You may have noticed that the time between the blog entries has become longer and longer. This is because it is has become more difficult to find things that are not reported elsewhere and it being relatively difficult to keep the webpage up-to-date. Also, it has become increasingly difficult to find material of interest and not just duplicate events reported on other sites and blogs by those who do a far better job of it than me. So for these reasons I’ve decided not continue with the blog, instead I will be sharing pictures and comments on a new Facebook group named “Viv & Richard in Fethiye” https://www.facebook.com/groups/173132983320602/ We would love it if you’d take a look and join if you are interested.
Currently if we want to cycle or walk into Fethiye we have to travel about 1km along the roads past the hospital and law courts until we can pick up the Kordon (a pedestrian path lined with cafés / restaurants) at the little harbour, which then follows the seafront all the way into town.
We are really looking forward to the opening of the new Rekreasyon Alanı (recreational park) that the Belediyesi (local council) are building beside part of the seafront which will join up with the existing Kordon. It is a short distance from our apartment and when it has been completed we will be able to cross the road from our apartment and either cycle or walk all the way to Fethiye centre along the seafront promenade.
The plans for the park include, an 800 meter jogging track, a 650 meter coastal path, an 800 meter bicycle path, a 5000m² playground, a 40 meter diameter/4 meter high viewing terrace, wind and watermills, a 3500m² green area, gardens, natural ponds and open air seating areas. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and will cost approximately 18 million TL (£3.6 million).
The construction is well underway and now when we go into Fethiye we can see the canals, windmills and viewing platform all taking shape.
Çintar or The Saffron Milk Cap Mushroom, also called the Red Pine Mushroom, is a seasonal food that appears in the markets at the end of November for a month or so. The name gives a clue as to where they grow, in the pine forests and Fethiye is surrounded by them. The season is not guaranteed, they tend to grow around the end of November but only after a good downpour of autumn rain. Soon after the rains, of which we’ve had plenty this past couple of weeks, the local villagers go out foraging in the forests and if the season is a success lots appear for sale in the markets.
We first came across them this year and I have to say I was not all that keen. They look a little moth eaten with patches of green that look like mould but it turns out the green bits are from where they have been handled and bruised, and so are not a problem. Before we tried them we asked friends and market stall holders for their opinions and they all raved about them, how they have a meaty texture and taste if cooked properly. So we thought we’d give them a try, at a cost of less than £4 a kilo there was little risk in buying 250 grams.
You do need to wash them as they are quite dirty and some studded with pine needles, mud, etc. they also need close inspection to make sure that there are no unwanted little creepy crawlies hiding in the gills. Once washed thoroughly they need to be patted dry and left to dry fully for an hour or so. We bought a few last week and had them sliced and cooked with some finely chopped onion and garlic in butter served over pasta, delicious! We will be buying them every week until the season ends, this week we had them with onions, thinly sliced sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage) and onions served with pasta, the flavours complimented each other perfectly.
I know, I know, it has been a really long time since my last blog but things have been a little busy for us of late. We were in the middle of house hunting and having paid a deposit on a nice apartment, we found that we had to make an unexpected visit to the UK to attend a family funeral. Now back home we have completed the move to our new apartment and although we are still surrounded by boxes. I thought it would be a good idea to sit and write, and it gets me out of unpacking things and putting them in the wrong place.
When we moved here we took out a two year rental contract on a four bedroom house and this is coming to an end, it’s hard to believe we’ve been here for nearly two years. Our English landlord was not sure if he wanted to sell or re-rent the property this year, so for this and other minor reasons so we decided that instead of waiting while he dithered, it was time for us to move.
We decided that the end of the season, October/November, would be the best time to look for properties as people move away or return to the UK at this time and it would have the best opportunity to find something really nice. We looked at a huge variety of properties some brand new, some older and one I would not even keep a donkey in. Rental prices vary greatly and we were aware that often the initial rent quoted is loaded as we are yabancı (foreigners) and considered to be well off. With the help of an agent we’ve found the perfect place for us, modern, bright and airy with great views of the mountains from most of the six balconies it has two bedrooms, a large kitchen and living room with a lovely, large outdoor eating space and a shared pool.
