Taksim Square & the Islak burger/wet burger..

When we booked to go to Istanbul we were both really excited about trying it’s famous street food – top of the list thanks to friend recommendations, was the Islak Burger – I had seen people post about it online and it had never really looked appealing to me but I’m open to new things so I stuck it on the list!

Once unique to Taksim square, islak burgers have started to spread across to other areas, and when Berkay went back to Fethiye after our trip he even managed to find somewhere there selling them! They aren’t really as popular elsewhere though, and to get the authentic experience, you have to go to the home of the islak burger – the top of Istiklal street, on the corner of Taksim Square.
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Taksim square itself is well known for being the central point of demonstrations, riots and protests but when we went, on a sunny, cold Saturday lunchtime it was peaceful and relatively empty. There is a monument in the middle of the square, made in 1928, commemorating the founders of the Republic of Turkey – showing Ataturk in his military uniform on one side, representing the war of independence, and in his ‘normal’ clothes on the other side, representing the modern Turkish Republic.

By night, the area is bustling with thousands of people frequenting its many restaurants, bars and nightclubs – at the end of a good night, they all need something to soak up the alcohol and that’s where the islak burger comes in!
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‘Islak’ is the Turkish word for ‘wet’, so as the name suggests, it is essentially a soggy burger.  A thin, small beef patty, bun and a special garlicky tomato sauce is all they consist of. Once the burgers are cooked and made up, they are put in a glass box on a metal plate – underneath the plate boiling water creates steam which rises up and creates condensation – basically the burgers are treated to their own little sweaty Turkish Hammam experience! It may not sound the most appealing in the cold light of day, but after a heavy night out, you can imagine the appeal!
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As we were in the area at lunchtime, I had my burger earlier in the day than most people! At 5tl each, I can see why people are tempted to have more than one! Berkay didn’t fancy it so he had a doner instead from the same little cafe.

If you get the chance, you should definitely try an Islak burger, don’t be put off by the fact it looks soggy – it’s delicious, especially the way the sauce is soaked into the bread!
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The Christmas Poinsettia – Ataturk Çiçeği

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It’s that time of year, Christmas Eve, Eve, in fact! Where festive things are all around, twinkling lights, pretty trees, tinsel, enough food to feed the 5000, endless tubs of chocolates, and perhaps a poinsettia or two!

It’s the latter that I want to talk about – up until last year I had no idea that our festive red poinsettias have a link to Turkey, and not the kind that forms our Christmas dinner!

In Turkey these beautiful flowers are called ‘Ataturk Çiçeği’. I have read that they were Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s (founding father of Turkey) favourite flower, and named in his honour as he encouraged the cultivation of them in the country – the beautiful red colour certainly matches well with the Turkish flag, doesn’t it?
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I have 3 poinsettias adorning my table at the moment, a deep pink one which was a gift from a friend, a glittering, sparkly red one, and the one in the middle which is almost completely green, and overgrowing, as it has been in my house since last Christmas! When I got it last year it was red and glittery like my new one, and reduced to £1.50 in Tesco, so a real bargain! It’s not red anymore, though I have that read sticking it in a dark place for 12 hours a day will make the leaves turn red again so maybe I will try that… I tried to jazz it up with some fake berries. I’m amazed I managed to keep it alive, I’m not very good with plants… I’m a big fan of Christmas and start getting excited about it half way through the year, so I joked that the only reason it was still alive is because it’s always Christmas in my heart… of course Berkay said no, it’s because Ataturk is always in his! 
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A Brief glimpse of Istanbul..Aqua Florya Alışveriş Merkezi

 
I have wanted to visit Istanbul for ages, but never had the time or the opportunity really – we are creatures of habit and love going back to Calis and Fethiye. Although I would be happy to go elsewhere for a change, Berkay just is a real Fethiye boy at heart. I’m hoping for a little city break in Istanbul one day, but the closest thing I’ve had to seeing Istanbul so far, is from inside Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

However, when we were on our journey back to London Gatwick in September , we had a 4 hour stopover at Ataturk airport and we took the opportunity to have a mini adventure. We exited the domestic terminal and stood in the taxi rank area, we planned to go straight to the International terminal and just sit around and wait, but seeing all the taxi’s made us reconsider! We had 4 hours to spare, and decided as long as we were back at the airport 2 hours before our flight we would be fine. It was a bit manic, taxi’s everywhere, people trying to find empty ones, but Berkay managed to speak to someone who suggested we go to the nearby Aqua florya, so we hopped in a taxi with our hand luggage and that’s what we did.
 
