Izmir & the English test..

This morning straight after finishing his night shift at the hotel Berkay headed to Fethiye Otogar and got the bus to Izmir.

The journey takes 5hours and 45minutes, so it’s quite far away and not the usual place he’d spend the day – he only went because that is where he needs to sit his English exam tomorrow morning.

This English exam is really the first step to applying for his visa to join me in the UK. The whole process is very long, very expensive and very time consuming, but as part of the requirements he has to pass the IELTS English life skills A1 test. It has to be taken at specific visa approved test centres in major cities like Izmir, Istanbul, Antalya, Ankara etc, and although Antalya is slightly nearer, Izmir was the only place with a slot available within the next few weeks, so that’s where he had travel to.

He was quite willing to get the nightbus, travel all night and arrive in the early hours of the morning and wait outside for the test centre to open but I convinced him to book into a hotel overnight so he could relax and get a good night’s sleep before the big exam at 9am Friday morning. He has a good knowledge of English, very understandable but not fluent, so he has spent weeks practicing for the exam, watching sample tests on YouTube and downloading English teaching ebooks on his phone to listen to while he sleeps. I’ve tried to help him as much as I can but I think he’s really nervous about it – he FaceTime’d me from his hotel room tonight panicking a bit and had all his pens, pencils, rubber and blank sheets of paper ready just in case, even though it’s a listening exam, bless him.

The exam itself cost us around 820tl / £200, so it’s not cheap. Plus the travel there and back, along with the hotel for the night. By the time we apply for the actual visa, we’ll have paid out around £3000, with no guarantee it will be granted, so it’s an awful lot of money. The exam only lasts for 18-25 minutes, so the 11 hour round trip is an awful long way to go just for that. I’m sure people don’t realise this when they’re complaining about ‘foreigners’ coming to the UK so ‘easily’ and ‘not even being able to speak English’. It’s really frustrating being on the other side, seeing the hoops we have to jump through just to live together and knowing that people are so oblivious and unaware of the effort, time and money it actually takes.

On the plus side, Berkay gets a day away from work, he won’t get another one until summer is over. He had a few hours spare this evening and went for a walk around Izmir – it’s very much a big, built up city, nothing at all like the places Berkay is used to, so it’s all very new and overwhelming to him although he did spend the first few weeks of his army service there last February. Whilst out on his walk he took a little detour and managed to get lost. “I lost myself in Izmir and found myself again” he said. Bless him!
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He’s had quite a busy week, my grandparents are out in Calis at the moment so he’s been meeting up with them most days – it’s probably nice for him to have some company. Straight after his exam tomorrow morning he’ll be making the 5 hour 45 minute journey back to Fethiye again, hopefully in time for dinner with them before they fly home tomorrow night.

We’ll know in a couple of weeks time whether he passes or not, but please wish Berkay luck for his exam tomorrow morning at 9am Turkish time… we really need him to pass to get the ball rolling visa-wise! It’s just the first of many nervous long waits!

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A quiet afternoon in Calis..

Berkay works nights in summer so he sleeps most of the day and often wakes up mid-afternoon and goes for a stroll around Calis – he likes to send me lots of photos to make me jealous, which they certainly do!

The clear sky, the blue sea and the beautiful long promenade full of shops, bars and restaurants – they all look just as wonderful as ever, but definitely a lot quieter than usual.
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There seems to be a lot less tourists visiting this year, which is sad to see. When I was there in April it appeared to be fairly ‘busy’ for the time of year, but numbers should be increasing the further into the season we get, and that doesn’t appear to be happening. Since it opened a month ago, the hotel Berkay works in hasn’t had more than 30 customers in per night, and it’s been more like 15 on average! For whatever reasons, fear of terrorism, negative media representation or perhaps just the price of flights, a lot of resorts seem to be quieter than normal and we can only hope that things improve once the school holidays start in the UK as July and August are always the months with highest tourist numbers.

On his walk, Berkay walked all the way from the start of the promenade, outside the lovely sea front apartments we stayed in in April, to the main part where all the restaurants are. He then walked down the road where the canal runs, to where the water taxis go back and forth to Fethiye – these 30minute mini-boat trips always go down a treat, it makes a nice change from the dolmus and is much more relaxing.
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I love how the multi-coloured umbrellas look on the beach, they really stand out against the blue of the sky, I wonder if they were inspired by the famous floating multicoloured umbrellas in Fethiye? It is sad to see it so empty though, the beach should be full of sunbathers, not only a handful.
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I really hope that the season picks up and everyone visiting the area makes the trip to Calis and sees how peaceful and beautiful it is. It’s always a lot quieter than the other main resorts in the area, not as loud as Oludeniz and Hisaronu, but just a short dolmus ride away. It’s really beautiful with a lot of picture perfect scenery, a huge array of delicious restaurants and who could forget those amazing sunsets.

You just can’t beat it, even if I am biased!