Marmaris & İçmeler..

On Tuesday, to celebrate our 4 year anniversary, Berkay hired a car for the day again and we went off on a day trip to Marmaris & İçmeler.

It’s great now that Berkay has his driving license – we’ve hired a car 3 times in the past 6 weeks. His friend lets us have the car cheap and it runs on gas so it’s not expensive to travel far with it either. I’m loving going out and exploring other places.

We were either going to go to Patara & Kas, or Marmaris & İçmeler and decided on the latter as neither of us had been before. I was really curious to see if Marmaris was as bad as I’d imagined, I see lots of people saying it’s like Blackpool, which doesn’t appeal to me at all. It’s certainly a million miles away from what I’m used to here in Fethiye & Calis.

Berkay came home at 9am after a long night at work, had a quick shower then off we headed. It took us around 2 hours in total, with a quick stop off for brunch. We got to Marmaris around 11.45am and spent AGES driving around trying to find a parking space. It was clear that Marmaris was huge and we had no idea which end or where was best to start from.
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We ended up parking at the end by the Marina & castle. I really loved this end of Marmaris, it reminded me of Fethiye a lot. We wandered around the corner and along the fish water fountains that I had spotted while driving past and wanted to check out.
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I loved this little area with the water features, gardens, statues and clock tower. It was really pretty.
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After taking lots of photos there and a quick look in LC Wakiki we walked towards the Marina & castle. We walked through an area of undercover shops which I now know is the Grand Bazaar. It felt like one big giant maze, it was crazy, literally hundreds of shops pretty much all almost identical, selling the same things etc, it felt like we were going around in circles! I have no idea how any of them make any money, it was empty when we were walking around and there are so many shops the same how do you chose which one to give your custom to? It was all a bit weird, I just can’t understand the point of having so many similar shops next to each other – but it must work I guess! We didn’t go in any, we were just concentrating on trying to find a way out, but I did see some cute t-shirts with Frozen and Despicable Me characters on, they’d be perfect for my little sister, she was the first person I thought of when I saw them!
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When we eventually found our way out we walked towards Marmaris Castle, which I really wanted to look at, but didn’t have time. We walked through all the little back streets past small, quiet cafes, I loved it. We saw signs for ‘Bar street’ so I’m assuming it was around there somewhere – but it looks like loud, obnoxious bars wouldn’t fit in there at all, perhaps it’s one of those places that is quiet and lovely during the day and a whole different  place during the night? I don’t know. We reached the main marina and had a wander around there, the restaurants looked fancy and there were some very nice looking yachts and boats in the harbour. We reached a certain point then turned around and came back, walking along the promenade and past the normal day-trip type boats, we were CONSTANTLY pulled over and hassled to look and chat to them, Berkay is far too polite and instead of just ignoring them like I would, he let them all speak for a minute about how wonderful and amazing their boat trip was and then hit them with the fact that we were only there for a day – I bet they were cursing us for wasting their time! I found it quite funny how they automatically spoke to us in English, normally when we’re home they can tell Berkay is Turkish, and even when I’m out alone they assume I am – I guess we must’ve really looked like tourists in Marmaris that day!
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We walked all the way back to the car and drove further along the beach towards the old Point Centre/Blue port. We parked literally right outside and went inside to get into the aircon as quickly as possible. One thing we really noticed about Marmaris was how ridiculously hot it was, there was no air! It was just hot. I was sweating in places I didn’t even know possible, it was awful! People have since told me that it’s because Marmaris is sheltered by the mountains so there is no wind. That’s something I’m so grateful that Calis has – wind! It’s always windy here and I’m always moaning that the sea is too wavy as a result.. I won’t complain anymore that’s for sure!

We had a look around Blue Port, it’s like a smaller version of Erasta in Fethiye. I did laugh to myself, we drove 2 hours to go to Marmaris where most people go to have fun, swim, sunbathe and drink lots of alcohol, and what were we doing? Walking around the Turkish version of B&Q looking at plant pots and paint for no reason! We’re such old souls, it really did make me chuckle. The best part about this little shopping centre was the fact it had a real KFC! We didn’t actually eat in there because it’s expensive, but it looked like a really fancy KFC, not like the minging ones in the UK – I’m guessing it was new. There was a Burger King too, but that wasn’t quite as exciting as there’s one of those in Fethiye too.  You know what Turkey really, really needs? A NANDOS!
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When we’d recovered from the heat and made the most of the aircon, we headed back outside and just walked along the promenade.  This was the first we saw of the beach, which I didn’t really think much of. It was really narrow, with sunbeds crammed in here, there and everywhere. It was the same when we went to Gumbet. Here in Calis there’s one single row of sunbeds which are mostly unused. It’s a totally different place and atmosphere. I thought it was weird how they had buckets of dirty water for people to use and rinse their sandy/dusty feet in – gross. I did love the paved floor and huge, tall palm trees, they looked really lovely.
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Another thing I noticed was just how many big 5* hotels there are in Marmaris, it seems the place is definitely more focused on big, all inclusive hotels rather than the smaller 3* bed and breakfast types here in Calis. There’s not a single 5* hotel here.

