Saturday, 21 September 2013

Back To Birmingham... Refreshers, Sparkbrook & Birthday Plans!

Back to Birmingham for my final year of my degree at University College Birmingham! I have been travelling again, well just around Europe since July, now in September it was time for me to return. With this being my final year I'm expecting an extra serving of pressure surrounding my studies. Where has the time gone? I will keep the party going for a little longer! Let's go B! 

It might not be September 2010 this time around but I feel so much better now I'm back at halls! I'm no longer a fresher but why should I slow down? I was just getting started after my summer holidays! I have decided to entertain a few of the events from this years fresher's week. It was a crazy night for many reasons, but to start I was contemplating selling my t-shirt because my brother wasn't making it clear whether he was going out or not. I had resided to the fact that I wasn't going out so I made my way to my old flat to see if one of the girls wanted a spare t-shirt, thankfully they had their own T's so we hit the town in-pursuit of PopWorld! Bopping to the Spice Girls before hitting Risa for the final stop of the night. Sammy and Sophie called it a night, but out of the blue my brother phoned me to see if I was still in Risa. Reunited, we partied the night away! Who said final year was stressful? I have got this in the bag! 

Friday just gone it was University College Birmingham's 2013 Autumn graduation ceremony, it was mad to see friends from my university experience progress with their completed and respected qualifications. It was great to see Lucy Houghton yesterday night to celebrate her graduation from University College Birmingham, I'm not quite there yet but it will be my time soon enough! I look forward to my time but I'm not going to wish my time away because its great being back in Birmingham! On the graduation front I just don't know if I agree with the whole gown hire and cost for the photos, I have one year remaining of my studies at UCB, I know in my heart its going to be a tough one compared to the last academic year now those semesters were a joke thing! I am sure graduation will be a moment to remember, yes I'll be contradicting what I said about the photos and gowns! The whisperers have been making the dissertation sound like the worst thing, I'm looking forward it. I do love writing!  

Birmingham has changed some more since my departure from the Maltings for Summer. It's been great to see the long awaited opening of the new Library of Birmingham, it was getting very tiresome to continually walk past the building sites on a daily basis. I have already joined the new library but I plan to make use of the facilities throughout this year as I have my dissertation to consider. Optimism is the key! Captured to the right is the finished project, along with the restored Birmingham Repertory Theatre. It's been exciting! So, I have made my vow to be a dedicated student and committed member of Birmingham's new modern and cutting edge library! I really don't want to be eating my words because I want to be sporting a graduation gown in September 2014! I admit that one thing that hasn't changed in Birmingham is the weather, its been god awful since I've been back at the Maltings Halls! 

There are places in Birmingham I love to go back to, places that just don't change even though I'm not a fresher anymore. I love walking through the Mailbox into the city centre, its a walk I won't forget when I do eventually move out of Birmingham for the final time this summer. I wouldn't change the German Market for nothing, its coming back this November on my birthday! For that reason alone I want it to snow already! I'm tired going to the same old haunts, I want to mix things up this year by going to Sparkbrook for a Balti Curry as its the home of Birmingham's Balti Triangle. It could be a nice idea to visit the Botanical Gardens because it's been an age since I last visited. To pastures new, I'm really excited for this year because its my last at university! I make a vow to become a fully fledged scene queen, I will be getting busy at the Village Inn as much as I can! Let's enjoy what I've got left of student life! In actual fact why should this be the final time? I'll make this year count! 

Travelling is in my blood, with the convenient central location of Birmingham that makes discovering new places easy. In November I will be making the trip up to Liverpool for a night of mayhem. I went to Liverpool back in 2011 to see my Disney friend Kat and to see the delights of Liverpool. I'm looking forward to this weekend as it will hopefully be a great way for me to relax and forget about my dissertations! I know that my Liverpudlian escapade will be exciting, I'm really looking to get some more adventure in my life. Captured to the left is the Albert Docks, I took the photo during my first trip to the Scouse city during 2011. I am definitely one for the theatre, going to see a show just shakes things about because it doesn't leave me with a hangover the next day. Culture is cool but like I said I'll be working it down Southside! I wanted to mix things up, keeping it fun to have sensible nights. Get me to the theatre! 

