Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Days After 1 Jun

Dalaman Airport is not a very nice place, for a number of reasons. One is that you are forced to spend a couple of hours there at the end of your holiday which means the holiday is over. Another is that the food and drinks are a ridiculous price. Don't they realise that if the prices were a bit more reasonable people might actually spend some money. We expect airports to be expensive but 15YTL for a beer is just too much. The staff just sit behind the counters and polish their fingernails and try to look busy while the punters avoid eye contact and try to make themselves comfortable. Also, there always seems to be a delay which makes things a lot worse, and there was one on this occasion. 2.00am is a good flight time for me. On holiday you can often find yourself awake at that time so you shouldn't be too tired at take-off and if you can sleep on the flight 4 and a half hours is a decent flight duration to get some quality zeds in. Plenty when you can top it up at home later. A two hour delay means you get a lot more tired at the airport and must be alert for boarding etc. It was poison for me. I couldn't sleep in the departure lounge and I couldn't sleep on the plane. The delay meant nobody could pick me up but the train was a decent alternative. I struggled on the concourse and up and down a number of lifts with the bags and the bike-in-a-box but got to the airport station OK. I actually used my phone as a wi-fi source and downloaded the blog onto the little lappy-toppy thingy while on the train and got a taxi home from the station in Wigan.

Siobhan made me a cup of tea and some cheese crumpets as I eased back into Wigan life. I emptied the case in instalments while re-associating myself with the workings of the remote controls and nodding off here and there. I decided to go to bed in the afternoon but couldn't sleep at first. When I did eventually drop off I jumped up half an hour later when Tom came in and decided to tough it out. I was delighted to be able to put the bike together and get it looking good again and after a bite to eat we settled down to watch the Wigan youngsters demolish the world rugby league champions, Leeds. After the rugby real beer beckoned and I met Tom and Paul in the Royal Oak. Three pints of nectar later I was home and enjoying a large-ish single malt before retiring, after a ridiculously long day, to my own bed again. I don't know what happened in the next ten hours.  

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Days After 30 - 31 May

On Wednesday I had been invited to make a guest appearance and to make the draw for a raffle at the weekly FIG coffee morning at the Yeni Dunya on Fethiye front. I was all ready for the dolmus at 1020 when Marg and Keith offered to take me in the 'jeep'. They were going into Fethiye anyway to try to sort out their internet connection yet again. We bounced along for half an hour and then they dropped me in the centre and I continued on foot. I realised halfway there that there was no pain of any description in either of my knees. Hurrah! Could it be the jeep jostling? I reached the venue and was plied with coffee and cakes and then with congratulations and then with questions about the ride from various FIG members past and present and from other particiants. It was another pleasant occasion and nice to meet the enthusiastic and energetic FIG members again. I made the draw and had a close one when I drew out a ticket next to one I had bought. The whole event lasted an hour and a half or so and I said my farewells and left to good wishes from everyone.

I realised I had no change for the 'dolly' back to base so I had a drink at the Kemal and brought the blog up to date using their wi-fi. I took my time and realised I was out and about and alone for the first time since the ride had ended, and enjoying it - ominous, or what? I took the water taxi across the bay back to Calis and then wandered back to Zakkum still pain-free.

I went out later for a meal to the Eros with our Marg and Rose and Betty and Megan. This venue was Betty's choice on this occasion and a fine one. I enjoyed a sea bream with too much salad, not enough chips and no rice at all. Do these people not realise my situation? I need unhealthy food to get back out of shape. The sunset was the usual mindblowing spectacle and we wandered back via the Shamrock and the Dawn Beach where Eko was in his usual good form, and then got a taxi back 'home'. We had a drink or two outside Rose's and I eventually got my head down, after watching a bit if telly, at the ridiculously late hour of 3am.

There was heavy rain during the night and, instead of turning over once or twice, I revolved until about 10 o'clock. Keith and I then took the bike around to Ali's and he packed the bike neatly in a box for me. The rest of the day involved slowly tidying the apartment and getting my bags packed. Shaun and Shirley came around on the way to the guitar club and Keith brought a bottle of home brew out, and then another. It was a bit like rocket fuel. I had a couple of glasses and ended up sleeping for two hours in the afternoon while he went off with Shaun. I saw him later and he looked OK. I then found he had been on fruit juice all afternoon. Not like Keith at all.

