Dos Amigos

Literally blown away today.  Had Mexican.  My taste buds had an orgasm.  I am happy.

All right let me just calm down for a moment, take a breath and start again.

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Here’s the thing with expats.  Most of us are happy to get down and dirty with the local cuisine.  I’m all over a good kebab.  I’ve accepted the fact that I am more than likely going to have corba (soup) for breakfast and every now and then a neighbour will sacrifice an animal and get busy making enough food to feed the village.   I’m totes good with that.  I swear.  And as an Aussie, I am a big fan of multiculturalism as well as immigration, same-sex marriage and anything else that’s currently political in Oz.  I ain’t no Donald Trump.  I love everyone (well I hate a few bitches that I went to school with but generally I love everyone) and in reference to this post, I love Mexicans.  I don’t want to build no wall.  I love their culture.  I love their food and their music and their fabulous beaches.  I admire their ability to stick it to others and how they support their state and their culture.  Mexicans know their shit (and their food) and I respect them for it.  One of my fondest memories was of a dirty weekend down in Tijuana when I was in my early-20’s that resulted in a hangover that lasted for a week.  Good times.

Anyway as I said up top I had a hella meal today at a little place called Dos Amigos.  Now when an expat gives you the thumbs up on a restaurant or a cafe we swarm like ants.  Expats appear from every direction and rush to said restaurant to enjoy that little bit of home (or Mexico) and that’s just what is happening with this place.

The restaurant is in Pozcu.  I don’t often go to Pozcu as its busy and parking is a bitch so I parked in Forum and wandered over.  The restaurant was cute.  Nice and modern.  Very promising from the get-go.

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I had the meat nachos.  Nachos usually blow here in Mersin.  If you are silly enough to order nachos you will get some Doritos on a plate with some tomato sauce and cheese but not at Dos Amigos.  Today’s nachos had it all.  They were as close as they could be to the nachos I consumed on that crazy weekend back when I was still hotter than feck.  Nacho chips, sour cream, guacamole, refried beans (which were the bomb – I could have eaten a whole plate) and beef perfectly cooked with just enough spice to make me go “Woah!”.  My friends both had burritos (one chicken and one beef) and they were good sized servings.  The only thing missing was a margarita but I guess I can dream of that next time.

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So I’m going to hit you with a “Do Yourself A Favour”.  To those of you living in Mersin get down to Dos Amigos and have your mind blown by a damn tasty feed at a freaking reasonable price.

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Photos are my own or courtesy of Dos Amigos

Telephone:  0532 628 46 96

Instagram: Dos Amigos

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Mayday Parade

This is not a post about Turkey, I repeat, this is NOT a post about Turkey.  Instead, this is a post about the emo pop/punk band Mayday Parade that I had the very real pleasure of meeting recently in Cologne.

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It’s no real surprise to anyone that I tend to spoil Daughter and this birthday was no exception.  Daughter loves music and concerts so when one of her favourite bands, Mayday Parade, recently came to Cologne, I purchased her tickets to go and see them in concert.

I am probably pretty lucky in that Daughter and I have similar tastes in music.  Sure, when I was young I might have loved a bit of Wham but as my music tastes matured I became a real lover of rock music, and the louder the better.  There is nothing better than blasting my rock music when no one is at home.  It’s just me and my music. Similarly, Daughter loves a bit of rock and I might even go to say she goes a little farther than me and loves a little metal and punk as well (God help the neighbours when she blasts My Chemical Romance or Sleeping With Sirens) which can get a little exhausting to the brain.

So Daughter and I found ourselves at Essigfabrik in Cologne on 3 October at the Mayday Parade “10 Year Anniversary” tour.  First up Essigfabrik.  Holy crap I thought we were going into a condemned building.  A friend of mine from Cologne tells me that Essigfabrik is, in fact, a very famous hall for concerts; yes, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover and all that but jeeze!

Putting that very real trauma aside Daughter and I had the opportunity of meeting the members of Mayday Parade and followed security down some rather unsafe and possibly unapproved stairs into a basement area where we stood around with maybe 30 other fans waiting patiently for the band to appear.

And they did.  And they were totally chill.

I guess I expected screams and squeals from the predominantly female teenagers but instead the band just milled with the fans, getting around and meeting them all, having a bit of a chat and allowing photos.

I was impressed.

