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!
On Tuesday, to celebrate our 4 year anniversary, Berkay hired a car for the day again and we went off on a day trip to Marmaris & İçmeler.
It’s great now that Berkay has his driving license – we’ve hired a car 3 times in the past 6 weeks. His friend lets us have the car cheap and it runs on gas so it’s not expensive to travel far with it either. I’m loving going out and exploring other places.
We were either going to go to Patara & Kas, or Marmaris & İçmeler and decided on the latter as neither of us had been before. I was really curious to see if Marmaris was as bad as I’d imagined, I see lots of people saying it’s like Blackpool, which doesn’t appeal to me at all. It’s certainly a million miles away from what I’m used to here in Fethiye & Calis.
Berkay came home at 9am after a long night at work, had a quick shower then off we headed. It took us around 2 hours in total, with a quick stop off for brunch. We got to Marmaris around 11.45am and spent AGES driving around trying to find a parking space. It was clear that Marmaris was huge and we had no idea which end or where was best to start from.
We ended up parking at the end by the Marina & castle. I really loved this end of Marmaris, it reminded me of Fethiye a lot. We wandered around the corner and along the fish water fountains that I had spotted while driving past and wanted to check out.
I loved this little area with the water features, gardens, statues and clock tower. It was really pretty.
After taking lots of photos there and a quick look in LC Wakiki we walked towards the Marina & castle. We walked through an area of undercover shops which I now know is the Grand Bazaar. It felt like one big giant maze, it was crazy, literally hundreds of shops pretty much all almost identical, selling the same things etc, it felt like we were going around in circles! I have no idea how any of them make any money, it was empty when we were walking around and there are so many shops the same how do you chose which one to give your custom to? It was all a bit weird, I just can’t understand the point of having so many similar shops next to each other – but it must work I guess! We didn’t go in any, we were just concentrating on trying to find a way out, but I did see some cute t-shirts with Frozen and Despicable Me characters on, they’d be perfect for my little sister, she was the first person I thought of when I saw them!
When we eventually found our way out we walked towards Marmaris Castle, which I really wanted to look at, but didn’t have time. We walked through all the little back streets past small, quiet cafes, I loved it. We saw signs for ‘Bar street’ so I’m assuming it was around there somewhere – but it looks like loud, obnoxious bars wouldn’t fit in there at all, perhaps it’s one of those places that is quiet and lovely during the day and a whole different place during the night? I don’t know. We reached the main marina and had a wander around there, the restaurants looked fancy and there were some very nice looking yachts and boats in the harbour. We reached a certain point then turned around and came back, walking along the promenade and past the normal day-trip type boats, we were CONSTANTLY pulled over and hassled to look and chat to them, Berkay is far too polite and instead of just ignoring them like I would, he let them all speak for a minute about how wonderful and amazing their boat trip was and then hit them with the fact that we were only there for a day – I bet they were cursing us for wasting their time! I found it quite funny how they automatically spoke to us in English, normally when we’re home they can tell Berkay is Turkish, and even when I’m out alone they assume I am – I guess we must’ve really looked like tourists in Marmaris that day!
We walked all the way back to the car and drove further along the beach towards the old Point Centre/Blue port. We parked literally right outside and went inside to get into the aircon as quickly as possible. One thing we really noticed about Marmaris was how ridiculously hot it was, there was no air! It was just hot. I was sweating in places I didn’t even know possible, it was awful! People have since told me that it’s because Marmaris is sheltered by the mountains so there is no wind. That’s something I’m so grateful that Calis has – wind! It’s always windy here and I’m always moaning that the sea is too wavy as a result.. I won’t complain anymore that’s for sure!
We had a look around Blue Port, it’s like a smaller version of Erasta in Fethiye. I did laugh to myself, we drove 2 hours to go to Marmaris where most people go to have fun, swim, sunbathe and drink lots of alcohol, and what were we doing? Walking around the Turkish version of B&Q looking at plant pots and paint for no reason! We’re such old souls, it really did make me chuckle. The best part about this little shopping centre was the fact it had a real KFC! We didn’t actually eat in there because it’s expensive, but it looked like a really fancy KFC, not like the minging ones in the UK – I’m guessing it was new. There was a Burger King too, but that wasn’t quite as exciting as there’s one of those in Fethiye too. You know what Turkey really, really needs? A NANDOS!
