Didim. Did it. But I didn’t do my research.

Didim beach, Turkey

One of the things professors are constantly telling students is to make sure they read the entire exam paper before starting and never sign an employment contract before they have studied it several times. The same logic works for a holiday destination and this professor might think about taking his own well meant advice. 

It looked like such a quiet little fishing port on the map. The perfect place to spend a relaxing week. The reality is a little different. You know that you may have made an ‘erreur de casting’ when:

1. You can play ‘Spot the sand’ as you look at the beach.

Didim Beach, Turkey

Plenty of room here.

Coastal landscapes normally obey a standard rule of sky at the top, then the sea, then the beach and finally the land. When the beach part disappears and is replaced by a mass of multi-coloured umbrellas and gently cooking flesh you might just have to accept that you are not alone at this resort. The daily challenge becomes how early you can drag yourself out of the bed so that you can race down to the sand to book your 3 square metres for the day. Having staked your claim in this daily Gold Rush, you are then free to come and go as you please, providing you have the strength to battle through the hoards of fellow holiday makers who are jealousy protecting their own territory.

2. There is a dramatic shift in the food and drink offered by the restaurants and bars.

True English Breakfast in Turkey

With “Park Sausages”. The spelling is not perfect but way better than my Turkish.

The first thing that may strike you is that every third café proudly boasts that you can have a full English breakfast with real pork sausages. Nothing wrong with this in Brighton or Birmingham you might think, but in a country that is 99% Muslim (albeit with a highly secular tradition) this comes as something of a surprise. The usual kebabs are there of course, and you can even have them with double egg and chips.

As you walk into a restaurant a local waiter welcomes you with the traditional Turkish greeting:

“Alright, mate! How you doin’?”

Ask for a Turkish Coffee and you will get a quizzical look.

” We have Café Latte or Americano. We don’t have Turkish coffee. ”

The two waiters stare at each other in amazement. “Where does this guy think he is? Turkey?!”  

3. A gentle evenings walk along the seafront is tougher than a walk along Fifth Avenue on the sales week.

Things to avoid include the Segway’s rented by parents wishing to teach their 6 year olds that merely walking is far too old fashioned and hoards of guys and gals, well, just cruising.

Rabbit fortune teller - Turkey, Didim

A rabbit that knows much but gives little away.

A local rabbit will tell you your future (in Turkish, which just adds to the mystic of the event.) He predicted with shocking accuracy that generally things at work would be ok, but there might be some ups and down. How could he possibly know this? Sadly, the rabbit remained evasive when pushed for more detail. Clearly, this was a bunny that knew more than it was willing to tell.

If this becomes too much you can relax in a bar that provides real live entertainment including a guest appearance from Freddie Mercury himself. Otherwise, you can treat yourself to a 9D cinematographic experience. My own misapprehension, which I blame on H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, was that there were three physical dimensions with time being the fourth. Obviously, I should have been listening more attentively during my Physics class.

4. Local money disappears in favour of British Pounds and Euros. 

ATM in Didim

Note that Turkish Lire comes right at the end.

Prices quoted for most activities or even fake…sorry, I mean totally real, absolutely genuine 100% bona fina Lacoste T-shirts, conveniently add up to the equivalent of ten British pounds. (Or as they say in the local dialect: “That’s just a tenner to you, mate”)

Foreign currency is so common that even the local ATMs offer you the choice of drawing the money in the three currencies and you almost have to battle in some places to get shop keepers to accept Turkish Lire.

5. You can find new ways to feel inadequate.

Personally, I spend most of the year feeling inadequate because I am surrounded by people who have not one but two Phds or have written three books in the last year. Resorts like Didim give you a chance to feel way below average because you have spent far too little time ‘pumping iron’ in the gym and because you don’t have a skull and cross bones or a name like ‘Deb’ or ‘Shaz’ tattooed on your back.

Didim is basically Blackpool or Margate without the rain. The usual charm of hospitality of Turks remains a constant but it does come of a bit of a shock when you have come from more traditional parts of Turkey. If you like ‘Fish and Chip Culture’ in the sun, it is a great place to be spend a few days, but not exactly the ideal spot if you want to discover the wondrous history of Anatolian settlements or the Byzantine Empire. Oh well, why not just go with the flow? I’ll order another beer and watch the football on the giant TV screens. I can get my tattoo later.

Big Ben Traditional Turkish Restaurant Didim

Big Ben Traditional Turkish Restaurant: Full English Breakfast and hours of live football.


See also:

Gallipoli: Drawing different lessons from history.

Gallipoli: Drawing different lessons from history. 300 kilometres south west of Istanbul lies the small seaside town of Gelibulo. With a population of 30 000, this friendly little town has the makings of the perfect place to get away from the noise and the bustle of Istanbul. The sun never stops shining and the temperature is a near perfect 30°C. Only the incessant wind prevents it from being the ideal tourist location.


Studying in TurkeyTurkey is relatively young and dynamically emerging country.  It is amazing to witness the refinement of Istanbul, which once was the cultural and political center of the most powerful empires. In this city which never sleeps, and connects two continents Europe and Asia, it is hard to believe that you won’t be enjoying amazing moments!

Reasons to Learn Turkish: No.1- You’ll Find Paradise Much More Easily

IU Study Abroad Blog: “We finally reached Kilyos, but we weren’t sure where the beach was. So I decided to ask this shop-owner if he could give directions. Thank god I knew Turkish, because he knew absolutely no English. I got the directions and off we were to the beach.”

Stunning beach in South Korea

Free Online News: “Its a first come basis system Haeundae Beach, Busan, South Korea who came first they can take places otherwise find your location via search engine.”


Filed under Behavior, Countries, Culture, Europe, France, International studies, Travel, Turkey, Vacation / Holidays

3 responses to “Didim. Did it. But I didn’t do my research.

  1. Pingback: Danger on the Horse Highway: a slightly skeptical tourist remembers why the car replaced our equestrian friends. | GlobalEd

  2. Your post made me laugh and I think it’s a fair assessment of Didim, however, there is so much more to the resort off the main tourist hot spots and I like many other expats much prefer it when the season has finished and most of the tourists have gone home but one thing’s for sure you can’t beat Turkish hospitality

    • Mark Thomas

      I have no doubt that you are right; places such as Didim are much better ‘off season.’ Unfortunately, when you work in education and have young kids holiday periods impose themselves on you!

      Actually, we were lucky to be traveling around by car and were able to find some lovely, quieter beaches just a short drive from the town centre. (But, that’s not quite as funny in a blog post, is it?!) Having come from some spots in Turkey where there were no tourists as all, Didim did come as a bit of a shock though. Even there though, we still found Turkish hospitality wonderful.

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