Spirit in the Sky

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

Alahan 2

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

Alahan 7

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

Alahan 4Alahan 5

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

Alahan 8

Credit:  N. Habbas

Alahan 9

Credit:  N. Habbas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Day That Türkiye Broke Me

I always refer to Türkiye as a woman.  Türkiye is strong.  She can be a little temperamental at times and has even been known to chuck a wobbly every now and then but usually things return to normal.  I mean it’s normal for relationships to have their ups and downs and yes I am aware that in psychology circles I would be called an Enabler.  Oh and upfront this is not a political post.  I will not make any comments in relation to that ridiculous Referendum and its outcome.  Oops.  Sorry.

Back to my story.

Yes Türkiye can be a little tempermental but usually I forgive and forget – but not this time.  What started as a day became a week and seriously seems to be moving into a month and everything here in the Village, in Mersin and even in Türkiye, is pissing me the hell off.  I held out as long as I could but enough is enough and finally, she broke me.  Türkiye broke me.

FireAnd even as I write this I know I am being a pouting princess and I know how lucky I am living in this beautiful country, but honestly shit should get easier, you know!

Alright let’s rewind and I will vent and then maybe, just maybe, I can move on from her most recent transgression.

It all started last Wednesday.  It was a normal Wednesday.  The Turk and I had kahvaltı on the terrace while below us Dede was screaming at the passerby (yes this is normal for us).  I mentioned to The Turk that we had no internet and no telephone – again.  “Sorun değil aşkım” was his reply and he rang TTnet to arrange for a service.  I pointed out that I think we needed an electrician but, of course, The Turk knew better (and God forbid he is never wrong).  At this point I just want to say that I am also dealing with a temperamental 14 year old who literally HATES THE WORLD so when she realised on Wednesday morning that there was no internet – again – seriously folks don’t worry about North Korea dropping a fecking nuclear bomb on anyone worry about Daughter blowing a fecking gasket!!!

By Friday the internet was still not fixed AND to add to my current woes we also had no electricity.  I thought this would be a good time for me to get out of the Village and do the grocery shopping.  I hit Migros and I brought up big!  Came to the register to pay, handed over my credit card and – declined!  WTF???  Of course I didn’t have the cash to pay for my groceries so I had to leave them at the shop and return home empty handed.  And that was it.  It was that simple.  I broke.

By the time I got home I was in tears.  I threw myself on the couch and cried for a good few hours before finally putting myself to bed.  At 4pm.  It was suggested to me that I needed chocolate and red wine – stat – but as my credit card was declined I didn’t even have these simple medicinal necessities to tide me over and so I lay in bed crying my eyes out and wishing I was back in Sydney where this shit just wouldn’t happen.

Sure I know these are all First World Problems, and yes, I know I am being a bit of a şımarık, but seriously no electricity, no internet, no telephone and now no cash!  What the feck did I ever do to you Türkiye?  Have I ever done anything but love you?  Support you?  Talk you up to my friends?  Yeah that’s right!  And you turn on me!  Well I’m pissed off and I won’t stand for it anymore!  In fact I’m breaking up with you!

friends breakup photovisiAnyhow, TTnet finally arrived on Saturday morning and confirmed that we did, in fact, need an electrician so The Turk called a guy who knew a guy who promised to be at ours by 2pm.  At 6.17pm four teenage boys arrived at our house.  They were the electricians!  Ugh!  One of the boys refused to come into the house because of My Hurley Dog so screamed instructions through the door (Çek!  Çek!) to the other three as they re-wired our telephone and internet.  By 10pm they had finished.  We had internet.  We had telephone.  Yah!!!  By 11.15pm? Gone!  Again!

It comes and goes now.  That’s okay.  I guess.  And we only lost the electricity once yesterday (although it was for 6 hours).

What I find so incomprehensible is that everyone seems to accept substandard workmanship and bad behaviour.  They have all these social niceties but when it comes to service they just accept that the work will be dodgy or the quality of their goods and services will be less than stellar.  It is the norm here in Türkiye but it shouldn’t be.  People should expect excellent service if they are paying for it.  The Turk just shrugs as says “Bu Türkiye!”  Nope more like Bu-llshit!!

