Travelling to Turkey in these strange times..

Six months ago, we had just had our April holiday to Turkey cancelled – three months later, things still looked bleak, although Berkay had managed to get a flight to Turkey and visit family for a couple of weeks, albeit with a two week quarantine on return to the UK. We had had our September holiday booked for a whole year, but even just 6 weeks ago I still wasn’t really sure if it was going to go ahead – I was checking the Covid19 totals in Turkey daily, and obsessing over the cases per 100,000, afraid to buy holiday clothes, stock up on sun cream or get fully excited! Then, my countdown became closer.. a month to go, 3 weeks, 2 weeks… with just a week to go, our flights were cancelled with Pegasus but within half an hour we had re-booked again with Easyjet, for a day sooner than originally planned, so finally it felt like we could get excited and start packing!

We flew to Dalaman on 4th September from Gatwick and all the new measures in place at the airport and on the plane went smoothly – masks, distancing where possible & hand sanitizer everywhere! We arrived, got in our transfer and off we went to Fethiye to a hotel for two nights. I had packed Dettol spray in my bag and sprayed the hell out of everything in the room, and I was nervous as I’ve got so used to my little working from home bubble! We spent the first morning in Calis, sunbathing and eating, then went back to Fethiye for a late afternoon nap and dinner at the fish market, followed by cake at a local patisserie. Although everyone we met had been good at keeping a distance, even good friends who Berkay has known for years only fist bumped instead of the usual shaking hands, it was whilst walking along in Fethiye that evening that I realised people were a lot more relaxed about masks being worn properly than they should be. It’s the law to wear masks as soon as you step foot outside your home/hotel/accommodation in Turkey, so, when walking the streets, parks, inside restaurants (until at your table), even when in your own private cars masks are supposed to be worn! It didn’t really surprise me that Turkish people, and tourists, had adopted new ways to wear their masks – chin straps, elbow pads or bracelets. We were good though, too scared to break the rules and risk a fine!

The next day, we got a taxi to Jiva Beach Hotel (where else of course…..) where we stayed for 9 nights. Once we were inside there, it felt like a huge weight was lifted. I know it’s a psychological thing, and that corona doesn’t care about holidays or hotels, but it felt safe to us. Our suitcases were sprayed down, our temperatures were taken on arrival via a wrist thermometer gun, reception had perspex screens up and distance markers on the floor, and 99% of staff had masks on for their whole, long shifts. I was wondering about the buffet, as obviously tongs being handled by 100’s of guests is not allowed anymore, but actually the whole set up was so much better than normal! There are perspex screens up at each food station, you point to or ask the chef (who is armed with gloves and a mask) what you want, they put it on your plate and away you go to the next station that tickles your fancy! There were a few less options as a result, but not much difference really! I think it will improve wastage, since you’re not responsible for piling your own plate sky-high, so that’s a good thing! The tables had disposable paper mats and packets set up with cutlery in, one-time use salt & pepper sachets, and a strong alcohol wipe. Each persons temperature was taken every time they entered the restaurant at breakfast, lunch and dinner times. Guests were encouraged to wear masks in the restaurant whilst browsing, and there were specific bins to dispose of masks in. Hand sanitizer was available all over the place – mostly touch-free points too. There were even masks and wipes in the room, restocked by the cleaners. Activities like table tennis, darts and pool still took place, but bats etc were all sprayed down with disinfectant when changing hands. Poolside bars and even the mini disco stage had social distancing markers and reminders on the floor. Sunbeds were laid out with measured distanced painted yellow markers on the floor, though obviously groups of people did move these around a bit, the staff were good at putting them back at the end of every day. There were even special rooms put aside for quarantine, near the on-site doctors office, in case a case arose. I don’t think they could do much more really. We distanced from most people, though mingled with a few ‘chosen’ ones, our decision and perfectly avoidable if we wanted to. The evening entertainment was pretty well organised, people were asked to respect social distancing outside of family groups in the amphitheater, and tables laid out 1.5 meters apart for the ‘disco’ and live music nights, and plenty of space on the make-shift dance floor, since the underground nightclub wasn’t allowed to open, obviously. Masks weren’t required to be worn by guests in the hotel grounds (apart from in the inside areas like the restaurant), so this made staying inside the hotel grounds a lot more desirable than going outside for a sweaty, stroll into Calis, but we did a few times.

