Trip Start Jan 01, 2007
17Trip End Ongoing
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My last experience with 'customer service' in Croatia came when I was flying from Split to Zagreb where I would catch my connecting flight to Istanbul. My flight was supposed to leave at 1pm, but 1pm came and went, and there was no movement to board the plane, and no announcements as to what was going on. Once I got to Zagreb, I only had 35 minutes to catch my connecting flight, and as time ticked by, I kept thinking that there was no way I was going to be able to catch my connecting flight to Istanbul. I went over to the Croatia Airlines rep to ask what was going on, and she gave no information whatsoever. I advised her that I had a connecting flight in Zagreb, and because it was not a Croatia Airlines flight (even though it was booked directly through Croatia Airlines), she basically washed her hands of any responsibility. When we finally got on the plane, I asked the flight attendant about what would happen with my connecting flight. When she found out that it was not a Croatia Airlines flight, she too wanted to wash her hands of any responsibility, until I told her that I had booked it directly through Croatia Airlines. Thankfully, she came back a little while later and told me that the Turkish Airlines flight was going to wait for me. When we landed in Zagreb, the Turkish Airlines plane was sitting on the tarmac. It was so close that I could have walked over and hopped on. However, I had to board a shuttle bus that would take me to the terminal. I went to the Turkish Airlines counter, and met up with four other guys who were in the same predicament as me. The agent for Turkish Airlines agent made some calls for us, and advised us that even though the plane was still sitting on the tarmac and had not yet taken off, the flight had been closed, and there was no way that they could get us on the plane. We then went over to the Croatia Airlines 'Customer Service' counter to find out when we could catch the next available flight. Unfortunately, everything was booked solid, and the only flight we could get was going to Frankfurt, then to Istanbul. What was originally going to take me three hours and get me in to Istanbul at 5:30 pm, was now going to take me twelve hours and get me in at 2am. As my mom always says, 'to every cloud, there is a silver lining', and this silver lining came in the form of Stefano, an Italian who was also headed to Istanbul and who had also missed his flight. He was headed to Istanbul on business, and his colleagues were lucky enough to get the last seats on the earlier flights. Croatia Airlines assigned us our new flights, and we went to the Lufthansa counter to check in. Stefano had been traveling in business class. He told the agent that we were traveling together and would it be possible to upgrade me to business class so that we could sit together, and it was! That meant that not only would I be sitting in business class on the flights, it also meant that I got to enjoy the business class lounges in Zagreb and Frankfurt. Not only did Stefano make a bad situation better, he got me upgraded to business class to boot! I was surprised that the time passed as quickly as it did. It was great having such an interesting travel companion, and I ended up with an invitation to dinner if I ever make it to Milano!
We finally arrived in Istanbul at 2am, and I said goodbye to Stefano before collecting my luggage, and hopping in to a cab to my hotel. I was pretty tired when I checked in, but did notice that they had a sign advertising wifi. It didn't take me long to get settled in the room, and hit the sack. I was out like a light.
The next morning, I woke up fairly early, considering I hadn't had that much sleep. Before I went upstairs for breakfast, I booted up my laptop so I could look up my friend Bulent's phone number, as I wanted to let him know that I had finally made it to Istanbul. After I finished my breakfast, I went downstairs to get the password for the wifi, and then went back to my room to log on to the internet. I pushed the button to start it up, and the screen seemed to remain white for quite a long time. I kept reassuring myself that I was just being impatient, but after five minutes, I had this awful feeling that something was wrong. Trying not to panic, I tried shutting down and rebooting, but I still kept getting the white screen. When I called Bulent to let him know I had arrived in Istanbul, I told him that I thought something was wrong with my computer, so he told me to bring it along to his shop and we could look in to getting it fixed. When I got to his shop, we tried booting it up again, but still kept getting the white screen. The thought of losing all my data, and my pictures - over 6,000 of them - made me sick. Seeing as it was an Apple product, the computer guy across the street wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole. So, Bulent sent his colleague, Aytac (pronounced iTouch - I thought it was interesting that his name sounded like an Apple product) with me to the 'closest' Apple support center which was 1.5 hours away, one tram ride and two separate metro rides. There is no way I would have been able to find this on my own. When we got there, nobody spoke English so I had to call Bulent, and by passing the phone from me to him and to the service guy, I learned that they had to call Apple Canada to see if my computer was still under warranty. This would take one to three days. They would replace the hard drive, for free, and then try to restore the data. If they were able to do this, there would be a charge of approximately 120 euros, but there was no guarantee that they could restore the data. This was on a Wednesday. Seeing as Apple is closed on the weekend, we had to wait until Monday before I would find anything out about the fate of my computer. I have been a Mac-hater pretty much since I got it back to China and started having problems connecting to the internet. Having the hard drive crash after only having it for nine months was just strengthening my feelings as a Mac hater.
