(Club) holiday in a nut shell

Today is my last day in this gorgeous resort and it seems only fitting to write something about the whole experience of a club vacation. Also a while back I reviewed this great book from Meike Winnemuth and I really liked her idea to end each chapter with a ’10 things I learnt in…’ page. I appreciate the concept that one is never too old learn and it gives one a chance to look back over a period of time and draw ones conclusions.
So here are the things I found out (about myself) during this vacation:

– Germany is the most important nation in a club. The quarter finals of the Champions League were going on during my stay, and while as the name implies there were four games being played only the game of Bayern Munich was shown with tone, in German and all other entertainment got cut off. This was further interesting as the majority of the club’s guests is French. The game of PSG on the day before was just ignored. So as far as club status goes, one should be German.

– Always, always check if your vacation falls into any kind of official holidays. The exponential growth rate of new guests was staggering from Friday on. Slight oversight on my part that Easter was just around the corner. What I hate even more than buffet food is lining up for said food.

– I overestimated my love for children. On club vacation children should join the ‘Mini-Club’ in the morning and not be seen until it’s time to say ‘Good Night’. This feeling increased with aforementioned growth rate of guest influx (see above).

– 18 degrees and sunny on my weather app doesn’t show in any way reality. What’s happening is that you will burn your feet when trying to walk on hot sand while when trying to cool them on the tiles on the way to the bathroom you will probably catch a UTI because it’s so frigging cold.

– The thinner the skin of an orange the longer it stayed on the tree.

– It’s possible to avoid speaking to any other guests except when in inebriated condition. Not sure why it doesn’t work then (still try to remember). I am apparently a very self-contained person but can’t help myself making new friends in the evening. Further investigation necessary, maybe tonight…

– I packed too much. I made a list before (I am quite big on lists, organized girl that I am), actually I used the one from last year and cut it in half. The stuff on the list, not the list itself. Also didn’t reduce ratio of underwear per day. I figured since it was cold I wouldn’t sweat so much therefore needed less clothes. Quite correct assumption, still packed too much though. Packing seems to be science that still eludes me.

– I am old because the music was too loud for me. But ear damage from said music can correct that. I have never looked younger.

– Since I am traveling alone I have decided I earn the right to sit at the best table available during mealtimes. Even if it seats four and I am all by myself. At least I am always in great company, myself and my kindle. Can’t say the same for quite a lot of sorry looking couples. As if a vacation will help anything. Also I am not talking to my kindle because it might seem a bit weird, but them?

– Nothing looks worse than tattoos on old and overweight people. Think about that while you are still young and skinny.

– Best breakfast ever (say hi to your cholesterol)214

– Best view to drink afternoon Gin Tonic (Queen Mum already drank that and look how it prolonged her life, so it’s actually medicine). The island btw that you can see in the back is Samos. I will be going there in June. Guess I will be staying in this corner of the world for vacations this year. Next time should look a bit closer on the map. But could be a lot worse, no?:219

– I have to avoid buffet food from now on. Even though I don’t like it, I can’t stop myself from going back, going back, going back. Like the Energizer Bunny.

In this sense I am glad that the vacation is coming to an end. In all others I am sad to leave here. For a club vacation this comes close to perfection. Yours, Pollybert

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“Cotton Castle” or a world heritage site

It started raining the evening before. Since I have arrived, not one drop. But then in the evening the flood gates opened and it poured down hard. Which was perfect because the land needed it and when I was picked up for my trip to Pamukkale it had already stopped. And here is where my error lay. It hadn’t stopped, it had just moved on in exactly the direction where I was going. So once we arrived in Pamukkale we were back in the downpour.

106 The clouds above the hills and mountains looked amazing in their formations and once we arrived in Aiden (a city on the road to Pamukkale) there was the sun shining on the Turkish panel flats. They look amazing in their ugliness. I know I sound like a judgmental bitch, but it’s not as we don’t have same ugliness in Vienna. One has to appreciate the beauty in it.