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I got to have a chat with the lead singer Derek Sanders and asked him why they have never visited Turkey.  He said that it is mostly up to his representation as to where they travel to and they have never had any requests for a gig in Turkey.  Daughter said she was going to change that.  He then said that they were off to Australia for some concerts Down Under and asked if we’d see them there.  I laughed and explained that we actually lived in Turkey.  His eyebrows shot up.  Wow!  You guys are so lucky.

Yes we are!

The concert itself was pretty awesome as well.  Since it was their 10-year anniversary tour, they played their entire first album, “A Lesson in Romantics” blasting off with “Jamie All Over” before moving into a few of their newer stuff including “Stay” and “Terrible Things”.  Their encore was the fan favourite (and you can include me in that statement because I am now officially a fan), “Oh Well, Oh Well”.

Daughter had the barrier so when she finally found me at the end of the concert she was looking a little worse for wear but with a grin that just wouldn’t quit.  Supporting acts were Waterpark and With Confidence.

Sidenote: Whilst in Cologne Daughter got attacked by a dog which resulted in us visiting a German hospital as well as being in Cologne on Unity Day, celebrated on 3 October as a public holiday commemorating the anniversary of German reunification which meant that everything was shut so no shopping.  But we did eat bacon.  A lot of bacon.

So just to re-iterate I am the BEST MUM IN THE WORLD!  For this week at least!

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Dognapped!

The neighbour’s Rottweiler is chained up all day.  His owner (Vito) never let’s this beautiful and gentle boy off its chain and he spends its day sitting staring morosely at the passer by.  I know its normal in Turkey but it’s still heartbreaking all the same.  The Turk pities Hercules and takes him for a long walk every morning and afternoon as well as ensuring that he gets a decent feed every day.  The dog does have his quirks though.  He will not go on a lead and I don’t really blame him because he is chained up all day so he will carry his lead in his mouth and walk alongside The Turk (which is ridiculously cute).  Of course this causes drama in the village as they all assume Hercules is some crazed man eater and will rip them apart as he wanders by.  He won’t ’cause he’s a big baby (I mean look at him with Stanley) BUT if he sees a soccer ball (or a dirty nappy) he will lose his fecking mind.  The Turk has been forced to carry 10TL every time he takes Hercules anywhere to hand over to crying children when Hercules steals yet another ball.

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Anyway The Turk took Hercules for a walk this morning and everything was going along swimmingly until the dopey dog spotted a stray off in the distance.  As Hercules is a dopey dog he took off leaving The Turk to chase after him like a Looney Tunes cartoon.  After 20 minutes of searching The Turk gave up and started home.  As he reached our local market he spotted Hercules sitting happily outside lapping water from the bowl that is left by the shopowner.  The Turk stormed over and started yelling at Hercules who seemed pretty perturbed by all the yelling.  The Turk pointed Hercules home and he meekly followed The Turk at a safe distance.

An hour or so later there was an almighty kerfuffle outside!  Now it is not unusual for yelling in these parts or for the polis to arrive to be honest so when I hear some crazy Turk yelling for some reason or another I usually ignore it however as it was ruining my morning serenity I hung over the terrace to watch the show.

Outside Vito’s door was an itsy, bitsy Turkish man seriously foaming at the mouth with aggression, two bored polis smoking cigarettes and chatting on their phones, one dishevelled Vito (who had clearly just been woken by said itsy, bitsy Turkish man and two bored polis), Hercules sunning himself on the concrete … and Hercules miserably sulking on his chain in the corner.  Wait!  What?

Yep we seemed to have acquired a spare Rottweiler leaving Vito scratching his head, The Turk realising his error and the itsy, bitsy Turkish man now believing that his dog was being despoiled by Hercules (who I admit did seem up for the task).  It was a clear case of dognapping and it certainly didn’t take the two Pet Detectives long to crack this case wide open.  The Turk was extremely apologetic and laughed it off with the polis however the itsy, bitsy Turkish man continued to foam at the mouth (no doubt in need of a quick trip to the hastanesi) and insisted that Vito or The Turk or both of them be thrown in gaol.  Vito continued to be confused as he wiped the sleep from his eyes and Hercules continued to lie in the sunshine lapping up all the attention.  In the end common sense prevailed and the original Hercules was reinstated to his chain, the reasonable facsimile along with the tiny little Turkish man left carrying a big bag of maydanoz and the polis sat in the sunshine enjoying another cigarette and some fresh Türk kahvesi.

