Tales from turkey – 2 weeks in kalkan. – please note, many parts of this story ‘may’ have been changed or exaggerated for comic effect…starts slow and gets better. Hope it give you some smiles and laughs along the way. Enjoy ;-) … Day 1 I’m a man who likes a freebie (don’t we all?) and I had a serious touch with this one. The lady and I had done a deal through my work to get two weeks in the little fishing village of kalkan, turkey. Thrown in to the mix we had a car, breakfast (not literally ‘thrown’), flights, and a lovely villa apartment, all courtesy of Simpson travel. The only minor arse ache was having to wake up at 2am after a night of poker (course I won, no need to ask) and drag my weary limbs from home to airport for a flight leaving Gatwick at 530am. Anyway, no big shakes, we boarded said aircraft and had the unexpected luxury of an exit seat, giving us some nice out stretched leg room (which reminded me of the lee Evans sketch ‘I didn’t know I was part of the effing team!’). This was made even more gratifying as we watched a rather annoying passenger well over 6 ft trying to grease his way into the seats in front of us. “Good lord Victoria, I’m stretching every sinew here and even pointing out my toes yet I still can’t reach the seat in front, this is glorious isn’t it baby?!” … it was tempting to say, but alas I bit my tongue. My smugness was short-lived however as two decrepit oxygen thieves had designated ‘our’ leg room area as their own chatting booth, Christ knows why they couldn’t sit next to each other, but oh no – we had to endure tales of their grandchildren, as well as the continued shock of ‘I don’t even know how this thing flies Deidre, do you?’. We soon landed at Dalaman airport, a nice looking building and a lot smaller and calmer than Gatwick, unfortunately our luggage took eons to arrive. Progress was glacial, and just as I started to wonder if we had landed at the right location our suitcases turned the bend as if to say ‘hey, where have you two been?!’. We were greeted by our travel rep from the company ‘Vicky’ who over the next 2 weeks was simply perfect. She would be on hand each morning at 10am answer any questions, help with anything you needed and best of all was never pushy. Not once did she try to sell us trips or various ‘rep style’ excursions, but just simply there to facilitate us in having the best holiday we could. We were then shown to our car, a nice little number … 7 was at the start of the number plate. The car itself was a Fiat Albea and was certainly better than the death trap scooters I’d ridden on previous holidays in Ibiza and Tenerife. The car rep himself was a Jekyll and Hyde type character, flirting maniacally between friendly banter and severe warnings “Hello Mr. Darren, I’m sure you will be loving your fortnight here in Turkey my friend… don’t you dare go above the speed limit! I’m serious!!... The auto car takes petrol, and here is the lever for the boot… if you crash you leave the car very still, DO NOT MOVE IT you hear? Do you hear?!?” he quickly got us to sign a contract, seemed to assume we understood everything and checked no documentation from us, interesting admin but none the less we were on our way. The ringing in our ears started to subside after the first few miles and the beauty of the Turkish countryside became quite stunning as we passed through a mountain just a few kilometres on. From there we went through the lush green hills which lead up to a further mountain range on our left which was gorgeous on its own , but when coupled with the Mediterranean to our right it made the whole view completely mesmerising. Much to the complete fear of Vicky sitting next to me “will you keep your eyes on the bloody road!?” .. “I am babe, I am, just look up there though, look at those mountains, you don’t get those in Chingford” – Beeeeep!!! Went the horn of an oncoming truck, I don’t know how close it was in millimetres but I quickly swerved back to the right side of the road and sent a tried and tested apologetic face towards Vik, she was having none of it. “Just watch the f*cking road until we get to the hotel!” , I had to make her right on this one, in fairness we’d only been in the country for about 30 minutes and I’d nearly killed her, best watch the road from here on in, certainly until I remember what side of the road to drive on at the very least. After the best part of 2 silent hours we closed in on the hotel and the roads took a rather sinister turn, in that they seemed to disappear into dirt tracks laden with stones and boulders. We drove/tumbled down a hill (which the instructions from Jekyll and Hyde earlier informed us was the correct way) and made our way up the other side and to the hotel itself. The main
road getting us from Dalaman to Kalkan (the d400) was a delightful drive, but when you venture off this tarmac you see the local authorities have not be quite so forthcoming with the road improvements and general transport budget (its enough to make us ‘sim city’ veterans weep). Our first night on campus had began though, we had a good look around the ‘Mediteran’ apartments complex, it was set on three levels with the living apartments at the top, then an infinity pool and deckchair lounging area, and beneath that was the bar, restaurant and general seating area. All levels were built into the side of a very steep cliff face overlooking the town, so each had great views across the whole of kalkan below, and the sea beyond that. We unpacked and headed to the restaurant bar to meet and greet the staff, all very friendly and helpful. Murat in particular (brother of the two sisters) was a top man and took a keen interest in our wellbeing over the next two weeks. We sat down on the terrace and decided to start as we mean to go on by diving head first into the Turkish food. We were quickly shouted at by the chef who explained that only the pool was used for diving and that we should simply order from the menu. We began with a traditional Turkish meze, then sea bass and a chicken guvek for main. The guvek was a casserole cooked (and served) in a terracotta pot with melted cheese on top. It was gorgeous and I was pretty surprised by the amount of chicken under the cheese as I’m used to being shafted (hard) by many UK restaurants that promise something like a ‘prawn surprise’ but after you spend ten minutes ploughing through the lettuce you only find the one dreary prawn, this was the complete antitheses and hopefully a good sign of things to come. I was always told in sales to ‘under sell and over deliver’ and they’d defiantly done that here. Things were going perfectly; I had a lovely meal, a beautiful companion, the tranquillity of the gentle waves in the distance, it was so romant.…“Waaahhayyah kabaalehohem washernaraaaaah!!!!!”, I dropped my cutlery (‘fork off’ you might say) ‘what was that??’ it began again, this time the words were slightly different but again couldn’t understand them “shabaaaaaa-lamb-baaabaaa”, was a town crier below us calling out his new lamb menu, what was going on? I asked the waiter, who kindly explained that this was the local Imam from the mosque in town who did the reading of prayers 5 times a day. I was thankful, this all made sense and I remembered learning something about this years ago. It actually became quite pleasant over the next couple of weeks and added a timely regularity to each day. The sound from the speakers on the mosque would ping off the mountain hills around us and reverberate from all angles, it felt like someone a mile to the east was copying it word for word, yelling it back just after the Imam in the centre of town. The sounds could be a little surreal at times when it’s not something you are used to. We were new, we were learning, but as first days go it had been lovely. Day 2 “Let’s head into town” was the early morning battle cry, we jumped in the car and I immediately began cursing the petty criminals… ‘Who the hell steals a steering wheel? For god’s sake, what dirty basta… ” I’d sat in the passenger seat again, this was to become a painfully reoccurring experience as well as driving on the wrong side of the road and one I knew I needed to shake off. Vicky had a look comprising of 10% pity and 90% frustration, I repositioned myself into the driver’s seat and we headed into town. The car journeys were not going well for vik and she appeared to be running out of finger nails and ungodly expletives in equal measure. I needed to do a few solo journeys to get the ‘Turkish driving’ skills under my belt (I also hoped I’d come back in one piece) and put this thought on the back burner for the time being. Down in town you have a vast array of restaurants and bars by the harbour side, again it’s a beautiful scene. Don’t get me wrong, watching a wino stagger from the local pub then urinating against Iceland at Chingford mount is a sight to tell ones kids, but this had a slightly more refined feel going for it. We ventured forward in search for more local dishes…. and the food to go on them. We soon found ourselves dining at one of the many restaurants overlooking the sailing boats and yachts. I can’t recall much in truth, only that the food was simply
unforgettable. The service was prompt too. I’ve been in a few restaurants over the years where the service speed is more ‘evolving’ than ‘efficient’ so this was a pleasing start. We headed back up to the apartment, I say ‘up’ as you must visualize Kalkan as a hole, sorry, I’m not being derogatory, I mean it’s like half a bowl cut down the middle, with the centre base also cut away, that’s where the harbour is, everything is facing that area and everything has a great view of the sea beyond it. In retrospect an ‘amphitheatre’ is a much better an analogy, but feck it, let’s stick with the bowl as my delete button is playing up. After lunch we went to Kalkan beach, our apartments allowed us access to the ‘indigo beach club’ but we thought we’d save that for another time. The main Kalkan beach was a stone one, large stones and this is both good and bad in equal measure. On the plus side no sand finds its way into any areas it shouldn’t, as it never nice to know your anus could light a match. On the downside however you can look like a ‘grade A’ twat whilst trying to walk across it. I’d spent a good hour or so snorkelling around with Vicky in the sea and decided and make my way back to the deckchairs, my soft feet hit the stones and my shoulders hit my ears ‘ouch! For f*cks sake!! I fell to the floor like my bones had been teleported as the kids looked on and laughed. I began to try and take the burden off my battered soles by crawling like a bell end back to the sanctuary of the deckchairs. Vicky then got out and strode purposefully across the stones and even did a Fred Astaire style heel click in mid air, landed firmly on her soles and gleefully skipped back to where I was recuperating. She then decided it would be fun to watch me hallucinate and pass out, or as she called it… “Why don’t you blow up the Lilo’s?”