That time eventually came and I went to the gate to wait for my transfer. The minibus arrived and I stashed my case and the bike in the back and said my farewells to all the family there with me at the gate. At the airport I found out that the flight is delayed for two hours. This means I can't be picked up at Manchester but there is an easy way out. I will take the train from the airport to Wigan and get a taxi home from the station. I just need a key to get in the house. While queueing to check in I asked the Thomson rep what I should do about my bike. She asked if I was the man who had ridden over from England. I said I was and she told me that her mum had sat next to a young lady on a flight over to Turkey last Wednesday who was flying to meet her dad who had cycled to turkey. The young lady was obviously Siobhan complete with pork scratchings and Uncle Joe's. How about that? And was that a week ago?

So I am sitting here in Dalaman airport and have drafted the blog while fighting off sleep. That feels familiar. I will complete the blog update after I get home and complete my night's sleep in my OWN BED.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Days After 26 - 29 May

That was going to be the end of the blog but I have decided to keep going until nobody reads it, so it's up to you. If you are reading this there is no excuse.

The ride is over and I am enjoying doing generally nothing with the morning highlights being multiple turnovers and honey nut cornflakes mixed with some rabbit food I have carried halfway across Europe. My knees were giving me a bit of jip at first but they seem to be improving slowly. I just need to get used to walking again. Also, after a few days in the sun the tan lines are beginning to fade slightly but I doubt if they will disappear or even join up.

Following is a brief and quite boring account of the days after the ride ended. You were warned.

After the fantastic reception event on Friday we, that is the family and I, planned to take the water taxi from the front in Fethiye and eat in Calis, apart from Keith and Marg who would take the bike back in a jeep they had access to for a couple of weeks, and meet us later. We found that the last water taxi had left at 5.30 ish which seems a bit early to me. Never mind, we ate in the Kemal Hotel on the front in Fethiye. I changed from my cycling gear which was still a bit sweaty despite the short nature of the day's ride, in the WC. We made our way back to Calis on the 'dolly' and eventually had a beer or two in Brothers.

Saturday was a nice rest day for me. In the afternoon I went to PJ's bar and made use of their wi-fi to record the final blog of the ride. I watched a bit of cricket there and Grand Prix qualifying. We had very kindly been invited to eat at the Monta Verde in Ovacik by the Manager, Barkin, at the reception after the ride. He does a lot for FIG and we were happy to accept his kind offer. Siobhan and Liane and Adam were leaving late that night so we had planned to eat quite early. Our transfer man and good friend, Murat, picked us up in his beautiful new minibus at 5.30 and by 6 o'clock we had been greeted by Barkin and were sitting down to a lovely meal with a few drinks in his really pleasant hotel dining room. He was a really nice chap and we enjoyed his company as we ate. It was quite a busy place, really well set out and nicely decorated. He refused payment so we left a nice tip for the waiters and set off back at 9.30 ish.

On Sunday there was some early confusion over the arrangements for an afternoon party/barbecue at Zakkum. When it was agreed that it was actually to be that afternoon we all set about organising food and drinks. With major input from Marg P and solid backing from everybody else, everything went smoothly and a great time was had by all. The guitar gang from PJ's/Meri Bar performed admirably as usual and everybody holidaying at Zakkum joined in. My personal highlight was the unveiling of a bowl of pork scratchings, the contents of three packets of the originals from Wigan Market Hall which Siobhan had brought over after much pleading from myself. They didn't last long. Keith's home brew seemed to have quite an effect on several participants, including myself. I thought I did well and saw off quite a few of the other revellers but finally I retired well-sloshed and left the hard core to it. Apparently it didn't go on much longer so I didn't miss much.

Monday morning saw me being interviewed by Janet from the 'Land of Lights' newspaper. I think it went quite well but we will see when the newspaper comes out next week. She insisted on a photo of me holding a packet of Uncle Joe's Mint Balls. (they keep you all aglow). Jane has co-written a book on the nearby tourist attraction, the ghost village of Kayakoy and very kindly gave me a copy. In the afternoon I took advantage of PJ's wi-fi again to add my bike to my flight, complete the API form and to book my transfer. I forwarded the emails on to John from the guitar club and he has taken a load off my mind by offering to print the necessary stuff for Friday's early morning flight. I called at the Doga Bisiklet, the proper bike shop near to PJ's and the young man, Ali, agreed to give me a bike box to take my bike home in. He also offered to organise my bike in the standard way for shipping, which was very kind of him and another load off my mind. We ventured out in the evening and had a nice meal at the Chinese Breeze, which was Megan's choice because she had had to put up with the old person's music at the barbecue the night before. We had one of those classic Calis sunsets which we seem to take for granted but you just don't see anywhere else.

Tuesday was a very quiet day. The knees were much better and Keith had a call from John to say the printing was done but it might be best to meet at the Meri Bar for me to check and he could nip home to make any amendments necessary. The printing was fine but we had a pleasant couple of hours drinking in the sunshine and it was well worth while.