I have always loved going to the theatre, plus it occupies my attention away from a crazy night! I'm looking to revisit the same theatre in March to see Singin' In The Rain! I adore the film, so I'm hoping for the stage version to be equally exceptional! Birmingham will have my whole attention this but I want to spread my wings this semester. To complete my cultural crusade I'm looking to spend some time in the city of Cambridge, I shall leave the boating to the professionals so I can safely admire the charms of that university city! I'll see how that goes because I have lots of ideas right now. I just hope that all of our university work doesn't stop any of my travelling plans! I'm not allowing myself to book another international trip because I want to try and do something interesting over the summer in 2014! I don't want to have ideas above my station, I want to keep things local. For now, Birmingham will be my location to conclude my University College Birmingham degree. I'm back! 

One Last Time!

Joseph Harrison

Monday, 16 September 2013

Wolverhampton: Somewhere That I Used To Know?

We've all got places that we can associate with, if we've been to college there or just happen to call home, I call Wolverhampton a place for both situations? Wolverhampton is a city that's certainly gone through the mill. The strain is still apparent for this city but has she got a comeback plan? If you love Wolves look away because you know this is going to be real!

Wolverhampton is a city that doesn't receive much positive press but deep down I know that she's a diamond in the rough! Keeping things straight, if I have to throw shade on Wolves I won't hesitate. Wolverhampton is a city that has many qualities and quirks that sets it apart from other places in the West Midlands, but things have changed. I have spent a lot of time away from Wolverhampton due to moving to Birmingham for university and to America for work. Upon my arrival back to England I was looking to reconnect with the Wolverhampton that I had once known. Being a Birmingham and New York City boy hasn't changed my stance on Wolverhampton. Tough love and a healthy wedge of investment is what she needs! Trust and believe, there's some serious work to be done in this city of questionable fashions! Wolverhampton, somewhere that I used to know? Oh, I just don't know what to think now! 

Queen Street stands as the gateway to Wolverhampton's main shopping amenities. Things might look normal from the photo that has been captured to left with some serious caution. Pound Bakery? Greggs is my shout! Home may be home but after Woolworths sadly closed down the Mander Centre saw a rapid succession of shops closing due to the economic downturn, times were and are definitely still tough! I love a good bargain but I don't want to see a Poundland or Bargain Corner open up across from the city's Primark store. Word on the street is that new developments are coming Wolverhampton's way to help regenerate the city centre's pulling power. We have been waiting far too long for these things, they are just empty promises! Wolverhampton, this is not going to be simple. I know that I'm studying in Birmingham but I've definitely seen that Wolverhampton has been left behind. Since the 2008 recession it's been hard to see Wolverhampton get out of its K-hole. So?

I lived in the centre of Wolverhampton at Mooney's Irish Pub, it was a thriving Irish pub located on Princess Street that had true life and soul. No longer this public house exists, after moving out some years ago it was taken over by a new owner. More recently this once bustling Irish Pub is now a 'Paddy Power' betting shop, a stark change to what it once was but I suppose its Irish roots have been artificially been revived? No, no!  I look back at my time at Mooney's Irish Pub to think I was living in a vibrant place that always had something going on, but as a child I wasn't aware of the delights that I could now take advantage of! See, I'm not completely talking Wolverhampton down to the gutter I just made a positive reference. Good memories aside it's now more common to see betting shops and payday loan stores in place of the gems like Mooney's Irish Pub. Don't dare stay on the passenger side Wolves, earn it back now!