And speaking of bullshit let me just tell you one more little story before I get dragged off to the looney bin.

After my second meltdown on Sunday to my BIL (as my television had no signal and our intermittent internet was gone – fecking again) a television service was arranged.  The dude arrived yesterday on time (a first) and proceeded to reconfigure our satellite dish for a better service.  I only really watch one or two shows on television, I don’t really care if there is service or not because I watch television via the internet (if we have internet that is) BUT there is one English news channel – TRT World – and even though it is a completely bias channel run by the Government (please don’t shut me down “Powers That Be”) it was, at least, in English.  Until our little friend serviced my dish that is, now we have lost the channel.  FML!

Anyway before he left he asked to use the bathroom.  He disappeared behind the door for a good thirty minutes.  What on earth did he do in there?  Well I certainly found out within moments of him leaving when an entity crossed my path.  A shit entity.  A smell so foul that it was as though he had smeared shit from one end of the guest bathroom to the other!  I literally had to open all the windows and sit on the terrace for an hour before the house had been cleared of the putrid smell!  I still haven’t gone in there either.  I’m a little scared of what I might find that he left behind for me.  I’ll send The Turk in to take the bullet.

Sorry for lumbering all this on you all.  I don’t know when I’ll be back.  But I will.  Eventually.

Ugh!

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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!

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A New Beginning

I promised I would be back in the New Year fresh and with lots more drama about surviving life in my Türk köyü (Turkish village).  I was kind of hoping to start 2017 on a happy note with stories about Christmas parties and New Year’s celebrations and jolly old St. Nick coming to visit us here in Mersin but that had been hijacked by the terrorist attack in Istanbul in the early hours of the morning on 1 January 2017 so I decided to write nothing.

reina

It is clear that I can no longer live in a cocoon ignoring what is happening in my adopted homeland.  It is a hot topic of discussion between the many expats that live here and it seems that there is an exodus happening right now with even lifers packing up and leaving for greener pastures.  I am a lifer.  But I say that with reservations.  I’ve got to.  Again I won’t give an opinion because it is so deeply seeded and there are so many differing views that I will no doubt offend nobody, somebody or everybody *waves again to the Powers That Be*.  I do want to say to my friends and family that I hear your concern and I understand that you are worried but for us, right now and with decisions being made as a family, Türkiye is our love and we cannot abandon her just yet.

So let’s move onto more jovial topics.

I am currently writing this post tonight to the soothing (and rather loud) hum of our very own generator.  Notwithstanding my numerous threats to divorce The Turk if he did not buy me a generator and The Turk’s numerous rebuttals that threatening divorce is more likely to discourage said purchase, he finally opened his wallet, blew away the cobwebs, and made our apartment that bright, beaming light calling out to others in the darkness.  Of course now when the electricity goes our home becomes the place to be with neighbours flocking for warmth, numerous glasses of çay and a place to watch the fecking futbol (which seems to be on all the fecking time!).  So for those of you currently sitting in the darkness with your very own generator envy remember it can be a double edged sword.

flood

I’ve mentioned before that January is Mersin’s wet month.  It rains in January.  A lot.  Actually a lot doesn’t really describe how much rain has fallen here over the past few days.  In fact it was 153kg worth of rain.  Now I’ve got to be honest with you I am not quite sure how they worked out that scientific measurement but that’s the official word.  Yep.  It rained.  Then it flooded.  Then Noah started collecting two of each creature.  And then it became abundantly clear that my new apartment (with aforementioned generator humming away happily) isn’t exactly waterproofed.  Sorry I’ll rephrase that – it became abundantly fecking clear that my new apartment isn’t fecking waterproofed at ALL!  Now that the rain has all but gone (fingers crossed) we have had the builder back who, of course, flat out denied that the water streaming down my wall was due to his shoddy work.  Nooo!  I have now named him The Moose Knuckle and I think it suits him (sidenote: I learned this marvellous expression the other day from a friend and have decided to incorporate it into my daily life).  The Turk has forbidden me from calling him a Moose Knuckle to his face which isnt really a problem because I doubt I could translate it into Türk anyway.  Pfftt!