Before we moved in we had to organise for reconnection of services. The electricity had been “cut off” so it required a visit to the electricity office “Aydem” in town and with the necessary paperwork in hand, our rental contract, a copy of the insurance, my passport and residence permit, I set off. Fortunately it all went very smoothly and lots of signatures later and after paying the deposit the account was opened in my name, the next day the engineers would come round reconnect us which they duly did. The water had not been cut off so it was much easier just to take over the account.
The internet was a different story, after moving in I set off to the Turk Telekom office to get the phone and internet moved across. We have a two year contract, once again much paper signing, proof of identity etc. to be completed. All done and I was told that the engineers would arrive the next day to connect us. They arrived and looked a bit bemused, I asked them if it was all okay and got the reply “Büyük problem, telefon hattı yok” (big problem, no telephone line) and they left. Later I received a text “Degerli Musterimiz, teknik bir problem sebebiyle Alo kurulum isleminiz gerceklestirilememektedir.” (Our dear customer,, Due to a technical problem, installation can not be done). It was not looking good and the next day I set off to the Turk Telekom offices in town again. I took a queue ticket for the Contract Department and when it was my turn the lady told me I couldn’t cancel the contract, she told me that I must go to the Technical Dept. upstairs and pointed to an unmarked door behind her.
Eventually I found the Teknik Department on the third floor, here I came upon an office of three men all staring at screens while talking on the phone. I managed to interrupt one of them and showed him the phone message I’d received and tried to explain my problem in my best Turkelish (Turkish/English). He returned to his screen and spent about 5 minuites tapping information into his PC, he then turned to me and spoke very fast in Turkish, I have to say that I did not understand a single word! With a shake of his head he then handed me over to his colleague who spoke a little English and who confirmed that as we didn’t have a line so installation was impossible. He then directed me to go down to see the lady in Contracts, yes, the same one who had sent me up to them in the first place. I duly took another ticket and waited, this time she was more receptive, I explained my predicament, she produced several papers for signing, I showed my Residence Permit and she told me that the contract was cancelled. What she said next was a little unexpected, apparently in January I will receive a bill for the cancellation and penalty fee and on receipt of this I will then have to go back to Turk Telekom and see a supervisor who will cancel the bill. We will just have to wait and see how that goes.
We have since had a wireless internet system installed with a small aerial on the roof so there is no need of a line. It’s early days but so far we are getting the promised 10mb speed and the service seems to be very good.
It was a good decision to look for a new house/apartment when we did as the good places have been snapped up and there seems to be a lot less long term rental properties available now.
On a recent walk we joined started and finished half way up Babadağ (Father Mountain), Baba is Father and dağ is mountain and it’s pronounced baba-daa. When a ‘g’ has a breve on the top ğ, the ‘g’ becomes silent and the previous letter is elongated. We can see Babadağ, which is about 30 minutes drive from the house, and we went to the starting point on the motorbike.
At the end of the walk we decided instead of going straight home, to continue up the mountain on the motorbike to take in the breath-taking views. We have been up to the top of the mountain before, in a minibus four years ago when we did our paragliding flights, but never tried going up it ourselves. The road is fairly good but full concentration is required not only for the sheer drops at the side of the road, but also to avoid the minibuses full of paragliders on their way up, or empty on the way down, who seem to drive so fast that I think they must be paid by the load. When we arrived at the top it was quite cold with cloud rolling through and the temperature is about 10c colder at the top.
Babadağ Mountain summit is at an elevation of 1,969 metres (6,460 ft) and is a world famous site for paragliding, with awe-inspiring panoramic views and stable weather conditions making it one of the best in Europe. The launch sites have large sloping take-off areas which makes them very accessible for take off’s for both tandem and single flights, the landing areas are on Ölüdeniz beach around 40 minutes later.
The top of the mountain is covered with snow in the winter but the council try to keep the road open to enable paragliding all year. Work has started on the “Skywalk” project which aims to build a cable car system with cutting-edge technology to and from the summit of Babadağ with an estimated cost of about 70 million Turkish lira (£15.5 million). It is planned to open in June 2018 and will operate all year round, transporting people to the summit in about 6-7 minutes compared with the sometimes nail-biting 30min minibus journey, up the mountain road.
