chapter lx

Posts Tagged ‘Rhodes

Yesterday was another one of those days when plans went south. Why did I assume that Dalaman airport connected to anything? I guess it would bel like flying into Halifax and assuming that you could get to Lunenburg easily. It would have made more sense to fly straight to Rhodes, I didn’t save a nickel going by ferry. The ferry was about 40 minutes late leaving Rhodes, which closed my 45 minute window to catch the 10:30 bus to Dalaman – the only bus!! So a $100 taxi ride. But I was not thinking clearly enough, it was still early in the day and my flight was not until nearly four. I could have stayed in Marmaris, had a nice breakfast outside in a cafe, sat by the sea and enjoyed the time. Instead, I was already in a taxi at the ferry dock, had to get into the town somehow, but when I went to the ferry dock to cross to Rhodes, I got a town bus for about 3 Tl. The cab driver, of course, was anxious for the fare, so took off, after we haggled some on the price. I hadn’t had breakfast yt, no coffee even. I had to leave before the pension served breakfast, and didn’t want to miss the ferry. By the way, the room in Rhodes the previous night was charming. Mango Rooms, situated in a far quiet corner of the Old Town, with a pleasant cafe, clean well appointed room, and a very large tree just outside that caught the breeze and shushed all night.

So I got to Dalaman Airport hours before my flight, paid airport prices for mediocre food, and was sorry that it turned out that way. But wait, the day was not over yet. Flight was pleasant, they served little sandwiches and coffee, no taking off shoes or separating liquids and gels, landed at the far airport and took transit into the city, but over the river from the hotel I had booked. Taksim Square, New Istanbul. Figured how to buy a transit pass, but how to know which bus? A man selling something on the street looked at where I wanted to go, and drew out the number 96, showed me where to catch it. Rush hour, like rush hour in any large city, thousands of people waiting for hundreds of busses. I waited about 45 minutes, and every number bus had passed but no 96, so I asked another man who was waiting and he told me which to get on, and stay on until the end. Great, but how to find my hotel? So I asked a woman who was getting off the bus, showed her the address of the hotel, and she said ok, you come with me. We walked for awhile, through a neighborhood where people really live and she was saying hello to people all along the way.we got to her house, and she called her teenage daughter down, who speaks better English. I found the hotel ok, but what a run-down nasty little place. The neighborhood is Kumkapi, close to a very large fish market. There are streets and alleys with seafood restaurants lining each side, lights strung everywhere, and each restaurant has a band, each playing at full volume. People get up and start dancing and clapping. It was as crazy as Las Vegas, or carnival. I managed to find a tiny kebab place in a side alley, but did sit in a pub for a $6 beer. It was an experience but I didn’t want to stay more than one night, so got on the Internet and found another room for the rest of my stay. Even had to wait an hour for breakfast this morning.
One more move this morning, dragging the wheelie and carrying the carry-on and purse. Went to the bus stop, again wondering which bus and a taxi driver approached. I thought, what the heck, it can’t be that far, why drag all this again? So I showed him the address where I wanted to go, and he didn’t understand it so moved me to another cab and driver. Bargained the price with this one, about $7, and felt ok about that. He was Kurdish, spoke about three words of English, although we did struggle to make conversation. He drove to a dead end, pointed up a hill and said, walk about a kilometer or kilometer and a half, and I would be there!! I tried paying him less than we agreed, he didn’t take me where I wanted to go, but my bag was in his trunk. Hmmmm.

I am so happy with where I am now. The Emin Hotel, in Sirceski district, clean, friendly, well-maintained with a restaurant and right on a tram line. A very nice part of town, easy to walk everywhere. And only one Euro more a night than the dump. So I have unpacked the bags and settled in for the next four days. Went to the Spice Market this morning; what a place. You can buy anything there, a real department store. I mean it, clothes, kitchen equipment, hoes and axes, boots, spices, fabrics, toys, party supplies, what do you want? Of course, Saturday morning the place was jammed. More varieties of Turkish delight that you can imagine. Too bad I’m not that crazy about Turkish Delight, but many other goodies.

Went to Topkapi Palace this afternoon and am still amazed. The opulence and beauty and luxury that they lived with is incredible. This is from the 15th to mid-19th century. I think about how people were living in Canada then – no comparison. The difference between the Old World and the New World. Beautiful grounds and setting with views over the Marmara Sea and mountains. I didn’t go to the Harem, although everyone says they are a must, but by the time I got there it was almost three, and the whole complex closes at 5, so I didn’t think I could do it all justice. There was a special exhibit about the harem, and harem life, which I think gave a good representation.

