Kanlıdivane

As you all know I love to take my cross poodle / bishon fraise, Hurley, out on adventures. He’s 12 now and becoming a bit of a grump so we want to keep him happy and active as much as we can.

Recently Daughter and I took My Hurley Dog to the Kanlıdivane Archaeological site north of Ayaş, Mersin.

The entire archaeological site is built around a natural sinkhole. Among the highlights, there are: the Tower of Zeus Olbios, the Armaronxas Family’s Relief, the Church of Papaylos, and a temple mausoleum. The mausoleum was built by Queen Aba for her husband and sons who are said to have perished in a plague.

Like most archaeological ruins, Kanlıdivane has a rather gruesome back story attached to it. It is said that the Turkish name, Kanlıdivane, derives from the ancient name Canytelis, which translates to “bloody crazy”. Now, technically, it no doubts refers to the red colour of the walls of the sinkhole; however, I prefer the legend that in Roman times criminals would be executed by throwing them into the sinkhole: Totally plausible reaction if you ask me.

A five-minute walk up the road from Kanlıdivane leads you to Çanakçı rock tombs. These four tombs have figures carved into the walls and an inscription condemning any grave robbers that happen upon them.

Kanlıdivane has been extensively restored by the government with pleasant walking paths (although those cobblestones are not high-heel friendly so wear walking shoes), good parking, clean toilets (always a bonus) and a small café and shop.

And, yes, My Hurley Dog had a wonderful day.

The Mersin International Music Festival holds concerts here each year.

Hours:        10.00AM – 17.00PM (summer) | 8.30AM – 17.00PM (winter)

Address:     Kumkuyu, Kanlıdivane Caddesi, 33750 Ayaş Bulvarı, Erdemli/Mersin

Telephone: 0324 231 96 18

Cost:           ₺12.50 (circa 2022)

Difficulty:  1

The only way to get here is by private car. From Mersin, head west down the Mersin-Antalya yolu (D400), then follow your GPS directions into the mountains.


If want a copy of the ultimate guidebook to Mersin you can grab your copy at any of the following online retailers (and yes it is available in Turkiye):

Amazon US – Kindle or paperback

Amazon UK – Kindle or paperback

Trendyol – paperback (Turkiye only)

Akademisyen Kitabevi – paperback (Turkiye only)

Did you know Janey in Mersin was recently named one of the top 15 expat Blogs in Turkey by Feedspot?
Ch-ch-check it out here!

Mersin: All Over

I know I’ve been threatening to do this for a while now but it looks like it’s really happening… Mersin: All Over is being formatted as we speak and will soon be live to purchase on Amazon, IBooks, Kobo, and many more!

If you’re thinking of visiting Mersin, or maybe, like me, you visited family each year and always found yourself wandering around aimlessly having no idea where to visit next, then this is for you:

MERSIN: ALL OVER

Written with 20 years of experience, expat Jane Gundogan, has assembled her knowledge, anecdotes and research into Mersin: All Over. This is the ultimate guide to uncovering the real story of this fascinating part of Türkiye. For the first time ever, this area is getting the recognition and resource it deserves, catering to a little of everything, from hidden castles to the author’s favourite restaurants. You’ll be surprised by what this often-overlooked part of the Mediterranean has to offer.

In Mersin: All Over you’ll visit the Big Five of Mersin including the incomparable Kizkalesi, historical Tarsus, the stunning dining experiences at Mersin Marina, the almost hidden Alahan Monastery, the recently-discovered Gildiere Caves and, of course, the unspoilt beaches of the Mediterranean coastline. This book will give you the inside information to discover little known places and the juicy stories behind them that bring the area to life.

Inspirational colour photography by the well-renowned photographer, Nancy Habbas, does more than just provide pictures of Mersin, her images prepare you for the beauty of what you will see. Mersin: All Over doesn’t stop at giving you helpful guides and information on places to avoid, it is also filled with hilarious anecdotes, and tips to fit everything into your day. Jane shares her expert advice for exploring the wonders of this little-known province so you can make the most of your time in Mersin.

Release date: 1 June 2022

Pre-order available soon.

And for those of you living in Türkiye I am currently in discussions with a Turkish publisher so you can buy direct at an excellent price (none of those pesky international postage charges that we all loathe).


