No Winter Blues

When we lived in Oz we always arranged our holiday to Mersin during September.  It was still deliciously warm but there was that cool breeze that soothed the rocking hell-fire that usually descends on the province during August (which has been known to send even me a little deli).  Winters, on the other hand, were a non-starter, no way I was skipping my summer in Sydney for the grey backdrop that would no doubt be Mersin during December or January.

Now that I live here I realise that that was my loss because while Mersin in the heat of summer no doubt rocks, it’s also got some pretty cool moves in the dead of winter as well.

Mersin snow

Falling temperatures sprinkle new magic on the small villages in the mountains and the medieval kalesi (castles) along the Mersin coastline and although I have not done much in the way of exploring thanks to my bung knee this winter I can say that over the years the chill brings a moody new perspective to the province.

snow in mersin 2

Daughter and I did zip up into the mountains a few times this winter and while the city of Mersin or our little village may be grey the Toros Mountains were gloriously sunshiny.  We took My Hurley Dog for a doggy snow day as Daughter had recently seen a video with dogs having a sensational time frolicking in white stuff but, of course, our asshole dog hated every moment of it.  He did, however, manage to find the carcass of some poor animal in the snow and try to drag it back to the car – I swear that dog disgusts me sometimes.

hurley-snow-3

With a smattering of snow the traditional Turkish villages are so enticing that a trek through the lower hills of the mountain range is something not to be missed.  Oh and for those of you who actually want to attach those silly wooden planks to your feet Kayseri is only 3 hours away with 8 lifts and no doubt more than enough apres-ski nightlife to suit everyone.

The coastline takes on a new role as well.  The beaches are still pristine but now they are empty.  Surprisingly the water isn’t icy either.  I mean I wouldn’t swim to Cyprus or anything but a paddle is pleasant enough.

kizkalesi-winter-4

One of the bonuses during winter is it is much easier to visit the ruins (without self-combusting in the heat).  I have been known to lose myself for hours while exploring the many castles that dot the coastline and winter allows me to continue my exploration without breaking a sweat.

Winter also has salep, which is a mix of hot mastic milk, sugar, and flour made from orchid tubers, served with cinnamon.  Sold from street carts in the old part of the city you can enjoy your salep alongside a paper bag stuffed with kestane kebap (freshly roasted chestnuts), also purchased from street carts.

Today The Turk and I are off to Sarniç, a village 15 minutes outside of the city.  I’ve visited there so many times that he is beginning to question whether I’m having an affair with a local goat herder so today we will go together for lunch to celebrate our wedding anniversary (see we still adore each other – sometimes).  There is a fantastic lokanta on the main road that serves traditional Turkish food (the sucuk hummus is to die for) while you warm your weary bones by a roaring fire.  Yet another great reason to visit Mersin in winter I think.

sarnic-2

I mean if you really need another reason that is …

Disclaimer: my expat friend who lives up in the Yayla would not agree with anything said in this post.  She has had enough of the snow.  She (and her recently Home Alone kedi) wishes that the snow would feck off!

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, love winter (sometimes) and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

 

The Hot Groom

Last night I went to a wedding.  I hate a wedding on a weeknight.  I wasn’t prepared, in fact I knew nothing about it thanks to The Turk’s inability to tell me shit.  I had been in Adana all day (went to check out the incredibly disappointing H&M that had just opened) so when I arrived home to the news that I was expected to attend a wedding I was mildly (read that as totally) pissed off.

The wedding itself was as expected.  You know the usual Turkish, completely over the top wedding.  The music was way too loud and the women were ridiculously overdressed while, on the other hand, the men turn up looking like gigolo wannabe’s in jeans and open shirts.  Of course there was no food or booze but they did supply us with juice boxes (true story).  And sadly as I didn’t have any warning of said wedding I didn’t have time to buy some booze.  FML!  A booze free Turkish wedding on a freaking Wednesday night.  Could my life get any worse?

