Fantasy v Reality

Well it is that time of year again when I hear from those who have fallen head over heels, met their one true love and are looking at moving (or perhaps have already moved) to Türkiye to live the fantasy with their beloved.

Holiday romance

This is the epic love story isn’t it?  This is the love story that The Bard wrote about centuries before, a love more powerful than Napoleon and Josephine and a love that will last through eternity like Jack and Rose.  But just before you go packing your bags and dreaming of a new life in Türkiye with your true love let’s go over what you are getting yourself into – a little bit of a reality check shall we say.

For the sake of this post I am going to assume that you have met your true love in Marmaris or Fethiye or Bodrum (like me).  A holiday romance (like me).  And for the sake of this post I am going to assume that you are female (although no discrimination intended guys).  Finally for the sake of this post I am guessing that your man does not live permanently in Marmaris, Fethiye or Bodrum and instead comes from a small village some 18 hours away (or 12 hours or even 4 hours) where he will return to his family home for the winter months (again like me).

Right – let’s get started.

Can you imagine a life living in a quaint Turkish village?  Would you be happy living with your in-laws, his family, literally surrounded by hundreds of people and yet somehow being incredibly lonely?  Are you ready to immerse yourself entirely into a culture that is incredibly foreign and can be relentlessly unforgiving at times?

Take off the rose coloured glasses people.

Look again at that quaint village?  In daylight what it might really be is a bit of a dump.  If this place was back in your homeland you wouldn’t be caught dead living here.  Right?  Am I right?  I’m right.  Electricity comes and goes.  So does the water.  And speaking of water, is it safe to drink? Maybe.  And those people around you?  Are you merely a slave to wait on them or perhaps you are seen as nothing more than a yabancı and generally get ignored from morning to night.  I am not saying that they are going to treat you like that so don’t start losing your mind and writing me horrid messages, I am saying they might be.  It happens.  You, as the gelin, may be expected to do a lot of running around for the fam bam.  Be prepared for that possibility.

What about that lifestyle you were after?  Do you picture yourself spending your days on the farm, perhaps walking through the quaint village, arm and arm with your love, waving to your neighbours and having time to smell the roses?

That’s not roses you are smelling people – its horse shit, or cow shit, or goat shit, or … well you get the picture … and it is everywhere!

Are you designed to live on a farm or did you grow up in a wing at Buckingham Palace (or in my case Manly Beach).  Trust me when I say the sounds of chickens clucking and cock-a-doodle-dooing is like a jackhammer to my ears and I believe that meat should be purchased from a supermarket and not retrieved from your driveway after Baa Baa was slaughtered before your very eyes.

But you will make allowances after all you will be together with your love.  It will be wonderful.  A happy life.

*Cough, cough*

As long as you realise that he has been working away from home for over six months and, now that he has returned home, he will no doubt need to get another job to continue to support his family (and you) for the next six months until the summer season re-starts.  Work can be scarce for many here in Türkiye.  He will no doubt work extremely long hours leaving you at home with his family or maybe all by yourself.  Perhaps he will disappear for hours to the local cay ev for cards leaving you to stare at the four walls making you feel like your home is your prison cell.  Of course he will need to visit all of his extended family and you will be dragged from home to home like a show pony.  Are you ready for that?

Don’t get me wrong people, I love Türkiye but I arrived here in The Village with my eyes wide open.  I had travelled here every year for a decade before we made the decision to pack up our lives.  I knew what I was getting myself into and I still find it difficult.  Every single day.  Difficult.  If you think that this is going to be your very own Shirley Valentine or Eat, Pray, Love then do yourself a favour and unpack your bag right now, get on the telephone or on Skype or Whatsap and nut out some ground rules for you and your love.

He will need to support you 110%  I don’t mean financially, I mean emotionally.  You have moved here from your comfortable home, from a country that is your mother tongue and you have left your family and your friends behind.  He cannot get angry at you.  He must not get frustrated or ignore you.  You will have questions.  Hundreds of them.  I still do.

You will be lonely.  Thank God for Facebook (don’t diss me I mean it).  Find expats groups.  Find likeminded people.  I know this might be difficult in the small village (I’m the only one in our village) but look in the neighbouring towns.  Some from our expats group here in Mersin come from small villages in the mountains or even from neighbouring cities to spend the day with friends.  Offer to help at the local school.  Your English is a gift to the teachers here.