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Selefkia Wines

Thanks to Andrea Lemieux from The Quirky Cork, it has recently come to my attention that there are a few wineries in the region.

If you are an amateur sommelier or (maybe you’re like me) just drink too much wine, you might like to look at her book on Turkish wines here.

Photography by Nancy Habbas

I recently visited Selefkia Wines, which is located outside of Mukaddem, Silifke. They hold regular wine tasting and tours at their production warehouse (their vines are high in the Toros mountains). Ebru speaks excellent English and is ready for you to tour the winery if you are passing. Selefkia Winery is unique in that it is a vegan winery.

But isn’t all wine vegan? It’s just grapes, right?

Not quite. Many wineries use animal products in the processes of winemaking. This could mean egg whites, gelatine, fish bladders and milk proteins. These are all used to clarify the wine. Lots of vineyards also use animal products in their fertilizer like fish emulsion, blood and bone meal.

Ebru tells me that Selefkia Winery ensures that their wines are organic and animal-friendly from the soil up and use the proteins from peas to clarify their wine. This process has no effect on the quality, taste, and alcohol content of the wine.

Hours:        By appointment only

Address: 244, Sokak. Mukaddem, 33940, Silifke/Mersin

Telephone:  0530 346 3704

Web:          https://www.instagram.com/selefkiawine/


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Inside Out In Istanbul

The passion for traveling has been something that people have been doing for centuries now, but being able to document and blog your traveling adventures is just awesome.

Lisa Morrow is a great example of an expat and blogger who has documented her life in Istanbul. With her very popular blog, Inside Out In Istanbul, and four best-selling books released to date, it’s time to get inspired and discover what it’s like to live in Istanbul with my excellent interview below.

I first met Lisa in Istanbul during one of my getaways from Mersin. I must admit I was a little intimidated by her because

she was such a successful author and blogger, whereas I was just a dabbler writing what amounts to “filth” in some people’s eyes (you’re welcome, by the way).

But I am happy to report that within the first moments of meeting Lisa my fears were unfounded. Here is a woman who, like me, is doing what she loves, and blessed to be doing it in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A northern-beaches girl, a lover of Vegemite, and one of the most down-to-earth people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Your blog was one of the first blogs I found when I decided to move to Turkey and I think I read each and every post you wrote. When did you start blogging? And how, or perhaps when, did you make the decision to take what you’ve written and turn it into a book (or, more correctly, 4 books)?

Actually it was publishing the first edition of my essay collection Inside Out In Istanbul in 2011 that started me thinking about blogging. I wrote this book for people planning to come to Istanbul or those who’d already visited once, wanting to better understand what they see and experience in the city.

I was really new to the world of social media back then so it took me until 2013 to start my own blog. At that time most internet sites about Turkey were either commercial ones selling tours, travel insurance and so on, or personal blogs by people who had visited Istanbul but never lived here. I wanted to share the Istanbul I live in, the real everyday extraordinary of the city outside the well-known tourist areas.

For my blog I usually write short pieces capturing my impressions or put together photo essays. However my passion and I believe my forté is writing essays that combine Turkish culture and history with my personal experiences. The longer I live in Istanbul and the better my Turkish becomes, the more I have to write about, which is how my other books have come about.

Did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Not really. I’ve always made sense of the world through words. I have to be able to accurately describe what I see and experience in writing, otherwise my understanding remains incomplete. It’s the feedback I’ve received from readers rather than the process of writing and publishing my books that’s had the biggest impact on me. Readers say they feel like they’re walking the streets alongside me in Inside Out In Istanbul. Strangers feel they know me after reading my memoir Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom. Turks no longer living in the country say Exploring Turkish Landscapes makes them feel homesick but also as though they’re back home at the same time. It’s gratifying and rewarding to hear all this and makes me want to continue writing in the same way.

Congratulations on becoming an Amazon top 10 seller with your most recent release, “Longing for Istanbul: The Words I haven’t said yet”. That’s an amazing achievement (I’m not at all jealous). Has becoming a Top 10 seller changed how you look at marketing? Do you market? Or do you rely on word of mouth or other reviews?