Trying to forget about the fact that I had now lost all my lessons plans from when I was in China, all my music, all my pictures from my travels - over 6,000 of them, I reveled in the fact that I was finally back in Turkey. Just walking the streets hearing the sounds, and seeing the sights made me forget about my computer, at least for a little while. I was thrilled to be back. Ever since I started my travels at the end of December, I could hardly wait to get back to Turkey. I don't know what it is about this place, but there is something that keeps drawing me back. I always feel so comfortable and safe when I'm here.
Although I was a little stressed about my computer when I first met up with Bulent, it was nice to see him again. I first met him in Cappadocia in 2003 where he sold me my first Turkish carpet. We had kept in touch ever since. He is now managing a carpet shop in Istanbul.
The next day, my friend Helen arrived in Istanbul from Toronto. She was going to be in Turkey for about four weeks, but we ended up having to spend two extra nights in Istanbul because of my computer. Helen and I first met in Turkey five years ago, and we both felt the same away about Turkey - like we were home. It was great this time, as we didn't feel the need to be rushing around from one place to another because we had already seen many of the sights. Most of our time was spent just chilling out, visiting with Bulent, and experiencing the Turkish culture.
One day when Helen and I were visiting Bulent in his carpet shop, two girls from Australia, Kate and Alyson came in looking at porcelain. The four of us started chatting and became fast friends. Kate was in the market for carpets, but had been told by many people not to buy them in Istanbul. Once she found out that I had bought a carpet from Bulent, she felt much more comfortable in dealing with him, and ended up buying four carpets from him.
Kate and Alyson were going on a tour around Turkey, and were spending a few extra days in Istanbul before joining their tour. The night before they joined, the two of them, along with Helen, Bulent and I, went to Hamdi Restaurant where Bulent ordered traditional Turkish food for us, and we drank traditional raki! After dinner we went out for a drink, but shortly after we ordered our drinks, my stomach started feeling a little upset. It didn't seem to get any better, so I decided to head back to our room. From about midnight until noon the next day, I couldn't stop getting sick, and having severe stomach pains. Just before noon, I had gotten my medical insurance papers out as I was feeling that I might have had to make a trip to the hospital. Although I had stopped getting sick, the stomach pains persevered. I ended up calling Nazif in Konya, and he asked me if I wanted him to hop on a bus to Istanbul (a 10 hour bus ride) so he could look after me (bless his heart). I assured him that I would be okay, and he told me that I needed to drink some soda water, as the bubbles would relax my stomach. The Turkish seem to have remedies for everything and although feeling a little skeptical about his instructions, I decided I would give it a try. Helen went downstairs for me and came back with a bottle of soda water. I took a sip and immediately got another stomach pain. My first thought was 'I knew this wasn't going to work', but I never had another stomach pain after that. After an hour or so, I called 'Dr. Demirci' back to let him know that his remedy had worked.
On Monday I went back to the support center to pick up my computer before heading off to Goreme and learned that they had replaced my hard drive, and were still in the process of trying to restore my data. This time around, there was a guy who spoke a little bit of English, but he didn't sound hopeful in being able to restore my data.
After I left Istanbul, I booted up my computer to find that they had replaced the hard drive with an older version of Mac OS and with a trial version of Office, even though I had purchased it when I bought my computer back in September. The worst part is that every time I use Word, I get reminded that I have xx number of days before my trial version expires. I would have thought that they would have at least restored my hard drive with what I had originally purchased from Apple, but not so.
Our first stop after Istanbul was Goreme where Helen and I had met five years ago. We ended up going back to the same place where we both stayed five years ago, but ended up staying only one night. It was a little unsettling when the guy asked us if we wanted one bed or two. I wondered if it was normal practice for them to ask that, or did they think we were actually a couple of lesbians??
The next night we stayed at a different place, where the owner happened to be a friend of Bulent's. He gave us a really nice room that had a jacuzzi bathtub, and when he showed us the room, he said it was very romantic. Again, I wondered if he thought we were a couple of lesbians, and almost told him that although my name was Gaye, it was just my name, not my sexual preference! After that, Helen and I were always conscious about what we talked about, as we didn't want people to think that we were a couple.