When we’d recovered from the heat and made the most of the aircon, we headed back outside and just walked along the promenade. This was the first we saw of the beach, which I didn’t really think much of. It was really narrow, with sunbeds crammed in here, there and everywhere. It was the same when we went to Gumbet. Here in Calis there’s one single row of sunbeds which are mostly unused. It’s a totally different place and atmosphere. I thought it was weird how they had buckets of dirty water for people to use and rinse their sandy/dusty feet in – gross. I did love the paved floor and huge, tall palm trees, they looked really lovely.
Another thing I noticed was just how many big 5* hotels there are in Marmaris, it seems the place is definitely more focused on big, all inclusive hotels rather than the smaller 3* bed and breakfast types here in Calis. There’s not a single 5* hotel here.
Up until this point I was really surprised at how much I liked Marmaris. The marina end looked lovely and the right hand side of the beach going towards İçmeler was nice with all the big hotels. When we started walking back and went past Point Centre, we came to the smaller hotels, bars and restaurants in the middle section of the beach that we’d missed out – and this was where things began to get a bit.. tacky. The cheap hotels and football bars. This was the part I’d previously seen photos of and based my opinion of the whole area on. Honestly, I didn’t like it – and I can only imagine it gets worse at night, I’m so glad I wasn’t there to see it, not my cup of tea at all. All in all, Marmaris was a lot better than I imagined, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I only visited during the day, I’m not sure my opinion would be the same if I saw it at night… I did like how there seemed to be something for everyone, all inclusive 5* hotels and cheaper, smaller apart-hotels for those who prefer that. Loud, busy bars for some, and quiet little cafe’s for others. I was amazed at how big it was, it’s 100x bigger than the main area’s of Fethiye, Calis and Ölüdeniz – It’s huge. I was only there for a couple of hours, so there’s a whole lot more to see, I’d like to go back again and experience it all a bit more. I should add here, that these are just my opinions based on observations I made in the very few hours I was there.
After all the walking around, we were hot, tired and grumpy, and got back in the car to drive to İçmeler where we were going for a swim. Honestly I can’t really comment on İçmeler as we didn’t explore, we literally only drove through a road, parked up and walked a few meters to the beach, but it did look more ‘personal’ and slightly more quiet there.
We paid 10tl for 2 sunbeds and an umbrella which I thought was really reasonable, stripped off to our swimsuits and took a dip in the sea, which was freezing. I love how calm the sea is there, it reminds me of the lagoon at Ölüdeniz, I guess İçmeler is sheltered like Marmaris, although it seemed a lot cooler there. There were no waves, it was just nice and calm which made swimming much more relaxing as whenever we’re swimming in the sea at Calis i’m constantly worrying about the waves and trying to stop myself getting a mouthful of salty water- gag! The beach was much like the one at Marmaris, hundreds of sunbeds and umbrellas all crammed together with barely an inch to move – weird. It’s also not really stoney like the ones here, it was more just dusty, muddy, sand, which I’m not sure if I preferred or not really – why are there no pure golden sandy beaches around here? Patara is the best one I’ve come across so far.
I did really like the views from the beach – it was beautiful.
At around 4.30pm we drove back to Marmaris and stopped for dinner – I’d asked for recommendations on Facebook and was trying to find a couple of the restaurants suggested but we couldn’t, we were really hungry, hot and had to leave as quickly as possible so that Berkay could get back in time for work, so we just settled on a random one that we came across – Natalies Steak House.
I’d heard about it from Facebook groups in the past, so thought it would be good to try, but I wish we hadn’t – everything was SO expensive. We did look at the menu outside first, but we were in a rush, so didn’t really look hard enough. I know it’s recommended for its steaks, hence it’s name I guess, but we couldn’t afford those so settled on chicken dishes – I had chili chicken, and Berkay had plank chicken, I found that the waiter kept pushing us to have something more expensive, which was annoying. There was no free ‘puffy’ bread that we normally get for starters either – perhaps that’s not the norm in Marmaris? I’m not sure. When the food arrived, it was nice, no complaints about that at all. When we got the bill though, we were amazed to see that the two large cokes (watered down with a lot of ice!) had been charged at 9tl each – 18tl for two cokes?! That’s just totally crazy to me – I don’t know if we just picked a silly restaurant or if Marmaris is expensive compared to Calis?
