As easy as “bir, iki, üç”

With Daughter now back at the village school and with The Turk in the Land Down Under I find that some spare time on my hands.  What to do?  What to do?  I could lie in the sunshine and work on my tan?  Or I could go for lunch at the Marina or Forum with friends?  Nah.  I need to do something constructive with my free time and so I decided on having some private Turkish lessons with Daughter’s Turkish tutor.

Daughter’s tutor is a cousin of a cousin of a cousin or something and is absolutely a delight.  She was recommended to us by an English teacher from one of the private schools in Mersin but we seriously hit the payload when we realised that she was related and not just some random teacher.  Bonus!  Her enthusiasm to teach Daughter has made it a breeze for her to pick up the language and Daughter loves her because she is young, beautiful and funky.  She and Daughter bonded over their mutual love of Starbucks and shopping!  If only all teachers could be Ipek!

I admit that hang my head in shame knowing that I have been in the country for over a year and my Turkish is still ridiculously bad.  I had every intention of enrolling at Mersin University and taking Turkish classes (also a great way to meet other expats) but the idea of making my way on two buses at the crack of dawn 4 days a week did not inspire me to learn.  I had also assumed that immersing in the language would mean that I would pick up the skills in no time.  Yep.  Nope.  I just did not realise it was going to be quite so hard.

alfabex

Ummm …

In just one lesson I have learned that half of what comes out of my mouth is complete gibberish and it explains why Daughter gets so darn embarrassed when I attempt to speak in public.  We end up coming to blows most of the time because she is embarrassed by me and I am annoyed at her attitude in return.  Last weekend we were on the dolmus and usually I leave it to Daughter to ask them to pull over but I thought I would have a go and ask the driver myself.  “Musait bir yer“.  I sounded great.  Well I thought I sounded great anyway.  Daughter said I sounded like I was speaking an Alien language and now, after my first lesson with Ipek, I realise I was speaking an Alien language.  I sounded like a dead set goose. Incidentally musait bir yer does not say “stop the bus” or “let me off” it translates literally to “suitable a place”.  Can you see why I am having difficulties.  Who talks like that (other than Yoda and Google translate).

I survived my first lesson by learning my alfabe (alphabet). “A, B, C’s” although I now know it is not “aye, bee, see” it is in fact “ah, be, je”.

Right, so back to kindergarten for me.

Romancing the Kebab

Saturday night.  You’ve been out clubbing until late and you’re hungry.  What do you want?  A kebab!  You race to the nearest kebab shop (and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world there is always a kebab shop) and you order your kebab “with the works”.

Within minutes you are holding your kebab, smothered in chilli sauce (or God forbid BBQ sauce) and you find your mouth filling with saliva in anticipation.  You’re excited.  You know it is going to be the best kebab you have ever had – and it is.

Fast forward to Turkey.  You have arrived in Istanbul, ready for adventure.  There are historical sites, amazing beaches, gorgeous people – and kebabs.  Yes Turkish kebabs.  The real thing.  You make your way to the first lokanta you come across ready to order your first genuine kebab.  With confidence you place your order.  They speak English!  A bonus.  Your table is laden with a basket of bread, a plate of lemon and pickled chilli and a small salad.  Am I going to have to pay for all this stuff?  Um?

Within minutes a plate is placed before you with a smile.  You look at it.  What is it?  It is not a kebab.  It is not what you were expecting.  You try to get the waiter’s attention but he is too busy with customers.

What just happened here?

