The Aral Side Turkey
18 June to 25 June 2013
Holiday booked at Coop Plymouth,
Tour Operator Thomas Cook Airline Easyjet.
Travel Agent kindly completed our “API” which was a potential nightmare as Thomas Cook reference would not process on Easyjet site.
Flight to Antalya
Our first ever Easyjet Flight was better than expected, seats could not be booked in advance but T.C. had a block booking and we were sitting together. Seats seemed wider than on T.C. long haul aircraft plenty of legroom and were comfortable. No entertainment but crew seemed to spend most of flight selling drinks, snacks at fair prices or Duty Free goodies.
Arrival & Transfer
Efficient these days paying the entry tax £10 at Kiosk, getting Passport stamped then luggage collection no problems. Greeted by T.C. rep outside and directed to coach. Aral Hotel was originally last drop off but due to one way system we became penultimate stop. Reception was 24 hour and bell boy carried our cases to our Room.
However the rest of the hotel was shut for the night. We were greeted twix pool and closed bar by a friendly family from The Valleys who directed us to the café bar across the road still going well after midnight. Yes they cooked a cheese omelette, chips and poured ice cold Effes for us.
The Aral has been in brochures for many years. But we were told this was the last summer. New owners plan to build a new 5* on this site. Frankly unless they can extend beyond the existing site it will be a rather bijou 5*. Hence Aral had a hang dog run down appearance that could be deceptive.
Adequate for basic needs, bed was fine for us. Bathroom had antiquated fittings but powerful shower and loo flushed O.K. Wardrobe limited and hangers 4/10. Hells bells we were only here for a week. Air-conditioning worked but electrics were on the room key system so only on when in room.
Just adequate, sugar puffs all melted together, other cereals of low quality. Own brand cornflakes seemed full of “dust.” There was a Chef who might cook fried eggs if one asked for omelette or vice versa. Other days he might cook pancakes. There was a toast machine akin to a George Foreman grill a fascinating experience trying to cook toast with it. Given ten previous all inclusive visits to Turkey this was bottom of the league.
Lunch al fresco temperature around 40C plenty of salad, twice the Cook excelled with baking in front of your eyes Cheese Bread wonderful hot from the oven.
Dinner well we were at Aspendos or Gloria Aspendos for 3 nights. Food not the most exciting would be a polite description. Fortunately our budget covered the two neighbouring café-bars who were really good value.
Great, clean, warm, and twice a day the slides were opened Dariusdave could water the surrounding lawns from his tidal waves. During our stay the slides were “all age” and great fun. Sun loungers limited but we prefer to sit in chairs at tables to read our Kindles. Coffee machine or cold drinks all day on the All Inclusive.
First lunch we encountered a red faced Englishman who told us it was too hot and he had come back early. We used the hotel mini-bus to take us there. It seemed half a dozen hotels shared an area of beach. There were plenty of sun loungers and worn out umbrellas. You soon recognised The Aral section it had the worst beach equipment. We took our own drinks but soon needed more talk about “captive audience rip-off” a Fanta equivalent to £3. Lunch would have cost a FORTUNE. Like the red faced Englishman we retreated back to The Aral (having enhanced the driver’s remuneration package) where we could enjoy free drinks around the pool and lunch. Dariusdave entered the sea which was warm and clean.
Turkish bath, Massage etc.
Various package deals were available and seemed very good value, no need to book or travel to “Super Turkish Bath Complex.”
We had pre-booked, thanks to Angela’s fine advice, to see Swan Lake and Carmen taken by Abdullah. What fantastic value for money. This was the third year we had visited The Aspendos International Festival dare Dariusdave suggest the best yet. If you enjoy Ballet or Opera
Aspendos is “The Poor Man’s Verona” and worth every £ spent on the holiday.
Dariusdave enjoyed Swan Lake by Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, the dancing; the massive orchestra four in the percussion section, never seen The Triangle played so much! A very professional performance with great disciplined dancing from the Swans. Sitting in a Roman Theatre at night almost able to touch the orchestra WOW!!
Carmen for Dariusdave was even better performed by the Mersin State Opera & Ballet. The start had a touch of a South Bank Production circa 1970. But Gizem Betil must be complimented on the Costume Design, Ferda Yetiser on her spirited and inspired interpretation of Carmen; Reyhan Bezuduz must be thanked for the outstanding Children’s Chorus. Finally a joyful word of thanks to Vladmir Lungu, the indefatigable Conductor. He seemed to inspire his musicians and the cast to a memorable performance. A final mention and thanks for the English language accompaniment on the large screens around the theatre. Both evenings there were many families with varied ages of children all were well behaved and enjoyed a real treat.
Sadly Abdullah had sub-contracted the transport and we took over two hours to arrive just at the start, all good seats gone we were sitting up in the back rows. Arriving this close to start exasperated parking problems. We still had to complete security procedures, WARNING DON’T TAKE CAMCORDERS THEY ARE CONFISCATED. Show has changed a bit from 2011 that made it interesting. The production is vast with over 120 dancers or drummers on stage at any time. Sad that there seemed so many bored out of control children who thought they were the show, fear would not go again as this distraction spoilt our evening.
We did the TC boat and Market trip. This included lunch on the boat compulsory beach stop for camel rides etc. Plus new this time a visit to a Turkish “German TK Max” what a waste of an hour. Every item priced in Euros, German prices i.e. very expensive cheap quality items. Manavgat Market was much better yes Dariusdave has new white leather bowls belts, fine quality white cotton Effes short sleeved shirts. Our daughters will have new Mulberry and YSL leather handbags for Christmas.
Pool towels were not provided. We purchased a pair from a local shop after the mandatory haggle. Very good quality Turkish cotton we now use at home. The shop keeper offered trips including taking customers to Manavgat Market in his mini-bus and offered to take me to stalls to buy Dariusdave Sized shirts that he did not stock.
A very good week in Turkey, Aral is what you make of it more than adequate as a “value package” and base for Aspendos Festival. Will we return? Turkey yes, Festival YES, Easyjet flight yes, perhaps we will book accommodation direct next time.
- Also Known As:
- Aral Hotel Side
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