On closer inspection it should have been clear that it wasn’t Hercules … the reasonable facsimile had a tail (Hercules does not), the reasonable facsimile had a different collar but the clearest indication that it was not Hercules was … she was female!

Duh!

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F*ck Terrorism

Update:  There was little information in relation to the attack in Mersin as authorities had issued a media ban.

Further 11 suspects have been detained in connection with the attack. It was also revealed that it was suspected that the PKK, a terrorist group active in the country since 1980s, is the likely culprit.

The PKK resumed its armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015, unilaterally violating a cease-fire agreement. The organisation rose to prominence in the early 1980s in southeastern Turkey, which has a large Kurdish population.

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Yesterday afternoon a bomb exploded as a service bus carrying polis passed by here in Mersin.  Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said 17 police officers and one local were wounded in the attack. He also added that it was a “terror attack”.

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The blast occurred on the main road which was full of commuters on their way home from work and children on their way home from school. It took place in the densely populated area of Yenisehir. I had friends on that road. I myself was with Daughter only a block away.

Of course, Daughter and I had no idea. I mean mysterious explosions happen in Mersin all the time anyway. The other night I was on my terrace and the loudest bang I had ever heard nearly blasted me out of my seat. No idea where it came from. No idea what it was. No one seemed perturbed and went about their business in the Village so ‘whatev’s’.

Whatev’s has been fine up until now. Now, for the first time, a terrorist attack has come within spitting distance of me, my family and my friends.

I have always felt safe here in Mersin.  There has always a very large polis presence on the streets and security at government buildings, shopping centres and community gatherings.   Roadblocks and licence checks are common (hell it happens to me all the time). In fact, you can rarely drive through the city without passing polis on main corners carrying big-ass guns and checking cars as they pass. On the news, we get regular updates on terrorism threats and the polis efforts in thwarting these attempts. Arrests. Crackdowns. And with Mersin’s polis force on the hunt, we have not suffered from any significant attacks. Until now.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing although the initial word is that it is Kurdish militants who frequently target police vehicles and transports vans. I expect the polis investigators will be all over this and arrests will be made very soon.

My heart goes out to the 17 polis officers and one civilian that were injured in this attack.

This shit has got to stop.

To those of us living in Mersin and Türkiye – be vigilant guys.  Be aware of your surroundings.  If shit looks iffy its probably for good reason but my hope is that this was an isolated incident.  I also believe that security in Mersin will be even more heightened in response to the attack.

And my response to terrorism, we owe it to those injured in this attack and to all the other victims terrorism attacks around Türkiye and the world to not let the terrorist win by being terrorised.  That’s exactly the response they want.

Feck Terrorism!

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Ugly Expat 911

Expats are few and far between in Mersin, and over the years I have met some very *ahem* exciting characters.  Some I see once and then block them from my mind and social media in the hope of never passing paths again, and others are my closest friends and allies here in this crazy city hahaha.

new expat

The thing with having such a small group is that when you do meet that character that you just don’t gel with it can be nearly impossible to escape from them.  You see them at the same events, hanging out at the same restaurants and you bump into them at your local pazar/beautician/dentist – but of course you introduced them to said pazar/beautician/dentist!  You dumb ass!!

This happened to me recently, and I found the whole experience quite exhausting.  I was my usual friendly persona, welcoming said expat with open arms and introducing said expat to other members of the group and beforementioned pazar/beautician/dentist; however, I realised pretty early on that I had nothing in common with said expat.  I found said expat’s behaviour towards others in the group appalling and said expats behaviour to the locals ludicrous at times.  Oh, and I also realised pretty early on that said expat was batshit crazy!

Said expat found themselves in a bit of a jam as well while here in Mersin and when the situation imploded (which of course it did) it was all hands on deck.  However, despite other members of the group giving sound advice and being a listening board said expat decided to do the absolute opposite to the advice that was given and found themselves in an even more precarious position.  I don’t know everything, in fact, I don’t know a lot, but I do know that when a situation is shitty, it’s time to leave.  It’s not the time to include as many people as possible in your personal drama.

I think the thing that frustrated me the most about said expat was the fact that she felt she was so entitled to her opinion and expectations and also expected all of us to drop everything to deal her every problem.  Oh, and said expat never said thank you.  Not even once.  Rudeness!

