The opening of Erasta Fethiye Alışveriş Merkezi – a new modern side to Fethiye?

Last Friday the new, 80 million lira, ‘shopping & lifestyle’ centre opened in Fethiye. I dragged Berkay along to the opening ceremony to be one of the first inside.
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I’d seen adverts all over the billboards and bus stops in Fethiye and Calis regarding the new shopping centre – Erasta Fethiye Alışveriş Merkezi – and when they announced the opening day and time, I knew I wanted to go and check it out. Berkay came home at 9am and we rushed to get ready and on the bus so that we could be there for the official opening at 10am…like I actually expected it to be on time!
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Most people had taken the sensible option and were waiting under the shade of the building or using the coffee shop seating area – but I wanted to get a good view, so chose to stand under the sun, my poor red shoulders regretted that decision later. There was a separate seated area sectioned off which was for the special guests, they even had an armed policeman guarding it! Once all the guests of honor had arrived, including the designers and the major of Fethiye, the barriers were removed and all us normal folk were allowed to move forward and fill in the remaining seats, I’m certain it was just because they wanted a photo showing a crowd of excited people!
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The speeches began, all in Turkish so I of course had little or no idea of what they were actually saying, but whatever it was seemed to go down well with the crowd as there were a lot of happy faces, loud cheers and clapping hands, especially when the major of Fethiye – Behçet Saatcı – stepped up for his speech. The people of Fethiye clearly adore him, Berkay included, as I’ve never seen him clap so enthusiastically before! After the speeches were over, a ribbon was cut and a plaque presented signifying that the new centre was now open. An Imam was then called up to the stage to say a prayer – I’m assuming as a kind of blessing of the new building. Everyone in the crowd joined in the prayer by cupping their hands, although I did not. I felt a bit guilty, but I’m not a religious person and wouldn’t want to fake anything. My guilt was short lived when the Turkish lady behind me answered her phone and was shouting loudly down it all whilst the prayer was still going on…

After all was said and done, they opened the doors and everyone piled through them. They had metal detectors which everyone, including the armed police, ignored even though they were constantly beeping!

The major went around to each shop, cutting more ribbons and shaking the hands of all the employees – it seems like he is really respected and loved, he seemed genuinely happy and excited about the whole thing which was really lovely to see.

Now onto the actual shopping centre – it’s situated near Fethiye otogar – the main bus station that all the big coaches go into. The building is very impressive looking, it’s really well designed, but it cost 80 MILLION Turkish Lira, which is an awful lot of money, so you’d expect it to look pretty amazing.
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The first things we saw are the huge letters spelling the name of the shopping centre ‘ Erasta’.  There is a huge wooden frame design covering a large garden and seating area with water fountains at the bottom. To the left of that is the main entrance from ground level, which had a huge Turkish flag draped above it- but I’m not sure if that is a permanent fixture – knowing the Turkish pride it may well be!
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There are around 50+ shops inside, although not all are fitted and open yet. There’s a good variety of shops,  some fashion ones such as LC Waikiki, a shoe shop – Deichmann, some swimwear shops, a good sized Migros, and a superdrug type health/beauty shop by the name of ‘Gratis’. Those are just a few of the shops currently open – there are many more.
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There are water fountains all around the centre, both inside and out, which really adds to the modern look. The whole place is air-conditioned too which is a big bonus for hot days! There are escalators to the 2nd floor, which as well as more shops hosts a small cinema, a children’s indoor play area and a food court, all of which were not fully open when we visited. From what I could see of the food court, there were a few kebab restaurants, a Burger King and an Italian, there was a good amount of seating and a large outdoor seating area attached too. Apparently escalators are not a very common thing in Turkey – I remember that Berkay had never been on one until he was at Dalaman on his way to England the first time, which I thought was really bizarre, but it turns out he’s not the only one… While trying to go upstairs we became stuck behind 2 Turkish women who were afraid to step on the escalator and had no idea how they worked.. it was amusing to say the least!
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We had a little walk around the shops and made the most of the freebies on offer – we got given free cakes in Migros which were delicious, and then queued up for free candyfloss outside afterwards, embracing our inner child!
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One of the things I was most excited about was the fact the centre has TWO coffee shops, with almost identical names. We went to Kahve Dunyasi (coffee world), and had a drink. I had the cappucino with icecream, it was yummy, but I’d have preferred a Starbucks! The menu was really expensive, think Starbucks prices, my coffee was 8.5tl. There were all kinds of hot and cold drinks on offer, a huge selection of chocolates and cakes too, but again, these were expensive at 9tl for a piece of cake.  Both of the coffee shops were really busy and I can imagine that they will be very popular even after the inital opening period.
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After our coffee, we went to pay and noticed there were a band and dancers performing inside, so I went out to get some photos. There were women and men on stilts dancing, people dressed as clowns juggling and people playing instruments – it was all quite impressive really and a large crowd gathered quickly!
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I know that when people first heard about this new shopping centre they were afraid that it would take away business from the smaller, family run shops in the surrounding area, personally I don’t think this is the case at all as the new shops are all part of large chains and are more expensive than the small, family run shops you find in Fethiye town. The centre is definitely aimed at certain types of people, in my opinion, and we probably won’t visit much because of how expensive most of these shops are. I don’t think it will be overly popular with tourists, as it’s not in the main resort/town area. However, I love that it adds a modern side to Fethiye and think it will be very popular with university students and expats as a place to meet up. It’s definitely worth a visit for the air-con alone and would be a great meeting point for friends to just walk around, shop and relax. It’s definitely something that Fethiye was lacking. I just hope that the new centre continues to be popular and busy and that Fethiye continues to grow and modernise, whilst still keeping it’s more humble roots in mind.

