Retirement is not always perfect. Life in Turkey is not always perfect. Ergo retirement in Turkey cannot possibly always be perfect.
But sometimes, just sometimes, it absolutely is. In this case a two day skiing break at Davraz Ski Centre hit that spot.
Kalkan Parc’s Cenk Toparlaklı was prime mover and party leader. Being something of a polymath – excellent Bridge player, linguist, sportsman, possessed of a phenomenal general knowledge and a world class drinker – Cenk was the man to put this trip together. So along with his wife, Kalkan’s First Lady, Pınar, and a crew of eight we hit the road early to arrive midday’ish after a four hour drive across achingly beautiful scenery, edging ever closer up to the snowline.
Under a sparkling blue sky the resort looks great and midweek, late season the slopes are very quiet. So not too many people to witness pratfalls. I am sure I will make an occasional a*se of myself and I do not disappoint. But more of that later. For now it’s speedy check in, ski wear on and in to the Kayak Odası to get fitted for skis and boots.
The first lift up the nursery slope is a cable winch with a plastic arm that I later realise you put behind your butt, relax and let it pull you. First time out, however, I grab it en passant and am immediately dragged along, arms flailing, like someone whose jacket is trapped in a moving escalator. I arrive at the top with half my day’s energy already spent.
Apart from a day’s skiing last year this is the first skiing since one winter break in my twenties and I never mastered it then. However, I can still snow plough and it’s a great feeling to wend down the gentle, uncrowded slope for its mere 150m length.
My Special K, who is part of the party, has opted for the delights of the sun terrace and a Balinese massage rather than the rigours of skiing. So it is my dear friend, fellow adventurer and recent initiate to the snowy arts, Fliss, aka “Duracell Bunny” because of her habitual tendency to rush from one activity to another from early morning till a sudden and calamitous collapse into sleep at 10.0’clock, who is my companion on the slopes. She is easily distinguishable from a mile away partly because of the bright red and oversized ski jacket she has borrowed and partly due to her – self taught – technique which involves a steady descent at about 5mph, skis set in a resolute snow plough and body crouched forward in the manner of somebody straining at a bowel movement. We are a bloody cool couple.
After a few gentle runs on the nursery we pluck up courage to confront the Blue Run. This is the easy slope. But beware! There is an appetite for risk within the Turkish culture, most visibly manifest on the highways and byways, that requires some wariness on the part of the European when applying words and concepts like easy and no problem from the Turkish. Cenk, for instance, would have us believe that the Black Run, which as far as I can see is virtually only reachable by helicopter, is “no problem” if we just “concentrate” and “focus”.
We politely tell him to “blow it outta your ass” and three of us novices head for the chair lift and the Blue Run. F and I share a chair: I lose a ski and Fliss bangs her head on the safety bar but the ascent is stunning, the moment only broken when we arrive and both exit the chair in an unseemly tumble, to land sprawling at the feet of Cenk and Pınar. They are cooly hitched to a Snow Jet readying to haul ass up beyond the top peak and go off piste. Confirmation of that Turkish attitude to risk comes in the form of the driver asking if we want to take a tow up too, as we struggle to get to our feet. Like, yeah!
But we make it down the Blue Run. Heart in mouth, muscles shaking and several tumbles later we reach the bottom. Trevor is still shaking when I meet him in the street two days later but it is his first day ever skiing!
And I work out £125 has covered the entire two day cost for one person.
It ain’t often but sometimes life is perfect