Although we had vowed to have joint birthdays from now on, our yachtie friends at Didim Marina had other ideas!
On Jonathan‘s special day we started the celebrations with a sumptuous breakfast at the Yacht Club restaurant with our sailing buddies and next door neighbours, Sue and John.
Jonathan opened some of his presents and then it was back to our camper van to open his gift from me. He had no idea what was in store!
With the help of Sue and John I had purchased the gift in Didim and had managed to hide it without Jonathan cottoning on.
His face was a picture when he discovered he was now the proud owner of an electric scooter – something he had wanted for a long time!
I have to admit I was a little bit shocked when I saw on the packaging that the scooter was only recommended for use by people between 17 and 50 years old. Whoops, this was his 50+20th birthday.
It also said on the package “do not ride near water” but of course the first thing he did was ride it along the dock we are moored on!
Later that day we met up with our Didim Marina friends for drinks followed by dinner and a birthday cake. It was a great evening!
The celebrations continued the following night when a group of us went for a meal in a new-to-us Didim restaurant.
There was a good two-man (plus backing track) band playing. We all had a dance which was excellent fun (yes I know, ewww – old people dancing!)
A couple of days later our daughter Hannah and son-in-law Pieter arrived by air from the Netherlands and landed in Izmir.
After being told by the airline that they would arrive in the Domestic terminal they actually had to exit via the International terminal as that is where their luggage had ended up.
We waited patiently for them outside the appointed meeting place and when it was apparent they weren’t coming out, Jonathan left me there and drove round to the International terminal. He returned saying there was no sign of life there, let alone any sign of Hannah and Pieter. Eventually, we spotted them as they arrived by foot from the International terminal having already walked miles to find their luggage!
Considering that the Netherlands was enduring yet another lockdown and we were half expecting them to have to cancel their flight, the slight delay in picking them up felt like a small price to pay for their safe arrival!
The first day of their stay dawned sunny and bright so we decided to go for a drive to the nearby beach suburb of Altinkum.
As Jonathan started up the van, Pieter noticed a cat shoot away from underneath the front of it. We didn’t think anything more of it, mainly because we were all distracted by the discovery that the power steering appeared to have stopped working!
Jonathan decided to keep going – thinking we could drop into a garage to see what was up. We hadn’t got far down the road when horrible shrieking noises came from under the bonnet!
No, the screeching wasn’t another cat – it was the fan belt emitting the dreadful noise!
It was decided that Jonathan would cycle back to the marina (fortunately we had the bikes on the back of the van) and call for a mechanic to come. In the meantime, the rest of us would walk into Altinkum.
Jonathan joined us later as we sat in the sun enjoying our delicious coffees/fresh orange juice.
He told us that a mechanic had come to the van and in order to replace the fan belt had to get underneath the engine.
Apparently he could hear the guy chortling away to himself as he repaired the fan belt and between titters was calling out “kitty kitty kitty”.
Turns out, there was cat hair all over the fan belt and this had made it first slip, then come off completely! The cat that Pieter had seen shoot out from under the van earlier must have actually been asleep inside the lovely warm engine compartment. When the engine started, the poor animal must have had such a fright – and literally a close shave!
Later that day we visited the remains of the wonderful Temple of Apollo in Didyma, on the outskirts of Didim.
Now in ruins due to a series of earthquakes, the Temple of Apollo was once the fourth largest temple in the Ancient Greek world.
In its heyday the temple had an oracle – second in importance to the one in Delphi. Many rulers including Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar visited or sent emissaries to the oracle to seek guidance and favour from Apollo.
The last iteration of the temple (construction began around 300 BC and was still ongoing in the 4th Century AD,) was enormous – well over twice the size of the Parthenon in Athens.
A total of 122 massive columns, each 2.5 meters in diameter, rested on a podium of more than 5,500 square metres. Some of the columns are still in evidence today.
The walls of the temple rose to a towering height of nearly 28 metres above the ground!
We couldn’t visit Didyma without calling in to our favourite store in Didim – the local carpet shop!
The proprietor Öztan Çalli, delights in showing you almost every carpet in the shop. He is very charming, is a superb salesman and a has excellent English.
His father who ran the business before him, stands by proudly, adding little nuggets of information about the history and meaning of different designs and colours.
We had a lovely time looking at carpets, eating Turkish Delight, biscuits, drinking apple tea and then later, a plate of fresh fruit from Öztan’s farm.