It has been a very long time since my last post but that’s because we’ve been very busy here throughout the summer with lots going on, guests visiting etc.
We had two minor earthquakes one of which the Daily Express newspaper headlined in the UK ‘Killer Quake hits Turkey’, this distorted the facts somewhat as the epicentre was on the Greek island of Kos where unfortunately two people died from a falling building. We felt it in Fethiye, Viv loves to say that the earth moved for her, quite literally! There wasn’t any damage but our bed did a good wobble, apparently, I say this because I managed to sleep through the whole thing!
Last month Viv fell off her bicycle and broke her right wrist and badly sprained her left wrist and needed hospital treatment. She had been visiting friends, Bill and Judy, and had her accident just yards from their front door which was very fortunate, as Judy was able to organise the Site Manager to drive the two of them to the Esnaf Hospital about 3Km away.
She was met by a translator who, after filing in a small amount of paperwork, took her to be seen by an orthopaedic doctor who examined her briefly before ordering an x-ray. The Radyoloji department was just a short walk away and x-rays were taken in less than 10 minutes. Viv returned to see the doctor who said “I have some good news and some bad news, the good news is you don’t need an operation the bad news is you have fractured your right wrist” this made her laugh. He showed her the digital x-ray on a large screen and she could clearly see the site of the fracture. Viv was then shown into a side room where the doctor applied an “old style” plaster cast, which, considering all the high tech equipment around was a little surprising. A prescription was written for anti-inflammatory pills and painkillers and Viv was asked to come back in two days for “control”, a check-up and to be re-x-rayed to make sure that everything was still ok. The whole process from falling off the bike to leaving the hospital took less than an hour and three quarters and our health insurance picked up the bill.
Viv then had to go back each week for the next 3 weeks to see the doctor and have an x-ray to make sure that the fracture was still aligned and healing. After the three weeks the doctor took off the plaster cast and replaced it with a splint and told her she must be keep it on for a further 3 weeks and said not to resume sports for another four months. Viv found the splint more comfortable to wear but still she told me she still couldn’t do the washing-up or the household chores!
The splint is now off intermittently and hopefully she will soon be back to normal
I finished helping on the dive boat at the beginning of September, mainly because the boat was over staffed for the number of customers. Unfortunately foreign tourist numbers are still way down on last year and it is making it very hard for the businesses that rely on them. I will still carry on diving until the end of the season but not so often.
The days are getting a little cooler, the daytime temperature is now in the high twenties as opposed to the high thirties and as I have more time on my hands, Viv and I have started walking with the walking groups again. This week’s walk was a 12Km walk, through the beautiful mountains behind Kayaköy, the “ghost village”.
The walk had its difficult bits, with long uphill sections and some sections on loose ground. At the top of the walk we came across Turpentine Trees which I had not seen before, they also make a good place to shelter under when enjoying a lunch break.
Recently I was invited to join a Turkish motorcycling group. This group of middle aged men meet at 9am every Saturday and usually return at about 6pm, chilled, relaxed and sometimes a little bit tired. I do have to say that with this bike group it’s more about the getting there and less about the bikes, the bikes range from 125cc scooters to 650cc off road style bikes, some being quite old.
It’s a great way to see the country side and go to some places that normal tourists and English residents don’t usually get to see. The guys are great, most only have a few words of English but with a smile and a little sign language we get by. We meet in the centre of town by a çay house, normally one of the organisers, Şerif, who has very good English explains exactly where we are going and what will happen when we get there.
This week unfortunately Şerif was not able to come, so when I arrived I was told that we were going off to a place I had not heard of to swim, so I had to pop back home to get a pair of trunks and a towel. When I got back a few of the men had gone off to the shops to buy food for lunch for which I was asked to give 15 lira (under £3.50) contribution. When everyone had returned we all set off. I really had no idea where we were going or how long the drive would be, the previous trip had been a 250 mile round trip!
