We have just spent a week in Bodrum, Turkey. It is a nice place. Full of character and ‘Turkish Delight’. It is a chilled out place in late season. It is not too busy and most things are still open. The people are hospitable. It is inexpensive. The temperature is perfect for us (around 26 degrees centigrade in the day and 18 degrees in the evening).
My wife and I spent the week there with our recently widowed female friend and her sister and husband who joined up with us. In my previous blog post, I wrote about the stress of booking and preparing for a holiday, something that seems to get worse as one gets older.
This post is an account of how it actually went. Hopefully you might be amused by our up’s and downs.
It started well. We found the Leeds-Bradford ‘Sentinel’ airport car park at 3 am without any problems. We handed the keys over, the car was securely parked on site and the bus shuttle got us to the terminal within ten minutes of arriving. (A brilliant service in case you are considering using them.) We were one of the first to arrive and so we queued for the check-in which frustratingly opened nearly 20 minutes late.
The Airport Experience ….
What got me stressed straight away was that there was a lot of Jet2 staff who had arrived with us and who just stood around for 20 minutes, chatting with each other and ignoring the passengers, rather than speak to us to explain why there was a delay.
We had ‘checked-in’ online and printed our own boarding cards but I am at a loss to understand how this is more convenient for us than the old desk system. We had to queue to get to a machine (which was not a ‘one touch’ affair as was advertised), weigh our luggage, print off our labels, stick them on the suitcases and then queue again to present our cases to a Jet 2 porter in a corner of the room so he could remove them on to a trolley. Others who hadn’t checked in online queued at a desk, handed over their bags and beat us to the security gate. Why don’t they just admit it is a cost saver, not a better service for the passenger?
After zigzag queuing we negotiated the security check and I was body scanned and searched – no indication as to why. Afterwards, I was asked to move away from the conveyor belt to replace my shoes and belt but to where? The place was congested so I ignored the security guy and carried on in situ.
Once through into the departure lounge we decided to have an early breakfast and a coffee. We had been up since 1.00 am and we needed something. This is the sausage sandwich I was served – freshly nuked and presented with such artistic flair. I would have complained except no one would give a shit would they? How do they get away with serving such crap at ridiculously expensive prices? We certainly weren’t going to buy food on the flight so we bought a Boots meal deal to take on which was probably the only good value food in the entire airport.
Thankfully, after the standard pre-flight airport experience, the plane took off on time. The flight was quite uneventful but far from comfortable – claustrophobic, cold, and with the added ambience of lots of coughing people. Also, the expensive refreshments lived up to expectation. We only had tea and coffee but both were horrible.
The Arrival …..
We arrived at Bodrum airport and enjoyed a smooth transition through baggage claim and security procedures. 0ur taxi to the hotel was waiting for us. Everything went swimmingly up to the point we were shown to our rooms at the hotel. We had paid for a sea view but after cricking our necks and standing on tiptoes we were forced to conclude there wasn’t one. The hotel management seemed to have no record of a sea view but as we had it in black and white on it on the booking confirmation, they had to accept that a mistake had been made. They told us that, unfortunately, there were no sea view rooms available for the first night but they would move us to a ‘very, very nice’ room with a sea view tomorrow. Oh well.
Our friend’s sister and husband who had joined us in the hotel for the week didn’t book a sea view but managed to secure a partial one – if you looked through the gaps in the wall which separated their patio area from the hotel’s outdoor stage. As the disco speakers were just yards away, their first night was a rather late, noisy one. After complaining, they managed to get a better, quieter room.
The Kung Flu strikes …..
Day two arrived but it was 2 pm before we were taken to our new rooms and were able to unpack. Still, there was a sea view and it was very nice one indeed. Later in the afternoon we went to meet up with our friends. It was at this point that our friend started feeling unwell. The following morning she was feeling worse and asked our travel representative where she could contact a doctor and before you could say “iyi değilim ve öksürüğüm var”*, she was taken to a local medical centre, accompanied by her medical insurance details and my wife, where she was promptly diagnosed with corona virus.
(* I’m not well and I have a cough)
Over a several hour period, she was given a chest scan, fluids, blood tests etc to assess her risk and to provide some stability and was told she would need to isolate in the hotel. My wife got a taxi back to the hotel and our poorly friend arrived back in an ambulance some 2 hours later.
