Celebrating kurban bayram with Berkay..


Tuesday 15th October marked the first day of the Muslim festival Eid-al-adha (kurban bayram in Turkish). If you aren’t aware of what kurban bayram is, you can check back at my previous post.. ”what is kurban bayram?” which explains all you need to know.

Most people celebrate bayram with their families, but Berkay is not close to his and doesn’t really keep in touch with them. He also has to work all over the holidays as it is the hotel’s busiest time. Last year we celebrated together with a BBQ and a walk along the seafront, but this year he was alone. Luckily, he has a great friend who works with him at the hotel, someone who he has grown really close to and who is like a father to him (his name is Ergun, he’ll probably be mentioned a lot!). They invited him to their village house for the day to celebrate so he didn’t have to be alone.

First he went off to Ergun’s brother’s house for breakfast which was the typical Turkish type, eggs, bread, honey, cucumber, tomato, cheese, olives and of course a glass or two of cay!
They then went around to a few other family members houses. When they got to Ergun’s wife’s family house, they sacrificed their first sheep. This is something that is supposed to be done by professional butchers, in order to minimize stress to the animal and get it done as fast and humanely as possible. I suspect that an awful lot of people do not actually follow these rules, and carry out the sacrifice themselves, which is what Berkay’s friend and all his family do. Obviously though, the rules are there for a reason, and should be stuck to.

After skinning and cleaning up the first animal, they visited Ergun’s brothers house, and performed the sacrifice over again with another animal, this time a goat.
After that, they ate lunch, he didn’t tell me what was on the menu, but I presume it was extremely fresh meat..
After lunch, they returned back to their village house where they sacrificed their own goat.
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I asked Berkay to take these photos for me to share on here and give everyone more of an insight into the whole experience, but I do understand they may offend or disturb some readers, hence the warning at the start of the post.

I have seen discussions saying the act of killing so many animals for a religious festival is barbaric and wrong, although the same people complaining are not vegetarians themselves, and enjoy eating meat. The reason we find it so cruel, is that we are too used to having easy access to meat in supermarkets and shops, meat from animals that are already killed, then cut up and neatly packaged. We pick up the meat off the shelves and take it home to cook without a second thought as to where it has really come from, we don’t think about the poor animal it once formed. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

Personally, as long as the sacrifice is done correctly and the whole process is over quickly with limited suffering to the animal, I see nothing wrong with it. Sure, it’s not pleasant and I would never be able to do it myself, but It’s the circle of life, and an important part of celebrating kurban bayram in Turkish culture.

I hope everyone who celebrates Eid had a wonderful few days, now all the remaining sheep & goats can breathe a sigh of relief, until the next bayram..or wedding.. or funeral.. or birth! The Turks sure do like to celebrate special occasions by killing a sheep or two.

Fethiye is beautiful..


Fethiye is always beautiful, the mountains, blue skies and turquoise sea make for a lovely backdrop, but sometimes when living here, you take it all for granted. Sometimes you just need to take time out to remember just how beautiful it really is.

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Last week we walked the 163 steps up to what is known as ‘hill of the lovers’ (Asiklar Tepesi ) in Fethiye town. There’s no doubt it’s a very romantic place. There are little benches overlapping the edge and one small cafe at the top. The panoramic views there are breathtaking. There isn’t really much more I can say, the photos speak for themselves.
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Worst things about living in Turkey…

Following on from my best things about living in Turkey post, here are a few of the not-so-good things. Life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies here.

