Friday, 16 August 2013

Our Jeep Safari, Turkey!

My Turkish holiday this year has been one pure adventure, from my Istanbul trip to my shameless Hisarönü weekend, its been non-stop! Last Monday saw me embark on my eleventh or so Jeep Safari, a trip that I know very well! My advice, don't drink too much the night before but I won't ever be told anything different! Did I see any wild animals? No, I didn't but it was great!

Ready, set, go! Leading our convoy of Jeeps we made our way out of Fethiye area towards the smaller  towns and villages of Muğla Province, Turkey. Through my hungover state I wasn't ready for the day but that was just so! That full-packed trip didn't stop for one second, well maybe for the occasional rest stop every so often. Myself alongside my auntie Mandy, uncle Fudge and cousin Laura all watched the countryside change as we hurtled down the road at quite a high speed! Our first stop would be at Tlos, the site of a Greek ruin which was one a thriving community whilst Turkey's Greek population called this country home. Taking five minutes to marvel at the site and to be welcomed by our tour leader Semi, we had officially begun our Turkish Jeep Safari! We didn't have any time to lose as we were back in the jeep's and on the road again. I promised myself that I wasn't going on another Jeep Safari! It was good!

We watched out for the adorable village children that stood on the side of the roads to wet us unsuspecting tourists as we passed in the jeeps, we were subjected to a series of soakings! My auntie Mandy took some boiled sweets along with us to throw to the village children as their eyes light up when they received a sweet from our passing jeep! Over the years I have learnt that holiday resorts stop abruptly when areas don't have amenities for tourists but forgetting that its always good to appreciate what we had as children for the Turkish village kids don't have much. It's not the typical Jeep Safari that one could experience out on the Serengeti National Park in Africa but I haven't been on an African safari yet, I can't compare. Like many holiday day trips its imperative to keep things simple, don't expect too much and then your day shall be just fine. Leaving the comfort of our villas behind us we set out on another Jeep Safari! Yes, I was in a state! We left our valuables at our villas! Ah!

Moving ever closer to the Saklikent Gorge we made a short stop at Yakka Park, an oasis of calm at the foot of the mountains. We lazed in the Turkish seating areas, I did not plan to take a dip in the ice cold water! No! Our time at Yakka Park was short but really sweet, we enjoyed a chocolate Turkish pancake that was made by the village woman. We visited an alternative Yakka Park but I enjoyed the time equally. I had been lucky enough to have stayed in the tree houses overnight at the original Yakka Park a few years previous! Subject to Turkish tourism law we visited a Turkish Carpet Factory, but having done this trip several times we opted to enjoy a cup of Turkish tea whilst everyone else saw what the fuss was about. I can go to IKEA to find a Turkish looking carpet but I don't think a gorgeous Aladdin looking guy would be included! Feeling content, my blog had joined me for the day, this was the finale!

At Saklikent Gorge we took our seats for dinner, a simple but fulfilling meal that consisted of two chicken skewers with rice and salad. Usually on past Jeep Safari's we would have make our way into the Gorge to marvel at its beauty and to dip our feet into the sub-zero freezing water. But for that final time we lazed once again within the white water in our view in a different area. What was the deal with that fresh mountain water? It was too cold! I guess variety is the spice of life, it was nice to see the Saklikent area from a different point of view. One time before I lost my flip-flops in the gorge, I did not appreciate that! Some of the group floated down the river by a different mode of transport, I didn't have the nerve. Being cautious I opted to stay in the jeep for the short drive down to where we would meet the rest of the convoy! I think to myself know that it was a good idea deciding against rafting. No! On to the Mud Baths boo! The day was three quarters done! Drinks?!

It was time to get stuck in the mud! We were ready for our natural beauty treatment, our tour leader Semi said that we would look ten years younger after our appointment with the mud! During my time in the mud-baths I quickly established I had no chance getting my footing right, so it was a great splat in the mud for me! Overall, it was a very funny ten minutes or so in the mud, now we just had to wash that foul smelling matter from our skin! Washing ourselves free of this quick setting mud proved to be an interesting exercise as the river we used had a very strong current! Nevertheless we completed our muddy challenge with little stress! Our drive from the mud-baths and onwards to our final location was simply breathtaking. We drove through Kumluova and the surrounding areas, where we were greeted with a wide array of beautiful views as we made our way closer to Patara Beach. Really, I loved it all!

