Saturday, 14 August 2010

A week of breathtaking views of the Aegean

Sunset in the Aegean ... the view from the poolside bar in the Palmin Sunset Hotel in Kuşadasi

Patrick Comerford

This has been a busy year when it comes to travelling. I was in Florida at the beginning of the year, and found myself in the Sunshine State during the coldest January in living memory. I stayed in Lichfield twice, gave two papers at a conference in Derbyshire, and had a study week in Cambridge. And I also had a week in Crete, visiting my son – and some old friends – in Piskopiano and staying in Koutouloufari, in the hills above Hersonissos.

I flew into Smyrna (Izmir) this afternoon, and for the next seven days I’m in Turkey once again for a week’s holiday in western Anatolia. This is my fourth holiday in Kuşadasi, and I’m back again in the Palmin Sunset Hotel, about five minutes distance by dolmus from Ladies’ Beach.

The hotel has breathtaking views across the Aegean and out towards the island of Samos, particularly at sunset. When I was here last year, I was trying to get over the side-effects of a biopsy and coming to terms with the diagnosis of my sarcoidosis. I appreciated the pool, the attentive staff, the good standard of accommodation and the food in the hotel ... so you can see I am looking forward to the coming week.

And already I’m wondering whether a week is long enough.

I’m wondering whether I should revisit Ephesus and Seljuk? Should I go back to the charming mountain village of Sirince, with its sad story of the wholesale expulsion of its population in the 1920s?

Should I go back again to the classical and Biblical sites at Priene, Miletus and Didyma?

I hope to get to Samos in Greece for a day. I hope to swim each day. And I certainly plan to have some walks on the local beaches.

Ladies’ Beach has been described as the Cannes of Turkey. At times it can be too crowded, but the sands stretch for miles, and in the evening as the sun is about to set it can be surprisingly quiet and peaceful when most people chose to walk on the Promenade, by the restaurants, rather than walking along the shoreline.

The poolside bar at the Palmin Sunset Hotel offers enchanting views across the Aegean towards Samos

But there is also a charming small beach below the Palmin Sunset Hotel. With my creaking bones, the pains in my knees and other joints, and the constant sensation of pins and needles under my feet, I find the descent to this beach on a badly paved path can be a little difficult and demanding. But it is worth it, and I truly enjoy swimming in the Mediterranean.

I am determined that this is a week when my sarcoidosis is not going to get me down ... for I may have sarcoidosis, but sarcoidosis does not have me.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin