2016 – a year in photos

So, as the clock stuck midnight last night we bid 2016 a fond goodbye. While many people were glad to see the back of the year, on a personal level it was a good one for us, and definitely the most eventful of our lives! Berkay finished the army, we planned a wedding, got married, had TWO weddings, applied for Berkay’s visa, he moved to the UK and we spent our first Christmas as husband and wife together. For the past 3 years I’ve done ‘a year in photo’s’ recap posts, so here is this years!

January 2016
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On 18th January Berkay completed his 12 month army service, which was a huge relief. It was like a huge weight lifted. His army service had kept us apart for most of 2015 so the start of 2016 when we knew the end was imminent was very exciting. A week after he finished his service I travelled to Turkey to meet him, it was the first time we’d seen each other since April 2015 – 9 months, the longest we’d ever spent apart. I spent 10 days in Calis/Fethiye with him and love these photos from those few days – all bring back lovely memories.  Of course I had to watch a few sunsets while I was there, and take part in our favourite past time – playing backgammon and drinking tea in seafront cafes! The weather was unusually warm too, it was definitely interesting to spend a January day on the beach fishing in a vest top!

February 2016   
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By February I was back in England, but we had celebrating to do – after I got back we decided we’d get married that year, and I started planning things with my family. Me and mum went wedding dress shopping, which was the most bizarre experience, I wasn’t at all intending on getting a big, white, wedding dress but after trying one on, that is exactly what happened, and we celebrated with champagne cocktails!

March 2016
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After only having been back in England for 5 weeks, I found myself boarding another flight to Turkey mid-March, this time only for 4 days. They were a very busy 4 days, spent running around offices to hand in our marriage paperwork and book a date. Berkay even had to have a blood test, but once it was all handed in we had the date confirmed – 27th April. Amongst the 4 days of rushing around, we managed to enjoy a bit of time together.

April 2016
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April was obviously the best month! At the beginning of the month things became to feel real when I had my hen ‘party’ afternoon tea. A few weeks later, I flew to Turkey with a suitcase full of wedding-related things, met Berkay, and started to prepare mentally for the week ahead! Slowly over the week other members of my family flew out to join us – my nan, grandad, dad, stepmum, brother, sister, mum and step dad. Just having all of us in the same county was lovely, especially with it being Turkey, as that was the place that I called home for so long, yet some of them had never been to, or hadn’t been to for a long time, and never ever all at the same time! Having everyone there, being able to show them things and places and for them to meet some of our friends and Berkay’s family was nice. On the day of the wedding, 27th april, we first drove around Fethiye, Calis, Kayakoy and Yaniklar for a pre-wedding photoshoot. At 6.30pm, My dad and little sister bridesmaid, walked me down the aisle where I was greeted by a crowd of our friends and family, and my mum bawling her eyes out!

May 2016
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Unforuately, just 4 days after getting married, on 1st May I was on a plane back to England. It was tough getting back to reality, but I had plenty to keep myself busy with!

June/July/August/September
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The summer months were the most boring, I just worked, worked, worked, and when I wasn’t working I was sitting at home gathering piles and piles of paperwork ready for the visa application. I remember sitting at home every night watching the Olympics on tv while writing visa letters and scrolling through 5 years worth of Facebook messages trying to collect and organise them as proof of our relationship! Eventually, it was all ready for the application.

October 2016
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1st October, bright and early, I flew to Dalaman again. The first day was spent driving 4 hours away to Berkay’s village in Beyagac, Denizli where we had our 2nd wedding party. Over 5000 people invited, with well over 1000 actually turning up. It was an experience, that’s for sure, and pretty traumatic for a shy girl like me! The best thing was that I was reunited with Boncuk, albeit temporarily. I hadn’t seen her for 18 months and thought she may have forgotten me but she hadn’t at all, she was so happy to see me and smothered me in kisses! Towards the end of the week, we drove to Antalya to apply for Berkay’s visa. Handing in the application was a huge relief and we anxiously awaited the result, our fate in their hands. To relax a little, we checked into the 5* Titanic Lara Beach resort hotel for a night and absolutely loved it – I’d never been in a 5* hotel before and it was definitely exactly what I needed after a week of stress!

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The last week of October deserves it’s own little section – after nearly 3 weeks of frantically checking the tracking website, finally the ‘decision made’ box turned green and Berkay got his passport back in the post – we opened it on Facetime together, and inside was a great big shiny visa! What we’d been working towards for years was finally a reality! As it happened, me and mum had booked into a spa the weekend after, so we used that as an opportunity to celebrate.

November 2016
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After what felt like a very long month, 18th November finally came around and Berkay arrived at Gatwick airport, greeted by balloons, banners and a lot of my family. Such a surreal moment, knowing he didn’t have to go back.

December 2016
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Always a month for fun and festivities, Decemeber didn’t dissapoint. I’d spent the previous two Christmas’ and New Year’s without Berkay, so having him here to help celebrate our first as husband and wife was lovely, even if he doesn’t totally understand the madness of Christmas, Santa and all that goes with it. Last night as Big Ben rang out, me, Berkay, my dad, stepmum, sister, brother and his girlfriend all spent the evening together, celebrating the end of the year but also the start of 2017.

Berkay is still adjusting to life here in the UK but we’re working on it.
Who knows what 2017 holds but I hope it’s kind to us all. I hope all my friends, family and blog readers all have a happy, healthy new year.

Hos Geldin 2017.

My 1 year blog-birthday!

A year ago this week I started my blog.

I made my first post on 18th August 2013 and started out with 0 views, now here I am a year later with 125 posts and 190,000 views. It still amazes me that so many people are interested in what I write and my experiences. I’ve met some people I consider ‘friends’ through writing this blog, and I receive lovely messages from people almost everyday telling me how they love reading about life in Turkey from a different perspective and that it’s refreshing to read something that is honest. Some people read every single post and comment on each one, I am so grateful. I’m grateful for everyone that reads, likes, comments, shares… anything. It baffles me that people take time out of their day to read something that I’ve written, I’ve always been painfully shy and have trouble getting my thoughts out in person, that’s one of the reasons I started this blog, so knowing that my words are read by people who I’d never normally share my ‘story’ with is a weird, but lovely feeling. I also started it to try and show I’m not just a naive 22 year old girl living in Turkey with her ‘Turkish waiter’, although that’s up to you readers to judge.
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It’s been a year of many emotions, most of which I have written about on here. A lot has changed in the past 12 months, but somehow, I find myself in exactly the same position as I was in this time last year – trying to make the most of everyday I have in Turkey before its time to go back to the UK. I haven’t mentioned that much as it’s not something I’m looking forward to in the slightest, but it’s something that is inevitable, as Berkay is off to do his military service.

People in my ‘real’ life have mixed feelings about my blog. Some of them read it regularly and are supportive, my grandparents have even printed off every post I’ve made and collected them all in a folder to show their friends! (Hi Nan & Grandad, I know you’ll be reading! (: ) But I’ve had others say that I’m just writing posts for sympathy and that the people who comment don’t have my best interests at heart, how can they when they don’t know me? I don’t know what to say to that, but I do know that it’s often easier to open up to people who don’t know me, and that a lot of them can actually relate to my feelings since they’ve been in similar or the same situation – it’s not sympathy I look for, it’s empathy. But, besides anything else, I write my blog for myself, so that I can say what I need to, look back and see what I was doing this time last year, or see how things have changed! I also just love sharing my photographs and experiences of the beautiful country I currently call home.

I’m going to continue writing this blog for as long as I can, I enjoy writing and interacting with people through here, and I’m proud of how far it’s come in a year. Thank you all so much for reading and being a part of it.