After 9 nights, we checked out and drove 2.5 hours to Berkay’s family’s village in Denizli (I’ll be honest, I didn’t wear my mask in the car whilst it was just us two inside, unless we saw a police check point…) I expected not many villagers to be wearing masks as I thought the authorities might not be so strict with checking up on people there – but actually, people were really good! Masks, hand sanitizer outside all the shops, cafes and businesses and even more lemon cologne being offered around than usual. I was nervous when it came to eating – in this village its usual for the whole family, neighbours, friends and whoever is visiting to sit on the floor around a table cloth full of bowls and food, and all share things – dipping spoons in and out of bowls, ripping bread apart and handing it to someone else, sharing a side of salad, fried eggs, or a bowl of snacks and not to mention the countless hands in and out of a bowl of sunflower seeds. But, there were ways around it, and we were able to be a bit careful with our choices – more to protect Berkay’s family than us, since we were the ones who had just come from ‘outside’!

Dalaman airport, the gate and boarding situation for the flight home was chaotic though, and definitely felt like the most risky part – I know distancing isn’t really possible on the plane anyway, but absolutely no effort was being made by staff or passengers to distance at the gate, and it was a bit of an uncomfortable gathering! Forms had to be completed before arrival to both Turkey and the UK for track and trace purposes.

All of that said, I would be happy to get on a plane back to Turkey again tomorrow. I know some people think people shouldn’t be travelling at the moment and putting each other through unnecessary risk, but when you weigh up the positives, and the effect it has on people’s mental health, I think it’s absolutely the right decision for some! Is there really less risk involved in a staycation in the UK, an afternoon meal in your local Nando’s, a pub, or even a shopping trip to Asda? It also depends on your situation at home – Berkay travels to work in the pub on the London tube’s everyday, so taking a break from that environment for a few weeks can only be a good thing. Me – I’ve worked from home for nearly 7 months, and have seen and spoken to more people face to face (whilst distanced safely apart- mostly) in these two weeks than I have in the past 7 months, so that’s been good too.

Berkay is actually still in Turkey at the moment, due to fly home this Thursday, he’s stayed a little longer with his family, and our new baby niece, who is absolutely adorable, by the way. We got to see Boncuk too, who still has a soul as beautiful as ever.

I keep reading people say it’s selfish to travel at the moment, but I obviously don’t agree – as long as you’re sensible, being as safe as you can be, are insured and follow the guidelines of the places you’re visiting (including your own Governments travel advice), I say go for it – don’t expect it to be quite as carefree and ‘fun’ as usual, but Lord knows we all deserve a break from this year, and none of us need judging for taking any opportunity we get for that.

What a strange few months!

It’s been a long time since I posted on here – just as I was getting into the swing of blogging again and writing all about our trip to Istanbul at the beginning of the year, corona virus arrived, changed all our moods and took over our lives! It just didn’t feel right, writing on here about all the things we did in Istanbul and sharing my photos of the busy city streets from January because they made me sad, it felt like a million years ago, not two months!

Like everyone else in the country, we spent nearly 3 months in complete lockdown – instead of doing the commute for 2 hours a day, I began working from home and the longest commute I made was from the bedroom to my living room. Berkay was furloughed, and going a little more insane with each day that passed. Other than when he was in the army, this was the longest period he’d not been working since he was about 14 years old. I adapted easily to the ‘stay-at-home’ life, but Berkay really struggled. Knowing that Turkey had banned all flights from the UK really affected him, he felt trapped here and just wanted to get back there.

