I came back to such a heavy workload after our holiday that it already feels as though it was at least a month ago. I’m not complaining – anybody who runs their own business will know how grateful you feel to be busy but it perhaps means I’m going to write this post in a different way than I would if I could still feel the glow of the sun on my skin. The thing is that I don’t want to make anyone who had to cancel their holiday this year feel sad… and you’ve seen us in Turkey quite a few times now so I don’t want to repeat the same old thing. Instead I’m going to interweave the photos with a few stories and musings – and there are a lot of photos so I’ll spread it over two posts so that you don’t lose the will to live. So here we go, this is what it was like travelling during Covid-19 – Kalkan, Turkey.
A pre-departure curveball
Let’s rewind to where I left you – on Friday 7th August when we were madly getting ready to go. As you know we had friends coming to petsit and I like to leave the place tidy so I was busy. It also happened to be the middle son’s 19th birthday although it was a bit low key because he’d already spun it out, celebrating with various friends all week. We had a special birthday breakfast together so that he could open his presents and then I cracked on with the last minute things I had to do. Before too long, he and the eldest appeared wondering if they could have a lift into town because they’d both decided to catch up with friends for one last lunch before we went. I already had plans to go to the gym with the youngest and so Mr MC said he’d bring them home later after his karate class.
I didn’t think much about it – since he turned 18 last year the middle boy has established himself as the sensible anchor in his group. He’s always the one to hold the girls’ hair back when they’re being sick and make sure that everyone gets home safely at the end of the evening so he’s given us an easy ride so far. However, as I was in the gym I spotted messages starting to flash up on our WhatsApp group about where and when the others were meeting in town. Straining away at my weights I noticed that the eldest was getting a bit frustrated with his younger brother whose missives were becoming increasingly garbled – but then Mr MC came out of the Dojo and joined in with the conversation so I thought nothing more of it and headed home. After about half an hour they came through the door with the birthday boy… and he was steaming. His friends had taken him to a new bar that was offering three drinks for £6 and he had clearly been the beneficiary of several birthday rounds – three drinks at a time! He was in a very happy state of mind. Knowing that we had to get him onto a flight in ten hours’ time, we were less so.
As we tucked into the special birthday takeaway that Mr MC had collected I resigned myself to watching my boy as he turned an interesting shade of green. It was a good thing. Suitably purged he curled up on the sofa next to me and snoozed his way through Hamilton. Thankfully by 2am when it was time to set off for the airport he was back in our orbit… but feeling very sorry for himself and the twelve hour journey he had ahead!
Travelling during Covid-19 – Kalkan, Turkey
The Post-Covid airport experience
And so off we went, reaching Manchester airport way ahead of time, having only a little trouble finding the carpark that I’d booked. I’d had an email explaining that the official on-airport parking had moved and as we pulled in, we noticed that we were the only car in the entire multi-storey. As we trudged off with our luggage to find the lift we were commenting on how new everything felt when suddenly a team of excited officials jumped out. It turned out that we were their very first customers at 3am on the car park’s opening day. And so despite being very bleary eyed, they rounded us up for photographs with our suitcases and balloons. They then handed us the rather lovely gift of vouchers for a private lounge with a free champagne breakfast which pleased Mr MC no end. The middle son was less enthusiastic.
And this brings me on to the airport part of the holiday which I’d usually skip over but I’ve had a lot of questions about what it’s like to fly at the moment. There’s no denying that the airport experience isn’t pleasant. There’s no social distancing and there are lots of physical touch points at check in and all the way through security that can’t possibly be kept sanitised. It seems that every day now you have to balance the risk of whatever you’re doing and I have to say that for me it feels as though short trips will be off the agenda for a while. It just doesn’t feel worth going through an airport in the way that they’re managed in the UK if you’re just travelling somewhere for a few days – and that, for us, will be quite life-changing.
I think a lot of the carefree joy went out of air travel after 9/11. With the necessary extra security measures that came in after that, the airport no longer felt like the first exciting part of the holiday experience. Covid-19 has now pushed that over the edge. We currently have flights booked for a trip to Paris that we moved from earlier in the summer to October half term. The youngest is very keen to go because he’s planned part of his A Level Art coursework around it and so it’s more important than just a break. If the situation in France carries on as it is we clearly won’t be going but if not, we’ll be making it our last short break for a long time.
