Bozüyük – Güzelköy – a famous village?

 
Bozüyük is a small village in Muğla with a population of just a few hundred people.

We visited for a few hours on the way back from Denizli to Fethiye last September on a really hot day.

It’s a traditional village with old houses, farms, tractors, animals, little shops, a cafe and teahouses with men outside playing backgammon.

It’s also home to the beautiful Pınarbaşı restaurant, built in a natural park which has an 800 year old tree in it’s grounds, providing much needed shade for customers.
 
Over recent years, Bozüyük has become a bit of a hotspot for local tourists, thanks to a few popular Turkish tv series being filmed there such as ‘Baba Ocağı’ and ‘Düriye’nin Güğümleri’. One of the most well known TV series filmed there is called ‘Güzel Köylü. It’s popularity has had such an effect that after filming finished, the village actually renamed itself  ‘Güzelköy’, after the series, so it now has two names!
 
Although the village has changed a lot, it’s new-found fame has been welcomed by a lot of the locals, with a lot of it’s houses being restored and renovated, and local craftsmen finding new job opportunities. Apparently, thousands of local and foreign tourists have visited, there are even tours that run to the village, and people are able to pick up souvenirs from the little gift shops, fridge magnets displaying the name ‘Güzelköy’ seem to be popular!

All we came away with was a handmade, wooden pestle and mortar from one of the little shops, but it was interesting to see the village and even more interesting to see Berkay acting like a tourist, driving around the streets trying to find houses he recognised from the tv show, walking through the town centre telling me to take photos of the post office and other things he recognised,  and stopping the car halfway down the road so that he could take an excited selfie with the village signs!
 
 
If you’re passing it’s worth a visit. If you’ve never seen the TV series, like me, we might not appreciate the full glory of the place, but it’s an interesting place to visit and the Pınarbaşı restaurant is beautiful!
 

 

Hazev – Delicious Turkish food in London.

It was our 2nd wedding anniversary last week, so we went to a Turkish restaurant to celebrate.

The name of the restaurant is Hazev, a cross between the words ‘haz’ meaning ‘enjoyment’, and ‘ev’ meaning ‘home’. It’s near Canary Wharf, between South Quay and Heron Quay DLR stations, right on the waterside with outdoor and indoor seating, I bet it’s lovely to sit outside in summer!

We have eaten here once before, and was really impressed. The waiters recognised us from before and showed us to a table, right next to the window. Berkay had met me at the station after work, armed with a bunch of flowers, bless him, so they were an added table decoration!

Almost as soon as we sat down we were given complimentary bread, olives and a garlic yogurt dip which were very yummy.
 

Then came the hard part of choosing what to order! I’d been looking at the menu whilst at work, trying to decide what to chose, there are SO many options I just couldn’t narrow it down! 3 courses or 2, starter or dessert, chicken or red meat… so many delicious dishes on offer (and a very pretty menu with a whirling dervish on!).

We settled on sharing two starters, karides tava (fried king prawns with garlic dip), and borek (pastry triangles filled with spinach and feta cheese) with salad. Both were delicious but a little overpriced for what they were, I think. The prawns were around £6 and the borek £7.
  
For the main course, I had Iskender, which I’d never had before, not even in Turkey! This looked different to photos I’d seen of a traditional Iskender kebab though, they always look a bit of a sloppy mess! It consisted of a mixed grill of meats covered in tomato sauce and yogurt, on fried bread cubes and served with red cabbage.
 
Berkay had the ‘havez special’ – oven cooked lamb chunks, served on grilled aubergine puree, mixed with cheese, with red cabbage, peppers and tomato salad. I tried a bit of his and it was nice, especially the smokey aubergine puree, my favourite! I think my dish had more meat than his, and I couldn’t finish it so we swapped bowls and he finished mine as well!

When our plates were cleared, we didn’t even need time to think about what to order for dessert….Berkay’s favourite, Kunefe! Kunefe is a popular, authentic Turkish dessert. It’s made from kadayıf (dried shredded dough which looks like shredded wheat) and cheese. It is covered in syrup and eaten straight out of the oven when hot, so the cheese is stringy and gooey but the pastry is crispy. It’s served with crushed pistachios and is delicious, even though it sounds like a weird mixture! Of course we had a glass of Turkish tea to accompany it.
  
