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“London, United Kingdom, His Majesty’s Theatre. We’ve seen Phantom of the Opera in Los Angeles and New York, and we finally made it to London! It was a fabulous trip, with so much to see and do. We took a private Black Cab tour and our driver was amazing! It takes three years of training for the drivers to have ‘the knowledge.’ We also took a Jack the Ripper tour, which was fascinating. We really loved London and hope to go back some day.”
— Jean Sarfaty, Retired, LAPD, and her husband, Ron, visited London.
Norman Faner, Retired, LADWP, and Florian Faner, Retired, General Services, visited Namibia.
“This beautiful 55-acre park filled with different flowers can be seen only in the hills of North San Diego County. They are only in bloom for six to eight weeks each year from March to May.”
— Shinetha Scott, LADOT, visited the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch.
“It was not a vacation as it was an adventure at Kruger National Park Safari, South Africa, and a Victoria Falls hike and helicopter ride in Zimbabwe.”
— Larry Campita, Retired, Controller’s Office, visited Africa.
Letter From the Aegean, Pt. 1
Luxury Yachts, Hookahs and the Grand Bazaar
If you’re thinking of taking that dream vacation to a Greek island this summer but want more than a quick stop on a packed cruise ship to Mykonos to see sizeable middle age European gentlemen lying in the altogether on the beach or Santorini and have one of the donkeys or mules who are forced to serve as “taxis,” haul you up the 500 hundred grueling steps to the town at the top, then why not try one of the other islands?
Like the Island Rhodes, with the oldest Medieval town in Europe, or Kos, famous for its endless sandy beaches. Symi has colorful neoclassical houses and an annual music festival; Chios has the only mastic trees in the world and a rich history dating back more than 8,000 years, while Samos is just a stone’s throw from Turkey across the mile-wide Mycale Strait.
All this sounds fantastic, but even a romantic holiday on one of these islands needs more excitement and adventure. So, with the Turkish ports of Bodrum, Marmaris, Kusadasi, and Çeşme so close, why not catch a ferry and explore the mysterious east for a day or two?
When most people first think of Turkey, they picture the mosques and bazaars of Istanbul, but that’s just scratching the surface of this fascinating country. One of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey is its Aegean region, with its colorful history, ancient ruins and small seaside villages surrounded by beautiful beaches with crystal clear water. The region has a unique blend of gastronomic dishes, balanced between East and West, from street food stalls to lavishly decorated restaurants.
For example, the ferry from the Greek island of Rhodes to the Turkish port of Marmaris is only a few hours’ ride on a fast boat. Guarded by a small Crusader castle at the entrance to the port, it has the largest covered Grand Bazaar outside of Istanbul, which is excellent for shopping.
Make your reservation at least one day before your planned trip, as you can often get a same-day round-trip ticket for little more than the standard one-way fare. An open-date round-trip ticket allows you to choose your travel dates, and it’s usually cheaper than two one-way fares.
Turks know Marmaris as Green Marmaris (Yeşil Marmaris) because of its pine and olive-clad mountains. This mountain range protects the harbor and gives ships anchored in the bay below excellent protection from prevailing weather. The port has always been popular with English sailors, dating back to 1798 when Lord Nelson and his motley crew used the port’s Shisha bars to drink and smoke shisha tobacco from India while their ships were preparing to sail out to defeat Napoleon’s fleet at the Battle of Abukir.
Today, sleek sailboats and powerboats crowd this modern marina and jostle for space along the famous waterfront promenade with assorted restaurants and bars. The is the perfect place to watch the sunset while drinking a local ice-cold adult beverage called Efes, a nice light beer for a hot day, or a non-alcohol drink. Try the yogurt-based drink Ayran; it’s believed to have excellent health benefits.
The heart of Marmaris is The Grand Bazaar. Its hundreds of shops and stalls are under one roof and sell the usual tourist trinkets and local specialties such as Turkish Delight, honey, and “genuine” fake handmade carpets. Most of the clothing on offer is very cheap, and the quality can be surprisingly good. There are some unbelievable bargains if you are okay with wearing fake designer labels, but check the sizes before purchasing. Do not buy pirate DVDs and games, as they will not work on USA equipment, despite assurances from vendors. If you’re prepared to haggle, genuine leather can be bought reasonably, but remember the starting price is two-to-three-times above what they will finally accept. As for hairdressing and beauty treatments, massages and steam baths are all excellent values, but beware of tattoo hygiene issues if you decide to add to your ink collection. The small crusader castle/museum is interesting, and if you look closely while strolling around the town, you’ll see beehives everywhere, gathering Marmaris’ famous honey.
The time seems to fly by when you’re having fun. You’ll be on the ferry, zooming back to Greece in no time. It is not quite like beginning on a private yacht, but close your eyes and dream.
May you have “fair winds and following seas.”