Today was the day that we were leaving Greece behind and moving on to the destination for the final portion of our holiday: Turkey. Despite Greece and Turkey not always being the best of friends, there are regular ferries between Rhodes and Marmaris, with the journey taking slightly more than an hour. We were booked on a 9am ferry from Rhodes Town this morning.
That meant we had a fairly early start, with my alarm set for 6am. When I'd booked the hire car for Rhodes, I'd asked to hand it back at the port at 07.30. This was on the basis that the instructions with the ferry ticket said we needed to be at the terminal to check in at least an hour in advance, so 08.00, and it sometimes takes a bit of time to sort out all the paperwork that goes with returning a hire car. We checked out of our apartment in Faliraki as the sun was coming up and drove to the main tourist port in Rhodes.
We got there without any difficulties but, having arrived, it wasn't clear what to do next. There wasn't an obvious office for the company that we were renting from and there weren't loads of parking options either. While Tim drove round in circles, I phoned the 24-hour contact number on the rental contract to try and find out what we were supposed to be doing.
I got through to a man who spoke a little bit of English and explained that we were at the port with the car. He didn't seem to fully appreciate the problem and said that we could park it wherever we liked. When I asked what we were supposed to do with the keys, he said to leave them in the car When I asked him to clarify that, he said we could put them under the mat on the drivers' side of the car, leave the car unlocked and take a photo of where we'd parked it to send to the company's WhatsApp number. I asked him what the WhatsApp number was and he said he didn't know, which was helpful. He said I could email a picture of the car instead if I didn't have the correct number.
How bizarre!!! It didn't really feel right to abandon the car unlocked by the side of the road and go catch the ferry, but we didn't have any other option. Tim managed to manoeuvre the car into a suitable spot and then took multiple photos and videos to record what we'd done. I emailed the rental company straight away from my phone, attaching one of the photos, and saying that we'd called the office and been told this was what we should do. They replied half an hour later to say thanks. I'm still not sure whether I think the most bizarre part of this story is that they wanted us to leave the car unlocked at the roadside or that they didn't think they should have explained that to us at the point we picked up the car!
Once we'd done all we could, we made our way to the port where we had to queue to check in for the boat to Marmaris. We queued for quite a long time, seemingly while all the staff sat and drank some coffee before opening up the check-in desks. The check-in procedure itself was pretty quick. We had to pay €15 of port tax each which hadn't been included in the tickets I'd originally purchased online.
Once we'd paid the tax and had our boarding passes we had to join another queue, this time outside the passport control office. The sign on the door said it opened an hour before departure of the ferry, but in reality it was more like 45 minutes before. Passport control was quick and easy and we were soon stamped out of Greece. We were the first people to board the ferry and it looked like a big one, so I figured there would be plenty of empty seats.
It turned out I was completely wrong and by the time the ferry departed at 9am, everywhere was completely full. I hadn't realised that Marmaris is popular as a day-trip destination from Rhodes. There were very few other people on the ferry with suitcases. Most other passengers seemed to be British tourists on holiday in Rhodes who were coming to Marmaris for the day, seemingly to do some shopping. The ferry was returning from Marmaris at 5pm.
The journey itself was pretty quick and some time after 10am my phone welcomed me to Turkey, where sending a text would apparently cost 74p and making or receiving a call would set me back £2.34/minute! The downside of being the first people onto the boat was that that made us the last people off. We must have queued for around half an hour to get through Turkish passport control, just because of the sheer volume of people ahead of us in the queue. The only saving grace was that the area we were queuing in was nice and shady.
Once we were safely stamped into Turkey, our next challenge was to pick up the new hire car. Organising car rental for the Turkish part of the trip had been quite difficult, because most of the rental firms I could find in Marmaris would only rent a car if you wanted to both pick it up in and return it to Marmaris. We are flying home from Bodrum airport, so I needed a firm which would let us have a one-way rental. I eventually managed to book it with Europcar, which was great. The only downside was that their offices were on the opposite side of Marmaris to the port, so we had a walk of a couple of miles ahead of us to reach it.
We made it in the end and picked up the car, which is a Fiat Egea and much bigger than I was expecting. They only wanted to hold a deposit of 3000 Turkish Lira (around £90) on Tim's credit card, which didn't seem like a lot. Once we'd finished with all the paperwork and inspecting the car we were absolutely starving, so we decided to leave it where it was and walk back into central Marmaris to get some lunch.
Now that we weren't walking and dragging our suitcases, we were able to relax and enjoy the scenery.
There's a long promenade lined with palm trees which goes along by the sea for a couple of kilometres.
The views out to sea from here are really beautiful, with a hilly and wooded coastline.
Marmaris itself is a typical holiday resort, full of big hotels and apartment blocks. I hadn't booked for us to stay overnight here after I'd read the guidebook comparing it to Blackpool. It certainly seemed to be a resort which was focussed on catering to British tourists, as evidenced by the number of cafes offering not only full English breakfast but also full Scottish breakfasts. If we'd wanted to watch Luton play Burnley we would have had a choice of venues! And some restaurants were even advertising their breakfast prices in pounds.
We chose a restaurant which didn't seem too tacky and sat down with a nice view.
I got given a wine glass which was nearly as big as a goldfish bowl!
After lunch we walked back along the coast and picked up the car.
From there we had a drive of around an hour and 15 minutest to our destination for the next couple of nights: Dalyan. The accommodation I've booked in Turkey isn't as impressive as the accommodation we've had in Greece, so we're just staying in a fairly standard hotel here.
We've got a living room with a random extra single bed in it...
...and then an actual normal bedroom.
The best part about this accommodation is the price: it's going to work out as about £35 per night.
Once we'd settled in for a bit we set out to see a bit of Dalyan.
It's a really pretty little town with some amazingly colourful flowers in places.
As we walked towards the town centre, we got our first glimpse of what Dalyan is famous for: the rock tombs.
These tombs were carved into the rock by the Lycians, around 400 BC.
Why the Lycians carved tombs into the rock I've got no idea, but they've very impressive to look at.
There's a really nice promenade alongside the river, from where you can admire the views.
The river itself is very attractive too.
There are lots of little excursion boats which go up and down it during the day.
As we explored the promenade further we saw two Turkish flags flying.
Just behind the flags we found the town's mosque.
The flags were flanking a statue, but no idea who it was of.
Eventually we came to the end of the waterside promenade.
We had a final look at the ancient tombs...
...then went in search of somewhere to get dinner. We quickly found a nice restaurant down a side street where the staff weren't pushy and we could sit outside. We ordered two meals to split between us: garlic chicken and something called a Dalyan kebab (see picture below) which was chicken, onion and tomato wrapped in what was described as a "Turkish pancake" and baked in the oven with cheese. There was a bit too much tomato in it for me, but it was nice to try something local!
We finished it off with a pancake covered in honey and strong Turkish coffee.
Our first day in Turkey has been a lot of fun. We're looking forward to exploring more tomorrow!