We live in a changing world but I just don't understand the way that this place is changing! Will there be a pot of gold at the end of Wolverhampton's rainbow?! The recent opening of the new Wolverhampton Bus Station has lifted the Pipers Row area of the city so that's good news. Plans for a newly built train station have circulated for the last three years or so but a change will happen eventually. Wolverhampton isn't the conventional tourist destination but with some investment and marketing I would see a fair chance for the Birmingham market allowing some growth for Wolverhampton as a destination. I for one wouldn't mind fronting a project to help my city become spotted for all the right reasons. Bring us a new train station, we'll be better connected and that's a damn fact! Life deals us tough times and good but I won't settle for this city to be turned into a hotspot for discount retailers! Wolverhampton, can you be our queen? Don't be that shady lady WV1! Not on my watch!

Wolverhampton is home to a place that once made Thursday nights special. St. Peter's House was the home of the Christian Drama Club (CDC) for the three years I spent my Thursday evenings with my six friends and the best Artistic Director, I had a great time! We rehearsed for our performances, improvised from time to time and had a cheeky hot chocolate! Fond memories that I shall take on with me into the future! I genuinely have fond memories of being in Wolverhampton, it's an interesting place that has a lot to answer for! Keeping with the acting theme, Wolverhampton will always be the home of Kuumba Arts Movement. Kuumba was a Theatre Company that has transformed my confidence and introduced me to the world of acting. I will always champion Kuumba Arts Movement for continually being a professional, dedicated place to act and to become myself! W, you know I'm an actor!

From hot chocolate with friends at St. Peter's House to venting my stresses for Wolverhampton, I can't help but return to the city again. At the end of the day I'm only a freelance travel and lifestyle blogger so the impact I hope to make might not even reach the surface but we all have a voice. Being a Birmingham university student I have seen the progression that the second city has received and the developments that are to be announced in the future surpass the efforts of Wolverhampton. I hope the City Council see better times but the Government needs to get in touch with the working class midlands of this country to get off their bureaucratic horses to come close to understanding our struggles. Then again the private school educated middle class politicians have never had to struggle for anything in their lives? Think about that one Mr. Cameron! Lady Wulfruna, we need to get together, we need to save this city from itself! Wolves, I hope you get this city regeneration on course! OK, WV1?

WV, Step Up!

Joseph Harrison 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Destination: Amsterdam, The Netherlands!

Time waits for no one! Time for another adventure?! Me and my younger brother jetted off to Amsterdam. I've been busy with this international travel lark, but this Dutch escapade would be my final overseas trip for a long while. Leave the Tulips because they are not really Dutch, they are Turkish! You know Mary Jane Holland was with us! Wait for this lady of the DAM!

Welcome to Amsterdam! This Dutch city has many a tale to tell, but we weren't looking for stories it was an adventure of some sort we were looking for. Our first port of call was Amsterdam Centraal, it was an interesting journey but we finally made it to our hotel that happened to be in the centre of Amsterdam's Red Light District. The weather was beautiful, a warm ray of sunshine engulfed the quirky streets of this unique Dutch city. I speak for the both of us to express that we loved Dam from the very first moment! Our first impressions of Amsterdam's quaint side streets and canals made us feel right at home. By the time we had made our way to Amsterdam's Red Light District it was time to check-in to our hotel. I had chosen for us to stay at the 'Hotel Royal Taste' a charming hotel which sits along one of the smaller canal avenues within the Red Light District. Boy, the view was on it! Brothers on tour!

This trip had to be epic because my brother had turned 18 in May, for that reason things were going to get mad! Amsterdam had to be the place for our last holiday before university, I really wanted this trip to be special, by what I mean this weekend had to be memorable! Dropping our bags we said goodbye to the confides of our hotel to enjoy the delights of Amsterdam. The Red Light District looked more like a jovial pantomime, the suggestive manner of the working girls made me laugh! Little did they knew I didn't get off their bus stop if you get what I mean? No, thanks! The canals were beautiful, the people were friendly but we were looking for some excitement. Bicycles are the way forward in Amsterdam, they are more dangerous than cars in my opinion because they are literally everywhere on the streets. Let me rephrase that please, the bicycles are crazy for they own the stress like a car would in London or Paris I tell you! I'll always be a gypsy, going from one place to the next!