We did lots of hiking around Goreme and one day when we were out wandering around, we ran in to Kate and Alyson while they were on their tour. We ran up to each other hugging and screaming as if we were long lost friends! We only had a couple of minutes to chat, but we knew we were going to see them later, as Bulent was on holidays in Goreme, and he had invited the four of us to his mother's house for dinner.
Bulent's mom put on quite a spread for all of us, and there definitely was no shortage of food. Shortly after we got there, Bulent's dad came home and regaled us with his stories of how he learned to speak many different languages (some of them he learned overnight!). The end of the meal was topped off with a cup of Turkish coffee, and Bulent's sister-in-law read our coffee cups.
One morning in Goreme I happened to wake up early and when I looked through the window in our room, I could see a hot air balloon floating by in the distance. When I went outside on the terrace, there were hot air balloons all around - I think I counted 16 at one time. It was so peaceful just sitting and watching them floating in the air, then disappear as they sank in to the valleys with only the sound of the hot air disturbing the morning silence.
Our next stop was Konya to visit my Turkish family. Nazif was at the bus station to meet us, and took us straight to his family's home. On the way to the home, Nazif told me that his sister Serap had left a few days earlier to go and work in Ankara. I wondered how I was going to manage staying at the home this time as Serap had been my trusty translator the other times I had been there, and nobody else spoke that much English. We received a hearty welcome when we got to the home, and it felt like no time had passed since the last time I had been there. In true Turkish style, the first order of business after our arrival was a meal. It sure was great to have that home cooking again. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I started having it again.
Not long after we got there, the neighbours started coming over to say hello and again, it felt like no time had passed since the last time I had been there. The only difference was that the kids in the neighbourhood were so grown up now! There have been two more children added to the Demirci family since I was last there, and I couldn't believe how big Raziye was now. The first time I stayed in Konya, Razi was only six months old. How time flies!
It wasn't long before Haava came over to say hello. Haava was 12 years old when I met her, and when I first arrived in Konya at the Demirci home, Haava, Tugba and Fatma used to serenade me with Turkish songs and dance for me while I was sitting out on the porch. I couldn't believe how grown up she looked now. She seemed very confident with herself, and I couldn't believe how much her English had improved. Her vocabulary was amazing, and she asked all kinds of questions. Later in the afternoon, we went visiting around the neighbourhood, and it was so good to see everyone again. We went to Tugba's house for a visit and were told she was at her friend Miriam's house, so we went to visit her there. I had never met Miriam before, but it was good to see Tugba again. When Miriam found out that Helen had a son, she asked if he was handsome. Next thing we knew, she was showing us her dowry, and talking about marrying Helen's son! While we were at Miriam's house, Haava asked me if I wanted to go and get water with her and Fadime at 5:15. When I was in Konya last time, I used to go and get water with the kids every day. There is a central water pump, and the kids go with all kinds of large containers and fill them up with water so they have a supply of water for the day. When 5:15 came along, Haava asked if we should go and get the water. As soon as we got outside, she told us that she had a boyfriend, and we were going to meet him at the water pump. No wonder she had set a specific time to go and get water! As we approached the water tap, he was sitting on the sidewalk, and Haava walked right by him as if he wasn't even there. It was sooo cute! Thankfully for Haava, there was a line up for the water, so it gave her an excuse to sit and strike up a conversation with him. Before long, she was chatting away with him. I had no idea what they were talking about, but she acted like any other 18 year old around a boy they liked. At the risk of raising any suspicions, we left the water area around 15 minutes later, and I'm sure they made plans to meet at the same time the next day.
In the early evening, Helen and I got ready to go in to town to see the Whirling Dervishes. We had seen a Whirling Dervish show at the Mesale Café in Istanbul, but this one was much bigger with 24 dervishes all whirling at the same time. The show was free, and was in the Cultural Center, a beautiful new building that had been constructed since the last time I was there. We met up with Nazif in the Centrum, and he walked us to the cultural center and escorted us to the best seats for the show, before making arrangements for us to meet up afterwards. It was pretty impressive, and I wondered how 24 of them were able to whirl at the same time with their eyes closed and not bump in to each other!
The next day, Nazif gave us a tour of the city and of the Mevlana Museum. On our way to the Mevlana Museum we went to the oldest mosque in the city. I was surprised to learn that the reason that women are segregated from the men when praying is so that the mean can actually focus on praying! Nazif gave us a great tour of the Mevlana Museum and I learnt so much more from him being our tour guide than I had learned the last time I was there.