Hazev serves delicious food, although it is a little more fancy and perhaps less traditional. Considering the quality of the food the prices are reasonable, although there was a story a few years ago about it selling an extra special, most expensive kebab in the world, at £900! (You can read about that and watch a video here https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/restaurants/pricey-pitta-1000-kebab-goes-on-sale-in-london-a3215546.html )

Hazev isn’t just a restaurant – it’s like 3 separate parts, divided by floor length curtains. The restaurant is in the middle section, with a bar through to the left, and a cafe/deli on the right, which also has a little shop section selling some of our favourite Turkish treats, including sucuk, yummy!

It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in London.

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!
 

 

30 DAYS, 30 DISHES – DAY 11: Sucuklu Yumurta


Sucuk & egg is one of my favourite weekend breakfasts.

Sucuk is a spicy Turkish sausage, made from beef or lamb. It is mixed with garlic, cumin and other spices/seasonings then left to dry for weeks before selling.
It is sliced then fried in oil for a few minutes, then eggs are cracked and mixed into the mixture, or left whole. It is quite spicy and has a strong flavour, so I always chop up some fresh tomatoes and drizzle them with olive oil and eat them along side it, with some fresh crusty bread of course!

It’s often served as part of a big Köy Kahvaltısı (village breakfast).

The only bad thing is how strong it smells – when Berkay cooks it I can smell it for hours afterwards! I love the fancy pans it’s sometimes presented in.

 

Turkish village baggy pants..

Every time we visit Turkey, I come back with at least one new pair of baggy pants! Last month was no exception.

Shortly after we arrived in the village to surprise Berkay’s family, his step mum suggested we go to the weekly market and go and buy some material. The market place in Beyağaç is actually where we had our village wedding last year so walking back through the undercover area bought back some memories!

A few stalls down, past the usual fruit, vegetable and shoe stalls, we came across a table full of rolls of material. All different colours and patterns, most flowery and quite obnoxious. “Choose one”, Berkay said, and I rummaged through the rolls, trying to find a pattern I didn’t already have! I eventually chose a black pair with white, pink and purple flowers on. The man selling the material asked how much we wanted but of course we didn’t really know, so he just looked at me, got his meter ruler out and guessed, cut it and gave it to us for 25tl. Usually, you’d take the material to a seamstress to turn it into a pair of baggy pants – luckily for us Berkay’s aunt is really good at making them so we left the material with her and picked it up a few hours later once she’d worked her magic!

Baggy village pants are my FAVOURITE thing. For years I never wore them, but then I bought one pair one winter while living in Calis and fell in love – so comfy! I never used to wear them outside of the house, apart from when in the village, but now I wear them all the time here in England. I use them as pajamas, something comfortable to put on when I get home from work, I even wear them to the shops (it’s just one step away from wearing pajamas to Tesco..right?)

They come in every different colour and design, I think each region must have slightly different styles because when we were in Dalaman airport once, one of the security men asked if we were from Denizli – ‘yea, how do you know?’ said Berkay, the man pointed to my baggy trousers and said he could tell by them! They are worn all over the country though, I think it might just have been a lucky guess!
 
 
If you want to get some baggy pants for yourself, they sell them in Fethiye market, or markets anywhere really, but also in little back street shops, or you can just get the material from fabric shops. If you want some a bit less in-your-face with not so many brightly coloured flowers on, you can usually find plain black harem pants on the internet somewhere, but I prefer the more traditional, crazy look! When everyone else is wearing them, you blend in strangely well. The women in Berkay’s village usually pair their multicoloured baggy pants with a long sleeved top of a completely different colour, and a knitted, sleeveless waistcoat, in yet another mismatching colour.

Berkay’s friends and family all think it really funny how much I love my baggy pants! I have around 25-30 pairs now, even my old ones with holes in that have shrunk in the wash I still love and wear.