A visit to one of Amsterdam's Coffee Shops is a must, whether it's for a relaxing smoke or just to see what all the fuss is about. We choose GOA, a chilled and hip Coffee Shop that had an urban atmosphere with a fairly young catchment of participants. I would like to think I have a liberal attitude towards Cannabis but in Holland its legal to smoke Cannabis in a Coffee Shop. Mary Jane Holland was about so things were just fine, the wide selection of Coffee Shops in Amsterdam's Red Light District means that we were spoiled for choice but we chose GOA to be our favourite! You could say that the air has a chilled feeling its a pleasure to walk the cobbles of this city with a pleasant haze. It's about greener pastures for one reason I could see what products the Coffee Shops were selling, the menu was clearly laid for the least informed smoker. I enjoyed my time at GOA, it shows that a modern city can safely regulate Marijuana. Yes G!

We can be quite straight laced in Britain, we have so many laws that just don't make sense but the Dutch have it all covered! Coffee Shops in The Netherlands abide by the law to not serve alcohol in-favour of soft drinks such as juices, coffee and tea. One thing I didn't indulge in was eating the cakes laced with the green stuff because that would've just been damn stupid! I seem to be harping on about GOA but this Coffee Shop definitely feels like the 'Empress of Serenity.' I know that I shall be going back to the Netherlands in the future so I can sample other quirky and cool Coffee Shops as and when I return I might well spend one afternoon in Utrecht! Visit Amsterdam for something out of this world, its got that crazy and relaxed feeling all in one place. Plus Dutch is an interesting language to listen to after a few Mary Jane's! Throw caution to the wind like we did to enjoy something outside of the box? I look back with a relaxed situation to say the grass is really greener on every side! 

Amsterdam is most definitely the city of canals, with the never-ending avenues of water its not difficult to discover a new part of Amsterdam's vast network of open waterways. On the second day of our trip we decided to take a canal boat trip to be further acquainted with this charming Dutch city. I for one loved it, I'm not one for museums or art galleries so I know that this relaxing excursion was the perfect decision. We passed the Anne Frank house but I decided against visiting because I had already been to Auschwitz in Poland to pay my respects to the murdered Jews. On the whole I loved the winding canals that I saw on the boat trip, the iconic buildings that were once factories looked darling in the mild September sunshine. The weather was amazing for September! I always find it very important to get to know a city's fabric, to further appreciate the little niches that makes a place! It was major! 

Another city that boasts some impressive canals springs to mind when I think about Amsterdam, no not Venice! Birmingham has that something special with its post industrial waterways but still makes them look trendy, so I got that vibe from Amsterdam with the waterside properties and boathouses. Captured above is the view I admired during the boat trip, a fact springs to mind that the apartments used to be factories and with a closer look the hook at the top of the building would pull the goods from the canal into the warehouse. The riverboat trip gave us a wealth of knowledge about Amsterdam's shipping boom and the part the canal systems played in helping trade boom. Amsterdam is just another working girl, serving forward to pay her way as a key European city of the world! Would I return to The Netherlands? Yes, I quite fancy a weekend in Rotterdam. We didn't really see many places pushing locals dishes apart from cheese, no apologies for that Amsterdam! No A! 