And then I saw The Groom.  No that’s not explaining what I saw properly – let me try that again:

And then, standing at the top of the stairs was a man, but not just a man, it was a man with god-like qualities.  His strong nose complemented his prominent cheekbones and his hair, so thick that I felt the need to run my fingers through it, finished just below the collar of his perfect black suit jacket.  He was tall but not too tall and he filled out that perfect black suit jacket perfectly.  My new crush scanned the room with purpose and I swear to God his eyes connected with each and every one of us.  I swooned.  I did.  I was Olivia De Havilland and I was swooning at the hottie at the top of the stairs – until it clicked in my pea size mind.  The hottie at the top of the stairs just so happened to be The Groom.  Sorry – The Hot Groom.  Bummer.

Of course I am well aware that I can’t try it on with The Hot Groom at his own wedding and yes I am obviously also aware that I am, in fact, a fat, middle aged woman who is very much married to The Turk who was, at that moment, sitting right beside me as I swooned and tittered over The Hot Groom at the top of the stairs but I just need to say – yes please!

burak

The Hot Groom had it all.  He was a dead set ringer for Burak Ozcivit and seeing as Burak Ozcivit was actually born in Mersin I have decided that The Hot Groom must be related in some way to Burak Ozcivit.  For those of you who don’t know of Burak he has graced my blog before when I discussed the do’s and don’ts of the great Turkish moustache and now, standing before me, was a perfect facsimile of that perfect man.  Yes indeed my new favourite relative aka The Hot Groom was rocking it with his thick black locks and a decent amount of facial hair that gave me the shivers (but thankfully no moustache).  OMFG!

The Turk looked from the Hot Groom to me and back again before rolling his eyes.  The following conversation then took place:

The Turk:  I see what’s happening here.

Me:             I don’t know what you are talking about.

The Turk:  Darling there are two reasons that your new love isn’t going to work.

Me:             Oh?

The Turk:  One, he’s half your age.

Me:             I could be a cougar.

The Turk:  (shook his head while looking at me in pity and a little bit of contempt) And two … check out your competition.

Me:             Who?

The Turk:  The Bride.

Damn it but he was right.  The Hot Groom was marrying an even Hotter Bride.

Of course.

Edit:  Despite the desperate requests of my readers to obtain a photo of the Hot Groom I must let you know that my one compromise on writing about his family is that I do not post any photos.  I’m sorry.  I have promised.  I know I hate me too.  Yes he was hot.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you have a full fledge crush on Burak Ozcivit and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Waiting For Rain (and hot flashes)

Despite the fact that I only returned from Down Under a month ago the never ending heat in the Village is sending me a little deli.  I mean yesterday is the perfect example.  There was talk of rain.  In fact no one spoke of anything else.  Adana had rain.  The Yayla had rain.  I believe even Mezitli had rain but here in the Village?  Nada.  Nothing.  Hiçbir şey değil!

And before any of you point out to me that it is Turkiye and of course it will be hot in summer I say this to you …. I am peri-menopausal and am pretty fecking agitated right now so before you start on me …. you have been warned!  I mean its fecking hot so why not add a hot flash to the hot.  Why fecking not???

sweating

I have decided to make a list about how many ways Mother Nature is screwing with us or screwing with me personally.  I do think it is personal.  Bitch must be peri-menopausal as well.

Anyway many of these are meme’s running around on the internet but, honestly, tell me I’m wrong folks:

  • Power blackouts. That shit will kill you because your air conditioning won’t work, your fan won’t work, nothing will fecking work but on the bright side if you have your air con blasting all night you will no doubt die of the grip (or so says your favourite teyze) so yeah power blackouts = death!
  • Hot shower? Or hot shower?  Hot water comes out of both faucets now.  The effort to towel dry just makes you sweat more and another hot shower is needed AND you have to dress in front of the fan or air conditioning so you stay dry!
  • Your thongs melt on the bitumen (no not “that” kind of thong).
  • The bitumen melts as well.
  • The temperature drops below 33 degrees. Woah!  Grab a jacket!  Wait!  Don’t grab a jacket!  You’re not Turkish silly!
  • Storm on the horizon? YES!    It’s now a Swedish sauna outside.  Steam non-optional!
  • You are prepared to drive great distances because the air conditioning works in your car.
  • You drive your car with your fingers.
  • You are afraid of your seatbelt.
  • The best parking spot is one with shade and yes you are prepared to go and move your car as the sun revolves around the earth.

