Turkey: the ceramics factory

And so, after procrastinating for two days I bring you day 3 of our holiday in Turkey.

We got up unbelievably early in the morning to prepare for a 6.30am start (Turkey is two hours before UK so we effectively woke up at 3am our time). The first stop was at a roadside diner for a Turkish breakfast. Let me tell you, when your idea of heaven is a full English breakfast then hell can quickly come to resemble seven days of Turkish breakfasts. Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country and therefore they serve no pork with their breakfasts. That means no bangers, no bacon and certainly no black pudding. In addition, the Turkish style of eating breakfast is very different to the English style of breakfast. The meal consists of slices of cheese, butter, olives, green pepper, cucumber, jam, honey and tomatoes. Every day we were served watery scrambled eggs and sometimes that was mixed with a Vienna-type sausage. To me, the point of travelling is to experience different cultures and cuisine but I have to be honest and say that I did begin to crave some bacon and eggs and while I tucked into the cold portions of the breakfasts all holiday, I was unable to stomach the scrambled egg after the second day. Suffice to say, I just had some bitter Turkish black tea with breakfast that day while Stephen tucked into a bit of everything.

By the way, there are Western restaurants and indeed hotels that you can go to that do serve pork but where's the fun in that?


We drove for about three hours out of Bodrum and towards Ephesus which is 3km south of Selçuk. When we were about 5 minutes away from Ephesus we stopped at a ceramics factory. Note to self: next time I go to a foreign country, I must take a notebook and write down all of the place names. The closest description I can give of this wonderful ceramics factory is that it is on the main road near Camlik which is just outside of Ephesus. (EDIT: I contacted the tour operator and got the details! Yay! They are ART Ceramics in Selçuk).

Turkey is famous for good quality ceramics but the factory we went to is especially good quality as all of the goods are fired twice.


You wouldn't believe how exquisite the finished pieces are. In any event, Stephen decided to spoil me and let me buy two 7" bowls which cost about £30 each. I've struggled to take a decent shot of my precious works of ceramic art (because of the glaze) but here goes:

Turkey: at the hotel and into Gümbet

The one thing you'll notice in Turkey if you vacation in the middle of summer is that it is hot and we chose to vacation in July! Therefore a mixture of heat, fatigue and steam resulted in us not taking any pictures on the second day of our vacation. In fact, I totally neglected to take any pictures of the pool area at all during our entire holiday!

Nevertheless, Tuesday was quite eventful.

The hotel had a hair and beauty salon and so Stephen and I went down on Tuesday morning for some treatments. I got a pedicure and a face mask. I was really happy with the pedicure as it was the first proper pedicure I have had in ages whereby they use a razor to remove dead skin from your heels. My feet were very happy afterwards that's for sure! The whole time my pedicure was being done, I wore a face mask made of completely natural products. It was blue and Stephen laughed at me for a short while until they slapped his on! It left my face feeling really smooth and detoxed - it was great. One thing you'll notice about some Turkish merchants (although many are the exact opposite) is that they are really pushy and won't discuss price with you when negotiating services. So, Stephen went down for a shave and landed up getting a face mask and hair cut. It was probably the best hair cut he has ever had though - I was watching the hairdresser and he made sure that every single hair was in the right place (or so it seemed). By the way - all of the staff in the salon and the spa were male, which I found interesting. The shave was done with a traditional cut-throat razor and the guy even went so far as to singe the hair off Stephen's ears!!! Add tot hat the face mask and by the end of the appointment, my normally clean-shaved and well-presented husband looked really, really neat (in more than one sense of the word)!!!

The only down-side of the appointment was that it cost YTL60 (that's Turkish Lira) and we'd already spent YTL60 on another Turkish-shopping experience (as mentioned above whereby you are pushed to buy things without being clear on how much they are costing) earlier that day when we bought flip flops for Stephen and beach towels. That meant that our holiday cash reserve of YTL120 (which is €60) was gone by the end of the first day! Being in an all-inclusive hotel we had figured we'd pay for tours by credit card and need very little other cash. Suffice to say, we were sorely mistaken.

We spent the rest of the day by the pool. These aren't my pictures, but they come from marketing sites for Grand Newport Hotel and I wanted to give you an idea of just how beautiful the pool area by the hotel is:

 Grand Newport Hotel Gumbet Turkey (2)  Grand Newport Hotel Gumbet Turkey (3)

That is the Aegean Sea you can see in the background and our room was actually situated right under the line of pool chairs. There is a steep decline once you have walked through that arch and the rooms are all cut into that decline allowing the rooms some great views.