Really, really do your research.  Find out where you will be living and what it means to live in that area.  If it is a teeny, tiny village you need to throw yourself into that lifestyle wholeheartedly.  Find out what allowances you will need to make – culturally that is.  Will you be living in a conservative area?  Can you do that or do you want to wear your cut-off shorts and to hell with them all?!  Perhaps you will be living with his family.  You will have no privacy.  They will come and re-arrange your drawers or walk into your room unannounced at all hours.  Boundaries.  Draw that line in the sand and make sure he (and his family) abides by it.

Finally a little bit of advice for your partner from me –

This lady is your true love.  She has moved here to be with you.  Don’t make her regret that decision.  Do the right thing.  Treat her with the respect that she deserves.  Treat her like a fecking princess!  She IS a fecking princess!! Spend time with her.  Don’t disappear for hours on end leaving her to your family to entertain.  Help her settle in to her new environment.  Please don’t get agitated at her when she is unsure of herself or of what is going on around her.  Understand the difficulties that she is having with the language barrier or the culture.  Most importantly don’t be a complete douche or you will lose her forever!

Now breathe … and go pack those bags!

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Heaven and Hell

Daughter and I recently did a long weekend road trip.  4 days of driving with no real destination in mind so the next few posts will no doubt be giving you some of the highlights of our trip.

Originally we were heading towards Goreme to go ballooning but a last minute decision was made to go west as it was hot and Daughter wanted to swim so we started driving west towards Alayna going via Kizkalesi, Narlikuyu, Silifke and finally ending our road trip in Yesilovacik also known as “literally the middle of nowhere”.

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Just past Kizkalesi is a small tourist sign – Cennet ve Cehennem (Heaven and Hell).

“Oh let’s go check out the caves”, she said.  “It’ll be fun”, she said.  Well SHE needs a kick up the ass and by SHE I mean ME because it was MY silly idea.

Cennet ve Cehennem are actually two large sinkholes and, as someone who knows little about sinkholes I’ve got to say, they are pretty huge.  I mean I have seen sinkholes on television where houses are swallowed up in Florida or that big one somewhere in Mexico (I think) that took out a whole neighbourhood.  They seem to be popping up everywhere these days thanks to fracking and all sorts of other less than stellar reasons but Cennet and Cehennem are natural sinkholes that have been there for thousands of years.

hell alyssa

We started off walking to Cehennem because Hell seems more likely in my future.  It is only a 5 minute walk up a small incline.  A pleasant walk on a pleasant spring day.  The sinkhole itself is masterful and Mother Nature has definitely outdone herself.  The opening is small but has a depth of 128 metres.  I felt quite nauseous standing on the edge but Daughter being Daughter threw her legs over the side to take a photo to message to The Turk (just to “freak him out”).  Don’t worry though there is a barrier around the edge – you are quite safe.

Interesting titbit – according to mythology, after Zeus defeated the hundred-headed dragon named Typhon he kept him in Hell for a while before imprisoning him under Mt Etna.  Good to know.

After visiting Hell we started off towards Heaven.  After the first 50 or so steps we passed a group making their way back up.  A mixed bunch but the one thing they all had in common was that they were all bright red from exertion.  As they puffed past me I murmured geçmiş olsun (get well soon).  I got a wave and a groan – it was clear they were all too exhausted to speak (or couldn’t get their breath).  Crap!  What am I doing?

Daughter ran off ahead leaving me to waddle along at my own pace.  By the time I reached the small chapel (at about 300 steps) it was clear that I was in over my head (literally because I must have been about 100 metres down the sinkhole at this point).  I started wondering whether they could airlift my body out of here or maybe some kind of winch system set up behind the scenes because I didn’t know how I was going to drag my ass up all these stairs.

heaven 7

The chapel itself was apparently built by a believer by the name of Paulus in the 5th or 6th century.  You really have got to give credit where credit is due.  Paulus must have had some major love for Saint Mary because he would have had to carry those stone blocks down the 300+ stairs to get to the landing.  Kudo’s to you Paulus.

