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Marmaris - A Personal View

Having just been on a 2 week holiday to Marmaris in South Western Turkey, I thought I would share my experience with you. Below is a fairly detailed personal guide to the resort, hotel and common observances.

If you have any questions or comments please email me at ian_cook@msn.com


Newcastle to Dalaman; JMC705

The journey from Newcastle International to Dalaman would take about 4 hours 10 minutes, which was spot on.

Take-off was originally scheduled for 9:30am UK time, but we were delayed for an hour and a half, which we weren't really bothered about. It was a Monday morning and it gave us all a bit longer to wake up anyway. We were flying with JMC, a new company that’s part of the Thomas Cook holiday company here in the UK, and the overall flight was good. It seemed to go pretty quickly and before we knew it we were flying over Europe. Entertainment outbound consisted of a movie and a Christmas edition of The Vicar of Dibley, plus some cartoons for the kids, along with the usual mix of radio channels that you could listen to if you had some headphones (headphones and adapters were available on the aircraft at a price). We used our own, albeit in only one headphone but I thought it wasn’t worth forking out for the others.

Duty free and refreshments were available on the plane.

Landing at Dalaman was a unique experience because of the beautiful scenery that surrounds the airport. Beaches and mountains greet you when you look out of the window during the decent, and while the aircraft turns around a massive 90 degrees for the decent onto the runway, you get to see Turkey in a different way to what you'll be seeing when you are on the ground.

Finally we landed, as smooth as any other landing, and we taxied to the terminal, which was a fair way. As soon as the aircraft door was opened the heat really hit you and you walked into the terminal building via the new modern walkways that are found in most modern airports.


Dalaman Airport

Inside the airport it was stuffy with no air conditioning in the arrivals section (if there was it wasn't working or switched on). We made our way to Customs then Passport Control and paid our Visa (£10, valid for three months) then went to collect our baggage, which was pretty quick to come through.

We then made our way into the airport car park where we met our Representative from Manos Holidays, who took us to the coach, and after about 15 minutes wait we were on our way. The coach was air conditioned, which made us all feel better after the brief time outside.


Dalaman to Marmaris

The coach journey took an hour and a half, and showed us the real Turkey. As soon as I landed I fell in love with the place, and this cemented the feeling for me. During the journey the representative who travels with you on the coach talks about Turkey, its history and what to expect during your stay, which is both entertaining and informative. On the way we passed garages selling petrol for about 430,000TL (43p) a litre, typical Turkish houses, shops, towns and villages. There is no smoking allowed on the coach journey to the resort., apart from the coach driver, but its his coach and can do what the hell he wants, I wasn't going to argue with him.

Into Marmaris…the coach driver takes you down the mountainside, which gives you a spectacular view of it from over 1000ft above sea level. Marmaris 'Front Street' is littered with shops, bars and restaurants, each with their own unique taste and character. Our hotel was situated at the far end of Marmaris at the opposite end from the Marina, so the coach drove along the 'Front Street' to our hotel. Signs like 'Burger King', 'McDonalds' and 'Internet Café' made you feel almost at home.


Irmak Apartments

Booking into the hotel was quick and painless, the representative sorted most of it for us. Our cases were took to the room by a porter (tip expected here so keep some spare Turkish change handy, if you can get any) and we relaxed while we unpacked. We got familiar with the hotel and surroundings, then decided what to do for the rest of the day.

The Irmak didn't have any air conditioning, which was a shame as we really thought it would have. We hired an electric fan, which probably saved our lives a few times, and at 10,000,000TL a week it was pretty good value.


Marmaris to Dalaman

The coach picked us up at 12pm midday, and I have to say towards the end of the holiday I was looking forward to going home, but when we were boarding the bus back to the airport I was sad to leave. Our hotel must have been near the top of the queue, and we spent the next 30 minutes or so picking up other people from neighbouring hotels, I never thought Marmaris was so big. We were then on our way back to the airport, and we were to stop off around the half-way point for a toilet break and a chance to get some refreshments and a drink, this only lasted 15 minutes.