The shopping centre was about 15 minutes away from the airport, so we arrived there quickly. I felt a bit suspicious walking around with my mini suitcase hand luggage, especially as security was pretty high, they searched the taxi as it approached and scanned us and our bags on entry to the shopping centre – the level of security is quite reassuring though.

Aqua Florya Shopping centre is huge, it has multiple floors of shops, a food court, cinema, sea-side cafes and restaurants and even an aquarium, which is the main theme throughout, hence the name ‘aqua’. There are fish-themed decorations hanging in the centre too, it looks really pretty. When we went it was completely empty, but it was around 11am, so quite early. It was also midweek, I bet it’s really busy at weekends. The shops looked quite expensive, big fashion names, but we didn’t walk around too much so didn’t go in any or see much of it.
 
We saw a sign for the terrace and stepped outside, the view was absolutely stunning. We walked down the wooden steps to a little cafe with a sea view, we only had a glass of tea though. While sitting there, we could watch the planes fly in over the sea on their way to land at the nearby Ataturk airport, where we had just come from. They were very frequent, every few minutes, as it’s a very busy airport!  

We were really conscious of the time, and although we had around 3 hours until our flight, we didn’t want to be in a rush, so we only stayed around 45 minutes. On our way out of the shopping centre we tested out the massage chairs, just for a couple of minutes of fun! If we had longer between flights we would have gone into the aquarium because I’ve heard it is very good.

When we left, we found the taxi rank and jumped in one back to the airport, where we experienced a bit of Istanbul traffic! The journey which took us 15 minutes on the way there, took us 50 minutes on the way back, so it’s a good job we left in plenty of time!! Finally we got back to the airport, through security and passport control and waited for our flight, with plenty of time to spare without getting bored!
 
Even though we had the briefest glimpse of Istanbul, it was a nice little mini adventure to break up the wait between flights and we enjoyed the change of scenery and beautiful sea views. I really want to explore ‘real’ Istanbul in all it’s glory and hope one day I can convince Berkay to have a proper visit!

Flying with Turkish Airlines again!

I flew with Turkish Airlines for the first time last year, and wrote a post about it on here (click HERE to read). We flew with them again last month and it was a little different, so I thought I’d do an updated post.

Going out, we flew from Gatwick to Dalaman via Sabiha Gökçen airport in Istanbul, which I’d never been to before. The previous 4 times I flew with them, the cabin crew came around with a small piece of Turkish delight and a menu, just after take off, but this time they didn’t – I think they must have stopped doing this now! The menu was handy as it told you the meal options in advance, rather than just waiting for them to come around with the trolley and having to make an on-the-spot decision!  When they did come around, about 45 minutes into the flight, we got given the option of a meat dish or a pasta dish – I chose the meat. We had chicken, vegetables, mash, salad with feta cheese, tomato and cucumber and a bread roll with butter. Dessert was some kind of mousse, I think it was mango or something similar with chocolate flakes on top! We also had a little carton of water, and a drink of whatever we wanted, including alcohol! I love that you get a little sachet of olive oil for the salad, we all know how Turks love their olive oil, and salt, pepper and ‘real’ metal cutlery too – nothing worse than trying to cut meat with a plastic fork!

When we came in to land at Istanbul, the view of the city from the plane window was really interesting, the airport is so close to so many buildings, and there are some really fancy tower blocks too. All you can see when taking off/landing at Gatwick is fields, so it made a nice change! We had an hour and 25 minutes between flights, but our first one was delayed by around 30 minutes, so it was a bit tight! We walked down the steps off the plane and onto a waiting bus to take us to the terminal. There was a MASSIVE queue for passport control and we panicked a little as we only had an hour to get through, go to the international terminal, find the gate and board the plane. Luckily, there were airport staff directing people with domestic connecting flights to go through a fast track passport control desk and straight into the international terminal, without having to re-enter through security so that saved us a lot of time. After a quick wee, we checked the board, found our gate number, walked down to it and breathed a sigh of relief as we sat down in the seating area. We must have been sat down for less than 60 seconds when they announced that it was time for us all to go towards the desk and have our boarding passes checked, then taken onto another bus on the tarmac ready to take us to the plane!

