exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

the irritating jingle of the belly-dancing phony turkish girls

by Jen at 3:57 pm on 3.10.2009 | 4 Comments
filed under: holidaze, photo

and so, i hear you clamouring, how was the vacation?

let’s play a little game, shall we? guess how many pictures i took with my camera? now, given that for most of my holidays, i come back with anywhere from 300 – 400 photos to sort through and edit, and given that i was in sun-soaked turkey for a week, you’d probably expect somewhere in that neighbourhood, right?

three. i took three photos with my camera. despite dutifully lugging it everywhere in hopes of capturing some bucolic holiday shots, i might as well not have brought it along at all.

(now, i didn’t let this whole experience go undocumented – oh no. i did take a whole dozen pictures with my iphone. i’ll share some of them below, with apologies for the quality).

i preface my moaning by saying that i’m *not* a high maintenance kinda girl. those of you who know me in person will attest to that. i really feel i need to mention that disclaimer.

i’d signed on to this holiday completely sight unseen. my good friend Tracey asked if i wanted to join herself, another acquaintance of ours, and two friends of the acquaintance (whom i hadn’t met), on an “all-inclusive” package holiday to turkey. given my druthers, package holidays are not generally my preference, but i’d been on two before and enjoyed myself. sun, food and alcohol are really what all-inclusives are all about, and so, i said ’sure’ without even thinking twice about it. the hotel was supposedly 5-star, but i also knew to take that rating with a huge grain of salt. i just wanted some sun and a few umbrella drinks.

so we arrived, and the hotel looked a bit tacky – strange constellations of fairy lights hanging from the ceiling, balloons and crepe-paper streamers as decor, fake plants, all a bit motel 6-ish. which, you know, is not a big deal. it was a cheap holiday, and i didn’t have terribly high expectations to begin with. the room was fine – i had to change rooms after the first night because being located next to the stairwell was too noisy, but that was fine too.

here’s me on day one – all excited about a week of pure relaxation ahead.

day one.

we check in, settle, head down to check the pool (it’s still really early). the pool is appealing, although unheated. there are plastic sunloungers abounding, and we strip down for some spf-30 roasting action. bake-turn-bake-turn. it’s soon breakfast time and there’s a giant buffet of good food (including the bizarrely faux-pink turkish sausages which have that red-dye you sometimes see in bologna). for drinks, however, there is automated a sad little automated coffee vending machine (blech!), and Tang. several varieties of Tang, being paddle-stirred in large slurpee-style dispensers.

now, if you were a child of the 70s in America like me, you’ll remember Tang as the powdered imitation orange flavoured breakfast drink of the astronauts. in the 80s, however, Tang fell out of favour and largely disappeared from the shelves.

ladies and gentlemen, i am here to tell you that Tang is alive and well, and being served in cheap turkish resorts in place of real juice.

and this was the first harbinger of doom. because really, can you not provide real juice at an “all-inclusive” resort? i hasten to add real juice *was* in fact offered – fresh squeezed orange juice, for just an additional 2 turkish lira, or roughly £1. i kid you not.

so we had lots of Tang, because Tang was what was on offer the entire week – unless you went to the “bar” and asked for some flat generic coke or lemonade or orange soda, served in an airplane-sized plastic cup, half full of ice. there were a few large cups floating around the hotel, and we took to holding on to them when we were lucky enough to stumble across one. which is, in and of itself, pretty sad – we were hoarding plastic cups.

so we headed back to the pool, where we are surrounded by 99.9% brits. fine, okay. there are several copies of the daily mail paper spotted, and books like “ant and dec’s bio”. there is lots and lots of smoking going on – probably 90% of the adults and many of the children (*maybe* 14 years old at a stretch?) are smoking. it wasn’t terribly pleasant to be constantly surrounded by smoke, and see cigarette butts littered everywhere. but hey, it’s turkey, right? everyone smokes here, not a huge deal.

the whole pool area is nice enough. here’s a picture – the building across the street is another “resort”.


the music in the pool area starts up. it’s a strange mix of s club 7/take that/tom jones (as to be expected), lady ga ga’s “poker face” (maybe 50 times in the week?), too fucking much michael jackson, some oldies (for the senior set), and lots (lots!) of the black-eyed peas “boom boom pow”. if you care to, you can have a listen here, but the lyrics go a little something like:

That digital spit
Next level visual shit
I got that boom boom pow
How the beat bang, boom boom pow

I like that boom boom pow
Them chickens jackin’ my style
They try copy my swagger
I’m on that next shit now

I’m so 3008
You so 2000 and late
I got that boom, boom, boom
That future boom, boom, boom
Let me get it now

I’m a beast when you turn me on
Into the future cybertron
Harder, faster, better, stronger
Sexy ladies extra longer

‘Cause we got the beat that bounce
We got the beat that pound
We got the beat that 808
That the boom, boom in your town

so that was fun.

after lunch, we got a little thirsty. as part of the “all-inclusive” there is free beer and wine, and free vodka drinks – at least, until 11pm, when, as it turns out, drinks are £5. i wish i could say that the drinks were even palatable – it’s not like i’m some kind of snob! – but truly, they weren’t. the beer was watery, the wine was practically vinegar, and the vodka drinks… well on does get tired of tiny thimblefuls of cheap vodka and orange soda (again, no juice!). after day two, i just gave up.