Here are some of my favourite posts from the past year, with many mixed emotions!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/02/09/howdiditbegin/ – Explaining how our cheesy holiday romance story began!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/08/24/one-big-holiday/ – Although this was written nearly a year ago, most of it is still true. It’s something I’m constantly trying to explain to people, but something that people constantly dismiss as ‘one big holiday’.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/09/26/movingbacktoengland/ – Not a happy post, made a day before my flight back to England last September – at the time I had no idea I’d move back to Turkey 9 months later.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/09/28/back-in-england/ – An even unhappier post, trying to convey my thoughts and feelings after being back in the UK for just 24 hours.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/11/16/adaptingtotheuk/ – Written after I’d been back in the UK for 2 months and my experience of ‘reverse culture shock’ – something that is very real and that I definitely experienced.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/12/18/reunited/ – The moment me and Berkay were reunited again at Stansted airport after 3 months apart!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/01/06/saying-goodbye/ – And the moment we had to say goodbye after he went back to Turkey again just 3 weeks later.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/03/31/reunited-again/ – Another ‘high’ on the rollercoaster, when Berkay visited England again in March, just in time for ….

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/04/01/weddings/ – My mum’s wedding. Interestingly, someone who regularly read my blog messaged me after I wrote this post and said ‘OMG your mum married my nephew!’ It’s a small world!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/05/10/moving-back-to-turkey/ – The moment I decided I was moving back to Turkey!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/06/06/back-in-turkey/ – Being reunited with Berkay and our doggy and my first time back in Turkey for 9 months.

Who know what the future brings? I do know that I’ll be documenting it all on here.
Happy 1 year birthday www.livingtheturkishdream.com, and here’s to many more! (:

100,000 views!!

So, I was in the middle of writing a new post, when I clicked onto my blog homepage to check something, when I scrolled down the page, something immediately caught my eye – a number – 100,000. My blog has 100,000 views!!!!!
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I’m feeling very proud right now, even if I do say so myself! 100,000 views in less than 7 months. I can’t believe it, I honestly just can’t believe that so many people care about what I have to say, or are remotely interested. My blog has become more of a personal diary for me now, although I do still try to do serious or helpful posts like “10 untrue stereotypes”, “worst things about living in Turkey” and “holiday fling or the real thing?” as these types of posts are always more popular. I do like to post what I’ve been doing, and the simple day to day stuff as it’s a good record to look back on. I often sit and look back at my blogs and see what I was doing 5 months ago, 6 months ago… It’s amazing the things you forget and how a few simple words and photos can bring all the memories flooding back, whether it be good or bad.

Nobody ever cares what I say normally, I’m a girl of few words. I always say it, but it’s true, I’m such a shy person in ‘real life’ and my blog is a way of letting it all out.

I’m amazed so many people continue to read, the same few people comment on every single post, which is lovely. I really feel connected to people, it’s funny how strangers sometimes can be more supportive than people you’ve known all your life. I’m grateful for everyone who reads, and anyone who leaves comments, even if their words are not always what I want to hear. Just knowing people take time out of their day to read things that I am writing is an amazing feeling. I really feel like I’ve made friends through this blog. I’ve even had people offer to send money, to help Berkay, and Boncuk, and other people offering to bring biscuits and treats out to Berkay when they visit Fethiye, my faith in humanity has been restored, there are some really lovely people out there and I’m so thankful I’ve got to know them through doing this.

I’m so grateful for every single person who clicks on my blog, whether they read one post, every post, or just a few lines. Thank you all so much.

Back in January I posted about reaching 70,000 and what an achievement that was, and done a mini giveaway, which people seemed to like the idea of. I want to do something similiar this time, but I have no idea what to giveaway or what else I could do?

If you have any ideas, let me know!

Thank you all again, especially the Facebook group Turkey – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as I’m pretty sure at least 90,000 of these views came from there. ❤

Calis changes, dog walks & the canal..

On his day off Berkay likes to go walking through Calis.

