““Do you like that?” I’ll say in surprise since it doesn’t seem like her type of thing, and she’ll look at me as if I’m mad. That!?” She’ll say, “No, it’s hideous” “Then why on earth,” I always want to say, “did you walk all the way over there to touch it?” but of course…I have learned to say nothing when shopping because no matter what you say… it doesn’t pay, so I say nothing.” Bill Bryson – ‘Notes From a Small Island’
After the previous day spent in the streets of Bodrum we decided today to see just a little more of Turkey and take a bus to the town of Yalikavak on the northern coast of the Bodrum Peninsular.
The central bus station was busy and we needed to have our wits about us as coaches and vans sped about in a disorganised and undisciplined way but we quickly found the Yalikavak terminus and the minibus driver told us he was leaving right away and he ushered us quickly on board and true to his word he followed us inside, took our fares, started the engine and edged his way through the crowds of people.
It was slow going at first as the driver negotiated the congested one-way system and he sighed dramatically every time the traffic lights halted his progress or he had to stop to pick up more passengers but gradually we left the city and he began to pick up speed. A little too much speed in my opinion because as we climbed the tyres squealed through hairpin bends and at times we seemed to be dangerously adjacent to a sheer drop with no barrier to stop us going over the side if the brakes failed. I imagined one of those BBC news items which reported a bus crash overseas with British casualties – the family are being informed, Foreign Office staff are helping etc. etc…
Eventually we arrived at our destination and from the bus station it was only a short walk to the sea front and a paved promenade that disappeared into the distance around the bay next to an assortment of small fishing boats, holiday yachts and charter vessels and we followed the path towards the town through the main shopping street and past the bars and seafront restaurants which were still preparing for the day ahead.
On the other side we came to the beaches but I have to say they were not especially thrilling or inviting. A display board and a flag proudly declared them to be ‘blue flag’ but quite honestly I found this rather difficult to believe unless the assessors had overlooked the ‘no dog poop’ criteria because there were large deposits every few metres! This wasn’t altogether surprising because all along the harbour side there were large scruffy dogs lying about and making the place untidy (and for me of course – scary).
At the end of a path was a boat repair yard and that was out signal to turn around and walk back the way that we had came and as we walked we compared beer prices and eventually found the best deal that we could and sat down by the water’s edge in a bar with Cycladic blue tables and chairs, Mediterranean lounge music and next to colourful boats resting and reflecting on the water and close to this statue:
I am not entirely certain that the translation board explaining what it is about has quite managed to capture the spirit of the story…
“Leaving Çökertme I felt safe and sound, oh my Halil, But before reaching the Bitez shore all hell broke loose at sea My Friend Ibrahim Çavu, washed overboard, now rests with God This is not Aspat, oh my Halil, it’s the Bitez shore; My heart is afire, deep are the wounds of the bullets…”
but the statue tells the local tale of two lovers who tried to escape from feuding families and corrupt officials in Turkey to the Greek island of Kos but were betrayed in an ambush and were shot and died together. It’s not quite ‘Romeo and Juliet’ but it’s just as tragic.
After a couple of gassy Turkish Efes beers (in my opinion, not as nice as Greek Mythos) it was time to return to the bus station so with plenty of time to get there before the scheduled departure we sauntered through the shopping streets and then through the gardens of a startling white Mosque with slender minarets thrusting needle like into the perfect blue sky. In a side street of shops and bars Turkish men were sitting at outside tables drinking coffee and playing the game of Okey which is played with numbered tiles with the objective it seemed of making pairs to win points. One man offered to teach me but I didn’t have time and I feared money might be involved so I graciously declined and moved on.
Eventually we arrived in perfect time for the return journey to Bodrum and the bus set off and drove through the buff sun-scorched hills with rocks fashioned by the wind, trees planted randomly by nature and an asphalt road laid by man.
In the afternoon and the evening we did the same things as the day before, enjoyed a kebab lunch, smuggled beer into the hotel and sat in the sunshine by the pool reading our chosen travel literature. In the evening we had our main meal and then, there was no putting it off any longer, we went shopping. This was only fair, Kim had walked all around the historical sites with me so now it was her turn to call the shots and she led the way as we slipped into the tangle of bazaar like shopping streets in the commercial centre of Bodrum.
I don’t want to generalise here but in my experience men and women have two distinct shopping styles. Women browse and compare and ponder and take their time and men prefer the direct approach. Women get pulled into shops by a sort of invisible tractor beam to admire shoes and drool over sparkly things but men, thankfully, are unaffected by this phenomenon and walk right by, women surf and men are purposeful and the two styles are completely irreconcilable.
After half an hour or so of indecision it was time to act. In a perfume bazaar Kim tested and compared and found her favourite but was finding it difficult to commit to the purchase. The salesman lowered the price twice, Kim said she think about it and come back later which set my alarm bells ringing so I stepped in and handed over the cash and we took possession of a bottle of genuine fake ‘Angel’ perfume.
A few doors along was a shop selling silk pashmina scarves, genuinely genuine this time, so we selected several different colours and bought them all and we were on a spending roll now so we called in to the next shop and bought some coloured glassware as our souvenir of a few days in Turkey. The wallet was empty and Kim was stunned by my conversion from reluctant to enthusiastic shopper and we took our new possessions and walked back along the side streets to our hotel and a last drink of smuggled lager.
I hoped that that was the end of the shopping!