Our Jeep Safari had come to an end, well not before a refreshing swim in the waters of Patara Beach. This beach has to be one of my favourites in Turkey, it just goes for miles and miles! I loved this stop because it allows everyone to take some time to prepare for the drive back to Fethiye without having to rush. We enjoyed our time in the sea, got changed and had some food before returning to the jeeps for the final time that day. Patara Beach makes everything better, the jeep throws you about so a relax is much needed! I won't lie that over the years this trip has dragged a little because its an early start but for the final time it worked just fine! The drivers/guides work everyday through the tourist summer season, only having one day off a week at the most but they do a sterling job. We used Cadianda Tours and I would definitely use them again if I decided to embark on another Jeep Safari! That Jeep Safari was the best value for money trip in the area! That's done, time to go, go!

Teşekkür Ederiz!

Joseph Harrison

Sunday's Service... Çalış Market, Turkey!

Çalış's Sunday market is a centre of activity for locals and tourists alike. Bazaar, meaning market brings a whole host of delights into one tented area. I've been to this market every year for the last eleven years, so I should know how to secure a bargain! Are you ready to barter for the best price?! Don't let your head go, these traders can always secure a cheaper price!

Turkey produces the freshest fruit and vegetables I have ever seen, my opinion completely but our supermarkets in England cannot compare to the produce that has been captured to the right. Each Sunday the same top quality fruit and vegetables can be seen, displayed in such a manner it's almost like looking at a rainbow. So, there's no excuse not to buy some beautiful peaches or even some greens for the perfect Sunday roast dinner. I always like to pick up a few fresh goods such as; some figs and pomegranates because there are no pesticides used to cultivate these healthy treats! I would definitely say that a visit to Çalış's Sunday market makes or breaks ones holiday experience. Being a faithful holidaymaker to Turkey, more specifically the Çalış Beach area means I should know how the heat beats down on the tented areas of the market. If you can't stand the heat, arrive early on! Tourists, fresh off the plane! 

If I have ever missed anything from Sunday market in Çalış, I don't stress because there's another market identical to Çalış's in the nearby city of Fethiye. I take the local bus to reach the market where I can find the same delights, if not more! There's all this talk in England that our crops are laced with chemicals that lessen the quality if the fruit and vegetables that we produce but in Turkey its all natural, just look at the size of the fruit captured in the image above. Price wise its criminally cheap to buy a few peaches and apples for that fruit bowl, I always have because the smoothies they help to make taste divine. Going to Çalış Market in the summer months is a chore but its a great way to spend the morning before I return to the pool with my purchases. It's all about wrapping things up this holiday because I didn't blog the last time I visited Çalış in 2010. I have a lot of catching up to do. Oh, did I mention those figs are dangerously good? Shopping for fruit won't ever be the same again! No way!

Çalış Sunday market always has a number of makeshift Kebab and Gözleme restaurants for all to enjoy. Over the years I have been very adventurous with my food, trying dishes that would have probably made me sick! The heat of the day always makes me want to stop for an ice cold drink and even a Kebab or Borek! Talking about out of the ordinary foods; I once tried Kokoreç, which happens to Lambs Intestines served in a half bread pitta with salad. I must admit I really enjoyed the taste of the Kokoreç. My family thought I was crazy that I actually enjoyed that alternative Turkish snack, I loved it!  Hands down I can't beat a chicken half bread, or served with the same but as a wrap! Looking for something sweeter, I love to enjoy a honey and banana filled Turkish pancake. Known as a Gözleme, that Turkish style pancake wrap can be filled with chocolate and other savour fillings are available. There's a lot to enjoy!

Keeping hydrating at the market during the height of the summer season is a must, I prefer to replace fizzy drinks with a glass or carton of Ayran. Ayran is a salty yoghurt drink that hydrates just as good like water but is my favourite drink in Turkey. My family think I'm weird choosing to drink it because it does have an acquired taste but it goes perfectly with a traditional Turkish chicken Kebab or even better with something spicy. Me and my family have our preferred make-shift market cafe stop, the same Kebab man opens his stall at both the Fethiye and Çalış markets. The market gets hot and it makes me mad sometimes so I find it calming to take fifteen minutes to chow down on some tasty food, better still its great people watching because its a hoot tell which people had just stepped off the plane at Dalaman. Flashing back to Bilston Market I don't think I would be able to get the food from Çalış Market ever so I just enjoy it more each time I get the chance to visit. I just love it!

