When my wife and I go on holiday we eschew the normal bucket trips when we can. Lounging on beaches is not normally our thing; we prefer something that allows us to explore new parts of the world and see interesting things. In recent years we have seen the pyramids and temples of Egypt, visited friends in South America and travelled the canyon lands of Nevada and Utah.
Unfortunately, all of these things cost a good deal of money and, since we have just mortgaged our souls for a new kitchen, this year it was not an option. We decided therefore that a cheap bucket trip would be just the thing to get us away from the chores of home life and get us some much needed relaxation and sunshine.
Turkey seemed like a good option, not least because it doesn’t have the Euro as its currency and therefore it seemed likely that we would be able to afford to eat when we got there. Although we agreed that we would spend the holiday relaxing, reading and generally lounging about, we still wanted something interesting to see, so we chose Side as not only is it well away from the wild nightlife of Bodrum, it is also littered with old Roman remains.
I mentioned in my previous blog the trials of actually getting to and from our chosen holiday, but whilst we were actually there we had a great time. Things didn’t bode well initially: the first night that we were there it rained. Now, when I say rained that is something of an understatement, like saying that the Sahara is a bit sunny or the North Pole is a tad nippy: it absolutely p***** down. And the thunder and lightening, right overhead, was the most impressive I have ever witnessed.
Our British experience of weather causes us to be somewhat pessimistic in these situations, imagining that the rain is settled in for the week and our holiday is ruined. However, after about an hour it was all gone and, although we could enjoy watching the lightening roll around the Med for the next couple of nights, it never bothered us again.
The rest of the holiday was very hot and sunny and we spent more time lounging on the beach and by the pool than we ever have in the past – even my wife, who doesn’t like lying in the sun at all and instead carefully curls up under the shade of a beach umbrella. We didn’t turn entirely into vegetables for the week, we did explore the ruins, peruse the shops and, typically, on the windiest afternoon, have a go at parasailing, but mostly we relaxed and read books in the sun.
The trouble with lying on a beach with nothing much to do is that your mind wanders, and mine got to thinking: why do we lie in the sun? I know that it is relaxing, but that is not the main objective: I was surrounded by (mainly) Brits, Germans and Russians many of whose sole purpose for being there was to get a sun tan: why?
Okay, I can see that a sun tan is perceived as making you more attractive and giving a ‘healthy’ colour – warnings about skin cancer not withstanding. On that basis I can understand why thin, young, attractive people do it, but what about the rest of us? For the majority of people on the beach getting a tan was the least of their worries for making them attractive!
I know that my body is best covered up. I am not the sort of person who whips off his shirt at every opportunity, so why does it matter whether my stomach is a rich mahogany colour? Despite my ample size, I was by no means exceptional on the beach: I worried about the danger from harpooning for some of my fellow sunbathers when they ventured near the water – surely they don’t regularly expose their ample bodies to show off their tan.
And when do you decide that enough is enough? Some of the people on the beach had skin the colour and texture of an old, worn, leather chesterfield sofa; surely they can’t need more sun? The attractive healthy glow passed these folks by years ago and they are now in danger of becoming crispy.
I can only conclude that this is all a throw back to the sixties and seventies when foreign holidays first took off. In those days it was a way of showing off you status: a good tan meant that you were wealthy and adventurous enough to go abroad. I guess we just can’t shake the habit even though pretty much every Tom, Dick and Harriet can afford to venture off to sunny climes these days.
Whatever the reason, we’re clearly not dedicated enough. On our last day, whilst wandering around Side we were accosted by a Turkish waiter seeking to temp us into his restaurant. ‘You are pale’, he said, ‘but never mind, when you have been here a week you will be brown.’ Bleedin’ cheek!