Thank you for the compliment. Selling is, as you know, hard work and marketing is key. Millions of books are published every year and even though books sales increased worldwide in 2021, unless people hear about your books they won’t know to buy them. Being a Top 10 seller is fabulous but statistics change all the time so I never rest on my laurels. Word-of-mouth is really important but my audience spans the globe so I do market on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Strangely, although the latter is based on visuals, it’s a good platform for authors. However reviews on Amazon and Goodreads do have a big impact. These days a lot of people want to know in advance they’re going to like your book, so a positive review, even a short one, goes a long way.

Speaking of reviews… do you read them? And how do you deal with less than favourable ones?

Many writers say not to read reviews but I do. Writing is a solitary occupation and a lot of the time it feels like throwing ideas out into space and never knowing where or if they’ll land. Positive reviews are the echo telling me a reader gets what I’m trying to do. Luckily I haven’t had too many unfavourable ones (fingers crossed saying this won’t jinx me). What I really dislike though is when a reader gives a one or two star rating and can’t be bothered to say why. Maybe they don’t like Turkey, possibly they don’t like something they think they know about me or it could be they really didn’t like my writing after all. Unless they give a reason, it just pulls down the book rating and doesn’t help potential readers decide whether to buy it or not, which is one of the major reasons to leave a review.

You recently had Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries translated into Turkish (Türkiye’yi Keşfederek Sınırlarımı Aşarken). Why did you decide to have it translated and where is it available?

Back in 2019 I was interviewed by SBS Turkish radio (in Turkish) about why I moved to Turkey with my husband Kim, also a non-Turk. After it broadcast I received dozens of messages from people telling me I was THE topic of conversation in supermarkets in Melbourne, Australia, where the majority of Turks live. This was the first time they’d heard from a non-Turk who’d chosen to live in their home country and they were fascinated about why I’d done so and what it was like. Many of them were thinking of moving to Turkey themselves, even the Australian born ones, and they really related to what I said in the program. It was clear to me I should make my books available in Turkish because there was an audience keen to know more.

I chose to start with Exploring Turkish Landscapes because it covers my experiences in different parts of the country, and at different stages of my life and knowledge of Turkish language and culture. It’s available in Turkey as an ebook through D& R or internationally from Kobo and in paperback from Barnes & Noble and other booksellers.

I’m visiting Istanbul right now doing research for my next book… a literary pilgrimage, so to speak. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before you visit somewhere new?

When I first left Australia to travel to London and from there to Europe and eventually Turkey, I did very little research. The internet didn’t exist, travel guides were heavy and expensive and I preferred to party than check out books at the library. Now the internet provides thousands of websites, blogs and references and it’s easy to drown in too much information. I’ve been to all the main tourist sites in Istanbul, many several times, but these days I travel further afield. Every outing involves food in some way, whether it’s a new restaurant to try or going to a shop selling specialty Turkish foods or hard to get non-Turkish items.

Usually what happens is I’ll be on my way somewhere and spot something unexpected from a bus or the corner of my eye. A church tower or intriguing doorway I hadn’t noticed before, a sign that piques my interest or an unusual window display. Depending on my schedule (and my hunger) I might go in straight away, or just make a note or take a photo and research it when I get home. I use guidebooks and the internet to find out more and focus mainly on Turkish origin blogs and websites as they often contain more information than those written in English. However I read a lot of non-fiction books about Istanbul too, and when I come across references to places I don’t know about, I write them down and then go looking for them.

It’s the unexpected that excites me most so I prefer to visit a place first and research it later. Otherwise the joy of immersing myself in the atmosphere and discovering small beautiful details is lost in the act of looking for particular things noted in guidebooks. That’s the idea underpinning my essay ““Büyük Çamlıca Camii” in Longing for Istanbul.

Is there anywhere in Istanbul that you still want to visit, or perhaps a hidden gem that you’ve kept to yourself?

I think there will always be places I want to visit in Istanbul. My list expands all the time, partly because there is already so much to see but also because there are new discoveries being made almost everyday. Add to that long abandoned sites being restored and opened to the public and the possibilities are endless. My focus in the coming months (when it gets warmer) is to use Istanbul’s excellent public transport system to go further afield. I don’t drive in Istanbul so going to Beykoz, Atatürk Kent Park or Polonezkoy is a bit of an expedition. I enjoy it though, because being on trains, buses and ferries gives me what I call empty time, when I have the space to daydream and random thoughts often become concrete ideas.