We had a trip planned in April. We were going to fly out the day before and then check into Jiva on my birthday for nearly two weeks. My family were going to fly out as a surprise, they had organised it all with Berkay and I had no idea. I’ve spent years conniving my dad to give Jiva a go, despite him not liking the idea of all-inclusive at all, and when he had finally decided to go, nobody was allowed to leave the country! It was a big disappointment. We also had our 4th wedding anniversary in April too.

In the middle of June, Berkay heard there was a repatriation flight to Izmir and he decided to book his seat. At the time there were still no normal flights, so it was a big risk and we weren’t sure when he’d be able to get back home to England – though I’m not sure he particularly cared! Luckily, the day he flew, somewhat-normal flights resumed from London to Istanbul, and with internal flights back in service in Turkey, he was able to book one back home for the beginning of July.  Whilst he was in Turkey he spent time with his family in Beyagac (whilst following all the corona and mask-wearing rules!), saw Boncuk dog, visited Calis & Fethiye, and he even bought an apartment in Denizli. He plans for it to just be an investment for us, and hopes to rent it out until he can sell it. Here are some photos he took on his travels:

When Berkay came back to London, he had to do the two weeks of quarantine, this time he wasn’t even allowed out of the house for a walk, so that was a struggle too! As soon as his two weeks were up, he was back at work, so now he’s back to his usual commute and daily routine – keeping him busy.  A couple of days after Berkay came back, our Turkish sister-in-law gave birth to a baby girl – our first niece! I can’t believe Berkay missed her by just a few days. I still have posts to write about their big-fat-village wedding almost two years ago, too!

As things start go back to normal-ish, we hope we are able to holiday in Turkey as planned in September, 8 days in our favourite place – Jiva, and then a chance to meet our baby niece, fingers crossed. I’m excited to go and meet up with some friends there but I know that it won’t be like ‘normal’ so I’m a bit nervous.

In the meantime, I’ll start searching through my photos and dedicating some time to writing on here again – keep your eyes peeled.

 

Two village weddings, some bizarre traditions and saying goodbye to the summer..

Last Wednesday we returned from our end-of-season trip to Turkey. We wouldn’t normally visit so late in the year, but we mainly went out for Berkay’s brother’s wedding. Berkay went out 5 days before me to help with wedding preparations, and then I flew out the day the wedding celebrations began (all 3 days of it)…. I missed the actual ceremony as that was earlier in the week, but was there for 2 full days of wedding parties, one in the brides village, one in the grooms. It involved some bizarre traditions, like men beating the groom, having him dress up in women’s clothes then cooking his wife an egg… Thousands of people came to the family home and the final night ended in a few tears after police were called and closed down the wedding due to several fights…… Honestly, if I didn’t have photographic evidence of all this stuff you’d all think I was making it up…

Anyway, after surviving 4 nights in the village, with the help of some ‘rescue remedy’ drops (seriously…) I breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was finally time to drive to Calis. Berkay’s brother and his new wife came with us for a few days too. We stayed in our favourite hotel, Jiva Beach Resort, which was lovely but also not without its surprises, partly because there was a loud, intimidating, narcotics anonymous convention in the hotel for a few days while we were there, with people from all over the world gathering… After a few days, that was over and during the end of our stay we were one of very few occupied rooms left…in fact, we checked out the morning the hotel closed for winter, so we had a very quiet last two days and practically had the hotel to ourselves! In amongst all that, we did the usual things, watched some beautiful sunsets, visited some old friends, made some new furry 4 legged ones and ate a lot of food! We also had some new experiences, visiting the new beautiful park in Calis/Fethiye was definitely a highlight, as well as hopping over to Sovalye Island for lunch, a first for us! Also somewhere amongst all the fun, we’re sure Berkay broke his toe.

