10.03.2013 - 10.03.2013 18 °C
It was such a tough day for us: we had to get up at 7:15, if you can believe it! That’s 7:15 IN THE MORNING! Well, enough of the holiday life, I guess; it’s back to work for us. After a month of resting on our laurels (and our butts), we are once again travelling folk. We said goodbye to the very familiar surroundings of Kas and set off for Antalya. On the outskirts of the city, we bypassed the beach-front restaurants in favour of a gozleme (Turkish pancake) eatery. Three of us ordered various types of gozleme while Hannah decided to try a different type of Turkish fare, manti, which is a Turkish dumpling. While we were bemoaning the fact that Ben and Abby’s gozlemes were meant to be meat and mushroom but came with squash and zucchini filling instead, all thoughts of the error were chased away when Hannah’s dish arrived. The little dumplings came served in a soup bowl with warm watery yogurt and garlic, drizzled with meat drippings and topped with red pepper powder. On the side to be added by the consumer is ground sumac and dried mint. Surprisingly, to me, Hannah as well as Abby actually enjoyed them. I have to say it wasn’t my favorite Turkish food. An interesting side bit which I’ll share with you is that when a couple is to be married, the mother of the groom visits the bride's house and during this visit, the bride prepares manti for her prospective mother-in-law. The smaller the manti dumplings are, the more the bride is considered to be skillful in the kitchen. Traditionally, the dumplings prepared for the prospective mother-in law are supposed to be so small that 40 of them can be scooped up with one spoon. (Is any mother-in-law worth that effort?)
We had arranged to drop off the rental car at the airport despite not having to catch a flight. The airport is a common place for car rental pick ups and drop offs and is often easier for us to drive to rather than a city-bound location. Now, if you rent through one of the cheaper Turkey-based automobile operations, the usual bells and whistles aren’t really included. We are happy enough to forgo those if we can save a few euros. Therefore, when dropping off the car at the airport, one doesn’t go to any actual booth. You are waved down by a non-uniformed guy brandishing a clipboard, which is the only clue that he may be someone you actually want to pay attention to. He saw us driving through the hoards and somehow managed to catch my eye, indicating we were to stop at our earliest convenience but, preferably, right away. We pulled over and he popped his head in the car, asking if Ben was ‘Bernard Koning.’ That is indeed Ben’s alter ego and the name he goes by when travelling (since it matches his passport). We jumped out and retrieved our bags from the trunk. The nameless man checked over the car quickly, signed a paper seemingly indicating we had returned the vehicle in satisfactory condition, hopped in and drove off. It all happened so quickly, literally in less than two minutes, that I was left wondering whether he was indeed someone who worked for the rental company or an opportunistic scam artist. At any rate, the car is gone, we have no proof that we returned it but we don’t have too great a worry since it seems to align with how they do things in Turkey.
Ben’s notes about the subsequent car pick up stated that we were to receive the new car half an hour later from a different rental company. They were to show up at the airport’s arrivals area with a sign sporting the company name. This is the common way to receive a new car in Turkey, especially with those aforementioned car rental companies who decide not to spend money on extraneous items like stalls or service. The only kink in the arrangements is that there are two arrivals areas, one for domestic flights and one for international traffic. Ben and I separated and hovered between the two, hoping for success. After half an hour, we determined we would try to phone the company to see what was up. We approached the pay phones and after a great deal of stumbling around with our credit card, even enlisting the help of a friendly Turkish stranger, we achieved nothing. Thinking that there might be an information booth of some kind, the next plan involved approaching someone in the airport. We spoke to a Turkish security guard, hoping to find out where we might buy a phone card. After some spliced conversation attempts, she obviously felt it was going to be quicker to be rid of us if she just made the call herself on her own cell phone. When I made contact with the agency, they said ‘a friend’ would be there momentarily. We tried to give her a Canadian pin to show our undying gratitude (it’s what Canadians do after all, give out pins) but she declined it, likely because she’s trained not to take anything from passengers, lest they be contraband
Giddy with success, we walked back to where the kids had been abandoned and told them our knight in shining armour would be there soon to pick us up. The man who arrived looked as if he had just rolled out of bed. Again, no uniform or identifying cards. Hair going in all directions. With a sketchy kind of look. (Hannah used the words ‘he looked a bit rough.’) Exchanging not more than two words with us (exhausting all of our Turkish in the process), he helped squish our bags into the small trunk – that’s going to be a challenge for the next ten days – and drove us to the agency office, some kilometers offsite. The check out process took a few minutes and we were on the road again, briefly stopping to pay for gas. Did you know Turkey has the highest gas prices in the world? And with the currency being lire, it’s a bit mind-numbing to pay 195 of anything for a tank of gas (the conversion results in $122 for 45 L of diesel). Remembering all too well that the last time we were in Antalya a month ago, we spent the better part of three hours trying to detour around, and through, the construction to our hotel, we faced the next leg of the drive with some trepidation. However, that proved unnecessary as we located the hotel in twenty minutes this time. And although we hadn’t done much at all today, we were all exhausted. Supper was quick and bedtime even quicker.