“Ahmed really talking – apartment gone?” I am standing in a near empty Altinkum hotel foyer, which would not be lost in a 70s sitcom set, complete with dubious fountain (which no doubt has served as a toilet for many an inebriated hotel guest). I try my best to control my advancing hysteria, whilst questioning my beloved on our sleeping arrangements. We have developed our own brand of Turkish/English verbal shorthand that it would appear only we can understand. Ahmed, having negotiated princely sum of 15 lira for the night with the hotel owner, assures me is one of his “friends”. I later come to realise that these “friends” constitute hundreds of people with whom he is on a nodding acquaintance.
Ahmed seems to have a problem comprehending our “Turklish” shorthand or possibly just with his hearing, continues to register, whilst “his friend” carries my luggage to the room. It appears that my shiny new life is having a bit of a tarnished start as the apartment that we booked seems to no longer be available as the Turkish landlord has rented it to someone else; this again seems to be a common occurrence in Turkey. I had spent the last few weeks excitedly showing pictures of the new apartment, that Ahmed had emailed me, to all the folks back home. When further questioned Ahmed shrugs his shoulders and says “sokay it’s Turkey”.
Deprived of sleep and having had my nerves stretched finer than Anne Diamond’s gastric band, I debate whether I am about to (a) throw myself on the floor of the hotel and have a tantrum to end all tantrums (b) consume all the duty-free alcohol which I have purchased en route or (c) sever all of Ahmed’s marriage prospects and wear as jewellery. Having watched the film “Midnight Express” several times on DVD, I opt for the safest option and ask the receptionist to send some orange juice to the room to accompany the copious amounts of vodka I intend to imbibe.
To be fair the hotel room is more than adequate although the twin beds were not quite what I expected for our big reunion night. The television only receives Turkish programmes and I am quite shocked by the amount of Turkish porn channels but at the same time envious of the flexibility of some of the actors. The room is quite cold owing to the recent storms and there is no heating other than the solar-powered system which is obviously not firing on all cylinders. Clearly this is going to make showering a sub-zero and brief experience!
After my brisk shower, when sensation had returned to my extremities and frostbite had been ruled out. I downed the large vodka and orange that Ahmed had waiting for me and within minutes fell into a deep slumber. Blissfully unaware that the hotel was fully booked the following night and we would need to find alternative accommodation…