Back on the road and the representative wished us all a good flight home and told us the procedure at the airport. Dalaman International outbound is different from most other airports as you have to go through Passport Control and Customs straight away, then go into the Departure Lounge before you board your aircraft home.

The departure lounge is air conditioned, and has plenty of space for seats, although when we were there it was very crowded, although we did manage to get a seat, it seems if there are more than three flights scheduled at more or less the same time, the airport tends to struggle. This was also the case when booking in, stick with your family as once you get parted you may not find them so easily afterwards.

Beware: prices in the airport departure lounge are very expensive compared to Marmaris, so make sure you buy everything you need beforehand, including spare water, you can never have enough. Typical Prices: Twix chocolate bar 1,150,000TL (£1.15). I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Once through the departure lounge we were brought to the departure gate, then onto the aircraft.


Dalaman to Newcastle; (JMC706)

The cabin crew must have wanted us to get a feel of the temperature back home as early as possible when we boarded the plane to come home, it was freezing inside the aircraft. After a slight delay in finding lost passengers, we were on our way. Probably the shortest taxi to the runway in the world resulted in us taking off and flying back home to the UK, only another 4 hours to go.

Entertainment was of the same standard as going, but we had the US series Friends, and another film, which I didn't watch. Flying over the Balkans was great as the cloud base was real high and you could see land for the next hour or so, my guess would be Yugoslavia, and parts of Iraq, Iran and Russia. It really hit home just how far we were away from home.

Before we knew it we were flying back over Europe and across Germany and France. The cloud returned, and sure enough we were over the UK. We started our decent when we reached the Midlands, and the plane began to hit turbulence, we put on our belts, then were told by the pilot (who was American) that the weather was raining back home. I could tell some of us on the plane were happy about that.

Landing at Newcastle has always been special. We flew over the North Sea and around Tynemouth, and seeing your homeland from above is always spectacular. Going, I managed to spot St. James' Park (Newcastle United FC) and the Stadium Of Light (Sunderland FC), but coming back I didn't, I was too busy trying find my house. After touchdown we taxied back to the terminal, and made our way to the terminal building. We collected our suitcases (after a delay of about 20 minutes), then made our way inside the airport to meet our friends and family.


Eating Out

The first night we made a longer-than-normal trip to find somewhere to eat, and ended up at the Lorima Restaurant, which wasn't too far from the hotel, situated on the 'Front Street'. The waiters were very nice and friendly and made you welcome. The menu that was on offer was terrific value (as it was in almost every other restaurant), with such meals like…

Lasagne - 2,250,000 TL (£2.25), T-bone Steak -3,750,000 TL (£3.75), Chickenburger & Chips - 1,350,000 TL (£1.35), Full English Breakfast - 950,000 TL (95p). (All UK prices are converted with the Turkish currency trading at 1,000,000 TL per UK £1)

The prices were real good value, and if you shopped around you could get some real bargains. In the end we ate there every night, it was handy from the hotel, always greeted with a "Hello" and we simply liked the experience and wanted to go back. Plus everyone was offered a free pitta bread with garlic butter and liquor every night.

You could also shop at the local supermarket, Migros and eat back at your hotel/apartment. This was next to McDonalds and was similar to ASDA, Tesco etc. The supermarket tended to be slightly cheaper than the local mini-markets that were dotted around Marmaris.

McDonalds had two restaurants in Marmaris, with the one next to Migros being air conditioned, and real Godsend if you need to get away from the demanding heat for an hour or so. Burger King was also on the Front Street, opposite the other McDonalds. There's over 2000 bars and restaurants to choose from in Marmaris itself, need I say more?

The local beer (Efes), is cheap at around 75p a pint. Imported beers like Budweiser are expensive, so your likely to get a headache from the cost and not the stuff itself. Soft drinks (Coca-Cola, Fanta etc.) are available and generally cheaper than the UK. Local drinks are available too, and are cheaper than the well-known variety.