Heads up folks.  There are a variety of kebabs available to you in Turkey and each one is unique.

sis kebab

You’ve got the Şiş kebab.  This was what I received the first time I ordered a kebab in Turkey.  Large cubes of meat threaded onto a skewer and grilled over charcoal.  Usually served with grilled domates and biber.  Just a warning for you though, keep your wits about you when ordering.  If you are not sure check because instead of siğir eti (beef) or piliç (chicken) you may just end up with offal as your meat of choice and nobody wants that to happen.

iskander kebab

Then there is the iskander kebab.  It’s got the shredded meat (beef or chicken) but the bread is also shredded.  What?  You might get a side dish of rice and a fresh salad but there will also be yogurt involved and a smothering of butter.  Delicious but again … what?

adana kebab

My absolute favourite is an Adana kebab.  I love this kebab because it is hellishly hot.  Minced meat on a skewer and with some crazy hot spices it is also grilled over the charcoal.  Definitely served with pita bread, salad and I suggest a cold glass of ayran to help you digest or you will be a puddle of sweat by the end of the dish.

But we are still trying to find that elusive kebab.  You know the one that you have after a night out at home.

“Help me Janey,” you cry fearful of your next meal.

“Fear not gentle traveller.  Go forth and get yourself a doner kebab.”

doner

Usually beef, lamb or chicken the doner kebab is slow roasted on a vertical rolling spit.  The Turkish doner kebab was invented in Bursa by a cook named Haci in the 19th century.  The man was quite obviously a genius but not so much of a genius that he put a copyright on his invention.  Nope.  He probably died a pauper.

Your doner kebab will consist of shredded pieces of meat wrapped in flat bread.  You will no doubt also find tomato, onion with sumac and a pickled chilli or two.

Just don’t ask them for BBQ sauce.

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The Inquisition

I currently have a two tier problem here in Mersin.  My second problem stems from my first problem not being finalised.

Welcome

When The Turk arrived in Mersin late last year we immediately lodged documentation pertaining to my citizenship application.  There was a lot of trips to various Government offices,  more perilous than trekking across the Sahara Desert or more difficult than reaching the summit of Everest.  There was a lot of paperwork including – current passport (easy), medical certificate (bir şey olmaz – no problem), 4 passport photos (heads up peeps you should always have at least a dozen passport photos on hand – you will go through them like tissues), completed application (done), marriage certificate (translated into Turkish of course), confirmation of residency (hello I am here thus I am a resident) and the doozy – Certificate of ability to speak Turkish (WHAT????).  That last one I thought we had gotten away with as The Turk and I had been called in for an interview at the Emniyet a couple of weeks after lodgment of the documents.  The interviewer asked a few very simple questions and I answered with a yes or no (evet / yok).  I was then fingerprinted, they did a police check (they never did find out about that international jewel heist I was involved with – shush) and they arrived unannounced at our home to ensure that The Turk and I were in a real relationship.  They found me sitting out the front on the road in my pajamas waiting for My Hurley Dog to do a poop.  You don’t get any more real than that folks!

Fast forward to last week and I began hassling The Turk that we should chase up my citizenship before he disappears to Sydney next month.  Good idea!  We arrived at the Emniyet to find that nothing had been done to move my application forward since last December!  WTF???  Which brings me to my next problem – the expiration of my residency visa but I am jumping ahead of myself here.  Bir dakika (one minute).

This morning The Turk got a call from the Polis requiring my immediate attendance at their office in Yumuktepe.  Incidentally I had been to the suburb of Yumuktepe before as there is a ruin mound there and as a lover of history I wanted to get a gander at it.  This mound reveals a Neolithic settlement which continued up to the Middle Ages.  Like the Gözlükule Tumulus in Tarsus this one is located in a park and there really is nota lot to see however it has 23 levels of occupation dating from 6300BC which, for the geek in me, is really interesting!  I know I have gotten off topic but as a history buff this is really interesting stuff!

Anyway The Turk and I jumped and after I directed the taksi driver as he had no clue where to go we made it to the meeting out of breath and sweating.  I assumed that this was the final formality to approve my citizenship.  I did not know what it would be but I bet it was going to be simple.  Nope.  It was THE INTERVIEW.

