Çeşme & Never A Dull Moment Part II

So last blog hubby and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our babysitter so that the two of us could go on our long-planned, romantic weekend to Çeşme (near to Izmir, on the western coast of Turkey; the “Ç” is pronounced like “ch” and the “ş” like “sh”):

10PM: No babysitter

11PM: No babysitter

11:30PM: Go to bed and try to sleep

4:00AM: I give up trying to sleep and head downstairs to check if babysitter has shown up.

4:02AM: No babysitter

7:00AM: I depart, solo, to the airport.

Rewind:
Prior to my departure, my husband and I had contemplated – I more briefly than he – leaving the boys alone at the house, thinking that there was probably a communication glitch between our Russian-speaking babysitter and not-so-great-Russian-speaking I and that the babysitter had probably understood that she should show up on Friday, not Thursday. We figured, worst case, if she didn’t show, one of us would catch a plane back to Istanbul.

The boys, by the way, absolutely endorsed this plan.

However, “probably” didn’t quite do it for me. That, combined with the fact that I still make my oldest’s P&B’s and still remind both kids to look both ways before they cross the street and “still” a gazillion other things, didn’t really make me feel confident about leaving them alone.

(And, yes, obviously I have some letting-go issues, combined with a need to actually let the boys prove they are the capable teens that they probably are but this mom is not quite ready to take the risk on ‘probably.’)

So…my husband had generously decided that if the babysitter was a no-show, he would stay home and start putting the kids through their paces and make them put their money where their we-can-be-left-alone-we-are-responsible-and-capable mouths were.

(BTW, if you are wondering why we just didn’t cancel the trip, the weekend was already paid for, non-refundable…figures, the one time when you wish you had an Accounts Payable balance.)

So, I left the house alone at 7AM and it felt oh so wrong.

Fast Forward (or, more aptly, slow forward):
At 8:13AM, I am sitting at the departure gate when I get a phone call from my husband.

Guess what?

Yep. The babysitter showed up.

Turns out she was stuck at the Bulgarian border (on her way back to Istanbul from Moldova)…for TWO DAYS (as it turns out NOT the fault of my poor Russian).

So, my husband catches a later flight, I meet him at the airport in Izmir, and off we go to our long-awaited romantic weekend.

Ahhhh, finally.

Side note: Yes, we had a brief discussion which centered around a reflective analysis of Plan A (leaving boys) and Plan B (me going alone), my husband’s analysis concluding that Plan A would have been the better choice, while mine maintained that Plan B was the correct choice in the end…after all, what if the babysitter had been stuck for a week at the border??? And, yes, as the last sentence indicates, I had the last word. And no, it did not ruin our lovely weekend. ; )

Onto Çeşme….it’s about an hour’s drive from Izmir, a reportedly lovely city on the water, its 2-coasted layout not dissimilar to Istanbul’s but on a smaller scale and with a drier climate (Istanbul is still very green despite the warm temps).

Çeşme juts out of Turkey and is right next to the Greek island of Chios (I am sure the question of ownership of the many islands that are scattered between the two countries is a reason for the less-than-lovable relationship between the two nations, although I have not yet delved into this topic yet…something for my ‘Turkey to do’ list).

Çeşme is situated on a bay. A windy bay. A very windy bay, actually. It is, in other words, a perfect place for windsurfers, kitesurfers, and any other pro-wind-activity seeker. It can be challenging for those who want to lazily lounge in the sun, the settling-in battle with towels, lounge mattress, hair and suntan lotion being a bit of a pain.

On the upside, you can – once settled and everything is bolted down, tucked in and secured – laze all day under the clear cerulean blue skies and never get overly hot (which we did and which is why there is only one picture of Çeşme).

The sea is aqua blue and lovely, the beach fairly large, with lovely soft sand. There are more beaches beyond the one I am describing, and they are supposedly also quite lovely. The beach we were on was quite built up, so, while nice, the walking area between water and sun chairs was narrower than the ideal. The surrounding area consists of hills and small mountains on one side – very picturesque framing the blue waters – and, as with Izmir, very dry. In fact, I am pretty sure I spied a few cacti.

As far as accommodations go, the largest hotel in the area appears to be the Sheraton, and that is where we stayed. I think a boutique hotel would catch the essence of the place even better, but, having said that, the Sheraton has nice accommodations, is very family friendly, offers meal plans, entertainment (at least for kids), and has a great pier with a bar and lounging area stocked with overstuffed (i.e. wind-resistant), comfy lounging pillows.

A few cultural notes:
We went to Çeşme at the end of Ramadan and over the national holiday of Bayram. Ramadan, or Ramazan in Turkish, is a religious observation for Muslims worldwide that takes place during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, the month in which the Quran was received.  Muslims fast between dawn and sunset (not even water is allowed, although there are exceptions for those unable to abstain for health reasons), as well as refrain from sexual relations and generally poor behavior (sexual relations not being included in this category) during that time…in summary, it is a time for Muslims to make an extra effort to follow the teachings of Islam (Wikipedia, 2012). Ramadan is not a holiday in terms of time off from work.

Bayram, on the other hand – Ramazan Bayrami (Sugar Feast), to be specific (bayram just means ‘holiday’), is a 3-day national holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan and fasting. So, as the name implies, many sweets are eaten to mark this holiday and the end of the fasting period. Sounds like a good ending to me.

Hubby and I returned well-rested and well-relaxed after a nice weekend.

All was calm.

Oh, for about 5 seconds.

Then we discovered that our washing machine is leaving black marks all over our clothes.

Oh. And we have mold all over our basement.

Where all our winter clothes are stored.

And our suitcases.

And all our scrapbooks, albums and other memorabilia.

Including tax returns (the not-so-fun memorabilia).

And Xmas decorations, and and and…you get the picture.

Oh, and the air conditioning appears to be leaking from some broken pipe somewhere in the floors/ceilings.

At the risk of repeating myself…

…there is never a dull moment.

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