One thing I really love about Istanbul is whether you’re rich or poor you can drink tea and eat a meal by the water, enjoying the same mesmerising views, no matter your budget. It’s very democratic in that way so my hidden gems are the places locals can go and feel like royalty, whatever their social status. Spoiler alert – they’ll stay hidden.

What surprises you most about living in Turkey?

How kind Turkish people are, no matter what’s going on in their lives. I’ve seen the Turkish economy rise and fall over the years and right now people are doing it tough. Yet that doesn’t stop them thinking of others. Last week I was on the way to my gym and an older man slipped and fell while running for a bus. He cut his forehead quite badly. I picked up his transport card as a younger man helped him up and both of us gave him tissues to help stem the blood. Two woman suggested he might need stitches so the younger man escorted him across road and directed him to the hospital. This level of assistance is normal. I tripped on a bollard once and fell over and people even crossed a busy road to help me!

Then there’s the traditional pay it forward schemes like askıda ekmek where you buy an extra loaf of bread for someone without means and the modern version called askıda fatura. People in need are carefully vetted by councils and the government so strangers can pay money towards their bills (fatura in Turkish). This level of humanity is rare in the world these days but it’s an everyday occurrence in Turkey,

I Googled you today. Not only are you an author and blogger but you also write for media outlets, like CNN. Have you got anything exciting in the pipeline you can reveal?

Yes I do. I have a feature on beaches along the Lycian Way coming out in CNN Travel in the next few months and have also had an article on Istanbul accepted by the New York Times. I don’t know when they’ll be published so watch this space!

Add your own question that you’ve always wanted asked but never has been…

I’ve always wanted someone to ask me what I find the most frustrating part of writing. The answer is finding the exact word to describe a specific moment, feeling, touch, taste, sensation etc. I want people to know how Istanbul smells, what it’s like to be bathed in urban sweat, the emotions you go through as you negotiate life in Turkey as a both a foreigner and a local, and that can be extremely difficult.

I grew up in a house full of books, played word games with my parents and am a former English teacher (both as a foreign and second language). I know words matter and choosing the correct one can be agony. However when I do find the word that expresses precisely what I’m trying to say, it fits into place seamlessly and gives my writing an almost organic character, as if it came into being fully formed. In truth it’s the result of hours sitting at my computer, staring out windows, making notes and writing the same sentence three or four different ways to see which one works best. Nonetheless, no matter how exasperated I get, I love writing. It’s a privilege to be able to share my words and thus my world with others.

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Museum of Innocence

“It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.”

I first read the Orhan Pamuk’s novel the Museum of Innocence in 2011.  It is the tale of Kemal, the son of one of Istanbul’s richest families and his bordering on creepy love of Furun, who is, of course, from the wrong side of the tracks.  I admit it’s not my favourite Pamuk novel, I mean Kemal is nothing short of a stalker (and a thief) as pathetically mopes around collecting (thieving) Furun’s used cigarette butts but Furun is no better with her desperation and sulking throughout most of the novel but regardless Pamuk’s writing is still a poetic, hypnotic story which draws you in (even if, like me, you had to put the book aside for a while).  I’m moving on for those who have not yet read it so no spoilers here people.

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While I was recently in Istanbul I wandered into the antique district of Çukurcuma where I inadvertently happened onto the actual “Museum of Innocence”.  This interesting museum was conceived by Pamuk who collected items over the period of writing his novel to go hand in hand with his story.

Entering the three-storey building is like seeing fiction turned into reality.  From the mesmerising installation of Furun’s cigarette butts to clothes and pieces of daily life from the 1950’s through to modern Istanbul it was an interesting reminder of a period that has been left behind.

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It was a fascinating stop on my meandering through Çukurcuma but it was also a stop that made me feel infinitely sad.  Sad for Kemal and I guess in some way sad for myself as well.  We all have that lost love (well maybe not everyone) but for many of us, we had a Mr (or Miss) Big.  I called mine Mr Mediocre (it took me years to realise that he wasn’t all that) and somewhere in the back of my wardrobe I do in fact still have a movie ticket from the first movie we went to (Dirty Dancing) and hidden in a book somewhere on my bookshelf (and no I don’t remember which book) is my only photo of him and I, circa 1993.  A total of 12 years of my life for a love that is only a memory now.  I don’t regret the way my life turned out but I do in some small way understand how the pathetic Kemal became so infatuated and destroyed his life over his love for Furun.