They might be the least flattering thing ever, but they’re definitely the most comfortable!!

 

Our Traditional Turkish Village wedding – the evening.

“Just take a deep breath” – those words were running through my head as I stepped out of the car. A few days prior to the big Turkish wedding party I had been discussing how worried I was and my stepmum’s very useful words of wisdom were ‘take deep breaths’ – I must have thought about that conversation and replayed those few words in my head 100 times that day!

There was already music playing, which they stopped when Berkay’s brother gave us the signal to start walking towards the empty space in the middle of the floor. There was a make shift aisle between rows of chairs, and when the DJ introduced us, hundreds of heads turned to face me. My instinct was to burst into tears and it took all my effort not to do so! The photographer captured this moment perfectly – lips tightly together, dread in my eyes…  
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As soon as we entered the middle of the make-shift dancefloor and started our slow dance (after Berkay’s cousin taught us how to during the day….) Berkay’s brothers laid out some giant sparkler fireworks around us in a circle and fired some confetti at us, which looked great for the photos but made me jump at the time! Slowly, other couples and family members joined in the slow dancing – including Berkays dad, much to the amusement of his family who had never seen him dance before despite attending hundreds of weddings!
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Berkay’s dad wasnt the only family member joining in the fun – Berkay’s uncle grabbed one of the traditional giant drums that always take pride of place at a village wedding, and started bashing it – apparently he had never played one before but one glass of raki later and he was playing it so confidently you’d think he was an expert! To accompany the very, very loud drum, the DJ was playing a keyboard and singing. I can’t even explain how loud it was!
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After the slow dance, it was time for the real madness to begin – the traditional, loud, Turkish music that reminds me of a swarm of angry bees buzzing – if you’ve heard this kind of music you’ll know exactly what I mean. I don’t do dancing, so I was dreading this, especially because as the bride, all eyes were on me. I’d only ever done Turkish dancing once before and that was on our actual wedding day back in April, and only for a couple of minutes – I should definitely have practiced more! Basically, it involves standing around in a circle, wriggling your shoulders, clicking your fingers and shuffling to the beat of the massive drum – at least that’s what I tried to do. It was really entertaining watching everyone else dance, a lot of them really got into it and were obviously having great fun. I tried to stay with Berkay as much as possible but he disappeared off a few times and I was left in a circle of women. Bless Berkay’s cousins really tried to look after me and made sure I was dancing in their ‘circle’, but I’ve only met them a few times so I was still nervous. After a while some of our friends from Fethiye joined in the dancing. They are much older than us and are almost like second parents to Berkay when he’s in Fethiye. They said they made the journey all the way to Denizli just so that I had someone I knew there which was so sweet. My face definitely did light up when I saw them dancing amongst the sea of people I’d never met before – I navigated towards them and just standing next to them made me feel so much better, although of course I was still searching for Berkay in the crowd!
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There were so many people from far and wide – everyone really makes an effort to turn up. September-November is wedding season in Turkey and this fairly small village can have up to 10 weddings per week, but apparently everyone was commenting how many people had turned up to our one and how they’d never seen one like that before! Berkay was especially pleased that two of his best friends from his army days made the journey, he keeps in regular contact to them via whatsapp and Facebook and they spent almost 10 months together day and night in the army so it was nice for him that they wanted to come.

After a few dances and a very quick sit down it was time to pin the money. I spoke about this in my blog post about our actual wedding in April, as it was a tradition that I wanted to make sure we did then too. It’s tradition in Turkey to pin money on to the bride and groom, rather than give gifts. In English weddings you end up with toasters, slowcookers and kettles, whereas in Turkey you end up with lots of paper notes, much more useful, and looks great in the wedding photos too. At first, people formed a fairly orderly queue, got a pin from Berkays cousin and then pinned the money to us before shaking our hands and double kissing our cheeks, but the neat queue quickly turned into chaos and I had people grabbing me, kissing my face and rushing at me with money in their hands from all angles – very overwhelming. We had anything between 1 dollar and 100 lira notes pinned to us, along with some small gold coins, another Turkish tradition. These small, gold coins are worth different amounts depending on their weight and are often given at special occasions like weddings, births of babies etc. We got around 12 gold coins pinned to us, but we only got to keep the 7 given to us by family – the others were kept by Berkays family.

