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Şile, August 2015

Last (European) summer, after my exams, I went travelling with my partner through Europe. We caught buses and trains from Istanbul up to Berlin, then flew back to Oxford, over the course of about a month. Unsurprisingly that involved thousands and thousands of photos, so I'm going to be highly selective and also split the trip into a few posts. First up: Turkey.

I actually got to Turkey about a week before Camille, who was busy doing important things in Beijing. So while I waited for her, I went to Şile, a Black Sea resort town I had never heard of (and still haven't, really) on the promise of beaches. I'm reading the Wikipedia article as I write this, and realising that I didn't even look the place up on Wikipedia before I went there. I was really flying blind.

If you're also reading the Wikipedia page, you'll see that there's a bus from Üsküdar in Istanbul. This makes things sound significantly easier than it is. Üsküdar is a really big place. I didn't actually take any photos of it, because I was busy panicking about whether I'd ever find the bus. Here's one, just as I came out of the metro and before the panic set in:

There's about as much on this side of the river as you can see on the opposite side in this photo, and it's all Üsküdar. I honestly don't know how I managed. Eventually I found a bus, whose driver directed me to an office, which was an ice cream shop, where my currency was refused (too old), but I was eventually able to get a ticket and get moving.

The bus then took a long time. When I got there, I didn't know where I was or where my hotel was. I tried to show the address to some taxi drivers, none of whom spoke English. (Nobody in Sile speaks English.) Apparently I showed them something that was not the address, but we figured it out, and I got to my room. By this time it was dusk, and I was exhausted and seriously considering just going to sleep.

In one of my better decisions, I didn't, because I was really hungry. So I went walking, and was rewarded with the most stunning sunset I've ever seen.

(I've just discovered, again via Wikipedia, that the giant Turkish flag on the castle is there because it was in the process of being restored, to hilarious effect.)

So, I circled round, being impressed and pleased, and eventually walking along the waterfront found a restaurant, with tables in the sand and waves lapping around the legs of the chairs. The place was run by a large, gregarious man who spoke more-than-Şile-average English, which is to say about six words. He promised to give me enough food to make me very full, which he duly did.


I did not have enough money to pay for this food. And, for some reason, I'd only brought lira (apparently not many!), and not any of my cards, with me. Large Gregarious Restaurateur was not impressed. I promised to go back to my hotel for more money and then come back, but obviously he didn't understand what I was saying, or believe me, and so he generally looked extremely rueful and annoyed to be letting me go, but what could he do.

So, tail between my legs, I walked as quickly as my now-very-full stomach would let me back to the hotel, picked up more money, scribbled down an apology and explanation on a piece of cardboard via Google Translate, and went back. LGR was apparently so shocked by my return, or touched by my garbled note, that he gave me a free beer. At some point in this whole experience, we also headbutted each other, which I think must have been some sort of custom, but again, we couldn't communicate, so it's hard to say.

Then I walked home, via a very lively main street, and went to bed. I spent the rest of the week getting really lost, because I didn't have a map, and wandering around this pretty town and eating really spectacular seafood. Nothing else that happened really had any good story to accompany it, but you can have a look.

There were a lot of these dogs around, who were all pretty mangy, but really happy, and kind of noble.