To anyone who is a fan of Orhun Pamuk and gets the opportunity to visit his museum, do yourself a favour.  It is only small but it is truly charming and well worth getting lost in Çukurcuma with the intention of finding yourself here.

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Çukurcuma also has so many tiny antique shops which, although out of my price range, were still fascinating to rummage through (and the Turkish tea that is offered as soon as you walk through the door was a blessing on that freezing January morning that I visited the area).

The future of museums is inside our own houses.

And if you haven’t read The Museum of Innocence grab a copy now from Amazon

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Istanbul or Bust

Like most of us, I have a love affair with Istanbul, and I try and visit this beautiful city at least once a year.  I always take a list of things I want to see and when in the city, I walk around and tick off the tasks that I’ve completed.  Daughter can’t cope with my method and now that she is a little older (but perhaps not any wiser) I let her go off and do her own thing (which usually involves around sitting in coffee shops with her friends, flirting with boys and melting my credit card with her spending).

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I’m just now back from a week in this gorgeous city, staying in a fab apartment on Istiklal Caddesi.  I racked up over 100,000 steps (or 82 km), predominantly getting my tourist on, but also spending time meandering through tiny alleyways and cobbled backstreets looking for that hidden gem that I hadn’t found before.  One of my friends gave me a pretty thorough list of places I should visit but with my god-awful sense of direction, I got lost every single time although having gotten lost, I often found somewhere new that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

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Walking through Istanbul’s busy streets is a visual feast, with so much life going on around every corner that you never know what you will find from an overflowing mosque filling onto the street on a Friday afternoon, ladies gossiping to their neighbours (probably about other neighbours) or a street party to welcome a young man home from his army conscription, life is everywhere.  Istanbul is also made for those of us who are cat-obsessed and as a self-proclaimed cat-whisperer I  always kept an eye out for my four-legged furry friends as I go.   Did they follow me back to my apartment?  I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no but I will say that when we left there was a little calico kitty sitting on the step next to our doorman when we left for the airport.

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The thing with Istanbul is that it really is a city that you can just walk around in.  No need to do tours or pay exorbitant fees (150TL for 1 day or 180TL for two days) to bus companies.  Instead, you grab an Istanbulkart and hop on the trams and buses that are so easily accessible and just as easy to use.  I also downloaded a couple of apps including Voice Map and Street Art Istanbul which gave me the opportunity of also seeing things from a different perspective.

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Of course, I ate way too much during my week in Istanbul which negates all those kilometres walked. I pretty much indulged in everything I saw with tempting stacks of baklava, simits and lokma on every street corner and juicy kebabs, overloaded kumpir and thanks to Macro Centre (why oh why won’t they open one in Mersin) even a little bacon thrown in to enjoy.  Yes I know I can eat all of this just as easily in Mersin (well maybe not the bacon) but when in Rome (or Istanbul).

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On a serious note, I will mention how safe I felt during my time in Istanbul.  There was a significant security presence with police and soldiers patrolling at tourist attractions as well as security guards doing bag checks and security gates to pass through before entering shopping centres or bazaars.  At no time did I feel nervous or intimidated.  I was not harassed while out by myself and Daughter, who travelled on the metro by herself to Kadikoy and back, did so without incident.  Yes, you should be vigilant and follow the advice of local security authorities as well as monitor media reports and keep up to date with the travel advice issued by your own Government, but I personally felt very comfortable visiting this beautiful city, and I hope to come and visit again very soon.

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I will do a few posts over the coming weeks about our time in Istanbul, but I just thought for now I would put up a few photos.  They are, of course, not great as I am no photographer, but they are little memories for me to keep.

If you are thinking of visiting Istanbul why not grab one of these books –

 

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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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#First World Problems

Daughter and I have been in Sydney for the past 6 weeks as well as a sneaky side trip to Bali with a few of my girlfriends so I have been MIA in case you hadn’t noticed (what do you mean you didn’t notice???).

