The Nome at Millipark

High Summer – My Summer

Photographing the view at the millipark
This is our summer in Kirazli; now the long days of Ramadan are done the village wakes up again and starts to enjoy the dog days of summer and the starry nights of August.

We have a flurry of weddings in coming weeks; the neighbour’s daughter is getting married today. The village ladies spent all yesterday afternoon wrapping thousands of dolma in the shade of the courtyard and then the cauldrons were dragged out onto the streets and tended late into the night boiling rice and chickpeas and gallons of tomato sauce. There is a sound system the size of a Volkswagon parked in the square being fussed over by men who haven’t got a clue and at eleven o’clock last night someone hit the wrong button and Gangnam Style blasted out and stunned every low flying bat within a mile.

Down in the valley the saturated restaurant market is energetically vying for the custom of the well heeled tourists looking to escape the crowded coast. We now have at least eight village restaurants and it looks like Hamdi Bey is expanding his koftesi in the village centre on the back of the universal approval of his super spicy kofte. I was diving with a Major from the Turkish army a few months ago and he asked me where I lived, I told him Kirazli, “Ah” he said, “The breakfast place!”

Our favourite village restaurant remains Seyfi Dayi Yer Sofrasi where the welcome is the warmest in the valley, the food is amazing, the dappled shade of the verdant courtyard makes a cool and pleasant place to eat away a few hours and as an added bonus any guests you have can coo over the newly hatched chicks in the back and take a tour of the extensive restaurant kitchen garden with the friendly owner.

If we venture out of the village it is just to go in the sea. We avoid Kusadasi if at all possible! The Dilek Millipark over at Guzelcamli will always provide a quiet cove or two to get away from the madding crowds for a picnic under the pine trees and the bright water with its invigorating swirls of cool fresh water from the undersea springs is endlessly fascinating. Out in the deeper water off Pamucak, where we scuba dive, the undersea gardens of weed like flowers and sponges like sculpture glow in the sunlit waters and bright fish throw up photo opportunities at every fin turn.

Back home in the village we spend the high heat of the afternoon hours watching old films, chatting in the shade to guests and waiting for the short sharp burst of colour at sunset, the rise of Jupiter and the welcome cool of night. It’s August so we are waiting for the Perseid meteor shower, summer’s highlight. A guest told me yesterday that they are called The Tears of San Lorenzo in Spain as they coincide with the feast of St Lorenzo, so all across the Med people are watching the skies, enjoying the summer nights and waiting for the meteors.

This is our summer in pictures; it’s not wild, it’s not crazy, it does not contain selfies of feet and sea (cringe, did that last year, although admittedly in wet suit boots!), and at no point will the words “Another day in paradise” be used, because paradise is, honestly, highly subjective and we’re probably a bit too scruffy, a bit too tumbledown, a bit too quiet and a bit too real to be paradise. We are a nice place to be though 🙂

Seyfi Dayi Koy Sofrasi in Kirazli – small but perfect

16 types of jam........
Just a quickie, because I’m tied up with other stuff but this is worth mentioning – On the way back from diving yesterday we stopped at one of the tiny little sofrasi in Kirazli valley for a late late breakfast and it was wonderful. It was recommended to us by the lady we buy spices from in Selcuk market and we’d be meaning to go for ages but hadn’t got round to it but scruffy and salty and starving from a few hours under the sea we stopped on the way home yesterday and were glad we did.

Tucked away on the left, halfway along the flat straight road that runs across the valley floor towards Kirazli, is the little Seyfi Dayi Koy Sofrasi run by Mehmet Mersin, a village local who supports his Mum and family with this small but perfect restaurant.

We had a wonderful breakfast with 16 different types of home made jam including aubergine and orange with whole crystallised fruit, fresh made gozleme, fluffy bazlama bread and the best tapenade I’ve ever had in Turkey.

I’ve got to recommend it because it was different; there was more spice in the food than we usually find here and there were hints of cinnamon in the jams and there was a creamy dish of chopped peppers that packed a real punch of heat.

There are other larger restaurants, there are sofrasi with better views and more manicured gardens but the food here was brilliant and they served us stuff I had never seen before including a green salad where I could only identify about half the leaves. To find something new and exciting after eight years here is always a joy.