I think this post should actually be re-named The Interview From Hell because that is what it was.  I was seated in a room underneath the Polis station where I could clearly see straight into the cells.  As I waited for the interviewer to arrive I curiously scoped out the two people in the cells opposite.  There was the buxom blonde with waaayyy too much makeup directly opposite me as well as another man to her left who was babbling loudly in a language that was not Turkish but I could not tell you what language it was or even if it was a language.  The woman, we found out, was Russian and had overstayed her visa.  Gulp!

The Turk was asked to wait outside and the interviewer proceeded to ask me a butt load of questions – in Turkish – and then write copious amounts of notes when I could not answer the question correctly.  Tears!  I was welling up and had never wanted The Turk beside me more than I did at that moment.

For those of you who are going to go through this in the coming months the questions were pretty much the following:

Where do you live?  I don’t know the address but I know how to get there.  I know which dolmus.  I can explain it to a taksi driver but right now, with you staring at me like I should be in a cell next to the Russian I cannot answer you and certainly I cannot answer you in Turkish.

Where do you like to go in Mersin (insert your own city or town here)?  Ummm?  Ne???

How is your mother and father? ölü.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?  If so how many?  Do you like your brother or sister?  Jeeze how would I explain the crazy that is my family?  Is adoption even a word in Turkish?  Regardless I cannot answer with the Russian smiling a gummy smile at me through bright pink lips.  Pass.

Does your husband (or wife) have any brothers or sisters?  If so, how many?  Yes but I truly had no idea what you were saying.  Pass.

How is his mother and father?  Pass.  His father doesn’t like my cooking.  In English.

Do you like living in Mersin?  Evet.

How old are you?  44 (using my hands).

How long have you been married?  On iki yil (that one I had).

Do you have any children?  Evet.  Bir.  (I am acing this part of the interview).

How many bedrooms in your house?  Huh?  Oh yes I know this one – üç.

What is your address in (enter your place of birth or last known residence)?  I wrote this as he shook his head in mirth at my attempted answer.

Each of these questions were mixed up so he would ask me a question about my family and then asked how many bedrooms we had in our house.  My brain was still trying to translate the last answer when the next question was being shot at me.  It was horrendeous.  It was the Inquisition.  In fact that should be the name of this post The Inquisition!

I failed.  Miserably.

The interviewer was basically laughing.  The Russian visa over-stayer with too much makeup was watching me from her cell and she was laughing.  She said something in Turkish (much better than me of course) and the interviewer shushed her.  The other man in the cell opposite was giggling but I feel this was more in reply to the dust bunny in the corner of his cell.

This was a disaster.

The Interviewer called The Turk into the room and said that I would have another interview with the Vali (Governor) in 4 weeks.  Hold on!  The Turk is leaving for Australia in 3 weeks!  Can we have it before he leaves?  No.

Feck My Life!

In the interim my residency visa has now expired and I have a mere 15 days before I have to either renew or leave the country.  This was the second part of my problem.

The residency requirements have changed in the past year.  Most people (including myself) was well aware of the changes but to be honest I did not think I would still be waiting for my citizenship 10 months down the track so did not look into the visa issue.  Now it was pressing and I am swiftly running out of time.  Needed for my residency application was the following – translated copy of passport (jeeze really?), valid health insurance for the length of my residency (1 year approximately 1000TL), five passport photos (told you to keep them handy), proof of address (more difficult than you would think as I do not have any correspondence that gives my address and the Nufus will not include me in their documents until I have a kimlik which of course I cannot get until I get citizenship – the epitome of a vicious circle), copy of your tapu or your residential agreement, bank statement ensuring that you have enough funds to cover your stay and your tax number.  Easy right?  Ummm . . .

I did not even have a Turkish bank account!  So after spending the next 3 days running around and not having a breakdown after the Spanish Inquisition took place today I hope to be applying for a further 12 month residency visa tomorrow.

If they give me any grief there is a small possibility that I will go postal.  Keep an eye out on your local news channel.  If they start talking about an Australian going crazy in Mersin, well, that will be me!

