Hello friends. Priscilla here – one of the Turkey-based team for Friendship Travel’s singles holidays.
I was sitting in the garden of my home of the last 16 years, after a busy day with guests at the 4Reasons Hotel and wondering what to say in my first blog post that Colum’s asked me to do…. I was listening to MFO – a Bodrum boy band from the 1970s, which is still going strong. They were singing about Bodrum, and how Bodrum is like a beautiful girl: charming, unforgettable! The music drifted out over the harbour and I was thinking, “This isn’t a bad life!”
Working for Friendship Travel is a treat (when things go well – which I must say is most of the time, because we have some lovely guests). I love being able to share my passion for my adopted country with visitors, especially this relatively unscathed (is that the right word?) corner of Turkey, which is historically a refuge for bohemians. Bodrum, sticking out into the Aegean Sea, is the end of the road: next stop the Greek island of Kos! So a mixture of poets, philosophers and writers, as well as a few political firebrands, came and settled here long ago. Of course, since they built the airport, we now have a further influx of interesting and crazy people to entertain us summer and winter, day and night – Bodrum rarely sleeps!
Yalikavak, where the 4Reasons Hotel is, is seven sets of traffic lights and 12 miles away from my home (and over the hill). 23 years ago there were no traffic lights, the nearest airport was a three-hour drive away and there was only one bus with air-con, which everyone wanted to get on: we fought over it. Turnaround Day (guest changeover) took 13 hours for me then, but now it’s so much easier, with the airport on the doorstep and smiling personnel at the hotel.
Must tell you that last week we had eight guests on one of our Bodrum gulets, cruising around the Gulf of Gokova for the week, on what we know locally as ‘the blue cruise’. The crew look after everything for the guests, but I do ‘meet and greet’ and ensure everyone’s aboard safely… we always say to people to travel light when they’re on the gulet cruise, but one of last week’s guests boarded clutching a pink lilo (you know who you are)… the captain did a double-take. I heard later, when one of the guests phoned me, that the cruise was great fun, though the conditions meant that the hoped-for visit to Dalyan’s mud baths didn’t take place.
That reminds me of another thing that has changed so much since I started working in the travel industry in Turkey: communications! When I first started, the only communication I had with the UK was the Telex machine – remember them? Phone calls were far too expensive, so I spent hours typing reports into the Telex, and waiting for guest information to come chattering out of the printer at my end. Now, it’s so easy for a guest to call me on her mobile from the gulet to tell me she’s having a ball. That’s what I call progress!