Thursday, October 16, 2008
Let's start with just after the bus ride to Gaziantep.
Arrived slightly disheveled and tired, and found out that all the minibuses to the border wouldn't be running all day. I got to talking with an English lady and her Turkish husband(back in Antep for his brother's wedding), and they invited me back to the family's house while we waited for an uncle to call us back on the border situation. The brother that was getting married, Adam, and his mum were both at the bus stop to take us into the city by car.
Everyone at the house was very nice, but spoke no English whatsoever, so in the absence of Ali, the English lady's husband and our translator, we managed with gestures, smiles, and plenty of one of the only words we knew "cok guzel" (meaning excellent).
After a proper Turkish breakfast(very yummy), we took a drive to a small village by the Syrian border, where the family are originally from. The uncle who had been called lived on a very nice farm with pistachio and walnut trees lining the drive. A kitten and some roosters were walking about as we came up. Tea was served along with fresh walnuts that Adam knocked down from the trees with a stick. The uncle then tells us the border is closed for the next three days for Ramadan. I'm then invited to spend the following three days attending the wedding celebrations. Never did I ever expect to attend a Turkish wedding but it turned out very well.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The ride itself was ridiculously scenic, going up and down the Toros Mountains. The Scottish hills that I left a few days ago with the heather and the sheep has given way to rural Turkey with scrubby rock hills and goats. The bus stops every few hours for a quick stop at a roadside restaurant complete with squat toilets. You have to have good aim. When everyone goes out to stretch their legs, the bus get hosed down and the windows cleaned courtesy of various men in wellies. Around midnight we get pulled over by the 'jandarma' who board the bus, collect our passports, inspect them, and wave us on. I'm told it's to check for illegals mostly. The stewards turns on the telly at the front, and most the bus moves up to the front to watch the football for a few hours. We cruise on through the night for a grand total of 17 hours reaching Gaziantep at 9am.
I walked the 6km from my hotel to the Otogar on Wednesday afternoon to catch the coach to Gaziantep(where I am until Monday). Now rather sunburnt, but it was a nice walk. The Otogar in Fethiye is slightly more sophisticated than it's Dalaman equivalent. There's about 15 different bus operators with its own tout by the door, calling out destinations to tempt would be travelers in to their office. Relieved of both 50 lira and my pack(I love it when other people get to carry it), I then was escorted to seat 29 by the bus steward. Each bus has a steward for the duration the trip, always a boy, that goes about serving tea, nescaf, water, and hand cleanser, among his other duties.
Fethiye is a mecca for pleasure cruising on the little wooden boats that are everywhere. There's at least 50 or 60 different boats offering a 12 island day cruise which lets you stop off along the way for a swim and stroll before heading off again, for about 10£. Otherwise, if you ask nicely, some fishermen might take you along if you're up early enough
The harbour is the heart and soul of Fethiye, stretching the whole length of the town(about 15 or so kilometers). The view is absolutely fantastic with the Toros mountains across the bay. The cafes lining the sides are very pleasant, some even have giant beanbags to sit on. Vendors with giant silver platters of huge fresh pretzels walk about the cafes hawking their goods. I was sitting at the side of the harbour in between some boats, dangling my feet above the water when an enormous, hugely enormous sea turtle swam by(about 5 or 6 feet long!). He put out his head out of the water, made a noise at my feet, which I had hurriedly pulled up, and swam away. Very strange...
My first few hours in Fethiye started off with a traditional Turkish breakfast, which generally consists of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives, big chunks of white bread, sour yogurt, a few kinds of cheese, something similar to salami(not pork though), boiled eggs, and honey with Turkish tea, Nescafe, or orange juice to wash it down. Afterwards I retreated to the relative peace of the room and passed the hours watching Turkish dubbed films(Bridget Jones 2, and Tarzan).
My Fethiye hotel was the Mediteran, secured for 3£ a night(about 6$) for a sea view double with breakfast thanks to www.travelrepublic.com. It was reasonable mediocre, but no complaints at that price. Fethiye is placed on a bay, and the Mediteran is on the West side overlooking the yatch harbour with the boat building sites just behind. It smells of fresh wood shavings as you walk along. At the hotel itself, it's a typical expat scene with the British camped out at the bar. The resident dogs were frolicking with two of the men, who alternated between playing fetch and sipping their beers.
