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Up until fairly recently I had never stayed in an all inclusive hotel anywhere, so when we had to go to Antalya for the day to apply for Berkay’s visa in 2016, we decided to treat ourselves and book a night in the stunning Titanic Hotel in Lara Beach.

I remember watching the travel channel on TV around 9 years ago and seeing this hotel advertised and thinking how amazing it looked, and looking at the photos online when I booked it made me really excited, I wasn’t disappointed!

As soon as we pulled up to the hotel in the car we were in awe at how big the place was. A member of staff helped us with our luggage and took our car keys to go and park it while we checked in.
 
The lobby is just as spectacular inside as it looks from outside. A huge glass ceiling letting in a lot of bright sunlight, massive sparkling chandeliers and very fancy glass lifts, taking you up to the several floors of long corridors of rooms.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of Titanic references around the hotel (other than the fact the whole hotel is shaped like a cruise ship!), they even show the film in the on-sight cinema.
 
The hotel has 586 rooms, most are in the main building, but there are a few separate annex buildings which have lower level rooms with direct pool access via balcony steps. We had a standard room in the main part, which was lovely, and had a side on sea view. It had a huge bed , a sofa, coffee table, tv, wardrobe, shower and bathtub. It also had little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, a shower cap, nail files, razor, tooth brush and toothpaste, cotton buds, makeup remover pads, shoe polish, lavender pouches, slippers and a robe, tea and coffee making facilities with lots of sachets of fruit tea, green tea, coffee, hot chocolate, bags of crisps and peanuts and a fridge stocked with bottles of water and soda!

As if all of that wasn’t enough, when we came back to the room a bit later on, we found a neatly wrapped plate of baklava, turkish delight and chocolate had been delivered.
 
 
Titanic hotel has several pools – a huge main one which is right infront of the main building, it stretches around the other side and you can swim under the bridges to other sections – I didn’t really get a decent photo! It also has an olympic sized pool with lanes, and another large pool which is heated from october to may, along with a Jacuzzi. For children, there is a kids pool and mini pirate ship with waterslides coming from it, and another separate waterpark area with 4 big slides, one of which is enclosed and has pretty lights inside while you’re whizzing through it! There is also an indoor pool, kids pool and Jacuzzi area which is stunning with beautiful tiled floor and pillars.
 
 
Around the main pool there are little gazebos which looked so comfortable with beds and cushions in, we didn’t realise you had to pay extra for these and went to sit in one before being told we needed to have reserved it and paid in advance – I didn’t like this idea, as if they weren’t already making enough money! Rather than everyone being in the same boat (no pun intended) I feel like this just made people feel a bit superior to us riff-raff!
 
The hotel has its own private section of beach, with rows of sun loungers, more gazebos and a jetty with giant bean bags. The jetty has steps directly into the sea, so you don’t need to struggle in and out of the water from the beach. I didn’t have time to swim in the sea but  I wish I had because it looked so beautiful, especially at sunset.

As I’d never stayed in an all inclusive before, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the food – I’d heard bad stories about all inclusive places serving up the same things for lunch and dinner, reheating leftovers etc, but the food here was amazing! There was literally something for everyone and the mini desserts and baklava were the best! The breakfast buffet was delicious too. The only thing I didn’t like was that there was always a crowd of people waiting outside for the restaurant doors to open and then a bit of an initial mad rush. There’s a main buffet restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, but also 3 à la carte restaurants, one Turkish, one Italian, and one specialising in seafood. I think you get one night free in one of the ala-carte ones, but you have to book in advance so they can fit you in. There’s also 2 snack bars, and a patisserie serving cake, biscuits and ice-cream which is open in the evening until midnight.
 
Aside from the eating, swimming and waterslides, there are loads of other activities on offer, including a cinema, bowling lane, games and arcade room, beach and pool games, a gym, tennis courts, football pitches, a kids club, spa, Turkish bath and outdoor theatre with nightly entertainment shows. The hotel grounds cover 95 thousand square meters, so there’s a lot to explore and our one day/night there wasn’t nearly enough to see everything.

Overall, I loved the hotel and it definitely made us feel like royalty for a day! A huge bonus is the distance to the airport, which is only a 15-20 minute drive away. The food, entertainment, services and facilities were all great from what we experienced, but I do think that because it’s so big, it does feel very impersonal – there are thousands of people staying there and even though it’s such a big site, it did feel a little cramped – we were unable to find any free sun loungers at one point. As for Lara Beach itself and the surrounding area, we didn’t get out and explore it at all. Even if we had been there longer, I don’t think we would have since the hotel has literally everything you could want, and plenty to keep you busy. Essentially you could be anywhere in the world if you only stay within the hotel grounds, but I can see how people go all inclusive and never leave the hotel to see the ‘real Turkey’.

Titanic hotel is definitely 5* standard though, and worth a visit, even for a little ‘mini holiday’ within a holiday like we did, that way you get the best of both!


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Bozüyük is a small village in Muğla with a population of just a few hundred people.

We visited for a few hours on the way back from Denizli to Fethiye last September on a really hot day.

It’s a traditional village with old houses, farms, tractors, animals, little shops, a cafe and teahouses with men outside playing backgammon.

It’s also home to the beautiful Pınarbaşı restaurant, built in a natural park which has an 800 year old tree in it’s grounds, providing much needed shade for customers.
 
Over recent years, Bozüyük has become a bit of a hotspot for local tourists, thanks to a few popular Turkish tv series being filmed there such as ‘Baba Ocağı’ and ‘Düriye’nin Güğümleri’. One of the most well known TV series filmed there is called ‘Güzel Köylü. It’s popularity has had such an effect that after filming finished, the village actually renamed itself  ‘Güzelköy’, after the series, so it now has two names!
 
Although the village has changed a lot, it’s new-found fame has been welcomed by a lot of the locals, with a lot of it’s houses being restored and renovated, and local craftsmen finding new job opportunities. Apparently, thousands of local and foreign tourists have visited, there are even tours that run to the village, and people are able to pick up souvenirs from the little gift shops, fridge magnets displaying the name ‘Güzelköy’ seem to be popular!

All we came away with was a handmade, wooden pestle and mortar from one of the little shops, but it was interesting to see the village and even more interesting to see Berkay acting like a tourist, driving around the streets trying to find houses he recognised from the tv show, walking through the town centre telling me to take photos of the post office and other things he recognised,  and stopping the car halfway down the road so that he could take an excited selfie with the village signs!
 
 
If you’re passing it’s worth a visit. If you’ve never seen the TV series, like me, we might not appreciate the full glory of the place, but it’s an interesting place to visit and the Pınarbaşı restaurant is beautiful!
 

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It was our 2nd wedding anniversary last week, so we went to a Turkish restaurant to celebrate.

The name of the restaurant is Hazev, a cross between the words ‘haz’ meaning ‘enjoyment’, and ‘ev’ meaning ‘home’. It’s near Canary Wharf, between South Quay and Heron Quay DLR stations, right on the waterside with outdoor and indoor seating, I bet it’s lovely to sit outside in summer!

We have eaten here once before, and was really impressed. The waiters recognised us from before and showed us to a table, right next to the window. Berkay had met me at the station after work, armed with a bunch of flowers, bless him, so they were an added table decoration!

Almost as soon as we sat down we were given complimentary bread, olives and a garlic yogurt dip which were very yummy.
 

Then came the hard part of choosing what to order! I’d been looking at the menu whilst at work, trying to decide what to chose, there are SO many options I just couldn’t narrow it down! 3 courses or 2, starter or dessert, chicken or red meat… so many delicious dishes on offer (and a very pretty menu with a whirling dervish on!).

We settled on sharing two starters, karides tava (fried king prawns with garlic dip), and borek (pastry triangles filled with spinach and feta cheese) with salad. Both were delicious but a little overpriced for what they were, I think. The prawns were around £6 and the borek £7.
  
For the main course, I had Iskender, which I’d never had before, not even in Turkey! This looked different to photos I’d seen of a traditional Iskender kebab though, they always look a bit of a sloppy mess! It consisted of a mixed grill of meats covered in tomato sauce and yogurt, on fried bread cubes and served with red cabbage.
 
Berkay had the ‘havez special’ – oven cooked lamb chunks, served on grilled aubergine puree, mixed with cheese, with red cabbage, peppers and tomato salad. I tried a bit of his and it was nice, especially the smokey aubergine puree, my favourite! I think my dish had more meat than his, and I couldn’t finish it so we swapped bowls and he finished mine as well!

When our plates were cleared, we didn’t even need time to think about what to order for dessert….Berkay’s favourite, Kunefe! Kunefe is a popular, authentic Turkish dessert. It’s made from kadayıf (dried shredded dough which looks like shredded wheat) and cheese. It is covered in syrup and eaten straight out of the oven when hot, so the cheese is stringy and gooey but the pastry is crispy. It’s served with crushed pistachios and is delicious, even though it sounds like a weird mixture! Of course we had a glass of Turkish tea to accompany it.
  