On the cultural note Amsterdam offers so much more, I'm a stickler for a historical monument that really makes a city pop! Captured to the right is Dam Square a magnificent wide open centre of energy. We saw Dam Square twice, on our first meeting I wasn't too impressed, the day must have taken its toll but on the second occasion. Of course it was cool! Amsterdam's got some real gems when speaking about architecture, some palatial sights for sure. The Royal Palace of Amsterdam takes pride of place looking over the centre of Dam Square. Backtracking to the beginning of our trip we took the the GVB train from Amsterdam Centraal to Nieuwmarkt but after looking at a map online we discovered that we could have walked to our hotel through the formidable Dam Square. Amsterdam's Centrum is currently being developed, to gain what benefit I'm not quite sure as it didn't disrupt our trip at all. Get your life! I did A! 

I must confess that I first saw Amsterdam on an episode of MTV's Geordie Shore, I would say that the depiction of this city was perfect for our trip as we did see the working girls of the Red Light District knocking their glass doors to bring the punters in, I simply laughed because that's not my cup of tea! Embrace the twilight in Amsterdam because there's so much going on! Taking the alternative to a new height we paid a visit to the Condomerie, that was just darn bizarre! Firstly we choose to scout out a few more Coffee Shops, including the Bulldog and some others I can't remember the name of. It's an attitude free scene in Dam when the sun goes down, let's just say we were loving the twilight! To conclude our short break we got our pre-drink on ready to enjoy a buzzing night at Escape and I must say that we enjoyed it very much! I must admit that it would have been nice to have had a takeaway open in the small hours, clubbing makes me hungry! Oh no Amsterdam! Brother, let's go home. 

Broeders in Amsterdam!
 
Joseph Harrison

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Next Stop... Kayaköy, Turkey!

Kayaköy is a forgotten village that can be found four miles away from Fethiye. I loved this place for its peaceful atmosphere, there was no doubt about that! Climb every mountain or take a stroll through the modern day village, truth be told a 'ghostly' aurora was certainly felt. Kayaköy sure schooled me good, today ruins remain in certain areas but the village life carries on.  

Hailed as the 'ghost village' this eerily quiet place had a lot to tell me. Once occupied by a large population of Greek Catholics until approximately 1925. The Greek people were ordered to leave Turkey. The last two times that I visited I have walked up to the top of the hill, through the abandoned houses. In 2013, I chose to walk through the village closer to my hotel. I would urge anyone that visits Kayaköy to trek up to the top for there's an abandoned church like building that looks over the mountains with idyllic oceans views. I would like to say that being on holiday should really be a relaxing time but I've been quite busy seeing new places and catching up with friends, I needed to make time for myself. Kayaköy is a protected village so it's not seen much development over the years, there's so much history. It was lovely to kick back, but only partially because this village looks too good not to miss T!

Staying at Muzzy's Place overnight, I've stayed there three times including that most recent visit. At night the temperature drops significantly, maybe those ghosts want to come out to play? It's always nice to escape from the tourist traps in favour for the peace and tranquility of Kayaköy. We took the Dolmuş from Fethiye heading towards Kayaköy and Hisarönü. Being away from Turkey for two years enabled me to see some amazing places but I feel equally blessed to have had the chance to revisit this Turkish gem. From the contrast of the busy city streets of Istanbul to the sleepy hills of Kayaköy I have seen a lot of the same but all its all been a crazy and beautiful adventure. Kayaköy has the benefit of being in a bowl affect its cocooned by the hills and mountains so the sun is tolerable. With this blog getting established in its second year, I wanted to capture my time in Turkey during the summer of 2013. My visit to Kayaköy proved to be a blogging dream! Let's get on with it!

Kaya Village is now a UNESCO registered site as a 'World Friendship and Peace Village'. Amongst the ruins there is an abandoned Greek Orthodox church, which can be visited for a small charge due to been a protected site. I went to this church the first time that I visited Kayaköy and was amazed by the detail that was still left inside the church. Walking through the hilly village brought me many surprises but also planted several seeds of thought. How would I feel about being ordered to leave my home and the country that I was living in? I wouldn't have been too impressed either! Nevertheless, a walk up the hill brought the best views in the village to me from where I was standing. To the left is the hilly area where the abandoned houses can be found, going near them really felt eery. The experience was well worth it, it was a sobering feeling due to the history. No, nobody should be removed from their land! Not at all!