We continued past the chapel to reach the mouth of the cave.  This climb is a little tricky now as the as the stone stairs were quite slippery from precipitation.  The cave itself was a lot cooler and quite a reprieve on a hot day.  Daughter ran off attempting to reach the back of the cave to find the source of the stream that we could hear however that proved to be impossible while I chose to sit on a rock and contemplate my new life in the cave (because like I said I was pretty sure I would never be able to drag myself back out of the sinkhole).

heaven over it

After spending 30 minutes of exploring the cave it was time to leave.  Standing at the mouth and looking up, well I’ve got to be honest, it was going to be a monumental task.  All up there is 452 stairs to reach the top!  452 stairs!  But I did it and without the need of the imaginary winch too.  We passed a group on their way down and, seeing my red faced and fatigued self, said “geçmiş olsun”.  I groaned and waved while Daughter continued to jog up the stairs (sometimes I hate that kid).

Heaven 9

Now in future when I get a hair brain idea like visiting caves anywhere I will make sure I do a little research first and it will go a little something like this:

Janey:  Is there 450+ stairs in my foreseeable future?

Janey:  Umm … yep.

Janey:  Feck my life!

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Need to know:

Cennet ve Cehennem is off the D400 at Narlikuyu.  There are no buses to the site itself so you will need to either drive or walk.

Entry fee is 10TL (5TL per cave).  Asthma Cave is 3TL.  Toilets are 1TL.  Parking is free.  There is the possibility of a camel ride around the carpark at a negotiated price.

There is a café at the top of Heaven as well as a few tourist shops.  There are many lokantalar along the road up to the caves serving typical Turkish food.

Oh and take water.  Lots of water!

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Gallipoli 2015

On 25 April 2015 Australians and New Zealanders around the world mark the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings on Gelibolu peninsula.  For Daughter and I it will have a very special meaning – my Grandfather and her Great Grandfather fought at Gelibolu as part of the 7th Light Horse Regiment, 1st Division (although the terrain at Gelibolu was deemed unsuitable for mounted troops after the initial loss of lives his regiment was sent into battle as reinforcements in May 1915).  More so Daughter’s Great, Great Grandfather on her father’s side fought and died at Gallipoli when the first wave of troops landed at ANZAC Cove.

7th Light Horse Regiment, 1st Reinforcement

I did not get the opportunity to meet my Grandfather Leslie Vivian Morgan.  He passed away long before I arrived on the scene.  I do not have any photographs of him and I do not have anything personal to hold but I do have my mother’s memories in my heart.  Memories of a man who fought bravely at Gallipoli for his country.  She spoke of his bravery and his sacrifice and gave thanks to him and to his “brothers in arms” so that we could grow up in a country of peace and prosperity.

Now 100 years on I thought it would be a fitting memorial to my Grandfather and, of course, to my mother to attend at the commemoration on ANZAC Day.  Sadly in January I found out that I was 18 months too late to apply for tickets.  It also seemed that as we do not live in Australia we are ineligible to apply anyway.  “But hold on!  I live in Turkiye!  And my Grandfather fought at Gallipoli!  Surely that has some merit?”  Hayir!

As much as I could kick myself for not investigating how to obtain tickets earlier I am also so proud of how many Australians want to be there to recognise the service and the sacrifice made by so many men all those years ago.

Poppies-Original-Landing-Point-Gallipoli

As I do each year on 25 April I will be up at dawn.  There is no dawn service here in Mersin so I will walk down to the beach, close my moist eyes and, in my mind, I will hear that lone trumpeter play The Last Post.  I will think of my Grandfather and all those boys, those men, both the Mehmets and the Johnnies, who lost their lives fighting for you and me.

Lest We Forget.

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The Loco Lodos

It was a Lodos weekend in Istanbul, with the strong, dusty winds from Africa howling up the Bosphorus, sending waves crashing over the shore and forcing the locals indoors to save themselves almost certain doom.

istanbul winds 3

Like the better known Sirocco or Mistral winds when the Lodos hits with its 90+ kilometre gusts it causes chaos with flights and ferries cancelled as well as numerous car accidents and untold damage to homes and businesses.  Despite the Lodos coming to ruin our fun Daughter and I are hardened Aussies used to some tough weather and really a little breeze wasn’t going to stop us from heading to our first stop, Galata Tower, for the best view over Istanbul.

