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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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