We got to walk up the steps to the plane which I always love doing, so much more fun than walking through the tunnel to board! This particular plane was different to any others I’d been on and had little footrests under the seats which I loved – really comfortable. By the time we sat down, the sun was just beginning to set outside, which made it feel like a really long day of travelling as we had left our house at 7.15 am that morning!

The flight from Istanbul to Dalaman is really quick, less than an hour, and almost straight after take off the cabin crew came around with some snacks. On the domestic flights you don’t get a full meal, just a snack, and no alcoholic drinks, just soft drinks or tea/coffee. The last time I flew the food was given in a little paper tray and had a sandwich, pot of salad and dessert, but they have changed this, now it’s only a toastie or something similar. We had cheese, tomato and olive toasties. Berkay, being the growing man that he is, asked for two, and they gave them to him, he was very thrilled about this as you can tell!

The domestic terminal at Dalaman is currently under construction so when we landed we were taken to a corner of the International airport through a door to collect our luggage from the carousel, then it was straight outside, down the ramp and into our transfer car to Calis!

Fast forward two weeks and the inevitable journey back home again began. Of course the flights out to Turkey are always much more exciting than the flights back home again, right? We had been awake since 5am for our 8.30am flight, and although the excitement of going on holiday keeps you wide awake on the way out, when you’re tired on the flight home and facing the reality of going back to work the next day it’s not quite as fun! With one last glance down at Dalaman, the plane soared up to 30,000 ft and we waited for our in-flight breakfast snack – a cheese and tomato panini!

As soon as we had finished that, it was time to land in Istanbul again, this time at Atatürk Airport. We had longer between flights this time – almost 4 hours to wait, so we actually left the airport for an hour and hopped in a taxi to a local shopping mall. On our return to the airport, we went through security, passport control, one more security with full body scanners, then through to Duty Free. When we checked the departure boards, our gate number was already up so we found that and had our boarding passes and passports checked not one, not two, but three times, and Berkay had his hand luggage thoroughly searched in a spot-check too! The security there is really good, but I suppose it’s expected. We didn’t have to wait too long before boarding once again, and Berkay had his last sniff of Turkish air before stepping on the plane.

The meal on the flight home was again a choice of a meat or pasta dish. We had kofte (meatballs), rice, vegetables, cacik (yogurt with cucumber), a bread roll and a chocolate mousse for dessert.
 
Other than the food, my favourite things about Turkish Airlines are the personal entertainment touch screens on the back of all the seats. They have lots of games, music and films on them, including some films not even released on DVD yet! The ones on the plane home even had USB ports so you could charge your phone through them, really handy! I’m a big kid and can’t travel without a a bear, I always get him out on the plane as you can see! By the time I had watched a film and had a sleep, making the most of the empty seat one side of me, the Captain announced it was time to descend into Gatwick, right back to down to earth with a bump, literally!

Overall I love flying with Turkish Airlines, and this time they were actually cheaper than Easy Jet, Thomas Cook etc with the added bonus of 23kg hold luggage included, 8kg hand luggage and the free food and drinks. The only downside is the waiting time between flights but I think it’s well worth it!

Turkey Day 4… Statues, Ducks & Red skies at night..

I always say how fond I am of Fethiye town centre and even though I lived in Calis, 15minutes away, for 3 years, Fethiye centrum is absolutely my favourite place.

Whenever we were bored, or just wanted a walk and a drive, we headed off to Fethiye, found a parking space and wandered around. There is so much to see it never really bores me. Every town in Turkey has a statue of Ataturk (I only found this out recently) but Fethiye has a lot more than just one so you’re never very far away from a photo opportunity! This one is directly opposite Pizza Tomato and sits pride of place in the park, accompanied by a couple of lions, although I’m not sure what the reference is to those.
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While wandering around the harbour, we came across one of the famous simit sellers. Walking along with lots of those little sesame covered bagel-like breads balancing on a tray on their head is a real art form, and its funny to watch. A part of me watches in awe, and a very small mischievous part of me watches wishing they’d trip over and drop them all on the floor because it would be a perfect comedy moment.

After a quick doner for lunch, we headed off to the fish market – another of the places we always have to visit while we’re in Fethiye. I do like the fish market, but boy does it smell, not only of the obvious, but also of smoke, so much so it makes my eyes sting just walking around it. We bought some fish for dinner and ended up with way more than we intended – the sellers are very persuasive!
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On the drive back to Calis we stopped off at the Ördek Adası – duck island, opposite the devlet hospital. There were a lot of ducks around so we climbed over the fence (ignoring the signs…) and tried to feed them, but apparently these ducks don’t like bread as the whole area was full of bits of breads and the ducks just peacefully bobbed away ignoring it! It’s still nice to see the island so full of wildlife though.