As with everything, all good things must come to an end. Saying goodbye to our family and friends is horrible. Even saying bye to the hotel staff was hard, its funny how quickly you get into a routine of doing things and seeing people and then it’s hard to leave them all behind and go back to reality! I could never be one of those seasonal workers, making friends and knowing you’ll probably never see them again…I know they’re used to it and probably don’t really care about the people going and coming, but even for them I think it felt a bit weird right at the end of the season, there was definitely a strange atmosphere around! The hardest goodbye of all, was when we left the village and had to say bye to our Boncuk dog, she had the happiest face when we were around, and the morning we were leaving she just knew, she had the saddest face ever and she just broke my heart!

While we were out there, the clocks went back in the UK, but stayed the same out in Turkey, meaning the time difference is now 3 hours, long enough to leave us with a little jet lag on our return!

All in all, it was a good 12 days away, even if a little….very…stressful at times… It was the perfect end to the summer.

Now we’re home it’s full on CHRISTMAS mode…

 

 

Panoramic views of Fethiye

If you want beautiful, panoramic views of Fethiye, a good place to head to is ‘Aşıklar Tepesi’ – roughly translated to ‘hill of lovers’. You can reach it by car, up a very steep winding hill road, or via foot, up 163 steps from a backstreet below.

Whenever we rent a car, we usually drive up and pull over for a while so that we can take in the views, and on our last trip we did that twice.
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The view at the top is just stunning. The boat yard, harbour and amphitheatre to the left, the main bay, marina and town in the centre, and Calis in the distance to the right. All the buildings, especially the more traditional houses with white walls and red/orange roofs look good from high above too. You can see various mountain ranges in the far distance and the trees growing on the hillside just frame the view perfectly.

There are wooden seating areas hanging over the edge, some of them are very rustic and wobbly and I’m always a bit afraid of them breaking!  There used to be a little cafe up there but it’s been gone for a few years now and it still looks a bit of a mess really. You’ll also find piles and piles of sunflower seed shells on the floor, since it’s a popular place for locals to come and sit with a packet of them, a beer and their friends. You can sit here for ages, watching the boats sail in and out, but it’s equally as spectacular at night with the whole of Fethiye lit up down below.
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On the last day of our holiday back in June, Berkay’s family came to visit for the day since it was Bayram/Eid, so we took them up to the look out point and sat at a table with a couple of bottles of coke and some ice creams. His step-mum was too scared to stand too close to the edge so she took this photo of the rest of us instead, Berkay’s dad, brother, his brother’s fiancee and us.
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Going, going, gone.. A Calis Beach sunset.

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Anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know that my favourite thing to do in Turkey is watch a sunset, and there is no better place to do that than in Calis!

There’s just something special about sitting on the beach watching the sun slowly shrink and disappear, at the end of another day.
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Cloudy sunsets are particularly impressive, but this was on a clear day back in June, although a bit hazy due to the heat. I stood on the sand in front of Jiva Beach hotel, pointed my camera and snapped photos as the sun disappeared behind the mountains and hills in the far distance, going from a full circle to a tiny red slither, leaving an orange glowing sky behind. I love the slow gradient from red to all shades of orange, so perfect, as if straight off of an artists paintbrush onto a canvas.

People were swimming in the sea admiring the sunset for themselves too, so there are a few heads bobbing around in my photos!
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Apparently, watching the sunset can have actual benefits on our health and attitude. Not only does it get us outside in the fresh air, but it’s also inspiring and reminds us that we should be thankful for each day, for each morning the sun rises and each evening the sun sets. Watching a sunset can apparently also be a stress reliever, as we watch the sun disappear it can help us feel like the weight of the worries and stress of the day is lifted from our shoulders, we can put the troubles of the day behind us. The soft orange glow of the sky can help us see things in a new light, and notice the beauty in things that the harsh daylight can make us easily miss.
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In the summer the sun sets towards the right hand side of the beach, so its partially blocked by the hill, but it still looks beautiful. In winter months however, the sun sets right on the horizon, right in the middle of the sea as you look at it from Calis Beach, I haven’t seen one of those kinds of sunsets for a few years, perhaps in October…

Two weeks in Turkey …

This time 3 weeks ago we had just landed in Dalaman, with our whole 14 days holiday still ahead of us! This time last week, we were waiting back at Dalaman for our flight back home.