After we went to the museum, I wanted to go to a store to pick up these candy-covered almonds that I love. I was so disappointed to find that the store was closed. What a nice surprise that night when Nazif called me at his family's home to tell me that he was able to get the almonds for me. When I asked him where he got them, he said he had phoned his friend who owned the candy shop, and he came and opened the store just so Nazif could get the candies for me! I was leaving the next day and he knew that I wouldn't be able to get them otherwise. What a sweetie!
After two nights, Helen and I were off to our next stop of Antalya, and we said goodbye to my Turkish family with the promise of me going back to visit again in August.
When we got to Antalya, we contacted Ugur, a friend of Karen's that she had met through Hospitality Club. Ugur had stayed with her in 2005, and I met him when I was in Vancouver for a visit. We met up with him and his girlfriend for a beer, and then they took us to the beach for a look around. While we were in Antalya, we also visited with Namik, from my Turkish family in Konya. He is working with his uncle in Antalya selling carpets. It was strange to see him there and not in Konya.
While we were in Antalya, I decided to call Apple Canada about the problems with my computer. Because of the language barrier, there was no way that I was going to get anywhere with getting it fixed here in Turkey, so I called them to see what could be done. My first point of contact was with someone by the name of Mike, who felt my pain after I relayed my story of my hard drive crash. He then passed me on to Marlene who was more down to business. After talking to Marlene, I sent a follow up e-mail with all the details we had discussed, and she advised that an agent in Turkey would be in contact with me. As it turns out, it was over a week and I hadn't heard anything from an agent in Turkey so I contacted Marlene again. I was then contacted by someone in Ireland! I have no idea what someone based in Ireland was going to be able to do for me. This is when I first started thinking that there is no way that I am going to be able to get my computer fixed here.
Helen and I had hoped to do a gulet cruise this time around, but the times just didn't seem to work out for us, so we went to Kas for three nights after Antalya. Kas was a place we had stopped when we did our gulet cruise five years ago, and it was just as charming as I had remembered it five years ago. Adnan, the owner of the Meltem Pension, met us at the bus station. Our room was pretty basic, but they had a rooftop terrace that was to die for. To top it off, his wife cooked us a couple of wonderful dinners, and there was never a shortage of food at breakfast. They had a daughter, Irem, who was four years old, and it was quite clear that she only had eyes for her dad. We tried everything to try and get her to smile, but were never successful. As soon as her dad came in to the picture, she was all smiles, and I loved watching the two of them interact. There is no doubt that she loves her daddy.
Adnan took Helen and I to Demre for the day as he had some business he had to attend to. He first took us to the ruins at Myra, and then he took us to a long, deserted sandy beach. We spent a few hours swimming and lying in the sun, then he came back to get us a few hours later.
The next day, Helen and I did a tour to Saklikent Gorge where we hiked through a narrow gorge over rocks and through water, some of it very cold! It was hard getting up and down some of the rocks, and by the end of the hike, we were soaked! It was a great day, having water fights with the other vehicle in our group, as well as with merchants of shops along the way. We would be driving along, and our driver would start honking his horn. I thought it was to let people know that we were coming around the corners. He was letting people know we were coming, all right. It turns out that the horn honking was to alert people that we were coming, and they in turn, ran out to greet us with big buckets of water! It was lots of fun, and very welcome on a boiling hot day. On the way back to Kas, we stopped at Xanthos to look at the ruins, and then stopped at a beautiful sandy beach with turquoise blue water.
While we were in Kas, Helen and I decided that four weeks in Turkey wasn't going to be enough for her, so she called Delta to see what it would cost to change her return flight. When she phoned and found that the cost for the change was within her budget and that there were flights available for her return flight, it didn't take much to twist her arm to make the changes. She now had an extra week in Turkey.
Next stop after Kas was Fethiye, where we went to look at property. When we first got there, it was pretty quiet, and it felt like it didn't have the same charm as it did five years ago. However, after being there for a few hours, it felt good to be back. When we got there, I contacted a realtor who was going to show us some properties there. I have been to Turkey so many times that I felt the next step for me was to buy property, and Fethiye had been my first choice. The next day we met with Pauline at the hotel where we were staying. I was a little disappointed that she hadn't been prepped on what I was looking for, so we spent a little bit of time going over her property listings figuring out where she was going to take us. Before we got there, I had decided that I really wanted to get a place that was close to the water, but after talking to Pauline it sounded like she didn't really recommend places near the water, and she told us about her favourite development, The Viewpoint. We made plans to go and view this new development, and she phoned ahead and told her friend to put on the teakettle. As we were driving out there, we discovered that Pauline had lived in Fethiye for eight years, and was hoping to apply for Turkish citizenship next year. I was surprised that although she had been there for eight years, she could hardly speak any Turkish. She didn't even know the name of the main street; she said she just calls it 'the main street'. I wasn't too impressed by this point.