It was a little too early for dinner when we arrived back in Calis so we decided to make the most of the sunshine and sit at a beachfront cafe playing backgammon and drinking tea. This is my favourite pastime, it’s so relaxing and even though I always lose, we always have a lot of laughs.
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Back at our apartment Berkay cooked dinner for us as usual.. another BBQ, our 2nd of the week! We had fish, jacket potatoes, aubergine salad and crusty bread, believe me when I say it tasted much better than it looks. While he was cooking it, the sun went down over Calis and it created the most beautiful reflection in the pool on our complex, I love that time of day and how pretty the skies always are with the glow of the sunset. The best thing about watching the sunset is knowing you have another whole day in Turkey to wake up to!
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Flying with Turkish Airlines…

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Up until a few weeks ago I’d only ever flown to Turkey with the usual holiday airlines, Easyjet, Thomson, Thomascook, Monarch, and once with Pegasus. I’d never flown with a slightly more higher class scheduled airline like Turkish airlines, mainly because I didn’t want to deal with the stopover at Istanbul. However, in January there were no other options unless I flew to Antalya which was far from ideal, so after much persuasion from friends who have done this same journey many times, I plucked up the courage to book my flight from London to Dalaman via Istanbul Atatürk.

I panic about the smallest of things, and having to find my way around a strange new, very busy airport was my worst nightmare. All sorts were running around my head, would I have to pick up my suitcase between airports, how long would be enough time between flights, what would happen if I missed one, what if I got lost and ended up on the wrong plane… some really irrational thoughts went through my head! I can honestly say though, even with the stopover in Istanbul, Turkish airlines are the best airline I’ve ever flown with and they were the best flights I’ve had.

The biggest bonus about Turkish Airlines is the fact you get free food and drink on board. I haven’t had meals on planes for years, I never bother because I think they’re very overpriced and not that great. But these Turkish airlines meal options were really impressive, although definitely very ‘Turkish’ so may not appeal to all tastes. Just after take off on the international flights we got given a little menu with 2 different meal options listed (but I believe there are more meal options available if you specify you require a special meal in advance when booking). The menu had a meat dish and a vegetarian dish, and you just tell the air steward your choice when they bring the food trolley out. On my flight out to Istanbul we had a choice of pasta or meatballs. I had the kofte (meatballs), served with rice and kuru fasulye (beans), patlican (aubergine), cream cheese and crackers, a bread roll, butter and a berry yogurt/mousse. This came with a choice of drinks, including alcoholic ones, but I settled for orange juice and water. Also quite excitingly, the cutlery was ‘real’ and made of metal, instead of flimsy plastic.
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Coming back from Istanbul to Gatwick, the meal wasn’t quite as nice, but still amazing considering it was included in the price. This time it was a choice of fish or pasta and I opted for the fish – grilled salmon, served with mashed potato and black lentils, along with cacik (garlic, mint and cucumber yogurt), cream cheese and crackers, a bread roll, butter and a chocolate mousse.
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On the internal/domestic flight we also got a mini-meal which I wasn’t expecting! The flight was an hour long so as soon as the cabin crew’s seat belt lights went off they grabbed the food trolley and began serving us cute food packages, designed to look like picnic baskets with little handles. On the outbound Istanbul – Dalaman flight we got given a turkey, cheese and salad sandwich, a pot of aubergine and a banana and chocolate mousse, and on the return flight we got a cheese and salad sandwich, a pot of olives, cucumber and tomato and a slice of vanilla chocolate cake.
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The cabin crew also served tea and coffee throughout the International flights, and gave us a small, well presented piece of Turkish delight just after take-off, which was a nice touch. The crew were really friendly, smiley and helpful and I liked the way the chef stood with his white hat on at the entrance to the plane welcoming everyone aboard too. Another nice touch was the way they played a bit of music when landing, it’s such a small thing and a simple concept but it really made me smile.. although not so much when I was landing back in the miserable UK!