Kayaköy has many identities, it's known by a Turkish name, being the natural language of the country. Levissi stands as the Greek name for Kayaköy, that name was used during the Greek occupation but was changed to Kayaköy after the transition period ended. I must admit that the heat of the day felt cooler in Kayaköy, that place possessed a vibe that really chilled me out! I mean complete relaxation! How could I not pay attention to a place with such a colourful past? After all I all love a bit of drama! Turkey has so many hidden gems, across this vast country that make Kayaköy more loveable! We have to give thanks for the laws and legislation that protect Kayaköy from being altered or changed in any way. A government move I believe to be more than worthwhile! The world has seen many conflicts and evictions of races but the abandoned houses that still occupy the hillsides still look stand as a reminder, I admit what happened wasn't cool but we can't change anything now.

Kayaköy has a lovely little village centre, complete with everything a local villager could possibly need. There's a barber shop, convenience store with a Turkish pancake corner and also a restaurant across the road. The main roundabout centres around the main amenities of Kayaköy. To mix things up this year I took a walk from Muzzy's Place to the heart of the village, I wasn't climbing no hill! I did see the Levissi Wine Garden on my travels, I also stumbled upon the many quaint country lanes. Each part exuded the perfect measure of character and ancient Turkish charm. I have heard that horse-riding is something a lot of people do, keeping it 100% I really don't fancy my chances riding on a horse in my lifetime! Leaving the horse-riding to those who felt more confidence I thought back to the time before that we almost went horse-riding, that cancellation was a blessing in disguise! Yes, that's for sure K! 

Tourism can be a help and a hindrance in the same breath. I suppose the village is quite large so even the largest coach-loads of tourists probably wouldn't completely disturb the calm too much? I do think! Responsible tourism is the key! During my time at Muzzy's Place, I didn't see an awful lot of people, just enough to be honest! Finally, I left Kayaköy with more timeless memories that will stay with me for a long time. There goes another relaxing and thought provoking trip that I will see in the future for sure! Maybe, just maybe? Concluding my 2013 Turkish holiday I looked to this deserted paradise with the date of my return flight back to Birmingham Airport looming. With a heavy heart tinged with a smile, its been a great four weeks in the sunshine of Turkey! Getting back to the Köy was amazing, for certain its a place that I won't ever be forgotten! Kaya's 'ghost village' always have something new to tell me! Kayaköy, I told you I am not afraid of ghosts! Yes, Kayaköy took me for a fool!

Ghostly Goings On!

Joseph Harrison

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Serving It Up... Çalış Beach, Turkey!

Çalış Beach, an endearing Turkish seaside resort that isn't merely just a simple holiday town, its been emotional! It's not the most liveliest of places when compared to the other resorts but this resort town makes its impression in many other ways. Let me introduce you to the place that has welcomed us, a place that we have called our holiday home for the last decade. Hadi! 

Could Çalış be called the land of the rising sun? No not really, but Çalış Beach does undoubtedly has the best sunset that I have ever seen! At around 7pm each evening the sky changes into a warm crimson colour signifying the burning sun to slowly set, this sun takes its time to set until its ready to do so. It's a sight that is timeless to me, a scene that is definitely unforgettable. During this holiday I have seen the sun set once, I know that's not much but that one time was perfect. Yes its a timeless moment when I'm in town. Located just fifteen minutes away from Fethiye is the seaside town of Çalış, a tourist resort which has seen a great surge of development over recent years. Çalış Beach has been a holiday favourite for us for the last fourteen years or so. Us Brits took over a few years ago, Çalış Beach used to attract a serious amount of German tourists but not now! It's OK really but don't move our towels!