Up until this point I was really surprised at how much I liked Marmaris. The marina end looked lovely and the right hand side of the beach going towards İçmeler was nice with all the big hotels. When we started walking back and went past Point Centre, we came to the smaller hotels, bars and restaurants in the middle section of the beach that we’d missed out  – and this was where things began to get a bit.. tacky. The cheap hotels and football bars. This was the part I’d previously seen photos of and based my opinion of the whole area on. Honestly, I didn’t like it – and I can only imagine it gets worse at night, I’m so glad I wasn’t there to see it, not my cup of tea at all.  All in all, Marmaris was a lot better than I imagined, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I only visited during the day, I’m not sure my opinion would be the same if I saw it at night… I did like how there seemed to be something for everyone, all inclusive 5* hotels and cheaper, smaller apart-hotels for those who prefer that. Loud, busy bars for some, and quiet little cafe’s for others. I was amazed at how big it was, it’s 100x bigger than the main area’s of Fethiye, Calis and Ölüdeniz – It’s huge. I was only there for a couple of hours, so there’s a whole lot more to see, I’d like to go back again and experience it all a bit more. I should add here, that these are just my opinions based on observations I made in the very few hours I was there.

After all the walking around, we were hot, tired and grumpy, and got back in the car to drive to İçmeler where we were going for a swim. Honestly I can’t really comment on İçmeler as we didn’t explore, we literally only drove through a road, parked up and walked a few meters to the beach, but it did look  more ‘personal’ and slightly more quiet there.
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We paid 10tl for 2 sunbeds and an umbrella which I thought was really reasonable, stripped off to our swimsuits and took a dip in the sea, which was freezing. I love how calm the sea is there, it reminds me of the lagoon at Ölüdeniz, I guess İçmeler is sheltered like Marmaris, although it seemed a lot cooler there. There were no waves, it was just nice and calm which made swimming much more relaxing as whenever we’re swimming in the sea at Calis i’m constantly worrying about the waves and trying to stop myself getting a mouthful of salty water- gag! The beach was much like the one at Marmaris, hundreds of sunbeds and umbrellas all crammed together with barely an inch to move – weird. It’s also not really stoney like the ones here, it was more just dusty, muddy, sand, which I’m not sure if I preferred or not really – why are there no pure golden sandy beaches around here? Patara is the best one I’ve come across so far.
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I did really like the views from the beach – it was beautiful.

At around 4.30pm we drove back to Marmaris and stopped for dinner – I’d asked for recommendations on Facebook and was trying to find a couple of the restaurants suggested but we couldn’t, we were really hungry, hot and had to leave as quickly as possible so that Berkay could get back in time for work, so we just settled on a random one that we came across – Natalies Steak House.

I’d heard about it from Facebook groups in the past, so thought it would be good to try, but I wish we hadn’t – everything was SO expensive. We did look at the menu outside first, but we were in a rush, so didn’t really look hard enough. I know it’s recommended for its steaks, hence it’s name I guess, but we couldn’t afford those so settled on chicken dishes – I had chili chicken, and Berkay had plank chicken, I found that the waiter kept pushing us to have something more expensive, which was annoying. There was no free ‘puffy’ bread that we normally get for starters either – perhaps that’s not the norm in Marmaris? I’m not sure. When the food arrived, it was nice, no complaints about that at all. When we got the bill though, we were amazed to see that the two large cokes (watered down with a lot of ice!) had been charged at 9tl each – 18tl for two cokes?! That’s just totally crazy to me – I don’t know if we just picked a silly restaurant or if Marmaris is expensive compared to Calis?
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After all that, we left Marmaris at 5.30pm, were back in Fethiye at 7.45pm and Berkay was back at work at 8pm! Good timing or what? Even though he was grumpy and tired by the end of the day after having no sleep, I love it that he works nights as it means we can do things during the day together sometimes.
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All in all, It was a good day and my opinion of Marmaris did change, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. İçmeler looked lovely but I need to explore them more, maybe we’ll get a chance another day. Both places were in beautiful locations with amazing views of the mountains, sea and islands – Turkey is a truely beautiful country.

I have to say though, after going away somewhere else, whether it be for a day, a week or a year, I just absolutely love driving back through the mountains on the Dalaman road, turning the corner and seeing Babadağ mountain, that’s when I know I’m home. Fethiye is my most favourite place.
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Just a little note to apologise for neglecting my blog, I’ve not been in the mood for writing lately, and I have just been so busy. I do have a couple of posts planned for next week so hopefully I’ll get my motivation back and start posting more regularly again soon. Thank you for reading as always ❤

ROLLERCOASTERS!

