John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Monday 23 September 2013

[Sunday 22 September 2013]

08:25 Manchester—14:45 Dalaman—22:00 Marmaris, Turkey

Day 266 Monday 23 September Esther 1-5

We got up ca.4.30am.… We were out of the room just before 6am; I handed the door-cards in at reception; and we waited in the lobby till the driver came in and announced himself. We emerged into a cool, crepuscular dark-grey, nebulously hazy morning. The guy next to us on the minibus had had to stay overnight because his flight to Helsinki where he worked had been cancelled. He regaled us with tales of the Finns’ alcoholism. He got out at Terminal 1 — I wished him, not “a good flight”, but “a flight” — and we went on to Terminal 2, where we, and the young couple in the seat facing us, got off. It was as we expected £6 for the two of us. The Thomson luggage check-in desks were open and the queue was despatched efficiently. We went across the entrance hall to a desk to pay for the extra-legroom seats that we’d just asked for, and thence upstairs, through the uneventful security scans, to the area of the boarding-gates. We sat ourselves down (6.45am) in the seating area of one of the boarding gates, not ours because we didn’t yet know which one it would be. We just chose it because it had a “Departures” display, which said concerning our flight, “TOM714”: “Gate open 45 minutes.” While I sat and kept her seat, Janet went off to Boots for drinks for both of us, and a spicy chicken wrap and some crisps for me. “Gate open 40 minutes… 35 minutes… 10 minutes… 5 minutes…” It was the last boarding gate in the whole line of them that we went to. There was still what felt like a long time of waiting there, till our range of seat numbers was called to join the queue of those boarding. It was a Boeing 767-300, with two aisles and seats in rows of 2, 4 and 2 persons. The 777’s to and from Israel (29 Oct. 2012 and 5 Nov. 2012) had rows of 3, 3, 3, so were wider, but I’m not sure whether the 767 was longer. Each person had his own little TV monitor, but the safety video, with the annoying child “Alice” describing the use of seat belts, oxygen masks, life jackets, etc.,[i] was the only thing that played, apart from repeating images and patterns; there was no in-flight information as there often is, with our course and progress shown on a map. I like to know where we are, how far we’ve got, and how far there is to go. There was longish taxiing, and the plane took off at 8.40am. Read to the end of chapter 3 of the specious Bible: The Biography. I wish someone would attempt an overview of similar scale and sweep but from a conservative standpoint. The tale of the evolution of the Bible from the viewpoint of modern scholarship sounds like so much fraudulence, fakery and forgery, regardless of the profound effect it has had on its adherents. Karen Armstrong’s take on the New Testament in particular, especially the “bitterness” of the Johannine writings, is quite disturbing. Then I listened to more of The Fellowship of the Ring. We landed at 14:31, local time. The scheduled timings were 08:25–14:45, i.e. 4hr 20min, allowing for the time-difference between Turkey and the UK (though I think 08:25 was the boarding time, not the takeoff time); the actual flight was ca.3hr 50min. We emerged into the warm sunshine. Passport/visa control was confusing; the person in the first booth sent us to another — and didn’t want the expected £10 payment for a visa, though he took Janet’s clean £10 note and gave her a couple of grubby £5 ones! The person at this next booth looked at the cards we’d filled in on the aircraft, asked us if we were cruise passengers, and sent us to a third booth, where we got through. (Not sure whether we didn’t have to pay at the first booth because we already had a 90-day visa and this was only about Day 80.)[ii] The baggage-claim carousel was only small and had a large plane-load milling around it (14:55). Why can’t people stand away from it, and only approach when their case comes into view? And why couldn’t the parents of the obese kid who touched each item as it passed tell him to keep his grubby hands off? Usually there are Thomson reps to meet and guide us, but there weren’t any till we were well away from the airport where the tour-operator coaches were parked.
[i] When we first flew with Thomson Airways it was attention-grabbing and quite amusing, but the novelty quickly wore off on repeated flights.
[ii] It’s more likely that there was an arrangement for all cruise passengers, not actually lodging in Turkey, to be afforded free transit from airport to seaport.

“Welcome” sheet, issued, I think, on the coach

We boarded a waiting coach (15:20) and set out not long after that (15:28) from Dalaman for Marmaris: up a new road cut deep into the mountainside; down into a wide plain with mountains either side, and fields with what looked like little conical haycocks in them, though the stalks looked rather thick; later turning left, with what appeared to be a deep inlet of the sea in the distance ahead and to the right, going over further mountainous country on another newly constructed road before descending to the town of Marmaris on the coast. That’s not the whole story of the journey, for I dozed off for part of it, waking with a start when the driver had to brake suddenly. The temperature display, which alternated with the time, said 31℃. We arrived at the terminal, 16:58; received a welcome-drink; were issued an envelope with luggage labels and boarding cards in it; attached the labels to our cases which had been removed from the coach, so that porters could deliver them to our cabin; checked in at a desk, handed over a completed health declaration issued on the coach, registered a debit card for onboard expenses, had our photo taken, and hired a key to the strongbox in the cabin (easier to operate than the combination-locked safe on the previous cruise). We boarded the ship, found our cabin (not a straightforward task: one would assume that “479” was on Deck 4, but in fact it was on Deck 3), and “Ver” the cabin steward initiated us into the mysteries of operating the light switches. 

Monday 23 September 2013 — 17:14:26
About to board the Thomson Celebration at Marmaris

Cruise News

It was ca.5.30pm, and after sorting a few things out in the cabin, we went up to the Lido Restaurant, having read in the “Cruise News” that it started serving food at 5.30pm, not as we’d supposed at 6pm. I made repeated use of hot and cold buffets. Janet had two Coca Cola Light and I a pint of Strongbow cider. Before finding our way back to the cabin, we had a look out on the Lido pool deck because that’s where Janet will start her breakfast early tomorrow. We returned to the cabin, but I got the camera and went up to the Promenade Deck to take photos.

Monday 23 September 2013 — 18:48:02
Marmaris at sunset

Monday 23 September 2013 — 18:48:18
Marmaris at sunset

Monday 23 September 2013 — 18:49:30
Marmaris at sunset

Monday 23 September 2013 — 18:49:30
Marmaris at sunset — detail

Monday 23 September 2013 — 18:50:58
Marmaris at sunset

Monday 23 September 2013 — 18:51:12
Marmaris at sunset

Monday 23 September 2013 — 18:52:04
Marmaris at sunset

Monday 23 September 2013 — 18:52:20
Marmaris at sunset

Janet unpacked the suitcases. Copied the above photos from the camera (19:28); edited them with Photoshop (19:33–19:42); and pasted them into a new PowerPoint presentation (19:57–19:43). At 8.30pm there was a “safety drill”, in which we had to grab our life-jackets from the cabin and go up to our muster station on the Promenade Deck. It was dark, and the dockside bars and restaurants shone multicoloured with their gaily lit signs. From that starboard viewpoint, we saw above them, illuminated in yellow light, a castle, which I’d failed to notice when I was out with the camera. Its battlements were a variation of the now-familiar swallowtail design, but they were tricuspid, not bicuspid. We went back to the cabin. Janet retired to her bed quite early; I continued to write this. There was cold air blowing in the cabin, and we both couldn’t get warm in bed — two single beds: mine by the porthole with feet facing direction of travel, and Janet’s at right angles to that.

[Tuesday 24 September 2013]

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