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After the money had all been pinned to us, the photographer asked people to come up for photographs with us – notice the outfits, it’s normal for guests to not dress up at all, although a lot of the closer family members did. There is certainly no upstaging the bride so that’s one less thing to worry about, everyone just goes along to join the celebrations and have a boogie which is lovely.

After the photos, the DJ dropped the bombshell that he would be bringing a chair out for us to do a solo dance around. Berkay had the unfortunate job of breaking this news to me and translating and I believe my reaction was ‘I hate you’ – I’m disappointed the photographer didn’t get a photo of my face when he told me because I bet it would have been absolutely hilarious. Berkay apparently didn’t know about this before, it’s a good job I didn’t know because I’d have been worrying all day! It was literally my worst nightmare, actually even worse than I could have imagined, but with hundreds of pairs of eyes watching I had no choice. First of all, I took my seat in the chair, the DJ played music, the drummer played, Berkay’s shoulders started shuffling and he danced around me in a circle. After a couple of minutes, the music stopped, the DJ shouted ‘did you like it?’ I answered ‘yes’ but I couldn’t possibly type what I was actually thinking as it involves many, many swearwords. Now it was my turn, Berkay sat down on the chair and I danced around him in a circle. I have no idea what was going through my head but I know that it felt like the longest few minutes of my life! We caught the whole thing on video and watching it back does really make me laugh, even though I hated it it is definitely something to look back on and smile about. So many people who know me commented how they couldn’t believe I had done it as they’ve known me for a long time and know how shy I am.
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The night carried on and we carried on dancing, my feet were aching, my fingers hurting, and I was very tired after being up since 4am and travelling, but we weren’t allowed to sit down and just had to keep on going. Everyone was enjoying themselves and eventually as the dance floor started to empty a bit, I managed to sneak off and sit down, leaving Berkay, his brothers and their friends dancing around like loons but having lots of fun.
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By the end of the night, I had blisters all over my fingers from all the clicking whilst dancing, I suppose that’s a sign of a good party – injuries from dancing!

Overall, it was a very interesting experience but one I definitely will never, ever be repeating! Clearly, it meant a lot to Berkay and his family and they did go to a lot of effort to organise the whole thing – it’s important to take part in the traditions and embrace the culture on both sides and I’m glad I was brave enough to do it, it’s definitely a story to tell everyone!
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Our Traditional Turkish Village Wedding – the Day

Traditional Turkish village weddings can go on for 2-3 days. Time restrictions meant our’s only lasted one day, and I skipped the traditional henna night. Since we had a long way to travel, we woke up at 4.30am on the Sunday morning and drove the 3 hours from Fethiye to Berkay’s family’s village in Beyağaç, Denizli.We arrived there just before 8am, bright and early, and preparations for the day’s events were already well underway. When we got to the house, everyone was out at the local marketplace (where the wedding was being held) taking the delivery of the tables and chairs and getting the food started. After a brief reunion with our dog Boncuk, we jumped back in the car and went down to join the others in the town centre.

At this point, things were calm, everything was fairly relaxed. I greeted Berkay’s mum, dad and brothers and then our attention was drawn to a small gathering of 4 women by the side of the road. They were cooking some of the food for the wedding. When you have 5000 guests invited, you have to do everything on a larger scale… and they certainly did. They had 4 huge pots (rather like cauldrons..) full of various things, one of which was keşkek. Keşkek is a very traditional part of Turkish weddings and they take great pride in cooking it. It’s a weird food, served at special occasions, weddings, funerals, religious celebrations etc. A lot of people are involved in the preparing and cooking. It’s made from wheat, locally produced from the villages in most cases, and ground meat, and is lovingly and slowly cooked in these huge cauldrons. It’s a hard job to mix it with the huge wooden spoon as it is so thick, it’s definitely a good arm workout! It’s reminds me of porridge… but porridge mixed with ground meat, butter, and lots of oil… once it’s ready it’s often slopped in a bowl and covered in spicy pepper sauce. It certainly doesn’t look, or sound very appealing but it doesn’t taste as bad as you think and it’s a good, hearty food that definitely feels like it’s been lovingly homemade by your grandma.
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Aside from keşkek, there were various other dishes being cooked up by paid chefs in the market place – rice, beans, cacik, a meat stew, brain soup (yes… BRAIN soup) and hundreds of loaves of bread. We were the first ones to try the food at around 9.30 am, just before the official 10am start time of the day part of the wedding.