After all that, we left Marmaris at 5.30pm, were back in Fethiye at 7.45pm and Berkay was back at work at 8pm! Good timing or what? Even though he was grumpy and tired by the end of the day after having no sleep, I love it that he works nights as it means we can do things during the day together sometimes.
All in all, It was a good day and my opinion of Marmaris did change, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. İçmeler looked lovely but I need to explore them more, maybe we’ll get a chance another day. Both places were in beautiful locations with amazing views of the mountains, sea and islands – Turkey is a truely beautiful country.
I have to say though, after going away somewhere else, whether it be for a day, a week or a year, I just absolutely love driving back through the mountains on the Dalaman road, turning the corner and seeing Babadağ mountain, that’s when I know I’m home. Fethiye is my most favourite place.
Just a little note to apologise for neglecting my blog, I’ve not been in the mood for writing lately, and I have just been so busy. I do have a couple of posts planned for next week so hopefully I’ll get my motivation back and start posting more regularly again soon. Thank you for reading as always ❤
Last Friday the new, 80 million lira, ‘shopping & lifestyle’ centre opened in Fethiye. I dragged Berkay along to the opening ceremony to be one of the first inside.
I’d seen adverts all over the billboards and bus stops in Fethiye and Calis regarding the new shopping centre – Erasta Fethiye Alışveriş Merkezi – and when they announced the opening day and time, I knew I wanted to go and check it out. Berkay came home at 9am and we rushed to get ready and on the bus so that we could be there for the official opening at 10am…
like I actually expected it to be on time!
Most people had taken the sensible option and were waiting under the shade of the building or using the coffee shop seating area – but I wanted to get a good view, so chose to stand under the sun, my poor red shoulders regretted that decision later. There was a separate seated area sectioned off which was for the special guests, they even had an armed policeman guarding it! Once all the guests of honor had arrived, including the designers and the major of Fethiye, the barriers were removed and all us normal folk were allowed to move forward and fill in the remaining seats, I’m certain it was just because they wanted a photo showing a crowd of excited people!
The speeches began, all in Turkish so I of course had little or no idea of what they were actually saying, but whatever it was seemed to go down well with the crowd as there were a lot of happy faces, loud cheers and clapping hands, especially when the major of Fethiye – Behçet Saatcı – stepped up for his speech. The people of Fethiye clearly adore him, Berkay included, as I’ve never seen him clap so enthusiastically before! After the speeches were over, a ribbon was cut and a plaque presented signifying that the new centre was now open. An Imam was then called up to the stage to say a prayer – I’m assuming as a kind of blessing of the new building. Everyone in the crowd joined in the prayer by cupping their hands, although I did not. I felt a bit guilty, but I’m not a religious person and wouldn’t want to fake anything. My guilt was short lived when the Turkish lady behind me answered her phone and was shouting loudly down it all whilst the prayer was still going on…
After all was said and done, they opened the doors and everyone piled through them. They had metal detectors which everyone, including the armed police, ignored even though they were constantly beeping!
The major went around to each shop, cutting more ribbons and shaking the hands of all the employees – it seems like he is really respected and loved, he seemed genuinely happy and excited about the whole thing which was really lovely to see.
Now onto the actual shopping centre – it’s situated near Fethiye otogar – the main bus station that all the big coaches go into. The building is very impressive looking, it’s really well designed, but it cost 80 MILLION Turkish Lira, which is an awful lot of money, so you’d expect it to look pretty amazing.
The first things we saw are the huge letters spelling the name of the shopping centre ‘ Erasta’. There is a huge wooden frame design covering a large garden and seating area with water fountains at the bottom. To the left of that is the main entrance from ground level, which had a huge Turkish flag draped above it- but I’m not sure if that is a permanent fixture – knowing the Turkish pride it may well be!
There are around 50+ shops inside, although not all are fitted and open yet. There’s a good variety of shops, some fashion ones such as LC Waikiki, a shoe shop – Deichmann, some swimwear shops, a good sized Migros, and a superdrug type health/beauty shop by the name of ‘Gratis’. Those are just a few of the shops currently open – there are many more.