After climbing one of the seven hills of Istanbul (warn me next time) we then had the pleasure of climbing another two flights of stairs (after catching a lift the first 5 flights) before arriving at the conical cap of Galata Tower.  At the top is a café which was packed with tourists milling about waiting for someone to take the plunge and step out into the lodos.  Daughter didn’t hestitate and threw open the door letting the howling wind into the café and sending shrieks from the café workers to “kapıyı kapattı!” (shut the door!).

I can see why this building served as a watchtower as you really did have an amazing 360 degree view of Istanbul.  No one was going to take Constantinople with this bad boy watching over it (well not until the Ottomans finally did in 1453 anyway).

Daughter and I held onto the fence as we made our way around the tower.  It really was a crazy wind – a loco lodos if you will.  Soon we were followed by others braving the loco lodos all of us laughing and yelling into the wind, daring it if you will to push us around.

istanbul winds

After surviving our first stop it was clear that the lodos was not going to beat us and so, soldiering on we made our way down to the Bosphorus and jumped on what seemed to be the only ferry prepared to leave Kadıköy dock for a three hour cruise.  Well let me tell you Gilligan had it easy compared to what we went through over the next couple of hours.  The boat was really rocking and I now understand why all the sensible captains stayed safely on shore.

istanbul winds 2

The Turkish poet, Ümit Yaşar Oğuzcan, opens his poem “Istanbul Light” with the verses:

Istanbul, the wind

The wind, my love

Sometimes lodos blows from the seas

Oh so warm

Sometimes poyraz blows like a crazed razor

Let your hair down for the windows of Istanbul

You can’t be without love or the wind in this city.

Well I may have survived a Loco Lodos but I’m not sure if I want to meet the “crazed razor” of a Poyraz wind.  Until next time.

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Where’s Wally?

School holidays are upon us here in Turkiye which means it’s been incredibly busy in our neck of the woods, so busy that I haven’t had have time to blog!  OMG!!

Rather than bore you with our usual drama today I have posted some clues as to our recent whereabouts.  Can you guess where we’ve been?

Clue No. 1

This city was once renowned as the most crowded city in the world – in 1502.

istanbul 4

Clue No. 2 – Tulips, the symbol of Holland, originated in this city and were sent to Netherlands.

Istanbul 2

Clue No. 3 – This city has been a noted inspiration for authors from Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway to Orhan Pamuk and Abdülhak Sinasi Hisar.

Istanbul 5

Clue No. 4 –  this city was once renowned for having more than 1,400 public toilets!

Istanbul 7

Final Clue – this city is the only city in the world that straddles two continents: Asia and Europe.

istanbul 3

I know, I know.  Too easy!

Of course we have been in Istanbul.

As well as visiting our usual haunts we made some new friends (including some fellow bloggers) and, of course, we did a lot of shopping!  The most successful part of this trip was what I found in a Carrefour near Taksim Square.  BACON!!  Yes, bacon!  It may have cost 59TL for 4 pieces but damn we had a great breakfast this morning!  And I will let you in on a little shame secret – I even licked up the oil from the pan.  The look on The Turk’s face said it all – gross!

bacon 1

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Paradise Found

One of the great things about Mersin (or Icel) is that it is not usually on the international tourism wish list.  I get it.  I really do.  It is an industrial and farming province.  There is no airport and frankly no one speaks English.  It is kind of cosmopolitan and unique but its lack of infrastructure, its occasional domestic issues and now its proximity to unstable borders means that it is not really a draw card for visitors.  After all why come to Mersin when you can go to Marmaris or perhaps Bodrum for your sunfilled vacation?

For those of us living here though it is a godsend that the international tourist passes us by.  Why?  Well if you, the international tourist, go elsewhere it means that the hidden gems found along this magnificent coastline are left for the Turkish tourists which means – Turkish prices!

During Kurban Bayram the family and I travelled to Yaprakli Koy Susanoğlu and I honestly I feel like I have truly found my new favourite spot in IcelSusanoğlu actually is part of the seaside town of Atakent, 65 kilometres west of Mersin and only 15 kilometres east of Silifke.

