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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Cyprus and Turkey (Part 3) – Side, Cyprus, Fethiye & Izmir – Looking for a place in the shade

TURKEY | Tuesday, 14 August 2012 | Views [1465]

Destination – Cyprus and Turkey (Part 3) – Side, Cyprus, Fethiye & Izmir – Looking for a place in the shade

OK, even on the road, some days are weirder than others. The day we “have” to leave Greece is a really weird one.  It might be because we don’t want to leave but it might be just a weird day on the road. On the Greek side, the immigration guy is hissing at us thinking we overstayed our visa. It takes a while to clear that up and then on the Turkish side, the immigration guy also thinks we are overstaying as we have a previous visa running out on the day we arrive and we’re applying for a new one, it also takes a while to clarify as the immigration guys, just to make it easier, didn’t speak English. We later are told that we didn't need a new one after all as our first one was till valid for another 3 months!! We finally arrive in Bodrum, Turkey, to catch a bus to Antalya. We are trying to get to Side but still not sure we are going to make it all the way today.

The bus leaves in ½ hour and is a 7 hour ride. We arrive in Antalya and there is a bus leaving for Side in 20 minutes, another 1.30 ride. Struggling in the visa universe but thriving in the transport one. We arrive in Side and take a service to the Otogar and then a taxi to the Cactus Hotel. The hotel is OK but the staff are lazy and there’s a disco playing bad 80’s and 90’s tunes all night. No “my heart can’t go on” anymore.  The joys of travelling during the high season, bad music, tired service and loads of loud families with untamed kids! So, the next morning, we pack our bags and move to the nice Yavuz Han hotel. The location is not as great but it’s nice and quiet and the staff are cool, we ask in English, they reply in German and we completely get each other. We’ve been to Side before and really liked it. With the sightseeing done, it is chilling time and after 4 days we make our way to Cyprus.   

Bus to Alanya, taxi to the port, then after a few hours a 3.5 hour ferry to Kyrenia, Cyprus. Immigration again is very long and unnecessarily complicated taking into account we are technically staying in the same country as half of Cyprus belongs to Turkey. We check in at the nice Club Z hotel. Next morning we go sightseeing, can’t find anything really great, so we decide to move on to Larnaka, on the Greek side. The Frangiorgios hotel is OK but the place is absolute crap. This whole Cyprus thing is quickly turning into a very bad dream.  OK, we knew there were mixed reviews about this island but we thought we would be able to find our place in the sun, or in this case, in the shade as it is unbearably HOT!  We really try to make the most of the places we visit but Cyprus is joining a very short list called: “not even if you pay me to go back”, together with the lovely cities of Beirut in Lebanon and Nis in Serbia.

What is wrong? The beaches are ugly and the sand is black. There are rows of umbrellas and sun lounges full of varied shades of pink Russians together with other “pre-paid holiday” tourists from northern Europe. Topless and G-strings abound for both boys and girls and believe me, it is not a good sight. They really need to make sure they get that so important “all over tan” nobody is ever going to see, as in Moscow the summer was last Tuesday. The tourists look bored, unhappy and a wee bit on the rough side. The people working with tourists are tired and impatient from having to deal with the rough tourists. The food is bad and expensive. The hotels are very expensive and rubbish, dirty, most charging extra for A/C in over 40 degrees heat (or at least it feels like it). And yet, for some mysterious reason, this whole place is full, package tourists everywhere, go figure. One interesting place is the capital city of Nicosia, the only divided capital city in the world, where you can cross the border between Turkey and Greece. We decide to try one more place and move on to the Lucky Hotel, still in Larnaka but away from the town. The beach is still horrible and the hotel is appalling.  We pay extra for A/C and it still doesn’t work, we fry all night with a little fan the night receptionist lends us. And yes, it is dirty and smelly. Even the pool has a film of grease around the tiles but it’s so hot we jump in anyway. We paid for 2 nights but during the 1st horrible night we decide to cut our losses and leave next morning. We unbelievably get our money back for the second night and make it all the way back to the Club Z Hotel, on the Turkish side, nice.  Another day, another ferry and then a bus to the train station and a 9 hour bus to Antalya. We look for a hotel near the bus station and, even though a taxi driver tries to warn us against it, we find an “ill reputed” hotel, much better than the nice ones we’ve slept on Cyprus, and sleep tight. Even got free Turkish porn on TV, not that we watched any, a friend told us…

Next morning we take another 3.5 hour bus to Fethiye, “the best English town in Turkey”, it is good to be back!  Yeah, we’ve been to Fethiye before and we know what to expect. The sea is nice but the sand is black. Again, lots of umbrella and sun beds for hire and lots of English tourists getting from pink to bright red and drinking warm Efes beer. Pubs, sports bars and English breakfast, good food, very nice hotels with bright, clean rooms and big swimming pools surrounded by people reading bad holiday novels. Everybody is happy and we know we’re going to get brown and bored but chilled and satisfied, killing a bit of time and waiting for both the weather and the high season elsewhere to cool down a bit. We find a nice family run hotel - Tugay Otel (is there such as thing as being Tugay??) We found two great restaurants in Fethiye town (Mozaik Bahce and Pasha Kebab) and took a dolmus to town every 2nd day to eat the best food we've had in Turkey.

After 3 weeks, it is time to move again.   We say goodbye to our newfound mates and catch a 5 & ½ hour bus to Izmir where we overnight at the Olympiat Hotel as it is near the metro line to the airport.  It is time to say goodbye to yet another country we came to love, and spent so much time in.  One of the safest place we’ve seen, clean, with so much history and culture, so much to see and do.  The people are nice, polite and helpful. The food is fabulous and healthy. Housing is great, the transport system is fabulous and tourist services are just what you want. The only country where we’ve seen a bus driver fight to give the right change and another one shout at an English family on the street as the mother left her purse on the bus.  It’s also great to be in a country where women in full burkas walk side by side giggling with their friends in short shorts and singlets and summer dresses.  Men are respectful and polite and don’t ogle or even turn their heads for either.  Bikinis and hijabs both find their place in the sun. We’ve even seen some gay guys looking pretty comfortable considering it is a majority Muslin country.  People look healthy and happy and we don’t really see much of either overt poverty or obscene wealth, not sure what the government is doing here but it is definitely working.


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