There are water fountains all around the centre, both inside and out, which really adds to the modern look. The whole place is air-conditioned too which is a big bonus for hot days! There are escalators to the 2nd floor, which as well as more shops hosts a small cinema, a children’s indoor play area and a food court, all of which were not fully open when we visited. From what I could see of the food court, there were a few kebab restaurants, a Burger King and an Italian, there was a good amount of seating and a large outdoor seating area attached too. Apparently escalators are not a very common thing in Turkey – I remember that Berkay had never been on one until he was at Dalaman on his way to England the first time, which I thought was really bizarre, but it turns out he’s not the only one… While trying to go upstairs we became stuck behind 2 Turkish women who were afraid to step on the escalator and had no idea how they worked.. it was amusing to say the least!
We had a little walk around the shops and made the most of the freebies on offer – we got given free cakes in Migros which were delicious, and then queued up for free candyfloss outside afterwards, embracing our inner child!
One of the things I was most excited about was the fact the centre has TWO coffee shops, with almost identical names. We went to Kahve Dunyasi (coffee world), and had a drink. I had the cappucino with icecream, it was yummy, but I’d have preferred a Starbucks! The menu was really expensive, think Starbucks prices, my coffee was 8.5tl. There were all kinds of hot and cold drinks on offer, a huge selection of chocolates and cakes too, but again, these were expensive at 9tl for a piece of cake. Both of the coffee shops were really busy and I can imagine that they will be very popular even after the inital opening period.
After our coffee, we went to pay and noticed there were a band and dancers performing inside, so I went out to get some photos. There were women and men on stilts dancing, people dressed as clowns juggling and people playing instruments – it was all quite impressive really and a large crowd gathered quickly!
I know that when people first heard about this new shopping centre they were afraid that it would take away business from the smaller, family run shops in the surrounding area, personally I don’t think this is the case at all as the new shops are all part of large chains and are more expensive than the small, family run shops you find in Fethiye town. The centre is definitely aimed at certain types of people, in my opinion, and we probably won’t visit much because of how expensive most of these shops are. I don’t think it will be overly popular with tourists, as it’s not in the main resort/town area. However, I love that it adds a modern side to Fethiye and think it will be very popular with university students and expats as a place to meet up. It’s definitely worth a visit for the air-con alone and would be a great meeting point for friends to just walk around, shop and relax. It’s definitely something that Fethiye was lacking. I just hope that the new centre continues to be popular and busy and that Fethiye continues to grow and modernise, whilst still keeping it’s more humble roots in mind.
Today Dad took me to the Turkish Food Centre near us, and we stocked up on a few Turkish goodies. Always on the look out for new blog post ideas, I thought Id take a few photos and share the store for anyone else in London who may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms from their favourite Turkish snacks!
The TFC we went to is in Welling, south east London, but they have branches all over London. Click here to visit their site and see if there’s a store near you!
The shop has a selection of fruit and veg as well as a meat counter and bakery. The bakery sells that fresh Turkish bread we all love, along with all kinds of traditional Turkish cakes and pastries, most importantly there is a good selection of baklava too!
They sell everything else you could want, shampoo, toiletries, snacks, cakes, biscuits, crisps, juice, cheese, butter, all brands that you would find in Turkish shops and that you wouldn’t normally see in the UK. In typical Turkish style, the ‘pickled vegetables’ aisle was the biggest, along with huge jars of olives and bags of cay!
Everything in the shop seemed reasonably priced to me, more expensive than in Turkey, but not by much. We came away with a bag of Turkish tea, apple tea, sunflower seeds, simit bread, sachets of salep, cracker sticks, pop keks and wafer chocolates.
It was so weird seeing all these Turkish brands in the shop, it was like being back home in Fethiye! When you spend 2.5 years in a country you get used to their food and I really quite miss it when its not there anymore. Seeing the shampoo I used to buy in Turkey made me smile, sometimes it’s the small things! In the same way when going abroad you miss home comforts, when returning back after so many years, you miss things you never thought you would. It’s a lot of adapting, even down to the little things like which shampoo you buy!..Perhaps I’m just a little odd and too sentimental (:
We hopped on the dolmus and went on a little visit to the Turkish delight factory (http://www.servetsekerleme.com) in Calis yesterday.