steering wheel

On the bright side with no rain – probably ever again – it means that today’s chore of making the salca (I’ve got 100kg of biber waiting for me downstairs) will mean it can be done in one day.  Sure I might finish at midnight and sure I will no doubt be covered in bites and stained a bright red but in 2-4 weeks I will have my homemade salca ready for consumption.

The things we do!

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, believe that Mother Nature is screwing with them and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

 

The Yayla

It’s still mighty hot here in Mersin with most days cracking on in the high 30’s (that’s 100℉ for you crazy hold-outs in the good old USA).  I’m not going to whine about the heat today (I know it’s surprising even me) but instead I’ll tell you about what to do when it is hot in Mersin – do what the locals do and get the hell outta Dodge.

yenikoy 7

Yes sir when the heat gets too much for a Mersin-ite they pack their bags and migrate to the Yayla and so, in an effort to be as Turkish as possible and, with the flimsy excuse of a party, a few of us expats decided to reconvene in the little village of Yeniköy for the weekend to enjoy the cooler mountain breeze and a bevvy or three.

Yeniköy is approximately 20 km’s (about 12 miles for you backwater-type countries that still use the archaic Imperial system of weights and measures – sorry I’m pointing my finger again at you Americans) from the city.  Leaving the city on the Mersin Gozne Yolu I usually turn off at the Anadolu Ajansı Hatıra Ormanı (National Forest) and take the Mersin Arslankoy Yolu up into the mountains passing Aladağ along the way (pull over and fill your bottle with pure mountain water at the fountains as you pass by).  The first time I travelled up into the mountains was a little hairy with my little car unable to take the gradient on the unsealed village roads but with the current road upgrades the drive is more pleasant than terrifying for this little Aussie bird and the views as you pass through the tiny villages and mountain ranges is spectacular.

Arslankoy 2

One of the small lokantlar worth a visit is Yeniköy Restoran Palanin Yeri which is on your right as you go through the village.  Here they do the usual mangal, tavuk ve et dishes and it’s not bad bang for your buck (or your lira).  The beer is cold, the staff try their very best and with a mix of their English and my Turklish you usually get what you ordered but the real draw for me is that after spending time in the hell that is Mersin in August a visit to this pleasant garden restaurant and it’s cool breeze (usually 10°C difference) makes the drive so very worthwhile.

Palanin

Leaving Yeniköy there are a smattering of waterfalls to visit, the most famous being Santuras (St Iris) at Çağlarca or you might like to taking in some of the hiking trails nearby.  As the trails are used by the local herders you will probably pass a goat or two on your hike as well as, although I have never seen one, the occasional wild pig.

water fall

Another 30 minutes past Çağlarca is the village of Arslanköy which is pretty much as far as you can go without a 4WD.  At 1,475 m (4,839 ft) above sea level the summer sun is quite strong up here so remember to slip, slop, slap (Aussie reference sorry to the rest of you) and the village itself doesn’t really have a lot to offer but just past the village is a lovely lake which is a very pleasant spot for a picnic (make sure you stock up before you leave as there are only a few small shops in the village for supplies).

arslankoy lake

A weekend pass to the Yalya is just the thing to remind me just why I love living here in Mersin.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, sometimes needs to beat the heat and loves Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Playing Catch Up

I just typed “May is finally here” into my Google search engine and it suggested to me to finish that sentence with “and dogs are finally celebrating”.  I have to wonder why dogs are celebrating.  Do they have a full social calendar in May?  Is there some doggy get together I know nothing about where they are free to pee on trees, sniff each other’s butts and drink too much doggy vino from toilet bowls?  Bilmiyorum.

