Fethiye – sitting on the dock of the bay…

IMG_1838Today’s post is just some photos of good old Fethiye, my favourite place. Taken in January 2013 when I was living there. I love how calm the sea always is in Fethiye as it’s sheltered in the bay, first thing in the morning is especially beautiful and calm, the sea is like a sheet of glass, creating a perfect reflection. It’s so relaxing with the tiny little fishing boats just bobbing on the surface quietly, waiting for their fishermen to board and collect their catch of the day. Love the snow on the mountains in the distance too, although I believe there is a lot more snow visible this winter as I hear it’s one of the worst, wettest, coldest winter’s they’ve had for a long time.

There are always a lot of seagulls in Fethiye too, hovering over the surface of the sea, hunting for fish or leftover food. I’m not a fan of birds flying around me, but it certainly makes for a good photograph and adds to the character of the place! I miss the simpleness of it all. What I wouldn’t give to be sat on a bench along the Fethiye promenade now.
I’ve been going through some old photos saved on cameras and memory cards, and found a lot of great ones to share, so I’ll be doing a little series on here with photos I’ve taken at lots of different places in Turkey I’ve visited including Pamukkale, Tlos, Yakapark and other resorts and cities like Gumbet and Bodrum & Denizli.

Berkay has a ‘swearing in’ parade for the army tomorrow, he gets to spend some time with his family afterwards as they’re going to watch, so hopefully I’ll have some photos of him in his soldier uniform and a few insights into his army life to update you with.

343 days to go…whoever said this army service goes quick was lying!


Countdown jars..

It’s difficult not to wish my life away these days. Since Berkay went into the army I’ve been ticking the days off my calendar but wanted something more visual to see the days ticking past. While I was looking around on Pinterest, I found a brilliant idea that someone had created while her husband was deployed in the US army, and decided to create my own!

These are my new ‘countdown jars’ , sat on my chest of drawers opposite my bed reminding me of how many days I have left. The ‘days to go’ jar is full of marbles, one for each day of the year Berkay will be gone, and each evening I transfer one of the marbles from that jar into the ‘days down’ jar. At the moment I only have 15 transferred over, as he’s only been gone 15 days, but as the days and weeks pass it will be exciting to see the number of marbles in the ‘days to go’ jar decreasing!
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I’m sure a lot of us have countdowns to something, a special date, birthday, perhaps a holiday to Turkey? 😉 You could try making your own, it doesn’t have to be marbles, it could be jelly beans, stones, seashells….I think it’s something kids would enjoy, my little sister comes to me in the evening and asks to help me with the marble and understands that it’s for ‘Berkay in the army’! Bless her.

15 days down (and boy does it feel like a whole lot longer), a whole jar full of marbles to go…


Dinner at Mancero Kitchen in Fethiye

 It was VERY rare that we ever ate out in restaurants when I lived in Turkey, apart from our regular 3tl doner on market day! We hardly ever went out, sat down and had an evening meal together, in fact I can think of only three or four occasions, one of which was paid for by Berkay’s boss, and another was on half price night on the last night of the season!

On Berkay’s birthday we decided to break away from the norm and go out somewhere we’d never been to, but heard a lot about – Mancero Kitchen.  Normally we wouldn’t have gone somewhere so expensive but as it was my last night in Turkey for a long time, and Berkay’s birthday, we thought we’d splash the cash a bit!

The location is brilliant – it’s in Fethiye along the promenade which is lovely to walk along no matter what time of day. In the day its nice to see the blue sea against the backdrop of the mountains and stroll along taking little breaks to sit on the benches and admire the view. In the evening with everything all lit up it looks even more beautiful, the palm trees had different coloured lights, you could look over to Fethiye and see it all lit up, and it all looked especially magical just after sunrise, with the multicoloured sky as the backdrop.
We had already booked, so we just walked in and got seated straight away, it was a chilly December night so it wasn’t particularly busy but I can imagine that it gets very busy in summer so I definitely recommend booking in advance.

