Marmaris. It had a feeling it wasn’t going to really be my sort of town (at least, as a solo traveller) but I had two reasons for coming here.
The first reason: I had hopes of catching up with a Kiwi/Australian couple that I met at the crappy hotel in Istanbul. We shared commiserations over breakfast each morning about how bad the hotel was. They were a really nice older couple that had been travelling for 3 years, and had come to Turkey to buy a boat to sail around the Turkish and Greek island for a while. They invited me to get in touch if I made it to Marmaris. So you can only imagine my disappointment when I got there, then went to dig out their email address to make contact – and couldn’t find it! I can only work out that in one of my OCD clean-ups, I ripped out the page with their details on it from my notebook. I do this – rip out old pages of notes that I no longer need. No point in carrying the extra weight around. Sigh.. I can’t believe this happened.
I went down to the marina in the vague hopes that I might track them down – only to discover that there were at least 3 marinas that I could see, each with hundreds of boats. And of course, there is security that wouldn’t let me anywhere near them. I went to the marina harbour office in the vague hopes that I could ask: “You don’t by chance know of a couple from Australia/NZ that recently bought a boat, do you” and they were going to reply “Yes, of course. They are right over there!”
That’s not how it went down. It went something like this:
Me: “You don’t by chance know of a couple from Australia/NZ that recently bought a boat, do you”
Marina: “What is the name of the boat?”‘
Me: “I don’t know”
Marina: “What is their name?”
Me: “I don’t know”. (Seriously, I had a complete memory block. Couldn’t even remember their first names.)
Marina: “Sorry, we can’t help you”.
Of course they couldn’t. So there goes a potentially really cool opportunity. I was gutted.
But that’s how it goes when you are travelling long term. Opportunities come up which you take advantage of, and others slip through your fingers. Bugger!
Marmaris. It’s a coastal town, population of 20-30,000, depending on which local you speak to. It’s also a resort town and its main source of income is from the gazillions of tourists that come through over the summer. Population peaks at 300-400,000 at that time, depending on which information website you believe.
I arrived on the cusp of the high season. Hotels were still virtually empty, a majority of the restaurants more than 200m away from the city central were closed. Swimming pools were empty or a lovely shade of mossy green. But there was a definitely buzz in the air – the tourists were coming! The temps were warming up to lovely warm 26-28 degrees during the day, hotel and apartment owners were busy with their spring cleaning, tidying up the gardens and freshening up the paint to a shiny new blinding white. I was repeatedly told that next week it was going to be busy. Always next week. It honestly felt like the calm before the tourism storm. The town attracts mainly Europeans – lots of Brits and Russians especially – who come on all-inclusive package tours. Already, there were a few people wondering around shirtless (men) and in bikini tops exposing their just-out-of-northern-winter glaringly white skin.
The restaurant scene was pretty average and over-priced. I found it difficult to find anything that provided decent Turkish food that wasn’t overpriced. Most places seemed to be double what I had been paying elsewhere which was disappointing. I did find one small restaurant where the advertising signs were written in Turkish rather than English which I thought was a good sign. They made up a special and very tasty Turkish meze platter for me without all the bits that I don’t like (tomatoes, olives and onions). But the sleaze factor was high here.
The owner (a guy aged around 35-40 maybe) kept calling me honey. After the 10th irritating time, I told him that I wasn’t his honey. So then he started calling me sweetie and darling. That didn’t go down well either, but the food was good and I went back. By the end of that lunch, I had free glasses of wine, tea and coffee plus he invited himself back to my place in NZ if he were to ever come. And he still called me honey. All of that I could deal with, but when he messed with my personal space and stroked my arm for the 3rd time, I smiled nicely (or maybe I grimaced), paid my bill and walked out. So much for finding a good local restaurant.
In spite of all of this, I stayed for 5 nights in Marmaris. I didn’t do much here – but really just needed some down time where I wasn’t on the move all the time. I struck a good deal on a nice one-bedroom apartment/hotel and it was well out of the town by the waterfront. This meant it was hike every time I wanted to eat something – but I enjoyed the walk and the exercise. The other reason for hanging out here is also the second reason why I came to Marmaris.
The second reason: to plan my trip to Greece! Marmaris, down on the southern coast of Turkey, is only an hour away from Rhodes Island. It’s one of several entry points into Greece, and this is the one that suited me best. So, I’m off to Greece – wahoo! A couple of years ago, I never would have imagined myself going there.
Slideshow: (I actually didn’t take a lot of pics while in Marmaris so there wasn’t a lot to choose from.)