Elektrik ve sürprizler

The good people of Icel are not sharing nicely and now it seems we are running out of electricity.  I am not sure how a city (or in this case a province) runs out of electricity but in order to control the said good people of Icel (and maybe to teach them a lesson in sharing) they have all been put in the naughty corner by the local Electric Company who has decided to switch off the electricity to teach everyone a lesson (although they are calling it maintenance).  

Not only are they switching it off in the middle of summer they are switching it off in the middle of the day so for the next week (with the expected weekly average of 35 degree – that’s 90 degrees for readers in the US – in temperature) the electricity will be turned off for a period of 4 hours each day between the hours of 9 to 5.  You don’t know when.  It will be a surprise. 

elektrik

Speaking of surprises I find that my house is a revolving door.  There is always people coming and going.  Family, friends, neighbours.  It can get on your last nerve when you hear the door bell (which is an annoying tune of Greensleeves) constantly blasting.  Last night we had Kemal’s aunt visit and then a cousin.  Then his sister in law, brother and their two kids showed up.  His elder brother popped up to give me some paperwork (for my fiasco of a residency visa application) and finally . . . it was quiet.  When suddenly that damn doorbell rang again!  Enough!

“Kim o?” (“Who is it?) 

Again.  “Kim o?”

Nothing.  I have had enough.  I put on my shoes and stomp down the stairs to give the visitor the death stare when . . . sürpriz!  A friend and her family visiting from the UK.  Wow!  They are staying in the village with her husband’s family for the next two weeks!  I can honestly say I have never been so happy to see someone.  Not only does it mean I am not the only yabanci in the village it also means there is someone with possibly even less Turkish in the village than me!  Win, win!

They are coming for a BBQ tonight which will be amazing of course but I warned her “Don’t ring the door bell.  Knock on the door!”

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Festival of Sweets

The month long fast of Ramazan concludes with a three day national holday of Ramazan Bayrami (Arabic – Eid al-Fitr) and is one of the Islamic calendar’s major holidays.  This three day holiday is full of family time, fun and food! 

Ramazan Bayrami is, of course, a religious celebration.  It is a festival to restore oneself after the fasting and growth of Ramazan.  It is also called Seker Bayrami (Festival of Sweets) and the number one thing that I have learnt is to have sweets on hand.  Lots and lots of sweets.  This is to fulfil the tradition of children going around the neighbourhood wishing people a happy bayram.  As a reward they receive a sweet, a lolly or even a coin. seker

We too would visit family members and in particular the older generation.  We kiss their hand and place it on our forehead as is custom to show respect.  We greet them with “Bayrammiz Kutlu”.  We also take time to visit those who are deceased and visit the cemetery as a sign of respect.

As it is a national holiday everyone in the family has been at home which means we have had a lot of BBQ’s and outings as a group.  These few days reminds me of how Christians would celebrate Christmas and I must say that Seker Bayrami is definitely high on my list of excellent fun in Turkey. 

Be aware that during any national holiday most shops, banks and government offices are closed and leading up to Bayram the shopping centres and banks are overflowing with people stocking up on everything they will need over the coming festival days.  There is also a lot of people on the roads with family members travelling great distances to visit loved ones.  Intercity buses are packed and public transport operates on a holiday schedule so you may find yourself waiting some time for a dolmus (I know I did).  

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. 

graffiti 3

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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I am a Selfish Bitch (apparently)

The heading speaks for itself people.  I am a Selfish Bitch.  Apparently.  The Turk informed me of such this morning so it must be true.  See this is where he and I differ in opinion because I always thought that I was pretty awesome.  I have been known to high-5 myself on occasion for my awesomeness.  I help others.  I give to causes.  I am totally generous.  Selfish bitch?  Nope.  Doesn’t really sound like me.

He didn’t really mean it, The Turk.  He was just a little exasperated with me this morning that’s all.  Let me explain.

selfish bitch

On Tuesday morning I woke at the crack of dawn suffering from the succubus that is jetlag.  It usually takes me days to get over it so there I was feeling like crap and desperately needing a cup of tea to jolt my body awake.  Having successfully made my tea (remember Turkish tea is a drama in itself) I made my way outside onto our terrace intending to watch the sun rise over the village when it happened. 