Forget Primark and the other high street brands because Çalış's Sunday market has everything that I need. From Nike trainers to Ralph Lauren shirts, everything is all genuine if you really do believe so! This is Turkey, it's easy to find a 'genuine' fake garment that looks pretty convincing. I suppose the variety of items that are on sale rival any store in the United Kingdom or wherever else in the developed world. Over the years I have secured a series of bargains from Prada look leather shoes and A&F styled t-shirts, read between the lines because there is no way I would ever be able to afford the real deal! Well not just yet! This year everyone has been on a new hype, grab yourself a pair of Beats headphones for £15.00! I will only buy a pair of Louis Vuitton leather shoes this year. The leather shoes genuinely last. Over the last eleven years the layout hasn't changed much so I know what I'm looking for. No stressing, barter your best price!

The quality of the products on sale is surprisingly high, well Topshop have a string of factories in Turkey so I guess the proof is in the clothing? I have never been fooled by the designs, it has been quite unfortunate to see unknowing tourists fall for the offers, they weren't aware. We all have to stay ready! Like many high street fashion retailers they make clothes in Turkey for a cut price so I might well find the same clothes in my local favourite stores like H&M or Primark? The deals are best when bartered for, stand your ground and suggest a fair price in a firm manner if not just walk away and it sometimes work for you that way. Some stalls are like jumble sales with mounds of clothes piled tall, the key is to look at what you want to because under the tents it gets bloody hot during the midday sun in July and August! Telling the truth, I bought  a Fitch t-shirt from the market a several years ago that lasted me a good while, I always look for a top quality 'genuine' fake product! Oh, Turkey! 

Where's the heck is my Turkish Delight? Çalış's Sunday market has a wide selection of fresh Turkish Delight to buy. I really like Turkish Delight but have passed the hype of buying copious amount like I did during my first summers in Turkey. With all this talk of Turkish Delight I might go to Çalış market this Sunday to buy something sweet! The sweets and delights are all waiting to be sampled, I've been to this type of market so many I don't bother asking for a sample as I've had my fill already over the years. It's not just about Turkish Delight, I love the wide array of nuts, seeds and dried fruits that are sold at the weekly Sunday Çalış market. Once the allure of Turkish Delight waned, I started to buy more nuts and dried fruits. The tourists go wild for the different flavours, needless to say I prefer coconut and sesame Turkish Delight. Yes, Turkish Tea is always a pleaser for the tourists, I prefer shop bought Türk Çayi Pazar çok tatlı!

The cheese van always has been running away from it, the cheese isn't like ASDA or Tesco products, there's an acquired taste and smell to keep in mind. Plenty of household goods can be found each Sunday, for my parents it was a handy thing to buy things for the house that we needed if something had been broken. Undoubtedly, Çalış Sunday market is a must visit, for me its definitely a necessary evil for all the best bits can sometimes turn sour when it gets packed out with rude expats and tourists but that's life. Nobody is perfect but the heat gets to us all and the market can get quite packed. If you're staying in the Çalış Beach area then get yourselves down to the market at least once! Even if you don't buy a cheap t-shirt or eat a delicious Kebab its always an experience! I need to go back for some Kokoreç and an ice cold carton of Ayran! Remember if you miss Çalış Market on the Sunday there's Fethiye on a Tuesday! I'm off to find a bargain and a bite to eat at the market! 

I Love Kokoreç & Ayran!  

Joseph Harrison 

Monday, 12 August 2013

A Place In The Sun... Onur Sitesi, Çalış Beach!

People like different things, like holidays we all have differing tastes. I have been very fortunate so far to travel to some far flung destinations, but one place has kept drawing me and my family back. Çalış Beach, Turkey has been a holiday favourite for the last eleven years for one a series of reasons. A complex of holiday homes that held the key to many happy memories. 