The inside is what I describe as a ‘proper restaurant’, if you’ve been to other restaurants in Calis or Fethiye most of them don’t feel fancy at all, they have plastic tables and chairs covered with tablecloths and most seating is outside, certainly the inside areas don’t really feel decorated at all, but Mancero is. Huge glass windows allowing you to look out to sea, lovely rustic wooden tables and chairs, little booth areas, wine displays, even a little seating area with budgies in cages chirping to say hello! It definitely feels like a classy restaurant, but boy do you pay for the pleasure.
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Before we’d booked I had asked a friend if it was expensive, “not really, around 130tl for 2 with a starter and wine”… 130tl, not expensive for a two course meal?! We’d only ever spent 50tl on a meal out for two in Calis, a diet coke and a chicken dish each and that’s our lot! Looking through the menu was painful, I swear I could see Berkay flinching at the prices as he went down the list. All the steaks on the menu were 40-60tl each, almost as much as we’d normally spend on an entire meal for two, but as I said, it was a special occasion, and our last meal together for a long time, so we settled on a couple of steaks and waited to see if it was worth it.
While we were waiting they brought out a bread basket and an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, which was really delicious, we even asked for extra!

After a short while (it was very quick service) our dinner arrived, and as seems to be the norm in a lot of restaurants nowadays, it wasn’t served on a plate but a wooden board. I can’t even remember which steak I had but know it was 50tl, Berkay had the fillet steak which was 55tl (280-300 grams according to the menu). Both were served with a small amount of potatoes and some fried vegetables (pepper, onion and courgette). The steaks were a decent size and definitely soft, not fatty, well-cooked and delicious. However, I’m not entirely sure the meal was worth the money, overall. You can see from the photos that it wasn’t a great amount of food for the money, and while it was lovely, I can think of many, many other restaurants where we could have got more for our money and still had a very tasty meal. Still, we enjoyed it and Berkay had a lovely birthday dinner.
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After eating, we went and sat outside with some Turkish tea, it was freezing but thankfully they had a fire lit in a metal bin for people to sit around and keep warm, I love that part of winter, makes a difference to summer where all the restaurants have to have fans blasting out!
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Overall, I was fairly impressed, Mancero Kitchen is a nice place to eat if you’re on holiday or have the money to spare, but for local people, or people on a budget I wouldn’t recommend it. It seems very popular with expats, or tourists, and I can only presume that is because they compare the prices to the UK, rather than to similar restaurants in the area. The food is nice, but just not special enough for the price it is, in my opinion. That being said, I’d like to go back there again on another occasion and try something different, it’s a nice place to spend a special occasion, a once a year kind of thing!

Have you been to Mancero? Let me know what you thought, or if you’re planning to go and try it for yourselves.

Army life: Sore legs, phone calls & a little understanding..

It’s been 3 days since Berkay walked through those doors and started his national service.

So far he’s managed to call me once everyday, for around 1 minute each time, and although that’s been brilliant I’m trying not to get my hopes up that it will continue to prevent disappointment!

On the 2nd day, he called me in the evening and told me he hadn’t done much, just checked in, got his army uniform, been introduced and eaten. He seemed thrilled they had ‘red meat, pasta and yogurt’ for dinner, I think he’s eating better there than he did back at home in Fethiye! When I was living there red meat like steak and beef was a real treat as it’s so expensive, but since I’ve been back in England he’s not been buying food to cook for himself at all and he had been eating snall ‘pop kek’ cakes for dinner instead! He also said there are 400 people all sleeping in the same room, presumably in bunk beds or similar… it’s a good thing he’s so social, I’m sure he’s already made lots of friends, he talks to anyone and everyone.

One thing (well, one of many..) that is frustrating about the whole national service process is the fact that they aren’t paid at all for their time. This means that with Berkay having no income for year, he won’t be able to save, so it’s all down to me to save for our ‘future’, which is overwhelming at the best of times, even more so when I haven’t even got a job yet! I’ve been looking since I arrived back in December and haven’t had much luck. I had an interview on Friday morning and it seems like a job I’d really enjoy, so fingers crossed for that.

While I was on the train on the way to the interview, I had an unexpected morning phone call from Berkay. He’d previously called in the evenings so it caught me off guard, but I was so pleased to hear his voice and it put me in a good mood before my interview, even if it was a very short 30 second phone call before we got cut off as the train entered a tunnel.