Moving on, once we were through the airport and on the plane things felt fine. EasyJet were very well organised and everyone stayed in their seats and wore their masks. As always the benefit of a 6am flight is that everyone is exhausted and so people tend to sleep through it. On arrival in Turkey, it was a completely different airport experience with temperature taking and social distancing. We soon realised that the risk of infection was going to be managed far better everywhere in Turkey than it is here.
And from that point we had the feeling of coming home. You may remember that we said goodbye to Kalkan last year because we didn’t think we’d be back for a few years. Our usual villa was getting increasingly hard to book because it’s become so popular with Midlifechic readers (you’re welcome) and we didn’t think we’d be able to align all three boys for a two week family holiday anyway. Of course after being locked down together for six months I did wonder whether we’d have had enough of each other’s company but we arrived on a high – an exhausted high after being awake for 36 hours but a high nevertheless. We unpacked, followed our usual tradition by going out for a quick pizza and then fell happily into bed.
Another unexpected surprise
Of course when you travel with older offspring you never know quite what’s going to happen next. In the run up to the holiday I’d been aware that the eldest seemed to be rekindling a university romance. I’d been too busy to ask him much about it and the object of his affections was in lockdown with her family on the south coast so it was really only evident through the regular ‘pings’ coming in on his phone.
A few days before we left we were chatting in the car and he mentioned that she was busy trying to book a holiday too and wondering where to go. At the time I didn’t think any more about it but as we were eating our pizza on the first night and looking out over the bright blue sea, he discovered (apparently to his surprise) that she’d just landed at the same airport as us. And when we came downstairs on the first morning he was nowhere to be seen, having explained to the middle one that she and her friends just happened to have booked an apartment at the other side of the harbour.
Having slept for a total of 14 hours Mr MC and I were feeling very zen so we headed down into the village to buy what we needed for lunch, stopping for a cup of coffee… and who should walk past but a rather sheepish looking boy and his group of three pretty girls. I watched him scan our shopping bags which were brimming with his favourite Turkish delicacies and wondered what he’d do next. In a flash he made arrangements for later and headed back to the villa for lunch!
Kalkan – how the days went on – and what I wore
And so here we are putting everything out, the first photo of the holiday. If you go to Kalkan don’t miss what we call the chicken shop. It’s a tiny food shop on the road down into Kalkan, the only one with rotisserie chickens outside. When he gets to know you the owner sends you away with a bag of his special chicken spice which apparently (I still don’t eat it) makes the juicy fat chickens even better than Nando’s! It’s also one of the only shops to sell a rosé called Allure which in my opinion is the only really good wine you can buy out there (other than the reds which are generally decent).
Moving on, there followed an afternoon of this…
… and an evening of this.
T-shirt bought in France; Mango skirt – ancient
And we quickly fell into full holiday mode with most days and nights blending into a seamless stream of relaxation. The eldest did a good job of balancing his time between the family and the girls. It turned out that they were only there for a week so they had a lot to pack in and he was keen to show them the highlights of the place we love so much.
Some days we stayed in to relax by the pool and on others we headed out to swim in the sea. Kalkan only has a small beach. It’s stony and very popular with Turkish holidaymakers which means it can be quite conservative. I wouldn’t feel as though I was respecting their culture if I wore a bikini there and so instead we go to the beach clubs. Having spread everything out to comply with social distancing they were harder to get into this year so it meant an early start if we wanted to secure five beds.
Until this year our favourite has always been Kalamar but now we’ve fallen in love with a new one called Zest. For a small fee (about £5 each I think) you get a supremely comfortable sun bed, iced water and access to a large saltwater swimming pool as well as the sea. You can reach it either via a free water taxi from the harbour or drive round as we did and the restaurant is superb. It’s the only club that allows you to book beds in advance – but you do need to arrive by about 10am or they give your reservation away.
As you can see we’d booked our own platform here…
Animal bikini (SS20 – sold out)
Beach clubs have plenty of relaxing spots…
Freya beach dress – past season
… and you can enjoy a lunch made by somebody else.
If we’d been out all day we tended to spend the evening having a barbecue with games on the villa’s stunning roof terrace:
Boden halterneck – past season; Yoga pants – Gift Pop Boutique, past season
Mango T-shirt (SS20, sold out); Mango skirt (old)
If we’d lazed by our own pool all day we dressed up and went out. I have to say that getting dressed for dinner was a real highlight of the holiday for me because it felt like so long since I’d done it. This year I made a point of not accepting any gifted clothing. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful because gifted clothing is lovely but it comes with an expectation that you’ll feature it on Instagram.
