Hidden pleasures in Turkey
Cruise boats on the Bosphorous, or Istanbul Strait, take passengers around the strait to get a good view of Istanbul. The shores are heavily populated.
Istanbul - Marmaris is one of those place names, like Biarritz and Dubrovnik, that had always appealed to me. It seemed to evoke bazaars and minarets and characterful spice shops in Ottoman back alleys, and I was very much looking forward to visiting. Not that I could tempt the rest of the family to make a crack-of-dawn start from our lovely hotel an hour's drive away along the mountainous Bozburun peninsula.
So it was just me and the hotel manager, Murat, making his regular Thursday trip to Marmaris market, rattling along in his refrigerated van talking football. There was plenty to discuss, the start of the Turkish season having been postponed for a month because of a corruption scandal, which had seen the president of Fenerbahce, one of the country's biggest clubs, thrown into jail.
This was last August, and the postponement at least offered the players, and supporters, some respite from the searing heat of a Turkish high summer. On the return journey? I was sorely tempted to clamber into the back with the watermelons.
By then, my romantic image of Marmaris had been firmly punctured by the spectacle of the Poundtown Shopping Centre and a branch of Wetherspoon's. The food market was all that I had hoped for: a cornucopia of nuts, honey, dried herbs, and unfamiliar vegetables - I counted half-a-dozen different varieties of aubergine. But upstairs was a clothes market of the stuff nightmares are made of - a sweaty throng of overweight and oversunned western Europeans fingering fake Lacoste shirts.
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