Tag Archives: bath

Kos and Bodrum – places to pass through

After my trip around Rhodes, I tasked myself with finding my way into Turkey. I was very keen to see Istanbul but thought it would be nice to take the scenic route. This meant taking a couple of ferries, one to Kos, and the next along to Bodrum.

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Leaving my trusty quad outside the shop I’d rented it from in the early hours I made my way to the port, and found it easy enough to find the right boat, buy a ticket on the quay and jump on board. Several hours and one nap later I arrived at the island of Kos. Quite striking on arrival thanks to the impressive fort built on the harbour side. It also had a wonderful greenness to it that was missing from Rhodes. Even a famous tree, supposedly the tree under which Hippocrates taught students medicine.

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I wasted no time and paid the reasonable price for entry into the castle. It’s probably more impressive from the outside, but still nice to have a look around especially as I had time to fill. There’s nothing in there other than walls, but having a clamber around is entertaining enough. It was easily the highlight of Kos town though, and it would’ve been nice to spend a little more time in there.

IMG_20160830_134507569After leaving I strolled through the town, plenty of tacky looking party bars offering various drinks offers, and lots of restaurants well stocked with English food. Have to admit was a surprise at first, but as the town was explore, more and more English accents were heard. There’s a small Roman amphitheatre out the back side of town, small but in excellent condition and free to have a look at. Worth the walk out if you have some time. A couple other little sights, temples, gates and walls make the town a little more interesting, but only a couple hours after arriving I was ready to head on. I got a tasty breakfast and prepared to wait for the next ferry.

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IMG_20160830_123922437_HDRBodrum also has a castle on the harbour side, but with a much higher price tag I decided to skip it. How different can another fort be? Winding my way through the packed market streets and long lanes of tourist shops hammered home that this was not an authentic Turkish town at all, but a tourist coastal resort. My hotel was hiding on the hill up behind the main strip, quiet but surprisingly big, the rooms were comfortable and it worked well as a base for the couple days I was there.

That evening I strolled down to the waterfront, the over-priced restaurants crowding the edge of marina, but if you head back just one street, the view isn’t so fancy, but the food and the service more than make up for it, not to mention the price. A couple of shops caught the eye, not all the usual tourist affairs, but there’s more than enough places to get lame souvenirs and knock off high street brands. One shop was an agent, selling the local activities, and after collecting some brochures I committed to a boat cruise and a Turkish bath experience, far cheaper than I thought possible, to good to be true?

IMG_20160831_105354743_HDRI’d seen a few cheesy pirate themed party boats, and I made sure to check that I wasn’t on one of those, but promises in Turkey don’t always work out, and after boarding the Barbossa I found a nice seat away from the pumping dance anthems and had a nice read. The boat stopped frequently to let us take a swim, although each stop was very much like the other. Lunch was served and was perfectly reasonable, but the return journey was the most interesting, a stop at a cave, said to be the bathing spot for Cleopatra with cleansing mud.IMG_20160831_161327505_HDRSo pay a little extra and swim inside the dark cave, rocks and mud and plenty other people to trip over as well, smear yourself with some mud and feel the healing effects. Not a life changing experience, but quite amusing. There’s a trough outside filled with the mud, making it nice and easy to cover your whole body, and of course get some selfies as it dries. We were blasted with the hose before we could get back onboard and then the big surprise happened.

IMG_20160831_165850381The dragons head mascot on the top deck starts spewing foam from it’s mouth, almost covering the whole boat. The music is pumped and the boat is now a foam party. A surreal experience and certainly a surprise.

Once off the boat I had my transfer to the Turkish bath, where I bath, got scrubbed roughly by a big Turk and felt pretty good about it afterwards. The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes, and is something that’s well worth experiencing. Perhaps a more expensive and fancy facility would have felt a little slicker, but I do feel as though I can tick that experience off my bucketlist.

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Overall I found both Kos and Bodrum far too touristy for my liking, neither town had anything to offer other than pricey restaurants and souvenir shops. The weather is good though, and I can imagine British people enjoying a week of sun and sand in either easy enough though, but I was glad to be heading to the airport to fly over to Istanbul. The upside though, I got to try my first genuinely Turkish Turkish kebab.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

Bath, Historical Town

Bath, down in the South-west of England is great town for those looking for a little more history, and the feel of a real English town

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Split into two main areas: the first is Southgate, a relatively newly built commercial zone with the usual suspects of high street stores, fast food and chain restaurants. It doesn’t have much to offer that any other town in the UK doesn’t with the exception of a couple nice little coffee shops and trendy bars, the rest of the town, further North is the real heart of the city. The old streets with charming little stores and cafes mixed in with the huge Abbey and Roman Baths, along with the Georgian architecture make for a very pleasant experience strolling through the area.

IMG_20150202_134029Bath has a lot to offer tourists who visit, from the obvious choices of the Abbey and Baths, to the luxurious Spa and the historical streets it also has several museums including the excellent Holburne Museum and the Jane Austen centre (even though she famously said she didn’t care much for the city herself). It’s worth taking a stroll up to visit the Royal Crescent and the Circus, with it’s impressive buildings (and another little museum) overlooking the park and the city below it’s a fantastic place to check out.