Hazev serves delicious food, although it is a little more fancy and perhaps less traditional. Considering the quality of the food the prices are reasonable, although there was a story a few years ago about it selling an extra special, most expensive kebab in the world, at £900! (You can read about that and watch a video here https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/restaurants/pricey-pitta-1000-kebab-goes-on-sale-in-london-a3215546.html )

Hazev isn’t just a restaurant – it’s like 3 separate parts, divided by floor length curtains. The restaurant is in the middle section, with a bar through to the left, and a cafe/deli on the right, which also has a little shop section selling some of our favourite Turkish treats, including sucuk, yummy!

It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in London.

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On our way back from Denizli to Fethiye last year, Berkay said he really wanted to take a detour and visit the village of Güzelköy / Bozüyük – while there we stopped at a well known restaurant called ‘Pınarbaşı’ for some late brunch!
 
 
Apparently the restaurant has been featured in a few Turkish tv shows filmed in the local village, so it’s quite popular! Berkay wanted to try their lunch menu, but they hadn’t started serving it at the time we got there, so we had to settle for a traditional village breakfast instead, which was actually just what we needed after a couple of hours of driving.

The food was really good, a typical Turkish ‘köy kahvaltısı’ – cheese, olives, tomato & cucumber, peppers, walnuts, eggs and sucuk, jams and spreads, honey & kaymak, fresh bread and a big pot of çay. Really yummy! We could have sat there for ages just eating and enjoying the surroundings.
  
The best part for me wasn’t actually the food, it was the location. There were trees and gardens all around, along with natural streams of water. We chose a table that was actually sat in the water. They had normal tables and an inside restaurant area, and then little bridges and platforms over the streams leading to tables sat in it. It was mid-September and really warm so it was nice to sit in the shade of the trees with our feet in the cold water, although we were the only ones who chose to do that, I bet it’s really popular in the height of summer. I love the fact they had ducks swimming around the tables and your feet, they definitely benefited from some of our leftover food too! They were so cute.
   
There’s also an ancient 800 year old tree, which is really beautiful to look at! Apparently, in the absence of modern medicine, it used to be used for its healing powers, with ointments and antidotes made from it’s roots. It’s also thought to have granted wishes to those passing through! The tree started to rot and has been protected for the last 20 years with the hope of keeping it alive in it’s full glory. It’s really interesting how the shapes have formed, it’s gigantic!
 
From what I can remember, the breakfast was a bit more expensive than normal, but I would go back and visit again because it was a really relaxing place and Berkay still wants to try their main menu! It’s around 2 hours from Calis/Fethiye, past Mugla city centre towards Aydin, so an ideal stop-off point if you’re on a long journey along that road – definitely worth a visit!

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Living The Turkish Dream by Livingtheturkishdream - 2M ago

 
It’s hard to believe that we’re already in April, a quarter of the way through the year! It’s really bad that this is only my 5th blog post of the year, but I find myself really struggling with things to write, despite having hundreds of photos and things to share, I just struggle to find the motivation or the words! Something people always ask me about, is Boncuk. I haven’t really had an update on her for a while, partly because WW3 seems to have broken out between Berkay’s family, which has left us not even sure if we’ll be visiting them when we go out there in June… but the argument between Berkay’s brothers seems to have worked in my favour as they seem to be in competition with each other to send me photos of Boncuk and outdo each other! Last Sunday, one of them sent me some photos of her, I posted a few on Facebook and the next day the other brother sent me some, for the first time since Christmas… not a coincidence I think, but no complaints from me hehe!
 
Isn’t she still just the cutest thing? She’s always had those gorgeous puppy dog eyes, how can anyone resist that little face? She’s so expressive! She can look happy and sad and knows how to use her cuteness to get what she wants, even Berkay’s dad was persuaded into giving up his last biscuit to her as she sat there staring at him with those eyes, she didn’t even have to beg. Boncuk still lives at Berkay’s family’s house/farm in the village, although we did think we might have to move her depending on what happens within the family, but I hope not as I have no idea where else she could go. One of Berkay’s brothers has recently moved back to the village from Fethiye, and has fallen in love with Boncuk as well, he said she loves cuddles and as soon as he sits down she runs over to climb onto his lap, bless her.  She always enjoys getting a little fuss and chin tickle from them, and as you can see from the photos, she likes to reward them with kisses!

I’m so glad to see she’s still a happy little woofer!

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The Denzli teleferik (cable car) was something I didn’t even know existed until last year. Whilst visiting Berkay’s family in the city last May, we took a slight detour with his younger cousin who came along for the adventure!

Built in 2015, the cable car was made to help more people appreciate and spend time in the beautiful nature surrounding the area. It’s not too far from the city centre, and takes you 1400m above ground.
  