After sitting down with some members of his family to eat the food, Berkay left me to go and help the men of the family carry on laying out the tables and chairs. 100 tables, 500 chairs, huge rolls of tissue tablecloths, hundreds of packets of napkins, jugs of water… it was certainly a mammoth task to get everything ready.

At 10am the steady flow of people started arriving. Most of them I’d never seen before, only a handful would even recognise me in a lineup, and thankfully I didn’t need to wear my wedding dress until the evening, so I could blend in a little. We didn’t greet everyone who attended, as there literally were not enough hours in the day, but we did get called over every now and then to greet important guests, the older generation, old family friends or those who have a higher standing in the village. I must say, in the most polite way possible, that it was very much more of a thing for show. Berkay’s dad has his own business and is very well known in the village and nearby areas – he sells animal feed, and since everyone owns a farm there, he clearly has a good client base! As a result, he spent most of the time standing greeting people and talking to his friends, gesturing for us to go over and say hello every now and then. It was much less of a celebration of our marriage, and more of a ‘look, I’m such a wonderful dad doing this huge wedding for my son’ kinda thing, and if you’ve read my previous posts about Berkay’s childhood you’ll know why that leaves a bit of a bitter taste.
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Anyway, as the day went on and lunchtime approached, the marketplace became very busy, with hundreds of people coming to join in and eat. Berkay’s brothers, younger cousins and family friends were running around like headless chickens trying to make sure everyone who arrived got their tray full of small silver dishes, filled with the different foods from the kitchen. It’s normal in Turkey for 5-6 people to share from one bowl, although everyone has their own spoon, so that helped minimise the washing up! As you can imagine, it took a lot of work to make sure the bread was restocked, fresh tablecloths were placed on the tables after each group of people left, the water jugs were refilled, the empty plates and trays were taken away, washing up was done in a little washing up station behind the kitchen area, chairs were rearranged, tables cleared, tea glasses filled and delivered, making sure the elders and the important people were greeted as a sign of respect… It was a lot of work for them, and really very overwhelming for me. At this point I was sitting alone with Berkay’s aunts and female cousins who were really trying to do a good job of looking after me, they could definitely sense the panic in my eyes! Berkay was rushing around helping but I was told to sit down and drink tea..

I’m not entirely sure just how many people turned up during the day for the food giving, but I can say with some certainty that it was over 2500 people. Just to put it into perspective, Berkay’s family slaughtered one of their cows, which provided 60kg of meat, they also had another 30kg of beef gifted to them so that makes a total of 90kg. Half way through the day, all 90kgs of beef had been eaten in the meat stew and they had to rush out and buy another 12 chickens to cook!! 90kgs of red meat, all gone, and we’re not talking about whole steaks for each person that came, we’re talking a few small cubes of meat in a bowl of stew shared between 5-6 people at a time over a period of about 7 hours, so that should give you an idea of just how many people came to enjoy the food!

Each family that came gave Berkay’s parents a small envelope with money in, to help cover the costs. I’ve spoken to a lot of people about this, and some say that it’s normal, other’s say that it’s not normal at all and that any money given should be for the bride and groom, and not for the family. It seems that each village has it’s own customs and traditions, and this is one of theirs. Over 13,000tl was given to Berkay’s family throughout the day, again emphasising just how many guests actually attended!

