Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

Modern Turkey (esp. Istanbul, European influenced and tourist towns) is much different than anticipated, I’m finding. In fact, after spending a couple of days dressing very conservatively, covering my head in mosques, and downplaying my instinctual forwardness – even I was shocked to see Brits waltzing around in crop-tops and short-shorts.

I have made my way to Olündenız, a little tourist beach town my mom and I have dubbed The English Riviera (I would put that in quotes, but I don’t know where to find them on this Turkish keyboard) — most of the tourists here are from the UK. In the summer, when the French, Spanish, Greek, etc. have their own lovely beaches to frequent, the English find Turkey a cheaper destination; most prices here are given in pounds rather than lire.

Driving into Olündenız through the countryside was like witnessing an Eastern European Latin America, with headscarves. And oh — over there! That reminds me of the hills of Northern Vietnam… yes: the more I travel the more I realize how for all the differences in the world, there sure is a lot of copying and pasting, too.

*     *     *

Waking up yesterday at 4:30am to the mosque call (auto alarm clock!) I sat outside the room as the sun rose over the Mediterranean: grape vines, bougainvilla and rose bushes framing the blue lagoon below; jasmine blows in the air past rocky mountain sides, cows sliding back rows of corn, the thatched roof of our european resort. I have to keep telling myself: this is Turkey, this is Turkey. Except for the mosque spire that peeks up from the center of the town, I could easily be in Greece, Mexico, Belize — home.

We’re staying at Mellis Hill Hotel which I would [plug warning] highly recommend to anyone who happens to have Turkey on their itinerary. It is set against the mountainside and provides for a spectacular view and quieter stay.  As Özcan (“Ews-jahn”) and Bayram (employees at Mellis Hill and my new language coaches) say, a lot of German, Austrian and Swiss stay here to avoid the rowdy English.

Downtown is hot and noisy, full of bars, restaurants, beach chairs and excursion companies, where you can book a trip to go on a Jeep safari to ancient Greek ruins or parasail. I’m happy to be away from all this, only the mosque calling up at me.

Breakfast is ”Turkish breakfast” [found the quotes!] meaning buffet of tea, coffee (instant, not Turkish) tomato, cucumber, swiss and feta cheeese (looove the cheese), egg, olives, and bread.

There is so much to do, but everytime my mom and I look at each other we decide nowhere is exactly where we want to go. Poolside yesterday, mom read while I chatted with Öcan. Of all the wonderful things I could conceive of doing on my trip, I figure to have a nearly 2 hour conversation with a Turkish man about Islam was truly exceptional.

After a few hours Mom and I decided to take the 10 min. walk down a dirt road into town: Time for the Hamam (Turkish bathhouse) –

continued when Shannon gets more lire to pay for internet access

§327 · June 10, 2007 · Couch-hop, Location-Location · · [Print]

1 Comment to “Olündenız”

  1. Helen Parker says:

    Hi Shannon

    Just read and thoroughly enjoyed your account of Turkey especially Olu Dinez and the Mellis Hill Hotel. We returned from the hotel in June this year and had a great time. Loved the area, the hotel and the people. Yes, I would agree that Selda, Zuhar and the staff of the Mellis Hill are exceptional and you cannot help but enjoy their company. It was a sad time when we had to leave. It was lovely and quiet there which was great to avoid (as you put it) the rowdy English! We are Welsh and from the UK but not English so no offence taken…ha ha. Seriously, not all English are rowdy, unfortunately it is the minority idiots that spoil it for the majority! Just our luck though, the weather in May was not good. It was quite cool and rained often. In fact we had a log fire every night beside the pool. How crazy is that?! Good fun though. I did manage to get a little bit of tan but mistakenly went for Hammam on last day – it took nearly all the tan away…Oh well I will next time.
    Just to comment on Olu Dinez itself, we went in May and it was quiet so we did not experience it being noisy, however, I would imagine it can get very busy.
    We did go on a jeep safari and was a fantastic experience! I would recommend it as you see so much more of the Turkish countryside that you would not normally see. I hope to get the chance to read another of your ‘travelogues’…so keep them coming!

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