. I pursed my lips, half bit the valve to open it for the air intake and began to blow, the sun baked my head and my feet were screaming, I continued to waste valuable oxygen on these 2 inflatable’s and finally, after what seemed an eternity they were ready for the waves. My feet knew it was time to brave the stones once more. I came up with a masculine plan and called to Vic “I think I’m gonna pop on the old trainers to get up to the water actually babe” it seemed a pointlessly trivial thing to say, but I could actually here my feet smile as the last words trickled from my lips. The lilo’s were actually good fun, along with the snorkel I started to really enjoy myself and hoped that any local sharks wouldn’t pick up the scent of my bleeding feet. We swam gently chasing the shoals of fish, blissfully unaware our backs and arms were burning viciously under the Mediterranean rays above us and continued to blissfully enjoy the water. Back at our apartment I had a brief look in the mirror. If you can image standing behind a fire proof wall, roughly chest width in size, then being asked to holds your arms outstretched either side of the wall and blasted at with a flame thrower, from front….and back, you have a good idea of my ‘look’. “This season Darren is sporting ‘burn’ by moron for men, and doesn’t he wear it well’. It was our first full day and already I looked like a typical luminous tourist. It looked suspiciously like someone had removed my arms and replaced them with two huge frankfurters. Indeed, after a brief out stretched yawn, no less than 3 aeroplanes change route and started trying to land in my direction. I was hurting quite a bit and so we decided to crack open an Efes beer, well I did anyway, viks pregnant, although I do appear to be growing a ‘sympathy tummy’ of sorts, and we played a little battleship on the balcony. I won’t tell you who won, but I will say that second is a very deserving spot and deserves a lot of credit. We awoke to a storm of biblical proportions, lightening forked across the sky above the mountains whilst rain and wind pelted the palm trees in front of our balcony. We sat outside, watched and listened as it thundered its way through the clouds for well over an hour. It was a great sight only tarnished by remembering I’d left my driver’s side window open. Day 3 As there was no TV in the apartment we were becoming quite creative in masking the sounds of our ‘trips to the bathroom’. We did this by placing my phone outside the door and playing songs, loudly, in order to mask any offending flatulence. This worked fine until you knew there was a lull in the song, or some dead airtime between tracks. At this stage it would become necessary to hold a fart to the point of medical danger. This was never more evident than when I could tense no longer and violently emitted a somewhat horrifically stuttering ‘Eastenders style intro’ to the first few bars of ‘please release me’. I flushed thrice and left the bathroom, with all four of my cheeks as red as my arms. Seizing the initiative I quickly told vik I was off for a massage before she could ridicule my
embarrassing southern bass drops. I’d read up a little about the Turkish ‘Hamams’ before I left, it’s a Turkish bath/steam room, exfoliation scrub then massage. I drove down into town, on my own and managed to sharpen my skills a bit behind the wheel. Yesterday’s storm had sent a few boulders onto the roads and they were looking very dangerous, I prayed to the gods of Dunlop that my tyres would hold out as I traversed what felt like an assault course. Simpson Holidays prides itself on the tagline ‘the road less travelled’…. I was starting to see why. Now I must say, the Turkish are clearly lovely people, very hospitable and extremely helpful, but stick one behind a wheel and they have scant disregard for all human life. They drive with arms looser than over boiled spaghetti and appear to be dozing at the wheel with their lucky brick resting merrily on the accelerator. The constant car horns are simply the result of a driver turning his head during a dream. All kinds of transport were frequently overtaking me, on blind corners, on mountain passes, whilst I waited patiently at red traffic lights… This is not a joke. The scooter riders only take their helmets on bikes in order to keep their hands warm, I didn’t once see a driver (or pillion passenger) wearing a helmet, but instead decided to carry them perhaps to put them on in case a passing police car came hurtling round the next bend on the wrong side of the road? Also, it soon became clear where the Turkish authorities had wasted their ‘road safety’ campaign money. Somewhat foolishly they had decided to build pavements for the pedestrians. This was clearly a complete waste of time as everyone appeared to be walking in the road. Even dogs would happily meander into the road without a care in the world as wild eyed screaming tourists attempted to swerve and miss entire families and their pets alike. Most dogs would in fact lie down, sleeping in the centre of the road with a tired expression stating “go round me or fuck off mate”. Anyway, caution appeared to be the best practise and I gingerly made my way down into the town to visit the ‘Hamam’ building. Inside I realised I had forgot to wear trunks and the elderly reception lady spoke very broken English but I think she was saying ‘all off’, either that or sneezing. I was led to a changing room and given a towel, some crocs (waterproof footwear) and began to undress, toying uncertainly up and down with my boxers like Mr. Bean on the beach with the blind man. They were off! I decided to just go with the flow, after a few twirls around my head I slung them into the locker and wrapped the towel/dishcloth thing around my waist. As I was about to step out when I thought ‘perhaps I should wear my boxers?’ and donned them once more under the loin cloth at the last minute. I was led to the first room by the old lady who then whipped off my towel before I could scream ‘I think I have a testicle hanging out!’ and showed no flutter of emotion. We were in a large square room with a huge slab of marble in the centre and sinks all around on the walls. I was standing there, alone with this old woman, like a prize cock in my crocs and boxers looking mildly startled (to say the least) and thinking it could get no stranger. ‘Whoosh!’ she pours a bucket of water over my head, which flows down my body, and immediately gift wraps my nether regions like cling film in a vacuum, stupid boxer shorts! She spoke to me… ‘Good mister sir?’ … “Great” I lied with a smile, another 6 buckets and I was ordered to lie down on the slab “10 minutes mister sir” and she left. I lay alone with my thoughts and my soggy boxers, so I started to do some angel shapes on the slab like you do in the snow, there was warm water all around and there was no-one else about so what the hell. 10 minutes became 15, and 15 became 20. Just as I was starting to completely shrivel up the door burst open and in stepped ‘Baba’. “Hello mister – I am Baba!” … was I going to be raped? Why don’t I check door signs more closely? Was I really in a Turkish bath Hamam thingy? Wtf is going on?.. “I will scrub you!” he yelled like a warrior and it bounced off the walls increasing the fear in my veins. He asked me to lay closer to him and the only over riding thought for the next 10 minutes was ‘DON’T GET AN ERECTION’. He poured soppy suds into an elastic pillowcase and blew into it. Then used this ball like tool to rub across me and create a bubble lather which made it all the more awkward to see his hands. Across my back they went, over my chest “So you like Turkey” … “Ye, ye, (breath man, relax) … Yes Baba” … they continued, to the legs, hang on, did he just hit the love muffins? Up and down the inner things he went, pounding away with frightening regularity every time he reached the top “You from England yes” …. “Yes Baba”, “I trick many English fools into thinking I work here” – he didn’t say this of course, but he could have. When we had finished I had more water thrown at me and felt like a drenched molested rat. I was lead to another chamber, dripping and violated but with the glowing comfort that it could not get any worse. I was told by bollock bashing Baba to place my head in the hole of the massage table, he left and a wave of relief passed through every fibre of my being. Just as I
was starting to relax the door opened once more, I was taking no chances this time and immediately raised my head with such terrified speed I gave myself whiplash. I was greeted with a woman who could have passed for the elderly receptionists’ great grandmother. She had a face of sorrow, an elderly withered prune, a husk of a shell that seemed to reminisce longingly for the great days of her youth: the first world war, the Ottoman empire…. the birth of Christ. Every inch of her was hanging at least a foot from where it should be, everything but her hands. These looked like they had just been removed from a furnace, then dipped into a cement mixer and finally and bowl of glass (kick boxer van dam style). They were the palms of a hardened Polish builder and these where the things about to massage me. She started with my forehead ‘Big mistake love, you’re gonna need more oil for starters’. For those that don’t know, my forehead closely resembles a set of ping pong balls sleeping under a silk handkerchief, and this woman appeared to be trying to push my bumps back into my skull. Unless she had an orbital sander then my cranial appendages were going nowhere. She reluctantly gave up and began the rest of the massage, which I have to say was superb. Again I pleaded with my lower half not to rise to the occasion and thankfully it too had seen the vision that was in the room, no danger of any excitement thank god. I drove back to the apartment, got Vicky, and we made our way to Patara beach. It’s well known across turkey as its one of the largest beaches in the country at well over 7,000 miles in length… ok, 12 miles, but that’s still quite impressive when you think of it. Before getting to the beach you drive through some amazing ancient relics of the “Lycian period” (don’t worry, I didn’t know either). We entered an amphitheatre and walked carefree across the ancient ruins dating back before the birth of Christ. In most other places this would be roped off, probably covered with some protective ceiling and have armed guards patrolling the perimeter, yet here I could sit in the actual seats and imagine what fights, plays and spectacles could have happened here during the past 2 millennia, it was great. Vicky however seemed bored as shit. Although she explained she was just feeling a little unwell. She did spring to life however when we walked past a goat, noting how ‘funny’ looking they are. We then came to a section of pillars and I re-enacted the traditional herculean pose, much hilarity ensued (in my mind) but Vik looked a tad bored again, no goats here and so we made our way to the beach shortly after. The beach was lovely and sandy (no problems with the soles of my feet) but it was windy… and a little bit nude! I had decided to cross the sand dunes to take some photos when I was greeted by a set of testicles and a rather bemused owner ‘good afternoon!’ I tried sounding nonchalant but it came out with the upbeat tone of someone allegorically saying ‘lovely testicles you have there! Can a take a photo my good chap?’. I decided to walk back to Vicky who was whizzing through 50 shades faster than Rik Waller with a menu. It was absolutely baking and my armpits were sweating like a colander trying to plug a burst water mane. I noticed we had been joined by a few topless sunbathers and this was clearly “sunglasses” time (all men know what I mean). I scrabbled to find my book (decoy), positioned myself at the optimum eye turning (but not head moving) stance and proceeded to ogle. After a few minutes Vicky asked why I had been reading a book upside down. I frantically tried to explain how I had to do this due to putting in my contact lenses upside down that morning but it was no good, I had been caught. Glasses off and back in for a swim. The book by the way was “Neither here nor there”, I had been reading Bill Bryson as I’m a big fan of his funny travel writing and he (along with Tony Hawks) was one of the main reasons for me doing this short diary. In the evening we bought some shopping from local Migros supermarket and a strange branch of Tesco’s called Kipa. One thing that struck me was the love of cherries out here, every breakfast we had cherry jam and cherry juice and here was more cherry based food and drink at Migros. I Ended up however with a foul carrot liquor that I thought was wine (don’t ask, but it was in ‘that’ section and had had ‘the look’). It took both my breath and eyebrows away… my keen quest of ‘trying all things new’ had let me down this time, drastically.