Bodrum Day 2. Castle, boats & starbucks.

Not so impressed with Gumbet, on Thursday we decided to go to Bodrum town. I absolutely LOVED IT. Perhaps even as much as I love Fethiye! 

After the previous nights dinner, expectations were high for breakfast, we weren’t disappointed though. A huge buffet table greeted us, boiled eggs, omelette, tomato, cucumber, cheese, salami, chicken, fruit, honey, jam, biscuits, olives, chips, bread..and of course bottomless glasses of cay/Turkish tea.
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After breakfast we got the dolmus to Bodrum and walked through the main town towards the marina. It was beautiful, all undercover and hundreds of little boutiques and shops selling everything from paintings to jewellery, clothes, bags, food..  I found these cute cushions with paintings of Bodrum on, clever.
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The harbour/marina was lovely, such a pretty backdrop with the bright blue skies and hundreds of boats. We walked along the harbour and found the castle. So pretty and impressive too, especially at night when it’s all lit up.

We walked along to the castle for a better look, I wanted to go inside but we decided the 20tl each fee was too expensive, instead we walked around the cafe in the castle grounds and found the little photobooth offering photos dressed up as a Sultan. This was great fun and we ended up spending 40tl on photos, we could have just paid the castle entry fee after all. Oh well. It was a lovely place.

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While we were having these funny photos taken, I spotted a lady walking around with a coffee cup that looked suspiciously like Starbucks. I made it our mission to find it and had Berkay asking 4 different people for directions. We eventually found the Starbucks and sat in their little garden with our Frappuccinos. Yummy. So refreshing in the heat! We paid 20tl for two though, ouch. We really were living like tourists for these 2 days!
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The view from Starbucks was lovely, crystal clear water and a little path at the side where you could walk up to the castle. We followed the path and the views were amazing from the top. We had a little mini photoshoot as always, and made our way back down.
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It was 4pm by this point and we really wanted to go back to the hotel for a swim before it got too late, as we knew the pool would be cold again. We got the dolmus back to Gumbet and had a swim and another game of volleyball, we had the pool to ourselves again and had some fun taking some underwater photos with my special iPod case.
So cheesy.
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Then it was time to get ready for dinner again, I wore a new dress I bought in Bodrum. I hate clothes shopping, I can never find anything that looks right on me, but I loved this dress.
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Dinner was amazing again, this time it was vegetable soup, mized meze, manti, salad, bread, steak with mushrooms and cake for dessert. Mmm.
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After dinner we walked all the way to a mini themepark, it was a long walk, 30-40 minutes there and another 30-40minutes back again. It was lovely and cool so it was a nice evening walk. We purchased tickets for 2 rides, a giant pirate ship, which was the scariest, steepest pirate ship ride i’d ever been on, and another ride that span you around.. I thought I might see my dinner again haha!
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After the rides, we walked back to Gumbet and met Berkay’s brothers in bar street. We went to a bar and paid 50tl for 4 beers and a vodka and coke, OUCH. Bodrum is not cheap, it’s the most expensive place i’ve visited in Turkey, even in the non touristy parts, water, crisps, bread..everything in the shops is more expensive. I’m glad we don’t live there.