremely blustery night out on deck; much too windy to spend any more than about 5 seconds there. We tried it, and decided that this would not be a good idea. There were some hardy souls who did turn up for the "Latin Fiesta" but they must be made of very strong seafaring stuff indeed. Either that or they are windproof.
So our destination was the Cosmopolitan Club at the very top of the ship, for some late-night drinks. Which, in my case, meant today's "Drink of the Day".
That's after a very bumpy overnight journey through the choppy waters of the Greek islands!!