Said expat has gone now thankfully.  I hope said expat never comes back to Mersin or if she does come back then hopefully she doesn’t contact me again – of course she probably won’t because I have already blocked her on my social media and she was banished from the expat group due to her nastiness.

Ugh, I’m getting too old for this shit.

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What Time is it? It’s Salça Time!

I used to say that making salça (paste) with my SIL was the most fun you could have in the Village with your clothes on.  In fact, I even complained a few years back about my SIL’s family taking over my salça making duties and ruining my fun.  I take it back now.  All of it.  Salça making ain’t fun.  In fact, now I think that making salca is the equivalent of giving birth.  It’s long, painful, incredibly messy, it can take weeks of recuperation afterwards before you feel yourself again but, surprisingly, in the end, you’re prepared to go through it all that pain again next year.  And of course you’ve got all that fabulous salça at the end of it all.

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Well that day is here again and I was chomping at the bit to make our kırmızı biber salça.  200kg of kırmızı biber (red capsicum) ready to be transformed into salça by me, my SIL and her mother.  Oh, and My Hurley Dog who assisted by chasing kediler (cats) and rolling in the mess until he was stained red.  He is not happy right now and is well aware that a bath is in his immediate future.

Back to my story.  200kg of kırmızı biber is a lot of biber.  My SIL called me down at 5 am, not to start work but to help make the ekmek (bread) for kahlvatı (breakfast).  To me making the ekmek is more work than its actually worth.  I’m happy to nick to the market and grab a couple of loafs of bread for 1TL each!  After the ekmek we started on the salca and it was just freaking exhausting.  Toiling away (before the real heat of mid-morning hits) with the cutting, cleaning, mulching (is it called mulching) before lugging buckets of biber salca up three flights of stairs and spreading it out in huge bowls to spend the next ten days in the sunshine (I swear if it rains!).  Nine trips up those stairs today with two buckets each trip!  FML!

The stairs are now stained red.  My feet are stained red (blending nicely with my orange nail polish) and my hands are as red as my eyes.  I’m exhausted.  Time for a shower, a glass of red (same colour as my hands, my eyes, my dog and my stairs) and an early night (just like after I had a baby – well I didn’t have the glass of red but the rest stands true).

Quote of the day by my 7-year-old niece – “cok tatl” (“so cute”) upon finding a worm (or maybe a maggot) in one of the biber.  Don’t be horrified by the idea of a worm/maggot in the biber.  Anyone who has ever made salça is well aware that its luck of the draw with those massive bags of biber.  Some are good, some are bad and sadly, some are rotten.  Adds to the taste according to The Turk (although the worm/maggot in question did not form part of my salça I swear to you).

So, when I say next year that I am making salça someone point me to this post – and to the looney bin.

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What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Hello, it’s me, Janey … in Mersin (in case you forgot).  I know I’ve said this in the past but my life has definitely been really busy over these few months.  Some days are out of my control and by the time that I get home I’m usually exhausted.  It takes all my effort to pour that first glass of wine.  The second and third glasses do come a lot easier.

In all honesty, I haven’t felt particularly motivated to write.  Mersin has its moments but they are nothing new.  I’ve written about them before.  Roosters crowing?  Wrote it.  The Turk fighting?  Done it.  Random family members doing random crazy shit?  All over it!  I have done a little more travelling, went to a wedding or nine and maybe I will post a few blogs in the coming weeks but unless aliens land here in the village there won’t be an awful lot to write.

Australia 2017

Daughter and I were away for two months, spending quality time in Australia and a naughty side trip to Bali.  It was definitely good to get back to Australia and spend time with our Aussie family and friends.  I even had the opportunity to catch up with some school friends which was fabulous.  I will miss my 30 year high school reunion later this year (although do I really want to catch up with most of them?  Nope.  I had my core group and I loved them.  The rest can go and jump in the lake).  And it was definitely great to eat bacon.  Man, I love me some bacon.  Yes, I know you know that but I just needed to reiterate it one final time – I love bacon.

Even though I was away I had some pretty remarkable hits on the page mind you.  It looks like Mersin is slowly being considered a tourist destination in its own right (I know I’m as shocked as you are).  The Turk suggested to me that perhaps I was being stalked but I’m not sure why anyone would want to stalk me, because as fascinating as I believe I am my life here in the Village is truly dull and exceedingly uninteresting.  And before you laugh it has happened before people turning up on our doorstep having tracked me down.  No!  I swear it’s true!  But that’s okay, as long as they’re not Ted Bundy or that Manson fellow … or maybe IS.

