Sunday, June 28, 2015

A (relaxing?) weekend in Cesme

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If you read the last couple of blogposts, you'll know that after a long struggle to get to Izmir, Mike and i decided to leave and go to the beach for his birthday weekend. You were probably thinking something along the lines of "You worked so hard to get there and now you're leaving?!?!?!"  Don't worry, I was right there with you.  When Mike proposed this little excursion, I wasn't really feeling it either, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

I had worked hard to get there and it had been quite a struggle. All I wanted to do once I got to Turkey was relax.  What better place to relax, though, than the beach?  

So, Friday morning, we packed our bags and headed to Cesme (pronounced Cheshma) for the weekend via bus because apparently we're European now and that's what Europeans do.  The bus was super crowded and Mike and I didn't even get a seat together.  Besides a moment of panic where I thought Mike had gotten off (translation: he had moved seats so we could sit together after a bunch of people got off at the first stop), the bus trip was an uneventful hour where I stared out the window in amazement of the mountains and countryside. Add in a little Spider Solitaire and it was a party.

Since I had bragged about Izmir being on the water, I figured it would be kind of confusing that Cesme is west of Izmir.  So, voila! A map!

The bus driver assured us that the bus went to where our hotel was.  What he failed to mention was that the bus stop was on the side of the road and the hotel was about a mile away.  So we walked. Thankfully, the hotel in Izmir let us leave a few bags with them for the weekend, so we only had two bags each (overpacking much?).  

Mike found our hotel on Hotwire, which meant that he didn't know the name of it before he booked it.  Hotwire tells you the price and the ratings (this was a four star resort for pretty cheap) and you book it.  It's almost always works out.  We (read: me) were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the Altin Yunus.  The rooms were nice and big, the beach was comfortable and clean, and the views were stunning. We checked in, put our bags down and headed to lunch (carrying two bags each can work up a hunger!). 

They had a buffet lunch which was okay, but way overpriced (read: $20 for a salad and some poorly cooked meat).  We finished lunch and headed to the beach where I took a nice long nap basking in the sun.  This was the relaxing part I had been waiting for. And the views.... I mean, really?  

We came back to the room to learn that the Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage! Go Supremes!!  It is amazing to witness such a monumental moment in history.  That being said, we also got to experience our first taste of censorship here in Turkey.  A lot of the articles about the ruling were blocked thanks to Turkish censorship. It was frustrating to not be able to access the news directly, but luckily, Facebook filled me in.  

We had been told that we received free breakfast and dinner at the buffet, so we decided to give it another try. We checked in and got our food.  Again, we were sorely disappointed.  Not only were we disappointed in the food, we were also disappointed to find out that it wasn't free.  After we had finished eating, we received a bill for our meal, which led to lots of arguments in broken English and Turkish. The poor hostess who had to deliver the news that our meal was not free then had to translate for her manager and then for the guest relations person.  We ended up only paying for one of the meals (that was their compromise for the confusion), but left feeling a little more than frustrated.  We would have just gone to one of the other restaurants on the property, or maybe even in to town, but we chose this one because the receptionist had told us it was free when we checked in. We also weren't told that we would have to pay when we checked in, just when we had already finished our meal.  Oh well.  You live and you learn, I guess....

Anyways, after that fiasco, we went to the outdoor bar to grab a drink and listen to live music.  It was beautiful sitting on the docks watching the sun set and listen to the music. 

The next day, Saturday, was Mike's birthday!! He had signed up to go Scuba Diving, so we were up early.  We ate breakfast and Mike went on his way to go diving.  Little did we know that diving in Turkey takes all. day. long.  In the United States, it's like a 4-5 hour excursion and if you leave early enough, you're back around lunch time.  You live you learn. I spent the day relaxing at the beach, walking around the resort taking pictures, and blogging.  Honestly, it was kind of nice, being the introvert that I am.  This week has been exhausting, both physically and emotionally.  It was nice to just have a day to relax and spend the day how I wanted.  Mike was pretty disappointed though because the dives weren't as good as in Hawaii (I mean, that's like saying salads aren't as good as ice cream. Duhhh.) and he said there was a lot of time where he was just sitting around on the boat.

American flag! I may have shrieked in excitement.  We noticed that most of the boats had American flags, as well as Turkish flags.  A lot of them were registered in Delaware. Anyone know why? Fill us in!

On the walk to the beach

The view from our hotel room

and more from the hotel room

After he returned at 7:00 (!!!!), we quickly got dressed and went down to the restaurant for dinner.  We obviously avoided the buffet due to the previous night's ordeal, plus it was Mike's birthday, so we wanted to do something a little bit nicer.

This was when we encountered another mishap.  We went outside and down to the nicer restaurant at the resort in hopes of having the Turkish equivalent of a steak dinner, whatever that would be.  When we got downstairs, we were greeted at the door by the host.  When he asked if we had reservations, we replied no. I didn't think this would be a big deal since there was literally no one there, but he told us that we would need reservations and that we could make them at the front desk.  We turned around to leave when they quickly called us back and told us we could stay for dinner.  I think this was not as much of a cultural mishap as it was a communication misunderstanding.  We (okay, Mike) was trying to speak in Turkish while the host was speaking in English.

View from dinner
The completely empty, but very charming restaurant,

I don't always take pictures with my food (okay only sometimes), but curly fries served with filet mignon called for a food pic. Don't worry, I didn't instagram it (but seriously considered it).
A complimentary cheese platter.  I don't know if it's a good thing (aka more cheese for me!) or a bad thing (more cheese/calories for me!) that Mike doesn't like slices of plain cheese.

After crossing that bridge, we sat down to a nice water view for dinner.  We ordered filet mignons and a bottle of California wine, both of which turned out to be very good.  Afterwards, we got ice cream and were in bed by 10:30.   I know, wild, right?  Maybe Mike was on to something when he said "Twenty Seven is the new sixty."

On Sunday (today), we slept in (jet lag hit HARD last night for yours truly) and slowly made our way to breakfast.  We were going to get massages yesterday for Mike's birthday, but due to the marathon of a scuba diving trip Mike went on, we had to reschedule them for this morning.  We originally had them planned for the same time and I thought I relayed that the hostess when I rescheduled them, but alas, that message was not relayed, so one by one we went.

A massage is a massage in any language and country and it did feel great. The second half of the massage package was to sit in a tub with jets.  As the masseuse was preparing it, she said to me "This will be good for you.  You have problems."  I just smiled and nodded, but thought in my head "If you knew how stressful the past month has been, you'd be happy I'm in one piece."

After Mike finished his massage, we grabbed our bags from the hotel and headed back to Izmir. Despite a few misunderstandings, we had a nice weekend away and definitely recommend Cesme to anyone looking of a weekend getaway in Turkey.

Once back in Izmir, we checked back into the hotel that we've stayed at every time we've been here, the Marriott Renaissance. If you find yourself in Izmir and not at Hotel de Hogan, we highly recommend the Renaissance. We were both here in April, then Mike has been here for the previous two weeks, and now we're here again for another week before moving into the apartment.  I think they appreciated our dedication (and the Navy's money) because we ended up with a sweet (or should I say suite?) room.

We quickly settled into our room and have been relaxing ever since.

Think we have enough stuff?

I think this is their way of saying we're their favorite customers