As expected this post has started waayyyy off track so in order to bring it back to Mersin and Türkiye I will start again.

white rainbow

May is finally here in Mersin and the weather has begun to resemble an ‘80’s mix tape.  Those of you who are old enough *cough, cough* to remember the mix tape will no doubt have fond memories of hours sitting by their radio/cassette player waiting patiently for their favourite songs to come on.  For me it was Rick Astley, Toni Basil and, of course, Wham!  *hangs head in shame* so a Janey mix tape would give you a pretty crazy mix of music and that is what the weather is like right now (which was the analogy I was attempting at the outset of this post).  Oh and for you younger generation who are scratching their head at my ridiculous analogy think of an ’80’s mix tape as the equivalent of your iPod on shuffle.  Up to speed?  Okay!

It is deliciously warm though.  Not hot enough to say we’ve finally hit summer but definitely hot enough to hit the beach, well if you are yabancı anyway.  And hitting the beach is great right now because they are practically empty except for that one random Türk who you can never seem to get rid of.  He will infiltrate your group, drink your beer and play with your children before stripping off to his not so tightey whiteys and practically flash his soggy old Johnson in your face.

swimmer

But, like an ‘80’s mix tape or a shuffling iPod (yes like a dealer I am still pushing that old analogy), you just don’t know what’s coming up next and, in the blink of an eye, your sunshiny beach days are gone and you find yourself running for cover and hoping that a freaking house doesn’t fall on you and some smarmly little brunette runs off with your ruby slippers!

In the meantime our fruit trees have started to bear fruit and we have nectarine, apricots and peach (please don’t call it piç) in abundance as well as buckets full of mulberries.  The mulberry tree actually belongs to our elderly neighbours (no not Crazy Eyes) who are not so steady on their feet so The Turk and I happily fill bucket after bucket of mulberries for them before wandering around the village offering the berries to anyone who is willing to take them off our hands.  I’m telling you this mulberry tree is a reincarnation of The Magic Pudding and gives a never ending supply!  The Turk and BIL carried 5 buckets of mulberries to the school yesterday and gave them to the kids there.  When I went to the school last night with My Hurley Dog for his evening constitutional there were squashed mulberries everywhere (and I bet many of the kiddies went home with stained mulberry shirts as well).  I suspect The Turk won’t be as welcome with the buckets of fruit next time.

fruit

Speaking of Crazy Eyes my nemesis has been neutralized.  In an operation that was more dangerous than “Neptune Spear” my nemesis was captured and was giving a full Viking funeral aka he became mangal.  Crazy Eyes didn’t really care either.  I think she was probably happy to have a decent night’s sleep too and if I can be honest her eyes seem less crazy today.  No, no, don’t thank me Crazy Eyes.  I’m happy to be of help.

Speaking of mangal The Turk took Vito’s Rottweiler for a walk the other day and they came across a goat herder tending his flock.  The Rottweiler went into launch mode and, well, let’s just say that money had to change hands to sweep this particular incident under the table and leave it at that … oh and we had mangal then as well!

I know I have been particularly slack with updating you on my weekly dramas.  I guess I have become immune to the chaos here now.  I don’t bat an eyelid at my foghorn SIL screaming from her window at someone – anyone – below and I just laugh when I witness what will no doubt become WWIII between The Turk and his brother or The Turk and the neighbours or the neighbours and some random or, well just about anyone and anything.

Until next time …

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, wants me to update more regularly and love Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Roux

Finding the perfect burger in Mersin can be a little tricky.  I mean unless you yourself have ever had the perfect burger replicating it can be a little tricky and, let’s be honest, a lot of the chefs here in Mersin are chefs … here in Mersin … so may not have had the good fortune of having enjoyed the perfect burger elsewhere.

burger 1

And we all know that joy of the perfect burger.  It’s a thing of beauty.  A satisfying mess of all things delicious.  Beef (good).  Cheese (good).  Grilled onion (good).  For an Aussie nothing says a good burger like beetroot (not so easy to get here in Mersin unless you grow it yourself) and delicious, fresh avocado smeared onto that bun (goooodddd).  Honestly there are few things culinary that can be relied upon to do their job as effectively as the perfect burger.

Of course I can try and replicate the perfect burger here at home.  In the Village the local butcher makes a pretty mean patty with a delicious mix of herbs and a pretty decent ratio of meat to fat but as close as I can come it just doesn’t cross the line as a winner.

I recently visited the newly rebranded Roux Restaurant in Mezitli.  I originally went there last year, in fact the expats had their Christmas party there, but with the change of ownership it was time to re-visit and check out their new menu.  It always has been a burger restaurant but with the addition of chef Gamze Sener who had previously worked at Movenpick Hotel in Istanbul the menu is a punchy, modern version to drool over.

So you are wondering ‘how was the burger’?

Pretty damn good.  I had the Hot Tamale burger which was a definite two-hander consisting of thick beef patty cooked to perfection with gooey cheddar cheese oozing over the meat, a mountain of fresh avocado and oodles of chilli and pickles to top it off.  It came with home-made chips (crisps) and a little side salad.  It was totally more-ish.  Don’t fret if you are not a fan of the burger (I know right??) the menu also has vegetarian choices, pasta dishes, fish and chicken to tempt your taste buds.

burger 4

My only complaint was that my glass of wine was not full enough but after discussion with the waiter he saw the error of his ways and the glass of wine was filled to a more ‘Janey appropriate’ level.

I know that many of you will visit family in Mersin over the next few months so do yourself a flavour favour and visit Roux.  You will not be disappointed and you might just find me sitting there in a corner, cheese dripping down my fingers as I make my way through the menu (I will definitely need to purchase some larger pants).  Next time I’m having the Jack Burger.  I’ll let you know how it is.

Roux

All photos courtesy of Roux Restaurant, Adnan Menderes Bulvari, Fatih Mahallesi, 30012, Mezitli, Mersin

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, love a good burger and love Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

 

 

Dirty Laundry

It’s been a busy few weeks for me here in the Village but thankfully yesterday gave me a reprieve of sorts and I was able to spend the day playing catch up.  Catching up on cleaning and catching up on the piles of laundry that never seems to diminish and just catching up on life in general.

refugees 1

With my second load of laundry drying on the balcony I took the third load down to SIL’s line knowing that it would be under the watchful eye of FIL who was sitting in the sunshine warming his bones.  A couple of hours later I went back downstairs to bring the washing in only to find that it was missing.  It had been stolen.  All of it!

What was stolen?  Two pairs of men’s jeans, two men’s sweaters, a shirt, copious pairs of The Turk’s underwear (with Batman on the front) and The Turk’s funeral jacket (which has been overused this week with 3 funerals – 3 funerals!!  I know right?).  Also stolen were two pairs of The Turk’s shoes, a pair of my gumboots and an old pair of Daughter’s converse.  I can be cynical right now and start cursing these people who stole The Turk’s Batman undies or I can hope that whoever took the clothes needed them more than we do.

As I walk around the Village I pass many new faces.  The Village has had a transformation of sorts over the past three years since we moved here due to the influx of refugees living in Mersin.  In fact the city of Mersin with its population of over 1 million people is thought to have (officially) more than 150,000 Syrian refugees (unofficially that number is likely closer to 350,000) based here waiting in limbo between the hells of war and an uncertain emigration to Europe either by boat or overland.  We should also not forget that the escape to Europe by boat is still very much a dangerous proposition and, although it is no longer headline news, there are still too many deaths happening off the Turkish coastline.

Some refugees are making a new life for themselves here in Mersin.  They have taken apartments, their children go to schools and they have integrated into the Turkish way of life but these are the minority as way too many refugees just do not have the capital with their lifesavings paying for their trip across the Mediterranean Sea.  Arabic signs have been installed in many shops now and rather than the shopkeeper knowing English they all now seem to be proficient in Arabic.  There has also been the opening of NGO’s around Mersin to assist those refugees who have decided to make Mersin their home rather than attempt the dangerous crossing to Europe.  The NGO in Mezitli is a huge success offering a Syrian curriculum to 2,000 pupils in its own school, manages a clinic and eases administrative formalities for refugees.