When we got to the sales office for The Viewpoint, we were introduced to Ismail and Charlotte. I got a little bit frustrated as Charlotte wasted a lot of our time trying to sell us on Fethiye. The mere fact that I was even looking in Fethiye meant that I was interested in Fethiye, and I was mad at myself that I allowed her to waste our time. We finally went and looked at the development, but it was too far away from everything for my liking, and the fact that only 10 % of the development had been sold, and it was almost finished, made me a little leery. Anyways, it was good to get an idea of what properties are like as far as different areas, prices, etc. are concerned.
Before heading to Bodrum, we stopped in Marmaris for two nights. I had never been there before, and was always curious as to what it was like, so we decided to go. From Marmaris, we went to Rhodes in Greece for the day, and although it was nice, it was an expensive day. The hotel we stayed in wasn't the greatest, so it was nice to only stay in Marmaris for two nights.
I had been to Bodrum five years ago, and although it was packed with tourists, the part I like about Bodrum is the marina, and St. Peter's Castle in the background. It was Helen's first time in Bodrum, and she really liked it there, so we ended up spending five nights. We stayed at the Mars Hotel, which is on the quiet side of town. There is a huge disco, Halikarnas, and you can hear the music almost all over Bodrum. When packed to capacity, it holds 5,000 people, and costs 40YTL (approx. $32Cdn) for the cover charge.
Shortly after we got to Bodrum, I got a message from Turkcell, the provider of my mobile phone coverage, saying that my sim card registration had failed. The sim card was fine, but my phone had not been registered, so I wasn't able to use the phone in Turkey anymore. When I purchased the sim card in Istanbul, they should have registered the phone, but they didn't. When I went in to a Turkcell shop, they advised that I had two options. The first one was to have my contract mailed to me so I could get the phone registered, or I could buy a new sim card, and pay to have the phone registered. I couldn't believe they were telling me that I had to have my contract mailed to me, that they couldn't look up the information online. I explained that I was traveling all over Turkey and that I wasn't able to have the contract mailed to me, so they suggested I get a new number, and pay for another sim card! I was so mad and frustrated, and there was no way I wanted to give them my business. I decided that I would wait until I got to Selcuk and get my phone taken care of there.
While we were in Bodrum, we went to the Cleopatra hamam. We were only going to go for the Turkish Bath, but we got talked in to an oil massage, and clay facial afterwards.
We also went to Gumusluk, a small, charming fishing village about 45 minutes away from Bodrum by dolmus. The first day that we went there, we met Farouq, who told us about Rabbit Island. You can get to it by walking through the water at low tide, or by swimming across at high tide. He then proceeded to tell us about the fresh catches of the day, and invited us to come back for a feed of seafood. We walked across to Rabbit Island, then walked around the other side of the island and went for a hike before going back to visit Farouq at his restaurant for a feed of fresh tiger prawns. How nice it was to be sitting at a table right beside the water, eating our fresh prawns, and sipping our chilled white wine. It was so good, in fact, that we ended up going back the next day!
While we were in Bodrum, I ended up getting my hair cut and coloured. It always seems to be such a traumatic experience for me when I go to a place where they don't speak much English. I picked out the colour that I wanted for my hair, but when they started applying it, it was orange!!! They kept reassuring me that it was going to turn out to be the colour that I wanted, but I had a hard time envisioning it when I kept looking in the mirror and all I could see was orange! True to their word, it ended up being the colour that I wanted. The haircut wasn't that great when I walked out, but I've gotten used to it. The pedicure, however, left a little to be desired. My feet were put in a tub of room temperature water to soak. After that, my toes were clipped and painted. No peeling, scrubbing, foot massage, or anything, and they ended up charging me 25YTL. I could have easily painted my nails, and it wouldn't have cost me anything!
