Santorini, a final resting place for Mom

There is only one reason I went to Santorini. Mom had asked for her ashes to be left there. She first went there in the 80’s with her sister in law. Every summer Mom and Brenda went island hopping in Greece. She fell in love with Santorini. And so did I.

Oia

Oia Santorini

Windmill Santorini

Windmill Santorini

After just over a year since she passed away, I finally decided it was time to take Mom ‘home’. Just before she died she told me she wasn’t sure that she wanted ‘it’ to be Santorini. I think she was worried that it had changed from what she had remembered. And she had since travelled to so many other places she loved. Dalyan, Turkey being one.mom dalyan by the river

After she died, I was not sure where she really wanted to be, her partner and I thought Dalyan and my daughter suggested we took her to all the places she had travelled to. A lovely idea yet limited by money, I was not sure I could fit in Thailand, Egypt, Greece, Malta, Menorca,Turkey, Hong Kong, and goodness knows where else she had visited.

Approaching Santorini by sea

Approaching Santorini by sea

I had three overseas holidays last year and took a little bit of Mom to two of those destinations and one in the UK. I may have broken a Turkish law but I knew she loved it here.Dalyan

And I found the perfect place in Malta too.  I chose Marsaxlokk as it is a colourful village that hosts a lively Sunday market, and no one loved a good market better than my mom. Only after I had scattered her ashes I realised that the curtains hanging in a little house overlooking the spot where I left her are identical to the ones my mother had in her home.

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Mom had also been an actress and one of her very last proper outings was to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see The Tempest. I thought she may enjoy being here, in the shadow of The Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

In the shadow of The Royal shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

In the shadow of The Royal shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

As time went on, I knew I really needed closure and in my heart I knew I had to take her to Santorini.Oia Santorini

We could only get flights to Crete at this time of the year, yet I was pretty sure that we would be able to get to Santorini from there, by boat. As it was it turned out that the fast ferries were not running until 17 April and we flew home in the early hours of 18 April. At that point I was thinking I would only get a day trip to Santorini and have to spend the rest of the week on Crete.

I was not prepared to give up and with the help of a brilliant travel agent, Paleologos, in Heraklion, planned an itinerary that got us to Santorini on the 15 April via Piraeus. We would be leaving Santorini on the first fast ferry on the 17 April at 6pm, with plenty of time to get our flight at 1am on the 18th. Cutting it fine, and the Sea Cats don’t run if the weather is windy. Ah well I had taken out insurance and enhanced it to cover unexpected events, given our history of holiday almost disasters. If the weather made us stay longer in Greece, so be it.

It also meant that we would get an unexpected bonus of visiting The Acropolis in Athens.The Acropolis

Mom had made her first journey in Greece from Piraeus in 1980 when she travelled solo, flying to Athens and then getting a ferry to Rhodes. She loved Piraeus and the bustle of getting on and off ferries, so I was pretty sure she had had some influence on these plans. She was going to get her last bit of island hopping in before settling on Santorini.Santorini

A twitter friend recommended accommodation in Santorini. What a find! Affordable, comfortable and the owners, Katerina and Nectarios treated us like family rather than guests. And Katerina is a fantastic baker. We didn’t want to leave.Katerina

Santorini has an reputation for being expensive, and yes there are some places that are eye wateringly pricey, yet it is still possible to visit and enjoy Santorini on a modest budget.

We were based in Fira, the capital, but I had an inkling that it was Oia that Mom had stayed in, so we took the bus there with Mom in the back pack.

Oia is stunning. I had seen countless photographs and was worried that it would not live up to my expectations. It exceeded them. And I knew this is where Mom was meant to be.

We got away from the crowds and searched for the perfect place. And found it.

Mom wasn’t religious yet I thought being in front of a tiny church was appropriate.Church in Santorini

And this field of daisies just seemed to be the right place.Daisy field

This is the view.The final resting place

And I chose the right place, as after I had left her in her final resting place, although off the main drag where tourists gathered, everyone who passed the field stopped to admire them and the view. So she will get plenty of visitors. She would like that.Daisies

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Dalyan. Don’t feed the turtles, do eat the cake.

travellingcoral

A post by Bohemian Travellers prompted me to reflect on the recent trip I made with my family to Dalyan. This was the fifth time I had visited Dalyan and doubt that it will be the last. What, the whole world out there and you go to the same place five times, I hear you say?  Yup. I used to think that going to the same place over and over again was dull and boring too. It’s not. I am not going to make an apology for this, for here’s the thing, Dalyan does that to you. It calls to you and soothes you. Going to Dalyan is like going home.

There are a lot of British people who have made Dalyan their home. One quite famous one, but I will come back to that. And this year I didn’t meet one British holidaymaker for whom this was a…

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Dalyan. Don’t feed the turtles, do eat the cake.

Lycian tombs near Köyceğiz

Lycian tombs near Köyceğiz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A post by Bohemian Travellers prompted me to reflect on the recent trip I made with my family to Dalyan. This was the fifth time I had visited Dalyan and doubt that it will be the last. What, the whole world out there and you go to the same place five times, I hear you say?  Yup. I used to think that going to the same place over and over again was dull and boring too. It’s not. I am not going to make an apology for this, for here’s the thing, Dalyan does that to you. It calls to you and soothes you. Going to Dalyan is like going home.