Located just off Barış Manço Bulvarı is Onur Sitesi, a complex of holiday homes that hold the reason why I love this country so! It must have been 2002 when myself and my close family set off for the Fethiye region of Turkey to look for a holiday home, scouting for a place to spend the summer holidays in Turkey. I look back at the first time I saw the house we ended up falling for, it wasn't the place I look at now, that house looked so very different. Everything happens for a reason, I know that we didn't choose this house, this house chose us! Usually favouring Greece for our holidays but found after they joined the European Union the price of our holiday began to skyrocket! We landed into Antalya in February of 2002 where we were welcomed by a bitterly cold wind and a lengthy three hour drive to reach Fethiye. Charter flights hadn't made it to Dalaman Airport when we decided to house-hunt in the Çalış. Hayir!

After one week of tireless house-hunting and discovering the local area we settled on the house for us which was on Onur Sitesi. It took some time before we spent our first holiday their due to my parents signing documents and furnishing the house so we could all get the best out of our very own holiday home. We stayed in Fethiye for the week, getting to know the then quiet and out of season resort of Çalış but we weren't ready for the bleak conditions. Looking at additional properties that ranged from new build villas and houses on sites that didn't impress us much but Onur Sitesi was the one for us! Over the years we've been joined with family and friends, staying with us for their holidays and to experience the slow paced vibe but its time to close those chapters for another moment in time. Learning about Turkish culture and being accepted as the first British family on the site is something that no one on the site can take away from us! Yes, the ability to communicate is key! 

The main pool area during the midday sun has always been roasting hot! It's great because the majority of our Turkish neighbours don't like the heat so on many occasions we had the swimming pool to ourselves. Embarking on our first few summers made me love this place even more, it was great learning a new culture and eating new foods without the disturbance of the usual Brits abroad trash! Having the option to go eat out or stay-in after a relaxing day by the pool has always been a added bonus of having our own holiday home. The Çalış Beach region of Turkey allowed us to enjoy several Boat Trips, Jeep Safari's! Having our own house allowed us to have holidays with family and friends because their was always space for that extra couple of people. Enjoying the best of both worlds, so I crafting this blog with a lot of fond memories in mind. It's time to move on, to see other places. Yes! 

You would think spending so many years in one place could become tedious or boring, I can safely say that each year has brought a new adventure. The site meetings got crazy with heated tones throw in Turkish from side to side by the pool area, it was difficult to understand the simple process of the meetings even with a translator. Being in a villa gave us the added bonus of our own shared pool and the flexibility of operating own sort of 'self-catering' basis throughout our extended summer holidays. I look back and now I truly realise how lucky I have been to experience over eleven stellar summers in Çalış, Turkey at Onur Sitesi! I missed Turkey badly when I worked in the United States of America in 2011 and 2012 but I made it back for one more summer to take everything in one final time. Turkey has captured my heart so I intend to be back in the future but to another part of the country. Çalış is cool but I'm looking to branch out to a part of Turkey, sure! I'll be back to Turkey. Ah!

This year has put things into perspective about making friends, if a conversation is effortless after not seeing a person for years then a friendship is OK? I met Kayahan and Çağrı about eleven years ago during my first year at Onur Sitesi. I spent two years away from Onur Sitesi due to my work commitments in Orlando and Newark, USA so I had missed almost three years of Turkey. Kayahan and Çağrı, it was crazy to be reunited with my Turkish friends after our time apart.. I must admit that when I was younger I didn't really like talking to new people but now I would introduce myself to almost anyone. It's been an eventful four or so weeks, I'm happy for that! It's been a great holiday but as the saying goes the world still turns! It begs the question, where will we be this time next year? Until then I plan to enjoy the rest of my holiday here in Çalış. Once again cease with that tone. Who wants another drink? Me!

From that February half-term week to the here and now I'm looking forward to the next venture because we have to keep moving forwards. Holidays are amazing thing but I am learning the amount of coins that go to make even the smallest getaway possible so I'm more than grateful. I need BIM back in my life already even though I'm still in Turkey right now but my mind has a habit of getting carried away. It's going to be back to university soon, my final year will define the rest of my life so I will use next two week to get my relax mode on and blog a little more about the places I get the chance to visit around the Çalış and Fethiye area. Like, Dalaman has a new airport? We can say we travelled through the mountains in the snow from Antalya Airport that February half-term week! Onur Sitesi I can say its been emotional but I honestly never thought that this blog would sound so heartfelt? I must be loosing my touch?! I'm going to get my life! Back to Birmingham to finish my degree! 

When Will I See You Again?!