While we were in Bodrum the temperatures were usually 45 degrees during the day, and would cool down to around 39 degrees in the evening. With the weather so hot, it's hard to get motivated to do anything, and Helen and I got in to the habit of having a nice cold beer every night. The first night we went to the Marina restaurant. While we were having our beer, Helen suggested ordering watermelon, which is really popular here. After enjoying our beers and three slices of watermelon between us, the waiter delivered our bill of 32YTL! He had charged us 15YTL for three slices of watermelon! At that price, it meant that they were charging 60YTL for a whole watermelon. The standing joke after that was whenever we saw a truckload of watermelons, we always wondered where the armed guards were! We asked to see a menu so we could see the price of watermelon, and the only thing that closely resembled it was a fruit salad for which they charged 12YTL, so he ended up taking off 3YTL. Big deal - it was still overpriced! The next night we walked by that restaurant, the waiter at the Panorama Restaurant next door told us that we had been charged double. He had watched the night before as we questioned the waiter, and said at his restaurant, he would have charged us half. Every night after that, we went to Panorama for our beer, and made a big deal of going there, making sure that the waiter from the Marina Restaurant saw us going there.
After Bodrum, we took a three-hour bus ride to Selcuk. The first order of business after we had checked in to our hotel was to go and get things sorted out with my phone. When I got to the Turkcell office, it turns out that I ended up cutting off my nose to spite my face, as they advised that they were unable to help me there, and that I would have to go to the Turkcell office in Kusadasi (30 mins by dolmus) to get it taken care of. I couldn't believe it, and stormed out!
When I was in Selcuk five years ago, I had met a carpet seller by the name of Aydin. Karen was visiting me at the time, and I remember the two of us went to his shop for breakfast one morning, and then he took us to a local swimming hole. I wasn't sure if he was even still in Selcuk, or if he would remember me, but we went looking for his shop. He is still in Selcuk, and he actually remembered me, and that I was from Canada! We got to talking, and I told him my problems with my phone. He made it sound so sensible and easy when he suggested that I buy a new phone in Turkey. That way I could use it whenever I'm in Turkey, and wouldn't have to worry about having it registered. All I would have to do is buy a new sim card each time. It made a lot of sense to me, and next thing I knew, the telephone guy from next door was in the shop with an inexpensive phone for me to buy. Within half an hour, I had bought the phone, and it was all charged, ready for me to use. Within half an hour, I never gave my failed sim registration another thought. With my phone all fixed up, I started telling Aydin my woes about my computer, how I had lost everything, and how the frustrations with my computer had totally consumed me ever since my arrival in Turkey. Again, he made it sound so sensible and easy when he suggested that I buy a new computer. Karen is coming out to visit me in August, and there was lots of time to order a computer online, have it delivered to Canada, then Karen could bring it over to me. Within a couple of days, I had ordered a new laptop from Dell, and although I'm still sick about losing everything, every waking moment is no longer consumed with how much I hate my Mac. We then started talking about going to look at property when we were in Fethiye, and when he also expressed an interest in real estate, I thought to myself that I should get the hell out now before he ends up talking me in to buying some property!! I just wish I had bought Dell a long time ago, as poor Helen had to listen to me whine and complain about my Mac the whole time she was here.
While we were in Selcuk, we went to another hamam, and just took it easy. Nights were spent at Aydin's shop sitting on the cushions outside talking, listening to Murselin playing the saz, and eating (cheap) watermelon.
After three laid back days in Selcuk, we headed to the Crown Plaza in Izmir for some more relaxation and a little bit of luxury. We didn't do any sightseeing in Izmir, and spent the last two days of Helens trip relaxing before flying back to Istanbul for her last night.
After we checked in to the Hali Hotel, we went to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market for some last minute shopping for Helen, then went to Bulent's shop to say goodbye.
We woke on Helen's last morning to torrential downpours. It was so strange seeing rain after having straight sun and high temperatures for the last five weeks. The airport shuttle was coming to pick Helen up at 7:30 in the morning, so I went downstairs with her to say goodbye. It felt so strange saying goodbye to her, and I couldn't believe how fast five weeks went by. There were a few tears shed, and I'm sure this wasn't our last time together (of course as 'just friends') in Turkey.
The same day Helen flew back home, I flew back to Selcuk and will be here for a few days before heading back to Konya to stay with my Turkish family again. After that, it's back to Istanbul to pick up Karen, and do it all over again.
Before I got to Turkey, I had good intentions to go to Greece for four to six weeks, but now that I am in Turkey, I just can't tear myself away. I know this won't be my last time in Turkey, and I am thankful that I still have six weeks until I have to say goodbye until my next trip here.
Until next time,