Turkey - part 3: Fethiye to Aydin
The third and final part of my travelogue of a 7-week tour of Turkey in April/May 2018.
After four really beautiful days surrounded by the tinkling masts of the the boats in the marina at Fethiye, and exhilerated by my fantastic boat trip (about which you can read in part 2 of this travelogue), I had one more day's work in the pretty music school in Fethiye before moving on again, and embarking on the busiest part of my tour - five hotels in ten days. I woke with a clear head after the Raki of the night before (they told me I would!) and, after a morning's work, made the short and spectacular drive to Dalaman, with views of the towering, snowy mountains on one side and the crystal blue sea on the other.
I had one night at an all-inclusive hotel in Dalaman, amongst the holidaying families, all-you-can-eat buffets and evening bands, before a long day of work at another beautiful music school, this time in the little town of Ortaca. Again I was treated like royalty and given a tasty and sumptuous home-cooked lunch by the school owner and his family. This was my last day with my interpreter Narin who had been working with me in Fethiye, and as always it was sad to say goodbye. However, in the early evening I was being whisked off again, through more mountain roads and down to the lively resort of Marmaris.
As we approached Marmaris it looked absolutely idyllic, nestled in a bay with sail boats and islands all around, and I quietly hoped for another Fethiye. Sadly Marmaris did not quite deliver on that level, being a noisy and busy resort for - mainly - British holidaymakers on the all-inclusive ticket. There were British-style restaurants and bars, plenty of lively clubs and a very busy main street with hotels. This was most definitely the holiday destination of choice for those who want to party!
I was joined in Marmaris by Maria, the co-ordinator of all my work in Turkey, since the next day was a very important one - the first time music exams had been held in the town. The music school was a converted fish market with open areas and courtyards and a lovely, airy room to work in. The people who worked at the school were all very excited and proud to have exams take place there, and were keen to learn more about how they worked. We had a lovely day and I felt very privileged to be the first examiner in that location. That evening I found a quiet little restaurant on the water's edge, away from the foam parties, and dined on very tasty pizza.
In no time at all I was moving again, on to Bodrum, which is popular for retired British people and has a lot of very affordable property advertised for sale in the local estate agents' windows. My hotel there was a lovely, quiet boutique hotel called the Eskicesme, very quirky with lots of sitting areas, much of it open-air, and really comfy, well-designed and modern rooms with leafy balconies, all set on a tiny road just back from Bodrum's bustling marina.
Work in Bodrum took place over three days at a little private music school (literally one room, next door to an electrician's workshop) in a small village just outside the town. The candidates waited at the cafe across the road to come to their exams, and the place was run by a wonderful lady called Nahin along with various other musicians who had had performing careers in Istanbul or Ankara and who had retired to Bodrum to open this little school. To top it all, Nahin's friend was the chef at a restaurant just opposite my hotel so my meal plans for the evenings were sorted!
I had a day off in Bodrum but we were experiencing a bit of a heatwave - even by Turkey standards - so the hottest part of the day was spent inside. I walked around the market in the morning - a huge, sprawling place full of gift shops and very enthusiastic salesmen, and found a village-fête style craft market on the way back where I could sip coffee and watch the world go by. In the early evening I hiked up the large hill just next to the military base to be rewarded with views across the bay as far as the Greek island of Kos which is only a few miles away - meaning that the harbour in Bodrum was constantly patrolled by boats on the look-out for illegal attempts to get across to Europe.
After Bodrum I had a hair-raising drive, literally over the top of the mountains on the smallest roads, with sheer drops either side and lorries filled with quarried stone hurtling towards us. My driver seemed very cool about it though, and we arrived in Aydin in one piece, checking in at the Anemon Hotel which is all by itself next to the highway about two miles outside the city. My last work destination before home, Aydin was a bit like Konya, set in a hot, dusty bowl with mountains all around. I was working for three days at a large college, hosted by two very pleasant chaps who worked there, one of whom was my interpreter. We got on extremely well and all went out for a very nice evening meal on the first day, and a fantastic traditional Turkish lunch on the last which included extremely tasty kebabs and fresh bread with potent spices.
That brought my tour to an end, and I was driven the 100 km or so (past the ancient site of Ephesus) to Izmir so that I could catch a flight to Istanbul and then home. I hope that through these three installments I have managed to communicate something of the beauty of this country and its wonderfully friendly, hospitable people. Though I was working and away from home for a long time, the experience was unforgettable and extremely pleasant, and I hope to return!