On Saturday Berkay & I decided to go for a little trip out. We were planning to get the train to Southend to have a walk along the sea front, visit the aquarium and go on the rides at adventure island, but after looking into it, and realising what would normally be a 45-60 minute car journey was going to take 2.5 hours and cost £40 on the train – late on Friday night we decided we’d go to Thorpe Park instead. It’s crazy to think that this actually worked out slightly cheaper, as it’s 100 x better!

We caught the 8:30 am train from our town to London Waterloo, then another train from Waterloo to Staines. Then we got the shuttle bus from Staines station to Thorpe Park, which was only 10 mins down the road!  I was suprised at how quick the journey was, it only took an hour and a half  to get there altogether, but it seemed a lot quicker. I’m also pretty impressed that I didn’t get us lost once.
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When we arrived Berkay got concerned about the HUGE line of people queuing to get tickets, luckily, we paid for ours online the night before and printed them out so literally walked straight in past the massive line of people and through the ticket scanners.

We went on a few ‘tame’ rides first of all to warm Berkay up, then we attempted the bigg’uns! We queued for an hour and a half to get onto the next ride – Colossus. I can’t believe we waited so long really, not sure if it were really worth it, but we did get back row seats – nothing quite like sitting at the front or back of a big rollercoaster!
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After that we went to go and get some lunch, but on the way we spotted a ride with no queue whatsoever – not even one person. So we made our way over to that. Now I’ve been to Thorpe Park before, so I knew what to expect- but it didn’t take Berkay long to figure out why exactly there was no queue for this ride on a grey, not-too-warm, April day in Surrey…
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The ride in question was ‘Tidal Wave’ – clue is in the name really isn’t it? Up we went in the boat, sat in the front row I must add, we got to the top, the boat went around towards the steep drop and baaaam, it all became clear to Berkay – the huge tidal wave splash flowing into the boat was pretty much like having a shower, we were SOAKED, that’s why nobody else was queuing – who wants to be wet and cold during an English Spring?! I bet the ride is really popular in summer though!  This is my favourite ride in the whole place  – I’ve always loved it because of the theme, 1950’s American fishing village hit by a tsunami- the surrounding area of this ride all blends in well, all the buildings look like they’ve been hit by the ‘tidal wave’ – including the KFC we went into for lunch, the roof is all caved in and wonky with a giant shark poking through the building! I love the 1950’s theme going on – reminds me of Grease, which incidentally I’m currently watching on tv!
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After KFC for lunch, we went to the other side of the park and went on the water raft ride – a nice tame one to keep our KFC safely in our tummies. After that – the spinning teacups – and after that … the big one… Stealth!
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The queue for this ride was suprisingly not as long as I thought it would be – we only waited 45 minutes, and it’s arguably the most popular ride at the park. You really can’t quite comprehend how tall or impressive it is until you’re standing underneath it and hear the gas propelling the coaster, the roar of the cars on the tracks and the screams of everyone riding in it. It accelerates from 0-80mph in 1.8 seconds – impressive! If you’re not quite sat in the right position as it takes off up the track though, you really feel it, the first time it jolted my neck and hurt for a while.
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When your feet are firmly on the ground watching it climb over the tip of the arch, there’s always that bit of doubt in your mind that it might not have enough power to make it quite over and end up rolling back down – something which apparently it is designed to do safely – but that would be scary to experience! When you’re on the ride at the top, all you can see all around you is sky and cloud – no track – not the car in front – just sky. Berkay loved this so much the first time that when we spotted a sign later on in the day advising that the waiting time was currently only 5 minutes for this one – we took advantage and went back on it for a second time!

After that we headed for the newest ride at the park – which was really cool and well designed – apparently it cost £200 MILLION to create. Ouch! The whole area is themed around ‘unexplained incidents’ and riots/war – with a very realistic looking plane crash, upside down burnt out emergency vehicles etc etc.  We loved this one so much we went on it twice too!
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Berkay tried to win me a giant minion teddy as we saw literally HUNDREDS of people walking around the park with them after winning them from the typical things – climb the ladder, basketball shooting etc etc, but it appears we’re just not lucky – he must’ve spent about £20 trying to win one! ):
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After realising that the shortest queues of the day for the big coasters were after 5pm when most people had already gone home – we managed to squeeze in a couple more big rollercoaster rides before heading home. Berkay absolutely loved them and we had a really great day.
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We caught the shuttle bus back to Staines station and spotted a little Chinese/Indian buffet restaurant and took a little detour in there for some dinner. It was soo yummy – especially the cakes for dessert! Mmmmm. After that, we headed home via London Waterloo – I love how old that station looks with the massive clock in the middle! We were so tired and achey from all the walking and being bashed around on rides that as soon as we got home we went to bed, but we had a really fab day, glad we chose to go there, even if it was a last minute decision!
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