IMG_20150202_135859The Abbey is open all day during the week, but only at selected times at the weekend, but with a small donation you are welcomed in. It’s centre very impressive inside, with an incredibly high ceiling and huge stain-glass windows depicting the usual religious scenes. There statues inside add even more to the sense of grandeur, although the plaques on the wall brought the whole place to a much more real level, honouring those buried below the floors, and bringing a strange sense of community to the building.

The Roman Baths tend to get very busy during the summer, and at weekends, as this is one of the main reasons people come to Bath. If you’re lucky you’ll visit at a quieter time and be able to experience the Baths a little more privately. Although perhaps with hordes of tourists you may get a better sense of what it would have been like when they were first built. Not too expensive and worth a visit if you’re a history fan.

IMG_20150202_140131It’s not these attractions that really make Bath shine though, it’s the original old streets and parks that really shine out. With so much of the UK being diluted it’s wonderful to still find a town that feels so genuine. Of course with it being the South-west you can’t complete a day here without stopping for a Cream Tea, an English tradition. It’s simply English Breakfast Tea (we call it Tea) and a scone with jam and clotted cream. Make sure to put the jam and cream on in the right order, there’s some long running debates on this.

IMG_20150201_134814There’s not much in the way of clubbing here, but there’s plenty of nice old pubs, and more modern bars to keep you warm at night. The student population help keep some of the youthfulness around, although it’s fairly common for them to run of to nearby Bristol for a big night out. If you’re into music or theatre there’s usually something going on as well.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

Les Arcs with Wasteland Ski – Part 2

Continued from here

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IMG_20150117_201414The Vanoise Express takes you across to the far left side of the La Plagne ski area, so it’s a couple of lifts up before you even reach the first of the main La Plagne bowls. Each has it’s own character, similar to Les Arcs, but with much less in the way of tree runs. A few notable points include the park, the glacier, ‘Death Valley’ and a secret bit of powder on the far side.

IMG_20150121_100413The glacier is a long ride to get to, and having to take a gondola down a slope always feels a bit wrong, but once you’re up it’s worth it. There’s only a couple of chairs, and the main runs are awfully moguled, but head off-piste and you should be able to find something worth the effort. The transverse chair was my favourite, although the top section was nasty, it was possible to sneak around the side of the bowl and hit some fresh snow which made the whole trip worthwhile.

IMG_20150121_120946The park was much more regimented than the one in Les Arcs, just straight runs of either kickers or rails with no way to switch it up mid line. The baby kickers were very small and didn’t offer much while the mid kickers were a challenge to hit without knuckling, there just wasn’t enough run-up to them. Death Valley certainly had a charm to it. An area which was mined in WW2 meaning there’s some very big dips and holes to get stuck in. There’s a well tracked bit of off-piste leading through, and I recommend sticking to it as we found digging your way out of a 15ft hole is not much fun. Lower down the slope you can access the valley a little easier which leads into a very tight and steep natural curving half-pipe. Great fun, and challenging to ride through, it’s amazing the height of the carves you’ll end up doing in order to quell the speed along the bumpy bottom, and it’s not exactly straight either.

IMG_20150118_105756Finally my secret powder stash, on the far right of the piste map is a chair which accesses the slalom course, from the top of this, take the drag up and along the ridge, from here, around the back of the peak, then drop in to the bowl wherever you want, but be sure to stay left as you approach the exit. From this little outcrop there’s a few drops, but head left even further and there’s a couple little chutes that were untouched both times I dropped in. The fresh stuff may not last more than 30 seconds, but the whole run is good fun so well worth it. If for some reason the drag is closed, hike it, you’ll find you’re the only ones up there, with a gorgeous view both sides and a sweet bowl all to yourself.

IMG_20150121_170528The nightlife on the Vallandry-Peisey side was pretty limited, with one French bar, Mojo, on the Vallandry half, English Bar Mont Blanc between the two and La Vache on the Peisey side. The rest were rather fancy restaurants, not so suited to students, but went down quite nicely with the SCUK crew. Bar Mont Blanc is where we spent most of the evening, partly because they hosted our welcome drinks, but also our meal deals were from here. The bar worked well, and the events they put on got the party going well, although with no other option some folk were a little tired of it by the end.

IMG_20150118_105819Over in Arc 1800 the nightlife was much better, with several bars happy to accommodate a huge amount of students. While the amount we had meant splitting them between bars on some nights, Red Hot Saloon did well to cater for as many as they did almost every night, although they did share the load with my favourite, Bar King Mad. The two clubs in town Club 73 and Le Carre (previously Apocalypse) hosted some of the best late parties of the season. The mostly English bars helped the students to spend, while the worst drink in existence was consumed in high volume thanks to the bar staff in Red Hot. A Glass Case (Cage?) consists of Gin and red wine served like a Jagerbomb, resulting in some very messy nights.

IMG_20150126_131641On the last days in resort, the snow really came in, laying down over 2ft the first day, and even more the next. Unfortunately sore legs and awful visibility meant days spent in bed and doing a selection of other jobs for the bosses. While it was nice to be heading home (even if it was by coach) it was heart wrenching to leave the resort with so much fresh snow to enjoy.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel