Waiting time is nearly over! It will be soon be time to forget work and the cleaning for a few weeks. Just get on the plane, start your holiday and chillllll!
I've lived in Side and other parts of Side for many a year now and during that time, I have seen a fair few things, which should it be unfortunate to happen to you, could put a downer on what should be a thoroughly relaxing holiday full of only wonderful memories. On that note, I thought I would put a common sense guide of things to watch out for.
ON THE ROAD
1. ALWAYS wear a seatbelt when driving or in a car as a passenger. Probably you do it automatically as we Brits are used to it. Unfortunately, a lot of the Turkish locals, although they should by law buckle up, do not wear seatbelts. Don't drop your guard and do as a lot of the locals do. Unfortunately, Turkey has some of the high statistics of road accidents, and many of those accidents might have been avoided if seat belts had been worn. If you are stopped by the Traffic police or the Jandarme, and they do pop up very often, they will give out immediate spot fines if not wearing a seat belt. The police are clamping down and trying to reduce unnecessary risk taking.
2. Adhere to the speed limits. Don't exceed 90km per hour on main roads, 50 km per hour or less as stated on road signs in built up areas, 120 km per hour on motorways. They do have radar traps in many areas and if you are caught speeding - once again hefty spot fines are given out.
3. ALWAYS carry your driving licence with you when driving in Turkey. Should you be stopped by the Traffic police or jandarme during a random routine check or other, they will want to see your licence, your passport, insurance document and details of car ownership (car hire companies will supply you with the the latter). The Turkish police don't offer you 5 days to produce your documents like in the UK. If you are unable to produce these documents immediately, once again a hefty spot fine is given plus your vehicle can be impounded in some circumstances, which in turn produces another expense to get it back again.
There are unfortunately a percentage of drivers on the roads in Turkey who have not passed a driving test or do not have valid insurance. The police are upping their random checks on the roads (thankfully) in an effort to put a stop to this kind of thing, but many do manage to escape the net.
3. When the traffic lights have changed from Red to Green and you assume you are free to go, always check that traffic from the other direction have all stopped. You do get the odd idiot all to often ignoring/racing the Red light and not stopping.
4. Roundabouts in Turkey take a bit of getting used to at first . Once entering the roundabout, you have to stop as you are going around to give way to traffic coming from your right. Traffic lights are usually in operation on the bigger roundabouts which helps.
5.At night the Red traffic lights sometimes is not static but flash on an off. In this situation, you can proceed through if other approaching roads coming from your right are clear. Yellow lights flashing mean you can proceed through but be careful.
6. Don't drink and drive. Police are tough on drivers over the limit so don't take any chances. The majority of accidents on Turkish roads are caused by alchohol and excess speed.
7. When crossing the road, we automatically look right then left before, (well I do anyway- instilled from childhood). Remember to do the opposite in Turkey, left first. I have nearly become a cropper a few times until I got used to looking the other way first.
ON THE BEACH
8. ONLY take enough money to the beach for use during that day. Leave handbags, wallets, passports locked up in your hotel/ apartment safe. Keep your valuables in sight when going to swim or ask someone you can trust to keep an eye on your belongings.
9 Be careful in the sun. It can be so very hot in the height of summer and deceiving especially if there is a breeze. Keep your head covered and drink plenty of water. Sun stroke and jippy tummy can really put a downer on your holiday. If you do get caught out, the local chemist will sort you out with effective and inexpensive medication without need for a prescription. They are so knowleagable and a great help if needed to advise on all ailments.
10. Keep the kids in sight. The beaches around Side are generally gentle and safe but if you venture to some of the more less public beaches, watch out for hidden currents and depth.
IN YOUR APARTMENT/HOTEL
11. LOCK your valuables and money in the hotel/apartment/room safe, especially when you go out during the day or evening and at night. Don't leave your balcony door unlocked or open for air at night because its hot or you think because your room is a few floors it can't be accessed. A few years back now, I was staying in a 3rd floor apartment and during the night, burglars broke in and stole passports, money, credit cards and valuables, and that was from the bedroom while I was lying there asleep - a horrible experience I never want a repeat of!
12. Keep an eye on children on balconies and grown ups for that matter specially if youve had one or two efes over the odds. Some balcony rails can be a bit on the low side in hotels and apartments, certainly compared to our high safety standards. Children do like to climb and get into mischief so better to be safe than sorry. I was attending a routine hospital appointment in Turkey 3 years ago and while I was waiting, a 2 year old tot was rushed in as an emergency after falling from a 3rd balcony. The parents were absolutely distraught as you can imagine. Miraculously, being so young, the child's bones were soft like rubber and on this occasion thankfully escaped with only minor cuts and bruises.
OUT AND ABOUT
13. If you go to the market or out for a day tour, only take with you enough money to see you through the day. Keep your handbags/wallets zipped and close to you. I would not want to imply that Turkish people are dishonest because that would not be fair. I have many Turkish friends and family and they are wonderful kind people. However, Side is a tourist area and in any tourist area anywhere in the world, where there are tourists, you will always find opportunists that will take advantage. Just be alert and careful and enjoy haggling for anything you want to buy. Its expected!!.
14 If you like to take your laptop on holiday, its a good idea to attach it to the electricity using an anti -electric surge cable. Electricity does cut off from time to time in Turkey and can be prone to peaks and drops in current. Sudden peaks can damage expensive equipment such as laptops and other electrical equipment at these times.
Side really is a great place for a holiday for the whole family and i really love it there. Just be alert on holiday and don't let the sun and alchohol drop your guard. I've learnt the hard way from a couple of bad experiences . I would not want the same to happen to anybody else, which is why I thought I would post these tips to ensure your holiday is full of only great memories. Hope it helps!
Happy holidays, Mineva