We headed off towards the mountains, the further we went the more the road deteriorated, the scenery becoming more rural and then, remote. After about 25kms we turned off the road on to what I can only describe an unmade path.
The path ended at the river where we parked up the bikes and then waded through the ice cold river to a little beach on the other side.
The location was stunning, not only beautiful but so peaceful, all you could hear was the water rushing down the river, the cicadas in the trees and the Turkish banter from my fellow bikers.
As soon as we arrived a wok style pan was produced from a rucksack. One man set off to gather twigs and wood, another to collect suitable stones and it was not long before lunch, a wonderful lamb based dish, was being cooked on an open fire, all very boy scout!
While the cooking was taking place we swam in the river, the water comes from the mountains so it is ice cold, invigorating some may say!
When the meal was ready we sat round the pan and dipped bread into it to scoop up some of the contents. It was delicious, I can’t say if it was the way it was cooked, the location, the camaraderie or the food but is was one of the tastiest meals I have ever had.
Following lunch we enjoyed more swimming and after some general chilling out we headed off, back home, having had the most fabulous day.
It is hard to believe that we have been here one and half years already. Our life continues at its slow pace, however we seem to be constantly busy and the days seem to fly by.
Summer is here and the weather is slowly warming up with day time temperatures in the mid thirties and at night time the mid twenties with not a cloud in the sky. We are fortunate that we have a daytime breeze at the house everyday that makes it a little cooler for us and of course the swimming pool which we use most days.
It is probably a good time to reflect on how we are doing with the challenges we anticipated when we moved here.
Learning Turkish – That was definitely the plan when we moved to Fethiye, we will blend in and hopefully it won’t be long until we can speak it fluently. We had picked up a few words and phrases from previous holidays so it won’t take us long, or so we thought. Well, 1½ years in and I can get by, Viv’s much better than me and can manage to bumble her way through a conversation once she recognises the subject matter, she understands more than she can speak. Turkish is very complicated and language skills are not one of my strong points so we are fortunate that Fethiye and Çalış have lots of Turkish residents and workers who are fluent in English and love to speak it, this certainly makes life easier. When we are out of town where English is not spoken widely, we can always get by with a form of pidgin English/Turkish and hand gestures.
Keeping Busy – one of our concerns was, would we be able to keep ourselves busy, especially in the winter months. This has not been a problem at all, we don’t know where the days go. Viv keeps busy with her clubs, yoga, line dancing, Turkish classes and she continues to be one of the “ladies who lunch”.
At the moment the little school where she helps to teach English is closed for the long school holiday which started at the beginning of June and won’t end until the middle of September. I keep busy with projects around the house and the complex, spend a lot of time both pedal and motor biking with friends and groups.
We have both noticed that differences here during ‘the season’. In the summer months the Ex-Pats either become busy with visitors staying or they disappear to the UK themselves, this would result in club attendances being severely reduced if it weren’t for the fact that visitors join the clubs in the place of the absentees. So, we have been enjoying the company of half a dozen or so guests at yoga and at line dancing we are introduced to the more up to date dances that are being done back in the UK. Of course the downside is that we often don’t get to see some of our friends all summer long as either they or we are busy with house-guests. Once the season is over and the direct flights stop it all goes back to normal, the weather cools off a little and activities like walking, that are just too challenging to do in the summer heat, resume.
Coping with the heat – The heat is not as bad as we thought it would be, the humidity is low here so 35c is hot but you can cope with it. You schedule the physical chores like cleaning and ironing to for first thing in the morning or late at night when it is a little cooler. We shut the windows during the day to keep the heat out and open them all in the evening and overnight and manage with just a fan on overnight if there isn’t a breeze. We have resisted using the air con as we both agree that it dries the throat and leaves you feeling stale in the mornings.
Turkish formalities – So far we have not had any problems, some of the paperwork requirements is a little complicated but in general once you understand the system it is probably easier than the UK.
Power and water cuts – We have been fortunate not to experience too many, we do have the odd day without water, these are always due to maintenance work or a pipe burst. We have lost the electricity in thunderstorms and for the occasional hour or two, but not very often and certainly not so often that it’s been a problem.
