Trust me to pick the end of Ramadan to fly to Bodrum. Of course half the population was trying to travel across the country to see relatives and after 30 days of fasting there were some frayed tempers at the airport, including mine.
I was travelling with my bike in its bike bag (plus a few saucepans, tools, sailing magazines and other random stuff), a huge expandable suitcase on wheels (the biggest John Lewis could offer) that was crammed with so much sh!t I had to buy a holdall at the airport in order to free up some weight, my rucksack packed full of clothes, cables and crap, and my hand luggage, which weighed a ton too. I caught the afternoon flight from Heathrow to Istanbul, no problem, but I arrived late and had to stay in a ‘four’ star hotel that should have been a 5 minute drive away.
- Due to congestion the journey took half an hour and the only thing four star about the hotel was the swimming pool on the roof, and that had been drained.
- The 0530 pick-up in the morning was closer to 0600.
- When I got to the domestic terminal there were huge queues sprawling out the building waiting for the first security check.
- With a 0705 flight the fact I then had to go to the international terminal to pick up my left luggage didn’t help.
- The queues to the check-in made things unbearable.
- People shouting and screaming at staff made it impossible.
- Having to queue again to pay for excess baggage whilst the check-in held my luggage had me sweating.
- Getting back with just 15 minutes to go before take off had me having kittens.
- To top it all off the check-in bint had put my entire luggage on the hold, including my hand luggage. This wouldn’t have been so bad except it contained my lap-top, a 300Gb hard drive, video camcorder, digital camera, two ipods and two mobile phones.
Since half the airport was by now kicking off big style I thought I’d throw in my two-pence worth and swear like a sailor (of course) to add to the commotion. The b@st@rd security guard wouldn’t let me jump to the front of the second security check so I had to get to the back of the queue, hopping from one foot to the other as the information board flashed “gate closing” for my flight.
I made it though. “Relax”, I told myself, which I would have done had it not been for the fact that when I got off at the other end I discovered some baggage-handling **** had swiped one of my phones. I didn’t even have time to report it because the only bus to Bodrum was about to leave. Surely things couldn’t get worse than this? Fortunately they didn’t.
I was greeted by the lovely Nilgun at Bodrum bus station. Liz and I met Nilgun on our previous trip to Turkey and she had agreed to be our guide, interpreter, Turkish language teacher and drinking partner. She had arranged for me to be taken to the yacht by pick-up truck. It was a bright day, the warmth a welcome break from the damp London I had just left behind, and as we drove to the boat yard the air was suffocated with the sound of drilling, electric sanders, welding, yacht-lifts, engines, hammers….and crickets. There really is something quite special about boat-yards.
Within an hour of my arrival I had someone looking at the shaft (a necessary repair job, unfortunately), whilst I busied myself down below deck. I started to make an inventory and gave up after finding my fourth tool box! The boat has everything, including travel iron and vacuum cleaner, tv, stereo and a fully kitted out galley. Obviously security wasn’t an issue for the previous owner since there are many far more important items to replace, and if I thought a travel Dirt Devil was going to help me navigate my way out of a storm then I’m only fooling myself, but it wasn’t a bad start.
Night drew in quickly and early, and was made darker by the thunder clouds rolling in over the hills behind me. I was caught out by it and still hadn’t found the shore power cable so when Mark (our boat surveyor) turned up in the slashing rain he found me scrabbling around in the dark by candle light. Of course within two seconds he’d got the batteries cranked up and we had light, but I knew they wouldn’t be up to much so getting a 220v connection was to be my priority next day.
So how did it feel being aboard our new boat for the first time as an official owner? Well it had a been a long day and there was so much to take in, but of course every time I looked around me a huge grin would appear and I patted myself on my back at making one of the best moves I’ve made in my life. No doubt the near future will hold some frustrations, cursing, blood, sweat and tears as we begin to add up how much all this is going to cost in terms of money, heartache and effort, but hey, don’t take our dream away from us, ok?