Seyfi Koy Sofrasi is open every day apart from Friday afternoon during the summer and weekends during the winter, they are open for evening meals but close early if its quiet so go before 8pm if you want to eat in the evening.

The Protests in Turkey – 12th June 2013

Update 17th June – Message boards are notorious for veering off topic but we’re finding sensible updates for travelers on the situation in Istanbul can be found here on the Lonely Planet Thorntree forum. This link takes you to page 4 of the discussion for the situation in Istanbul as of lunchtime 17th June. – The protests in Istanbul – Lonely Planet

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Putting these important protests into perspective for travelers to Turkey….

“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space, listen…” The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Turkey is the same; it’s massive, it’s really really loads bigger than you think it is, all our guests say so, they’re all like “Hey, wow, I had no idea how big this country was!!!!”

On a map, squashed into the top corner of the Mediterranean sea, surrounded by all the bits that broke off Russia and that crowd of countries your foreign office has told you to avoid or die it looks kind of normal, average sized, a sensible size for a country, but when you travel in it you realise it really is big.

An example of scale – here in Kirazli, which is near Kusadasi in the province of Aydin, we are 637km (395 miles) from Taksim Square in Istanbul and we’re at the top end of the coastal resorts so anything down from us is even further away. Being physically worried to travel to the Turkish coast when there are problems in Istanbul is like being worried about going surfing in Penzance when people are marching on the G8 summit in London, like they did yesterday.

Your chances, as a traveler, of being involved in the protests here in Turkey are very small, unless you go looking for them, which would be mental.

Even in Istanbul the protests are very centered and within a very specific area in a very large city. To try and give some perspective, the district of Beyoglu, where Taksim Square is, takes up 8.66 square kilometres in a city that covers 5343 square kilometres. Beyoglu is a quarter the size of Westminster in London and a sixth of the size of Manhatten in New York. It’s a pretty small bit of a very large city. Istanbul is a great, big, sprawling, continually growing, incredibly diverse city with over 13 million inhabitants, most of whom do nothing more strident than yell at their TV during the protests (mainly at penguins!).

Perspective is important at times like this, perspective and knowledge, be that knowledge about geography or current affairs or history or politics. Big subjects in a big country. Those of us who live here are working to put all we know into perspective and to gather as much knowledge as possible to give good advice to people coming here.

I’m currently watching a live stream from Taksim Square in Istanbul, it’s raining on poor little Gezi park, the trees are dripping on what is left of the protesters camp and the square is muddy and bare. We all watch what is happening in Taksim and we follow our twitter feeds and our Facebook timelines and we talk about it because it matters to us as residents of Turkey. What also matters to us is that people understand the reasons for these protests and how little it will impact their travels here and how massively it would impact the country and the people if you turned away from traveling to Turkey because of this. They would be heartbroken and travelers would miss out on an amazingly beautiful, diverse and (big) fascinating country.

Yesterday I was watching that same live stream from Taksim, a small group of protesters sat quietly in a semi circle facing off against a group of police in shields and helmets and backed up by a water canon. As I watched a small moped chugged across the square, a pizza delivery guy with his hot box on the back of his bike, his gas mask firmly in place and his hard hat perched at a rakish angle. He manoevered around the police, who didn’t give him a second glance, bypassed the protesters and carried on, off to delivery lunch to some office workers. This is Turkey, it is essentially a pragmatic country, fuel is expensive, a shortcut through Taksim square saves money, the work goes on, the job will be done and for the vast majority it is business as usual and for the vast majority we are far from the troubles and if that changes we will let you know.

To keep up to date with the protests and how they impact on travelers to Istanbul and Turkey please refer to the Trip Advisor forums and this thread in particular – Current situation for travelers to Istanbul – The link takes you to page 76 which is current as of 12th June 2013.

I can’t praise the Destination Experts enough for their incredible patience, sensible attitude and hard work in keeping people updated. They are giving facts not opinion and up to the minute advice to people traveling to Turkey. Some have been worn to a frazzle by fielding countless questions and by trying to keep the information factual and not political and facts is what helps travelers make their minds up.