1. Weather.
Sure, 5 months of the summer may be guaranteed sunshine, and we’re all grateful for the rain when it comes in November time, one thing that isn’t really prepared for the cold, wet weather though, is the houses. Turkish houses are designed for the summer, to keep the heat out, the walls are not insulated, the floors are often concrete or tiled, and the windows are not double glazed, it is extremely rare to find central heating too. Our house has real issues dealing with the rain, as you can see from the photo I will post below. When it rains, it really does rain, full of thunderstorms and bucket loads of the wet stuff, I think it’s impossible for it to just drizzle in Fethiye. The rain leaks through our roof and windows, and our windows and doors are all drafty so when it’s deep into winter, in January time, it really is freezing. Last January the thermometer on my balcony read -2 degrees on a few occasions, I remember walking along and finding frozen puddles and my dog’s water bowl iced over. We don’t have heating, some homes have a soba (a wood burner) which is fairly efficient at heating rooms, but all we have is an electric ‘UFO’ heater, this really uses a ton of electricity, so we only turn it on for a few minutes at a time to take the edge off (proud to say our electric bill has never been more than 60tl!) Honestly, I’m not a fan of it anyway, we just wear our coats inside, layers and blankets, it does the job and it feels so cosy. Last year my grandparents bought us a couple of onesies for Christmas, boy did they come in handy! (: It’s currently 01.25 and 29 degrees outside… -2 oC and snuggling up in a onesie sounds like heaven right now.
2. Electricity, water & plumbing.
This is probably one of the most irritating things about living here, but it has gotten a lot better over the years, at least in this area. There are often power cuts, during the infamous thunderstorms, a drop of rain and the electricity goes out in whole towns, always fun having to use a torch or iPod backlight to see what you’re doing! We learnt our lesson the hard way and always unplug electricals during storms now, once we left the internet modem plugged in and a power surge melted the whole thing. I don’t think electricity is the safest out here either. There are often times throughout both summer and winter where planned power cuts take place, as well as the water supply being turned off for maintenance work or because of reservoir issues. Nothing more irritating than having no water to flush the toilet or have a shower with for hours (or days) on end during the height of summer..stinky. The plumbing isn’t the best and it’s not advised to flush toilet paper as it causes blockages.

3. Not speaking the language.
I can understand a fair amount of Turkish, my issue is not being able to speak or write it. If I hear a word I can often recognise it but won’t be able to relay it back later, I think a lot of it has to do with confidence. My life here would be totally different if i could speak the language, because as I cant, I rely on Berkay for everything. When we’re with friends I’m sure I seem rude as I can’t join in conversation, I also feel isolated and left out when they’re all talking and often feel like I shouldn’t be there. This is my own fault though.

4. Driving.
Anyone who’s visited will know what I mean, no explanation needed. A lot of Turkish people drive like maniacs, even the transfer buses along the edge of huge mountain roads, taxi’s, dolmus drivers. They drive like lunatics, rarely, if ever, wearing seat-belts, and quite often with a cigarette in one hand and a phone in the other. These things are illegal but happen far too much.

5. No concept of health and safety.
Following on from the above… Turkish people seem to have no health and safety concerns, ever. Just a few of the gem’s I’ve seen.. People driving in cars with young babies on their laps, people putting their babies in carseats (rare!) yet not strapping the baby in to the seat, or the seat into the car. A whole 4 person family plus a giant water bottle and a watermelon all sat driving along on a moped, all with no helmets or bike gear on. People building houses with no safety equipment or hardhats. Here is a photo of my neighbour painting his house.. no comment.
6. Litter.
I don’t know about other areas but in Calis/Fethiye the litter is disgusting. We live on a main road and people must just drive along in their cars and throw rubbish out, cigarette packets, beer bottles, water bottles, food packets, nappies, everything. The bushes near my house are full of other people’s rubbish. It’s disgusting. If we wander down to the beach in winter on a Sunday after all the locals have been out for their weekly BBQ picnic, all we see are coals, bits of chicken bones, packets, smashed beer bottles and other things far too disgusting to mention. Of course my dog finds them all. I don’t know how people pride themselves in keeping their home’s clean yet have no respect for the environment.

7. Animal cruelty.
I don’t know whether it’s because they cannot afford pets, but a lot of Turkish people see dogs and cats as no more than a nuisance. We have a dog, but she isn’t allowed inside because our landlord thinks her fur is unclean…We had a rabbit but that wasn’t allowed inside for the same reasons. In general, a lot of Turkish people don’t respect cats and dogs at all. Often people will take in dogs when they are puppies and dump them back on the streets when they are no longer cute, or when they are no longer of any benefit (restaurants often take in dogs for the summer to attract tourists then ditch them when they close for winter). There are some good animal shelters around but the problem is far too large. I’m a huge animal lover and have bought canned food or given our leftovers to street dogs and cats before, at the beginning of the season we found three kittens, two of which were very poorly and took them to the vet. Sadly, there’s not much we can do, other than take a few into our own homes. I know several fellow expats who have 5+ dogs living in their homes as they just can’t bare to see them on the streets. I have heard far too many times that street dogs, or even people’s pets have been poisoned by pathetic excuses for human beings, who leave poison down. I have also known people, including my neighbour, shoot dogs on their land for fear they were going to eat their chickens. There really is no excuse for it.

8. Smoking.
I’m not against it, each to their own, but so many people smoke here it is impossible to walk down the street without walking into a cloud of smoke somewhere.