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120Finally we made it to Pamukkale which means “Cotton Castle” in Turkish. Upon arrival it didn’t look like much. It was too foggy to see it from afar and when you enter the “World Heritage Site” the white stuff is actually below. So not so impressive in the beginning. What I didn’t know was that at the same site was also a city called Hierapolis and this is where we entered. Founded in the 3rd century BC it still has a theater for 18k people and quite a lot of other stuff that I didn’t see. Neither of our group was in the mood to walk around in the rain for long. So we made straight for the museum which is at the site (so great to leave the artefacts actually on site) and got a good look at what has been found there.

112 127 128 132 133The museum by the way is housed in the former spa area. When you look at the diadems above, I liked the one in front with the gold leaves the best. It looks a bit like the laurel wreath the Roman emperors were wearing. Not so shabby when you imagine yourself entering a ball with this in your hair? I can picture these three beauties with diadems in the hair dancing the night away. This must have been one very rich city by the look of it.

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And blessedly it stopped raining for a bit because by then I had frostbite on my toes and I wanted nothing more than wade into the hot spring and revive myself. The pictures in the guide-book were of course super misleading because since the eighties it has been forbidden to bathe in the springs on site (why the books then still use these old pictures is a mystery to me). When Pamukkale has been declared a “World Heritage Site” it had to demolish the hotels on site and bathing was forbidden. One travertine was opened especially for tourists and there I headed in the wake of a bus load of Japanese tourists. Which was great, they are super friendly, always asking if they can take your picture and know how to take one. Lucky me!149 150 151 152 156 158 162 167 174 175 176 177 180 187

It’s also interesting to see what happens when the water stops coming. Because then nature starts to take over again.188

And so that you get an impression on how cold it was…

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These are the springs that are feeding the site. In the meantime they have of course been regulated and the growth of the site is controlled.119 170

As you can see the pools have lots of different colors. This comes from the the minerals in the water (iron, sulphur). All in all we spent about 2 hours at the site, way too little to really see everything, but enough in this cold and dreary weather. I think April is the perfect time to visit it because you can really appreciate the warmth of the springs, it was just bad luck that we had rain. Also there are not a lot of tourists anywhere. I can imagine in summer this most be super crowded. From there we went for another abominable lunch. I really don’t understand what’s the point of serving this awful food especially since Turkey has a wonderful cuisine on its own. To make you fully appreciate my sentiment we were treated to Spaghetti Bolognese, fish fingers, chicken and Moussaka.

Later on I found out that only I have such delicate taste buds because the family from Rostock/Germany who was with me on the day trip thought the lunch delicious. Anyway, I shouldn’t complain because that’s what I booked.

The best was yet to come though, at least in a culinary way because in the cultural department my wishes had already been fulfilled. We stopped next to the road at a little kiosk and I bought fresh strawberries. Wow, full taste bud explosion! Yours, Pollybert208

 

Let the sunshine in

Since two days I am doing nothing except walking to the restaurant for three meals a day and in-between I spend my time at the pool, reading books and magazines, watching Breaking Bad, and enjoying a drink once in a while. Of course I am already here since Sunday morning but I am only counting since the trip to Ephesus. Sunday I needed to acclimatize and Monday I was doing culture. That doesn’t count.

I have not really talked about my hotel so far, the club Paloma Sultan. I am positively surprised at how nice the hotel area and especially how polite and helpful the hotel staff is without being obtrusive. Compared to Egypt (the worst) and Morocco (charming but brash) the best place so far as muslim countries go. Having said this, the food on the other hand has lots of room for improvement. I give them a point for trying and using fresh ingredients but most of it lacks in taste and is very greasy.

The doesn’t keep me from going three times a day to the restaurant to check if there is something new to try. I am definitely not on a diet here, also no sport so far except being in the pool yesterday. Does that count? Going in twice for a little round? Am not sure this is enough the countermand my food intake, but on holidays everything is allowed. The club by the way is populated by all kinds of European countries, which I like a lot. Usually one only finds a mix of Germans and English.

Also made an interesting observation yesterday at the Champions League game. Bayern Munich was playing vs Manchester United and when Uli Hoeness was shown on tv the Germans booed. I didn’t expect that. The guy was just sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for tax evasion of 28m Euros and he accepted it without going to appeal. Which I found remarkable since every Austrian f*ck up who stands in the public eye appeals all the way to eternity. Nobody wants to go to jail. Therefore chapeau! But apparently the Germans don’t think the same way. There was really quite a lot of resentment felt while Uli Hoeness was shown on tv.