Tourism has taken a slight beating due to the trouble in Istanbul, but for one thing I'm appalled to see that people are staying away from Turkey's Turquoise Coast because they believe that they will be affected. In actual fact nothing drastic has happened in this region and Istanbul stands to be a twelve hour drive from Çalış Beach so I don't see why this should be an issue, It's all stupid really! Embrace the summertime by booking a holiday to Turkey's Turquoise Coast? Greece got to crazy priced with the Euro so me and my parents made the decision to buy property in Çalış, Turkey. Çalış Beach is a family friendly holiday town with a small night scene of clubs and bars, if its a club night that your looking for I would head over the mountain to Hisaronu. The promenade has been modernised over the years and then some, work is still in progress with the project to take the walkway to Fethiye so the wheels are in motion. Nevermind that, I want to go back to Çalış, Turkey now!

Çalış's main street comes alive when the sun sets, presenting a series of restaurants and bars that will suit all palettes. Maria's English Restaurant and Bar caters us Brits abroad who wants to stick to the British food favourites, well occasionally. Maria's English Restaurant served up our weekly Sunday Dinner's and Full English Breakfasts when we chose to have them. When in Turkey it's right to enjoy Turkish cuisine. We would take a walk up Barış Manço Bulvarı away from our former holiday home to Aydin Pide. We have enjoyed many a pizza and pide at Aydin Pide over the years. It's quintessentially Turkish with a crazy owner. I tend to choose Turkish food most of the time because when I'm in Turkey I want to embrace the culture and essence of this country, we all have differing tastes and that's just grand! Since buying the house we have boycotted other places for Çalış, it's charm has had us returning since 2003! Evet Ç! 

Çalış Beach isn't really a lively resort compared to the other tourist areas, some of the select venues that try their best to cater for that niche. Amongst the bars and clubs the Scarlett Bar stands above the rest of the competition, owned by two brothers this ever-changing cocktail bar has turned itself into a vibrant club setting. Now and again I like to take things slow some nights, so with a little help from my Turkish friends I was introduced to Bahane Bar, meaning 'Excuse' in English I would give any excuse to have a quiet drink at this Turkish bar! Saying that our first night there we got quite boozy indeed! We were told to take it easy! Families tend to make up a large proportion of the tourists in Çalış Beach, so the pace of this tourist town is fair but relaxed. Çalış Beach has its own way of doing things when the sun sets, nothing is taken seriously because its all about having a great time whilst we're on holiday. I for one really appreciate a mellowed night out from time to time? I do! 

Tucked away at the far end of Çalış Beach's everlasting beach front, located to left side if I'm not mistaken is Onur Beach Cafe. This family run beach cafe welcomes all to enjoy the beach at this great location. Overlooking the shores of Çalış Beach boasting free Wi-Fi access and sun-beds to enjoy this beach side cafe, I think its quite fantastic. Whether it be breakfast time, afternoon or evening there is no better time to visit Onur Beach Cafe. Mind you the Gin and Tonic tasted strong, a hearty measure of liquor always makes the best for a scorching day in the Çalış Beach sunshine! Get out from your hotel to see the other side of Çalış Beach, things work differently in a good way at the Onur Beach Cafe, keep in mind this beach side cafe is family run by a small team so practice makes perfect. I mentioned before I'm not one for English food whilst I'm in Turkey but the Full English Breakfast was really tasty! Yes!

I feel a duty to champion such a place because the owner and his family have worked very hard for what they own, they must be living their dream? Get down to Onur Beach Cafe and see what all the fuss is about and give this place a shout out on Trip Advisor because they deserve all the luck that comes their way! I'm not one of those people that favours the All-Inclusive style holiday so it always makes me feel better to contribute something to the local businesses within a resort. I've been down to Onur Beach Cafe several times this holiday as its accessible by the Günlükbaşı and Çalış Dolmuş, there is simply no excuse! Boycott the tourist traps and take a chance to visit the other side of Çalış Beach today. We support small local businesses at home, we should do the same on holiday! I have a lot going this side of 2013 and then 2014 so I can't commit to a date of return to Turkey, the phrase 'family holiday' might not exist anymore, I have new adventures planned! Çalış will be with me! 