While Down Under I got to spend desperately needed time with many, but not all, of my most beloved peeps (and purchased some desperately needed bras – my boobs are back in the Northern Hemisphere again) and Daughter also got to have a few catch ups, again stalked members of 5SOS and even went to see The 1975 in concert.  Sydney was definitely a win/win sitch for both of us (although Calum from 5SOS is still playing hard to get).

Bali 1Now we are back in my Türkiye and back in the Village I find that things haven’t changed.  At all.

Of course I am aware that Türkiye was on the news while I was away.  As an early riser I had the news on and was watching the ‘incident’ as it happened.  (I will call it an incident however I won’t make any further reference to it due to the current political climate here).

“Holy Shit!” said I.

“Don’t go back!” said most, if not all, of my acquaintances back in Sydney.

Coming back home I admit was a little nervous but now that I am here and have been out and about I can say that in the Village and in the city of Mersin nothing has changed.  The sun is still shining, people are going about their business and life goes on oh and The Turk actually didn’t know that the ‘incident’ had taken place.  Slept through the whole thing.  And before you Negative Nelly’s start banging on at me yes I know that Mersin is not Istanbul and that there are continued protests there as well as other cities including Ankara but, just in case you didn’t realise, this is a blog about living in Mersin.

Anyway after staring at the television for hours I realised that something that was so huge in Türkiye and that held such huge ramifications for this country as well as the rest of the world it was merely a ripple in the pond in Australia (and possibly other countries) and was only getting about 7 minutes of airtime with the Australian media.   I should just stress at this point that the home that I was staying at only had free to air television – in fact I didn’t even get to see the finale to Game of Thrones until I got home!  #FirstWorldProblems

Everybody-Loses-Their-Mind-GoTAustralia had a general election during my time Down Under and so I did my civic duty and cast my vote.  I actually received a fine for not voting in the last election although on checking with the Consulate here in Türkiye I found out there was in fact nowhere to cast your vote unless you did it by post.  Have you ever tried to send mail from Türkiye?  Has it ever arrived or did it take 6 months?  I betcha that if I had done the postal vote in the last election my solitary postal vote would have been crucial in stopping that tosser Abbott getting elected!  And did you know that this is like the 50th freaking election since 2010 – not really – but it sure seems like it.  I mean Australia change leaders like others change their undies!  #FirstWorldProblems

I took Daughter to the hairdresser in Sydney.  Now, back in Mersin a trip to the hairdresser including a wash and blow dry will set you back 9TL or AU$5 (the price has gone up in our absence).  In Sydney a wash and blow dry at a suburban hairdresser set us back AU$60 or approximately 120TL!!!  #FirstWorldProblems

I made potato kofte for dinner for a friend and after a quick trip to the local supermarket I realised that Türkiye beats Australia hands down on the cost and the quality of the fresh produce available.  Of course here in Türkiye fruit and vegetables are seasonal but after I paid AU$3 or 6TL for one (rather crummy) bunch of maydanoz (parsley) I realised just how great I really have it here.  I couldn’t even get my hands on any nane (mint) either!  I mean WTF??  It’s mint for feck sake.  Here it’s growing on every freaking street corner.  I think back to when we lived in Sydney and we always had mint on hand.  Of course The Turk would grow his own.  Duh! #FirstWorldProblems

Although Australia did win hand over fist time and time again.  Electricity is abundant as is fresh drinking water.  I had only been home in Mersin a few days when the electricity was cut and the water disappeared from our pipes.  It took 2 days for the water to come back but the electricity did crank up again pretty quickly (and a good thing too with the current temperatures here in Mersin hitting mid-40’s (that’s Celsius to you freaking Americans) on a regular basis.  Sidenote – Daughter just stuck her head out the door and asked me “When’s it winter?”  LMAO! #SydneyoverMersin

The traffic back in Sydney is as always a dream to navigate although peak hour did my head in on more than one occasion.  I love that the speed limit isn’t just a suggestion and I seriously don’t think I heard a car horn during our whole time there!  #SydneyoverMersin

Of course the biggest drawcard and the one thing that I can’t replicate in Mersin is bacon.  Sydney has bacon.  A lot of bacon.  And I ate it all!  #SydneyoverFECKINGMersin

bacon 1So now that I’m back I will probably be back to whinging about all and sundry and hating this and that again but right now I will just say that I’m glad to be home.

Oh and yes I was playing with hashtags.  They are stupid and I hate them.  I vow this day to never use them again!