Day 4 - Thursday I was now officially ‘driving like a Turk’. I was delighted, I had headed into town to pick up a morning paper and overtook no less than 5 cars on the short trip, wagging my fist dramatically from the window as I swerved violently round blind turns and running over 2 dogs. I quickly realised it was Vicky who had been holding me back, with her screaming pleas about ‘safety’ and yelling something about our ‘unborn child’. But now I was alone behind the wheel it dawned on me that I was born to ride these roads. I zoomed back to the hotel and had a read about the ongoing Jimmy Saville stuff. I guess a lot of people were not a good judge of character back then, I felt doubly foolish though as I’d asked jimmy to fix it for me to spend an evening with Gary Glitter. Back at base I had a breakfast of: eggs, bananas, coffee, juice, cucumber, bread, watermelon, potato, honey and tomatoes, which along with their cucumbers, are always skinned out here. I’ve yet to see any tomato (or cucumber) skin anywhere in Turkey and I’m starting to wonder if there’s some massive gorge somewhere inland where people just arrive with trucks each week, tipping the towns cucumber and tomato skins down into the centre of the earth, in any case – they don’t eat them. A special note should be given to Badem right now, a lovely dog who lives onsite at the apartments. He is a beautiful blond cross breed golden retriever cocker spaniel puppy who Vicky immediately fell in love with. “Oh I hope he comes in the apartment, I hope he comes in the pool’ – for sexual health reasons alone I quietly prayed he’d do neither. He was truly lovable though, and although Murat said he was only 9 months old he had clearly attended every day to the local ‘dog milking tourist’ school. Each morning he would casually lollop up to our sides as we ate breakfast, give a doe eyed tilt of the head as if to plead ‘the owners don’t feed me, would you be gracious enough to hand me a tiny scrap of your food?’ (Of which Vicky excitedly obliged each time, often from my plate) and then we would watch, feeling cheated on, as he slouched over to yet another table and went through his ‘routine’ once more. Hats off to him though, 9 months old but a veteran of the art. I don’t know when the Oscar nominations committee are meeting next but they could do worse than review Badem for an accolade. He was so lovely in fact that I’d happily be fooled again throughout of our stay and thanked my lucky stars he hadn’t yet learned to sing for money. After being fleeced by Badem we went to Kapatas – the best beach so far. Our rep Vicky had explained that to drive ‘it’s just 2 short songs away’. Unfortunately the local radio stations played only Turkish songs (completely understandable) but it made listening a little tricky, some of the simple acoustic stations were very nice indeed though. We were assuming on some ‘western Europe’ songs as this was the case when we left the airport at Dalaman. At that early stage of our drive we had many recognisable songs on the radio, however these were rapidly replaced the closer to kalkan we got and although I’d try and ‘get into’ some of the Turkish songs I never quite made it in truth. Many seemed as though the male singer was being circumcised without anaesthetic while his band continued playing behind him, perhaps trying to drown out his screams. Kapatas (pronounced kap-ah-tash) is a small beach about 150ft down from the main road (the trusty d400 once again) and beneath a bridge spanning a valley. It may not sound appealing but once you make your way down the steps you are blessed with a fantastic, fairly quiet, small pebble (unlike the larger ones at kalkan) style beach. A small group (3-4) people sell sun shades and pancakes/drinks and the waves are great fun. I was snorkelling, chasing fish for quite a while (again, leaving my back exposed to the elements – I had sun cream but it could easily have been milk) and didn’t notice the waves getting stronger and stronger. After a while I began to feel like a elderly goldfish trapped in a washing machine. I would be violently dragged across the pebbles into shore, sucked out by the under current and then hurled back in by the next wave. I absolutely loved it! Sometimes the wave that crashed you back to shore was so strong that the next undercurrent couldn’t reach you so you had to
paddle/crawl back to the water (snorkel still attached) which must have looked a curious sight. Vicky was watching me and kindly remarked how I had the elegant grace of ‘a beached whale, trying desperately to swim back into the sea’. It’s always nice to receive compliments from your loved ones. From time to time I would raise a pathetically hopeless looking ‘thumbs up’ signal as I gargled beneath the water but my macho efforts appeared lost as Vicky was clearly still reading. As I made my way back to the sun loungers I became worried to notice a faint smell of burning, I soon saw this was due to the speed at which Vicky was turning the pages on ‘50 shades of grey’. ”I’m not really that into it” she protested “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, this guy seems like a complete dick” she was lamenting the boredom of it all, but in truth she looked like Neo downloading information from the matrix. Methinks the lady doth protest too much and clearly needed to ‘bit her lip’. In the evening we did our first stint of Rooftop dining under the kalkan stars. This was arguably the most romantic dining location I have ever found, I’d place it above kebab land in South Woodford, and the drive through McDonalds over Leytonstone – it was simply THAT good. As you stroll through the old town of kalkan you are enthusiastically greeted (I’m very careful not to say ‘pestered’ at this point, as they never reach that mark) by the restaurant proprietors who beckon you into their establishment “The food here is beautiful madam, I do free bread and a glass of wine for you sir, you will love my views across the harbour” … you walk on a few steps “kind sir, may I just ask if you would like to view my menu, we cook beautiful food fresh from the sea…” and so it goes on, one even hand a swinging pocket watch as he tried to hypnotise people inwards. We settled on a restaurant called ‘Nar’ and ascended to the rooftop with excitement (a strange name for a Turkish waiter but none the less). As excitement went back to the stairs to get our menus we sat down and admired our surroundings. The view at the top was truly breath taking, like the scene from Mary Poppins looking across old London. You could see across all the rooftops of Kalkan, see a few feet across to other diners sat a slightly lower rooftop restaurant, see across to the harbour and the boats lit like gently floating candles in the night breeze, and back up behind were more rooftops, more diners, all under the soft glow of candle light. It was like entering another town, hidden from street view, saved only few the few who ‘ascended the stairs’. We loved it, and just hoped the food would match. Thankfully it did and the service was also sublime. We would defiantly be returning to the rooftops a few times before the next 2 weeks were over. I came back to find another client had emailed through a new contract, this was a great way to end the evening, and I merrily cracked open a bottle of beer, rested my weary chin upon my fist and gazed contently out to the Med from the balcony.