The other main bonus when flying with Turkish Airlines is the fact each seat has a personal entertainment system built into them. Normally I just sit and entertain myself by watching a film on my iPad or listening to music and doing a puzzlebook, but I really enjoyed having the entertainment system to use. It had the most recent movies, even ones not yet on DVD such as the new James Bond movie, lots of movies of all different genres, TV programmes, music and games… great for keeping kids amused too. My favourite part was the tracker telling us how far into the flight we were, which countries we were flying over, the altitude and how far to destination we were.

The seats had a bit more legroom that I normally get flying with Thomascook etc, although Easyjet are pretty good in that department too. The only one negative thing I can think of is how hot it was on board the plane. Normally when boarding I’m always a little hot and bothered, but mid-flight I’ve usually got my blanket or jacket out and like to get cosy – but all 4 of my flights with Turkish Airlines were hot and stuffy and that made it rather uncomfortable towards the end. It was so hot that at one point I was fanning myself with the ‘what do to in an emergency’ card and fellow passengers were asking them to turn down the heaters – I think it must be a Turkish thing, they’re afraid of a tiny bit of cold air, especially if its being blown out through vents like the ones above the seats on planes. It was bearable but definitely a problem, and I’ll make a note next time to wear removable layers rather than just a long sleeved top or jumper!
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The best part of all was that the stopover at Istanbul wasn’t nearly as traumatising as I thought it would be, and it also meant I got to see Istanbul, even if it was only from above it still looked beautiful! When we got off the London-Istanbul flight we exited the plane via steps which was quite exciting as I haven’t done that for years. Then we got on a transfer bus which took us from the tarmac to the arrivals section of the airport, it was well signposted for international arrivals and for those of us with non-Turkish passports. I queued up with my visa and passport and went through passport control then exited the airport and followed signs to the domestic terminal, it only took around 15mins to walk to it. I didn’t have to collect my suitcase or check in again as I already had been given my boarding pass for the 2nd flight when I checked into the first at Gatwick, so I just went through security and found my gate. I had 2 hours to wait til my flight so I found a free wifi-spot to catch up on some internet time! (Note – Starbucks and Cafe Nero use the same free wifi host and you can register and join the network for free.. I didn’t even buy a drink, just stood outside for an hour taking advantage of the connection!) Also worth noting that even though my 2nd flight landed at the domestic terminal of Dalaman, we had to board a bus to be taken to the international terminal as our luggage still had to clear customs. It led to some confusion for Berkay because despite me researching this before hand and telling him, he was parked up waiting at the domestic terminal! D’oh! The return journey was pretty much the same and just as easy – I flew from the domestic terminal so all I had to do was check in and go through security, no passport control until I landed at Istanbul and entered the international terminal. International departures at Istanbul Atatürk is HUGE, very busy and quite overwhelming. I had a 4 hour wait so again found a spot next to Cafe Nero and sat on the floor next to the escalators using the WiFi. There were a few duty free shops, as well as several designer shops like YSL and Chanel, and a lot of cafes.. I didn’t explore much but I realised how large the airport was when I went to to the toilet and it took me 10-15minutes to find my way back to where I was previously sat. There were hundreds of flights departing too so the departure board looked quite impressive! When my gate eventually popped up I made my way to it and we were taken onto another bus from there and driven to the plane where we boarded up the steps, so much more satisfying than walking through the usual covered walkways to the plane!
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All in all, my experience of Turkish airlines was a good one and I will recommend them to anyone and everyone. If you’re in two minds about whether to book with them because of the stopovers in Istanbul, don’t let it put you off, it really wasn’t that bad. When booking your connecting flight make sure you have around 2 hours in between them so that you are able to find your way through the airport and to the correct gate without getting too stressed out and rushed.The best part of all for me, is how cheap the flights were – I paid £141 return, for effectively 4 flights with 23kg of hold luggage, 8kg of hand luggage, inflight meals and drinks all included. Despite my original fears and usual dismissal of Turkish Airlines purely due to the stopover, I would have no hesitation whatsoever about booking with them again, if they worked out cheapest, and I’d probably even choose them if they were slightly more expensive that other airlines as I feel it’s worth it. The only real problem is the length of time it takes, as the stopover does obviously lengthen the journey, but if you see the whole journey as part of your holiday experience it can all be part of the fun. If they flew direct to Dalaman it would be a no brainer and I would book with them every single time. It’s easy to see why they have won awards for being the best airline in Europe for the past few years!

Ending the blog with one of Turkish Airlines’ slogans – “Smaller world, Bigger smiles” – If only, eh?
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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.
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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.
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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.