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Daughter’s birthday present

I’m off to Sydney next week so this will probably be my last post for a little while.  I did want to post about my side trip to Tallinn last weekend though.

Estonia collage

First up  – Tallinn – what a beautiful city.  Having been living in Mersin where there is a population of just under 1 million people spending a few days in the relative calm of this Estonian city was a real pleasure.  The people were lovely.  The food was great (yes of course there was bacon) and the traffic was downright pleasant.  I mean people stopped for you on pedestrian crossings!  I know!!!

But why was I in Tallinn?  Yes?  …  Well …

As you all know Daughter is my very spoilt princess and I do tend to give her overly elaborate birthday presents.  You may also recall that Daughter has a love for the band 5 Seconds of Summer and believes, in her heart, that the bass player is the man of her dreams.  I have mentioned to you before as well that I thought George Michael was the man of my dreams and we all know how wrong I was about that.  Anyway as 5SOS (and practically any other band in the world) refuse to come to Istanbul to play a concert I looked for the cheapest alternative and that alternative just so happened to be in Tallinn, Estonia therefore Daughter and I travelled to Tallinn for her birthday present – tickets to 5SOS.

I knew nothing about Tallinn or Estonia.  I assumed it was part of Russia.  I thought it would be cold.  I thought I would have to eat horse or blood sausage (there was blood sausage for breakfast but I did not partake).  One thing I will say is that it was still light at midnight!  Crazy!

Arriving on the Friday morning we immediately walked over to the Old Town to get our tourist on.  Tallinn dates back to the 13th century when a castle was built by the Crusaders and developed into a large city full of opulent public buildings and merchants’ houses.  Today the Old Town forms part of UNESCO World Heritage List as one of the best preserved medieval cities surviving today.  The Old Town is one of those places where you can just get lost wandering through the winding, cobblestone streets … and that’s just what we did.  We also made a visit to Fat Margaret and Kiek in de Kok – seriously who makes these names up – before finding a restaurant and indulging in bacon burgers for the both of us.

Saturday morning came around and Daughter was chomping at the bit to be dropped off at the stadium to meet her friends and line up for sound check so I left her there while I found some similarly bored parental guardian types who were also waiting patiently for their children.  We went on the hunt for a bar where we settled in for a natter and a few bevies.  I arrived back at the stadium at 4 just in time to go inside and watch the band do their warm up before answering a few questions asked by the screaming fans.  I could feel a migraine coming on (perhaps I had had one glass too many).  Daughter had a front row, centre seat during sound check and nearly collapsed when Michael (the lead guitarist) noticed her t-shirt.  He pointed her t-shirt out to Calum (the bass guitarist and the man of her dreams) who laughed but sadly did not speak to her (the t-shirt was of Calum pulling a funny face).

tshirt

The concert itself was not as elaborate compared to the concert at Wembley last year.  I assume that it is too much to bring the whole she-bang with them while travelling around Europe.  They played a mix of their old stuff and a lot off their new album.  I laugh as I write this because of course these kids are fecking 20!  Their old stuff!  Give me a fecking break!  Daughter was happy though and that’s all that matters.

5sos concert

Returning to our hotel I went upstairs but Daughter stayed in the lobby – did I mention that we were staying at the same hotel as 5SOS?  And Adam Lambert.  And Brian May. Wasn’t intentional but it was a definite bonus.  I caught the lift up with Brian May.  I was very cool.  Smiled but didn’t go “Oh My God!  It’s Brian May!!!”  Anyway Brian May (who was also at the 5SOS concert) arrived back there at around 2am and said “don’t hold your breath for the band to come back anytime soon” but she held out.  The concierge rang me at 4 and said that Daughter had fallen asleep in the lobby.  Could I come and get her please.  Poor darling.  She got up again that morning at 8 and went back down to the lobby but, sadly, they didn’t come downstairs to meet any of their fans.  I felt bad for Daughter but at least she was inside.  Outside the weather had taken a turn and it was bloody freezing.  Fans in tiny shorts and t-shirts were jumping up and down and squealing but I am pretty sure it was because they trying to increase their body temperature and not because they were going to catch pneumonia.

So that was my weekend in Tallinn, Estonia.  I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Tallinn if you ever find yourself having a sneaky getaway.  Lovely spot.  And they have bacon.  Lots of bacon.

