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A Boat Trip in Turkey.

By Arthur Cox

an extract from my holiday notes.

Thursday 28th May 1992

We were staying in a small pension (called Umut) in Side, Turkey.

I had negotiated (in German) that we go on a boat trip.

After our breakfast we walked to the harbour where we boarded a sailing boat by means of a small rubber boat. The sailing boat was called Seriatim and was fitted with sails although for the trip they used only the motor. Building work was in progress at the harbour with much work undertaken with spades of a curious shape. Among the 30 passengers were a German family and an elderly German man who had recently had a stroke. He was helped very carefully by the crew. There was plenty of room for everybody and the crew were very attentive. There was one other English couple whom we thought to be real “know-alls” and boasted about all the many places they had been to.

We motored for two hours eastwards following the coast and we found it very pleasant indeed. The boat stopped and anchored in a small bay where we could enjoy some very good swimming in beautifully clear water. While we were swimming, the crew organised a meal which was grilled mackerel, delicious meatballs and lots of various salads flavoured with mint and other herbs. The fish and meat was cooked on a barbecue that hung over the side of the boat’s railings. This was then followed by a very good selection of fruit.

After our meal we continued eastwards and reached Alanya around 4.50pm. This is a big city with a large castle set up on a big rocky hill and high walls all round the city. We were told that we had two hours free to wander about and see the shops, etc. We saw a steep path that appeared to go up towards the castle and decided to explore that way. On the lower part of this path near the harbour we were met by women and children selling crochet and other cloth goods. The path then disappeared and suddenly became a very narrow track. Two young girls offered to guide us but it got more and more difficult and as we were by now getting short of time, we decided to go back down again. We exchanged names with our little guides and offered then a small tip for their help.

Back at the harbour we bought ourselves a drink and wandered a little in the harbour area. The other passengers gradually appeared, some a little late and by 6.45pm we started off to return to Side. Once the boat was clear of the harbour and the bay, it got rather chilly and the water was very rough. The crew came and offered us blankets and we sat on plastic chairs on the deck – Sylvia said that she would rather be out on deck then shut up in the cabin saloon. The crew came with small glasses of raki, which was warming in the throat. Despite the chill, we found it very pleasant travelling into the sunset.

At 10.00pm we anchored in the dark and watched the lights of nearby fishing boats. We stopped for about one hour and had another meal as before with plenty to eat, offers of second helpings and glasses of wine. The sea was now very rough indeed and the chairs started sliding about on the deck and the bottles and glasses kept falling of the tables. The ship was rocking a lot. Sylvia still didn’t want to go down in the saloon and we sat together with a blanket over us. Sylvia said that if the boat was going to founder, she would rather not be trapped inside it. We were moving again but it seemed to be taking a very long time and a struggle to get to the harbour at Side and the boat made very slow headway. We passed a lighthouse with its light flashing and then saw bonfires or braziers burning on the shore. We reached the Side harbour at 1.0am which was two hours later than we had been told. The fires had been especially lit to guide us into the harbour.

Due to all the rebuilding work it was difficult to land and we were taken in two parties in a small boat. The elderly German was helped into the boat with much difficulty. We crossed the harbour to the wall and had to climb out on to the narrow ledge about a foot wide – this was half way up the high wall and then walk along this ledge in the dark with ropes, chains, and anchors to be negotiated. Finally we climbed up a very rickety ladder to the harbour road and then walked through the shops most of which were just closing with their goods being taken inside.

When we reached the Umut pension, we found it was all dark and the front doors were closed. The room keys were usually kept in a little cupboard behind a desk just inside the main doors. I tried the doors and found that they could be slid aside just enough for us to enter. The cupboard had no keys in it at all. We knew that the young man who was in charge lived in one of the twelve rooms but which one and on which floor we had no clue. We certainly didn’t want to go around knocking on the doors at that time. We made our way up the stairs and found that the door into the eating area on the roof was locked although the key was there in the lock. We wondered what to do and hesitated about shouting for help.

We both needed a toilet and so we went out and round into the next road where the front of the restaurant-bar was situated and found the little toilet that we knew was at the end of the garden.

Our room was on the ground floor and I thought that if I climbed over a wall – about 3 feet high – I might be able to slide up the sash window and so gain access to our room. What I didn’t know was that there was a much deeper area between the wall and the window and I fell down on to a small garden strip. I was more surprised than hurt and could reach up the window but being sensible and careful people we had locked it before leaving! Once again we walked around to the other road and went up to the breakfast room on the roof. We tried to sleep stretched out on the plastic chairs but were both cold with nothing more than our rather damp towels to cover us. Sylvia tried lying on the carpet but found that was not a good idea. Time passed very slowly and we heard the muezzin calling out at 4.30am. We were by now both very cold and cramped.

Friday 29th May 1992

At 7.30am we heard the young man coming up the stairs and his loud exclamation when he found the door was not locked. He came in and was amazed to find us inside. We explained that we had returned much later than we had expected and we had not thought to take the room key with us. He said,” But why you no knock, knock!?”

We said we would have knocked if we had known which room was his. He was obviously worried and apologetic but we assured him that the fault was entirely ours and we would not be complaining to the hotel owners. We had an early breakfast before the other guests arrived and went to bed and slept until 1.0pm. Sylvia woke up with tummy pains and diarrhoea. Perhaps it was the food on the boat or perhaps a chill from the damp towel. I sat in the balcony to write up my notes and saw that my fall had not damaged the plants below. It was still breezy and we could see that the sea was extremely rough.

I went out and saw Sue – the Thompson rep – and she advised going to the pharmacy and getting Ge-oral to avoid dehydration and Ercefuryl for the diarrhoea. These I got from a local pharmacy and also bought some bottled water and bananas which Sue had recommended. On my return to the Umut I found Sylvia was still in trouble but she felt a little better by 8.0pm when Sue called to see how things were. She gave us a telephone number and said that if things got any worse during the night, we should call the doctor. I made myself a meal of fruit, biscuits and cheese and sat up reading my book. Then I fell asleep and slept well apart from a very strange dream. Sylvia had slept but awoke occasionally.

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