23 August 2011

Marmaris: like England, but sunny

You expect to have a full English every day when you decide to stay in the country for your holiday, but not when you travel 2000 miles from home…surely?  That’s exactly what you get in Marmaris; a veritable home from home for us Brits.  It has everything you could possibly want, providing that you only want things that you could have back in Blighty.  The streets are littered with British pubs, fish and chip shops, flat screen TVs showing live football, what more could you wish for?  In my case, anything vaguely Turkish would have been nice.  Sadly, Turkish delight was about all I could find.

It really saddened me that Marmaris was clearly designed with British tourists in mind.  And the worst kind of British tourists at that.  Everywhere we went, even during the day, we were offered free cocktails or shots to convince us to eat at restaurants.  The favourite offer was a fishbowl full of cocktail, which was accompanied by several giant straws that allowed your group to guzzle simultaneously.  

Having never been on a girls’ holiday before and usually going to a foreign country to explore and experience new and different cultures, I found it very difficult to adapt to this kind of trip.  I still find it a bit of a confusing concept to travel a different place, to do the same thing you can do at home, but I went along with it.  My personal low point of the holiday was our one and only (thank goodness) visit to Bar Street (oh yes, that’s its actual name).  This is home to some of the tackiest clubs I have ever seen, packed with leering Turkish men and highly intoxicated holidaymakers grinding to awful dance music.

If I’ve not already put you off, I have to mention the HASSLE that is an integral part of a holiday in Marmaris.  We managed to make all of the staff at our hotel completely despise us, merely by not eating at the restaurant.  We repeatedly explained that we had been offered better deals elsewhere and weren’t really interested in their planned entertainment, yet at every opportunity they would thrust their flyers into our hands and reiterate their offers over and over until we said ‘maybe’ so they would leave us in peace.  Then of course when we didn’t show for dinner they called us liars and gave us a lecture on how untrustworthy English people were.  Needless to say we never ate there.  They then called us whores and on our last night told us to never come back to Turkey.

It wasn’t just in restaurants that we received such treatment; we visited the local bazaar for what we hoped would be some spirited haggling, but ended up with the shop keepers shouting abuse at us when we refused to pay their inflated prices.  One owner even admitted intentionally charging English people more than he did other nationalities.  Part of me can’t blame the residents of Marmaris for having such an attitude, as I’m sure they receive abuse from a lot of English visitors.  One night we witnessed a gang of drunken English men throwing stones and aggressively shouting at a group of taxi drivers and I felt ashamed that they were representing my country.  Another night a severely under-dressed young woman climbed onto a bar to shout at everyone for being too boring, we left soon after.

I would like to end on a positive note, as I did actually really enjoy my holiday!  There were many people that we encountered in Marmaris that were more than lovely to us.  I admired the seemingly endless energy of some of the people who worked ridiculously long hours in the bars and restaurants, and always had a smile on their face and a compliment or funny joke.  The scenery was also beautiful, with stunning mountains surrounding the bay.  

Of course the weather was perfect, if a little hot at 46 degrees, and I didn’t once see even a hint of cloud.  At the end of our holiday we went on a day trip to Dalyan, where we saw turtles and had a mud bath, which was a lovely day.  Speaking to a hotel manager in Dalyan, who had previously worked in Marmaris, he told me that Marmaris was nothing like the rest of Turkey.  This was such a relief to hear!  I had a lot of fun during my stay, but a week was enough, and much to the joy of the hotel staff I won’t be returning to Marmaris.

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