Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Turkey 2013: EWRS conference, Samsun, the Datca Peninsular and Istanbul

I fear our carbon footprint is growing. This trip, part work and part holiday, took eight flights to complete, but allowed us to see several parts of this diverse and fascinating country.  First up, was getting to Samsun, a city we will hear more of in the future on the northern Black Sea coast.  This was the venue for the 16th European Weed Research Society Symposium at the Ondokuz Mayýs University.  Leaving Bristol early at 06:00 we passed through Amsterdam and Istanbul Atatürk (KLM, then Turkish Airlines) before being picked up with others for our hotel, arriving at 22:30 local time.  Do-Soon Kim from Seoul and Per Kudsk from Denmark were at Istanbul, both editors for Weed Research.  We were up early on Sunday morning as I was teaching a course from 09:00 to 17:00 on “How to write a paper for an international scientific Journal” ahead of the conference.  I had a good group of attendees from 11 countries and it was a successful interactive day.  That was followed by an Editorial Board meeting for Weed Research, the society journal for which I am the Editor-in-Chief.  The conference was well-run and the social events were good, including an unexpected trip on a small ship up and down the coast for the attendees of the entire conference. 

Leaving Samsun on the Friday morning, we fly with Pegasus to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen, then on to Bodrum near the south coast.  We had hired a car cheaply and managed to collect a slightly battered Renault Symbol outside the airport car park, signed for it on the bonnet and headed for the hills.  Not having a great deal of power was probably a good thing, driving on the right side of the road.  We drove north east over high hills, then south east, then south west along the Datca Peninsular.  We picked this for its distance from holiday destinations, looking for peace and a real break.  We were not disappointed, staying at the Flow Datca Surf and Beach Club, enjoying a bit of luxury.  The gardens around the pool were full of palms, olives and flowering Bougainvillea, not far from the sea.  The hot sun was ameliorated with a steady breeze.  Not that we did any, the hotel has a well-equipped windsurfing school on the beach, with people batting over the waves most of the day.  We drove to the end of the peninsular one day to visit the ancient city site of Knidos.  What views, with a double harbour on the Aegean and Mediterranean sides!  The British Museum has a huge carved lion from here, amongst other purloined artefacts. 

After five gloriously restful days, we drove to Dalaman airport and flew to Istanbul.  We had arranged a minibus to run us in to our hotel, also booked online.  All went well and we crossed from the Asian shore to the European and were driven past Taksim Square to the old town.  We were looking out over the great Blue Mosque with Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace a stroll away.  We did all these sites and more, taking in the Grand Bazaar where we bought throws for the sitting room and a leather belt for me.  Bargaining was fun.  We also went to the Spice or Egyptian Bazaar and came away with Iranian saffron and lovely Turkish delights.  Our return journey was a long one, starting with a very early pickup at 03:30 for Atatürk airport and a 06:00 flight to Schiphol.  With an 8 hour wait, we headed into Amsterdam by bus and train and took a tram for the Rijksmuseum, which is now fully open.  The Rembrandts and Vermeers were grand, as were the doll’s houses!  After lunch in the museum, we headed back to the airport and landed in Bristol at 16:30.  The only disappointment after a great trip was when we picked up the dogs … unfortunately Teasel had been set upon and had had 7 wounds and umpteen stitches, Rosie 5 stitches and Holly a couple of nips.  After a second operation, Teasel is now back to her usual self, even if she is having to wear a plastic lampshade to stop her licking stitches.  

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