I was 18. I’d just left school. University and a whole world beckoned with what felt like a wide open shore of opportunity. The world was my oyster, and I was determined to seek out the pearl.
To celebrate our coming of age and to have one last blast as school-friends before heading off to separate universities, myself & two friends went on a package holiday to Turkey.
This might not sound massively adventurous, but I knew very little about Turkey. At the time, I’d never flown without one of my parents, I’d never been on a holiday with friends, and I’d never experienced an all-inclusive package resort holiday.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t travelled. As a child, my parents had taken me all over the place, to historic sites and capital cities, staying in apartments and hotels and country cottages. But my family is always quite an active one on holiday. Occasional we’ll spend an afternoon reading our books by the pool, but usually we’re doing something, seeing the sights, experiencing new cultures – even just strolling around the local area. I’d never been on a holiday before that was completely dedicated to the beach.
But most people who go to Marmaris go there for the beach, the warm waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, and for the nightlife.
Result: a whole new kind of holiday for me.
We spent most of our days lying on the beach. We spent most of our nights drinking & dancing in the bars all along the seafront. I saw practically nothing of the ‘real’ Turkey, outside of the little world of resorts and beach cafes and organised tours that were put there specifically for tourists like us. But for once I didn’t really mind. For once, this piece of travel wasn’t all about soaking up the culture.
It was about relaxing. It was about lying in the sun and letting the past 5 (or even 6 or 7) years of pressured school- and holiday-work just ebb away. It was about letting my hair down and cementing friendships before we all went our separate ways. Really, it was just about having fun.
And we did.
We took a boat trip around some of the coves where we jumped in to swim in the crystal clear waters. We took a trip to a local sandy beach where we lay in the sun and occasionally took a dip in the sea. We went to a mud bath and sulphur springs. We even went quad biking – which, by the way, is definitely not my forte.
Closer to the resort, we spend long evenings playing cards together before hitting up the bars. We danced the nights away. I think that was the only time in my life when I’ve known nearly all the chart-toppers – something which stood me in good stead for Freshers’ Week when I started university a fortnight later.
When I did get to university, I was still brimming with that summer holiday feeling and a real social buzz that meant I very quickly made friends. Because I knew (and could dance to) all the chart hits, I also very quickly got a reputation at university as a bit of a party animal – a reputation that I never lost all the time I was there, despite the fact that I never really lived up to it after that first week. I guess it just shows how important first impressions can be!
It was an experience I’d always wanted, this different kind of holiday, and I enjoyed it. It isn’t the sort of travel I’d fall back on any time soon – I’m still much more of an explorer than a relaxer – but at that moment in my life, it was exactly what I needed.