Thursday, 13 August 2015

Goodbye Turkey

I'm a little late in posting this, as I've been back in Wales for a while, but two months ago I said goodbye to Turkey.

Turkey had been part of my life for two years, and I was sad to leave but the time felt right for me.  I'm taking some time out back in the UK and will use this time to decide on my next adventure.

Some time ago I wrote a blog about what I missed about the UK, so I think it's only right that I do the same for Turkey.

1.  People.  I miss my friends so much, it was very difficult to say goodbye to them.  The students I taught in Izmir and Ankara were fantastic.  I also had great colleagues in both of my Turkish locations.  The generosity of Turkish people is amazing.  I miss everyone.

2. Baklava.  My love for this Turkish dessert is well known.  I love all varieties of baklava, and I haven't been able to find any good baklava in North Wales.  If anyone knows of a UK supplier I'd be happy to hear.  I think it would be difficult to ship it to the UK from Turkey.

3.  The weather.  This goes without saying.  I've come back to Wales and a very poor summer.  Although the summer in Turkey is too hot for working, I crave a little bit of sunshine in my life.

4.  The food.  OK I've already talked about Baklava, but Turkish food is amazing.  From the gozleme, to the very tasty street food of rice with chick peas, topped with liver (or chicken).  Also the various kebabs, shish, adana, tantuni (from the Mersin area of Turkey).  I'm feeling hungry just thinking about it all.  There is also the rather yummy pide (think long pizza).  I maybe wheat and dairy intolerant, but strangely I didn't suffer from eating wheat as much as I do in the UK.

5. Leblebi.  These are a love it or hate it type of thing.  I hated them the first time I tried them, then I really started to love them.  Roasted chick peas, which are slightly salted (although you can also get a sweet variety), and often eaten in bars with a beer.  Again I would love to find them here in the UK.

I loved my two years in Turkey.  I had battles with the language (usually I lost the battle, but I tried hard) and tried lots of food, although I never tried Kokorec (intestines), Sogus (a sandwich of tongue, cheek and brain) or Manti (this was only because of the wheat and dairy content!).  I loved my apartment with an amazing sea view and was able to sit on the balcony watching the boats and cruise liners (when the hornets let me onto the balcony.  I miss the friendly street dogs, who just lazed about in the sun.  Most of all I miss the people.  Turkish people are so friendly and welcoming and keen to share their language and culture with you.

I don't know where my next adventure will take me, but I do know a part of my heart will always be in Turkey.

Thank you Turkey.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


I recently went for a day trip to Foca, which is a couple of hours away from Izmir by public transport.  Public transport in Turkey is very easy to use and reasonably priced.

We arrived at lunchtime, so made our way to a fish restaurant on the seafront for a selection of Mezes.

Foca is a small town on the coast so fishing is popular.  A lot of the old traditional houses have undergone renovation.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Turkish Breakfast

Turkish people are very proud of their food, and quite rightly so.  I have enjoyed all of the food I've tried.  One of the most important meals is of course breakfast.  Sunday morning is an important day, where families and friends have a leisurely breakfast catching up on the weeks events.

On my recent visit to Sirince, I stayed at a local Pansiyon (Bed and Breakfast) and breakfast was included.  I wasn't really expecting much when I arrived as I was the only guest staying there, but I was asked what time I wanted breakfast, and I didn't think anything else about it.

The following morning I made my way to the terrace where my breakfast was to be served.  The view was amazing.

There was a woman setting my table, and I was amazed at how much food there was for one person.  This is a traditional village breakfast made up of cheese, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, honey with kaymak (similar to clotted cream), jam, olive oil, bread, eggs, sucuk (a type of sausage) and of course a big pot of tea.  I did't have to eat again until the evening!!

Since this breakfast I have had a couple of others, one in a local restaurant in part of Izmir, unfortunately I forgot to take photos until the food was half eaten, but it included the honey and kaymak, and some amazing Izmir tulum cheese (made from goats milk), and gozleme (a type of pancake)

The next breakfast I had was in a village called Birgi, and came on individual trays, so no fighting for anything.

I love the breakfast in Turkey, and it is something I will miss when I leave.

Friday, 15 May 2015


A couple of weeks ago I visit the ancient Greek city of Ephesus.  I've been to Turkey so many times but this was my first visit to this popular tourist attraction.

I took a dolmus from Izmir's otogar (bus station), which only cost 10TL and just under an hour later we arrived in Selcuk.  The dolmus was located on the top floor of the otogar and you paid when you got on the bus.  The bus station in Selcuk is small, and very easy to navigate, and it was easy to catch another dolmus to the lower gate of Ephesus and only cost a few lira.

On arrival at Ephesus there were the usual tourist stalls selling overpriced goods, and through the hustle was the entrance gate to Ephesus.  A ticket cost 30TL.

Although I'm not a history fanatic, this place certainly has the wow factor.  So many pieces of history in one area.

Ephesus covers a large area, and there is so much to see.  If you are visiting in the height of the summer I'd advise against being there during the midday sun as there is very little shade.  I was there at the end of April and it was hot!  It was also very busy as the day trippers from the nearby resorts and cruise ships had arrived.  Also one mistake I made was just carrying a small amount of water.  There are shops at both gates, and there is some distance between them, so make sure you have enough water!!!

Thursday, 14 May 2015


On a recent trip to Ephesus I stayed in the beautiful village of Sirince.  This village is a short dolmus ride from Selcuk along some twisting hilly roads, surrounded by fruit crops.

The fruit is put to good use in Sirince, as they make wine.  I visited one of the local wine sellers and had the opportunity to try a number of flavours including pomegranate, melon, sour cherry, strawberry, grape and peach and I have to say they were all pretty good, but I love all things pomegranate so that was my obvious choice to accompany my evening meal.

The village has around 600 inhabitants, but during the day it is very busy with busloads of tourists wanting to try the wine and also buy local products from the many shops.  Unfortunately the church was closed, and as you may be able to see from my photographs it was surrounded with scaffolding.

First thing in the morning the village awakens with the first tourists, and is buzzing throughout the day, until around 6.30pm when the last dolmus leaves.  The village then becomes a very quiet village again.  I stayed overnight and was amazed how quiet the village was in the evening, but I'd wanted somewhere peaceful and I certainly got it.

My pension (B&B) was a little way up the hill along a track.  I was woken up by the cockerels outside my bedroom window and a donkey braying across the fields.

I think the photos speak for themselves.  A stunning, peaceful and traditional village.

Not a bad view to enjoy breakfast from

Sirince High Street 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Izmir - Konak Pier

Konak Pier in Izmir was designed by Gustave Eiffel in the late 1800s and was originally a warehouse and customs office.  It's located near Konak Square where the famous clock tower can be found.

It has undergone some recent renovations and is now an upmarket shopping centre, with cinema and restaurants and coffee shops, but a lot of the original features are still visible.

There is a lovely cafe at the end of the pier, where you can sit outside, right at the water's edge.

A quiet day at the Konak Pier shops