John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Saturday 13 July 2013

[2013: Turkey]

09:26 Cleethorpes
15:40 Manchester
21:30 Izmir Adnan Menderes, Turkey

Felt hot, uncomfortable and restless initially. Kept getting twinges in the inflamed finger. Made a “sling” with chair and pillows to elevate the right hand. Fairly long periods of sleep after that. Janet got up ca.7am; I followed when she vacated the bathroom, and was at the computer ca.8am. Collected together some items on the “things to take” list, and thought of one or two more. “A bit of a panic” (shall I say?) when Janet showed me the mains adaptors that she’d packed, and I saw that mine was not among them! It has provision, which the others don’t have, to plug in the shaver, and it has an earth connection. Anyway, I found it. Crucially, as we were waiting for the taxi, I realised that I’d not arranged for ATM-use of our debit cards in Turkey — “a lot of a panic!” (I shall definitely say). On previous trips, I’ve remembered to do so when I’ve obtained currency from the bank. This time, we got our currency from First Choice travel agency. Rang Lloyds TSB’s “0845” number, went through the automated security checks, and eventually spoke to an operator. Was still speaking to her when the taxi arrived. There was difficulty with her security questions: she wanted to know the amount of a recent debit (I had to go upstairs and find the note for the Asda Money payment that I made yesterday) and of a recent credit (Janet remembered her State Pension and the amount). Anyway, just after 9.05am, I was told that my debit card was activated for transactions in Turkey. Couldn’t do the same for Janet’s card, because that would require redialling and going through all the security procedures again. The train was a three-coach one, a “Class 170”, I think, even though the plan I printed yesterday only showed two coaches for this class. We found unreserved seats either side of a table and sat in them, to avoid having to vacate reserved seats at Doncaster and go to others two coaches away.
1. When we first arranged this holiday, there was no rail connection between Scunthorpe and Doncaster because of a landslide at Hatfield Colliery; so we bought tickets from Doncaster to Manchester Airport and back, and planned to travel from Cleethorpes to Doncaster by taxi. The train service was restored early in July, though, so we bought separate train tickets for that part of the journey.

At Manchester Airport the moving walkways in the succession of raised-level “tubes” to Terminal 2 weren’t working, so it was quite a long walk. The “snake” at the Thomson Airways check-in was moderately long, but the queue was dealt with quickly — then up in the lift to security checking. Despite divesting myself of belt, watch, coins, etc., I set off the alarm and had to be frisked and take my shoes off to be scanned. Janet’s bag was selected to be searched again.[2]

2. It was searched at Humberside Airport when we went to Italy.

When we were “airside”, I had a sandwich and a bottle of ginger beer from W. H. Smith as we waited. The gate number for our flight wasn’t initially posted, just “Wait in lounge”. Next time I went to look at the screen, it was “Boarding in 35 minutes”, but where was still undisclosed; next time “5 minutes”; and after that we had our gate number. Not all the extra-legroom seats had been allocated, so after the couple next to me had gone to occupy an empty row, Janet decided to move across and we had that row all to ourselves. I sat at the window. It was disconcerting how the winglet-tipped wing of the Boeing 737-800 “flapped” slightly as we started to taxi. Take-off was scheduled for 15:40, but there was some delay, so this was ca.16:00. We got to the start of the runway, turned around into it, and took off ca.16:10. I saw the French coast below after we crossed the English Channel, and later through the clouds the Alps far below. It seemed strange, as we passed over Venice (which I didn’t see) and the start of the Adriatic, that we were only halfway to our destination. I occupied myself during the flight by reading a book I acquired in Alison Beedie’s pre-nuptial giveaway: The Apostle, a life of Paul by John Pollock. We landed only ca.10 minutes later than the scheduled 21:30, local time. First we had to go to a glass-screened booth staffed by three people to get a visa sticker in the passport and pay £10, then through a row of booths where one stamped the visa; thence, to the baggage-claim carousels. The customs desks on the way out were unstaffed. There was a rep near the exit who pointed the way over a ramped footbridge to the coach park. So we emerged into the very warm night air. There were people, I guess, hired by Thomson First Choice from the local tourist agency, at a counter there, to ask our name and destination, give us a “welcome” pack (telling us among other things of a meeting with our holiday rep tomorrow at 12.00 noon), and point us to the relevant coach out of those all lined up. Ours was the first, “№14”. From Izmir it went along motorway-style roads, passing through two toll-gates en route. We bought two ½-litre bottles of water from the Thomson rep on the coach. We went through Selçuk, with a large castle on the hill to the right all lit up. Ephesus is not far from Selçuk, but I didn’t see any signs pointing to it. The last leg of the journey from there to Kuşadası took longer than I thought it would, and after we descended to the coast we seemed to be going through the town for miles. The handful of people staying at the Palmin Hotel were the first off the coach. We handed passports over at reception, and I completed a registration card (writing wasn’t easy because of the very swollen finger); we received the room key, etc., and the receptionist “handcuffed” us with plastic wrist-bands to identify us for free drinks, etc. I say “handcuffed”, because you can’t take them off when you’re “off duty”: asleep, or out and about outside the hotel premises. We deposited our baggage in the sixth-floor room, not long before midnight, and went down to the dining room. Because of the lateness of the hour, there were only bread and soup provided; and since the soup was mushroom and I find mushrooms stomach-turning, I had just bread and butter. Janet ordered a Coca Cola Light, but I didn’t have anything. Afterwards, she wanted a drink to take upstairs; one or two got served, but then the man closed the bar because it was midnight. The bed was a bit hard, and there was only one hard, very thick pillow, so I couldn’t support legs and feet as I do at home.

[Sunday 14 July 2013]

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