I’ve definitely had post-holiday blues this week, because we had the best time! We visited a lot of different places, old and new, and of course I took lots of photos to share in future blog posts.

We spent our first night in Köyceğiz before driving to Denizli, where we spent the day having a BBQ with family, amongst the trees. Then we spent a night in the village of Beyagac, visiting more family and of course we were reunited with our beautiful doggy Boncuk. We drove to Akyaka and spent a night there, as well as taking a boat trip down the river Azmak, then onto Dalyan where we spent a day at the beach, a night in a hotel and then a visit to the Caretta turtle hospital. After what felt like the longest 3 days ever, we drove back towards Fethiye, via Yeşil Vadi in Yaniklar. Nothing quite beats the feeling of driving over the hill and seeing Babadağ mountain in the distance! We drove briefly to Oludeniz, Hisaronu and Kayakoy before spending the night in Calis and then checking into my favourite place, Jiva Beach Resort – we were supposed to stay there for 6 nights but I just couldn’t tear myself away and we managed to take advantage of someone’s last minute cancellation and stay for another 2 days!

We landed back in London last Saturday morning, and by Tuesday night, less than 84 hours after stepping off the plane, we booked our flights to go back in October! That’s the best way to beat the post-holiday blues, right?

Here’s a tiny selection of photos I took – I just love all the colours ❤

 

 

 

Village breakfast at Pınarbaşı restaurant – Bozüyük

On our way back from Denizli to Fethiye last year, Berkay said he really wanted to take a detour and visit the village of Güzelköy / Bozüyük – while there we stopped at a well known restaurant called ‘Pınarbaşı’ for some late brunch!
 
 
Apparently the restaurant has been featured in a few Turkish tv shows filmed in the local village, so it’s quite popular! Berkay wanted to try their lunch menu, but they hadn’t started serving it at the time we got there, so we had to settle for a traditional village breakfast instead, which was actually just what we needed after a couple of hours of driving.

The food was really good, a typical Turkish ‘köy kahvaltısı’ – cheese, olives, tomato & cucumber, peppers, walnuts, eggs and sucuk, jams and spreads, honey & kaymak, fresh bread and a big pot of çay. Really yummy! We could have sat there for ages just eating and enjoying the surroundings.
  
The best part for me wasn’t actually the food, it was the location. There were trees and gardens all around, along with natural streams of water. We chose a table that was actually sat in the water. They had normal tables and an inside restaurant area, and then little bridges and platforms over the streams leading to tables sat in it. It was mid-September and really warm so it was nice to sit in the shade of the trees with our feet in the cold water, although we were the only ones who chose to do that, I bet it’s really popular in the height of summer. I love the fact they had ducks swimming around the tables and your feet, they definitely benefited from some of our leftover food too! They were so cute.
   
There’s also an ancient 800 year old tree, which is really beautiful to look at! Apparently, in the absence of modern medicine, it used to be used for its healing powers, with ointments and antidotes made from it’s roots. It’s also thought to have granted wishes to those passing through! The tree started to rot and has been protected for the last 20 years with the hope of keeping it alive in it’s full glory. It’s really interesting how the shapes have formed, it’s gigantic!
 
From what I can remember, the breakfast was a bit more expensive than normal, but I would go back and visit again because it was a really relaxing place and Berkay still wants to try their main menu! It’s around 2 hours from Calis/Fethiye, past Mugla city centre towards Aydin, so an ideal stop-off point if you’re on a long journey along that road – definitely worth a visit!
 

 

2017 – A Year in Photos – Happy New Year!