Tomorrow I think I’m going to venture out of the touristy old part and go up the Bosphorouss to some other neighborhoods and palaces and churches. I have tickets for whirling dervishes at a cultural centre tomorrow evening. I am looking forward to that. The other thing i really want to do when I’m here is visit a hamam. Istanbul really is a lovely city, with so much to see and taste and experience. You hear all languages, see all dress, many women with headscarves, bright colours and attractive. There are also some in burkas but not in great numbers. My experience is that Turks are warm and generous people, but stay away from cab drivers!

The days are warm but not too hot, and the evenings are lovely and cool. Perfect time of year to be here. I wish I could post photos, but will have to add them in when I get home, unless I can find a very cheap camera gizmo here. I feel like I have been bleeding money the past couple days, but things are more predictable now.


We are sitting in a cafe on the waterfront waiting for our ferry to take us away from this paradise. It has been a wonderful few days, relaxing and just hanging out. It doesn’t rain here until winter, just one sunny day after another. We have decided that floating in the Aegean is one of the favourite things that we have done here. The water is the most incredible blue, and so clear you can see to the bottom even far out. There were two beaches we went to, a white sandy beach, and a pebble beach. I think my favourite was the sandy beach, shallow way out, warm water and just lovely. When you go to the beach here, there are lounge chairs and umbrellas – the sun is way too intense not to have umbrellas. Our other favourite thing was having breakfast on the table outside. Always fresh, yoghurt, plums, feta, tomatoes, bread, honey, juice. We have eaten so well here, simple food but tasty and fresh.

We met the mother-in-law of the woman who owns the house, and she suggested that we would like to take a tour of the island, so we did. It has been inhabited for thousands of years, there are ruins from second century B.C. There is also an old monastery that was built six hundred years ago, set way up on a hill.

The whole geography is hilly and brown, very dry. There is no source of water on Chalki, it is either collected in cisterns or brought in by boat. There are roosters always crowing, and goats tied up here and there. Mourning doves are the most common bird one sees, also crows. There is another small bird that I don’t recognize.

Our days were slow and easy. Now another day of travel to get back to Istanbul. Overnight in Rhodes, ferry to Marmaris first thing in the morning, bus to Dalaman airport – as far as I can tell, there are only a couple a day, then a short flight to Istanbul. I do have reservations at a hotel when I arrive, so hopefully it is pleasant and I will stay there the whole time. I am sorry to be leaving Chalki, and Joan and Amina, but excited to explore Istanbul. From idyllic Greek island to one of the largest cities in the world.

A few days in transit and away from wi-fi, but back again. Got to Rhodes on a ferry from Marmaris on Friday. Was it Lawrence Durell who said that arriving in Rhodes by ferry is one of life’s treats? Or maybe Henry Miller. In any case, it is a lovely sight, you can just see the knights gathered. Finally met up with Joan and Amina and we stayed at a lovely small hotel, the Hotel Africa just across the street from a beach, so spent most of the day on the beach, then walked into Old Town for dinner.
Lots of old,old buildings and too many tourist stores, but a nice town to walk around. The next morning had time to walk around a little more, and then a long bus ride to get the ferry to Chalki. The ferry was another hour or so. We arrived in Chalki late afternoon. It was like coming onto a movie set, beautiful old seaside town, red roofs, fishing boats tied up around the harbour, church towers and colourful houses ranked up the hills. No one quite knew where the house is that Joan has rented, although the owner had left the keys at a cafe on the harbour. Finally a young man arrived who took my bag and we followed him up narrow paths between buildings until we arrived at a white house with blue shutters. The keys worked, so we knew we were in the right place. However, there was no kitchen! Joan phoned the owner, and we discovered that it is upstairs and downstairs.
Two large rooms, a kitchen, bathroom, washer, and windows that open wide. We moved the table and chairs outside, so we can eat out there and play games. The views are beautiful over the harbour and town. Last night was a full moon and just stunning. We have been to two beaches and the water is so clear and warm. Walking down to town is a treat, having a snack or drink, strolling along the waterfront. The waterfront is lively all the time, lots of summer people and many cafes and tavernas. The food is fairly cheap and fresh. I am looking forward to staying here for a few more days, relaxing and enjoying Greek hospitality.