Turkey’s recent agreement with EU leaders to receive 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) as part of a package of incentives aimed at persuading it to do more to stop the thousands upon thousands of migrants leaving for Europe is a great beginning to supporting the refugees however the concern for Turkey is that if the refugees treks are halted here then this influx of population will put more of a strain on this country’s resources and on the already overflowing population.  The Turkish people, widely known for their generosity, are finding it difficult to smile through the cost to them personally.  Lower paid workers are suffering with Syrians willing to do manual labour at half of the rate of a Turkish worker.  Right now I can’t see an viable solution to this situation and the overwhelming wave of displaced people now no longer on Turkey’s doorstep but rather in its living room.  Frankly Turkey is going to need more than a short term answer of monetry aid, it is going to need the whole world to work together to help the refugees either return safely to their homes or to help them assimilate into their new homes whether it be here in Turkey or further abroad.

The city of Mersin is changing quite dramatically as is the Village.  To the person who is the proud owner of The Turk’s Batman underwear I hope you enjoy them and I hope you and your family make it to wherever you are attempting to go.  I did ask FIL if he saw someone steal our clothes and he nodded and laughed.  Seriously this guy is bat shit crazy!

Photo credit: Fabio Bucciarelli for Al Jazeera America

Side note: For those of you who recall my recent post Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom the writer of that book Lisa Morrow has been working with an NGO in Istanbul called “Small Projects Istanbul” who, similarly to the NGO in Mezitli, Mersin, assist with education, and formalities for refugees living in Istanbul.  Lisa has generously agreed to donate AUD$1.00 for every one of her books sold for the month of February so anyone wanting to help should grab one of Lisa’s wonderful books on either Kindle or hard copy from Amazon.  Also Small Projects Istanbul have a craft collective where Syrian refugee women have the opportunity to develop skills in handcrafts and earn livelihood support to help them rebuild their lives.  They sell their handcrafts here.

 

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, have had their eyes opened to the suffering of refugees and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Google Street Maps

Last summer I was driving over the railway tracks when … I spotted … the Google Street Map car!

“Hey,” I shouted to no one in particular as I was in the car by myself, “It’s the Google Street Map car!”  And low and behold … there I am …

railway tracks

Yes peeps Mersin (and Türkiye) has officially been put on the map … the Google Street View map that is.  Many of the main cities of Türkiye have now been updated including Istanbul, Marmaris and Izmir but obviously as I am a blog about Mersin I am telling you that Mersin is live and ready for your stalking pleasure.

Street view on Google Maps is a great feature, especially for checking out places you’ve never been before. Sometimes though, Google inadvertently captures some candid pictures of the spots they’re mapping.

Here is my FIL sitting on the street outside our house.  Excellent!

Dede on the street Google maps

If I zoomed out a bit you would see my underwear on the line but you really don’t need to see that do you?

Pozcu.  Lovely shot actually.

Google street view 5

Leaving Mersin.

Google Street view 4

I’m now going to spend my day looking for the most ridiculous shot that I can find.  You know like a man chasing a donkey that was chasing a dog that was chasing a chicken that was crossing the road or something.  It is Mersin after all.  I’ll get back to you.

________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, loves a good Google stalk and loves Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Looking for Lychee

Driving in Mersin is a bit of a hit and miss situation for me most of the time and I don’t mean being hit or missing other cars, dolmuş or pedestrians.  This is more of a situation where trying to find where you are going is literally impossible.  Street maps just don’t exist.  Directions are either shouted at you by a crazed local or at best scribbled on the back of napkins and my GPS in the car spends most of its time telling me I am either driving in the deniz or going through a fecking mountain.  The city itself isn’t very wide, you can drive from the beach to the foot of the hills in probably 15 minutes but to drive the length of the city can take you a good two hours from go to woe!

Mersin city

Right now our little expat group is in the midst of arranging our Christmas party and in order to do so we have been zipping around checking out a few different restaurants.  This week we went to check a relatively new restaurant named Lychee.