This year I didn’t want to feel as though I was doubly rubbing people’s noses both in the fact that I was away when so many were at home and wafting around in free clothes while I was at it. I think a few bloggers and Instagrammers have been pretty tone deaf on that front this summer. The added benefit for me was being able to relax more without worrying about taking a shot of what I was wearing and then rushing to find a bar with wi-fi so that I could post it. I did take pictures of my favourite pieces as I went along though – you’ll remember me talking about this dress from Cos that I bought when we went down to London.
Dress – Cos SS20, sold out; Sandals – And Other Stories SS19; Clutch – Midlifechic Boutique
I wore it for cocktails and dinner at a beach bar. Every night we tried to get out before the sun set because it’s just so spectacular to watch on this part of the coast.
These were the sale-buy linen trousers that I mentioned, some sizes are still available…
… and this is a loose cotton dress from last year but it’s still stocked.
Mr MC and I got into the rhythm of going out for a late breakfast or early lunch on our own most days and so in the mornings I just threw on a bikini with a beach dress…
… or a sarong…
Mango linen t-shirt past season, sarong skirt Aspiga past season; Sandals
Halterneck – Boden past season; Sarong – Pin Up Stars past season; sandals; beach bag
While we were out we’d pick up lunch for the boys who were usually just emerging as we got back. On this day we returned to find them busy having a meeting about a new business idea the middle one had cooked up in the pool so we sat down to talk through it with them… watch this space!
And I’m pleased to say that I managed to do some business of my own. After much negotiation I finally persuaded my bag supplier to reduce his prices a little – I’m sure Covid helped. And so I’m really thrilled to be bringing my bag shop back next month – I haven’t bought very many because I’m a bit nervous but the designs are lovely and the quality is higher than ever. I’ll tell you more about them soon but here I am feeling successful after a morning of hard work:
One thing I want to pick your brains about is midlife aches and pains. As you know, in June I injured my achilles tendon by running too fast too soon and so I had physio and rested it in the weeks that ran up to our holiday. For about ten days before we left it was fine but from the moment I stepped off the plane it was really painful – and the other one was too and it carried on right through the holiday. The day after we landed back home they were both absolutely fine again and have been ever since.
Now one mistake I made in my determination to pack light this year was only taking very flat sandals which didn’t help. However my question to you is have you experienced anything similar? Do midlife bodies start reacting to flying – or was it the heat and humidity? It wasn’t just my ankles, my whole body felt achey and stiff while we were out there – something I’ve never experienced before.
Travelling during Covid-19 – Kalkan, Turkey in summary
Anyway moving on, as you can see, most of our holiday was just relaxed and low key. Kalkan was very, very quiet and that was lovely because over the last few years we’ve found it to be too crowded. This time most of the visitors were Turkish and it always feels more like travel than a holiday when you don’t hear other English voices.
We felt very safe out there. Being in an authoritarian country means that things are well regulated and we got used to seeing large groups of officials appearing to do spot checks with video cameras to make sure that businesses were complying with Covid regulations such as regular sanitising, mask wearing and taking customers’ temperatures. It isn’t surprising that to date there has only been one case of Covid in Kalkan and that was in the early days when a bank manager was relocated from a branch in a large city. For up to date information about Kalkan you’ll find that Facebook group Visit Kalkan is a really good reference site.
So today’s post has given you some insight into travelling during Covid-19 and a taste of the ebb and flow of our days and nights out there. We did have a few times that felt extra special and so I’ll include them in my next post along with a few more musings.
Back to school
I hope your back to school week has gone ok if you’ve had one. Here’s a photo of ours from yesterday (he has now, under duress, polished his shoes!)…
Baukjen blouse, Hush jeans – both past season; Earrings (gifted AW19)
… it was our very last one which felt momentous after 20 years of September returns. An emotional beginning to what will be an emotional month and in fact an emotional academic year for me. Let’s just hope that all children get to the end of it without any more lesson time being lost, especially those in the exam years with high stakes ahead. Thank you as always for reading – and I’ll be back on Tuesday.
Disclosure: ‘Travelling during Covid-19 – Kalkan, Turkey’ is not a sponsored post.
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