susanoglu

Susanoğlu Playa itself is a nice enough beach but there is more to Susanoglu than the main beach.  You don’t want the main beach.  You need to keep looking.  If you blink you will miss it for it is not on the main drag.  It is a secret after all, locals only, and they are not going to give up its location to a yabanci readily.  You are going to have to work for it.  You will need to park your car.  You will need to stalk a Turk (as no doubt they know where to go) but, with perseverance and a little good fortune, you will come across some ancient stone stairs on the side of a cliff (not as daunting as it may sound) leading through a smallish little forest.  Through the pine trees you go until you get a glimpse of that perfect mavi (blue) sea.  Step towards that colour and know that, finally, you have arrived at Yaprakli Koy Susanoğlu, a hidden gem along the coastline surrounded by Turkish beach clubs and restoranlar.DSC00437

This place bay has the feel of a party all day long.  Families gather for picnics, girls sunbath in their itsy-bitsy bikinis while watching the boys prance by showing off their muscles.  Old Turkish men do calisthenics on the rocks before making their way to the nearest lokanta for a glass of raki (medicinal I am sure). The surrounding restaurants sell simple Turkish food, but simple can at times be extraordinary with amazing balik, kofte and tavuk dishes on offer for the low non-touristy price of 10TL.  Even more importantly the drinks too are ridiculously cheap and the Efes’ are ice cold.  The music is blasting and it is always Turkish.

susanoglu 2

No one, I repeat, no one speaks English and you will no doubt find yourself, as I did, sitting next to 70 year old Turkish lady who told me her life story.  Sure you may not understand what they are saying but they will still talk to you anyway.

I think I have found my incredibly cheap but now not so secretive paradise.

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Turkey Today

Over the past few days I have had no end of calls from worried friends wanting to know how safe it is in Turkey at the moment.  Yes there is anger and frustration in the streets of many cities.  Thousands of Kurdish people are protesting across the country including in its capital Ankara and Istanbul.  They are furious that Turkey seems to be standing by as Islamic State advances on the Syrian town of Kobane.  They say that Turkey’s failure to help the Kurdish fighters there will no doubt lead to the city falling to IS.

I have learned from writing this blog to keep my opinions to myself as I do not have sufficient knowledge or education on the complicated relationship between Turkey and the Kurdish people.  I will only say that Turkey is in an extremely difficult situation.  They are, of course, a powerhouse in the region and they will vigorously protect their land and their citizens (including their Kurdish citizens).  Should Turkey cross the border into Syria they are entering foreign soil and crossing that border would be considered a hostile act by Syria.  Should a Syrian or Kurdish citizen be injured or killed at the hands of a Turkish soldier then I suspect all hell will break loose.  Turkey also has the underlining concern of keeping peace within its Kurdish communities which can prove a difficult task particularly when Erdogan is comparing the PKK to IS.

The Australian Government has today emailed its citizens living or visiting Turkey and have advised against all travel to the towns of Akcakale and Ceylanpinar.  They have also advised against all but essential travel to areas within 50km of Turkey’s border with Syria.  You should remember that each countries give their citizens their own advice with the UK Foreign Office advising against all but essential travels within 10km of Turkey’s border with Syria.

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Friends, where we are in Mersin it is perfectly safe right now.  We are approximately 4-5 hours drive from the Syrian border.  There have been no protests however there is a heavy polis presence in the city.  If I feel in any way that the situation has changed or that Daughter and I are no longer safe here we will make arrangements to leave the city and, if necessary, the country immediately.

Remember if you intend on travelling to Turkey in the coming days I suggest that you check with your own Foreign Office.  If you are travelling to Marmaris or along the western coast of Turkey you are 12 hours – I repeat – 12 hours from the Syrian border.  Of course your personal safety and the safety of your family is paramount but do not let the remote possibility of terrorism by Islamic State (or by any other terrorist organisation) control your lives.

If you are interested in reading more about what is going on – here are a few links that I found interesting.

4 Questions  /  The Prize and Peril of Kirkuk  /  Smart Traveller  /  UK Advice  /  Ankara on Alert

Please share this page to your family members who are concerned about safety while travelling or living in this beautiful country.

Finally I will add that Turkey is one of the most amazing countries in the world with its magnificent beaches, glorious scenery and its surprising history.  The Turkish Government will do everything in its power to control the situation along its borders and to protect its citizens and its visitors – that means you!