9. Running around.
The amount of running around it takes to do simple tasks is a real inconvenience. Doing anything official involves running around to several offices getting tons of papers signed and stamped by tons of people in offices miles apart from each other.. renewing residency, getting a new passport, starting a new job.. even going to the bank takes careful planning as they are only open for a few hours a day (oh how I wish Berkay worked in a bank!) On top of all this, the contradicting information you hear is ridiculous, very often the right hand really doesn’t know what the left is doing.

Reading this, I notice I have a few more negative points about living here than I do good (see best things about living here ) It’s always much easier to find negatives though, isn’t it? We take things for granted. These negative things are more just annoying inconveniences though. None of these things would make me want to move away from the country.. the only thing that is really a huge problem for us is the following:

10. Wages.
I’m sure people don’t realise, but a lot of Turkish people get paid pennies for very long hours at work. In big cities with people working professional jobs, I’m not so sure, but I do know that teachers are not all that well paid either. For those of us who work in, or who have partners who work in tourism, it really sucks. Berkay currently gets paid 1450tl in summer, this is the most he has ever earned (he got a pay rise this year, woo!) This is £483 a month, for 15 hour days, and no days off, roughly £1 an hour. This is ridiculous for the amount of work he does and the cost of living here. Despite what people think, the cost of living is not cheap (a post to come about that soon..) But he is lucky, some people only earn commission. In winter, Berkay does not have a guaranteed job, as most other people in the tourism industry, he has to walk around from door to door in winter asking if they need any new staff, the past two years he has been lucky and found work in hotels, both times only earning 750tl a month. £250. No days off, 18 hour days (how is it possible he works longer in winter than summer, I have no idea, but he does). I can tell you that it is almost impossible to live off £250 a month in Turkey, we don’t have any luxuries, besides internet (that’s where i draw the line!), yet cannot afford to live off that. Last winter his boss didn’t even pay him for two months, so we had nothing to live off, bosses take the p*ss in winter because they know their staff cannot afford to leave jobs that are very hard to find, they also know that as soon as someone walks out of the door, an equally as desperate person will walk straight in.
Last year we got ourselves into debt with friends and owed the local shop money as we bought food on a ‘pay-later’ promise. We spent the first few months of the summer paying back money owed from winter, and as a result have no money saved for this winter either. Vicious circle. Even if I were working here, illegally, for the same wages and same hours, we would never see each other, no days off, no holidays and still only have pennies to spare.

This is the one, big issue for us about living in Turkey, as long as we’re here we will never be able to move forward, never be able to save, marry, have kids. I think people moving here expect it to be like one big holiday , which it really is not. Once you’ve lived here for a few months, you really see the bigger picture and the real life problems that people face.

As always, I can only speak from my experience of living in Fethiye. I hope I don’t come across as too negative, I am just being honest. As mentioned in previous posts, I consider myself lucky to live here, there are many, many positives.

What are the worst things about living in Turkey for you?

Best things about living in Turkey..

I may complain a lot, but I do love living in Turkey too, and going back to the UK soon has made me realise just how much I do love it. I thought I’d share a list of the best things about living in Turkey, in my opinion. Don’t worry, I’m not wearing rose tinted glasses.. I’ll be posting the worst things about living in Turkey soon.

This is actually on both my best and worst lists.. The good is the constant, guaranteed sunshine for 4-5 months of the year, sunny days cheer everyone up, and when the rain and storms do come in the winter, we welcome them with open arms.

Nobody can deny the views and scenery in Turkey are amazing. I am so lucky to live near the sea, something that I really take for granted, the sunsets are amazing over the sea in winter. The natural beauty of the beaches and the mountains, the contrast between the holiday resorts on the turquoise coast, the fancy hotels and office buildings and landmarks in big cities like Istanbul and Izmir, and the typical Turkish villages in the rural countryside, they are all beautiful in their own way.

Public transport
I can’t comment about other cities, but the public transport in Fethiye is brilliant, especially the dolmuses between Calis and Fethiye, they run every few minutes and are reliable, cheap, and there’s hardly ever any traffic. There are bus links to and from all the main cities in the country via main bus/coach stations, and with car and petrol prices so high, these buses are very popular. The coaches go all over the country and are relatively cheap, often a lot cheaper than flying domestically (people think nothing of hopping on a coach for 12-24 hours to visit somewhere, rather than flying). In other main cities they have trains and trams, but I haven’t experienced either so cannot comment.