Lychee should have – SHOULD HAVE – been relatively easy for me to find.  It was on a main road, a road that I travelled regularly, and the restaurant looked huge so common sense tells me that it will be pretty easy to locate.  Yes?  NO!

When I say that this restaurant is located in a vortex or perhaps a black hole, you need to believe me.  When I also say that I could never go on The Amazing Race because I can get lost in the confines of a paper bag you should believe that too.  No really. My body has no internal GPS system actually I have no sense of direction at all.  This could possibly be a chronic medical condition.  It will be named “NoSense-itus”.  It is definitely hereditary and although I don’t know who precisely I can blame (being adopted and all that) but I think its a condition that should be researched so future generations are saved from this affliction.

The plan was to go to Lychee for lunch on Wednesday and me, being terribly efficient, thought I should locate the restaurant to ensure that I will have no problems finding it on the day (as I do tend to misplace myself on a regular basis).  I looked up its website.  A bit confusing, not really about the restaurant, more about some kind of food consultancy group.  What the what?  So I went to my backup plan of Facebook.  Facebook really can be considered the new Google for Mersin restaurants.  Google may not have the information (as restaurants here rarely have websites) but Facebook bloody well will because everyone loves to ‘check in’.  But on their Facebook page the restaurant’s address is noted as “centre”.  Centre?  Centre of the city?  Centre of the universe?  Centre of the vortex? What the feck is centre?

My first attempt to locate the restaurant was a complete failure.  After punching in the address into my GPS in the car I arrived at vacant land about 4 blocks from where the actual restaurant was finally located.  My second attempt, using Google maps, was more successful.  I made it to the location but still couldn’t find the restaurant.  I parked my car and even walked up and down the block but the restaurant still remained hidden in the vortex opening only to those who are worthy.

Feck my life!

“This place does not exist!” I shouted for the world to hear.

“Ummm yes it does stupid Aussie girl.”

*Sigh*

And of course the masses were right.  After standing on the street and calling out “Abracadabra” the restaurant appeared before me, like the Room of Requirement (Muggle nerd alert).

Lychee collage

Having finally found it I just want to say, the restaurant was lovely.  The service was good, although initially the waiter was slightly traumatized by my wanting a bottle of wine with only one glass (in fact the waiter sent the manager over to check that it was my intention to drink the bottle myself.  Really?  You will consume all of this?  Ummm don’t judge me mate just bring me the bottle!).  The food was European cuisine and delicious, in fact there were way too many options for just one visit!  The cocktail list was as long as my arm and (apparently) sensational.  The prices were spot on, in fact they were downright reasonable compared to the prices at Marina (just saying).

The search continues for our Christmas party destination but Lychee is definitely now on rotation and will be visited by us ladies again soon (again assuming the vortex opens for me).

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, sometimes might – just might – get lost inside a paper bag, but loves Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Silifke Kalesi

Why does every archaeological site have a tale of woe overflowing with horrendous suffering and devious behaviour?  Yes, yes I realise that most archaeological sites have been there for eons and so, of course something resembling the Red Wedding would have happened at some point over the course of thousands of years, but after visiting Silifke (ancient name: Seleucia) I realise that this little town, apart from being as dull as dishwater today, seemed to have had more than its fair share of woe in its many years of existence.

Silifike 1

I had passed through the town many times over the years but have never been tempted to stay for more than a toilet break or a glass of cáy and so, after reading up on its gruesome history, it was decided that a trip to Silifke to explore would be a great day trip from Mersin with just the right amount of gore to keep Daughter (growing up in an age of The Walking Dead) interested.