Turkey isn’t really known for it’s health and safety, so I admit that I was a little nervous when we parked the car and I realised just how high up this thing was going to take me, that was, if the steps from the car park up to the lower cable car station didn’t kill me first! I’m So unfit.

It was nice inside, very modern with really nice toilets, something that always excites me. You have no idea how many petrol stations I’ve had to rely on for a semi-decent toilet while visiting places! We queued up and bought our tickets, which were very cheap, 6tl each for a return trip, or free for kids under 6 years old. Imagine how much you’d pay for a similar trip to this in the UK? It certainly wouldn’t be less than £1.20!

It was quite busy but we didn’t have to wait long, less than a minute and we were ushered into one of the little cars, and set off on our journey!

There are 24 of the cars, one comes along every 30 seconds, and up to 800 people an hour can travel on the teleferik.

The journey from bottom to top takes 7 minutes and provides you with lovely views, you can even spot Pamukkale in the very far distance. Unfortunately the day we went it was very misty and cloudy so my photos aren’t great, they really don’t do it justice!
  
When you reach the top there is a cafe/restaurant with a look out point where you can enjoy the view with a tea. Alternatively, a free shuttle bus service to a park area called Bağbaşı Yaylası further back in the mountain runs every few minutes (or you can walk to it instead). We joined the queue for the dolmus-type bus, it was only a 5 minute journey and then we arrived at the park.

The park has bungalow cabins to rent overnight, tents you can stay in, play areas, a cafe, little shop huts, a kebab restaurant and a newer activity park built in the forest trees with climbing and rope obstacles. It was nice to walk around and would be great for kids, but we only stayed about 20 minutes then walked back to the bus to head back to the cable car.
  
We made a brief stop at the look-out point for more photos, then back on the cable car for the journey down which was just as pleasant as the journey up!

It’s a shame it wasn’t a sunnier day as it would make the photos look better, although I’ve recently seen photos of the area in the snow and how amazing the view was then – I guess the cable car runs in all seasons, other than strong winds.

Apparently 1.5 million people had visited the Denizli Teleferik in the 2 years since it opened, quite an impressive number. I hope it continues to be successful as I loved it and really want to go on it again. It’s location is also handy for those visiting Pamukkale to take a slight detour to it.
  
For those of us who are regulars to Fethiye, you have probably heard about the plans to install a similar cable car going up to Babadağ mountain, and after going on this one I am so excited to have a go on that when it opens! I believe work has already started to build it. From what I could see of the one in Denizli, it hadn’t affected the nature around the area too much, something that is always a worry when it comes to major work on the forest areas. I only hope that the price of the Fethiye one will be similar, and not significantly more expensive to take advantage of the high tourism in the area. I can see it being very popular with both tourists and locals in Fethiye and it will be definitely be something to add to my bucket list!

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Since meeting Berkay, I’ve had opportunity to experience a lot of different things in Turkey, things a normal tourist probably wouldn’t. Whilst this can sometimes be frustrating, when I just want to sit on a lounger by the pool and relax, these opportunities have allowed me to see more of the ‘real Turkey’.

One such opportunity presented itself back in September. On the way back from the village in Beyagac, Denilzi, we went through a rural area called Kale, near Tavas. Kale is
famous for growing tobacco, and the people we went to visit have their own tobacco farm.

The people who own the farm land are related to Berkay’s step mum. The family spend a few weeks planting the crops in spring and then around 3 months later they begin the mammoth task of harvesting, drying and curing the tobacco leaves. To do this, the whole family leaves their house in the city behind, and moves onto the farm land for ease, they stay living there for around 5 months of the year.
 
On the day we visited, it was absolutely boiling, around 36oc, so getting out of the car air conditioning and sitting in the middle of a hot, dusty field was the last thing I wanted to do, but, that’s exactly what we did!

I was pleasantly surprised just how cool it was inside their little makeshift home, and it was so clever and resourceful. They had old tree branches and pieces of wood as beams, keeping the roof up. The roof had layers of cardboard boxes and plastic sheets and plastic ‘walls’. The floor was covered in different rugs, there were even seats and cushions which were sturdy enough to hold a lot of weight! It had a separate area as a ‘kitchen’ with basic supplies of staple foods and oil etc, and they had made a little ‘oven’ from bricks and coals. They grow some of their own vegetables as well as the tobacco, and there were beautiful flowers growing around the tent area too. It really was impressive and so clever. They also had a small outside cubicle curtained area further along the farm which is used as a ‘toilet’, and another as a ‘shower’ – I wasn’t brave enough to investigate these further!
  