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Too Different

I’ve talked before about holiday romances, Turkish men and the heartache that they can cause.  In fact my Love Rat post was, and still is, the post with the most views since I began this little blog.  I want to declare right here, right now, men are just men.  They are not from Mars.  They are not made up any differently to us they just have an extra chromosome (and an extra rib).  To put it simply: there are some good ones and there are some bad ones.  They can be your best friend but they can just as easily break your heart.

love rat 2

With summer now at an end the Turkish forums are full of love rats and stories of woe.  Yes there are love rats here in Turkey but they are also located in France, Italy, the US, Australia – hell they are everywhere!  But this story is about my friend Evie who knows I am writing this.  She wants people to read it, to not make the same mistakes.  She has/had a love rat and and that love rat that just so happened to be … Turkish.

I met Evelyn (Evie) at a shopping centre here in Mersin about 6 months ago.  She had moved here from northern England to be with her handsome and *cough, cough* somewhat slightly younger man that she met whilst holidaying in Antalya in June last year.  After many emails, Skype dates and telephone calls Evie packed up her life and moved to Mersin.

It has not been easy for Evie.  She did not speak Turkish at all (I feel her pain).  She could not work as she did not have the right visa and she found it incredibly difficult to make friends here.  I totally related with her after all Mersin is definitely no tourist destination and expats are as scares as hen’s teeth.  As we were both in the same boat Evie and I quickly developed a close friendship and she became a frequent visitor to our home here in the Village and I at her home in Pozcu.  Her fiancé, Mehmet (name has been changed to protect the not so innocent), seemed nice enough I guess.  Definitely younger and it was clear to me that perhaps the infatuation did not run as deep as it did for Evie.  It certainly made for a difficult visit when she brought him over one night before The Turk left for Australia as The Turk is quite intuitive and could see right away that Mehmet was not deeply in love.  In fact when they went outside to smoke on our terrace their conversation that began in low voices quickly escalated loudly enough for me to go out and investigate.  Needless to say The Turk was not impressed with Mehmet.

Two nights ago Evi arrived on my doorstep unannounced.  It was pretty crazy at our house with The Turk having taken ill back in Sydney but Evi needed my help NOW!  Mehmet had gone.  Where?  She did not know.  All of his personal effects were gone, most of the furniture was gone and the rent had not been paid on their apartment for the past two months.  She had left that morning to go to the shops at Mehmet’s suggestion.  She had been gone no more than 3 hours.  How is this possible?  She was bereft.  Her heart was broken.

Right now I am steaming mad.  I am mad at myself for not saying something to Evie when I first had doubts.  I am devastated that my friend has had to find out that the man that she loved was not who he seemed and that the love that she thought they had meant little or perhaps nothing at all to him.  Evie was planning her wedding and Mehmet was planning his escape.

Over breakfast this morning she asked, “How could I not see him for who he was?”

It’s simple.  L.O.V.E.  We’ve all been there.  You meet someone.  He sweeps you off his feet with the romance that has been missing in your life.  Walks along the beach.  Whispering sweet nothings in your ear.  The best sex you have ever had!  Oh yeah!  Seni cok seviyorum.  I used to laugh at The Turk when he threw “I love you” at me every 5 minutes when we first got together.  But he still managed to cast his spell and I was smitten.

Two different cultures, two different countries.  Just too different.

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Hey Berat! Why be an asshole?

On Wednesday Daughter and I took Daughter’s favourite cousin Tatlim to Kizkalesi for the day.  It has been a few months since our last visit to my favourite beach but this time was no quiet visit.  The beach was full.  Music was blasting from every doorway.  Restaurants and hotels were at capacity and teenage boys could be found on every street corner chatting up every female who walks past.

graffiti 7

After staking out our space on the packed beach Daughter and Tatlim disappeared into the water leaving me to laze away in the sunshine.  Goodness it was hot.  I did what I do best and that is watching the world go by.  Vendors were everywhere touting their goods including su (water), çay, Nescafe, misir (corn on the cob) and even balik (fish) were all on offer for a price.  There were women strutting in bikinis, old men covered in sand (a strange Turkish tradition) and little kids playing on the water’s edge under a guardian’s careful eye.   This is what living in Turkey is all about.

Tatlim had never been to the Castle on the sea so we hopped the ferry (20TL for 3 people) over to the island.  Daughter and her cousin went off to explore leaving me to thoroughly examine the mosaics (Daughter always knows how to make me happy). 

