I figured I should learn some manners in the local language so googled how to say thank you. Teşekkür ederim. Okay, this was not an easy word to remember unlike gracias which everyone somehow knows whether they speak Spanish or not, or obrigada which just rolls off your tongue. I recited teşekkür ederim on several occasions and spent the next few days practicing it on unsuspecting hotel staff. Their eyes lit up with surprise and their mouths rewarded me warm smiles.
The day before my birthday, I approached the transport company at the hotel and asked how much it would cost to visit the Olympus Mountain. It was forty euros but there was a young couple going there the next morning and I could split the fare with them if I wanted.
So the next day, I became acquainted with a Sri Lankan couple - Abi and Jay - from the UK. They had a six-month-old baby who couldn't seem to stop staring at me throughout the drive. I was surprised at how they were dressed. It was still winter in Turkey and despite the bright sun and clear blue sky, it was cold. Abi wore a thin cardigan and open-toed sandals; Jay wore a t-shirt and jeans and the baby was coatless. I on the other hand, donned knee length socks under leggings under three-quarter harem pants - all black of course. My puffy green coat from Costco kept my upper body nice and warm.
Conversing with Abi was refreshing. I was holidaying with my older sister and her husband and was quite bored of them. And as much as I loved my three-year-old niece and two-month-old nephew, I was tired of being a third parent. It also felt really good to leave the resort (it had been stormy the past two days) and do something active.
We took the cable car up to the top of the mountain where we were met with a breathtaking view of snowy peaks. Clouds floated peacefully below us, and miles down, there lay a small town followed by the vast sea twinkling in the midday sun. I soaked in the view with deep gratitude.
I thought there'd be an opportunity to explore the summit but Olympus Mountain was more of a viewpoint; I walked around the area in a couple of minutes. On our way back, Abi mentioned they were going into town to do a boat ride and invited me along.
So after a quick lunch of lentil soup at the hotel, I went to Kemer town with them and discovered Moonlight Beach - a beautiful little cove home to three cafes. We did a 45 minute boat ride around the coast, discovering all the nooks and crannies of the sandy cliff and pausing at a beautiful little waterfall. The good-looking captain let me drive the boat for a few minutes at the end; it wasn't that exciting but I appreciated the experience all the same. And once we were back on land, we naturally walked into Dakapo, a rustic café on the beach.
After Abi and Jay had left, my sister, her husband and the children joined me. We had dinner indoors by the window, watching the day turn into a beautiful dusk. One of the waiters lit a fire in a brazier, casually adding a plastic crate.
'Does he not know how toxic that is?' I asked.
'Clearly not,' replied my sister.
After dinner, we went outside and sat at a table furthest away from the café and fire and ordered some Turkish tea and shisha. My niece had never seen shisha before and I could see she wanted to smoke it with us. I offered her the pipe and she extended her little hand to take it. At the last second, I snatched it back and laughed.
'You can smoke shisha when you're big like me,' I said.