My first few days in Turkey were spent in Fethiye, a lovely town on the sea. Brits make up 60% of all the tourists so English speakers are well catered for, and there's even a few cafes that will do you a proper fry-up. After arriving at the Dalaman airport, about 60 kms away(this is at 12am) I had to wait 6 or 7 hours at the arrivals for the shuttle buses to start running. I managed to make my way to the Dalaman Otogar(bus station) just before sunrise. The first sign of my being in Turkey was the call to mosque as I sat waiting for the coach to Fethiye. It was absolutely hilarious when all the town dogs started howling along. All the animals roam completely free in the streets: I saw several dogs, a few cats slinking into alleyways, and then a couple roosters actually crowing the oncoming dawn. First time I've ever heard that with my own ears. Quite exotic. The Otogar itself is just a series of wooden huts, one for each bus operator, in the village square. I managed to find one to Fethiye, but the whole way there I kept falling asleep and barely made it off at my stop. The photos are the square opposite the Otogar before and after sunrise
I'm at a Turkish wedding in Gaziantep. Very strange story as to how that came about, but I've been here two days with two days more to go, it's been fantastic, but totally surreal. The posting will have to wait until Aleppo on Monday.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Made it! The great Middle East odyssey has begun I suppose.
The flight with First Choice was completely non-eventful, they played Indiana Jones 4, had a very good duty-free selection, and in-flight scratch cards. Most of the passengers were on package holidays and it showed haha. The plane itself was perfectly fine, but the seat were a sickly teal, and the poor flight attendants got to wear ill fitting polyester skirt suits in a very garish shade of pink. Arrived in at Dalaman airport at midnight, and paid a princely 40£ or 80$ for my visa, ugh. Very jealous of the British who got off with a 10£ visa.
Friday, September 26, 2008
I don't believe I've ever really been without internet for so long! It's absolutely impossible to find an internet cafe; in Ullapool the lone place that was connected cost 1£ for 11 whole minutes. The updates will be flying fast when I get back to London for the day(the 28th), so stay tuned.
Monday, September 15, 2008
The last few days were fantastic, everyone's been so very, very, very nice, but I can't wait to get going! The Caledonian Sleeper takes me to Aberdeen in a few hours, plenty of pictures to come from the Cairngorns and Balmoral. Here's a few of the goodbye pictures.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Here's the rough itinerary for anyone who's interested.
First stop is Scotland for two weeks of camping, and biking, plus a weekend in Ullapool for the Loopallu Festival.
Next is my epic Middle East trip, where I'll be stopping in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.
Final(final for a little while at least) stop is home for about two months for Christmas.
Keep reading, keep your comments coming, and enjoy!
Just one more reason why London is pretty damn fantastic place to live in...
It was a dull, and rather slow Thursday morning, all the customers suspiciously absent. I was of course indulging in my favourite customer lull pastime of catching up on my reading, and then the door opens and in walks, of all people, Helena Bonham Carter. She came up to the counter and enquired about egg sandwiches before ordering a brown bread bacon sandwich and a cappucino. She had a nice, rather quiet voice, and was dressed in her usual slighty eccentric manner(please refer to the picture). After bringing out the food, I had a furious internal debate about whether or not to bother her for a picture and look slightly silly, or play it cool and nonchalant. Nonchalant won out, and damn it, I really do regret it. In any case, the highlight of the encounter was my being very helpful by bringing out a wet cloth after she overdid it on the ketchup, getting a great dollop on her skirt. Exciting, right? Well that was it really, I was very cool in the face of celebrity, but then again, I did make a rather excited call to my mum right after she left. Oh the joys of cafe life:)
(The picture on the right is just a candid, however, she did seem to have the same skirt and handbag when she came in).
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Hey to everyone, welcome back, thanks for your patience, etc...I pretty much haven't updated the site in forever, just because not much really happens at the cafe, but here comes the changes. As of Saturday September 13th I'm free free free to resume my wanderings(for a few months at least). I'll be hitting Scotland, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Koi-beck over the coming weeks so keep glued to your computer screen, and check back regularly for the pictures(with occasional comments supplied by me).