Summer is definitely here and Mersin is feeling like Satan’s asshole right now.  Coming from a very pleasant Sydney winter (with its average temperatures of 22-24) I’m a little jealous of my friends up in the mountains with their mountain breezes although the two times I have been up to visit since my return it’s been 30 degrees both days.  Not so cool (although it was probably mid-40’s back in the village).

Socially here in Mersin, many of the expats and locals disappear for summer.  Like me, the expats go and visit their homeland and the locals get the hell out of Dodge because it’s just so freaking steamy as feck.  A few of the expats have moved on to new cities and countries but when one goes another usually arrives although sometimes this can be more drama than it’s worth.

Oh, and I’ve finished the first draft of my novel (which takes up an extraordinary amount of time).  Set in Turkey, it’s kinda sexy (I was told to reel it back somewhat or it’s going to get awfully ‘Grey’).  It has been read by a few trusted friends and I got some pretty realistic feedback so on their recommendation I’ve sent it off for an edit.  We’ll see where this goes.

So, keep an eye out for some new material in the coming weeks.  I will be in touch and remember to message me on my FB page (here) if you want or need to make contact.

 

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Squatty Potty Disaster

A public toilet in Türkiye can be one of the most feral places on earth. I guess I could say that about any public toilet around the world but as I live in Türkiye and this is a story about Türkiye then I’m going to say Türkiye.  Anyway, you would think that in the thousands of years that public toilets have existed, someone would have thought to modernise the ancient art of sıçmak (shitting) amongst strangers. What makes it all the more worse is if you really luck out and find yourself desperate to use the facilities, you follow your helpful host down a funky smelling corridor, praying that you are not about to be sold into slavery, and into a damp, dark room (why is there never any electric?) only to find … a squat toilet in the corner.   FML!

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Long term readers are already aware that over the years I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the squat toilet and, despite a few near misses, I actually consider myself as a pretty knowledgable squatter.  I can usually be called on to give helpful advice to any virgin squatter setting them on the righteous path of dryness and some fabulous thigh muscles.  I mean in all these years I’ve never had spillage or splash back.  I totally have the angle sorted.  Yes, of course I bring my own paper and I always have 1TL in my pocket to pay at the door.  I can dodge a puddle and unknown entities do not phase me.  I have even mastered the skill of blocking out that smell – you know the smell –  but since my knee reconstruction it has become abundantly clear that all my past successes adds up to exactly squat (no pun intended).

While visiting Kozan recently to photograph the sunflowers (thus the photo above) I found myself needing to visit the little girls room and I was relatively happy to find a clean-ish public toilet.  Yes it was a squat toilet which could’ve potentially caused heart palipations for any lesser yabancı but for me I was happy to see it was a 6.5 on the squatty potty scale of cleanliness.  I went in for I am the Squatting Master.  I have the skills of an Olympic gymnast and the little matter of a still troublesome knee reconstruction wasn’t going to stop me from my goal.  What was going to stop my from my goal was my skin tight jeans on a fecking hot day!  Do any of you remember that episode of Friends with Ross and the leather pants?  That was me.  I was Ross and I was fecked!

ross1I don’t think I actually have to go any further.  You all know what happened next.  *Sigh*  Yes, I had a squatty potty disaster – and it wasnt a little splash back situation, no ma’am, this was a fully fledged guidance system failure thanks to my sweaty skin tight jeans that I could only drag half way down my legs and fecked up knee bent into an unholy angle leaving me in a position that I couldn’t recover from.   And as soon as I realised what had happening it was too late and I literally peed all over myself!  To add insult to injury and to drag others into my mess a friend came running to my aid only to bend over and rip her own pants!  So there we were, two yabancılar in a little town a couple of hours from home, me covered in pee and my friend showing off her blue Primark knickers (I’m not sure if they actually were blue Primark knickers).  I am sure the locals had a good old laugh after we left.  The words salak yabancılar come to my mind and I’m sure it came to many of theirs as well!

What to do?  What to do?

I guess I should say I was lucky it was so fecking hot so I dried out pretty quickly and a few squirts of deodorant returned me to my pre-pee fresh scent but after this little disaster I have made an executive decision.  There shall be no more pee stories from this little yabancı. I am now on the hunt for one of those P-EZ pee-cups stat.  In future I shall stand tall and pee freely!

