Tuesday, Sept. 28
Dear a nice family from Langley: I’m sorry I harassed your 15-year-old son the other night.
It happened while Matt and I were staying at a hostel in Selcuk, Turkey. Atilla’s Getaway had its own bar (named Bar 81 – in Turkish the number 81 is pronounced “sex and beer”), a relaxing atmosphere and a group of like-minded travellers.
The owner loved serving liquor, and so did our new 36-year-old Swedish friend, Nikolas. (He’s living the dream – he owns a bar in Ios, Greece where he works for 100 days a year. Following the high-season he visits Turkey before heading back to Sweden to sell lamps through the winter.)
Anyway, the evening turned into a celebration of all things Turkish – but mainly Turkish wine and beer.
Unfortunately, a nice Langley family left their son, who looked frighteningly like Justin Bieber, unattended. Thrilled with another Canadian being at the hostel, I made him talk to me for well over an hour. We discussed computers and helping people (his two favourite things) and how I thought he should get a journal to write down his experiences during the next year – his family is doing a year-long excursion around the world. How this conversation lasted so long, I will never know.
That was our first evening in Selcuk. The next morning we went on a hike to Ephesus with our new Australian friend, Brian. Ephesus is where the Virgin Mary spent her last years and is also home to numerous, important ruins.
I think we took the long way. We walked for hours through the dry hills of Selcuk, found Ephesus, but didn’t feel like paying 20 Turkish Lira to see more ruins. Instead, we took a photo of a statue and retreated to our hostel.
It is by far the coolest place we’ve stayed since leaving home. There was a lounge area equipped with oversized pillows and Turkish carpets, a fresh-water pool, a pool table, and numerous picnic tables for everyone to eat dinner. (May I just mention, our last hostel in Pamukkale boasted a pool on its website. When we got there we were excited to see beautiful, bright blue water from our window. Wanting to swim some laps, Matt lead the way to check it out. The pool we saw was next door. Our pool had a foot of dirty water and some leaves.)
During our two-night stay in Selcuk we met some really interesting people: Brian, Nikolas, an elevator mechanic from Kelowna, a couple from New Zealand and a group of girls from Brazil.
On our second night we played some pool and avoided the family from Langley. Matt finally had some man time to talk about motorcycles, shark fishing and muscle cars. I talked to a pleasant woman from New York who said she would have beat me up in high school because I like ACDC and Bon Jovi.
Our ferry to Samos, Greece the next morning was meant to leave at 8:30 a.m. But because we’re on Turkish time, it didn’t leave until 9:45 a.m. During the two-hour ride, Matt and I talked about our experience in Turkey.
We both agreed it was a beautiful country. But until landing in Greece we didn’t realize just how different it was. We definitely started our trip in the most un-westernized part of Europe. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Turkey is not part of the European Union.
From the food, which was plain, greasy and bland; to the toilets, which were filthy and terrifying, Turkey has its own standards. The women are rude, the houses are decaying, the praying is loud and the people are constantly trying to rip you off. But as one taxi driver explained to us, it all adds to the country’s identity – one that it’s proud of and one that we loved.
Since arriving in Samos it’s been a different world. Our hotel has a pool on the roof, the meals have been filling and healthy and the island has a relaxed atmosphere.
We are astonished at how the life of a backpacker changes on a daily basis, but we love it.