Mealtime has moved into the office now it is too cold to eat on the balcony. It was only six weeks ago, at the end of October, I was still in flip flops and shorts about the house. Now I’m wrapped up in a jumper and fleece remembering that winter sucks in Turkey.
This year we are not escaping to Thailand or travelling elsewhere so we are reminded that while cold climates like Britain do winter well our bit of Turkey is orientated around the sun. The tiled floor that is so cooling in summer is freezes feet in winter. The sun sparkles so enticingly off the surface of the pool in August but is now a dirty hole of rubbish and rainwater.
Rather than dragging the balcony furniture into the living room each night – our apartment isn’t huge and there is nowhere for them permanently inside – I instead eat at my desk, in front of the laptop, with Deirdre behind on a sofa, plate on her lap. This makes conversation a little awkward until the coffee is made. Until I can turn around to face her every utterance from Deirdre requires a 90 degree turn away from my food, and a further 90 degree crane of the neck to position my good ear where it can hear a repeat of what she actually said.
It is much easier and tempting to read from the laptop in front of me and while doing this I found a piece written by Julia and Barry of Turkey’s for Life lamenting the loss of the Sundial, a favourite bar in Fethiye.
It reminded me of a bar that we used to drink at when we first became expats in Turkey. Winter was once fun because of the bar of the Triton Hotel. We knew we could find friends and life any evening where now there often seems to be none.
In summer we rarely went there, preferring to walk a bit further to enjoy the sea front and the lively bars there or socialise in our own neighbourhood. Most of our friends and neighbours, whether Turkish or British, are part timers. Our Turkish neighbours go back to Ankara, the younger workers to villages and towns in the east, the Brit and other foreigners depart for their first homes or winter in India or Southeast Asia. We like to do this too sometimes but not this year.
Part of the problem now is a lot of the people we met when we first moved to Turkey have moved on. For some the expat life didn’t stick. Dreams and the realities of a life lived abroad not matching up. Others moved on to Bulgaria when exchange rate changes affected their budgets or to be within the health system of an EU country.
Whatever the reason there are fewer people about in winter and those that are are scattered among the bars that stay open for the winter, or go out during the day. There aren’t many people about in the evenings and no single place has stepped up to become a focal point in the winter once it closed.
To be honest, some people thought the Triton was a bit of a dive but the seat arrangements meant you got talking to people whether you wanted to or not. You could also go up to the bar and order a drink just like at home. In most other places wait staff bring food and drinks to the table.
This meant in the Triton you moved around and got chatting to more people than you would otherwise have done. Bar stools – seemingly permanently occupied by the same people* – were another rare feature.
We spent more time there than intended. Often popping in for a quick drink on the way to dinner, we usually changed our plans, ordered something from the restaurant and returned home far later than expected.
If I had a drink in my hand I would raise a belated glass to the Triton Hotel but I don’t, because it is late and there is no point going out when there is no one else about.
* I don’t have any photos of the Triton so I did a quick Google search. I only found one of the interior that is too small to use but I swear there is Bob sat on his regular stool.