Day 5 -Friday – After handing my breakfast to Badem and giving the Eastenders intro to 3 new songs we decided to head down the trusty d400, past Kapatas beach and onward to the large town of Kas. We (well, ‘I’ is probably a fairer term) had a little issue with navigating into the town and checking the road signs but after a few unplanned trips into the mountains we finally managed to swing by and park near the main harbour. There were over 100 yachts, some very lavish, and all sparkled proudly in the summer sun. We ventured down to the end of Kas peninsular to take some photos and saw some huge cucumber plants growing by the side of the road. Well I couldn’t resist the obvious picture (what man with an ounce of humour could?) I may be in my 30’s, a dad to be, and company owner, but there’s no way I’m gonna pass up a ‘big knob’ gag. We had been told by our rep about the Friday market in Kas and ventured in to see a dazzling array of stalls selling, herbs, clothes, fruits, and all manner of goods under shanty looking canvas held aloft with sporadic wooden poles darted across the grounds. The prices seemed a little
dubious to say the least, as I’ve never seen any ‘authentic’ merchandise retail for anything this low. It was enjoyable though, strolling past the stalls, until we came face to face with quite possibly the worst salesman I have ever met (and I’ve met thousands). He wished to sell us some aftershave with the classic opening gambit “This is all from the black market you understand?” … ok, mate, back of a lorry, knocked off del boy style, I hear ya, no worries, if it smells good we may be interested anyway I thought. Then it began, I watched in quite awe, transfixed, as the most desperate man in Turkey proceeded to haggle over the next 12 minutes…. With nobody but himself. Let me first state that ‘Silence’ is a standard ‘closing tool’ in sales, let the other guy speak, let him make the move, let them say the words to file the silent void, then you decide where to take them once you have his information. Yet I was doing no techniques here, the man would simply not shut up “70 lira sir, this is good price for 2 perfumes (about £25 quid), ok sir 60 lira, this is special price just for you (I’m touched, is this because we’re great mates?) Ok ok sir I do 2 bottles for 50 lira, the market is closing soon and I must go very soon…. 40 lira, I can do no better, this is a good pri.. 30 lira, you will find no cheaper” (he was actually interrupting himself now). In the end he paid us 235 lira, gave us 6 bottles of perfume, the keys to his car and his mums phone number. The man was clearly insane. He thanked us profusely as we left, shaking my hand with such vigorous gusto you’d think I’d just saved his kids from death. I watched him over my shoulder as we parted and sure enough, he began losing his possessions to the next lucky customer. After this we headed further into Kas and down to their harbour to enjoy two very large pizzas. The menu gave many different options but my eye was immediately drawn to the last one “As many as you like for 30TL”. I got Vicky to read it for confirmation, as I could not believe my eyes, or luck. The unsuspecting waiter approach and I almost felt sorry for his naivety (almost), he took Viks order, simple enough then turned to me. I was surprised he committed Viks order to memory and wanted to cover all bases “do you have a pen and paper?” (Perhaps scroll would be better) “No sir”, my face dropped into my lap, I had already noticed he didn’t speak great English from his dealings with Vicky and he was about to get every topping on the menu thrown at him. I began reeling off the toppings as Vik put her head down into her hands with embarrassment. I carried on, “bacon, extra cheese, salami, mushroom, Turkish sausages, tomato, pineapple, beef…” he started to smile but I was confused, I had said nothing funny. “Are you writing this down?” I enquired with justification. Then it was his turn to drop his face as he realised I was deadly serious and less than halfway through (my finger was underlining each on the menu as I read and my extended digit still had some distance to cover. I noticed the last blood drained from his face he seemed to squeak the word “Everything?”, “Yes” I replied. He tried explaining how people don’t usually order everything (easily in excess of 20 toppings) and I pointed him kindly to the wording on the menu, it was clearly an option for the customers and this customer was taking it. The manager came out and explained that it should read ‘4 toppings’. Vicky’s head was under the table at this stage as I explained the false advertising to the proprietor. Only a few things will stop me from arguing a point where I know I am right… but hunger is one of them and we had been talking for sometime “Just give me the meatiest pizza you can!” and I gave back the menus. As an afterthought I threw out a hopeful “please, thank you!” as I didn’t want phlegm as the mystery 5th topping. When it arrived it was huge and delicious, so I named it “The Vicky”. We then strolled down to their beach club, many places along the coast have these areas specifically for their customers and we were treated to some complimentary cake and tea (this time without meat I’m happy to say). Vicky even managed to prize her eyes away from 50 shades when she heard the cake was coming. Later that evening the people staying beneath us screamed as a huge moth landed on their table, I peered down from our balcony and the moth looked up as if to say ‘What the fuck do you want?’ . It was
beastly, and my bowels immediately dropped a full bodied and somewhat earthy ‘Eastenders style intro’ as I clung to the balcony railings with a face of fear. The people below questioned me briefly on how we got a TV in our apartment that could pick up BBC1 but then quickly returned their attention to the mammoth moth that now appeared to be drinking the man’s beer. ‘He’ll probably fly off with your steak too’ I joked. The man (apparently believing my jest as a premonition) went to the kitchen and came back with a wok, covering the moth on the table but one wing was still out and I’m quite sure I heard it growl at one stage. “You think this wok can hold me?!?” in truth, none of us thought it could and it was only a matter of time before he punched his way through the flimsy double coated steel. At most times like this you generally have a glass, then wedge some paper underneath and release the moth out of a window, this was not an option here. With one hand on the wok the man picked up the whole table and made his way to the cliff edge, and threw it all. The table and wok rolled a bit but stayed close enough for retrieval, the moth flicked a v sign and briefly eclipsed the moon as it departed. An interesting end to the evening which slightly took the gloss off a lovely sunset.
Day 6 – Saturday I decided Badem the lovable dog would remain unfed this morning (from myself anyway) and opted to have breakfast in the apartment. On one of the early trips to Migros I had purchased (amongst many other things) a cereal packet of Dr Oetkers Vitalis double chocolate and until now the doctor had been waiting patiently in the cupboard. Well you should have seen the look on his face when I reached towards him, static is probably the best description. His cereal was a delight. Now, I am aware that I should be writing about my holiday in Kalkan so I will limit myself to just the next 19 pages with regards to the doctors fantastic food (I have saved these to a different document, please get in touch if you wished to read “Oetker – A religion is born”). I had two bowls, and went to the balcony, with the empty second bowl in my hand, held aloft, to taunt Badem. He was busy dining on a lobster bisque from some new American tourist but I gained comfort from knowing that if he ‘had’ of seen my empty Vitalis double choc bowel, he would have been mighty jealous. As residents of our hotel we gained free access to the indigo beach club down at the harbour front. Vik got in the car and we drove at a safe Sunday snail’s pace to the club. We quickly noticed a couple of girls also staying at our apartments and 2 new local boys who were desperately trying to impress. The girls had given very little by way of a ‘come on’, simply asking one in the water “is it deep there?”. That’s all that was needed, the next 45 minutes was spent with one boy in particular trying everything to win the attention of the ladies. He began by swimming out like a torpedo to a floating platform and proceeded to do handstands and star jumps whilst beckoning them to join him. “No” was the curt response, not even a ‘not right now’ with a dash of hope. Undeterred he and his mate then started doing more dangerous handstands of the stairs handle bars (that you climb up get on the floating platform) actually slipping at one point crashing shoulder first into the metal stairs and falling helplessly into the sea. The boy was diving like a loon, and again the girls did not turn. It was at this stage I half expected him to yell back to the shore “set fire to the hoop and bring me my tricycle! I shall hurtle down the mountain, hit the ramp, fly through the burning hoop and land naked into a pool of piranhas – blindfolded! Will you then acknowledge my existence my lady?!” It would be easy to mock him…. So I have. After watching his efforts become ever more tedious I tried to do a bit of snorkelling again myself, I swam away from where they were setting up the burning hoop and started to find some great shoals of fish, another octopus, some catfish, some pipe/tube like fish and a big blue headed one with a red and orange body. I’m sorry if any of my lofty Latin descriptions have lost any
of you there, you’ll just have to look it up as I make no apologies for knowledge. It was also clear from walking around that I’d gained something of a ‘cult status’ amongst my fellow holiday makers. “Look at that sunburnt cult” they would say “check out the moobs on that cult” another would join in. It can sometimes be tough assimilating with new people so it’s always nice to know you’ve made a positive impact. I gave them a knowing wink, twined with a wry smile and a gentle wave; after all, they could be on facebook and only a friend request away. After getting back to the apartments we found a couple of frogs, and tortoise and a marching procession of ants. The ants were incredible, we followed their trail like a small motorway, none leaving the assigned route. These were real workers, born to serve their queen and they looked mightily efficient. I just prayed we didn’t leave a stray sugar cube in the apartment as they could quite literally carry us out on their backs as we slept, only for us to wake up on top of a mountain whilst they finished off our sugar. We went back to take a few shots of the frog too, he was light green with darker green patches on him and tasted quite bitter. I’m joking of course, he was actually rather sweet. It had become apparent to me that I’d also packed the wrong stuff. I just needed a baggy shirt, yet I had a couple of tighter ones (they hadn’t been purchased as ‘tight’ tops, it was mainly down to my ongoing sympathy belly), a laptop, a pair of shoes and hair wax. All these items were pointless, and some were quite heavy, severely limiting our baggage allowance at the airport. It made me even more thankful that Vicky had persuaded me not to bring my free weights and ‘lucky boulder’. Vik started to doze off for her standard siesta and as I had a spare hour I decided now would be a good time to climb a mountain. Well, it was a large hill, but still a good few hundred feet of rock and arid landscape. I set off with just a camera round my neck and a pocket full of dreams, I was going to get some good shots over the town and come back with an impressive tale for the lady. After the first 7 steps I realised how painfully unfit I’d become, I looked around to see who was making the pathetic wheezing noises whilst simultaneously throwing sweat over me then realised I was alone. This was gonna be a hard struggle, but I’m pleased to say, I made it to the top. Once there I took some pictures and had a wee to mark my new found earldom. One shot showed the Mediteran hotel, all 3 levels from the apartments to the pool down to the restaurant. It was only when gazing up at the huge pylon I realised others had once stepped where I know stood. Unfazed I thought I’d do a few ‘in-situ’ pictures, dangerous idea… I positioned the camera and set the 10 second timer, the race was on, I bounded over some stones and leapt a boulder, then my footing slipped and I realised the last ever picture of me could be my feet going over the edge like a comedy suicide, luckily I regained position and turned around. Within half a second I heard the click and felt good. That was until I noticed the cascading beads of sweat pouring down my face and the smell of fear that had escaped my underwear. Somewhat ironically (being in turkey) this was a very close shave (they love the cut throat razor blades out here) and one that I wasn’t going to repeat. I made my way down and crept back into the bedroom where Vicky was still sleeping, I plucked the stones from my knees, wiped the blood from my shins, and moped my brow with 3 or 4 beach towels. She gently stirred ‘been up to much babe?’ , ‘no gorgeous…just relaxing’ ….(time to wash those pants). Later that night we headed out for some more rooftop dining, just as the candles were being set I looked around the others rooftops as before and then it happened… the owner had romantically killed the lights to enhance the romance, Vicky soon enlightened me a little further “it’s a power cut, across the whole town”. I looked around and everything was pitch black, it looked amazing, the only lights were a few rooftop candles, you could hear voices (as always… “Kill kill”) but see no one. Within a few minutes the whirring sounds of some generators began and a couple of venues had some power restored, half an hour later and the whole town came back to light. I was somewhat relieved as a true ‘candle lit’ meal would surely result in everything being undercooked. The meal finally arrived and far from being undercooked it was actually on fire, I frantically explained that we now had working lights and I could already see my food, there was really no need for the flames, the chef simply said ‘enjoy your meal’ walked off down the stairs and left me… with a plate of fire. I had already order
some water and Saki (traditional Turkish aniseed/sambucca type drink) and nearly poured the wrong one into the plate to stop the flames. Although in truth the Saki tasted foul to me and I should probably have thrown that in anyway, once the flames subsided I tucked into yet another lovely meal. Afterwards we had a short stroll down the harbour past the boats and then some cards on the balcony. It’s nice to just sit out there with the sea breeze and town lights twinkling below, so romantic…. We played a game called ‘shit head’.
