#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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Dirty Laundry

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

refugees 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Fabio Bucciarelli for Al Jazeera America

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

 

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I’ve Been Nominated

I am lucky enough to have been nominated for IX16 Top 100 International Exchange and Experience Blogs.  I am feeling quite chuffed right now and am asking for your help.  There are no doubt many, many fantastic and deserving blogs out there but would appreciate if you would take a minute to vote for Janey … In Mersin through this link –

http://en.bab.la/news/top-100-international-exchange-experience-blogs-2016

collage

It’s a bit of a pain to scroll through but find Janey … In Mersin.  Give it a click and fingers crossed.  The prize isn’t money, its probably better (well in my case anyway).  It’s one year of Turkish lessons with Babbel (which of course I desperately need).

Now if you guys need some encouragement here are a few of my most popular posts –

How about that time I fell down a hole

Or that time I complained for months about the weather

Wordy wisdoms by The Turk or maybe you might like

The Turkish Moustache

You only need to vote once so get cracking!

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Google Street Maps

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

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

railway tracks

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

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

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

Dede on the street Google maps

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

Pozcu.  Lovely shot actually.

Google street view 5

Leaving Mersin.

Google Street view 4

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

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Phallic what?

It has suddenly gotten very cold here in Mersin, all over Türkiye in fact.  The clouds are heavy.  There is no sun.  At all.  But today while dropping Daughter off at school I came across this sculpture and it cheered me up muchly!

Looks like a penis

What the what???

I know, I know I have to get my mind out of the gutter but seriously what else could it be?

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Ho Ho Ho!

It’s just after midnight here in Mersin which means today is Christmas Eve.  Santa has already given me my Christmas present as on Wednesday I was given the all clear from the doctor and could get out of the house and frantically finish (read that as ‘start’) my Christmas shopping.

Thanks to social media I know that back home in Oz friends are indulging in some early celebrations with photos at packed beaches, parties on Sydney Harbour, leisurely lunches and generally having a merry old time.  They are frantically hitting the shops to buy their prawns and oysters, as well as mangoes and avocados all in readiness for their Christmas celebration whether it will be at the beach or by the pool or even a barbie in the backyard.  Ah Sydney – I can dream can’t I?

Christmas in Sydney

Here in Mersin, Christmas has been a pretty low key affair; in fact the last few years have been positively depressing.  On our actual first Christmas Day here I made a huge fuss and arranged a full Christmas lunch for the family with presents for everyone.  Unfortunately none of them came because, well, it was just Wednesday to them (plus most of them work and were unable to take a day off).  Having learned my lesson last year The Turk took Daughter and I out for lunch which was nice but not really special or Christmassy at all.

This year, however, I am excited at the prospect of Christmas Day as I have been invited to a friend’s house for lunch.  I am told, however, that calling tomorrow ‘Christmas lunch’ is not giving justice to the day or the meal for that matter.  This is no mere Christmas lunch; this will be a Christmas extravaganza.  There will be pork, and bacon (Eeekkk!).  There will be turkey (yes haha turkey in Turkey – hilarious).  There will be prawns.  There will be gravy and oodles of vegetables, and sugary biscuits and lots of Gluehwein.  There will be something called an Eton Mess and finally there will also be ox tongue (I’m not really sure what to say about that but it’s apparently a tradition).  This will not be a mere lunch either.  This is an all day, into the night and with the possibility of continuing into Boxing Day spectacular.  I am thinking of wearing my tracksuit pants as they are stretchy enough to sustain themselves throughout what will no doubt be a wonderful day full of great friends, lots of laughter and waaayyy too much food.

ChristmasDinner

To all of you who follow my ridiculous antics here in Mersin I say thank you and may all your Christmas wishes come true.

See you in 2016!  2016???  Crikey!

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Generator Envy

Anyone who currently lives or has ever lived in Türkiye will no doubt get a case of the feels while I tell this tale full of torment and of anguish, of anger and jealousy.  In fact this story has something for everyone but before we start – a warning.  There is a completely unacceptable level of swearing to be had.  So continue on at your own peril.

blackout 1

This is the story of darkness so black that it must come from the soul of the devil himself.  This is my story of no electricity – yet again!