It is a little known fact that Turkey is the largest producer of both sweet and sour cherries in the world. So a good place to live if you love cherries, Viv adores them and she buys at least a kilo a week at the market.
They start off being very expensive at 40 TL /kg (about £10) early in the season and Viv has learnt that they aren’t worth buying as they aren’t at their best. Now, in the middle of July they vary between 3-8TL/kg, (75p-£2) and are big, sweet and juicy. Viv bought an extra kilo on Sunday and by the afternoon they were well on their way to becoming cherry brandy.
One of the big producing areas is Nif-Arpacık which is about 40mins north of us up in the mountains at around 900 meters high. The Nif Valley is cooled by the mountain breezes and the winters are colder, usually by around 10 degrees and wetter than on the coast. Crystal clear mountain streams supply the water and all this makes it the perfect place for the production of the large, juicy cherries.
The cherry season is slightly longer than the English cherry season at about 10 weeks, and is plentiful. Every year the Nif villagers and many others from the surrounding area come together to put on the cherry festival to celebrate this delicious fruit and the beauty of the trees. The Nif Cherry Festival not only celebrates the local cherries but other village traditions and you can also enjoy concerts including some popular Türkü (traditional Turkish folk music) singers. You will also find an abundance of simple, tasty, home cooked village food on sale as well as the opportunity to gorge yourself on the delicious cherries. Celebrating a good cherry harvest is very important for the villagers and they are very happy and proud to share it.
Over the last few years I have been observing a few of the cultural differences between Turkish and English people. You tend not to see or notice most of these as a visitor on holiday, however when you live here they become very apparent. In saying that, if you are aware of them before you visit you may notice them and understand that the local people are not being rude.
The most noticeable difference with Turkish Culture is how friendly the Turkish people are. They love to meet new people and are very happy to talk to a complete stranger for hours while putting the world to rights. They will invite you into their home share a meal with you, for example if you go into a family owned shop and they are sitting having a meal you will normally be invited to join them, they are culturally a very generous people.
The drinking of çay (tea) is a national pastime. Normally it is served in small, tulip shaped glasses sitting on round saucers, Turks never add milk but generally do insist on two cubes, or more, of sugar. It is offered to guests as part of Turkish Hospitality and refusing it can be seen as anti-social. Your host will normally refill your glass once you have emptied it and to let your host know that you have had enough you place your teaspoon across the top of the glass.
As well as being a social experience, Turkish tea has lots of health benefits. Studies have shown that black tea helps to regulate blood vessels and the heart, therefore, leading to a lesser chance of having a stroke or heart attack. Black tea also helps keep cholesterol down and stabilise the metabolism and I’m told this can lead to a reduced risk of diabetes. This is all good news for me as I love it.
In the more traditional restaurants you will normally be offered a complementary çay or elma çay (apple tea) at the end of the meal.
It is quite normal to be offered çay when you visit a shop, even if you are just browsing, it is not to try to pressurise you into buying something, it is just traditional hospitality and should be accepted as such.
In the villages and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you will find çay houses, these are often full of old men sitting around playing cards, backgammon or Oki. Culturally women and children do not go to çay houses as it is considered to be the domain of men, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. Women are very welcome in Turkish tea gardens where couples and families also go. If you are not sure, just have a look at who else is there, countless amounts of tables filled with men playing backgammon means it is a no go area for females!
Service is very important in Turkish shops. When in a traditional shop don’t be surprised if a shop assistant follows you around, they are not checking to see if you are shoplifting but they are making themselves instantly available if you should require assistance. It can be a little disconcerting for us having someone follow us about but don’t let it worry you and browse at your leisure.
Small shops tend not to carry much change and may have trouble with large notes, especially for small purchases, they expect you to have the correct money and if you present a large note they may have to pop out to another shop to get the change. Large shops and supermarkets don’t have this problem.
It is Turkish tradition to remove your shoes before entering a Turkish home so you don’t bring in the dirt from outside. No need to worry though, you will always be given a pair of slippers by your host for inside use. We have a selection of different sized indoor shoes for our guests and have noticed that it really makes a difference to how clean the house stays.