Day 7 Sunday – Spent most of the daytime by pool, a wildly hirsute man was standing by the side, toying with the idea of delving in. He was hairy beyond belief, like someone had put a gorilla suit on a monkey and there was a genuine fear that if he were to jump in then we would be left without any water for ourselves. He appeared to be a human kitchen towel and luckily for the rest of us he slunk off to his apartment (tree), no doubt expecting a call from BP to help with another oil slick disaster. The Mediteran staff provided us with free cake and Turkish tea by the pool, I soon realised this was a nice regular occurrence and one I was a tad gutted about as it had taken me a week to exploit. The tea here is slightly bitter compared with back home and I often had mine with a couple of sugar cubes, it’s also generally served in neat small glasses which can be quite hot. I was careful not to order any alcohol whilst jumping into the pool for fear of being cast as a ‘drink diver’. Instead I lounged lazily, floating about on the lilo. I then told Vicky I was driving down to town to search for the spurs match (vs Aston villa). This proved to be an absolute waste of time. Every bar was showing Man U (probably got thousands of supporters in Turkey that are just like all the other Man U supporters – not from Manchester) – each bar owner would ask what match I wanted and then proceed to find every sporting event in the world except Spurs v Villa. I had my choice of: Indian camel racing, Mongolian ping pong, a man sitting in a sauna for 2 days on some Swedish channel and something in Bulgarian about eating fish skins. I told the owners that although I was mighty tempted to watch these events I would sadly have to venture back to the apartment… where they had the same sports, but in 3D. My phone immediately kicked in with the free Wi-Fi on site and showed me we won 2-0, so at least the result went well even if my travels hadn’t. I cooked up some hallumi (‘helim’ out here) and doner kebab (comes in packets at Migros, touch!) with some dolmas on the side and some strange pastry thing before getting ready. There is a shuttle service 5 times a day from the hotel, we were due to catch the 7:30pm back into town, Vicky however wanted to make the apartment (and I quote) “Clean for the maids in the morning”. Why do women do this? Tidy up before the cleaners arrive?? We’re waiting to get the last shuttle into town and she is looking under sofas for dust. Needless to say we missed the shuttle. We had to drive, so I jumped into the passenger seat of our car, cursed the air blue and then sat in the driver’s seat. We drove into town and were still a little full from earlier so decided on just a main each (at another rooftop terrace restaurant). The portions out here are very good and very filling, plus the restaurants always give you some complimentary appetisers on the house so there wasn’t much need to be buying starters (little tip for the money conscious/tight arses out there). After dinner we headed to a chilled out shisha terrace with carpet and scatter cushions across the whole rooftop. It was great, we played cards, chatted, smoked the shisha (well, I did anyway) had tea, coffee, some snacks and whiled away the hours. The owner was a big poker fan and enjoyed telling me his tactics, I might use them when I get back, (bring a gun). There were just a handful of people up there with us in this secret garden and by the end we were the only ones remaining. The place was called ‘Belgins kitchen’ and I’d recommend it for a relaxed (something different) evening under the stars. On our
way back we got some grub from Migros and a strange thing dawned on me, the bill was 22.13 TL and they sell many things for 0.99 TL (Turkish Lira) yet their lowest monetary denomination is a 5, so you can’t actually pay for small things correctly, seems a bit daft. Anyway, there you go, don’t say this isn’t informative. Day 8 – Monday I went to open our safe, this had been causing me more and more problems each morning as it appeared to not remember any passwords, or it just had an overwhelming sense of duty and didn’t want to give any money away. Eventually (about try 20) it allowed me my cash. I thought I should perhaps change my password number as that may have been the problem, I thought of a random 38 digit number, scribbled it on some paper, set the safe with it, and locked it inside for safe keeping so no one else could get their hands on it , can’t be too careful I thought. In the kitchen and more Dr Oetker – the man was clearly a genius and the only downside is that I was starting to miss Badem and the morning chats with Murat. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get breakfast down there again. Today was boat trip day, I pulled on some linen trousers and immediately put a hole in the knee. Today was a fuck up. I pulled on some crappy 3 quarter lengths and headed for the car, smugly glancing across to Vicky as I finally sat in the driver’s seat and proceeded to pull away in reverse. When the correct gears were finally engaged (and the laughter from Vicky had stopped ringing in my ears) we made our entrance to the quayside and parked up right in front of the departing boats, “70 lira per person” came the immediate deal from one captain. We had seen these deals offered across town for 50 lira and that’s all I fancied paying, if he was the only boat in town then sure, let’s do 70, but he wasn’t, he had competition everywhere, he knew it and I knew it. “We’ve got 50 mate, that’s all” I didn’t even bother starting at 30 to haggle towards a middle ground, I couldn’t be arsed. “60? I do great food and do not take a lot of people like other boats so it’s more intimate” he was certainly better at this than the desperate man from Kas but I wasn’t going to budge, ”no mate, 50” “ok, ok 50, but don’t tell the other passengers” (lovely sales line, ‘special are we?’ I had to smile). On board we sat next to a man who paid 90 and he clearly looked like the kind of pilchard who pays top dollar for everything. In turkey he’s probably gonna have to swim home after 3 days, poor bugger. The trip itself was splendid and defiantly worth the money (even with the extra 50 I got stung for to cover the drinks and ice cream) either way 150 lira was about 50 quid and it was well worth the £25 per person, we had been out from 10 till 6 and done some amazing snorkelling, diving off the yacht into the clearest waters I had ever seen. I borrowed some flippers from the boat staff and with my snorkel managed to chase loads of shoals, finding all types of creatures down there. Blue headed green bodied fish, a long yellow caterpillar, pipe fish, black fish, trigger fish, in short – loads of fish. I also saw the head of a dead sword fish, sparkling on the sea bed, it was about 10 meters down (crystal clear) and I dived to get it, a couple of meters from my goal my ears started to become crushed (and I can’t have these button mushrooms getting any smaller) the atmospheric pressure felt immense and although I tried a couple more times I had the same ‘crushing’ result. Besides, we were gonna be served food on the boat anyway, so I didn’t need it that much. Back on deck Vicky performed a few elegant yacht poses and we pulled back in to the harbour. The only downside to the whole trip was later that night, laying in bed still feeling like we were swaying with the waves. Later that, feeling a bit peckish but without the desire to get dressed up for public gaze we ordered a takeaway pizza as it’s good to stay healthy. I fancied some more ‘Turkish driving’ and opted to pick it up, even though the man stated twice “but sir, it’s a free delivery”. I sat my meaty feast alongside me in the passenger seat and found myself driving slowly, this was precious cargo and I would guarding it to the door. The grub was lovely, washed down with a Skol and capped a lovely end to the day.