Turkish pride.
Anyone who has visited Turkey will know how proud of their history and background Turkish people are, as a whole. They are very patriotic, and you’ll find paintings, posters, monuments and statues in every town commemorating the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Many people have his signature tattooed on their arms, others have stickers of him in their cars, jewellery with his name on, posters in their homes. In Fethiye there is a giant neon light up in the mountain of the shape of Atatürk’s head (It is surprisingly much less cheesy than it sounds). The Turkish flag is also very highly respected, you will see it everywhere, I very much doubt you’ll find any home, village, town or city without a flag somewhere around. It isn’t something that appears once a year (lets face it, the only time you really see English flags is when they’re playing in the world cup or it’s St Georges day) it’s a permanent thing, a permanent reminder of how proud Turks are. If you ever say bad word about Atatürk, Turkey or deface a Turkish flag, it is a great insult and you’ll know about it.

Turkish food is delicious, and often homemade and fresh. It is very difficult to find ready meals in shops, even the big supermarkets, it is becoming more common though- I found fish fingers in the frozen section and nearly peed myself with excitement (small things amuse small minds..) Another thing I love is how cheap fresh fruit and vegetables are, at least here in Fethiye (You all know how much I love market day), in fact that is the only thing I do find cheap here (in comparison to wages) but that will be discussed in another post.

Way of life.
We live a very simple life. We don’t have a lot of luxuries but we enjoy this simple life. We basically live on a farm, surrounded by cows, camels, goats, chickens and sheep, fruit trees and vegetables growing in the garden. I love it. We don’t go out to bars or restaurants, we don’t go to shopping centres or the cinema, we don’t drive, we don’t even have a TV, we really don’t do a lot of things that require money, but we don’t need those things to have fun. From my experience, a lot of people living here are the same, they love nothing better than going for a family picnic on a Sunday, taking a long walk or having the whole family gather for tea. We go for a walk every day with our dog, it’s honestly the highlight of my day, I love just walking in the hills with Berkay and Boncuk, I love being outside (never thought i’d say that..) and taking photos of our surroundings. Sometimes, it really is the small things and when my family visit they really struggle to see how we live such a simple life but still manage to enjoy ourselves and be happy. When you have no choice, you realise you don’t need money to have fun, sometimes just going for walks outside, a little picnic on the beach  or dinner and a game on the balcony is enough to make you smile.

I’m sure some people will disagree with me, but a lot of Turkish people are very friendly and will do anything to help you when in trouble. Of course there are bad everywhere, and some people want nothing more than your money, but on the whole, I have found people very kind. Everyone says ‘günaydın’ and ‘Iyi akşamlar’ to each other, we often go to the corner shop and come out with a bag full of food on a ‘pay later’ promise, when on the bus Berkay always stands up to let the older people sit down (in London on the tube last April, he stood up to let an older lady sit down, her face was priceless – pure shock), people really respect and look after their elders, everyone knows everyone (Berkay can’t walk down the street without stopping to say hi to at least 5 people..it’s something that is alien to me and is really quite frustrating actually). Last winter Berkay and I were struggling for money to pay bills and buy food, his boss didnt pay him for 2 months and someone that we’d known for less than a year helped us out, our landlord also lets us pay rent late if need be. A lot of things are very relaxed and people are laid back with a ‘no panic’ attitude.

I know, of course these traits aren’t limited to Turkish people, there are friendly people all over the world, but all you ever hear about nowadays are the bad. These are just things I have noticed from living here.

I live in Fethiye, I am commenting on my own experiences and not suggesting it is the same everywhere, I would love to hear your own experiences in different towns and cities. Turkey is a huge country, I know not everywhere and everyone is the same. Wouldn’t that be boring? (:

What is the best thing about living in Turkey for you?

10 untrue stereotypes about Turkey..


Anyone who has never visited Turkey, or bases their judgement of the country by what they have seen in one resort, is quite likely to form their own stereotypes of the country and it’s people from things they’ve heard, seen or read.

Anyone who lives here, or who has spent a considerable amount in the country will know most of these stereotypes are not true. Here are a few of the most common ones:

1. Turkey is a strict Muslim country.
Well, it’s certainly true that the majority of the country claim to be Muslim by religion, but the country as a whole, is not. Turkey is actually a democratic republic. Turks are very proud of their history, particularly that of Ataturk. Ataturk is the founder of the Republic of Turkey, he reformed and modernized the country. Turkey is a secular state, meaning its government do not (or should not..) favour Islam over any other religion, and religion should have no effect on public life, politics or law (although this is arguable after recent events.)