Thankfully, Berkay’s family’s house was only a 5-10 minute drive away from the marketplace and we were able to go back to the house a couple of times for around half an hour just to sit with no eyes watching, use the wifi, speak to my family, play with Boncuk and most importantly, breathe.

Initially, we were sent back to the house to retrieve ‘my’ gold.  I say ‘my’, but effectively we just rented it. As I have already mentioned, the whole day really felt more about ‘keeping up with apperances’ rather than really being a celebration, and this tradition of the bride wearing gold is another which really made this clear. It’s normal for the groom and his family to give the bride gold, and lots of it. Unfortunately gold is very expensive at the moment, and we are not rich! The day before the wedding we stopped at Ortaca, near Dalaman, and went to the nearest gold shop, where Berkay purchased five 22 karat gold bangles which cost the best part of £1000 – even then, I had to convince Berkay that that was enough, and he would have happily got into a lot of debt and bought more just so my arm looked a little more decorated! Clearly after the wedding we would have no use for £1000 worth of gold bangles, so we planned to sell them straight back the day after, and we were prepared to lose a little money in the process. (As it happened, when we did sell them back we would have only lost around 90tl but I decided to keep 2 of the bangles as I liked them so much!) I’m not a person for expensive jewellery or designer items, so I had never worn anything worth so much as all this gold. Berkay’s mum let me borrow her gold necklace, and her sash, which was covered in cloves and gold coins, but we forgot to wear this! It’s apparently tradition in this village to wear it across the body which I had never heard of before. We did genuinely forget about it until it was too late, but I’m quite glad because the clove smell reminded me of the dentist, and I am terrified of the dentist so it didn’t help to calm my nerves!
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After going back to the marketplace in the afternoon and greeting more guests, it was time to head off to the hairdresser to get ready. Berkay dropped me off at the ‘salon’ (a concrete basement with a sink in the corner, a mirror and a chair) with his cousins and aunt while he went off to get changed, go to the barber and get the car covered in ribbons.

Despite not being able to communicate much, the 4 hours I was sat in that salon room were quite enjoyable. It appears that this is the only hair salon in the whole village and she was very busy.She started with Berkay’s cousins hair, then the children, then his aunt, and eventually it was my turn. The whole time I was in there people were wandering in and out, and lots of little girls coming in and out waiting their turn too. I could sense people’s excitement. A young girl sat next to me completely fascinated, she kept staring at me and edging closer and closer, almost sitting on my lap and kept nudging my arm. Another little girl came in and spotted my dress hanging up on the back of the door and her eyes lit up – I guess every little girl loves the thought of being a bride and Turkish little girls are no different. After what seemed like a lifetime of curling and pinning my hair, the hairdresser then started on my makeup. “Sade”, Berkay had told her when he dropped me off, which means plain. I knew from friends who have had their own village weddings that I wasn’t getting out of that salon without bright blue eyeshadow, thick black eyeliner and bright red lipstick, I’m not sure what the significance is between blue eyeshadow and brides, but apparently the two go hand in hand! As predicted, I ended up wearing more makeup than I’ve ever worn in my life, which was the furthest thing from ‘plain’, but I actually liked it as it made me feel different, I guess almost like a mask, which I definitely needed to help with my confidence to get me through the evening – I even asked for extra glitter which was then sprinkled all over my hair and chest.

Next was the part which I had been dreading the most – putting on my dress. Thankfully, it was a corset dress so it allowed for a few extra lbs that I’d gained since the last time I wore it in April, but it was very difficult to do up. Berkay’s cousin and aunt were in charge of lacing me in, although I knew it didn’t feel quite right, so the hairdresser done some final tweaks to make sure it was done properly. I was so concious of my wedding dress as most of the villagers are very, very traditional and even having shoulders on display is a no-no. I had come prepared with shrugs and shalls to cover up but everyone reassured me that it looked fine – a lot of the guests had never even met an English girl before so I didn’t want to give off the wrong impression, it was definitely a lot of pressure!
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Finally, after 4 hours of being beautified, I was reunited with Berkay, who was now dressed in his suit, freshly shaved and covered in hair glitter which looked a lot like sparkly dandruff…interesting. With a lot of help, he got me and my dress up the stairs and into the car which had been decorated with ribbons, flowers and fancy number plates, letting everyone know that we were the bride and groom, just in case the outfits didn’t give it away! We went back to his house, I mustered up the courage to have a last minute pee, which was very difficult in my dress and definitely a two-person job, thank God they have a ‘normal’ sitting toilet and not just a hole in the floor, otherwise that could have gone very, very wrong.