Over the past week we have seem to have pulled the short straw here in the Village as we have lost power every single night.  It is usually cut around 4pm (just as night begins to creeps in) and it reconnects anywhere between 7pm and gelecek sabah (the next morning).

Last night I was on my terrace when I saw the dark clouds brewing over the deniz (sea).  Being totally psychic I knew it was going to happen and I ran inside to grab the lanterns before the storm hit – which it did – and the electric failed – which it did as well!

Me: Feck!

The Turk:  (sigh)

Daughter:  (distant wail of angst from her bedroom)

Me:  (fumbling through the darkness) Where the feck are the lanterns?  Who the feck moved the lanterns?

The Turk:  I put them upstairs.

Me:  Why the feck would you do that when we have fecking lost fecking electricity every fecking day!  What the feck is fecking wrong with you?  FECK!

The Turk goes off to find the lanterns and Daughter scuttles down the hall in the darkness protesting about the loss of her precious, precious Wi-Fi.

Daughter:  How do you expect me to live like this?  It’s not the Middle Ages!

Me:  (dripping with sarcasm) Yes it is, in fact I was invited to the signing of the Magna Carta last week.

Daughter:  Huh?

The Turk returns with the lanterns that have not been charged.  He turns them on and off and on and off and on and off … well, you get the drift.

The Turk:  They don’t work.

Me:  You think?

The Turk:  (turns them on and off again) Yes.  They don’t work.

The Turk leaves to go and buy candles while Daughter and I sat in the darkness.

Daughter:  So who is Magnus Carter?

Me:  (threw pillow at Daughter.  It missed).

The Turk returns with candles and the house takes on the romantic tinge of flicking light.

Daughter:  Welcome to hell.

The Turk:  You will survive this.

Daughter:  Even in hell they have Wi-Fi you know!

Me:  Yes but it will be forever slow.

Daughter:  Aarrgghhhh!!!

Some normalcy returns as I go about preparing köfte which is really the only thing I can make without electric and The Turk gets busy opening a bottle of red while we both commiserate with Daughter as she continues to make unnecessary but still witty remarks about the loss of her basic human rights.  It sucks to be her for sure!

And then we heard it.

Brrrrrrrrrrrr.  Brrrrrrrrrrrr.

A sound so foreign that The Turk and I tentatively stepped out onto the terrace.  The blackness enveloping us was overwhelming and we clung to each other in fear (not really) as we investigated the source of the sound.

And there it was.

A house.  A house filled with light.  A bright beaming light calling out to us in the darkness.  I stood there watching in awe as others too came out of their houses drawn towards the light like a moth – or a dead person.  You know what I’m going to say don’t you?  Can you feel my jealous rage?  Yes dear readers.  It is true.  My neighbour has a generator!  At that moment my head exploded.  I mean literally my brain went into an overload of emotions – and it blew it’s final gasket.

Me:  Do they have a generator?

The Turk:  (nodding too overwhelmed with emotion – or too fearful of my reaction – to speak)

Me:  Why the feck don’t we have a fecking generator?

Daughter:  I bet they have Wi-Fi!

Me:  We need a fecking generator!

Daughter:  Why is life so unfair?

Me:  Buy me a fecking generator!

The Turk:  *sigh*

Me:  (with the maturity level of a 13 year old) AAARRRGHGHHHH!!!!

Generator envy is a real thing people and I have it bad.  Not being able to cope with the amount of jealousy raging through my veins I had to have a lie down while The Turk finished preparing dinner and Daughter continued to complain to The Turk about her awful, abused life.

Incidentally the electricity came back about 15 minutes later but the damage was done.

BUY ME A FECKING GENERATOR!!!!!!!

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Looking for Lychee

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

Mersin city

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

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

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

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

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

Feck my life!

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

“Ummm yes it does stupid Aussie girl.”

*Sigh*

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

Lychee collage

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

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

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