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Banged Up Abroad – Janey Edition

I was watching Banged Up Abroad last night with Daughter and The Turk.  Definitely showing my old age I shook my head and tut-tutted in various points throughout the show as ridiculous stories were told by hapless tourists or morons trying to make a quick buck.  I mean we had all been there (or maybe not) but if we were all honest with ourselves we’ve done things that, perhaps on reflection, may not have been the most sensible thing to do while travelling.  You know you’ve done it too, maybe ending up on the wrong side of the law, ending up with a hellish hangover or, in my case, ending up pregnant to a Turkish fisherman.

Bangedup

After it had finished I turned to The Turk and piped up, “You know I bungy jumped while on holidays in Zimbabwe.  Did you know that?”  His reply was, as usual, full of wise rhetoric, “that must have been one big-ass elastic band”  while Daughter rolled her eyes and replied with a snarky, “You’ve never done anything remotely dangerous – or interesting – in your entire life!  You are boring!”  Challenge accepted!!

And so in no particular order I give you “Banged Up Abroad – Janey Edition”:

Canoeing through a herd of hippos in Botswana.  Did you know that hippopotamus are responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal?  No I didn’t know either.  I do now.

Smoking some weird shit in Nepal.  My entire trip through India and Nepal was full of crazy but this incident definitely came in at no. 1.  On our first day in Kathmandu my friend and I hopped a rickshaw that was kismet-ly waiting right outside our hostel.  The rickshaw driver was very friendly and before we knew it we were sitting on a hilltop being blown away by the beauty of the Himalayan Mountains before us (with a little glimpse of Mt Everest through the clouds).  Our driver then pulled out a rollie and offered us the first toke. Twenty minutes later we woke, totally dishevelled, robbed of our belongings and abandoned on that hilltop.  Luckily neither of us had anything of value on us (as we had dumped everything at the hotel) and thankfully we were not assaulted but it was a valuable lesson learned.  Don’t smoke strange shit handed to you by randoms in Nepal folks!

How about paying off a border patrol with two packets of my precious B&H Extra Mild and a bottle of whiskey trying to enter Zambia?  I was not happy about the loss of my cigarettes let me tell you but it was better than being left behind at the border!

And speaking of border problems we ‘misplaced’ a friend in Israel while trying to cross from a Palestinian checkpoint.  Six hours later he was delivered back to our hotel in Jerusalem a little shaky but happy to re-live his story for us over and over again (and still to this day he will tell the story … over and over again).

Jet skiing through a cyclone in Cancun.  In our defence none of us knew it was actually a cyclone.  Maybe it wasnt a cyclone, maybe it was a tropical storm.  I mean sure there was wind, there was black clouds and there was a really big swell but, honestly, I’ve seen worse at Manly beach during a summer storm.  I did question about whether we should start making our way back but no one else seemed perturbed by the strength of the wind or the very black skies.  By the time we got back to shore and saw the damage that had been done we realised the danger.  At least I realised the danger.

The gift that keeps on giving.  Whilst camping on the banks of Lake Malawi and ignoring the clear advice given to me by my Doctor back home in Australia, I and the rest of our group swam in the beautiful clear waters of the Lake at Cape Maclear.  Three months later I was diagnosed with Schistosomiasis or Bilharzia.  Google it people and a word of advice – don’t swim in Lake Malawi!

I have also been mugged in NY city, slept under the stars in Jordan (and was unceremoniously dumped in the desert by our tour guide the next morning), hitched a ride with some very dodgy dudes that were packing heat in Egypt (although I suspect everyone packs heat in Egypt) and was nearly sold off to a village chief in Tanzania.  Oh, and finally, getting pregnant to a Turkish fisherman.  Have I mentioned that one already?

We all love a little adventure, after all it makes a great story when we get home, but none of us want to find ourselves in Bangkok Hilton or perhaps worse dead on the side of the road (or death by firing squad).  Safety first folks!  I glanced at Daughter and wondered what type of crap she would get up to while travelling the world.  She is already talking about her “Gap Year” and the places that she wants to go with her friends.  Brazil, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Kenya.  Good God!  I can already see a “Banged Up Abroad – Daughter Edition” in my future!  Nope, I am locking her in her room.

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