Joseph Harrison 

August 2013: Somewhere Over The Mountain!

Fresh from my Istanbul adventure it was time to keep on moving, I wanted to relax for at least one day after my Istanbul trip before any shenanigans. I wasn't complaining about having a good time because I had saved some money from my trip. Getting on the drink, along with family it was time for us to spend two nights in Ovacık. Hisarönü was not ready for me and my cousin!

I was very confident that this whistle stop break would be very eventful to say the least! I don't do relaxing holidays! I know that there was something over the rainbow but those Turkish mountain resorts had a lot to answer for! Arriving bright and early at the Ernur Hotel in Ovacık, I was nursing a pretty bad hangover from the previous night, my cousin was there to terrorise me! I wanted to find my room as soon as possible, I did! Our hotel was simple and very clean, serving the purpose of our short stay. Securing a bargain is vital, it wasn't one of those trips to spend money on fancy accommodation.  Our room at the Ernur Hotel slept four people, complete with a sofa bed, with a clean and functional bathroom and kitchenette area. What a great deal at thirty pound per family! Staying in a villa is cool but I wanted some party time! That hangover was old, I knew better than that! Low key vibes were needed T.

Keeping things low key we stayed around the swimming pool for the remainder of the first day, this hangover issue happened to be a family affair! This holiday has panned out very different compared to how I thought it would have been originally. That mountain hideaway was just the right thing for me to mend my shameless hangover, I was on my summer holidays so I didn't give a damn! Our first evening saw us having a relaxed meal at Peking Chinese Restaurant in the nearby resort of Hisarönü. Having an early night would be on the cards for us, I knew that one or two drinks wouldn't break the bank, it was nice to feel normal after one or two drinks! I must admit that myself and my cousin ended the night with a cocktail or two, we knew that we would slip in some cheeky drinks because we were ready! Getting to bed early was the one, we needed clear heads for our Ölüdeniz beach day! The crazy city vibes of Istanbul felt like a million miles away, I was ready for a good drink!

The beach was calling us all, we packed up our towels and sunscreen to enjoy a day at the beach! We settled for the the world famous Ölüdeniz Beach, we chose to stay around the bay on the private Şeker Beach Club to get the best of the sun and to escape the crowds. I had been to this part of Ölüdeniz beach before, my absence from Turkey had made this day really special. I wasn't up for sunbathing during my time at the beach for I wanted to laze in the cool blue waters rather than bronze my skin, such a difficult decision to make! The day was all about relaxing, to take it easy rather than milling about somewhere pointless in the boiling sun! It was a moment I had to get real, holidays don't last forever so mark my words I did my years worth of relaxing and enjoying myself that scorching day. Ölüdeniz Beach has world recognition as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches! Where's my drink at boo? I was thirsty for a cocktail!

I took some time to admire the sensational view, enjoying the waters for a short while to feel like I was a part of the Ölüdeniz vibe. Myself and my cousin Laura decided to start our own Happy Hour early because we had fully recovered from our lingering hangovers. I started on the Efes Beer because it was the cheapest drink whilst Laura sampled a Strawberry Mojito. Our afternoon at the beach was getting quite boozy, but who honestly gave a damn that we were getting suitably intoxicated?! Ölüdeniz Beach holds the trophy as an outstanding beach because from the air it wins it picture perfect looks, hopefully that doesn't burst your dreams?! If the truth be told I'm not really down for beaches because of the sand but the salt water is a natural skin cure. Don't get me wrong the beach was beautiful and the time spent together as a family was super as well but we had a plan to fully execute. A relaxing day was had by all, we even saw an African dance troupe! Laura, drink up!

Hisarönü knew to expect us! Myself and Laura made our way into town to fill up our cup because we were ready for the night! I honestly did not know how we got ready for we were on a mad one! Ricochetting from the hotel entrance, past the pool on the way to our room, the other hotel guests could tell we were on the town that night! Dressed to kill, we made it to the bright lights of Hisarönü's main street. Allowing ourselves a little kebab, we remembered that eating is cheating! I loved being out and about, my time in Istanbul didn't permit a night out! All good things come to those who wait! Grabbing our first drinks at Barumba Karaoke Club seemed like the best thing to do, let's get those skittle bombs down! The bar wasn't really popping when we first got their but we got the party started! Laura jumped on the Karaoke first by singing Valerie by Amy Winehouse, she belted that song out really good! Let's get smashed!