2017 was a good one for us, we bought our first home, we celebrated birthdays, our first wedding anniversary, we had holidays to Turkey, Berkay settled into his job and got a promotion and we have just enjoyed our first Christmas in our own home together. When the clock chimed at midnight, we looked back on 2017 fondly, but look forward to 2018 and what it brings!

For the last 4 years I have shared our lives on my blog, and at the end of each year, done a round up of my favourite memories of the year through photos, so here it goes, a look back over our 2017.

January/February
In the first week of January we went to view a flat, the first one we’d ever looked at in person. A couple of weeks later, we started the process of buying it and dealing with solicitors and all that grown up stuff! We spent February slowly gathering things for our house, and spent nearly 4 hours in Ikea on one occasion, ending up with a big shopping trolley full of essentials! We really enjoyed house shopping, even Berkay loved picking out stuff and going to look at fridges, sofas and washing machines, who would have thought that could be so much fun! 🙂

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March
On March 17th, we got the keys to our flat and moved in! We loved making it our own and getting all our furniture delivered and sorted out – even my giant 6ft teddy bear moved in with us 🙂
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April
At the beginning of April, I celebrated my 25th birthday, with the help of a lovely cake from Berkay. Towards the end of the month, we visited Turkey and whilst there, celebrated our one year wedding anniversary in Jiva Beach Resort Hotel in Calis. We started off a little tradition where each year, we take a photo of us holding the photo of us the previous year, eventually we’ll be holding a photo, of a photo, of a photo, of a photo, etc etc, hard to explain but it will make sense the more we do!
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May
During our trip to Turkey, we also visited Berkay’s family in Denizli, and of course got to spend a couple of days with Boncuk, who was very happy to see us.
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June
June meant warmer weather and we enjoyed having our balcony and looking out over the view! Our favourite thing to do in Turkey was have BBQ’s so we got ourselves a small little BBQ to keep on our balcony and we enjoyed a few of those over the summer! img_5819

July
In July, we went on Berkay’s first ever English camping holiday for a few days with my mum, stepdad and their dog, Brad. I knew Berkay would love camping and the simple life and he really did. He loved sleeping in the tent, going off to get water, doing BBQ’s, walking through the fields and even the toilet/shower blocks didn’t matter to him. It reminds me a lot of village life, which he loves. He still talks about this camping trip and always says he wants to go again, so hopefully we’ll do another one soon!
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September
Apparently nothing exciting or photo-worthy happened in August, it was mainly spent looking forward to September, because in September we visited Turkey again, this time a few days in the village visiting Boncuk and Berkay’s family, and then a week at Jiva hotel in Calis, which was the best holiday we ever had! We’d never really had a ‘holiday’ like that before, and we always used to walk past Jiva Hotel when it was being built and think we’d never be able to afford to stay there, we stayed there for one night in April, but a whole week there in September, enjoying the sun, the pools, the all inclusive food/drink and entertainment was just so good! It’s now my favourite place ever.
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October/November
At the end of November, Berkay went back to Turkey, alone this time, to visit his family and spend time with his step mum as she had been quite ill with kidney problems. He was there for 10 days and made friends with the new baby cow on their farm, her name is ‘Zilli’!  This was a month ago, so I expect she’s a lot bigger than this now! Meanwhile, I was in England getting ready for Christmas, my favourite time of year, and putting up the decorations. One of my favourite decorations this year is this key, ‘First Christmas in our new home’.
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December
In December we celebrated Berkay’s birthday with a caterpillar cake and a day out at the very wet, cold, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. We went to the circus and on a few, very expensive rides and had a great laugh – I love this photo of us on one of the rollercoasters.
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Then of course, it was Christmas day. Our first Christmas in our own home, and our first time cooking Christmas dinner! My mum, stepdad and their dog came for the day and they definitely rated our dinner 10/10, even with the improvised ‘no pig’ pig-in-blankets, made from Turkey bacon and chicken sausages so that Berkay could eat them. Berkay surprised me with a white gold diamond ring on Christmas morning, which he had bought in Fethiye whilst he was in Turkey alone a few weeks earlier, I love it!
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Last night we stayed at home for New Year, we sat on the sofa with our blankets and watched a film, then watched the fireworks on TV and from our balcony.

