Saturday, February 01, 2014

return to Turkey

Greek habits

Nothing in Greece appears to be entirely smoke free. Only portions of dining rooms are  for nonsmokers -- which, predictably, works only if you're far from those in the other, smoking section.  And, unfortunately, here, like in so many European countries, smokers command the prime patio and partly enclosed spaces, pushing the nonsmokers inside, even in great weather. Ah well. With time things will shift, as they have in the States. (One can hope.) For now, we could not request a nonsmoking room at the hotel. To my relief, there wasn't a nicotine odor inside. Except when our neighbor smoked in the evening. A faint smell would tell me that he's at it again. In the end, I opened the balcony door wide for the night (it stays in the fifties here, round the clock) and it's a shame that I discovered only on the last night how wonderful it was to sleep listening to the waves outside.

A Greek inter-island ferry came in just before sunrise and I went outside to watch it move swiftly and loudly across the waters. And of course, the sky at this hour was stunning. These colors are not photoshopped. They're the real deal.

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The balconies at the hotel are partitioned with tinted glass which made for a fantastic split viewing of the progression of sunlight and Greek ferry docking.

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At breakfast...

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... our waiter talked about someday visiting Chicago. His friend has family there. But he explained that he only has time off in the low season and his friend, who was in Chicago now, told him that it was -20C outside and our waiter just couldn't imagine that amount of cold! He hoped his friend would not bring it back with him to Kos.

Testing bones

Our ferry leaves for Bodrum at 4p.m. and so we have a few hours to kill in Kos town. We walk over to the main square and lo! What do you know -- the ice skating rink is open!

How much? I ask.
4 Euros for half hour and today there is a special because it's the next to last day that we have skating: you can choose a full hour, also for 4 Euro.
I wondered who would pick the half hour option. Not me!  
Why is this the next to last day? I ask this, but I know the answer: it's the end of winter for them. Skating is for winter. They're done with it.

So I put on the skates (an odd combination of hokey and figure, only without the little teeth that give you control) and the rink is really tiny and quite ripply and perhaps more significantly, I haven't skated since Ed and I found a rink on our travels to Quebec eight years ago (sigh...). So it takes a bit of concentration to get that confidence going.

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And then that confidence surges and leads me to do risky things -- weaving in and out, dancing to music, silly twirls, fun things, until my blade catches on some chip in the ice and I wind up forcefully, very forcefully crashing on my rear end. On the sit bone part of it.

That knocked the wind out of me! But, testing movement this way and that leads me to think that I am sore but fine and I definitely want to finish my hour of skating. A sublime, music filled hour of skating. There's a lot you can do even in small spaces so long as you control your speed.

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But, once off the ice, I note that I have one very sore tail bone.
You probably fractured it, Ed tells me reassuringly.
It'll heal. He says as an afterthought.
Well now, surely this will test the strength of my bones! May I hope for a rapid mend?  
Give it two, three weeks.

We walk very slowly along the harbor (I felt less sore when skating) for one last look at the small fishing boats that come in, go out, come in...

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One fisherman shared his bounty with a handful of Kos cats.  So it's not fair to say that the Greeks do not look out for their strays.

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I think about how everyone on this island must know everyone else. How I'm starting to see the same faces appear on the square, at the harbor, around the corner. There are no secrets on an island this size. Not in the winter, not when the place is stripped of all except those who make this their home.

Finishing up the day on Kos

Our waiter had asked us why we don't come back when the weather is beautiful -- like in late spring. Ed says -- too many people then. Oh, indeed! Is that the only reason?
I think -- does it feel weird to know that you wont be back, ever? Of course, I probably wont be back either, but I leave open the possibility. I do not say -- no, never. Not your island. I've seen it, I'm done with islands.

We walk back to our hotel, pick up our bags and make our way back to the ferry. Slightly bigger than the one coming, slightly more people on it. To Bodrum.

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The ride is smooth. The skies are misty, ephemeral, but the seas are calm.

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At one point a handful of passengers cluster at the rail. What? What? Dolphins, I'm told. But I'm too late to see them.

In Bodrum now. Big yacht Bodrum.  Bill Gates keeps his boat here.

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Then to the airport. The agent who helped me purchase online ferry tickets had her husband give us a ride. A British guy who married a Bodrum woman and stayed.
Miss the UK? -- I ask.
Not at all. I could never live there anymore. Too violent. Things like that -- the murders, the aggression -- they would never happen in Turkey.

We catch a flight to Istanbul where, late at night, we pull up to one of those highrise airport hotels (called the Titanic, of all things) that will leave no impression at all, but certainly has convenience written all over its tall glass face.

Dinner? I eat a hotel salad and we divvy up left over cold pizza slices from yesterday. Really.

Tomorrow morning we fly way to the east and a bit to the south of Turkey -- to Nevsehir. I'll write next from there.