I had another call from him this morning, he told me he had 10 minutes of free time and had ran to the phone to talk to me quickly. He’d been running, doing push ups, sit ups and other such exercise his body isn’t used to! I have visions of a ‘an officer and a gentlemen’ style scene in my head! “I’m so tired I can’t move my legs, they hurt so much” he said,  yet he still ran to the phone to talk to me, bless.

The unpredictable phone calls are a little annoying, having to take the phone to the shower, toilet, panic if Three loses signal for a couple of seconds or if I’m in a dodgy connection zone. He doesn’t get much free time and if I miss his call, that’s it for the day. People don’t seem to understand this and laughed when I mentioned it, that’s alright if you have your loved ones with you, an arms reach, a text or a phone call away isn’t it? Thank goodness we don’t have to rely on good old ‘snail-mail’ though.

I am so, so grateful for the internet. I have met a few lovely girls whose partners are also currently doing or have already done their national service and it is such a comfort talking to them knowing they understand exactly what I’m feeling. Whether its moaning about lack of phone calls, asking about what we’re allowed to send the men in the post or panicking about the little details of army life, they’ve been a great source of information and a great help. It’s frustrating having other friends and family dismiss my thoughts and feelings. I’ve developed a random rash on my face this week and several people suggested it could be stress. “Stress?” one family member laughed, “what have you got to be stressed about?”.. well, quite a lot, actually. Sigh.

Even hearing ‘it’ll go quickly’ drives me crazy, I know it’s meant well and time does inevitably pass, but that’s just it, no matter how quickly the time nay go, its still got to ‘go’, and that’s the hard part.

362 days and counting…

Army service has begun & the countdown begins..

Yesterday was the day I’d been dreading for years.

The inevitable finally happened and Berkay made the journey to Izmir to start his 12 month military service. It had been a massive obstacle for a long time, something that had been hanging over us for years, preventing us from really settling anywhere.

Every Turkish male (health permitting) has to do national service, most of them do it when they are younger, aged 18-19, but Berkay deferred it due to his college studies.

He’s 24 now and decided it was time to get it over and done with, so after spending his last week of freedom in his village in Denizli, he got on the bus and headed off back to Fethiye to visit Boncuk and meet his friend who would take him to his training base in Izmir. Its tradition for the males going off to the army to drive around in cars decorated with huge Turkish flags, so Berkay’s brother decorated his car and drove him around, beeping the horn loudly to let everyone know. It’s also common for them to fire gun shots and make as much noise as possible for their big send off, showing everyone how proud they are.
Berkay spent the night in Izmir city centre in a house belonging to a relative of his friend, and everything started to become very real. It hit me that this would be the last time I got a ‘I’m going to bed, goodnight, love you’ message for a long time, something that we normally said every single night.

A fairly sleepless night later, it was Wednesday 4th February. D-day. A morning of getting last minute things sorted. Berkay went off to the shops to buy a payphone card to contact me with and a bottle of shaving gel. He somehow managed to fit all of his things into one small, black rucksack. Of course the most important thing is the notebook book with my number written down in it and the wallet-sized photographs of me he took with him 😉

We had a few skype calls during the day, during one of which my dad spoke to him to say ‘stay safe and look after yourself’, ‘you too look after Danni’ was Berkays response! Finally, 2 pm came and the dreaded final skype call came ringing through on my iPad. He was standing outside the army base, waiting to go inside and give his phone to his friend for safe keeping. A couple of minutes later and that was it, he was gone – inside the Izmir army base (patriotically decorated with a HUGE flag of Ataturk) where he’ll complete his training before moving onto his main posting for the remainder of the 12 months.
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A few hours later at 5.30 pm our time, he managed to get to a pay phone inside and I got my first ‘army phonecall’, I was so relieved. “I’m waiting to check in, there are so many people. There were 20 people waiting for phone but I wanted call you”…. that one phone call made me feel so much better. Bless him.

