Christmas in Istanbul..

It may only be two more sleeps until Christmas, but it’s certainly going to be a strange one. The tree is up and the Turkey is defrosting in the fridge, but thanks to 2020 and London being in Tier 4, it’s going to be a ‘merry little Christmas’ to quote Boris. With no family allowed in each other’s houses, all the plans went out of the window last Saturday so it’s just the two of us this year- me and Berkay, the real life Grinchy Scrooge!

I, however, love Christmas, so back in January when the world was normal, I was so excited to see Christmas decorations still up around Istanbul when we visited. Saint Antoine Church had it’s nativity scene outside along with a huge tree decorated with white and red poinsettias, so beautiful. You can read a blog post I wrote about the church with more photos here – https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2020/02/16/sent-antuan-kilisesi-st-antoine-church/

Even though most Turkish people don’t celebrate Christmas, (though Father Christmas does originate from there), some do associate him with New Year, so I think that’s why there were still a few Santa’s to be seen mid-January. One restaurant we went to still had a Christmas tree, Santa, reindeer and snow globes on display, looking wonderfully festive! Istiklal Street had bauble lights with a new year message lit up, and a hotel had teddy bears and light up Christmas presents above it’s entrance!

It’s so weird looking at these photos now, remembering being out and about sightseeing without masks on, thousands of people strolling down Istiklal street in the evening with no social distancing required, a time where nobody had ever heard the worlds ‘furlough’ and ‘covid19’, and where strangers walking past you in the street weren’t assumed to be an immediate threat to your health! It seems like a lifetime ago. Just two months after those photos were taken, the whole world got turned upside down! Travel bans, working from home, the 2 meter rule, face coverings… and in the past week we seem to have gone back to square one again! I often just think back to my lonely little desk in Canary Wharf, with everything just as I left it on March 16th, my desk calendar stuck on the same page for over nine months now, like something you see on a documentary where people abandon their houses in a rush, toys left behind, food still in the cupboard and things left untouched for decades. So weird.

Let’s hope 2021 brings better things – Merry Christmas and a happy healthy new year to everyone!

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.