Posted by: martinworster | July 8, 2004

20. TURKEY, ROME, STOLEN PHONE

When in Rome, Ode To Keats, mobile robbery, Turkish delights and Istanbul wasn’t built in a day.

 I lost my third mobile of the year last week. Well actually it was snatched from my hand whilst I was drunkenly walking home one night. I remember talking into it and then suddenly it wasn’t there. I started to chase a little chico who I thought it was and got him against the wall, and then thought, hang on, this could be some innocent whippersnapper out for the night. I let the urchin go. It happened very fast and annoyingly all my numbers were in it. It’s the third phone I’ve had to replace this year. One lost, one damaged after falling in a lake and the latest stolen. Vodaphone 3. Moi 0.

So this summer I had a lovely two weeks in Turkey. I went with Melissa and we had three nights in Istanbul and then the rest at a place called Olu Deniz on the turquoise coast. Istanbul is a great city to get lost in exploration. The whole East meets West thing and all the history which I won’t bore you with. Then we flew south to the coast to the ‘all inclusive’ package segment of our trip. At first I found this hard to acclimatise too. Everything you eat, drink, do is free all the time. The resort was very British and bordered on the tacky with lots of football shirts and Sunday roasts in the pubs. Everything was in pounds too. It was a nice place to base ourselves and explore the region in a hire car. There’s so much to see here. The place is littered with ruins, some of them very well preserved and in majestic coastal spots. Driving around the little roads one day we saw loads of wild tortoises. I was stoked. Then we even saw a pair of tortoises humping. I was even more stoked. I got a picture of the tortoises in coitus.

I’d really recommend Turkey. Cheap, warm, friendly people, absolutely gorgeous landscapes and coastlines, history and culture. We loved it and I will return. All inclusives aren’t too bad either. At first I hated it. It was a bit public school regime like with the three meals a day, sat near to families with screaming kids. But after a while I relaxed into and it and realised the benefits of not having to think about getting food, it was just there for you. I put on weight with all the ice cream, beers, and three three course meals a day.

I also had a weekend in Rome. Rome wasn’t built in a day you know, so when I was in Rome I did lots of touristy things. Let me tell you one of the highlights for me was visiting the place where John Keats (Romantic Poet) died which is close to the Spanish Steps. I had never been to Rome before and as its on the Paris – London – New York axis you see on trendy shopping bags I thought I’d better. So John Keats, yes I actually visited the house where he lived and died from tuberculosis – or consumption as it was known – at the ridiculously young age of 26. The original die young rock star who became famous after his death. Forget Kurt Cobain, Hendrix, Nick Drake, this guy was at it centuries ago. I saw the room where he died which overlooks the Spanish steps – the photo I took has come out all weird and ghostly. There’s loads of relics at the house-turned-museum including a lock of Keats hair, death masks, letters, his library, photographs etc.

Keats is also buried in the non-Catholic cemetery in Rome so I also trekked out there to find it had closed early but I peaked over the wall at the tombs and gravestones. Rest in peace, truth is beauty, beauty is truth.

When in Rome I of course took in all of the more usual tourist haunts – the Coliseum, Vatican, museums, strolling by the Tiber (I am always reminded of Enoch Powel’s Rivers of Blood speech at the mention of this), eating pizza, dodging scooters and drinking cappuccinos. I was definitely swept up by the romance and history of the place. Feels like I’ve been on a bit of a Grand Tour this summer, what with Turkey too, and I’ve definitely had my share of antiquity and ancient relics.

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