If you should come across a pair of shoes neatly placed on a pavement outside a house as you are walking around, it signifies that someone from that house has died. If a poor person is able to use the shoes they are very welcome to take them. I think it’s lovely, a sort of last gesture of generosity.
Putting your handbag on the floor is considered not only to be unhygienic but bad luck as it will cause all your money to leak away into the ground. When you go into a café it is acceptable and expected to place your bags on a spare chair, if a spare chair is not available one will normally be brought to you.
When meeting friends it is normal to shake hands firmly, when departing it is not always customary to shake hands although it is practised occasionally.
Friends and relations often greet each other with a kiss on each cheek, this applies for man to man, woman to woman as well man to woman. If you are greeting an elder or a grandparent, it is customary for you to kiss their right hand and place it on your forehead as a sign of respect and you will often see this happen, indeed, Viv has had it done to her.
When entering a room, if you are not met by someone, you should greet the most elderly or most senior first. At social occasions greet the person closest to you then work your way around the room or table anti-clockwise, appropriate greetings are either ‘Memnun Oldum’ (Pleased to meet you) or ‘Nasilsiniz’ (How are you?)
Turks are very “touchy feely” people, they will often touch your arm or hand when in a conversation with you and is just their way of emphasising their thoughts and opinions. Turks also walking along with friends will link arms or wrap them around each other’s shoulders. This applies to both men and women and is normal social behaviour.
Personal space tends to be a lot smaller and this can be quite disturbing for us foreigners when we first encounter it.
Men are usually addressed by their first name and then “Bey” meaning Mr. So I often get called “Richard Bey” or “Mr. Richard”, Viv is called “Viv Hanim” an exact translation is “Lady Viv” but the real meaning is “Mrs Viv”. Informal address may be “Abi” meaning older brother or “Abla” sister. They are not only used to address relatives but also when talking to friends of a similar age as a term of endearment, or sometimes, as a sign of respect.
Getting to know you
Turks are comfortable talking about personal details even with strangers. This seems very forward or even rude to us but it is not meant to be, it’s just that they are very curious, especially about foreigners. Expect to be asked about details of where you come from, how much rent you pay, how much you earn, your age, marital status, number of children, what job you do, etc. you don’t have to answer them. They also have absolutely no qualms in making personal comments, saying things like “You’ve put on weight” or as was said to Viv early one morning, “Oh, you look tired”!
Don’t be surprised or offended if you find Turks looking or even staring at you. They love looking at people and they’ll look when they like you, when they find you different or a little strange or when they don’t like the look of you! They are naturally curious.
Life is very easy going in Turkey and the Turks have a very casual attitude to time. If a tradesman tells you he will be calling in an hour, he will probably be there in four, this afternoon – probably tomorrow, tomorrow – sometime this week. I think you get the idea, Turks just don’t tend to turn up on time and you have to relax about it, enjoy the casual way of life and wait for things to happen.
Queuing is an unknown concept in Turkey. Turks do not form orderly lines, they form a sort of cluster, chatting with each other or taking on mobile phones when waiting for anything. At a bus stop when the bus arrives and the doors open it tends to be a free for all. If you find yourself in this situation you have to just stay calm and stand firm. You will even find when you are being served in the bank it is not unusual for a Turk to interrupt and try to get served without waiting.
As mentioned earlier, no orderly queue will form when waiting for a bus. Normally there isn’t a lot of pushing or shoving when the bus arrives, even if you arrive at the bus stop last. The trick is to try to position yourself where the bus doors will be, the chances are you will get on first and no one would think you are pushing in, they wouldn’t think twice about it.
The traditional seating arrangements are that women sit with women, men with men and couples sit together. If a man gets on and the only free seat is next to a woman, he will probably stand. When you book a long distance bus you will be asked if it is for a bay (man) or bayan (woman), but couples or friends can sit together.
On local busses the young are expected to, and do, give up their seats for older women, people with shopping, the elderly, etc. Several times people have given up their seats for Viv and myself, it does make us feel very old when it happens.