I consider myself a traveler. I have a distinction in my mind between traveling, taking a vacation and “ visiting.” Visiting can be as simple as going someplace else but not for the destination. Visiting family is the usual example. A vacation is designed to escape your everyday life with a blissed-out utopian alternative, which is a very common holiday motive and often entails doing a little as possible. Travelling, on the other hand, is active. Traveling is engaging. Traveling means planning and preparation. Traveling can be exhausting but is usually thrilling. I am a traveler, true, but, its time for me to apologize for all those salty remarks about vacations. When it comes to the appeal of an all-inclusive resort, I stand corrected.
I was invited to join friends on a trip to Bodrum, on the Turkish coast, for a week of rest at an all-inclusive resort. Everyone knows that I am obsessed by Turkish history and cuisine, but it was my husband that was particularly keen to go. He’d had a long, busy summer so the idea of days of sun, reading and an all-you-can-eat buffet surrounded by friends appealed to him. Exploiting Turkey merely for its weather was not how I would typically use my vacation days, however, it occurred to me that, if I am indeed an explorer, shouldn’t I be exploring all kinds of travel? Plus, the resort next door had an epic end-of-season DJ dance party that we were going to crash. Lord knows I love to shake, shake, shake it.
Let me preface this by saying that we went to a resort that has been vetted well by people whom I trust. The culture of the resort is critical. The resort was not too pretentious, it was fairly kid-free, and the food was solid. There weren’t gangs of bachelor parties or hen do’s getting rowdy (or sick) at 4 p.m. While the other patrons were mostly Caucasian, middle-aged, and European, they were all there to have the same experience as we were. While the slightly older crowd may sound like a downer it was, in reality, refreshing. Multiple books were read, afternoon beers tippled, cat-naps were snoozed. When I found myself getting restless on the sun lounger, there were plenty of activities to keep me entertained. From kayaking and snorkeling to renting a speedboat for the day to simple poolside shenanigans.
Surprisingly, it turns out that my own experience working at an all-inclusive resort after college seems to have been the biggest influencer on my reticence to join the crowds. I watched the “entertainment staff” cruise hundreds of oiled bodies beached by the water, trying to lead dancing that no one wanted to do, cajole people into aqua aerobics, and solicit for massage bookings(especially the ones trying to bridge the language gap in at least six languages). I had flashbacks to my summer internship leading kids games and desperately trying to think of cute BINGO jokes to entertain myself, I mean, the guests. My personal experience of having someone return a dirty towel by throwing it at my head had shaped my view of the kinds of people that take these types of trips.
In the end, it was my friend’s philosophy of allotting a few holiday days each year to doing nothing that resonated with me. I will probably always have the American mindset that vacation time is precious. I couldn’t bring myself to commit to the nine days that my friends were but the Hubs and I agreed that five days in the sun was plenty. I acknowledge that, for some, going to a resort in Turkey is considered traveling! Who am I to say? Maybe get out of your comfort zone by belly dancing with strangers, trying the baklava, and accidentally learn the Polish alphabet via a round bingo. Yes, the resort culture that you pick is important but if it also means that you are wrapped in a cocoon of pure vitamin D, TLC, and actual finishing that book you’ve been trying to read for a year, well then, isn’t that good for the traveler too?
Where did we stay? Hotel Samara
We flew into Milas- Bodrum airport (airport code:BJV) and arranged airport transfers to the hotel. The airport transfer should cost approximately $35 (£27) and take 30 minutes