There are a lot of British people who have made Dalyan their home. One quite famous one, but I will come back to that. And this year I didn’t meet one British holidaymaker for whom this was a first visit. Yet it has not been transformed into a resort where you can get English Beer for breakfast. Dalyan has hardly changed in the 9 years I have been going. Indeed, A Proper Holiday was first published in 1996, yet if you read it now you would still recognise that Dalyan is the fictional Karput. If you go, add this to your reading list.

The other main European tourists are Dutch, and Dalyan is increasingly a destination for Turks escaping Turkish city life. When you get off your plane in Dalaman, don’t worry, those fellow passengers with names on the back of their t shirts will be heading off to Marmaris or Ichlemer. Not Dalyan. Audible sigh of relief. The last three times I have been, my party have been the only ones heading to Dalyan.

That is not to say that Dalyan is dull or only for the middle aged hiker, retired couples, or families, it is for everyone. It is just not party central. It is for travellers and tourists who want to experience Turkish life. Bars will gear up for the football matches but there is no rowdiness, Turkey just loves football. There are cocktail bars, swish restaurants, cafes,  5 star hotels, 2 star hotels and even a camp site. There is a fantastic market every Saturday with everything from genuine fake watches to fresh fruit and vegetables. My number one tip about the market is check out the jeans. The quality is amazing. Number two tip is haggle.

Yet Dalyan is all about the river. This is where it all happens. If you want a day out, go to the river as there are hundreds of boats to take you to Koycegiz Market, the mud baths, Sultaniye and Iztuzu (Turtle Beach). Or take a rowing boat to visit Kaunos. Some scenes for The African Queen were filmed in the reed beds of the river.

English: "Kaptan" June at the releas...

English: “Kaptan” June at the release of a rehabilitated loggerhead turtle at Iztuzu Beach Nederlands: “Kaptan” June bij het uitzetten van een gerevalideerde onechte karetschildpad op het Iztuzustrand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what is the deal about feeding turtles? Remember that famous person I mentioned? Meet Kaptan June. She is the reason Dalyan has remained unspoilt. In her fight to protect the turtles that lay eggs on Iztuzu beach, she with a little help from David Bellamy successfully stopped any building on or near the beach.  The turtles now have a new threat as increasingly tours to feed the turtles are being advertised (shame on any holiday firms that offer such trips). The boat will stop and lure in turtles to eat chicken. Chicken is not the natural diet for a turtle. And the turtles are also coming from the sea to the fresh water of the river to be fed, which is also not a good thing. We all love to see the turtles as that is what Dalyan is famous for, so instead of taking a trip to feed the turtles, get a dolmus to take you to Iztuzu and visit the sanctury where you will see turtles and learn about the dangers that they face then go tell everyone you meet in Dalyan not to feed the turtles!

And the cake? Go eat cake at Dalyan Iz.

If you want to find out more about what to do and see and eat in Dalyan, please contact me. If you have been to Dalyan I would love to hear from you.

 

9 reasons not to travel

Staff at the local travel agents will never recommend any where that they are going on holiday to me and my family. This is because they know about our track record for holiday disasters.

These are those I recall off the top of my head, in no particular order.

  1. Andros the sinking pedalo, when we are rescued by a speed boat
  2. Ibiza lilo adventure, when Tim floats out to sea and Phil has to scramble over a rough sea bed to save him
  3. Majorca: the Thomson Dream nightmare, planes are grounded because of a volcano and we endure a 48 hour journey home by boat and coach. The boat is over crowded and there are no cabins left, or so they tell us……
  4. Grand Canaria, thieves who stole a camera and cash from our coffee table, while we were in the same room
  5. The Hotel California experience, trapped in LA by Qantas grounding all planes in October 2011
  6. Florida, losing a 9 year old daughter in Church Street 
  7. Dalyan, an earthquake and a very near miss by a lightning strike
  8. Egypt Nile Cruise, the holiday that never was due to the coup and playing the waiting game to get a refund from the travel agent
  9. Fiji, evacuated from Bounty Island in a cyclone. This was the only time on our RTW trip that the FCO contacted us.

From: suvaconsular@fco.gov.uk

> To: coral
> Subject: Tropical Depression affecting Fiji

> Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2012 23:51:20 +0000

>
> Dear British Citizens,
>
> A severe flood warning remains in force for major rivers, streams and low lying areas of Western Viti Levu This has caused major flooding and has closed roads paticularly in Nadi Town and left both locals and tourists stranded.
>
> Should you wish to seek urgent consular assistance or know off any british nationals in need of urgent assitance please do not hestitate to contact us on the telephone number (679)3229100 or (679)3304746.
>
> In light of this adverse weather conditions, we will be grateful if you can confirm yuor safety and well being in Fiji. The Consular team would like you to monitor the latest situation on the Fiji Meteorological Service website: (www.met.gov.fj) or http://www.ukinfiji.fco.gov.uk for further update.
>
> Kind regards
> Consular Team.

Of course this won’t stop us travelling. Off to Dalyan again in 2 weeks time. The mission to take Mom to all the places she loved, begins.

PS just back from Dalyan. We had another earthquake. This prompted us to recall other holiday disasters….

10. The shoe bomber incident which meant we could not bring the wine we had bought in Kefalonia  back to the UK. We sold it around the pool and gave it to the reps.

11. The hurricane in Kefalonia that kept us in the hotel all day. I love storm watching so this was a treat for me but lots of moaning from others that they couldn’t sunbathe or use the pool.