2. Women walk around in Burkas, covered from head to toe, only showing their eyes.
Wrong. It’s very rare to see women wearing Burkas in Turkey, it is discouraged.  A lot of women do wear headscarves, although this is changing too. In fact, those women working in government buildings are not permitted to cover their head while working.
Walking around Fethiye in summer, I have seen plenty of Turkish women wearing revealing clothing, leaving little to the imagination, beaches are full of Turkish people sunbathing in bikinis. I imagine a lot of the big cities to be the same. Of course, in strictly religious rural towns and more traditional families, a lot of women do still cover up, but it is their choice.

3. Turkish people are uneducated.
Wrong.  School education is compulsory for 6-18 year olds. There are over 100 universities in Turkey, some of which are very good, well respected and internationally known.  I think this stereotype is one which comes from people judging the whole country based on their experience in holiday resorts. A lot of resort workers are from small villages and towns far away and come to resorts to find work as they are not qualified in any area of expertise. A visit to Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir or any of the larger cities would most likely change your mind.

4. Men are dominant, women are submissive and stay at home.
Technically, women and men have equal rights, but in practice, I’m not so sure. As before, in remote, religious and traditional villages, it is the norm for the male to be the main breadwinner and the wife to be the housewife; to cook, clean and be a good host to guests. Of course, women being housewives doesn’t necessarily mean they are submissive, many prefer this than working, lets not forget that stay at home mums and housewives are still a common thing in the UK too. However, with more and more women having university education and being welcomed into professional jobs, families are being modernized and women becoming more equal, even in tourists areas, it is not uncommon to see female waitresses and bar staff now. The country is very divided though in my opinion, between those modern and traditional families and their very different customs and beliefs.

5. Turkish men are lazy.
I can’t speak about all men, as I only know a few, and living in a tourist resort, my view is somewhat limited. What i will say though, is that the men who work in these tourist resorts do work ridiculously hard, long hours, often in the boiling heat, for very little money. Those who have professional, higher paid jobs may work less hours, but often just as hard. There is very little government help and certainly no real benefit system here in Turkey, nobody gets anything for free, they have to work hard for it. Turkish work ethic is the polar opposite of laziness, in my opinion. 

6. Turkish men are allowed x amount of wives.
Wrong. Polygamy is illegal and can be punished with a prison sentence.

7. All Turkish men are love rats and just after your money, or a visa.
Wrong. Again, a stereotype based on ignorant views from people who have only ever visited holiday resorts. Sure, a lot of Turks working in resorts are liars and cheats, but not all, and they do not represent the country as a whole. Some resort workers take advantage of the foreign tourists and see them as easy targets for sex, money, a visa etc. The warning signs are there for these types of men, most men are very proud and would never ask for money, if anyone does, it should be a huge red flag. Turkish men are also very family orientated in general, and would never cheat on their wives, families, etc.  There’s a lot of bad eggs out there, but there’s a lot of good’uns too. Lets not pretend adultery doesn’t happen elsewhere either, there are bad men, and women in every country in the world, it’s just thanks to ‘take a break’ magazine that Turkish people have arguably the worst reputation of them all.

8. The water is dirty.
Wrong. In most areas the water is perfectly safe to drink, especially those where the water is freshly sourced from melting snow on the mountains, springs, etc. There are some cities where old plumbing pipes affects the safety of the water, but on the whole the water is clean, however it may upset people if they are not used to it, as it has a higher mineral content and particularly high chlorine levels. I have always drunk it and never been ill, but bottled water is cheap enough if you’re here for a holiday and wary.

9. The country is unsafe.
Not really. Crime happens all over the world, certain areas are more dangerous and it could be argued that gun and knife crime are more common in Turkey than the UK, but I have no statistics to confirm this either way. On the whole, Turkey is safe, the people are friendly and you’ll never be far from someone willing to help you if you get into trouble. Some people board their plane and leave their common sense at the airport, stay alert and keep your wits about you, as you would in your home country, and you’ll be just as safe as you are at home.

10. Everyone wears a fez and has a mustache.
Don’t think there’s really any need to comment on this one is there?  (; Thought I’d end on a lighter note (:

Having a Turkish partner, naturally I am constantly defending Turkish people and trying to change peoples narrow view of the country I currently call home. As I have said, there are good and bad people and customs all over the world. Turkey is a beautiful country with plenty of kind, beautiful people. You have to know to look in the right places and not get caught up believing everything you read or hear, and know there is often a lot more to the country than we see in resorts and areas designed purely for tourism.