The town’s main attraction is Silifke Kalesi (Silifke Castle), an imposing structure atop a hill allowing a 360 degree view of the surrounding valley.  The Kalesi dates back to Byzantine times and was used as a defence and garrison against the Arabs before it was passed through the hands of many including the Armenians, the Cypriotes and finally the Ottomans in the late 1400’s.  It has been attacked many times, destroyed and re-built but the walls and some of its towers remain today as an example of Byzantine architecture coupled with 13th century Armenian influences.

silifike 2

Historical tale of woe No 1:

In 1226, Philip of Antioch, was murdered while imprisoned at Sis Kalesi (near Adana). His distraught (and no doubt traumatized by the fact that she was married off at the tender age of 12) widow, Isabella I, Queen of Armenia, sought refuge in the Kalesi. The regent for the Armenian kingdom, Constantine of Barbaron, arranged for his own son, Hethum, to marry Isabella (poor underaged girl cannot even grieve in peace before being married off again) and demanded that Bertrand de Thessy, the castellan of Silifke Kalesi, return her at once. The Hospitallers, who would not suffer the humiliation of surrendering Isabella, nor dare to fight the assembled troops of Constantine, eased their conscience by selling him the Kalesi with Isabella in it.

It makes it kind of hard to want to aspire to be Queen.  I think I am quite happy to be a pleb, thank you very much.

Archeologically speaking the outer walls of the Kalesi are in really good shape but inside has been reduced to rubble.  Daughter enjoyed terrorizing me by climbing the walls and hanging over the edge taking ridiculously dangerous selfies and I admit that the view from the top, overlooking the town and valley, was gorgeous, but is it worth driving all the way to Silifke?  Meh.

Silifike 3

The town of Silifke itself also does not warrant spending any of your precious time.  The otels are mostly old and not particularly welcoming so no need to stay the night and there is not a lot of activities for the visitor after you have explored the Kalesi.  There is a small museum which is filled with sculptures, coins and other artefacts. There is also an ancient church by the name of Ayatekla just south of Silifke in the small village of Burunucu.

Historical tale of woe No. 2:

St. Thecla was the first women to convert to Christianity by St. Paul (who you may recall originated from the town of Tarsus, east of Mersin).  She took refuge in a cave before simply vanishing into thin air.  Poof!  Was she simply murdered or was she afforded a miracle and ascended straight to heaven’s door?  We shall never know.  A shrine was built to remember her on the site and then the basilica was added in the 5th century.    There are also several cisterns cut into the rock which suggests that there was probably a sizeable settlement in the past.

Ayatekla Church

There are many hiking trails outside of Silifke following the Göksu Nehri (Blue Water river) and many little picnic spots to while away the hours.  You can go white water rafting on the river in the mountains outside the town although I believe from my nephew it is more of a relaxing jaunt rather than a thrill seeking white knuckle ride.

Historical tale of woe No 3:

Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, the Saleph of the Armenian Kingdom, drowned while either trying to cross in the strong current or while taking a bath.  There are two stories going round, I kind of like the idea of him drowning while bathing.  It’s definitely more amusing to me at least.

silifke 4

Having now visited Silifke can I give you an honest opinion?  Yeah?  Don’t hate me Silifke lovers but honestly spend an hour, photograph the view and the walls and then hop back in your car.  Either continue on the D400 towards Taşuscu (where you can catch the ferry to Northern Cyprus) or further on to Antalya (becoming a lot easier now with the tunnels slowly being completed) or perhaps hop on the D715 up into the mountains to visit the waterfalls at Mut (they also have their very own fortress and even a monastery further up the road at Karaman).  Don’t get me wrong it is definitely an interesting day trip and for the history buff there will be more than enough to keep you engrossed but for the average Joe (or in this case Janey) it didn’t hold my interest for too long.  Perhaps I am a simpleton.

For those of you wanting your fill of castles and archeological sites but still within a day’s drive of Mersin you can visit the famous Maiden’s Castle Kiz Kalesi or Korykos Kalesi and, coupled with Elaiussa-Sebaste and Cennet ve Cehennem, you will definitely have a full couple of days exploring without the need to travel quitte so far outside of the city.

_________________________________________________________________________

Need to Know:

Silifke Kalesi is off the D400 three hours west of Mersin.  There are no buses to the site itself so you will need to either drive or walk.  If you intend on walking it is almost 86 metres above sea level so good hiking shoes are a must.

Entry is free.

There is a small café at the bottom entrance of the Kalesi although it was closed when we visited.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, loves a day trip, and love Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.