Bumping into some friends we had made from the hotel was the signal to move on to the club! We drank a little more and danced some as the club got that little bit more poppin' and then some! Marrying the night we all made our way across the road to Revolution, a new addition to the Hisarönü club scene. The club that we called our last stop was crazy but clubbing code works differently for me in Turkey so I didn't appreciate that way of being! I'm not really sure of what happened next but must admit that the last chapter of our night was immense! Let me tell you something, we honestly were not ready for the hangover that would hit us the next morning! It was a great few days, something that rounded off my quick-paced Istanbul weekend. From the beach to our continual hangovers and reconnecting with Hisarönü, the budget hotel suited us fine! Who knows where the next chapter of this crazy and beautiful holiday will be like? Pour me another drink! Back to the villa! Drinks?

Ovacık, Hisarönü and Ölüdeniz Slayed!

Joseph Harrison

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Destination: Istanbul, Turkey!

What's the deal with Istanbul? How can one city span two continents? I know Paris has the Eiffel Tower, but Istanbul proudly showcases the Hagia Sophia! Let’s keep things fair because like people, cities are all beautiful and individual in their own way. I realised that Beyoglu is the region of Istanbul to trust! Istanbul is always a city that leaves me wanting more! Şimdi git! 

Hitting the ground and running, I landed at Istanbul Sabiha Gocken Airport with Pegasus Airlines. Time waits for no one; I took the Havatas bus from Sahiba Gocken to the heart of Taksim Square. Making my way through the electric Taksim Square, passing by Gezi Park all in pursuit of my hostel. Finding my hostel the Taksim Istanbul Apart, I dropped my belongings and took my sense of adventure to get back to this crazy, beautiful and vibrant city! Taksim Square doesn't play games, she means business! Istanbul showed me an edge that I loved, working her crazy vibe I embraced the madness of Turkey's cultural capital city. Had I already been to Istanbul, Turkey? Taksim Square is at the epicentre of all things that make this city cosmopolitan and real at the same time, it’s hard to explain but this square puts the cat amongst the pigeons! Taksim Square had me seeing truth! T, I was ready! Beyoglu wasn't going to wait!

Istanbul didn't need to take my hand because you have to experience this city with no fear! I saw some intriguing characters on my way over the water but hey I'm not that fancy, so Istanbul we're cool? Heading straight for the Bosporus Strait I wanted some delicious Turkish cooking, it had been a damn long day. Grabbing some dinner and catching a glimpse of the crimson sky slowly turning a darker shade I knew it was time to get some rest, but Istanbul is a city that doesn't sleep! I didn't really have a cemented plan but knew that I wanted to get stuck in good and proper! Istanbul's flow will get you stupid, she's got way more attitude than London! Pour it up with a cup of Turkish tea or Ayran, I don't get crazy when I'm on my travelling grind, respect that! I had left Fethiye for the weekend, no more seaside realness I wanted that Istanbul city life to keep pumping on! The backstreet hostel I chose had a up-front feel about it with real city people hustling their grind. Türkiye'yi çok seviyorum! 

The only way was Sultanahmet, this part of Istanbul held the key to a whole other world! I made my way to the Hagia Sophia, a testament to this city’s blend of Islam and Catholicism this once functioning place of worship acted as a Church and Mosque over the years. It was awe-inspiring to witness such a mix of patterns and stories housed in this fully working museum. Globalisation is always a handy development for I found a McDonald's to have a coffee before my Istanbul sightseeing could truly commence. Work! I'm not religious but I was in complete amazement at the Hagia Sophia. She's a masterpiece that Hagia Sophia, standing proud like a legendary queen! Respect Sultanahmet, its a part of town that served historical realness! Yes, Istanbul!

Istanbul never misses a beat, fresh from my sort of religious sejour at the Hagia Sophia I was looking for the glamourous side of Sultanahmet! Paying my coins I witnessed how the sultans of yesterday lived their blessed lives in the confines of the Top Kapi Palace. I doubt if those sultans ever popped champagne but the plush settings and picturesque gardens made up for the lack of fizz. It was crazy busy with foolish tourists, go home to your hotels, please! Blocking out the trash I was living for the jewels and treasures, I witnessed pure luxury in that moment of time! As that scene looked more expensive I went back to the real world, well a soup kitchen by the Blue Mosque because I was starved! Turkey's cultural capital never lets me down, she was built to serve true greatness!