Day 9 – Tuesday I awoke to find that my burns were starting to go brown. Vicky looked like a bronzed goddess but I was now starting to transform as well, emerging like a tanned butterfly from my red chrysalis stage. Within 30 minutes I had started to peel, my tan would perhaps be short lived but I hoped the peeling would just remain on the shoulder area. They had been worst hit as my little ears had afforded them a very bleak protection over the past few days. Today we had a few things on the agenda, the gorge at Saklikant, then the ruins of Xanthos and finally sunset at Patara beach. We headed off to Saklikant down the ever reliable d400 (no dirt track there) and passed Patara and Xanthos on route. We had been advised to visit Saklikant by an Englishman working in one of the rooftop restaurants. Once we left the smooth tarmac of the d400 we drove through a few small towns and villages like we were travelling back in time. As soon as you start leaving the coast and travelling inland you see the real Turkey and how rural and agricultural the working lives of the people are. The dwellings are often stone houses and look very basic in comparison to the tourist hotels on the front. It’s a beautiful looking way of life but I think I’d quickly crave modern accessories after a few weeks. Finally we reached the gorge itself. Upon arrival we stopped at the first car park/restaurant and the owner enthusiastically skipped towards us with his arms aloft in delight, “Hang on Vik, I don’t think this fella gets many customers”. Immediately he kicked in with his sales spiel “I have a trout farm here (he showed us) I cook very fresh, I give you free sandals to walk in gorge water, I cook you fish when you get back with salad and bread, other restaurant charge 20 lira (hang on, there’s other restaurants? Have we stopped too early?) But I charge you 8 lira”. 8 lira? Christ that’s cheap, 8 lira for a meal is under £3 – do his fish have diarrhoea? Why is no one else eating this man’s fish at these prices?? Either way I was sold, at those prices I don’t care how good it is. “Give me a pair of your dashing crocks and smoke me a trout, I’ll be back for lunch” It didn’t quite have the panache I was aiming for, but all parties knew the score, he hurried back to his wife with a mixture of ecstasy and confusion, I imagined him saying “they’re going to eat my shitty fish Martha, I knew someone would eventually park here with the brains of a melon!”. Anyway, we donned our crocs and proceeded to walk past the other (considerably nicer) establishments. A rather suave maître d approached me from the competition, “may I take your jacket sir, perhaps a little light fellatio before the foot rub and champagne oysters?” Dam, I’d clearly picked too soon, but I had given that first guy hope, and more importantly my word, that I would go back. I had only hoped that his tears of joys would not be extinguishing the flames beneath my fish as he cooked it. We carried on walking towards the entrance and I noticed my heels were beginning to hurt, a lot. I looked down and saw blood “oh fan-fucking-tastic, no wonder no other pilchard stops at that twats place, he gives out shards of fecking glass for his punters to wear!”, “mine are fine” replied Vik, and indeed her ankles looked great, ok, perhaps I just got a crappy pair, either way I was going to go back to the car and change into my trainers. That done we set off into the gorge, a huge fractured fissure in the towering landscape around us the result of a small stream that had passed this way over thousands of years. It was a fantastic sight and we soon approached a small restaurant who I initially took for cannibals. As I peered into their ice cream freezer I was shocked to see they had killed our beloved apartment dog ‘Badem’,
chopped him into little pieces and were selling him under the magnum ice cream banner. With tears filling in my eyes I approached the owner who explained ‘Badem’ was Turkish for ‘almond’. Aha, this now made complete sense, and after another short call to both trading standards and the RSPCA we went about our journey. Going further on we quickly made our way to a babbling brook style entrance point where people appeared to be gathering in numbers about to start their walk through the stream. A young local boy noticed two pieces of money walking towards him (namely us) and introduced himself as a guide, we accepted and he led us over the initial rocks and down into the stream below. Hoping this was a free service I offered a polite smile by way of payment, Vicky kindly reminded me that real money was probably more appropriate and I reached in for some change. A measly 3 lira in change trickled onto his palm (about 80p), I looked at him with embarrassment and he stared straight back with anger. We turned and parted before I could say “I’m saving my other change for diarrhoea riddled trout!” Onwards we went, some deep-ish bits (halfway up the thigh) and some stony bits. We then found a muddy area where many had written their names and decided that our baby bump should have a mention on the wall “Bump woz ere 2012”. We made our way further and further upstream, posing for pictures and then I saw a sight that immediately gave me the tummy rumbles of the fish I was burdened to consume in an hour or so. High above us on one side of the canyon was an overhang that must of jutted out a good 5 meters (about 20ft), above which was a further 25-30 meters of solid earth, ready to drop with a farts introduction. I pleaded with my bowels to control any ‘Eastenders style intros’ they may have desired at that point for fear of genuine death. It was literally hanging, suspended above us, up ahead were boulders, huge boulders, of previous landslides. This clearly was something that would drop at some point. I tried to remain macho to Vic but also wanted her to understand my fears somewhat “hey darling, what say you and I turn the other way and scurry the fuck out of this death trap?” She couldn’t even hear me, the silly fool was standing directly beneath the overhang and applying natural mudpack to her face. A youthful treatment that seemed utterly pointless at this stage with the imminent death she would endure if one of us made so much noise as a stern blink. “Come on babe, let’s go back eh?” I tried once more and this time she turned round to pose for a snap, but then she followed, unaware what lurked above as I hoped we wouldn’t enter any water above arse height for fear of the steady bubbles I’d produce on impact. Upon leaving we went back to the happiest man in turkey to try his trout, which was actually beautiful although his tears tasted a little salty. He led us onto a hammock style seating area with a pond and ducks. A couple of friendly dogs also made their way over and I felt they must be relations of Badem the way in which they professionally coaxed Vicky’s food from her palms. After this we headed off to Xanthos but not before seeing a wild bore by the side of the road, forgive my spelling - I don’t mean an tedious eccentric, but in fact a wild boar, a dead one too, looked like it had been hit by a car (a crashing bore?). Either way it was a big fat grotesquely hideous looking creature…. But none the less she got out of the car to have a look at the boar. At Xanthos we parked up and paid 10 lira for 2 people. Not a bad price considering you’re seeing ancient wonders, well, if you like that kind of thing. I do 9these days anyway) but Vicky looked bored as arseholes “I feel tired” she said and I knew I needed an ace up my sleeve to keep this little excursion going, and then I saw it, a big lizard. Vicky and I had gone on a couple of evening searches for lizards and
only seen a couple of little ones and some frogs thus far but here was a real good sized specimen, maybe 10 or 12 feet long (ok, a slightly artistic hyperbole there, perhaps a foot in length) and Vicky perked up. I started to follow the lizard across an ancient roman amphitheatre (yep another one, there’s loads out here) but my chase was soon broken by the sounds of an elderly made selling food. “Ser-nack? Ser-nack”, someone else selling snacks eh? “No thanks mate, we’ve eaten (I had a belly fully of trout and tears, I needed no more). “ser-nake?” he persisted, Vicky tugged my arm, “his asking if we were chasing a snake you wally”, “oh, no mate, a lizard” he smiled and as I got closer he stepped forward into the sunlight revealing a gracefully aged tanned face with quite possibly the greatest moustache in all of turkey. I was star struck “wow, that’s a great moustache!... Vik, get the camera!!... Do you mind if we have a photo together”. “No sir, of course”, he put his arm around me like a small hairy faced long lost Turkish granddad and we posed… ‘Click’. “Thank you very much” I said, and he went on to tell me about the history of the place. Vik wandered of a little bored and looking for shade whilst I listened intently about how the British museum had relics from this site and how there was a necropolis round the corner, then he broke off halfway and threw a rock into a bush. “Tortoise! Tortoise!” he threw another to show me where and I called Vik back, I thanked him again as Vik and I made our way to the bush. There were 3 of them, slowly making their way across the ruins, looking so old they remembered it being built, one appeared to have ‘Constantine woz ere 312AD” etched across his back. I approached and the lead one hissed, I’d not heard that before and again gave thanks I was not in water above the arse. Vicky implored they I held it up, I gripped under the shell like tentatively clutching a steaming babies nappy and raised the poor reptile for a quick shot then gently put him down again, he wandered off happily although perhaps a bit frustrated a being picked up by yet another Johnny foreigner. After that we saw more tortoises and lizards and whilst this bought me more time with Vicky to patrol around the site and look at a second huge amphitheatre it could not last for long and soon the novelty wore off “can we head back to the car, I’m feeling really tired”, she is carrying our baby so fair is fair I guess. After Xanthos we made our way down to Patara once more to watch the sunset, this was a lovely sight and we also enjoyed another swim. The beach here is extremely shallow as it enters the sea, you can go out for a good 50 meters and still be standing happily waving back to shore, the other beaches at Kapatas and Kalkan are very step and only 3-4 meters in you’re struggling to reach the bottom. We headed back for a romantic night in… playing some rummy and a bit more shit head, again I won triumphantly silver.
Day 10 – Wednesday I started the day with a truly terrible shock. I was walking down the stairs into the restaurant bar area for breakfast when to my left I saw a middle aged couple with a grotesquely disfigured affliction. Each one stood there with their bodies upright and their heads lopsided to the right shoulder, I can only guess they had no neck muscles and had to go through life with their heads flopping around the entire time, having to hold their heads in order to turn them and could only imagine the arm strength needed to watch something like a tennis match. But I then thought how wonderful it was that these two freaks of nature actually managed to find each other, in a world so vast and where looks are deemed so important, these two had actually found a soul mate with the exact same disability as themselves, it was heart warming and I was genuinely moved… until a few more steps down and I realised they were in fact reading the assorted book titles of the shelves in front of them. I quickly realised there were three of us judging books by their covers and made my way to the breakfast table. Once there Vicky (the rep) gave me a hand drawn map to satisfy my quest of going ‘up into the mountains’. I looked beyond the skull and crossbones icon she had drawn, and peered passed the red inked letters of “danger” to see a lovely route. This would be saved for later in the week and something I was looking forward to. Murat also kept me entertained by explaining about a Turkish
fruit that was growing there, a kind of spiky orange pomegranate that helps people with sick stomachs, but it can only be used once soaked in oil for 40 days as the pips are ‘very poisonous’. By which time I would expect the patient has either recovered, or died. I opened the morning papers and saw that Freddie Starr had been dragged into the Jimmy Saville paedophile allegations. The 69 year old was protesting he never had a fondness for young girls, a claim back up by his 34 year old fiancé. The day was slightly overcast for the first time since we had arrived and we decided on having a day in. I started to jot down some diary ideas on the laptop and make a start on this while Vicky lay in bed. Then the cleaners arrived “keep them out there” Vic said “but remember we need towels” I got up to let them in and closed the bedroom door “hi, good morning, she is sleeping in there (I motioned towards Vicky in the bedroom) but please do the bathroom, etc.. and leave some towels, if you need me knock on the bedroom door”. I then imagined a pointless system of knocks on the door, 1 for blue, 2 for Tuesday, 3 for cardigan etc..and pictured them doing a series of quick and slow knocks on the door, then me on the other side bemused and asking Vicky why the cleaners would need a Lithuanian octopus called Boris next Sunday. Sometimes these days dreams are best left to myself, but I have a laptop in front of me so I just thought I’d let that one out. The rain started to come down and I felt quite smug in relation to the new batch of holiday makes that had arrived on Monday “yeah apparently last week was the hottest October anywhere, ever. But apparently this week will be pure crap… enjoy!” I didn’t say that of course, and apparently today was just a cloudy blip on the week, but I’m sure they weren’t best pleased with their start anyway. We had a day at the apartment then made our way into town to aubergine down the front, very nice and I opted for some delicious ‘amaretto chicken’. The complimentary food was also very good; a mix of dips with some large torn garlic bread, washed down with an Efes (as standard) which was very nice indeed. After that we made our way to a different shisha venue and on route found a local estate agent who was making investment in the area sound very tempting “5 bed villa for £230k and you can make £30k p/a in rent” it would pay for itself in less than a decade, interesting. Back home we were about to doze off when the local imam started his town prayers again, his truly having a ‘wail’ of a time down there. I decided to end the day with a soothing relaxing bath, it had been nearly two weeks and I felt it was time for a clean (this is a joke, I won’t even leave that one out there like the others, I want to clarify that it’s a joke!) and promptly turned the hot tap on and walked away for a quick read of Bill Bryson. I must have shut my eyes for only a few minutes to then re open them in the midst of an apartment fire! I scurried frantically looking for Vicky in the smoke, woke her from slumber and got us to crawl naked across the floor beneath the fumes to the door, it was shocking. However, just as we approached the door I realised the smoke bellowing through the apartment was not black, it wasn’t smoke either. As you will have already guessed this was the bath steam. I lunged into the bathroom and the back draft nearly melted my eyes from their petrified sockets. “Tad warm in here babe” – I had my eyes on the coveted “understatement of the year 2012” award. It was like being dangled above an erupting volcano, every pore on my body was screaming and my previous sun tan burns were now feeling a bit chilly in comparison to this heat. No human could stand more than a few seconds in this room as just as I was about to fashion some sort of coat hanger device with which to pull the plug Vicky casually strolled past and GOT IN THE BATH! I couldn’t believe my eyes. How do women do this? The bathroom was hot enough to make Vesuvius feel “a little nippy” and here she was nonchalantly bathing in this pool of lava. I had no time to evaluate the vision before me any longer as I could feel myself actually starting to melt. “Close the door on your way out, don’t want to lose any of the heat”. The woman was made of Teflon. I decided I wanted some of the action and decided to do a little test with the heat, I took a fresh egg from the fridge and grasp it in my hand, would it boil? I thrust my hand into the mist a promptly punched vik in the face “what the hell are you doing?” , “an experiment, sorry!” I yelled back into the fog. After a further 4 seconds I could stand no more and retracted my hand, the egg had
evaporated and a few white shards of shells had melted into my palm, feck this I thought and shut the door. I went to bed thinking of how I could spin this into some freak show money spinner, ‘roll up roll up, her flesh feels no pain, bring your blow torches’… but I knew she’d never go for it.
