Thursday, August 14, 2014



If you haven't guessed, I just wrote a huge blogpost about the stunning country of Georgia, only to have it disappear when my iPad went to sleep.

Gah. I'll try again tomorrow.

Monday, May 12, 2014

International Worker’s Day in Turkey - May 1

So I posted a video on Facebook that resulted in some fairly concerned messages from my nearest and dearest; I feel I need to explain it better!


Everyone has seen some worrying changes in the government, and a prime minister who is a little too big for his boots. Over the past year there have been many protests, often violent, and often heavily dealt with from the police. This protest is different and not so much related. Labour Day, International Worker’s Day, or ‘Work and Solidarity Day’ was cancelled in 1980 after a military coup, but has a fairly bloody history. (See the Taksim Square Massacre in 1977, where unknown people opened fire on a crowd of approximately 500,000 people.) Rallies are traditionally held in Taksim Square, and after the cancellation of the national holiday, small demonstrations continued to be held but were banned from entering Taksim Square. Most years have ended with violence from the police. In 2008, police fired tear-gas into hospitals and a local primary school.

This year Taksim was completely shut down the night before. And when I say shutdown, I mean a double fence was built 3-5km around Taksim Square and no one was allowed to get even close. Which meant that the demonstrators didn’t leave Besiktas (where I live) and ended having skirmishes around the area with police. Somehow this happened on our street, and Liz and I got stuck in the house with a birds-eye view of events and more than our fair share of tear gas wafting in the house.

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We both made a runner from the house at 2pm when it seemed to calm down. The streets were bizaare, police everywhere, students calmly walking back from university, no traffic, and a beautiful sunny day. There was debris everywhere, even the pavement had been ripped up in places for the stones to be used as ammunition from protestors.

Anyway, everything was cleaned up by the next morning with no sign of anything that had happened except for a sad looking man standing next to his newly-discovered beaten up car, and some graffiti on the walls.

While there are many things I absolutely adore about this country, the total mess of the governing system here is scary. With little to no accountability, an executive power that steps in and messes with the legislating and judicial powers whenever it feels the need, and a police force trained to believe they are above the citizens they are supposed to protect, Turkey has a long way to go. I feel the frustration my friends feel at being unable to change anything, and that their voices go unheard. It doesn’t surprise me that the passion of those ends often violently.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Antakya, Hatay

It’s not the most exciting title I could think of, but don’t be fooled; this area in Southeastern Turkey is WONDERFUL.


I spent the weekend with a friend and her family being hosted in the most incredible way. I have always found Turkish people to be incredibly hospitable, and generous beyond measure, and these guys were not different.

I arrived late Friday night, and Yasmin and her cousin picked me up and took me straight to Harbiye for a spicy durum kebab, a cold ayran, and a walk around the extremely beautiful site of Apollo. My immediate impression was how different the atmosphere was from the other parts of Turkey I had been to. The province of Hatay used to be a part of Syria, and that is very clear. Arabic is written everywhere, and the daily language seems to sway between Turkish and Arabic. I was told that many older generations don’t even speak much Turkish generally!

The city itself was much bigger than I expected, and also less conservative. From what I could garner from the family I stayed with, life is still fairly traditional, with traditional values and customs upheld, but with a very open-minded and fairly tolerant approach to other people. The city is home to not only a large Muslim population, but also Jewish and Christians. Indeed, the first church of St Peter is located here (though currently under renovation so i didn’t get too see it unfortunately!)


The food itself is also quite different. My favourite food is Antakyan (and therefore my favourite restaurant in Istanbul is Antiochia, in Asmali Mescit) and I was extremly well fed – high quality meats in ichli kofte, durum, tepsi kebabs, sish kebabs, the wonderful kunefe dessert (stringy melted cheese in pastry covered in syrup and pistachios) more coffee than I could ever drink in a week in Istanbul, and a new favourite – rose flavoured icecream, mastic flavoured ice cream, and something called “bucibuci” or something, bought from a roadside stall.

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We went for a wonderful winding drive over to Samandag on the coast. We stopped off in a beautiful street of laurel trees ‘Dephne Yolu’ for the best gozleme I’ve had yet, hand made and cooked on a steel disc over a wood fire. We also stopped at a tiny Armenian church where I picked up some beautiful lace for my mum, handmade by the village women. (Sorry mum! I realised I forgot to send this to you!)

Samandag had a beach! And surf! The first I’d seen in Turkey. And a tunnel called Titus Tunnel. I could be less lazy and find something out to tell you about it, but I’m not going to. I’m sure you can wiki it :P

It was an incredible piece of engineering anyway, a good few thousand years old, and a few of the old stone houses were still intact to explore. One of the most incredible sites was a crypt from Byzantine times. As you can see the structure was still in fairly good shape, and I was mildly (but not overly) surprised to see all the tourists wandering all over, and throwing their rubbish into the empty burial plots.


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Does anyone speak latin? Or read it? I think its latin but I’m not sure.


My last meal was a mangal, or barbeque amongst the greengage trees, with homemade wine and spicy chicken, kebab, hummus and babaganoush. Yasmin’s family gave me fivekgs of eriks (greengages) to take back to Istanbul, which Liz and I have tried our best to make a dent in!

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Greengage jam from my hoard of eriks!