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Work at ANZAC Cove

For many of us Aussies a pilgrimage to Gelibolu (Gallipoli) is a must do in our lifetime.  The area is steeped in history, an ancient history, a pained history and a history of heroism by the boys and men who left home yearning for adventure, ready to fight for their King and country only to lose their lives and lay buried far from home.

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We visit the memorials at Çanakkale Şehitleri Anıtı (Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial), the Nek or Kanlisirt Anıtı (known to us as ANZAC Cove), and these memorials are a reminder that war is full of unsung heroes and, whether they were part of the Allied forces or a Turkish soldier, we remember the sacrifices that they made so we could live today in freedom.  This bond between the Johnnies and the Mehmets was well expressed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, President of Turkiye, who in 1934 made this uplifting and consoling comment to an official, Australian, New Zealand and British party visiting ANZAC Cove:

Those heroes that shed their blood, and lost their lives …
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries …
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.

Those words make hearts swell around the world in pride and are now an integral part of the Gallipoli story.   I remember standing at the memorial at Kanlisirt Anıtı  and I openly wept as I read those immortal words.

Tonight this news item passed my desk –

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I felt sick to my stomach.

There were more photos but these appear to have been deleted.

Before we all jump the gun and turn into keyboard warriors (and believe me I was screaming blue murder and ready to call Karl Stefanovic who would fly over and single-handedly sort it out with The Powers That Be) the report attached to this photo states that the Canakkale Savaslari Tarihi group are undertaking maintenance and repair to the memorial due to natural erosion to the inscriptions and repair work and this work is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.  Although I understand that the work may have needed to have been undertaken this memorial is held in extremely high regard by Australians and New Zealanders.  I think that perhaps some discretion should have been taken by the officials undertaking this work to minimise the shock to visitors who have come to pay their respects.

I hope that the work is completed quickly and this site which is so important to all of us is returned to its former glory – for all our sakes.

(If anyone has any further information regarding this work please send me a link).

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Spirit in the Sky

Mersin is full of so much history and gorgeous scenery and yet, living here, I seldom get further than my front door so the opportunity to join a couple of amateur photographers as they travelled deep into the Tarsus Mountains to explore the ruins of a monastery was an opportunity just too good to miss.

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After an early start, we left the shimmering Mersin coastline behind us and followed the Gosku River up into the winding mountains, past fertile plains and sweet smelling pine forests before finally arriving at our destination – Alahan Monastery.

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Built over 1500 years ago the monks of Alahan must have known they were onto a good thing when they chose this spot.  It’s a prime location rising 1300 feet above the surrounding valleys with numerous caves, natural water courses and good crop land below.   The ruins are still in excellent condition despite earthquakes, a few wars and no doubt general tomfoolery of locals and can be traversed fairly easily (even with my banged-up knee).

Alahan 4Alahan 5

We entered the Monastery via the Basilica where the reliefs on the columns and remaining stone are a good example of the Byzantine era.  Past the Basilica is a small Baptistry for pilgrims to be baptised before following the remains of the colonnade to another larger Basilica.  Archaeologists believe that the larger Basilica is a good example of domical construction using carefully cut and assembled stone without mortar to build the domed ceiling.  The larger Basilica is highly praised for its resemblance to Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia (and arguably built before the famed Hagia Sophia).  The stone and slabs are decorated with reliefs of fish, foliage as well as clearly defined Christian crosses.

Alahan 8

Credit:  N. Habbas

Alahan 9

Credit:  N. Habbas

The Monastery has been extensively restored and was re-opened to the public in 2015 and is included on UNESCO’s Tentative World Heritage List.

After spending an hour at the Monastery, we travelled back down into the valley passing fields of red poppies as well as row after row of kayısı (apricot) trees before returning back to Mersin, stopping along the way for the well-known Mersin favourite – tantuni.

Entrance fee: 5TL or free if you have the Müze pass (Museum pass).

Getting there:  Approximately 3 hours (including 2 stops), take the D400 to Silifke and then follow the D715 to Mut.  Alahan Monastery is located about 20km past Mut.  Keep an eye out for signage as it is easy to miss due to current road works.

Best time to go:  We were here on a weekday and had the place to ourselves.  Locals tell us that weekends can be quite busy with bus tours visiting from neighbouring cities.

Tip:  If visiting in summer it will be hot, hot, hot.  Take water and wear sunscreen.

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