If there is such a thing as the perfect day, then I guess today must have come about as close as any day ever has to being perfect for us both. We could find nothing wrong with anything we did, ate, drank or even thought. I will never forget the look of sheer amazement on Mary’s face as we walked around the hotel from area to area, discovering new facilities and luxurious public rooms. This beaming expression carried on into the restaurants of which there are seven, but only one of which we used today. The food was nothing short of fantastic, catering for every taste and palette then some. Add to that a constant supply of tea, coffee, soft drinks, beer, wine and more, and you have a dream sequence come alive.

Today also happened to be the 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany, when the newborn child Jesus and his parents were visited by the Magi bearing their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Had they appeared here in the Fame Residence hotel on Lara beach in Turkey, I doubt if they would have caused much of a stir in the midst of such opulence. This is about as far removed from a manger in a stable as you could possibly get. I had already warned Mary that it would take a couple of days to acclimatize to this way of living, a “sit back and wait to be served hand and foot” kind of existence. We dour Scots Catholics can take time to feel comfortable in such circumstances and that inescapable guilt conscience is always whispering advice to stop enjoying yourself so much.

I killed it off last January when I came here to the Miracle hotel to play bridge with Uncle Gerard. Although I initially felt less than comfortable in a situation alien to my upbringing, I quickly realised that this was how things were in Turkey and that supply and demand controlled what was going on. The best was to settle in and enjoy myself. Admittedly my feeble attempts at partnering Gerard at bridge were never likely to end up in the “Special Skills” section of my CV, but the food and drink kept my spirits up and helped me have a really good experience. Once you get used to the concept of “All-Inclusive” it becomes almost routine to consume services without putting your hand in your pocket or checking for a price.

While Mary was spending some time reacquainting herself with her Kindle, I strolled down to the beach to check if it was warm enough to lie out. It undoubtedly was and I was soon sound asleep on a cushioned deckchair 20 metres from the Med. As I look in the mirror in front of which I am typing this post, I suspect I have “a drop of the sun” as Mum used to say.

After my snooze I walked along the beach for a while and had a close encounter with a guy in a motorised parachute (is that paragliding?) who kept swooping down on the beachcombers then up and over the frequent piers which stretch out into the water every 100 metres or so. It looked like a lot of fun and I may buy Mary a half-hour session just to hear her scream! Speaking of unusual occurrences, we passed an interesting hour tonight with 2 Dutch sisters who are here for the 7th consecutive winter. Once again the language of communication was German as opposed to English and we had a nice practise of our favourite foreign language nowadays.

Turkey, like Italy, has lots of cats on the loose. I encountered about twenty of them as I made my way through the grounds of the hotel down to the beach. They were a bit shy of me (maybe it was the Rottweiler at my side!) but I’m sure we’ll all be big friends before the week is out. There are a lot of footballers here too, mainly from Tanzania and Cameroon, all huge fit guys with six-packs, shorts and trainers. Speaking of trainers, there was a table of them near us just before dinner tonight, discussing the merits and demerits of the lads they have brought out here for the winter. What did these ex-sportsmen all have in common? They all smoked like lums! I also clocked a typical holidaymaker: fat, bald, bad jeans, loud, drinking at breakfast, chain-smoking and acting like he owned the place. Obviously English? No, this guy spoke Dutch and liked Gouda. Don’t judge a book…….

Tomorrow we will walk the beach then I will challenge Mary to a game of ten-pin bowling in the hotel’s alley and also a “winner says what happens next” over a frame of snooker in the games’ room. Hope we don’t tire ourselves out.

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