But let’s stop politicizing, you don’t care and I am on vacation. Tomorrow won’t feel like it because I have to get up at 6:30. It’s my second trip this week, now to Pamukkale. I will take myself to the pool now.
Yours, Pollybert105

 

A day trip to Ephesus

Rain was forecasted for Monday therefore I decided to do some culture. It’s the best way to beat miserable weather (in the end it didn’t rain at all). Today Ephesus was on my program.
The first site to visit was ‘House of the Virgin Mary‘.

019I have never heard about this before but apparently there were already clues about her living here in the old times, also the Council of Ephesus was held here in 431. Another indication that the Virgin Mary really lived here. The finally found her house because a German nun called Anne Catherine Emmerich dreamt about the location and gave such clear details that later on the really found. Quite amazing and a miracle in itself.

The tree behind me looked easily as if it was from The Virgin era.020
The church even had a ‘Wishing Wall’, too late for me though. Wishing never worked, I am all for doing now.022

Next stop was finally Ephesus. It doesn’t really start amazing but gets better the further you go inside. It started 1300 BC and until 1426 AD every known culture made a stop here. From the Greeks to Alexander the Great, Cleopatra and Emperor Augustus. Everyone who was anyone was here. Personally I found the library most exciting. Just imagine such a building for all these rolls (no books then). I was also impressed that the Austrians are working since the 70’s to dig, find and restore. The Austrian Archeological Institute together with their Turkish colleagues are working on keeping this cultural inheritance intact. Such a shame that the Hadrian Temple will only be fully restored to its former glory in July 2014. Shame that I missed it. I also missed the Terrace Houses due to the fact that they are not included in the tour. I asked specifically beforehand if we would see the tomb of Arsinoe (half-sister of Cleopatra) as well, but only saw the outsides. Can’t have it all apparently …025 029 031 035 038 039 048 052 058

This picture above is from the latrines if you are wondering. Apparently there was no privacy to be had. But I like the idea of public toilets. And now on to my favorite building.057 061 070

 

And the last building we saw was a theater built for 24.000 people. Imagine this…that is quite a large crowd. And then only a couple of latrines for all of them, haha. Anyway nowadays its mostly populated by cats.074 075

Last stop on our Ephesus tour after a forgettable lunch was theTemple of Artemis. It was one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Not much is left though to view except for one lone column, now inhabited by a stork, which is also too short by 4 meters. The building material has verifiable been used in the Basilica St. John in Ephesus and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. What I found interesting because when I was visiting the Hagia Sophia I didn’t hear about this detail.081 082 084

Right behind the column you can see the Basilica, to the left of it a mosque from the 14th century (said the guide) and in the back the Selcuk Citadel.
There is really quite a lot to see but I am sure it is better to do it alone and not with a guided tour from the hotel. I am still not convinced that my guide had a historical background.

Just to let you know, I spent all of yesterday at the pool. The music after all is not too loud for me, I can still party with the best. Also the weather is way warmer than expected, got a slight sunburn. Yours, Pollybert090

 

Late night arrival

The holidays started already auspicious, my friend Cat gave me a lift to the airport. Therefore we arrived quite early and I was with the first ones to wait. While waiting we started to talk to the guy behind us, and with him I then shared a beer at the airport and another one on board. Which was probably the best idea I ever had cause then I could sleep on the two-hour transfer from Izmir to my hotel Paloma Sultan Club.

007 Was in bed around 4am but woke up this morning to sunshine and later had this view from my breakfast table. As you can see the weather is working in my favor, already spent the first couple of hours at the pool. Next time I will definitely go to the beach though because I am officially old. The saying “If the music is too loud, you’re too old” is true for me.

Also got busy and booked my tours for the next couple of days. And here I learned that Troy is not around the corner from my hotel but should be done from Istanbul (something I missed twice already), also Pergamon is quite far although closer. So in the end I changed my plans and will go to Ephesos tomorrow and Pamukkale on Friday. The rest of the days I will stay and relax. Sounds like a plan to me.
So I leave you with some impressions from the beach and the luscious hotel grounds (real corny in a way). Yours, Pollybert

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Please note that Özdere has its own sign resembling a lot the famous ‘Hollywood’ sign!014