We had a fabulously relaxing first day of holiday by the pool. We don't really count being passed out in our room as the first day of our holiday! All we did was lounge under the pool umbrellas reading and take the occasional dip in the pool. I've always been a bit of a slow reader but I devoured four books on holiday: Shade's Children, The Wind Singer (Wind on Fire Trilogy), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia) and Raven's Gate (Power of Five). (Yes, those are children's books - all four of them - but I still consider it a reading victory).

We quickly took a trip into Gümbet as we had some time to spare. Gümbet is a lovely little resort town with loads and loads of restaurants and bars. There are also loads of shops with "genuine fake" goods in (if that appeals to you) with fake Prada, Gucci and other designer goods. Had I known that Prada handbags cost over £1,000 then I might have spent €30 on an excellent fake, but how was I to know? I did manage to get quite a nice bikini so that was good.

That evening,we went down to the Turkish bath and spa in the basement of the hotel. If our morning buying experiences were difficult, this was just the opposite. The nice proprietor took us around his baths to explain the treatment in full and how much we would be paying. In short, it was absolutely amazing. Once again, I didn't take any pictures of the baths but there is a picture on Bodrum Resorts:

Baths in Grand Newport Hotel Gumbet

The room appears to be all marble with the raised section in the middle and sinks all around the edge. There is under floor heating and so the room is almost as a hot as a sauna or steam room. The treatment started with you lying on the raised section and them dousing you alternatively with hot and cold water. Then you are giving a full body exfoliation with an exfoliation glove. They then mix a lavender treatment which is applied to your body with a cloth sack. The effect is that the sack fills with bubbles and the effect on your body is almost effervescent and gives you a feeling of slight buoyancy. The treatment continues with a full body massage and finally you are doused in more much needed cold water.

Well, given the day's activities, by the end of the massage we were absolutely relaxed and glowing from head to toe. We certainly slept well that night!

Arriving in Turkey

After a hectic and tiring weekend attending the O2 Wireless Festival 2008 it was finally time for our summer holiday to Turkey.

We booked through Teletext Holidays Online and got a fantastic deal for a week all-inclusive to the Grand Newport Hotel in Gumbet in Turkey.  For flights, seven nights accommodation, all meals and local drinks, all transfers plus an air-conditioned, sea facing balcony room, we paid about £750 for the two of us.  The hotel was four stars and the rooms were modern, clean and very comfortable.

On to the holiday then...

We got to the airport nice and early, which is to say we arrived at about 4.30pm when our flight was scheduled to leave at 10.30pm.  Well, you can never trust London motorways so we weren't taking any chances!  (I still have nightmares from spending 3 hours stuck on the M25 north when I picked my brother up from Liverpool in February).  We soon found out that the flight was delayed by one hour and so we settled down in the Frankie and Benny's for a yummy meal and airplane magazines for Stephen and Killer Sudoku books for me.

The flight left at 11.30pm and it was about four hours long which meant that we landed in Bodrum Airport about 5.30am (they are two hours ahead of English).  The flight was quite horrible and I didn't sleep at all despite having a seat by the door and hence lots of leg room. 

My first impression of Turkey was that it was really pretty and warm.  Unfortunately, it was a lot brighter than this picture shows and my poor sleep-deprived eyes could not take any decent photos.  Less than 45 minutes later, however, and we were in paradise.  This was the view from our balcony at about 7am on that first morning:

That is the Aegean Sea that you can see there.  It is very warm and very, very salty.

Mere moments after this photo was taken we passed out and only emerged at about 3pm that afternoon.

Festival: O2 Wireless Festival 2008

With our tickets in hand months and months ago, we've spent a long time waiting for this day to arrive and today it was finally here.

We set off for Hyde Park in central London for the 2008 O2 Wireless Festival headlined by Fatboy Slim.


Stephen, Mandy and Chris on the train to Hyde Park.

Stephen holding his ticket.

The Whip

It was quite a cross country dash, but we made it to Hyde Park just after 2.15pm and so just in time to see the last couple of minutes of The Whip.  It seems strange that I hadn't heard of this band until one week ago but it just goes to show how much can change in a week.  The Whip are an exceptionally talented indie electronic band and they have just released their first album, X Marks Destination.  If you like The Faint then you'll like The Whip.  Their show was really live and these guys are really energetic and confident on stage.  They kicked the day off in excellent festival style.  I imagine that I'll have to buy their album now because they are that good.

Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip

I've been raving about Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip for several months now and was pleased as punch when Chris got me their new album Angles for my birthday.  These guys are brilliant and I really, really like their lyrics.  I'm not usually into hip hop, which this band are, but I just can't resist the charms of a band that says "Radiohead - just a band".  A show like this is hard to judge because much of their music is sampled and accompanied by live lyrics.   Nevertheless, it was great to see them in the flesh and to see their dynamic up on stage and all in all they were pretty enjoyable and I got to dance around and sing at the top of my lungs.

We had a bit of lunch after that and then I watched one or two songs from Cut Copy.  The guy has got a great voice but I definitely needed a bit of a rest after the first two bands.

Sam Sparro

I have this silly little habit where I categorise all my music into genres so I can navigate my collection easier on my iPod.  Well, Allmusic.com got this one spectacularly wrong because Sam Sparro is as indie electronic as Marilyn Manson is gospel.  In fact, I've been fighting the whole week against liking this artist because I was unsure whether he was perhaps too mainstream for my liking. 

Silly notions of music snobbery aside, Sam Sparro is the best surprise I have had in years.  It is easy to see how talented he is just by listening to his music but it took the live show to blow my mind.  He was phenomenal and it was one of the biggest mistakes of the festival to put a man with this much talent in a small tent off the main stage.  Well, he almost blew the top off that tent and the tent was packed to capacity.  He seemed honestly surprised at the reception he received and seemed to really appreciate it.  I guess that's the last time any festival is going to put this man in a small tent.  Expect big things from him in the future.

The best part of his set (yes, he deserves three paragraphs) was him covering Black Box “Ride On Time” and Crystal Waters “Gypsy Woman (La da dee da da da)”It was just so ad lib and so... entertaining.  Brilliant show.

Unfortunately, the next couple of hours turned a possible 10/10 festival experience to only a 7/10 one.  First, I waited about 45 minutes to go to the portaloos.  I'll give them credit in that the facilities remained spotless right through the event but the organisation was horrid and you just can't ignore the calls of nature.  I emerged after 45 minutes and managed to catch the last remaining refrains of “Weird Science” by Does It Offend You, Yeah?  I'm really disappointed by not seeing this band. 

We decided to get some drinks and to check out the main stage.  Then we went back to the ridiculously small tent to catch some MSTRKRFT and to grab a spot for Underworld.  Well, we weren't the only one with that idea and over an hour before Underworld was to begin, the tent was full to capacity and the organiser had closed the gate thereby disallowing any further access to the tent.  Actually, we missed seeing Underworld.  I think I'm going to have to give the festival a 6/10.  How on earth do you make not one but two mistakes of putting massive acts like Sam Sparro and Underworld in tiny little tents when it is obvious that they should be main stage acts?


Moving on swiftly, we did catch Deadmau5 who puts on a very cute techno DJ set.  Chris wasn't too impressed but then he never has liked Deadmau5.  I reckon I would seek out this guy if he was ever doing a DJ set at another festival or something - he wasn't too bad at all (if you like banging techno) - but I wouldn't buy his stuff.

Fatboy Slim 

Eventually the man himself came on.  For Deadmau5, we had a spot right at the front near the stage (on account of not being able to get into the Underworld tent).  However, the Absolutely Smashed people around us got a bit too much for us and we moved right out for Fatboy Slim's set.  We were pretty exhausted by then and we tried to dance a bit but he just wasn't as good as he was when we saw him at the Colab in Centurion in South Africa.  He rocked my socks off at the previous gig!!!  In the end, we decided to go and we took a leisurely stroll towards the exits stopping for hot dogs and pancakes and wondered why we hadn't just spent the entire day on these super-comfortable sofa-type things by the food area.

As we were leaving, Fatboy Slim played “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream vs The Hoxtons.  I remembered when he played that at Colab and I was blown away that he was pretty much playing an entire Cream song at a dance gig!  All in all it was a good day with great memories.  While we were disappointed in some respects, the are always going to be situations like today where you just can't predict the popularity of a rapidly rising star (no excuse for not realising the pulling power of Underworld though).  Spending 45 minutes in line for the toilet is never going to go down well and that certainly could have been better marshalled but as I mentioned before, those facilities were spotless by the end of the evening and you really can't fault them on that.

All in all I'll give the day 8/10 then because I just know I'll be singing Sam Sparro all week.