snow-3

Meanwhile where there’s rain there’s snow and we had a Home Alone situation in the mountains behind us over the Christmas period.  One of our friends had entrusted her kedi to be cared for by us expats while she and her husband returned home for the holidays however due to a massive dumping of the white stuff all roads leading to her home were closed to traffic.  Despite desperate attempts to locate anyone who was holed up in the village plus numerous rescue attempts by expats to retrieve the cold, hungry and no doubt pretty peeved kedi all proved unsuccessful.  Kedi was Home Alone.  Kedi was McCauley Culkin protecting his home from Joe Pesci and the other guy.  But don’t fret readers McCauley was finally set free by two expats who, wearing enough equipment to climb Mt Everest, rescued and transported him to luxurious digs where he immediately took possession of the bed forcing rescuer’s husband to the couch.  As it should be.

duman

Oh and finally I want to thank Expatfocus.com for including Janeyinmersin in their Turkey recommended blog list.  Yah!!!

Enough for now.  I have a glass of red and a humming generator.  Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Iyi akşamlar sevgilerim.

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Expat.com

I recently did an interview with Expat.com about our life living as an expat here in Mersin.  Of course the interview gives my *cough cough* unique spin on life here.  I am certain that the interviewer thought I was quite mad.   You can have a read of the interview here.

janey-2

For those of you who don’t know about Expat.com, they are an exchange network dedicated to providing free information and advice to those expats living or wishing to live overseas.  With forums, handy hints and interviews with other expats it’s a great way of finding someone in your neck of the woods.

Anyway I would love to hear your feedback on the interview.  At least let me know if I sound batshit crazy.  The Turk has been discussing buying me a straightjacket.  I have explained that they probably won’t be able to get one in my size.  Winning!

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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.

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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.

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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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Lemon of Troy

“And, with that, a mighty cheer went up from the heroes of Shelbyville. They had banished the awful lemon tree forever…because it was haunted. Now, let’s all celebrate with a cool glass of turnip juice.”

Strong words from the Shelbyville elder but here in Turkiye a cool glass of şalgam suyu really is just the thing to fix what ails ya!

Simpsons turnip

Let me tell you last night I visited a neighbour’s house and, after some discussion about my recent illness, I found myself being served rakı along with a large glass of şalgam suyu (turnip juice).  The look on The Turk’s face was priceless.  He knew I was going to have difficulty chugging both of these drinks down but chug them down I did because it would be considered rude to not do so.  I can see why they are served together.  The strong anise flavour of the rakı very much complimented the overly salty salgam but for me together or separate both drinks are very much hard for me to swallow.

Turnip Juice?  Seriously?

Yes indeed folks, although it is called şalgam suyu this little concoction is more correctly made with fermented carrots (yes I said that) as well as water, salt and bulgur flour.  Don’t get me wrong there is also turnip in the mix but it is only a very small amount.  During summer there are vendor’s all over Çarşı selling this famous concoction (which actually originates from the Mersin/Adana/Hatay region) and you know they are there before you see them by his unique music made by tapping the ladles to his own beat and singing at the top of his lungs.

In fact Adana even goes so far as to have a festival in honour of the wonderous şalgam.  The Adana Kebap ve Şalgam Festival, emerged from the tradition of enjoying kebab, with liver, şalgam and rakı. Originally it was called the Adana Rakı Festival but organisers had to change the name because of pressure from conservative anti-alcohol groups who wanted the Festival cancelled.

You can practically insert Mrs Lovejoy’s shrieks here, “But what about the children?!”

Oh and for those who want to know.  It is apparently good for you with vitamin B, potassium, calcium and iron.  It will help you lose weight, relieve stress and is an aphrodisiac.

turnip juice

I’m not sure if I will partake in a rakışalgam suyu throwdown again anytime soon but methinks this might be more to the stellar hangover than the freaky taste sensation.

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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

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