At the Lorima we were treated to a free liquor, banana, cinnamon or peppermint. Larger bottles were available in the supermarket, plus other flavours too. Mandarin was a favourite and I brought a bottle home.


Rhodes

We arranged a day trip to Rhodes with our tour company Manos. There were others that probably cost less, but we agreed we'd pay the little bit extra for 'peace of mind', knowing we would be safe is anything bad was to happen. The coach picked us up at the hotel at 7:45am, then took us to Marmaris Marina for the hydrofoil, which would take us to Rhodes. The trip cost around 23,000,000 TL each.

Marmaris had its own 'Passport Control' office as Turkey is in Asia and if you go to Rhodes your returning back to the EC and need your passport stamping, so be prepared for lots of people to take a look at your passport and another two stamps (departing and arriving).

Inside the hydrofoil it was cramped and warm, and as we were one of the first few to arrive, we had a long wait of around 50 minutes before it moved. Eventually when it did move I decided to stand outside and get some sea air, and as the boat moved at a steady 30mph or so, it was so refreshing and cool, but the sun still beats down so put plenty of cream on your face so it doesn't get burned. The trip took around 40/45minutes to get there, and once in Rhodes, your basically free to wander around and spend what you want, but be warned, the exchange rate in Rhodes with Turkish Lira is pretty crap, and English Pounds would be better, if you have some handy of course. Don't go straight to the first exchange rate place you see, take a look around, there are a few that offer different rates.

You get around 4/5 hours before the hydrofoil takes you back to Marmaris. Make sure you have plenty of water with you, and keep together, you'll need your passport to get back to Marmaris, and your boarding card stubs you received when you left Marmaris.

You are then dropped back at your hotel at around 6pm on the night. A nice relaxing way to spend a day, and to get away from the hustle and bustle of Marmaris.


Icmeler

Boat trips from Marmaris to Icmeler happen every 45 minutes to an hour by private companies, and the average cost is around 2,000,000 each way. The trip takes about 20/25 minutes, and takes you across Marmaris Bay and onto the next resort along, Icmeler (pronounced Ishmeler)

Icmeler, to me, seemed more 'up market' than Marmaris, and was also more expensive. We had a drink and a bit to eat at a beachside café, and it worked out to be around 40% more expensive than Marmaris. It’s quieter, in fact a lot quieter than Marmaris, its smaller too but ideal for someone who wants to simply relax and soak up the sun. It still had shops and bars and places to buy souvenirs, and I thought it felt like being in a Florida suburb at times and more modern.


Water

Water is a necessity when you are in Marmaris, and you can get dehydrated very quickly. The water in the taps is drinkable but is not recommended due to its high chlorine content. Bottles of water are available in most shops and restaurants to have with your meal. A small 300ml bottle is 300,000TL (30p), medium 450,000TLK and the bigger bottle is good value at around 700,000TL.

A good idea I found is to always keep 3 or 4 of the smaller bottles of water frozen in your ice compartment in the fridge, then take out when you want a drink and it tends to melt quickly, but is kept ice cold for an hour or so, then keep topping it up when required. The ice inside keeps cool for 7 hours if kept it in a cool bag, great if you want to go for a day trip anywhere and you know you'll be needing some cold water. I put a fully frozen bottle in our cool bag for the trip home and it was still frozen when I unpacked at home.


Health

Turkey has generally good health services, and there is a local doctor in Marmaris if anything bad was to happen. My advice would be the normal stuff you would normally do, take the odd aspirin, paracetamol, plasters, bandages, diorreah tablets etc, along with plenty After Sun lotion and high factor sun lotion (there's plenty for sale here, there's also a pharmacy that’s open during the day and night). I was bad for the first few days with a bad throat (I could tell it was serious as there was bright illuminous green phlegm coming out when I coughed - probably a throat infection), but it cleared up in the second week. Enough about that though…

Turkey has very high kerbs to combat the very high rainfall in the Winter to stop flooding - take care when walking at night. Also take care when crossing the roads, they drive on the right (opposite to the UK) and you tend to forget to look behind you when walking on the right hand side and want to cross a slip road. Like I did one night.