The only blight on an otherwise perfect day was the excessive amount of new graffiti that has appeared throughout the castle since my last visit.  I had noticed it before but the sheer number of tags (Daughter tells me that this is the correct terminology) throughout the castle is deeply disappointing.  The local belediye (council) is attempting to combat the problem with security guards now roaming throughout the little island but my guess is that they just cannot be everywhere at once plus their time is also spent patching up swimmers who injure themselves on the rocks surrounding the castle plus picking up garbage and cleaning up after people *sigh*.

graffiti 2

The thought of these idiots defacing a beautiful piece of history is repugnant to me.  It’s not just at Kizkalesi though.  I recall seeing tags on the ruins at Soli Pompeiopolis as well.  Mersin (and Turkish) authorities have been trying for a long time to cope with not just damage to antiquities but also the theft of their treasures. 

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So I write this to you Berat or Mehmet, Fatih and any other tagging asshole currently skulking around in my general vicinity.  Firstly, how stupid are you to spraypaint your name?  Dumbass.  Secondly, be thankful that it is not I who catches you because I would give you a whopping and send you home to your parents with your spray can shoved where the sun does not shine.  And no i am not joking!

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Traversing Tarsus

When I was young I watched the movie “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  This movie embedded the idea of wanting to have it all.  Be an amazing woman and have that once in a lifetime romance.

Fast forward a couple *cough cough* of years and here I am living my life being totally amazing and I got my Marc Antony (of sorts) as well.  So not only did I get my dream I now live my life not far from the city of Tarsus where, according to legend, Cleopatra was reunited with her lover after a separation of many years.  “If the tent is a rocking, don’t bother knocking.”

Tarsus is located smack dab between Mersin and Adana and, over the years, I have passed by the city while on my many travels but I have never stopped to have a look around.  Just before my overseas jaunt I found myself spending the day in Tarsus with The Turk and I can say without question this city is overflowing with historical and theological ruins.

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My first stop was, of course, Cleopatra Kapisi (Cleopatra’s Gate).  Legend has it that this was the spot where Marc Antony was reunited with Cleopatra.  A romantic notion.  The Gate is pretty much still intact, standing strong just like their love although, of course, she drove Marc Antony to suicide before killing herself but, before that, they had a powerful love for each other.  Very Romeo and Juliet.

Not all sites are walking distance but from Cleopatra’s Gate do a 180 and pass the Gözlükule Tumulus (mound).  Not an awful lot to see now (it forms part of a park) but this tumulus shows settlement in the Neolithic and ancient age.   Turning back and after passing the Tarsus Museum (we didn’t have time to visit on this trip) before arriving at the Antik Yol (Ancient Road) and Roman city excavation.  This excavation has been going on for some time and is a great example of Roman roads and architecture.

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A few more minutes will bring you to Paul of Tarsus Church and Well.  Who is Paul?  Theologians are already rubbing their hands in glee at this point.  Paul or Saul as he was also known is, of course, St Paul or Paul the Apostle and was born in the ancient city of Tarsus.  Now I do not know a lot (read that as anything) about the Bible or St Paul (or Saul) but according to the guide at St Paul’s Church he apparently wrote 13 of the 21 New Testament Epistles.  The Church itself was built in the 12th and 13th century and was accepted in the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage in 2000. Alongside the Church is St Paul’s Well which is over 100 feet deep with fresh drinking water.  Will it miraculously heal you?  Nah – it’s just a well but you can have a sip.

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As you wander in this area have a look at all the historic houses.  These are a good example of how Tarsus would have looked in the past, in its glory in the old city.  The markets are also close to the Mosque, both definitely worth visiting if you get the opportunity.

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Before we left Tarsus we stopped by the old Roman bridge before making our way to the Tarsus Waterfalls for cay and cezeryea (caramelised carrots with pistacios and nuts).  The waterfalls were tranquil and very beautiful and the cay and cezeryea was refreshing and tasty.  The waiter who brought us our treat informed me that the cezeryea is thought to be an aphrodisiac.  The Turk laughed and replied, “Don’t tell her that, she won’t eat it!”  Too true Turkey Boy.

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Tarsus packed a great little punch for a tourist and definitely worth stopping by if you are passing through to Adana or westward to the beaches.  We ran out of time to visit the Cave of Seven Sleepers and we also did not see the Prophet Daniel’s grave (of Daniel and the Lion’s fame) which is supposedly located inside Makim Mosque.  so do yourself a favour people.  Visit Tarsus.