and so it turns out that the only thing worse than a tacky, rundown, boring holiday is a *dry* tacky, rundown, boring holiday.

it only went downhill from there. the activities were minigolf (putting into a wooden box) and boules, facilitate by crazed activity staff who ran around shouting at the guest, haranguing them to join. the cafeteria tablecloths became soiled and weren’t changed (yet strangely people dressed to the nines in glitter and stilettos for dinner!?!) the glasses were frequently dirty. the towel stand was only open on alternate days? (thus negating the point of the towel card – having to drag beach towels back and forth every day.) in the evenings there was no entertainment – we played cards until bedtime like a bunch of oaps. the incessant music went on until well past 2am. the other guests were loud, crass and generally rude. we nicknamed one family the Clampetts, if that’s any indication. after two days on holiday, i actually started to feel rather depressed – was everyone else having a great time besides me? was i just being a big old snob? i began tweeting my observations (at 50p a text), simply because i couldn’t keep them to myself.

on day three, then, i jumped at the idea of going on a walk to the local beach with tracey. as we walked out of the gates of what i had begun in my mind to call “the compound”, it felt like a huge weight dropping from my shoulders – freedom!! we walked a few hundred yards to the beachfront, only to find… dirt. it was a little smudge of dirt crowded with sunloungers stacked nearly on top of each other. i made some tentatively snarky comment about at least being outside the “resort”, she and i looked at each other and just started laughing. relief flooded over me and i said, “oh thank god! i thought i was the only one who thought it was horrible!” and to my utter thankfulness she said, laughing, “oh it’s *hideous*!!” i nearly knocked her over hugging her – all this time i’d had to hold in my disappointment, worried about hurting the feelings of our other companions who all seemed to be enjoying themselves. finally i had an ally! things were looking up.

here was the beach. it almost looked pretty… from a distance you can’t even see the trash!


from that point on, we made a concerted effort to spend as much time as possible getting outside the walls of the “resort”. we trekked into the town of Altinkum – a shitty little strip of cafes serving up “full english breakfast”, “footy on the big screen”, “x-factor tonite!”. we went on a party boat – broiling in the day long sun, choked by chain smokers. we had dinner and went in search of a bar that wasn’t blaring karaoke or “amarillo”. we got tipsy on real beer and wifi access.

(as a side note: when i arrived, i asked the staff if they had wifi access, which they said they did – they only needed a mac address, which i happily provided. the it manager then told me it “doesn’t work for iphones”. ummmm, huh?! but whatever – being trapped at the hotel with no connectivity only exacerbated my feeling of isolation.)

our other three companions? never ventured outside the hotel. for the entire week, they were perfectly content with horrible drinks, shabby surroundings, and chavvy holidayers. we tried to encourage them, but they declined every time. all i can say is thank god for tracey, because she made the rest of the week bearable, and at times, even fun. we enjoyed ourselves in spite of our surroundings, and not because of them.

i perversely wish i hadn’t taken any pictures at all, because i’ve been told i actually made it look rather attractive, when in reality it was dingy and depressing. nevertheless, here’s my week in pictures:

the poker. we played for a cocktail and i won and ordered a piña colada. that was a tactical error because (without any juice at the hotel) my colada had no piña.


the day we first escaped from the compound. that’s relief tinged with hysteria you see on my face.


some lovely flowers at the dirt “beach”. too bad they were surrounded by a pile of rubbish.


tracey dives off the party boat. there was no shade, only a few sunloungers (which we possessively claimed in order to avoid sitting on a bench the whole day!)

tracey diving

we ventured to the bar across the street for one night. real cocktails!!


this gentleman was sunning himself while wearing a half shirt, a thong, and tube socks. standing up, it was not a pretty picture.

thong thong thong!

some classy ladies out for a night on the town (i.e. drunkenly singing “amarillo” at the top of their lungs). i can see why a night out in altinkum is something you’d dress up for!


one of our nights out, enjoying a turkish coffee.


the airport waiting for our flight home. i refused to pay £5 for a slice of pizza.


so to sum up: the resort was awful, altinkum was a shithole, and the most redeeming features about the whole week were the weather and clinging desperately to my sanity via tracey. it took me a week to write this blog post, in part, because i think i’ve been trying to block the whole thing out – i now know why they have those “holiday from hell” programmes. (other people have reviewed the resort here)

this is hell – elvis costello

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3 people like this post.


  • 1

    Comment by A Free Man

    3.10.2009 @ 20:22 pm

    Yikes. I’ve had an average holiday or two. But never a bad one.

    Oh, wait – Branson, Missouri. Or Misery. Dragged by my parents whilst in grad school. Outlet malls and over the hill lounge acts. A.C. without the casinos.

    But no Tang.

  • 2

    Comment by Jen

    3.10.2009 @ 22:48 pm

    that sounds pretty hideous as well!

    the tang made all the difference.

  • 3

    Comment by Tabitha

    5.10.2009 @ 04:51 am


  • 4

    Comment by blues

    17.10.2009 @ 16:04 pm

    oh god, this sounds awful! I can totally picture it though. we spent a couple of days at a place similar to this in Tavira, Portugal. Now that I think of it though, it doesn’t sound nearly as bad!

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