She had no option but to isolate in her room in the hope she has a negative test in time to fly home. Her holiday was effectively kyboshed. The staff would bring food, water and essentials and I have to say they were very diligent and very supportive. In effect though, our friend was imprisoned.
And what were we to do? The three of us could have been exposed to our friend’s pernicious droplets and aerosol particles. We decided if any of us displayed any symptoms we would test ourselves and review the situation. This led to an uneasy couple of days. We thought about how the various scenarios might play out if we were also to become ill, were consequently confined to quarters and couldn’t catch the flight home. Would we battle through and say nothing?
Of course we regularly called on our sick friend to check she was coping ok and to bring additional/alternative refreshments and provide moral support. It was clear over the next few days she was starting to feel better and that this was a mild case. We began to relax. So, we got on with trying to enjoy ourselves and as it turned out we had a very nice time pottering around Bodrum and the local area and relaxing in our lovely hotel complex on the beach.
Intermission – Visiting Bodrum ….
If you are thinking of visiting Bodrum, these snippets might be of some help:
Eating out is generally inexpensive and good value. Going ‘All inclusive’ is even better value although it does have its limitations. Seafood is better in the restaurants and the hotel’s alcoholic spirits are poor imitations of the real thing. But I’m not complaining. The hotel food was good, varied and there was a lot of it. But there are only so many kebabs I can eat and so many cocktails I can drink before I fall asleep or get ill and so I didn’t overdo it. Some hotel guests didn’t seem to have that problem or that self restraint and you could see they had devoted their life to eating and drinking and getting very fat.
There are plenty of attractions to enjoy. There are plenty of historical and archaeological remains to visit. The Castle and museums are worth a visit. Check opening times though because some museums are closed on random days. If you like boat trips, you’ll be spoilt for choice. If I went again I would do the trip to Kos. Some of the big advertised all day trips look wonderful but take a good part of the day to get there and back so check out journey times.
The taxis are cheap, but not for the feint hearted. Here are some tips. Choose an older driver…. They are less likely to think they are immortal and have the skills of Lewis Hamilton. Younger taxi drivers are reckless and seem to have a death wish. Choose a newish car….. We found the seat belts in the older ones didn’t work and were disguised by seat blankets. Pretend you know where you are going ….. Drivers will take you twice round the block if you sound timid. Tip the taxi driver… if he doesn’t try to kill you. They don’t get paid much.
It’s worth learning a few Turkish phrases and greetings I can see why Turkish is one of the hardest languages to learn and many holiday makers are put off for fear of getting words wrong. I struggled to pronounce even a few phrases and greetings and it probably sounded gibberish most of the time but it seemed to be appreciated by the locals if just for the comedy value. I’m sure that appreciation manifested itself in the speed of waiter service and the amount of gin in my gin and tonic.
There are a lot of shops Fancy a Rolex watch, Gucci bag and a smart Boss shirt? Well, you can get these for a fraction of the price you’d pay in Harvey Nichols. Because they are fakes! Honestly, I’ve never seen so many Rolex watches in my life. If you are looking for real bargains, check out the leather goods (I mean the non fake leather goods), carpets, clothes, and jewellery. There are reputable independent jewellers who know their stuff and offer great end of season prices. My wife’s 70th birthday is coming up in November and after 43 years married to me I thought she deserved a new engagement ring. So the most unimpulsive man ever bought one. I am now poor but well loved!
So, did our friend recover in time for her flight home? Yes she did. Our flight was, however, delayed for an hour and forty minutes. This was because the pilot wanted engineers to check that some debris which blew across the runway on landing (known as FOD) didn’t enter and damage the engine turbines. Fair enough.
So we took off and soon a number of people around me started coughing. I had read that in the UK one on 30 people have covid at present. On the basis that our plane had a capacity of 180 passengers it seems likely that some of these had covid. Therefore, if we haven’t already picked up the Kung Flu, there’s a reasonable chance we will by the time we arrive home.
We arrived back without further incident but some two hours late. No sooner had we dragged our bags from the terminal to the ‘Sentinel’ bus stop, the bus arrived for us. “Mr and Mrs Simpson I presume”, said the driver. Brilliant!
We don’t seem to have any covid symptoms so far and I am getting to the point of not caring. Its getting too much of an inconvenience and an obsession with people.
I need a long rest before thinking about our next holiday.