The family consists of two parents and 6 children, but the older two sons have jobs outside the farm, so only the parents, their two teenage daughters and their two youngest children stay here for the full 5 months. I assume they all sleep on the floor together, which isn’t unusual in Turkey anyway. Their youngest daughter is 3 years old and all I could think is how boring it must be for her to be there for months on end with little or no toys, it’s certainly a different life than we’re used to, but when that’s all she’s known I guess she is used to it.

They harvest the tobacco leaves and impale them on metal sticks and then leave them to dry under the sun, of which there is plenty of! They also grow peppers and string these together and dry them too – they double up as good decorations around the ‘house’!
 
Despite being in the middle of nowhere, they were still prepared for guests. As soon as we arrived one of the daughters went to prepare Turkish coffee, and the other brought out a table cloth for the floor, along with a tray and bowls full of nuts and biscuits, followed by some homegrown melon! If there’s one thing you can say about Turkish people, it’s that they are very hospitable!

The family make a lot of money from their tobacco crop, a few hundred thousand lira each year, but it is undeniably a lot of hard work and I certainly couldn’t live like they do, but it’s so interesting to visit and see a bit more of ‘real rural Turkey’ and appreciate just how resourceful they are, a simple life with the bare necessities, but always ready with a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit for visitors!
 

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I have wanted to visit Istanbul for ages, but never had the time or the opportunity really – we are creatures of habit and love going back to Calis and Fethiye. Although I would be happy to go elsewhere for a change, Berkay just is a real Fethiye boy at heart. I’m hoping for a little city break in Istanbul one day, but the closest thing I’ve had to seeing Istanbul so far, is from inside Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

However, when we were on our journey back to London Gatwick in September , we had a 4 hour stopover at Ataturk airport and we took the opportunity to have a mini adventure. We exited the domestic terminal and stood in the taxi rank area, we planned to go straight to the International terminal and just sit around and wait, but seeing all the taxi’s made us reconsider! We had 4 hours to spare, and decided as long as we were back at the airport 2 hours before our flight we would be fine. It was a bit manic, taxi’s everywhere, people trying to find empty ones, but Berkay managed to speak to someone who suggested we go to the nearby Aqua florya, so we hopped in a taxi with our hand luggage and that’s what we did.
 
The shopping centre was about 15 minutes away from the airport, so we arrived there quickly. I felt a bit suspicious walking around with my mini suitcase hand luggage, especially as security was pretty high, they searched the taxi as it approached and scanned us and our bags on entry to the shopping centre – the level of security is quite reassuring though.

Aqua Florya Shopping centre is huge, it has multiple floors of shops, a food court, cinema, sea-side cafes and restaurants and even an aquarium, which is the main theme throughout, hence the name ‘aqua’. There are fish-themed decorations hanging in the centre too, it looks really pretty. When we went it was completely empty, but it was around 11am, so quite early. It was also midweek, I bet it’s really busy at weekends. The shops looked quite expensive, big fashion names, but we didn’t walk around too much so didn’t go in any or see much of it.
 
We saw a sign for the terrace and stepped outside, the view was absolutely stunning. We walked down the wooden steps to a little cafe with a sea view, we only had a glass of tea though. While sitting there, we could watch the planes fly in over the sea on their way to land at the nearby Ataturk airport, where we had just come from. They were very frequent, every few minutes, as it’s a very busy airport!  

We were really conscious of the time, and although we had around 3 hours until our flight, we didn’t want to be in a rush, so we only stayed around 45 minutes. On our way out of the shopping centre we tested out the massage chairs, just for a couple of minutes of fun! If we had longer between flights we would have gone into the aquarium because I’ve heard it is very good.

When we left, we found the taxi rank and jumped in one back to the airport, where we experienced a bit of Istanbul traffic! The journey which took us 15 minutes on the way there, took us 50 minutes on the way back, so it’s a good job we left in plenty of time!! Finally we got back to the airport, through security and passport control and waited for our flight, with plenty of time to spare without getting bored!
 
Even though we had the briefest glimpse of Istanbul, it was a nice little mini adventure to break up the wait between flights and we enjoyed the change of scenery and beautiful sea views. I really want to explore ‘real’ Istanbul in all it’s glory and hope one day I can convince Berkay to have a proper visit!

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Kuru Fasulye is a real winter comfort food. Made from dried white beans, onion, tomato, tomato paste and olive oil, it’s a kind of stew, great for warming you up in the cold winter months. You can add chunks of meat if you wish, lamb or beef usually. We love to eat it with fresh, crusty bread to mop it up, but it’s commonly served along side a dish of rice too! It’s one of the most popular dishes in Turkey, and you can buy it in lokantas, although there’s something really satisfying about making your own, if you have the time! Click HERE to read a recipe for this dish.


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