Fethiye – sometimes it’s the simple things!

There are so many things to see in the Fethiye area, the whole area is so diverse and it’s easy to overlook the small things. My favourite place of all is Fethiye town centre, there’s no doubt about it. It’s busy all year around and it doesn’t become a ghost town when the summer season is over and the tourists have gone home, life continues as normal and businesses stay open.

There is so much to see and sometimes even just taking a walk the long way around while doing daily errands can provide you with beautiful sights and surroundings.

On Friday we needed to pop into town to go to the bank, change some money and pay some bills. We waited til the late afternoon, the bank was empty and we were in and out so quickly we had some time to spare. We took the back road to the exchange office and walked under the much photographed multicoloured umbrellas. I love this idea. Fethiye is a beautiful area, and you could easily get carried away taking photos of the amazing views, who would have thought a few coloured umbrellas tied to some string would be so popular? They look amazing, and it certainly brightened up our trip to the bank to pay bills!
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There are also lovely water features and topiary around the town. One display being opposite the exchange office we use. It’s an old boat with fake sand, stepping stones and sea creatures made from bushes – it’s pretty, well kept and makes for an interesting photo.
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In quite a contrast to the rest of this area of town, there is an ancient Lycian Sarcophagus just behind the marina area, next to the Nufus office/town hall. It looks like it doesn’t belong there, it’s very random. I’ve seen old photos of Fethiye from hundreds of years ago (1800’s!) and the sarcophagus can be seen surrounded by water, now obviously it is inland due to development – it’s interesting how things have changed and built around it while it just sits untouched. (Link to the old photo HEREIMG_7595 IMG_7596
We took the long route back to the bus station via the ‘new’ town square, which has actually been completed for nearly 2 years now! The most interesting and quirky parts of this area are the wonky buildings next to the main concrete square. They’ve been wonky for as long as I can remember, and after various earth tremors have become worse. The rows of houses on the other side of the road behind these are also slanted, they lean backwards. Apparently they have become more slanted in recent years after work to improve the pavements in the town took place – but I don’t know for sure about that. I can’t imagine they’re very safe to live in, I don’t think they’d meet the minimum safety requirements required for earthquake insurance etc..!IMG_7598 IMG_7599
Aside from the wonky buildings, the park hosts a statue of Atarturk, (there are several of these in Fethiye and at least one in every town in the country) water fountains, flowers and pretty wooden benches. The fountains don’t seem to run on any kind of schedule, sometimes they’re on, sometimes they’re not, and sometimes it looks nicer than others, but it seems to be well-kept during the season and it is a lovely place to wander around and kill some time. There’s a playground for children which is often busy with passing tourists and locals, and yet more impressive topiary along the pathways. I love to watch the fountains here at night, they are all lit up and look beautiful. I’ve written a post about it previously – click HERE.
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I love just walking through Fethiye, it has a real working town atmosphere. I love how there are elements of the old town mixed in amongst the new, modern, fit-for-tourism town – like the ancient sarcophagus sat surrounded by hotels and restaurants and the modest fishing boats sat in the harbour amongst the bigger daily tour boats which take hundreds of tourists out sunbathing and swimming around the islands everyday.
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I think that’s what I love about Fethiye the most, it can be as quiet or as loud as you want – it’s so diverse with so many things to see, but sometimes it’s just the simple things that make your walk to pay the bills that little bit more fun, that are the best.

 

10 untrue stereotypes about Turkey..

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Anyone who has never visited Turkey, or bases their judgement of the country by what they have seen in one resort, is quite likely to form their own stereotypes of the country and it’s people from things they’ve heard, seen or read.

Anyone who lives here, or who has spent a considerable amount in the country will know most of these stereotypes are not true. Here are a few of the most common ones:

1. Turkey is a strict Muslim country.
Well, it’s certainly true that the majority of the country claim to be Muslim by religion, but the country as a whole, is not. Turkey is actually a democratic republic. Turks are very proud of their history, particularly that of Ataturk. Ataturk is the founder of the Republic of Turkey, he reformed and modernized the country. Turkey is a secular state, meaning its government do not (or should not..) favour Islam over any other religion, and religion should have no effect on public life, politics or law (although this is arguable after recent events.)