Shopping

It's a shoppers paradise. Leather shops, jewellery shops, plus the famous designer wear shops (fake designer items sold at 90% discount from the rest of the world, possibly only because of no copyright laws in Turkey).

When I was there, Nike shirts, Reebok shirts, trousers, shorts were all selling for around 1,500,000 each (£1.50), but if you bought a few you could always haggle the price down to suit you. Haggling is expected, so don't think its rude, don't go overboard though.

Music shops sell CD's and DVD's at a fraction of the cost back home. They are copies, but not illegal in Turkey. I was tempted to buy a DVD but couldn't test it while I was there. The CD's I bought worked great and still do back home. Spend a bit of time looking around, and if you can test them, do.

You may be ushered into a shop to take a look around or asked your name when walking around the shops. At first you might find this uncomfortable, but in time you'll get used to it and ignore them. It is their way of selling their goods, and after a while it gets quite amusing.

Marmaris Bazaar is also worth a look, situated at the far end next to the Marina. Loads of shops to look in, and all under cover. Turkey at its best I feel.

When I was there I managed to save £245 on a leather jacket so there are some cracking deals to be made. I also got a few bits of jewellery for less than I'd have paid in the UK.

You'll get a lot of notes when your in Turkey, from the 100,000TL note to the 10,000,000 TL note, worth £10. You may also get a few coins in your change, but they are hardly worth anything - around 21/2 p. Best to take it home and let it remind you of the best holiday you've ever had.


Media

Turkey has its own mobile phone system (TurkSat), and most modern phones that work on the GSM network should work fine, so if you want to take your Vodafone, Motorola or whatever over to Marmaris, there shouldn't be any problem. But be warned, you'll be charged for incoming calls as well as outgoing ones. It would be cheaper to buy yer own bloody satellite and use that. You may need to speak to your home operator about getting your phone converted. I know in the UK that Vodafone need £30 and 30 days notice to upgrade yours to work abroad, so give them plenty of notice if your thinking about it.

There are a few radio stations, but as far as I could tell none speak English, although they play the modern mix of pop and rock music. I couldn't find an English speaking station either, which is rare these days.

Some pubs and restaurants have Sky Digital installed, how I'll never know cos its only meant for a UK audience and I bet they don't pay any subscriptions either. Some also have the Turkish stations, along with satellite feeds from Eutelsat and the others, which include the BBC World channel (ideal for catching up on events away from home) and the SAT3 channel, which carries live FA Premiership coverage (including the matches that are beamed from the BBC for 'Match Of The Day' on a Saturday afternoon, a rare treat for us who live in the UK who have to make do with highlights several hours later. Commentary is in Turkish though, so no Motty or Andy Gray. Matches featured live on Sky TV (Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings) are always advertised outside, but remember Turkey is 2 hours ahead of the UK so the kick-off times will be at dodgy hours, 10pm on Monday nights. All Sky-shown matches have the Sky audio feed too, so you get to hear familiar English voices, probably the only time throughout your holiday.

Telephone cards are available at most shops, and are available in 60 and 100 units. Turk Telecom run the phone system, and phone booths are dotted around, but sometimes you can't get through. Remaining units are always shown on the telephone, and a 100 unit card costs around 3,000,000 and lasts for a good 10 minutes, but I noticed if you ring home on a weekend the units count down a lot slower.

Ringing to the UK from Turkey requires a lot of patience. Dial 0044 (UK International dialling code - wait for the tone to change), then dial the STD code omitting the first 0 or 9, then the telephone number. Some days it works, some it doesn't. Good luck.

There's an Internet café situated in the middle of Marmaris Front Street next to Burger King and opposite McDonalds that is air conditioned and offers drinks at a fairly cheap rate. Surfing rates are cheap too, 25 minutes cost me 500,000 (50p), which is great if you want to check up on your email or send one to your friends and family back home - probably quicker and cheaper than a postcard. Be careful with the keyboards too cos the " I " isn't where it is on normal keyboards, I'll leave you to figure out where it is.