Eventually, about 7.45pm it was time to get back into the car and make our grand entrance.. We pulled up outside the marketplace and Berkay jumped out to speak to his brother’s about the plan of action.. I was sat in the car hyperventilating and lots of little girls came running over to the car door. ‘Gelin! Gelin! Bak, gelin!’ – ‘Bride, Bride, look, Bride!’ they shouted out to each other and to their mums. They were so excited to see me and my dress and it was weird having so much attention and excitement directed at little old me!

Once Berkay had had his instructions, it was time to get out, take a deep breath and make our entrance together, with all eyes on me, the ‘yabancı gelin’ – foreign bride…

A Delicious Village Breakfast

Breakfast is a big deal in Turkey. Arguably its the most important meal of the day, and Turkish people turn it into a real family affair, especially at weekends.

Although I’d had countless traditional Turkish breakfasts, the open buffet one at Bogazici in Fethiye on a sunday being my favourite, I’d never really experienced a proper köy kahvaltısı / village breakfast, so on the morning after our wedding day we made the short 20-25minute car journey to a local one just outside Calis/Fethiye, in  Kargı village.

The place we went to is called Yalçın Apart & Yörük Müzesi. It is a family run restaurant but only has one thing on the menu – breakfast. Perhaps not breakfast as you know it, not a cornflake or English fry up in sight, and although similar to the usual Turkish breakfasts it offers a bit of variation.
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The whole restaurant has a real rustic feel to it with lots of wooden benches upstairs to sit on and admire the view over the village. The village is full of citrus and olive trees and it is lovely to look out on the sea of green, with Babadağ and Mendos mountains in the distance – I always love seeing these mountains, it means Fethiye is close!

Within minutes of arriving and being seated upstairs we had trays full of small plates and dishes filled with all kinds of food delivered to our table and decoratively laid out in front of us. The menu said ’25 pieces’ made up the breakfast and although I didn’t count it seemed like even more than that – what’s even more impressive is that all the plates are refilled as soon as they’re empty. You could literally sit here all day eating! Among the delights on offer were fresh produce such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, lettuce, olives, eggs, potatoes, homemade butter, a variety of cheeses, honey, jam, clotted cream, fresh bread, gözleme filled with cheese and parsley and a few other dishes that neither of us could identify! It was so amazing, and so filling. The only thing we managed to actually finish was the eggs and the bread, it felt like such waste. They also bought us glasses of mixed orange and pomegranate juice which was refilled as soon as we put the empty glass down.
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The best part about all this, it was cheap! 25tl per person, which is less than £6.50!! The views, the service and the food was all brilliant.

The restaurant also doubles up as museum. Just behind the main building is a little wooden barn, full of artifacts from years gone by. It’s free to enter, and was created by the owner of the restaurant,  Enver Yalçın. His intention was to give people an insight into the life of the Yörük people, the nomadic people living around Fethiye and Antalya in the Taurus mountains. The museum has over 1600 pieces, including tools, utensils, rugs and artwork created and used by his ancestors, which he gathered from villages all over the area, along with photographs of some of the nomadic people. Some of the things were very interesting, but some quite disturbing (the animal skins!) The funniest part was an old cabinet which had obviously been moved to the museum purely for storage – the spongebob sticker on the outside rather changed the ‘old’ vibe of the museum! I also loved the notice on the entrance – ‘ chickens will come in, please close the door!’.
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This is because the land is also home to some animals – the usual farm animals, chickens, birds etc and a donkey or two. A few years ago this restaurant was made famous in the local media when it married two of it’s donkeys and held a ceremony for them – these animals were later taken away as they were found to have poor living conditions on the site, but they seem to have since bought more. They had a sign advertising very expensive donkey milk for sale, so I presume they own more than the one I saw, but I didn’t see their living conditions so I have to be honest and say I don’t know if things have improved for them.
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One last thing to note, the whole restaurant feels very traditional and very rustic and most things (minus the spongebob sticker…) reflect this, including the toilets which are the typical, slightly shocking hole-in-the-floor type! I’ve also been told that some of the tour-guide companies make stop off’s at this restaurant so it may be busy at peak times. Fortunately, on the Thursday mid-morning we went it wasn’t too busy, and we were really impressed.