More traveling today, but much more interesting. Took a long bus ride to the Gokcen airport, a newer airport in the suburbs which is used by more budget and local airlines. It is huge and modern and relatively empty. Had my ticket for Dalaman, theory being that from Dalaman airport I could get some sort of bus or shuttle to Marmaris to get a ferry to Rhodes, the last one being at 6 pm. Landed at around three, so should work, right? Ha

Dalaman airport is even emptier than Gokcen. My suitcase was in fact there, but at the international terminal, for which there at no shuttles, but a 15 minute walk. Took awhile to retrieve it, had to locate the right office and get clear with the customs officer. Just a note on differences in flying in Europe. First of all, they actually give you food on flights. Even the short flight from Istanbul to Dalaman, they came around with sandwiches and drinks. They don’t worry about water going through security, don’t have to take off shoes, or remove liquids and gels, very casual about it all. You do, however, pass through security to enter the airports. Not rigourous, putting bags through an x-ray and walking through a metal detector, like going into a government building. I can remember in Paris, 20 years ago, passing through security to enter even a department store, museums, any large public building. Anyway, because of the time it took to retrieve the bag, I missed the shuttle from Dalaman to Marmaris, and the next one wouldn’t come for another two hours. Well, that meant I probably wouldn’t make a ferry today. There was one other person trying to get to Marmaris, Mohammed from London who’s wife and children are with her parents about a half hour past Marmaris. He phoned her to tell her about the delay and she said they would come to pick him up, about an hour and a half for them to get there. So we sat and talked, very interesting and lively conversation. He said if they came before the shuttle and if there was room, they could probably drop me in Marmaris. So I got to spend the next several hours with a family, lovely Mohammed and his wife, her Turkish father who doesn’t speak English and their two children. We stopped at the father’s favourite baklava shop, where I bought some to share in Rhodes, then at an orange juice stand, where they squeezed fresh oranges, so refreshing, and then at a little spot off the highway where we had flat bread with cheese, and a yogurt drink with salt, and fresh tomatoes. They were lovely and by the time we got to Marmaris it was clear that I was not getting a ferry tonight, so the father found me a cheap room, and they were on their way.
Everyone here is so helpful and generous. A wonan on the plane gave me a bracelet after I shared some chocolate with her and her son after lunch. The owner of the pension last night bought me a beer at the cafe next door after I checked in. That family was so hospitable and generous today. The owner of this little hotel asked my plans for getting a ferry tomorrow, and phoned his friend who books the ferry to come over so I could buy my ticket tonight, and avoid a panic in the morning.
So I get up to my room, and can’t figure out how to get the lights on – you put your room key in a slot. When you leave the room, the lights go out. There are many ways that they have figured out how to conserve energy that just make sense. So, I get up to the room, which has a little balcony, and hear music from the town square out front – martial brass and drums, and a large choir. I had to go down to see, it is some national holiday, not sure what. the whole town was on the square, it seems, and the fountain in the middle had a film showing on it, depicting some battles or something. All very patriotic. But when the film ended, the fountains were like fireworks, a light and water show that was truly amazing. I love fireworks a this was just about as good. Who needs Bellagio? 

The best laid plans, etc. but all in all, it was a day I couldn’t have planned.

Well, this should now be Chapter lxiv as another birthday has passed. Everyone still loves me! I had an open house, and so enjoyed everyone who came by, and hope to catch up with all those who couldn’t make it. Life is good, and I am sitting in a small hotel in Istanbul right now, waiting for a bus to take me to yet another airport where I will fly to Dalaman, take a ferry to Rhodes and meet Joan and Amina for six days on the island of Chalki. The airline lost my bag on the way over, but it is waiting for me at Dalaman airport, good news.

Istanbul. Arrived late yesterday afternoon after a grueling thirty hours of travel, tired but best to stay up until bedtime and get on new time schedule. So I went out walking to find some clean clothes to put on today. A man at a little shop invited me in for tea, and took me upstairs to a balcony where we could look out over the city, the Bosphorous, the Blue Mosque. Very beautiful view. Had my tea and decided that it was unwise to stay longer so went on my way. Busy streets, many little tourist shops, mild evening nice for walking. Got lost trying to find my hotel again, winding narrow old streets. Found a public toilet and paid .75 Tl to pee! This morning met two Japanese students, who were robbed last night at a night club, and now have very little money to continue their trip. one of them gave me a t-shirt because my bagage was lost. Japanese Mickey Mouse. Very cute. Walked around the Grand Bazaar this morning and saw some really stunning contemporary Turkish art, traditional designs updated and re-interrupted. Can’t wait to come back and do more exploring in this large and vibrant city.