I looked around and . . . what?  Where the fek is my feking terribly expensive outdoor furniture?  It had disappeared.  Were we robbed?  Doubtful.  Was it there last night?  Dunno.  Like an idiot I looked left and right.  Nope.  I stuck my head back through the door into the living room.  Not there.  I started back inside when my eyes were drawn to Vito’s home next door.  Immediate brain fart!  There’s my feking terribly expensive feking furniture!  What the holy hell?

Living here in Turkey I have learnt that it is not unusual to do a solid and lend something to a neighbour or a relative or even the man that lives on the other side of the village and it will definitely be returned with thanks (well mostly anyway).  I get it and I am totally on board with this arrangement but when I went downstairs to examine my terribly expensive outdoor furniture it was looking more than a little worse for wear with oil splatters on the table, stains on my cushions and even a cigarette burn or two.  Fek! 

I did not lose my temper.  I did not have a fit.  I merely asked The Turk for my terribly expensive outdoor furniture to be returned to its rightful place however it had not appeared before I went to bed on Tuesday evening.  The Turk guaranteed that it would be returned on Wednesday morning as soon as Vito returned home from work.  Wednesday came and went and again despite my request for the return of my terribly expensive outdoor furniture my terrace was still looking bare and sad.  What made it worse was that Vito had some friends over Wednesday (last) night and I watched them stealth-like through my window fuming and spitting fire while they lounged all over my terribly expensive outdoor furniture like they were the feking Queen of England, smoking their cigarettes and no doubt dropping more crap all over it! I was losing my shit people!

This morning I again asked for my terribly expensive outdoor furniture to be returned and that is when The Turk cracked it.  After calling me a selfish bitch he suggested that if I wanted my terribly expensive outdoor furniture back then I should go and ask for it myself!  The thing is that after being married to The Turk for over 12 years I know too well that when he starts throwing around insults it means that he is attempting to deflect an issue that he does not want to deal with.  Ah ha!  He did not want to ask his brother for the return of the terribly expensive outdoor furniture.  He was embarrassed.  We’ll fek it!  I’ll feking ask him! 

And ask him I did.  Vito might have ummed and aahhed after I knocked on his door this morning but when I returned from the market I found The Turk on the terrace relaxing comfortably on my terribly expensive, albeit now slightly marked, outdoor furniture.  “Darling, would you like a cup of tea?” he says. 

So there you have it.  I might be a selfish bitch although I really don’t see it that way.  It’s one thing to borrow a book, or a frypan but another thing all together to borrow furniture with little or no intention of returning it.  The Turk is happy though.  My terribly expensive outdoor furniture has been returned and he is not the bad guy.  I am.  I am a selfish bitch but whatever.  I am still awesome though.

The Return

Daughter and I have finally settled back in from our holiday in Australia.  Visiting Australia.  I was a visitor, a tourist if you must, visiting the place of my birth and what I have learnt from this visit?  I learnt that Sydney and Australia is a fecking beaut place to live.

SHB

Mother nature did us a major and the weather was sensational.  It didn’t rain.  It didn’t even think about raining.  Beautiful, albeit cold, winter days.  Every day.  Fresh air.  Lush gardens.  Grass.  GRASS!  We are the only people in the Village with grass in our garden.  Grass is, of course, seen as a luxury item as everyone else utilises every inch of their land.  Deli yabanciler (crazy foreigners).

It was nice to not be on the cusp of a war zone too staying in beachside Collaroy.  Yes I gloss over Syria and its issues but Mersin is approximately 150k from the Syrian border.  We are safe obviously or I would not even think about living here but there is always an underlying threat, the knowledge I guess, that we are not too far from an area of such unrest.  Plus there is the whole Israel-Palestinian issue, the Middle East is a powder keg ready to blow and even Ukraine to the north is a mess.  Bloody hell!