For 50tl / less than around £13 for 2 people at today’s exchange rate, it’s definitely worth a visit to experience a traditional village breakfast and enjoy the beautiful views.
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Back to the Village..

Berkay received a call from his brother a few days ago to tell him that his step-mum was ill, so he got on the next coach to his hometown of Beyağaç, Denizli to visit.

Fethiye to Denizli is a 5 hour bus ride, and then it’s a futher 1 and a half hours on a small dolmus from Denizli to the very remote town of Beyağaç, which has a population of less than 7000.
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It’s a very traditional Turkish town, it is not at all modernised.  Berkay’s family live in a small ground level house, it’s very basic, no luxuries, they don’t even have beds, just floor cushions. They have farmland and own 19 cows, 23 sheep and lots of chickens, which they keep for milk, cheese, eggs and meat. It is a very different way of life to what I am used to.
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Some of the youngest cows are only a few days old, so cute. The photo on the left is Berkay’s step-mum, who is thankfully feeling much better now. .I love this photo on the right, who has a baby cow sitting in their garden beside their motorbike?  Berkay’s family do 🙂

I have visited the village twice, and absolutely hated it. The main reason is because of just how traditional they are, and how alien I am to them, as a ‘ yabancı’ (foreigner). Both times we visited I wore modest clothes, jeans or a skirt with long leggings, socks, and a top that covered my shoulders, boobs and belly, yet  I still looked like an outcast because quite literally every single other person was wearing ‘village pants’ .. the typical flowery type, and headscarves. Whereas people in Fethiye are normally mistaking me for a native Turk due to my skin colour, the people in Beyağaç were staring at me as if I had two heads, and they weren’t shy about it, I felt like I was in a zoo cage with hundreds of people staring and giggling at me. Another thing I found very difficult to cope with was the way the men and women were so segregated. Within the house, the roles of men and women were clearly defined. men outside sitting at tables smoking, women inside preparing food and cay. There was no mixing or conversation between men and women, they weren’t even allowed to sit in the same room. This was really horrible for me, as I couldn’t understand nor speak Turkish, and I was sat in a room full of people who couldn’t communicate with me either, add this to the staring they were doing and I became very paranoid!

Berkay rarely visits his family as he had a tough childhood and as a result, isn’t close to any of them. Berkay’s real mother left him when he was 28days old and moved elsewhere with his dad, temporarily, then they moved back to Denizli and had his brother. His mum then, again, abandoned his brother and left his dad. Berkay was being bought up by his grandparents, whom he adored. When his grandad sadly died, Berkay had to move back to his dad. His dad then remarried and had another son. When Berkay was just 15, his dad sent him away to Fethiye to attend school. He sent him with no food, no money, nothing. Berkay lived on the streets for a while until he met someone who took him in. He attended school and got a job, the money from which was all sent back to his dad. One month Berkay kept the money to pay bills, and his dad made the 6 hour journey to Fethiye to attack him and get the money for himself. Needless to say, their relationship does not exist now. They never speak and only see each other if there is a family death or special occasion. Berkay is quite close to his brothers still, but he is definitely the ‘black sheep’ of the family.

How someone can go through such a tough childhood and still be such a caring, kind, loving person I don’t know.

Anyway, thankfully Berkay’s step-mum is well again, and he is already back in Fethiye now. When he told me he was going to visit, I asked him to take tons of photos, so I could share how different his hometown is, he seems to have only taken photos of the animals, he knows I’m a sucker for animals! (:
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