Who knows what 2018 brings, but I’ll be sure to document it on here. I hope we, and all my friends, family and readers have a very happy and healthy year!

(:

A Boncuk update …

It’s been a long time since I last did an update on Boncuk on my blog, and since it was 5 years ago last week that we found her, I thought now would be the perfect time!

As you know, Boncuk now lives with Berkay’s family on their farm in the village. We went to spend a few days with them in April, and again in September, so I’ve seen her twice this year. Although we don’t get to see her very often, she definitely has not forgotten us and still greets us with an excited waggy tail every time she sees us. The few days we spent with her in April she was very clingy to me and would sit outside the gate waiting for a glimpse of us when we were inside the house. She followed me everywhere when I was walking around the farm, it was so cute. She wouldn’t even let us drive off in the car without trying to jump in.. and one day we gave in and let her come for a little trip up one of the mountains – she laid on my lap, head on my arm, face looking out of the window, ears flapping in the wind. Then when we got out of the car and went for a walk it was just like old times, when we used to take her on lots of walks around Fethiye and Calis. Bless her. Leaving her in April broke my heart, I bawled my eyes out knowing she’d wonder where we’d gone again. I hope she doesn’t think we abandon her over and over again. Someone told me dogs have no sense of time and I hope that’s true, I hate to think of her waiting for us and wondering when we’ll be back.
 
 
In September we went to visit again for a couple of days and she was her usual, cute self. Greeting us with a waggy tail and big smiley face.  I was also really amazed that she still knows the ‘tricks’ we taught her –  ‘sit’, ‘lay’  & ‘paw’! One night I was searching for her for ages, calling her name, trying to find her around the farm, under the cars, in the hay shed, but she was nowhere to be seen. After a while, Berkay found her asleep, curled up in a ball under the sofa on the terrace. So sneaky!

She really is the sweetest dog I’ve ever known. I was worried when we first took her to the village that maybe she’d lose her loving, soft temperament since she’d have less human interaction. Turkish people don’t really look at pets the same way we do, no baby talk to the dogs, minimal fussing and stroking and definitely no cuddles on laps like she used to have with us… they have their own dog who is chained up all day and is very much a guard dog, who wouldn’t think twice about chewing your arm off! Boncuk has kept her loving personality though, she’s still timid and never growls at anyone, all she’d do is lick you to death! She’s a bit of a wimp to be honest! Although she’s not allowed indoors, apparently whenever it’s thunder and lightning she runs in and jumps on the sofa if she spots the front door open!
 
It’s so hard leaving her but I know she’s well looked after in the village. Berkay’s brother loves her and she likes her life there. She loves to roam free around the farm and plays with the lambs and lets the little chicks run all over her. She plays with their other dog and follows Berkay’s step-mum around on her farm duties! Sometimes I feel really bad for her, wondering if she misses the old days, when we’d take her for walks along Calis beach, playing fetch in fields and up on the hills overlooking the sea.. she used to love playing fetch with her ball and now she doesn’t even have any toys… but I hope she doesn’t miss it.
 
People often ask why we don’t bring her to England and I would love to, the money isn’t an issue I would happily pay it, but she wouldn’t like it here. We both work all day 5 days a week, so she’d be on her own in our flat (with no garden) for 9 hours a day and that’s just not nice for her. She’s never been an indoor dog, she only knows life outside, so she’d hate being cooped up indoors alone all day, it wouldn’t be fair on her.

We’re lucky she can stay with Berkay’s family and we can still go and visit her – it certainly makes visiting the village more bearable for me. When I get too stressed or overwhelmed with village life I just take myself off outside, call for Boncuk and sit having a little chat with her.

I can’t believe it was 5 years ago we found her as a teeny tiny puppy!

 

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!