Friends and family of course.  Obviously Australia wins on this front as well.  I am blessed to have some of the best friends in the world.  Friends that are always there with open arms.  What I wouldn’t do for one more boozy lunch or one more hug from my girls.  Of course this is difficult for Daughter as she has her family, her cousins that she adores, in the Village.  She has many friends in the Village but for me Sydney and Australia will win every single time.

friends

Speaking of boozy lunches I don’t think you can beat an Aussie Red.  Australian wines really are some of the best in the world.  I would go so far as saying that Turkish wine is swill at best and really, really expensive!

Medical care wins in Australia over Turkey as well (well duh!).  Australia has Government facilitated Medicare and even though you pay through the tooth for many things (including the dentist) visiting the doctor here is a much easier process (mainly because everyone speaks English).  So I am now drugged up for the next 12 months (my medicine cabinet is overflowing) and I have been poked and prodded and given a clean bill of health.

Shopping was a bonus too for me in Sydney.  My Rubenesque physique is now adorned in new clothes.  Oodles of new clothes.  I no longer need to wear the same jeans every single day.  My credit card did take a beating and we did have to send home 10 kilos by post but at least I now have an outfit for any occasion which is a good thing as we have at least 4 weddings to go to over the coming weeks.  Daughter’s opinion differs on this front as well as the styles in Turkey are a lot more varied and on trend.  For Daughter clothing in Turkiye is also a LOT cheaper as well.

Bacon.  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Winner!!!  Lots of exclamation points here.  Yes.  Bacon.  That is all.

bacon

Sydney did have a few downsides too.  It was so damn expensive.  Food was expensive.  Clothing was expensive.  Petrol was expensive (actually petrol is expensive in Turkey too).  I guess I have had it too cushy here in Turkey with 50 kuruş for 1 kilo of tomatoes (about AU$0.25) while they were AU$4.50 in Sydney (TL9).  Plus the fresh food is not particularly fresh.  Ick!

Peak hour traffic did my head in too.  What a bloody mess.  We had a few early morning starts and fighting my way from the Northern Beaches to the City was diabolical to say the least.  It was nice to be behind the wheel again although my first few attempts at parking were a little less than successful.  Daughter likened my parking skills to a Turkish person so I really have acclimated haven’t I?

traffic

I think I can sum Sydney up as “Real Life”.  My friends are all working.  My family are all busy (some might say too busy to find the time to see me or even call).  The cost of living is high and the stress levels are even higher.  I know that if I too were living in Sydney I would be working.  My stress levels would be off the chart (visiting my old place of work proved that beyond the shadow of a doubt) and Daughter, The Turk and I would be miserable.  Real life sux!

The Village also has another bonus (well along with The Turk).  It has My Hurley Dog.  I love My Hurley Dog.  I missed My Hurley Dog and he missed me!

Hurley

 

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Tale of Two Cities

It seems that I am an expat caught between my two loves, Sydney and Mersin.  I have always felt distinctly at home in Mersin but returning to Sydney, my homeland, has brought back dwindling thoughts, self doubt and mixed feelings.

Collage.1

I definitely loved my time in Sydney and Daughter and I hit the ground running.  We found ourselves with a frantic social life during our visit and it became increasingly difficult to fit in all my friends when I had to share my precious, precious time with Daughter and all of her social activities.  I swear since stepping off the plane her damn mobile did not stopped beeping, buzzing or ringing with her friends constantly arranging visits, movies, lunches, sleepovers and any other activity that you can think of. The squeals and “Oh. My. God’s” that I have had to endure has been soul numbing.  I guess I don’t really notice the squeals and “Oh. My. God’s” when they are in Turkish.

