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Sunday, August 16, 2015

347: An Englishman abroad

I'm in Berlin Tegel airport waiting for my connecting flight to Warsaw. The holiday is at an end and it's back to work tomorrow. In the meantime I've drunk all the gin* in the lounge here and have had to switch to beer. (If I switched to another spirit there's every danger I might miss my flight).
I enjoyed my time in Turkey despite the shortcomings of the hotel. I sometimes wonder how much our upbringing and experience of life in general shapes our expectations when we visit new places. I think we come to expect a certain standard but, naturally enough, different countries have different standards. Because I've been lucky enough to spend some time in 4 and 5 star hotels have I now come to expect a similar standard of service wherever I go? Or am I just being a Grumpy Old Man? When the time comes to write a review of the Kristal Beach hotel in Arapsuyu, near Antalya I shall enjoy helping to drag their average score down. A few petty grievances while I'm waiting for my flight. By all means comment and tell me I'm expecting too much. No coat hangers in the wardrobe and the safe in the room wasn't working - probably because it needed a new battery. When I went down to report these issues the man behind the reception desk just said no to both requests, suggesting I wasn't paying enough for that kind of service! I would accept that argument if I had played some part in negotiating a reduced rate but actually I just accepted the best  rate offered on Trivago. The room was on the 7th floor and the single lift was for guests and staff. It wasn't enough. Many "long" waits ensued. As a money-saving measure lighting in the corridors and toilets had been specially adapted to turn itself off after 3 microseconds. Picture two scenarios if you will: 1) standing in the corridor waiting "interminably" for a lift and waving your arms like a madman every few seconds. 2) standing in the toilet "doing the business" and having to wave every few seconds, thereby losing control of the operation in hand. What fun. Below is a picture of one of the cracks in the room. Normal "settling" or Jerry building? On day two there was a large hole in a corridor wall exposing some taps and pipework. It was repaired after a day of having to step around the mess. Internet on floor 7 came and went, seemingly at random. Much like the hot water really. 
Anyway, enough moaning. A word or two about Turkish people. I think all those I met were kind and helpful although occasionally I must confess I'm not sure if they were trying to start a friendship in order to a) sell me a carpet or b) introduce me to their sister. Particular praise to Omar the waiter who had obviously learnt the lesson that the friendlier you are with the guests the better a tip you are likely to get at the end of the week. His efforts were duly rewarded. (I suggested to him that the 2.30 at Ascot would romp home!). 
Would I go back? Yes to Turkey, yes to Antalya, no to the Kristal Beach hotel. I think next time I will try to find somewhere where there isn't Turkish music being played. Not my favourite I must confess.

A low-hanging pomegranate tree

Before you ask, no I didn't avail myself.

*there was only enough gin left in the bottle for one drink!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

346: Antalya

I'm in Antalya in Southern Turkey. The temperature is 3 times what it was in Scotland last week. Here is the view of the Mediterranean from the hotel balcony. Marvellous. Not that I plan to be in it very often as I'm not a great fan of swimming but it's nice to look at and run along the beach.

I award the hotel -3 stars for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps I'll expand on that in another blog but this morning I must get out and soak up the sun. First though a few photos from Istanbul where I spent Tuesday (flying in on Monday and out on Wednesday). I did the usual touristy stuff by visiting the Blue Mosque, taking a boat trip on the Bosphorus and having fish for lunch in one of the myriad restaurants situated under the Galata bridge (which spans the Golden Horn).
"Galata Bridge From Tower" by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen"



the spice of life (in big piles)







the open-deck tourist bus seems to be in every big city in the world.




dancing ships!

hustle and bustle

lots of new build too