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He took Boncuk with him and went for a long walk up a hill with a beautiful view from the top (click here to see my old post with photos of the view!) We used to take her for a walk everyday and more often than not ended up walking to the top of this hill, we always had it to ourselves which meant Boncuk could run free off the lead safely, with no cars, people or other animals nearby. She loves to sit up there and have cuddles, look down over Calis or just play fetch. It’s so peaceful there.
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On the way back to the hotel they stay in, they took the road that goes past our old apartment (the top floor)… This apartment is nothing special, in fact it was pretty poor, and only 350tl a month, the equivalent of around £100 (which was still half of Berkay’s entire income!) .. but it was ours. It still makes me sad imagining other people in our house, cooking in our kitchen, sleeping in our room, sitting on our balcony… I try not to think about it too much, because when I do it just upsets me.
Click here for an old post with more photos of inside the apartment.
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Anyway, after they got back to the hotel, Berkay left Boncuk and carried on walking to the investigate the new-look canal. I’ve mentioned in a previous post about the changes they are doing, but I really can’t believe how different it looks.
Here’s a photo of the canal (left) taken a year ago, and the new, wider, cleaner canal with no plants (right) taken last week, both photos taken in the exact same place.
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The changes they’re making are all for the better, it’s going to look like a different place when I go back!

Saklikent gorge

Sometimes when abroad, it’s nice to stray away from the beach and pool for a few hours and see some of the natural beauty of the country you’re visiting.

If you’re in the Fethiye or Kalkan/Patara area, a visit to Sakilikent gorge is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
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The gorge is about an hour from Fethiye, easily accessible by car or by one of the many tourist buses/jeep safari’s that go there.  We’ve been twice and loved it, although it can be a little scary..the first time  we went with my mum, who didn’t enjoy the experience in the slightest.

The gorge is 300m deep and 18km long,  one of the deepest in the world, but only 4km of it is walkable. You can only enter it in the summer, between April and October, as in the winter, all the snow from the mountains means the flow of water is too strong, too deep and too dangerous.

When you first arrive, you have to pay an entrance fee, last year it was around 5tl, but it can change each year. Before you enter, make sure anything you have is secure and made waterproof… cameras, phones, cigarettes, keys.. whatever you have in your pockets will get wet. It’s also wise to bring a paif of sea shoes with you, or you can hire some jelly shoes from a stall opposite the entrance, DO NOT wear flip flops or shoes that fall off, because they can and they will. The amount of solitary shoes we saw flowing down the gorge was amusing…
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A solitary flip flip belonging to someone very unfortunate..

Once you’ve paid the fee and have entered, you’re greeted with a very old, unsturdy looking bridge, complete with missing pieces and dodgy nails, high up over deep, fast flowing water…crossing this bridge is the easiest part!
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The old bridge suspended above the water is the only way to enter the gorge.

Once you’ve crossed that, you get a seating area, benches, trees, a small cafe and very pretty looking rocks with the water flowing over them. The sound of the water is impressive! A lot of people only enter the gorge to sit here, because it is so beautiful and cool. The water is freezing, the spray it creates is cooling and the trees provide a lot of shade, its a welcome relief to the 40+ degree temperatures outside!
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If you are feeling adventurous, you can carefully make your way down the rocks to the main section of the gorge, but in order to get to the the other side and start the 4km walk, you have to cross the main fast flowing section of water. This is the difficult part, and it’s terrifying! The water  is often waist height, and is so fast and so powerful. It’s also freezing… literally if it was any colder it would be ice. There is a rope attached to the rocks either side which you cling on to in order to cross, but its still difficult, definitely not recommended for older people or children, although I have seen some who managed to cross, I’ve also heard horror stories from people who haven’t been so lucky..
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Us clinging on for dear life to cross the river.

