Friday, 31 July 2009
Thursday, 30 July 2009
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Jules and I had been reliably informed by our ships company that this was indeed the place where bargains were to be had and that if we were prepared to ‘haggle’ we would come away with some exceptionally good deals. Apparently bartering was such a tradition in this part of the world that refusing to negotiate on price was tantamount to an insult. It was also suggested that prices would be coming thick and fast in the crowded bazaars of Kusadasi, so the best strategy would be to play it cool by at first ignoring the various banter and enticements being thrown at you. If we were seriously interested, we should begin by offering around 30% of the original asking price, which would in turn trigger some serious negotiations and if we played are cards right, it would eventually result in us paying around half price.
Armed with this information we headed ashore, although our pre-embarkation pep talk had not quite prepared us for the consumer assault that we were about to experience. As we headed along the lanes, traders would bolt from their shops following us down the road quizzing us about our obvious need for all manner of rugs, clothing, jewelry, watches or souvenirs. It was all done in relatively good humor, but it was nonetheless quite intimidating and rather than luring us into their shop, it had the opposite effect as we picked up our pace to get away. Eventually we settled into the atmosphere of the bazaar and began to purchase a few things, mindful that any brand names we were buying would generally be fake. In fact we both laughed when passing one very honest watch shop that proudly displayed the sign ‘genuine fakes here', which seemed indicative of much of what was for sale throughout the market.
Having felt somewhat victorious from our bargaining (well, we thought so anyway) we headed back to the ship slightly exhausted. Not only had we negotiated on every item purchased, but also endured the constant verbal barrage from the various traders who were determined to have us reach even deeper into our pockets. This was certainly no place for casual browsing, but rather a shopping experience that had developed into a battle of wits and endurance that we were both happy to have survived.
Monday, 27 July 2009
Saturday, 25 July 2009
We arrived in Lyme Regis by late afternoon as the first showers began to fall and although it seemed quite a nice little coastal town, like most of the holiday makers on the beach our enthusiasm was being somewhat dampened by the weather. Nonetheless, Jules had read about a particularly good restaurant that was well worth visiting, so we decided to stay the night. It was at this point that we realized that our cunning plan to simply drop into popular seaside towns in summer in the hope of finding somewhere to stay might have a serious flaw. After several phone calls from the tourist office we finally managed to secure something, but suffice it to say it made ‘Fawlty Towers’ look like the Hilton Hotel and we hit the road very early the next day.
Continuing our journey south, the rain began picking up where it had left off the night before. With the wind screen wipers working overtime, we eventually reached the quiet inlet of Noss Mayo and enjoyed a hot chocolate in the local pub that overlook this tranquil fishing town. We soon pressed on to the historic town of Plymouth where I couldn’t help but think of the many convicts who once boarded ships here for a one-way passage to sunny Australia … there could have been far worse punishments I’m sure! As we moved down the coast towards the picturesque towns of Looe and Polperro, fond memories came flooding back, as this region was our favorite. These are quintessential fishing villages that have barely changed for centuries, if you discount the fleets of tourist buses that visit each town daily. With the rain driving down, we looked for brighter horizons on the west coast and in particular in the town of Padstow, which has become somewhat of a tourist Mecca due to it being the home of celebrity chef Rick Stein. In fact this charming fishing town could well be renamed ‘Rick Steinville’, as we counted at least five business establishments baring his name. Of course his celebrity has done much for local economy and in particular the demand for accommodation, as we found out first hand when we tried to find a room for the night. This time there was not a bed to be had and so late in the evening, we drove out of town only to find a very remote hotel somewhere near Newquay ... our B&B plan was not working well!
The next day we backtracked through Padstow and continued north to the mystical town of Tintegal. The ruined castle here is believed to have provided the inspiration for Camelot, King Arthur and the knights of the round table. After a lengthy drive, we arrived at the rugged cliffs to view what is said to be the ruins of the ancient castle. To be honest the few remaining stones bare only a passing resemblance to a castle and there is considerable reliance upon the public’s imagination to create the medieval scene. However what can be guaranteed is plenty of wind! This, combined with on going rain, meant for pretty bleak conditions and this was the height of summer!! Feeling cold and wet, we settled for the best attraction to be found in Tintegal, the genuine Cornish pasty!
Over the next few days we would take a slow and meandering course back toward Bournemouth. We would head through the Dartmore National Park, staying in the quaint town of Mortenhampstead, where following the advice of our B&B host, we ventured south to Salcombe. This was one of the nicest surprises of our road trip, as it is a charming little fishing town with a lovely outlook. Skirting the outskirts of Torquay, we headed toward Exeter, then onto the seaside town of Budleigh Salterton, which was again quite nice despite the drizzle. In the end, the sun did make the occasional appearance offering us hope of brighter days, but it seemed that this time we were destined to experience a typical English summer. Our road trip was not quite what we had imagined, nor did it totally recapture the fond memories of all those years ago. If we can take anything from this trip it is that we must always treasure those wonderful moments of travel, as they are often so difficult to ever recapture again.