Our week in Turkey was off to a fantastic start, the Aegean Cat Ferry takes just an hour from Rhodes to Marmaris and was all smooth sailing, although we were not aware of the €150 charge for our Tourist Visas at the port, though we were able to reduce this from €180 by switching my Aussie Passport for my Brittish one.
My Auntie Denise and Uncle Pete had gone to great lengths to give us directions to show the Taxi driver in order to find her house in Akyaka, because there seems to be little notice taken of street addresses and her street had even changed names recently. Her efforts included getting her friend in Marmaris to write an email in Turkish for me to show the Taxi driver with directions and the phone number of another friend, Denise and Pete’s Turkish neighbour, who works at the Akyaka Council, in case he got lost. We speak no Turkish and our taxi driver spoke next to no English and as we didn’t have access to a printer before leaving Rhodes I showed him the message on my IPad, he was very interested in flicking his finger back and forth across the screen to see it move but showed little interest in the message and said yes, yes Akyaka. He then proceeded to drive like an absolute mad man on speed, at least twice the limit, right on the centre line of the freeway, no seat belts to be found, taking the corners like a race car so that the little high top mini van felt like it would tip over, only turning backwards to say ‘baby no sleep, I want photo’, referring to Tess closing her eyes, probably through fear, which he was not happy about because, as we found out at the end of the journey, he wanted to cuddle her so we could take his photo, but with our camera!
Anyway, just over half an hour later we pulled into Akyaka, he stopped the car and said what hotel? I tried to explain again that we were not staying in a hotel but were looking for a house and showed him the IPad again. He had a few more swipes with his finger and drove on a little to a Taxi rank, where he took the IPad to show some other drivers, a few more fingers swiped the screen, heads shook, our driver came back and handed me the IPad which by now was showing a completely unrelated email due to all the swiping. I returned it to the correct message and pointed to the individual words in Turkish and it was only then that the blank look on the driver’s face told us he clearly couldn’t read a word. He spent at least the next 20 minutes stopping every 20-30 metres, talking to people through his window or getting out at hotels to show people the IPad message, with the common response being either head shaking or pointing in the opposite direction to the last person he asked. In the end he went into the post office, which turned out to be on the corner of the street we wanted, but still then even the post lady couldn’t assist with directions (how do they deliver the mail?), she did though read the message and call the phone number and then direct us to the Council offices where Denise and Pete’s friend, Birol, came out and told the driver to follow him to the house, which was just a couple of minutes away. He then asked for 125 Turkish Lira, I tried to explain that we understood it should only be about 70 Lira to which he responded by pointing to his watch saying ‘long time’, referring to the journey taking over an hour instead of the half hour it should have, as a result of him not being able to read the message or find the place. I paid and then he persisted with his desire to cuddle Tess for a photo, she was half asleep and protested by screaming about being taken from her mum’s arms by a strange man, but somehow it still took him a good few minutes to give up on his plan.
The next four days were very relaxing, the house is set about 15 minutes walk from the beach and shops with a back drop of rock cliff faces and glimpses of the sea. The neighbours were very interested in our presence, heads often popped up at the windows or the front door, although verbal communication was next to non existent due to our ignorance of the language. On one lazy afternoon when Ari was watching a movie on the IPad in the lounge room while Skye was putting Tess to sleep, a little boy, about 2 years old, wandered in and sat down to join Ari, but then he also started with the finger swiping on the screen, much to Ari’s distress in the middle of the movie, so the boy picked up the IPad and walked away. Some squealing started between them and then the boy’s mother’s head finally appeared at the door, she gave a nod pointed to the boy and said “Yeet” (his name) and then left again, indicating, we figured, that we were tasked with babysitting for a bit.
Each evening then in the little complex it seems all the neighbours gathered in one of the courtyards to eat, play music, talk and dance til about 1am, with the last 2 hours from about 11am dominated by the young kids’ cries in protest of tiredness while being egged on to continue dancing to loud clapping. I am not sure if this is a nightly ritual or just reserved for the weekend, which is when we were there. We didn’t join in, although we probably should have, but our kids, and ourselves, we’re crashed by 10pm and that’s about the time their festivities started.
Most of our days were spent at the beach, or in the beach side restaurants or cafés. The kids loved it, they made new friends daily, and we found out that the Taxi driver’s desire to hold Tess was not limited to the Taxi driver, with random strangers pulling her out of our arms or plucking her from her beach playing very regularly, her crying about it 50% of the time, and so then they started with the touching and kissing, often on her mouth, it was all a bit much for her. A guide book in Denise’s house summed it well in saying, “The Turkish people are Friendly…. to a fault”.
We did experience an earthquake while in Akyaka, a strange feeling, only a few seconds really but enough to bring everyone out of their houses. We later learned it was a 4.7 reading about 30km away but at a shallow depth of 6km. It made me look at the cliffs behind the house a little differently though!
While in Akyaka we gave some thought to where we wanted to go next and after considering Malta and Croatia we both decided we were pretty ready for our favourite and most familiar destination, Italy, where we plan to spend most of our holiday. Looking into the flights we realised there was only one flight a week directly from Rhodes to Rome, which we booked, and so we decided to spend 3 nights in Marmaris, then 2 back in Rodes before flying out.
One of the neighbours, Yusiff, organised us a Taxi through his friend, so our trip back to Marmaris was much more pleasant and cost the 70 Lira it was meant to.
On our first day in Marmaris we decided to walk up the esplanade to the castle at the point and book our return ferry, but as we neared the castle I slipped off a high uneven kerb while carrying Ari and we fell (I know, it’s the second fall I have had with the kids, but I figure I am doing a couple of years worth of carrying over a few months and I have made the connection to it happening where the coffee is the worst, so my caffeine levels are low and concentration is down, that’s my excuse, although I was a little sick with guilt this time around because Ari was hurt). Ari hit his head on the road, hard, and proceeded to vomit shortly after, we didn’t take any chances and went straight to a private hospital. He had an X-ray which showed no fractures but they wanted to keep him in for monitoring for 3 hours as he vomited again. Right on the three hours, as we were leaving, he vomited again and so they insisted on a CT scan. We saw a neuro surgeon who said the CT was ‘normal’ and referred us to a Paediatrician who took blood and urine samples. It turns out Ari coincidentally had tonsillitis and another infection, probably from the sea, so they gave him some injections and a course of antibiotics. All in all we spent the three days in Marmaris going back and forth between the hospital and the hotel, only managing a walk up the beach and a short visit to a ‘Bazar’ market. We have since moved on, that was all more than a week and a half ago and Ari is in perfect health now. Tess has had an ongoing cold ever since we left Turkey, probably from all the kissing! But she’s on the mend too. It’s a reminder of how important travel insurance is, because to get the care we got we had to pay upfront at every point, and the costs build up very fast, but it’s nothing for the peace of mind.
Now looking forward to Italy, we have booked 5 nights in a little 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom bungalow in a campagio village near the Vatican where we plan to track down a big motorhome to tour Italy for a month or so.