Once you’ve managed to get across, hopefully without loosing a shoe, camera or your pants in the process, it becomes a more pleasant experience…temporarily. The water the other side varies in depth, but for the first km or so, it’s only ankle deep. The water is cloudy and the bed is slippery and covered in obstacles like rocks, hidden by the cloudy water. It’s advised to stay a foot behind someone in front of you, if they trip over or fall down a hole, you know to avoid that part 😉 There really is no other way of knowing..
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The gorge is beautiful and impressive. In some areas there are rocks suspended above your head only by another rock..  If this gorge was in England you’d have to wear hard safety hats, straps and goodness knows what else. At the end of the 4km apparently there is a waterfall, although we’ve never made it that far, as the further in you get, the more difficult it is. There are big boulders to climb and manovue around, big dips down, steep steps up and fast flowing water knocking you off your feet. I dont know anyone who has managed to come away without at least one bruise! It really is much more fun than I’m making it sound though, the natural beauty of it all is amazing. If you have a waterproof camera, definitely take it, there are some fabulous photo’s to be taken!
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Once you’ve had enough and have turned around and made the long walk back to the entrance, you step back outside and the heat hits you again, suddenly the freezing cold water doesn’t seem so bad! You can talk a slow stoll around the shops, market stalls, icecream stands etc around the riverside. On one side there is a lovely cafe/restaurant which has wooden platforms suspended over the river where you can sit and relax with an Efes or  icecream to recover. There are hammocks to sit in, and pillows to sit back on. The cafe we went to had a great open buffet with trout fish or chicken and endless amounts of traditional Turkish food to chose from. Delicious and very relaxing!
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It’s a very different and fun, if sometimes slightly painful, day out! 🙂

New Year’s Eve

While most people spent New Years in the warm at parties or celebrating with friends and family, me and Berkay decided to go up to London and watch the fireworks..
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First we took a detour to the O2, where we had lunch at Chiquitos, I booked in advance thinking it would be busy, but we were the only ones in there when we arrived at 2pm, perhaps everyone was preparing themselves for the night ahead. We had a lovely meal, with nachos to start, then Berkay had a half chicken with piri piri sauce, and I had the piri piri chicken fajitas. Well, if you can’t have actual Nandos, you might as well order the closest thing possible, right?
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After lunch we headed straight to Westminster station on the train, we got there around 5pm. Everyone had warned us to get there early in order to get a good spot, we wanted to be facing the London Eye directly from Embankment, and not on one of the bridges like we had 2 years ago. It was a good job we got there when we did, as there were already people sitting down along the whole length of the barriers, apparently some had been there since 11.30am, crazy. We found a good spot almost centre of the London Eye, and there were only 4 people in front of us, so we had a good view.
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We sat on our little fold up chairs and ate our snacks. For 7 hours. I still can’t quite believe we just sat there waiting for 7 hours, literally just staring at the London Eye praying the time would go fast, every dong of Big Ben we breathed a sigh of relief that another hour was over! We didn’t bring anything to amuse ourselves, we had no mobile or internet signal on our phones, and were very very bored. A few little arguments broke out over people pushing in and others complaining about being pushed and shoved, that amused us a little at least, it’s good to be nosey, or ‘people-watch’ as my mum calls it.

We were pretty cold, but thank goodness the rain held off til about 11.45pm. Everyone was too excited by then for the rain to bother them. We couldn’t move out of our spot for the entire 7 hours either, so no toilet breaks for us!
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Finally at midnight, Big Ben struck and the fireworks started. They were really impressive. We had been told beforehand they were ‘multi-sensory’, each of us had a special wristband that lit up and changed colour in time to the music and fireworks, and fruit smelling spray, mist, bubbles and confetti were blown out by huge canisters, when the fireworks were red we could smell strawberry, when they were orange, we could smell orange, etc. It was definitely different! They lasted over 10 minutes and the sky was completely lit up, beautiful!
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Trying to make our way back to the train station after the fireworks wasn’t so fun, hundreds of thousands of people all pushing and shoving, drunk people falling over, smashed glasses and bottles lining the streets, it was a real obstacle course, made all the worse by the rain making everywhere slippery. We followed the crowd of people and ended up in Trafalgar square, which wasn’t where we needed to be… but 4 somewhat helpful policemen later we eventually got there and boarded the packed train. By this point we were half asleep, freezing, busting for a wee and achey, but it was all part of the fun.

Not a drop of alcohol was consumed but we still had a fab time and got some great photos. Can’t say that I fancy waiting another 7.5 hours next year though, the fireworks were amazing and so much better in person, but not sure they are really worth all that waiting around!

Happy New Year everyone, hope 2014 is everything you wish it to be.

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