Day 11 – Thursday Market day in Kalkan, we donned our Thursday best and headed for a haggle. I wondered if anyone would be as ropey as the man last week in Kas and started to make my way under the market tarpaulin. We needed to get a few gifts and promptly found the painted terracotta dip dishes and ashtrays and Turkish delight (obviously) that we wanted, the haggle ensued and we got 4 for 10 lira about 80p each. Then I saw a poor homeless man in the middle of the market begging for change, I hoped this wasn’t the man from last week. Sure he was a useless salesman but surely I hadn’t bankrupted him? As I started to approach I heard a familiar cheery voice “hello Mr., I remember me” (the English was so so) I turned and who should it be but the man himself …. The worst salesman in turkey. “Oh my god, you here! Haha, classic!! So you work here on Thursdays?”, “yes yes, I remember you from last week, would you like more perfume and aftershave?” he didn’t miss a beat in his sales patter, still selling (losing hand over fist) I couldn’t do it to him again, but I needed to record the moment “I’m sorry mate, not today, we still smell great from last week, by the way, can I have a picture? … and what’s your name??”. With that Vicky took the shot as ‘Alek’ and myself smiled towards the lens. “Have a great time in Turkey Darren”, “I will Alek, take care mate”. What a legend. After what felt like meeting a hero I needed a come down, so we decided to climb a mountain. Vicky was already a tad annoyed at me for leading her blindly up the steepest back streets to the market “just beyond this next turn” I’d offer helpfully, only to be greeted by a new road so steep it was practically a wall. I jogged up one and sat at the top for what seemed an eternity, I took some pictures of her struggling up to me but still had to wait ages. Sometimes pregnant women are just so inconsiderate of others I thought. Anyway, it was time for the mountain trek and (as great partners do) she had agreed to go with me on this one and head up the top. We took the directions from our rep and headed up the roads behind kalkan and off into the distance, around the back of the first huge hill was the village of Bezirgan. The village was boarded from all sides by huge mountains and hills but it was as though someone had filled in the valley floor to create a perfectly flat quilt for the village to be built upon and the roads to link with it (transport tycoon style). There were harvesting fields, stone houses, chickens, goats, and mosques. Very rural and nice change of scenery to be off the beaten track, we were driving ‘a road less travelled’ you might say, eh Simpson? We drove down into the village itself and it felt like we had travelled back a few hundred years. I checked the back of our car for a flux capacitor but could not find one (besides, we hadn’t even hit 88mph). the houses were made of stone and the residents looked like there remember the tortoises at Xanthos hatching. Further on we passed through lush pine forest, deep greens rich in colour and swarming across the landscape before us. We turned back and headed up the mountain above bezirgan to look over the top to the coast, Kalkan, Patara and the sea. The ascent was on a beautiful mountain road, the kind you see in a car commercial. About two thirds up I noticed some very dangerous looking caterpillars with all the typical nature colours to be cautious of. They tasted a little bitter compared to the frog last week but Bear Grylls is a hero of mine and I wasn’t about to let him down. We snaked away up the side until the tarmac waved us goodbye. We had the choice of walking at this stage but it was a little windy, a little steep and Vik was a little pregnant, so instead we decided to precariously inch forward further up
the rock strewn dirt track to the summit in the car. We trickled forward across large stones and rocks praying the tyres would not burst, I peered at Vicky to see her gripping the door handle and seat with the strength on 10 men and eyes whiter than a glowing furnace. Looking back ahead I noticed I too was holding the steering wheel with such passion it was slow starting to ooze through between my fingers, perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea. Another few turns and we both decided to get out of the car and walk the rest. We had just crept past a herd of mountain goats and found a corner large enough to reverse the car to face downwards again, that settled we parked up and graced the terra firma. Another 8 or so bends and we had reached the peak, I was beside myself and stood triumphantly with knuckles on hips surveying the view around me. It deserved eloquence and something pithy to encapsulate the magnitude of nature that stood before us “shift your arse up babe, ava look at this, it’s mental!”. Vicky was a few steps behind but once arriving she too turned the frown upside down. It was really majestic, you could see everything, the Greek island of meis (you need a passport and Euros to hop over) the long beach of Patara, the two islands in front of kalkan and huge mountain scapes behind us. I don’t know how far the view was but I was happy it was mine. It was so silent up there and we seemed to be the only ones until I noticed a couple of fellas working on the pylon next to us. A minor mood killer but nothing serious, I could eclipse them with a wink. After many pictures we decided to make our way back to the car only to realise the drafty mountain goats had stolen our wheels, hang on… next bend, ok there she is. No passenger side sitting this time and most certainly no pulling away in reverse, I checked the gears maybe 8 or 9 times and inched away at speed to make a snail laugh. Foot permanently on the brake we must have looked like a pin ball cruising through honey as we went back and forth down the winding mountain path. Back at the road side I slipped st seamlessly from 1 to 5th gear as we made our way back to kalkan. At the apartment we decided on some grub and Murat arranged the cushions on the secluded sun platform in the lower garden. Some fried sea bass and lamb skewers hit the spot and we chilled there for an hour or so. The evening saw us get a large from Foto pizza, it was delicious, and washed down with a cheeky skol from Migros. Happy days. Day 12 – Friday Decided to start the day with waking up, it’s a tactic I’ve used for years and it served me well again on this occasion. A breakfast of coffee and two cakes (purchased along with last night pizza) was lovely. 6 chocolate cakes for 2 lira (70p) decent prices out here. Speaking of which, another little tip for any visitors to Kalkan, the main road going down past Migros to the taxi rank has restaurants that charge about 40% less than those in the tourist trap of the old town (rooftop terraces). Briefly headed to Migros again to stock up on some grub, it has a road entrance that is in dire need of some funding. I say road in the loosest possible term, the dusty boulder strewn dirt track is politely called a tyre hazard, yet realistically labelled as ‘yet another death trap’. During one rainy episode the track was very slippy and had more stones than the local beach. We headed down to indigo beach club, and had some lunch. Vicky then went for a sunbath whilst I decided to sexually bond with the local feral dogs - against my will. I initially started climbing a small rocky hill looking for lizards and a good photo vantage point at the top, quite quickly though I was joined by a rather amorous retriever. At first he would stop when I stopped, walk/climb by my side. This was quite cute and it was nice to have a companion, but then his mate turned up and I found each of them sniffing up my shorts, with each one thrusting nose first above each of my thighs and into my clothing at the same time. Initially I contemplated a cry for help, or a short scream of ‘dog rape’ but then realised I may attract some voyeurs of a bestiality persuasion. Instead I decided to start making my way down and eventually they ran ahead of me, down the hill, lucky escape I thought. At the bottom (no pun) I was greeted with the rest of ‘the pack’, about 8-10 dogs had clearly been informed by the initial two assailants that ‘this slutty dude was up for anything’. I was not, and began to speed up my walking into a
casual jog before exploding across the cliff edges in a sprint to make Usain Bolt look on with jealousy as the last of the hairy sexual predators disappeared from view. It was at that point I saw I had crabs. Sorry, I should explain, there is no link there, I had actually run down across the cliff, down some steps and into a rocky bay where I saw … crabs. I stayed for a short time amongst the sanctuary of my crustacean cousins (all I wanted to do was climb a hill and get a photo!) and hoped the dogs had fallen asleep, or at the very least be chasing someone else. I made my way hesitantly back to the beach and the dogs where nowhere to be seen, no doubt hiding in the men’s toilets or something equally sinister. Back with Vicky we decided to give the jet skiing a go, I’d been dying to do this since I knew we were coming to Kalkan and seen the local activities. Vicky was a tad less keen (again, I’m still eyeing up the ‘understatement of the year’ award) but still wanted to get involved, I knew there could be the odd murmur from her if her fear in the car was anything to go by so I tried my best to inform her that we would be going fast and it would be great if she could just enjoy it, “not a problem she said”. It would be fair to say that over the next 20 minutes I proceeded to tear the anus out of the Jet Ski, pushing it to its limits like a Turkish driver possessed by the gods of Hermes, Nike and Zoran (gods of speed). No sooner had my fingers gripped the accelerator my ears were annihilated by the screams of a thousand banshees as Vicky yelled with every breath in her lungs. Back on shore I could see deaf men scurry franticallyfor higher ground, fish were swimming away at blistering pace, the water was literally parting, and still she kept screaming “daaarrrrreeeeennnnn!!! Ffffuuuucccking sllooooooowwwww dooooowwwwn yooouuuu aaarrrssseeehhooolllleeeeeee!!!! Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!! Stop stop stooooop, tuuuuurrrrnnn tuuuurrrrnnnn yoooouuuuu baaarrssstaaad tuuuurrrrrn!!!!!” I tried ignoring her but it was a pointless quest (like standing on tip toes for a better tan), she physically had hold of me anyway and there was a serious chance of losing circulation if she gripped any tighter. ‘just turning now darling, I’m going slow, don’t worry’ … I did a swift 180 and ripped the accelerator back, we nearly flew out of the water and her screams went ultrasonic, I could see planes above us getting blown off course and birds falling from the sky. Thankfully I’ve been blessed with ears the size of acorns and over the years together this has proved to be a comfort, right now it was proving to be a gift from the heavens. “Cant quite hear you babe, faster was that?” and so we went on. At the end we made our way back to the safety boat and the two owners were in hysterics, “wow! You were very loud madam” I expected to see Vicky with her traditional face of thunder but unbelievably she was smiling, “I loved it” she said, “I just didn’t think you were going to turn”. Wasn’t going to turn, like I would plough me, you and our unborn child into a cliff? Sometimes I just don’t understand her. For my side though it was probably the highlight of the holiday (one of them anyway) I’d recommend it to any speed junkie, hitting the waves, spinning round, just getting faster and faster as you leave the coast (it reached 90mph) was just exhilarating. Anyway, back on terra firma I sat with the fella who was up next, a real livewire speed freak “I love it man, the joy of life, its worth anything”, I turned to him “dying for?” I asked dryly, “yeah man, course” … I had to push him for the irony “so you would die to enjoy life?” without a flicker of grasping the words he just replied enthusiastically “defo man!”. That night we headed into town for a little crawl and started at kosk for a couple of drinks, I was delighted that as a parting gift they supply a free shot of amaretto, one of my favourite liquors. A few more bars and we then found a rooftop pizzeria. A German and Chinese group needed a photo taken so I happily obliged, upon sitting back down with Vicky the Chinese man was enthusiastically leaping towards our table making a camera clicking pose and gesturing if he could return the favour. I accepted the invite and he then began to take things very seriously, the man lowered himself, knees bent (outwards) like a squatting dragon, pulled his shirt back up and over his head like a make shift black out hood and ordered us to smile, we were both already laughing, “3-2-1Nailao!!” (Cheese?) it was amazing. Shortly after one of the other waiters wanted to take our pictures, asking if I was a footballer? Then the chef wanted us to take his picture, I say chef, he was only cooking the
bread, and he came across as very kneady (sorry for that one). Next bar saw us accosted by a real weirdo type woman who would not stop shaking our hands every 5 minutes “please come in come in” ….we were already ‘in’ in fact we had already ordered drinks, we were sitting down at a table. Another five minutes past and it happened again. We shortly left with the clear knowledge it was the only English phrase she knew, perhaps we should have all tried a little harder with Esperanto. We headed back to aubergine, had a few cocktails and watched England demolish San Marino (well, I caught bits over viks shoulder). We watched two middle aged Turks fall hard on their flirting sword as 3 young English girls rebuffed their offers of wine and sexual advances, quite amusing to watch and in fairness they took it in good spirits. Perhaps one was the father of the boy at indigo beach a few days earlier of the burning tricycle fame. Who knows? Day 13 – Saturday Scurried down for breakfast at 10:15, they stop at 10 but were more than happy to unpack the buffet and bring out some further options, good service. Back upstairs in the apartment we decided on heading to Kapatas beach once more before we left. Unbelievably I actually saw the Chinese guy from last night, he was snorkelling with an underwater camera and I did a quick readjustment below to make sure everything was ‘in’. I then decided in dropping progressively bigger stones near the fish and watching them scatter. Don’t worry, the incoming water pressure above them would ensure they moved long before getting hit, except one dozy fella, but that’s Darwinian survival anyway right? So anyway, the rocks became quite large and I soon realised I could lift them swimming but then they weighed me down and gave me a great way of walking under the water ‘handstand’ style. I moved each hand tightly clasping a boulder and found a massive red and black eel, so startling in fact that I nearly inhaled a third of the Mediteran Sea whilst simultaneously shitting myself with an explosion reminiscent of krakatoa. I reached the surface gasping but curiosity quickly enveloped me and I swam back under, he was a stunning creature and the stone tactic bought me very close to him (and many other exotic looking fish). I then followed a shoal of squid that kept changing from black to white each time I got closer. The cheeky Cephalopods were going at some speed, I backed off sensing the colour change was fear but it was genuinely great to see it in the wild swimming with them and not on some nature documentary. Once out I saw there were a few posers on the beach. I like a photo as much as the next man (ok, probably a bit more than the next man) but one guy had a tripod (not in a phallic sense) and was taking pictures of his girlfriend laying down, then on the rocks and various others situations. On reflection I should have thrown her the eel, would have made a great shot to see her screaming as she ran face first into a cliff. I saw a rocky outpost and decided I’d try to do some rock diving. Now I’m no Didier drogba but I thought I did a dive to be proud of, and for once Vicky agreed. On the way back we stopped off briefly in the old town and I remembered once more how much of a burden stubble can be out here as a tourist, every 5 minutes id get the calls “shave sir?” , “shave and a massage sir? “Shave back, sack and crack sir?” “Massage your crack sir?” … I was tempted by the last fella but we walked on regardless. In the end we just picked up some haribo, a couple of beers and a gorgeous pistachio/caramel and chocolate ice cream and headed back to continue packing. Day 14 Sunday Our last full day in kalkan, we had breakfast with the staff and I couldn’t resist a picture with Murat, who posed with the kind of stance generally reserved for those celebrating the victory of great war, whilst I looked like a fridge by his side. He’d been great and always happy to help. We noticed badem had a shave and was looking a lot sleeker too. Vicky met us and went through all the leaving details when a small issue cropped up (through no fault of hers I must say). Brave tours, the car hire company, had given us a car at the airport which was about 80% full with petrol (a full tank costs 200 by the way), they made us sign some documents, didn’t explain what was going on (or even check for our driving licences) and sent us on our way, however the documents when translated show they had filled up the car fully, which was not the car. Vicky quickly resolved this and all was good, but be careful if you’re coming out here on that one seemed like a little
scam as you have to return the car with the petrol you signed off for at the start. Anyway, that dealt with we soon headed down to the harbour and spent a few minutes watching the small silver fish leaping out by the jetty as the longer pipe fish chase them around. We set off to buy some gifts and strolled through the old town. We had met Benjamin a few days previous and promised we would come back on Sunday to pick up one of the ornate fish hangings, he has a shop just below kosk restaurant and sells some lovely stuff. The man himself is the biggest draw, his English is great and he has a really good sense of humour with a balding shiny forehead you can actually see your face in. Again, this was yet another Turkish man I had to have a picture with. He enjoyed my haggling skills by folding over a 10 diagonally so he could see two 10’s the way I palmed it, then telling him I had 20, he smiled and told his assistant my trick. He warmed to us so much he got us both some free tea, the apple tea was great – have some, some water, offered us cigarettes and sat shooting the breeze with us for 10-15 minutes, speaking about his kids after hearing Vicky was pregnant “so I already had 2 boys and I start to get sexy with the wife, she was saying no but I said we will have a girl…. We had another boy! After that when I try to get sexy she just say NO Benjamin, remember last time! hahaha”. He said after the photo to make sure I tell people in England he is single, funny and looking for a good cook as a wife. Back at the apartments I decided on browsing the Mediteran guest list comments book and wrote a glowing reference as I had some luminous ink. The evening was spent packing as you would expect, with the occasional flying head butt to the suitcase in order to wedge the last few things in there. All in all in had been a fantastic holiday, we had met some brilliant people, had some fantastic experiences and we would definitely be coming back… as soon as Baba had left the Hamam massage!