I’ve been wanting to go for ages and at 6pm yesterday evening, Berkay announced over dinner that we were going out somewhere as a surprise, and that’s where he took me. (: I’m very easily pleased.
When we got off the bus, wow, the smell. YUM.
It’s basically a mini department store, this place sells everything. Handmade natural soaps, decorative soaps, jewellery, key rings, wind chimes, decorative plates, cay glasses, china & ceramic goods, silver & brass Turkish coffee pot sets, oils, nargile pipes, there was even a section for clothes upstairs.
Also an impressive collection of herbs & spices.
The main attraction though, was obviously the Turkish delight! There is a huge selection of all kinds of Turkish delight and other sweet goodies. There is also a huge glass window where you can look through and see the factory workers making it all. It smells so good.
This is what we came home with, Turkish Delight, some soft chewy sweets and a bracelet that Berkay bought for me, how sweet. (:
One of the best things about living in Turkey (besides the sunshine! ) is the cheap, fresh fruit and vegetables. And there is no better place to get them than at the weekly markets.
Instead of heading to the air conditioned big supermarket’s like Kipa (Tesco) or Migros, and buying perfect size/shape fruits and vegetables, we buy the same things for a much cheaper price in the market. In fact, we manage to do most, if not all, of our weekly shop there. Granted, the experience of being pushed and shoved through crowds of people in 35oC+ heat under tents, haggling to get everything a couple of lira cheaper is a little stressful, but it’s all part of the experience, and I love it.
The market’s are held every Sunday in Çalis, and every Tuesday in Fethiye. We always go in the late evening, it’s cooler and as everyone starts to pack up it’s much easier to haggle a good price ( just shout ‘‘Aksam fiyati” at them) It’s all undercover so no need to worry about getting burnt, although it’s still very hot under there.
Fethiye market is the largest, and best. It is popular with tourists, but you’ll easily spot the thousands of locals doing their weekly shop there too. There are hundreds (literally) of stalls filled with fruit, vegetables, herbs, plants, even fresh milk and olive oil packaged into empty coke bottles from the villages. You have to see it to believe just how impressive it really is. Everything is done by kilograms, if you went to the market for just a couple of tomatoes, the stall holder would look at you like you had two heads. We normally buy several kilograms of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peppers, etc. I think my arms have grown a few inches with the amount I carry home! You really have to look around for the best prices, it’s not uncommon for us to spot tomatoes for 2tl and walk up and down for another 10 minutes until we find some for 50 krs (15p) cheaper (every little helps, and all that!) It’s all part of the fun.
There’s also a
very smelly cheese section of the market, a section with bags full of spices, a meat & egg section, and my favourite part – the Turkish delight (Lokum) section. Yum. Most will offer you free samples too.
Past the food section there is a little area with tables, chairs, and vans selling Turkish pancakes etc. Another post coming about that soon.
Beyond all that, is the section mainly for tourists. It’s practically non existent in winter when everyone has gone home! Here you can find everything you’d want for a souvenir. Bracelets, watches, keyrings, sunhats, sunglasses, shoes, towels, bedding, blankets, baby clothes, t-shirts, football shirts, dresses, belts, bags, wallets, even pots and pans. You name it, they’ve got it. Be careful though, don’t be fooled by the Nike or Adidas badges, the football shirts, the Versace or Chanel sunglasses. They are not real. They are lovingly known as ‘genuine fakes’, a little joke among stall holders and customers. Walking along, you’ll hear ‘cheap as chips’, ‘primark prices’ shouted at you from all directions, but there shouldn’t be too much hassle. If you’re not interested, make it clear, but it’s always fun to join in the banter. Once you’ve found something you do like, NEVER pay what they ask, always haggle. Don’t be afraid, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, and the stall holders expect it. My best advice is to take a local Turkish person along with you, if someone is there who can speak Turkish, you’ll get a better deal. Sad, but true.
We don’t often buy clothes or other goods from the market, just food. But when my family come to visit, they always go home with a few bags of goodies. If you’re passing by, or need a break from the pool for a few hours (yea right!) visit the market to see exactly what i’m talking about.
If nothing else, its an experience.