Fitting everything in required precision timing.  Morning, lunch and evening slots were allocated.  Daughter likened this “holiday” to a business trip with us running from one meeting to another.  I have missed out on catching up with a few friends that I really wanted to see and I quickly realised that 3 weeks in Sydney is just is not enough time.  Friends that live on the other side of Sydney or friends that live just up the coast missed out and I feel incredibly sad.  I am thinking of two of my friends in particular right now but honestly we just ran out of time. Plus I got sick.  I am still sick.  Damn flu. Damn sickness.  Damn it!

Sydney 2

Have I had my bacon?  Yep.  Practically every day.  I think I have put on 4 kilos.  It feels like 8 kilos.  We did have a bacon situation that practically caused an international incident at a restaurant in The Rocks that caused Daughter to update her Facebook status thusly:

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

We have also done a few touristy things which is nice.  It reminds me just how wonderful Sydney is.  It reminds me just how much I miss this beautiful city.

Sydney

It has been a frantic few weeks.  It has been a wonderful few weeks.  Early breakfasts, brunches and lunches, dinners and sleepovers.  I could go on.  It has been impossibly fun.  I need to go home to Mersin for a holiday from our holiday.

Now our time in Sydney has just about come to an end.  I am becoming increasingly forlorn and not just because I cannot fit everything into our suitcases.  I just want one more lunch, one more drink, one more chorus.   I am an expat torn between two loves.

 

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The Beaches

I grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.  Swimming in the ocean and lying on the sand is imprinted on me so living in a country with coastlines along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas should make me spoilt for choice however in the Village we do not often make our way down to the beach despite the fact that we live no more than 10 minutes walk away.  Why?  Sadly the Village Beach is no Blue Lagoon at Oludeniz and, to be honest, I feel a little uncomfortable swimming down at the Village Beach.  I would much rather hop on a dolmus and travel the 2 hours it would take to get to Kizkalesi or Susanoglu where lying on a sunbed in your bikini is not cause for mirth and gossip.

Right now Daughter and I are staying with friends at Collaroy Beach and I am loving being on the Northern Beaches again.  This morning I wiggled my toes in the sand at Long Reef Beach as Daughter ran along the beach with my friend’s dog which I have named “Nugget”.  The dog really is a big nugget.  It might be the middle of winter but here in Sydney it is warm, the sun is shining and Sydney has put on her best dress for our visit.

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Since arriving we have made a point of visiting as many of Sydney’s beautiful beaches as possible.  Starting at Palm Beach and ending at Manly Beach the Northern Beaches of Sydney is definitely God’s Country.

Palm Beach

Do you watch Home and Away?  I still remember the first episode when we met Pippa and Tom Fletcher along with all those kids who lived in picturesque Summer Bay.  Daughter pointed out a few of the more obvious Summer Bay locations before we decided to enjoy the sunshine and hike up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. It is an easy walk from the car park to the lighthouse and offers a great view from Sydney’s most northern point.

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Whale Beach

I didn’t often go to Whale Beach as it was difficult to get to by public transport when I was young.  When we walked across the sand of this small, protected beach there was not another soul to be found.  The beach was all ours.  If it wasn’t so damn windy it would have been a rather pleasant stop.

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Dee Why Beach

Always my beach.  As a kid I did swimming lessons (badly) at the pool, as a teenager I hung out with my friends down at Dee Why Headland, climbing over the rocks to find somewhere where we could sneak cigarettes (or a kiss) without being caught.

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Manly Beach

Famous.  Gorgeous.  Once my home.  One thing you have to admire about the locals at Manly is that even in the middle of winter, even when it is a mere 20 degrees, they are still out there swimming, surfing and generally enjoying the beauty that is Manly.

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North Head

Spending time on the Northern Beaches of Sydney is not complete without a trip to North Head.  Whether you are visiting from the darkest depths of hell or a Manly local the view is spectacular.  Summer or winter this spot is the epitome of Sydney.  To anyone visiting this beautiful country you need to get up to North Head pronto.  Start your visit on a high note!

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Living in Turkey is amazing.  We are so lucky but waking up each morning and looking over Collaroy Beach is pretty damn good too.