2. Women walk around in Burkas, covered from head to toe, only showing their eyes.
Wrong. It’s very rare to see women wearing Burkas in Turkey, it is discouraged.  A lot of women do wear headscarves, although this is changing too. In fact, those women working in government buildings are not permitted to cover their head while working.
Walking around Fethiye in summer, I have seen plenty of Turkish women wearing revealing clothing, leaving little to the imagination, beaches are full of Turkish people sunbathing in bikinis. I imagine a lot of the big cities to be the same. Of course, in strictly religious rural towns and more traditional families, a lot of women do still cover up, but it is their choice.

3. Turkish people are uneducated.
Wrong.  School education is compulsory for 6-18 year olds. There are over 100 universities in Turkey, some of which are very good, well respected and internationally known.  I think this stereotype is one which comes from people judging the whole country based on their experience in holiday resorts. A lot of resort workers are from small villages and towns far away and come to resorts to find work as they are not qualified in any area of expertise. A visit to Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir or any of the larger cities would most likely change your mind.

4. Men are dominant, women are submissive and stay at home.
Technically, women and men have equal rights, but in practice, I’m not so sure. As before, in remote, religious and traditional villages, it is the norm for the male to be the main breadwinner and the wife to be the housewife; to cook, clean and be a good host to guests. Of course, women being housewives doesn’t necessarily mean they are submissive, many prefer this than working, lets not forget that stay at home mums and housewives are still a common thing in the UK too. However, with more and more women having university education and being welcomed into professional jobs, families are being modernized and women becoming more equal, even in tourists areas, it is not uncommon to see female waitresses and bar staff now. The country is very divided though in my opinion, between those modern and traditional families and their very different customs and beliefs.

5. Turkish men are lazy.
I can’t speak about all men, as I only know a few, and living in a tourist resort, my view is somewhat limited. What i will say though, is that the men who work in these tourist resorts do work ridiculously hard, long hours, often in the boiling heat, for very little money. Those who have professional, higher paid jobs may work less hours, but often just as hard. There is very little government help and certainly no real benefit system here in Turkey, nobody gets anything for free, they have to work hard for it. Turkish work ethic is the polar opposite of laziness, in my opinion. 

6. Turkish men are allowed x amount of wives.
Wrong. Polygamy is illegal and can be punished with a prison sentence.

7. All Turkish men are love rats and just after your money, or a visa.
Wrong. Again, a stereotype based on ignorant views from people who have only ever visited holiday resorts. Sure, a lot of Turks working in resorts are liars and cheats, but not all, and they do not represent the country as a whole. Some resort workers take advantage of the foreign tourists and see them as easy targets for sex, money, a visa etc. The warning signs are there for these types of men, most men are very proud and would never ask for money, if anyone does, it should be a huge red flag. Turkish men are also very family orientated in general, and would never cheat on their wives, families, etc.  There’s a lot of bad eggs out there, but there’s a lot of good’uns too. Lets not pretend adultery doesn’t happen elsewhere either, there are bad men, and women in every country in the world, it’s just thanks to ‘take a break’ magazine that Turkish people have arguably the worst reputation of them all.

8. The water is dirty.
Wrong. In most areas the water is perfectly safe to drink, especially those where the water is freshly sourced from melting snow on the mountains, springs, etc. There are some cities where old plumbing pipes affects the safety of the water, but on the whole the water is clean, however it may upset people if they are not used to it, as it has a higher mineral content and particularly high chlorine levels. I have always drunk it and never been ill, but bottled water is cheap enough if you’re here for a holiday and wary.

9. The country is unsafe.
Not really. Crime happens all over the world, certain areas are more dangerous and it could be argued that gun and knife crime are more common in Turkey than the UK, but I have no statistics to confirm this either way. On the whole, Turkey is safe, the people are friendly and you’ll never be far from someone willing to help you if you get into trouble. Some people board their plane and leave their common sense at the airport, stay alert and keep your wits about you, as you would in your home country, and you’ll be just as safe as you are at home.

10. Everyone wears a fez and has a mustache.
Don’t think there’s really any need to comment on this one is there?  (; Thought I’d end on a lighter note (:

Having a Turkish partner, naturally I am constantly defending Turkish people and trying to change peoples narrow view of the country I currently call home. As I have said, there are good and bad people and customs all over the world. Turkey is a beautiful country with plenty of kind, beautiful people. You have to know to look in the right places and not get caught up believing everything you read or hear, and know there is often a lot more to the country than we see in resorts and areas designed purely for tourism.