It was all about the Bosporus, within the show that's Istanbul this aspect is the starring role. In the distance to the right stands the Galata Tower, the Turkish answer to Rapunzel’s Tower. Reaching both sides of the Bosporus is only easy if you know how to cross it! This strait of water holds many tales that sets Istanbul apart from New York City's Manhattan Island and London's Thames River. The Galata Bridge connects Sultanahmet with neighbourhoods like Galatasaray and Beyoglu. Crossing the Galata Bridge was an experience in itself due to the sprawling path of interesting fish restaurants that tried their best to get me to taste their offerings. Reaching the Asian side of Istanbul meant a ferry boat trip over to Kadikoy, Asia. High Speed Rail will be the future for Istanbul with a tunnelled link that will ignite a new era for Turkey's railway system. Crossing the Galata Bridge always gives me life! Times are changing IST!

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I went to the Sirkeci Railway Station to see where the Orient Express once brought the inquisitive tourists from the past to experience the gateway city to Asia. Does it still? I chose to keep to the European side purely for ease and I wanted to see as much as I possible could within the short time I had gave myself in Istanbul. The waters of the Bosporus were lively during my August afternoon, confirming that I took the bridge to edge ever closer back to Taksim. My previous jaunt over the Galata Bridge was when I was probably fifteen years old, it was crazy to experience the non-stop pace of the concrete community of barbershops, fish restaurants and everything between all based upon one bridge. I got my haircut and I'm sure we stopped for something to eat then but don't quote me on that! Oh, when I said the water was lively I really meant to say 'rough!' There's no greater power than the power of Istanbul! She's formidable!

Istanbul does cosmopolitan, I remembered that this Eurasian city calls the shots! After crossing the Galata Bridge I found myself back in Beyoglu on Taksim Square's doorstep. Istiklal Caddesi serves a mash of shopping experiences, serving Turkish greatness and Topshop fashion stores. Istanbul might well be strong and crazy at times but she knows some of her gentlemen citizens are very easy on the eye, I did notice that courtesy call for certain! From Turkish Delights to another, Istiklal Caddesi is another reason Istanbul is a city that puts the cat amongst the pigeons! Taksim got crazy, I saw what was going on but didn't entertain that drama! I always check Istiklal Caddesi out whenever I find myself in Istanbul! Istanbul's got my back! Hadi gidelim!

Turkish food was my fuel whilst in Istanbul but I got caught up with a KFC and a McDonald's breakfast so I was guilty! Those trams drive through the streets so watch your step! I never test Istanbul because that city is wise, I try to educate myself about the Ottoman Empire and experience opulence within an urban metropolis! Shade or not I would return to Istanbul in a quick second, it's a city that I respected and it showed me the way to see what I wanted and more. The Bosporus got me wilding for more, Istanbul caught my attention for a second time and I want more of that good stuff! Istanbul won't apology for anything, like a pulsing rhythm she can't control her hips! Istanbul's got this, she is the champion of champions! Gelecekte görüşürüz! Hızınızı koruyun Istanbul! Back to the beach!

Istanbul is Now!

Joseph Harrison

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Our Çalış Boat Trip, Turkey!

The Turquoise Coast of Turkey has got to be one of the most beautiful places I have travelled to, its truly idyllic! Taking a Çalış Boat Trip is the best way to be nearer to the crystal blue sea. I have been a faithful holidaymaker to the Çalış Beach area of Turkey for the last eleven years, partaking in many boat trips around the bays and coves of the region. Let's set sail! 

On the second day of my Turkish holiday myself and some of my family set sail on a lovely boat trip that took us around several islands and bays that surround the kitsch town of Fethiye. We decided to take a small Çalış Boat to experience another beautiful day on the Aegean Sea. I packed the essentials; including my camera and my notepad with pen. I must admit I went out drinking the night before, my hangover wasn't too bad! A swim in the deep turquoise water washed away my headache! Honestly, what sounds bad about a day like this? Nothing does! The sun is my thing, taking sensible intervals from the raise, I sunned myself on the front of the boat. Boat trips are definitely for relaxing and enjoying the views. Taking in the beautiful blue sea and mountain views felt right, life is a celebration! With family, our Çalış Boat trip entered the bay to sail further away from any town or city, it was lovely to feel the sea breeze! 