It’s so weird to think that after 4 and a half years of speaking to each other every single day, a total of 162,117 Facebook messages back and forth (yes, that is the actual number) and 3 years living together, suddenly our contact will be suddenly dramatically decreased. No more good morning or goodnight messages, no more ‘I’m on the bus going to work’ or ‘im just having a shower’ messages. No more moaning to him when I’m annoyed, no more quickly FaceTiming him to share good news or when I need his face to cheer me up. It’s really hard knowing he’s not just a Facebook message away. He will have no internet access until he gets days off or holidays when he is able to pop to an internet cafe, but neither of us have any idea when that will be. He doesn’t have his phone in there with him, a lot of people try to smuggle them in unnoticed, but if caught they can be punished with days in army-prison and forced to make up the extra days at the end of their service, it’s just not worth the risk. Instead we’ll have to make do with phonecalls, hopefully as regularly as possible. It’s the uncertainty that bothers me, and the not knowing when he’ll call, I’ll have to try and avoid no-signal zones as much as possible! Will I miss a call while I’m stuck on the underground trains? In the cinema, in the local supermarket with no signal, at work? I’m hoping we’ll settle into a routine soon enough though.
For now, I’ll settle for crossing the days off my calendar and going to bed and waking up with this little reminder staring at me. “Love you honey. Going to army but coming soon. Wait me”. He sent me this little post-it note along with some of my favourite Turkish treats in a package last week, all the way from Turkey. I’ve framed it and have it in my room, I love reading it over and over again!

364 days and counting.

Berkay’s birthday, rescuing puppies and cake..

Back in December it was Berkay’s 24th birthday, it fell on the day before I was due to fly back to the UK.
He had arranged to have a half day at work, so we got to spend the afternoon and evening together. I woke up early to make him a special Turkish breakfast – eggs, cheese, bread, tomato, turkish sausage and çay, with balloons! I managed to hunt down a birthday card in Fethiye (why on earth are birthday cards SO expensive there?!) and Boncuk even wrote one for him herself, “to my human”.
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Off Berkay went to work, and after a bit of packing I walked to the hotel to sit and have a few hours with Boncuk. Around lunchtime Berkay finished work and met us, we planned to take Boncuk out for long walk together but didn’t get far… 2 minutes down the road she stopped to sniff something in the grass, we went over to see and it was a tiny dog laying on a pile of twigs and rubbish, hardly moving. We tried to pick her up and see if she was ok but she yelped and wouldn’t stand…nobody knew who she belonged to, although a restaurant owner nearby said he had seen a truck dump her there the day before. We were really concerned about the poor dog and didn’t want to just leave her because she looked so sad and poorly, so we rang a local vet who we knew worked with street animals and provided treatment for them for free through the animal aid charity. We took her on the bus and she just laid on Berkay looking really scared and sad, I don’t know how anyone could dump her! The vet done some scans and xrays and found nothing much wrong, just a bit of fluid around her belly due to a dog bite which he cleaned up and disinfected, and a serious vitamin D deficiency which had resulting in the puppy’s legs being bowed, we suspect this is why she was dumped. Once he had treated the bite and given her some painkillers and vitamins we took her back, we couldn’t keep an eye on her ourselves as we had nowhere to keep her, so we asked a nearby cafe to watch her. I was worried they wouldn’t look after her but we went back a few hours later and they had given her a box with a tshirt in, a blanket, food and water. The best part was that someone else had seen her, fallen in love and arranged to pick her up in a couple of days! That was our good deed of the day done.
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By the time we got home and I finished packing a few more bits, it was time to get ready and leave for the restaurant we had booked – Mancero. We got dressed up, hopped on the dolmus and went. We got off wayyyyy too early by accident, but it turned out well as it meant we could admire the beautiful view just after the sun had gone down. We walked along the promenade and the sea looked absolutely stunning with the yellow, orange and blue tint of the sky, a few fishing boats were out which looked lovely in the foreground with the multicoloured horizon behind.
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We had a lovely dinner in Mancero, but I’ll write about that in another post! Then we headed back to Calis and to Hüner cafe, where we’d arranged to meet friends for some birthday cake.
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Funny story about the cake.. Berkay rang up to order it, then I told him to ring them back and ask for it to say ‘happy birthday askim’…as if I had arranged it for him… because I thought it was cute but didn’t know how to ask them myself…hahaha poor Berkay ordering his own cake eh? It was delicious and we had good company, including our two best friends and their twin boys… Adorable… look at the teddy bear bums!
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I love these photos of us, we look so happy.
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We had a lovely evening, although there was a very sad atmosphere lingering over us knowing it was our last evening together… It’s funny looking back at these photos knowing it was 7 weeks ago! It doesn’t feel like that long ago, yet it does feel like years ago at the same time!