Sunday 10 December 2006

Autumn or Winter?

Inevitably, writing this blog was overlooked as I got busy living. Adding a new post isn't an indication that I've stopped living, just that I'm trying to get some order to my existence and I've found a slot to keep this bad boy fresh. So the new plan is this:

6am-7am : Reading (currently Richard Branson's autobiography 'Losing my Virginity')
7am-8am : Personal Development (currently working on my handwriting which includes re-learning how to hold a pen. Not the easiest task at 31)
8am-9am : Exercise (I run every other day down to the Marti Hotel in Kadinlar Denizi and back. This is about 30 minutes. When I get back I start the weights and sit-ups etc)
9am-10am : Shit, shower, shave and breakfast.
10am-? : Working

But on Sunday's I've booked a slot for writing this blog. Let's see how long it lasts.

I figured that if I carry on waking at midday and generally milling about, I'm not going to get far in life. It could also be a combination of reading 'Getting things done' by David Allen (a fantastic book giving to me by my great friend Sam) and the wise words of Mr Branson. I find the Branson book inspiring but at the back of my mind I'm aware that he was a public school boy, born with a bank account at Coutts & Co. Oh well, between him and Alan Sugar, I'm sure there's room for me.

So apologies for the absence. What has changed since I last posted? The most noticeable thing was the abandonment of Kusadasi on the 1st November. I walked down into town that morning and it was like something out of the film '28 Days Later'. The shops were closed, the cars gone. There were no salesman muttering random English quips at me. Kusadasi had been deserted. Only the occasional ship comes to port now. So rarely that I forget the last time. Only then will you see a few shops opening and the vultures of taxi drivers and perfume sellers hovering around the port entrance. Apart from that, Kusadasi is resting for moment until the preparation for 2007 begins.

I saw the season start and end this year. By all accounts it was one of the worst seasons on record. A friend tells me that last year their hotel had nearly 7,000 room nights (how they measure success in the hotel business apparently), this year it was nearer 1,000. The prediction for next year is a lot worse. There are going to be lots of casualties in the Tourist industry.

I feel sad when I hear such things. Turkey has so much to offer but it's not communicated to potential holiday makers and those that actually come don't get a chance to see the right things. The complaint here is that as the prices of flights and holidays has gone down, so has the quality of tourist. It's very un-British to talk like this but the Turks are a little more honest. Years ago, Turkey was an unusual destination, something exotic. Now it's a cheap and cheerful alternative to Spain. Consider the work of a Turkish Carpet salesman trying and sell carpets worth thousands of pounds (and deservedly priced) to a working class family from England who are more used to car boot sales and Poundland. I don't want to sound like a snob, I'm just trying to highlight the change in Tourism and how it effects the local economy.

Even more hard work are the tourists coming from the Balkan region who are in real financial hardship. I hear stories of filling their pockets with salami from the breakfast buffet and cooking it on stoves in hotel rooms to avoid paying for lunch and dinner.

The hotel industry in Kusadasi is in a bad way. With 90% of the town taken up with hotels, the supply far outweighs the demand. The problem with the Turkish style of business is that if someone sees someone doing something successfully, the entire town will jump on the band wagon. So when hotels started to do well here, the world and his wife opened their own hotels. Unfortunately Kusadasi doesn't have the same building restrictions of prettier towns like Bodrum so every hotel adds to the concrete jungle. Before you know it, you have created a monster that is simply not appealing to tourists anymore.

OK enough already. I'm going to get off my high horse and tell you about something else I learned over the past months... Turkish coffee. Making a good Turkish coffee is a skill few people have. I am still training but I'm about 2nd dan now. The holy grail of Turkish coffee is the 'kopruk' or bubbles. Everyone wants bubbles on their coffee. The bubbles are so appealing with their technicolour sheen. So, anyway, how do you make a good Turkish coffee?

1. Start with your Turkish coffee pot (what, you haven't got one? Have a cup of tea then).

2. Add one level teaspoon of Turkish coffee for each cup. You can get Turkish coffee from most supermarkets in the UK, but if you want the best, go to the 'Little Hunter' in Izmir ;)

3. Use the coffee cups to measure the water needed. One cup per cup obviously.

4. Turkish coffee is drunk 'sade' (plain), 'orta' (medium sweet) or 'sekerli' (sweet). Plain has no sugar. For medium, add one cube of sugar and sweet add two per cup.

5. Put the coffee on a medium/low heat and don't stir. This is the secret to a bubble fest. Don't stir a thing. Just wait.

6. Be careful. I took my eyes off the pot for a moment while I sneezed and this was the result. Watch the bastard thing.

7. There you have it. A perfect Turkish coffee. Granted the bubbles should be in the cup and not on the worktop but that comes with my 3rd dan.

According to my schedule, I should be having my haircut. So, until next time...