Keeping my eyes peeled for the Fethiye to Rhodes Hydrofoil as it passed our small Çalış Boat, seeing that super speed vessel made me want to get to Greece! My parents had originally planned to go for a Turkish Bath but we graciously postponed that outing for a Big Fat Turkish Boat Trip! You can't please everyone but we switched our plan. After arriving a few days earlier I wasn't completely set on going on a boat trip but like always its better once I'm on the boat heading for the bay area, the boat departs from the pier really early and I don't deal well with early starts. Being back in Turkey was something that I had been looking forward to, I didn't spend much time by the sea in Spain because spent a lot time in the cities and hungover the morning I was by the beach so I was up for some time on the boat. If truth be told I'm not all that bothered if I don't get a golden tan because I'm all about capturing every moment through my blog. No, this boat trip won't be the only one! Choices!

Making our first stop close to Aquamarine Bay, by this time the midday heat had brought us all closer to the ocean blue. This bay was perfect, the water felt just right and their was a little pebble beach which I swam over to, I did feel like a Bond Girl swimming to the deserted cove but I didn't see my 007! Ariel, I saw you!  If you have never been to Turkey I suggest you seriously reconsider because its Çok Güzel! The waters surrounding Fethiye are home to some interesting fish, some of which have to be handled carefully because they are poisonous! I don't like fishing! It was time to keep moving or should I say keep on sailing! Going on a private Çalış Boat Trip doesn't have to break the bank, we had eleven people on the boat and it worked out a £35.00 per family. Drinks weren't included, it's wise to keep hydrated with water to save the bill? No booze cruise! Holidays are for relaxing, we can all live the good life!

Our time spent at Aquamarine Bay was lovely, spending time relaxing in the deep blue without a care in the world. Back to the sailing I won't lie I did feel like Rio when she danced in the sand, just picture the Duran Duran music video! Boats trips have been a faithful part of my Turkish holidays over the last decade, there's always been call for a day going around the bays. They're different compared to a Jeep Safari because the boat offers a chance to see the mountains and coastal landscape of the wider Fethiye and Çalış bay area, from the top deck its always bliss watching the world pass us by! If I cast my mind back to this boat trip we stopped around three times, I could really notice the change in the heat because the water felt so lovely and cool. Talking about Rhodes like I did before I don't think I'll be making the trip over the Aegean Sea because I want to revisit the local area. Just to clarify I don't fish, I tried before but I've not go the patients to persevere. Move along!

A sailor needs his grub, so it was a good job that our boat put on a great spread of freshly cooked food, which included; salads, kofte, rice and more. Our food was served during our second stop of the day. To conclude our more than filing banquet we had a sumptuous fresh fruit platter to complete our barbecue meal. As the day pushed on it was time for us to move to another port of call, this penultimate stop was called Rabbit Island, visibly in the shape of a rabbit. The water there was very shallow, it was more like a swimming stop with no jumping or stunts into the water. Yes, I kept my eyes peeled, to my luck I saw some cute fluffy rabbits jumping about their business. Fancying a mud scrub beauty treatment, I took a few steps onto the island. Like before I found the sulphur mud-baths that made my skin feel rejuvenated and refreshed! Not bad for a short stop before the end of the trip? No big boats for me!

As the afternoon drew to a close it was time for the final swim in the ocean blue, Sovalye Island was our the final stop of the day where I enjoyed a final swim in the sea before enjoying some tea and cakes. After our sunshine day cruising upon the Aegean Sea it was nice to know that the boat made its way closer to Çalış, the sea salt get annoying after a while! Our three or so stops gave me the chance to relax and our lunch was simply beautiful. I could easily eat another plate of kofte and fried aubergine right now, it was all so damn good! I must say that Çalış Boat Trips never get boring for me, pour me a cup of tea and pass me the cake because I was sure ready for the villa. Even though I didn't feel so good at the beginning of the day I felt rested and bronzed when I stepped from the boat at the pier in Çalış. I will definitely be enjoying another boat trip within the next two weeks. It's a hard not life being on holiday in Çalış! Telling the truth I have lost count, how many boat trips? Sailing!

Into The Blue!

Joseph Harrison