For about 8 days, 8-10 hours a day, this was my view. Occasionally punctuated by a nap or a float in the sea. Not a swim, just a float. I’m on vacation after all.
I hesitate to be one of those people who goes on and on about her vacation. But can I go on for a moment about my vacation? If you like you can even skip all the words and go straight to the photos at the end. If you want. Your call.
Last week I spent a lovely time in Side (pronounced like see-day), a town in Turkey situated right on the Mediterranean. I know, Turkey, right? Some folks who knew about my plans were very concerned about my safety.
“But what if you get involved in a hostage situation?!”
I was never, to my knowledge, even close to being involved in a hostage situation. Things were quite quiet in Side. The deadliest threats I faced were sunburn and second-hand smoke. Oh, and that one day when a man showed up on the beach sporting a snorkel mask, a full jungle-green camouflage wet suit, and a harpoon gun. For the rest of the day we were on the lookout when getting in the water, not sure where he was and if he was going to mistake one of our thighs for a sea bass.
The reason we ended up in Side, of all places, was somewhat roundabout and I truly knew next to nothing about it before I got there, having abdicated almost all vacation-planning responsibilities. (I’m a truly fantastic travel partner.) My only request (of course I managed to find the energy to come up with a request) was that we go to a sandy beach. No more pebbly beaches for me. I’m absolutely done with pebbles. I have sensitive feet.
And I was so thrilled upon arrival to find that the beach in Side was perfectly sandy! And the water was so clear and blue! And I could walk pretty far out into the sea on a bed of soft sand without having the water go over my head. Which meant I could play in the waves without worrying about drowning. And I could easily float around. (I’m a terrible swimmer but an excellent floater.)
And when not floating I sat on the beach under an umbrella and read. Despite using sunscreen and being under an umbrella, I was burned to a crisp. My apologies if this is TMI, but the peeling was horrific. At one point I swear I looked down and at my feet lay a husk of myself, a la a molting cicada. After the burning I took more precautions and wore a t-shirt during my floats. And while reading I still sat under the umbrella but also shrouded myself in my hat, a sarong, and a variety of scarves. While the peeling has mostly stopped, the aftermath of the burning has left me with a bit of a freckle situation. This is a new (and somewhat alarming) thing for me. While I think freckles are fantastic on other people, I’m not thrilled to have them myself. As a 34-year-old woman who continues to be plagued with the very real problem of people consistently guessing her age to be between 16 and 22 (which is, by the way, not a compliment), what I decidedly do not need is a new facial feature that has the potential to make me look even younger. Woe is me. On the other hand, in the long-term this sun damage will probably lead to wrinkles, which will definitely make me look older. So perhaps this is a glass half full kind of thing.
Anyway, as I was saying, there was a lot of delightful floating and beaching going on. And then, when the sun was getting ready to set, we would manage to peel ourselves out of the lounge chairs and head out to explore. Right behind the sandy beaches of Side are lots of beautiful Roman ruins. Are these the biggest and most impressive Roman ruins on the face of the earth? Maybe not. But I was super impressed. (full disclosure: I’m easily impressed.) And there is really something magical about spending an entire day at the sea and then walking through Roman ruins in your beach clothes on your way back to town.
Side was great. Lots of tourists (Europeans, mostly) go there and it’s a resort area for sure, but it was the perfect spot to rest and relax and contemplate the end of the last two years and my upcoming return to the United States. I highly recommend Side.
And yes, I’ve officially closed my service and am now a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV). I have thoughts about this, which I will share, but for the moment I must get back to vacationing. You see, I’m in Crete right now currently embroiled in the serious task of eating a piece of baklava the size of my head. It’s a hard job, but I’m an RPCV. I’ll find a way.