This time if year is erik season. Eriks are the tiny, hard green plums being sold by the paper bag on the street. The Turkish eat the dipped in salt, but I like their crunchy, tangy, sweetness. Unfortunately Liz and I couldn't quite manage to get through the very large shopping bag I brought back from Antakya so today in a fit of homemaking, I decided to try my hand at making jam!

For your information, I had never made jam, and I decided to just wing it.

And it turned out really well! With hindsight, I probably should have halved the little plums so it was easier to get the stones out when the fruit started breaking down, but with a little perseverance I ended up with a slightly tart, mildly sweet, greenish jam of perfect consistency!  It tastes awesome of toast with melted butter, and fantastic on a cracker with salty cheese. I have no idea if you can get greengages in NZ but I'm sure going to miss them when I leave Turkey!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Spain - land of the relaxed

I didn't really get back into the blog the way I intended. Lots of things have been changing and I'm trying to work out what the hell I'm doing generally, but it looks like it's kind of settling down and I'm doing a million things at once and answering that age old question (which I hate) "What do you do?"

I travel. Hell yeah. I know that that makes me happy and somehow I've ended up with a job that sends me to other countries, so that's cool! I'm also teaching English, and editing English, and teaching more English, and am about to try branch out into a small artsy business venture with a friend. And also, that I still love Spain hugely. HI SPAIN! CAN I WORK I WITH YOU?

I went to Barcelona end of last year for a tourism and event management fair, and got a few days to hang out in the gothic quarter and catch up with a friend from London. The weather was miserable, and I got sick - a common occurrence these days, (if you have any suggestions as to how or why I am ill every second week, let me know!) but drank far too many cocktails and wine, ate lots and saw some pretty awesome sites. 

And then this week I went to Malaga! Which sealed the deal. I was working so I didn't get to hang out and chill, but what I saw was beautiful, and relaxed, and comfortable. Malaga felt like New Plymouth in a lot of ways - beach town, big port, lots of caf├ęs and bars (though with a Spanish flair and far more culture) and very calm, none of the chaos of Istanbul, and lots of people out exercising, riding bikes, generally smiling and saying hello! With half a million inhabitants it's much bigger than NZ towns but it had small town charm and exquisite old buildings.

I forgot my camera :s

Work was paying and I got to eat at the events we were managing so ate a lot of jambon and seafood. There was flamenco dancing, Spanish guitar music, a Michelin chefs restaurant which I found delicious but confusing, a castle dinner, wine and espresso constantly, tapas, and a day trip to Granada to see the Alhambra!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I'm baaaaaack! In the real? World


Remember me?

I used to have this little blog, and I was pretty good at updating it... Then... 

 Summer happened!

I have to be honest, the photos are beautiful but it was the most challenging job I've ever had. I learnt a hell of a lot though - about myself, about people who lead lives one would only dream of (or feel like a Nightmare in), about sailing and working 20 hour days, about physical jobs, how to make Turkish coffee for ten people, how to make every champagne cocktails and martinis. I experienced amazing things and thing I never hope to enjoy again - visited beautiful bays with crystal clear waters, ancient archeological sites, pretty little fishing villages, the experience of falling asleep the second your head hits the pillow (or while sitting upright at the table as was often the case), I discovered the ultimate pick-me-up is an espresso, an apple and a big spoon of Nutella. I exploded just two 600euro bottles of champagne, made hundreds of coffees, cocktails and strange diet teas. I saw the best, and worse, of people. I know that money can't buy you class, but diet pills can make you skinny. 

I also got a tan, have ginger hair, and kept some pretty awesome muscles in my arms from pulling ropes!

I am now in Istanbul, with a new job, a new apartment, and a whole lotta bills!
Here's an ode to my days, though 9-5 seems like a dream in this here country of 6 days a week, 9hours a day....

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Welcome Spring!

It’s official. I seriously hate February and March in the Northern hemisphere. I don’t ever remember being so effected by short grey days in NZ throughout October and November though. So I’ve had a hiatus on the blog, but have been running, rediscovered yoga, and actually been pretty busy with the girls. Yesterday they had friends over for the day and we headed to Emirgan Park down the road for some playtime. I foolishly forgot my camera so enjoy my phone-taken delights where I was playing around with settings and trying to keep an eye on five wee ones with bounds of energy.IMG_8492

The tulips have started to come into full bloom for the Istanbul Lale Festavali, or Istanbul Tulip Festival. Emirgan Park has had a re-do or two over the winter and their are new shiny playgrounds, outdoor gyms and some strange aquarium things around the place as well as an absolutely stunning array of tulips – hundreds of beds across the park.


The park is a completely different place today. Over winter there was hardly a person to be seen – a few teenage couples sneakily holding hands on the park benches, the occasional dogwalker, middle age men ‘jogging’, and a fair few veiled women with their toddlers – except myself running like a mad woman in shorts and a tomato-red face. Today its overflowing with families, groups of teenagers, school groups, couples, elderly groups; everyone wandering along the neat little paved paths, (security guards blowing their whistles every time someone dares step on a blade of immaculate, ever-so-inviting grass.)

The Istanbul Council plants over 11 million tulip bulbs around the city for the festival usually lasting throughout April. The tulip is a symbol of Istanbul since the Ottoman period – being brought over from Iran centuries before. I never realised how many colours and types there are! It’s understandable how they were the pokemon card of the 16th century