Yes, Çalış Beach!

Joseph Harrison 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Türkiye: Benim Tatlı Fethiye!

My sweet Fethiye, that small city located in the province of Mugla. This enchanting city will always be my favourite part about this region, so there are many reasons why Fethiye is so sweet to me! The summer sun does beat down, but I love Fethiye, so I know that I'll be back. Feeling bored, I left the peace and quiet of my family's holiday home to spend an afternoon in Fethiye. 

Back to the reminiscent hype I made sure that I had a cake or two from Sultan's Pattisserie, I love my cakes and pastries so I always have love for that Turkish bakery! Getting back to the tomato soup and cheese we ate that for the first time that first 2003 week. Crazy as this sounds I would rather have an Ayran instead of a fizzy drink in the summer sun. I went mad this summer, I spent forty pounds on Turkish music albums! Back to my current trip to Fethiye, I used that trip as a chance to get away from the quiet of the pool area. If I'm honest I like to be on my own sometimes, I wanted out for the afternoon. When with my family I have noticed that over the couner medication can be very cheap, I must remind them before we go back to England! Over the counter medication has a higher strength compared to England so you can get your money's worth! Embracing Fethiye for that afternoon, it was my medicine. Hadi!

Just this week I caught the Dolmuş (local bus) from Çalış to Fethiye to reconnect with a city/town that I've grown to love over the thirteen or so years. I walked from the bus station towards the fish market, a hype of activity where the locals buy the best catch of the day. Captured above are the offerings that can be purchased, Turkey delivers yet another fresh form of produce! Last time I came to Fethiye about two weeks ago, the festival of Ramadan was in motion so the hype of Fethiye wasn't really how it usually is so I wanted to come back to get the best of everything. This side of town is great for shopping, not in the conventional sense but for items such as fresh goats cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables and also clothes and shoes. I love Turkish music! Gökçen Music was where I purchased Demet Akalin's brand new album Giderli 16 for £6.00. That's a bargain! Fethiye has a huge Tuesday market, if you read my publication about Çalış's Sunday Market all will become clear. Ah!

Having a strong stomach is the key when a visit to the fish market, the fresh fish and cheese emit a strong odour but its all about the experience. I much prefer this market, it has a more close knit feeling that always feels more authentic compared with the main Tuesday market. I haven't bought any fruit, veg or fish but I know that the local community in and around Fethiye trust the produce. Like I said its more about the experience, lined the outside of the markets are many small shops and a string of barbershops all of which reinforce a small scale level of independent businesses. During my Fethiye shopping spree I got my hair cut at one of the barbershops not so far from the market to find that Turkish men love their own time at the salon so to speak. It's all about the brotherhood getting together for a gossip to see what's good! Turkish barbers always make the cut! Men need 'me' time! Tamam? Evet!

I would have to say that Fethiye is quite like a rabbit warren, with lots of side streets that bestow quaint shops and banks. Captured to above is a street within the Paspatur, the old town which has many tourist orientated gift shops and jewellers. When the sun goes down Fethiye's Paspatur comes alive, the music and atmosphere fills the small and winding streets. I had a few too many drinks with my cousin Laura, we made it back to our villas without any issues. Would that be our only night out? It definitely was not! Something that is quite controversial, there's a mosque situated in the heart of the Paspatur overlooking Nefis Pide, a really nice little restaurant. Alcohol has to be served in Coca Cola cups to disguise the forbidden liquor. I would have say to that Turkey's approach to religion is quite unclear, people view religion in Turkey from many different spectrums with different types of Islam allowing the consumption of alcohol, for the moment things are liberal. Live and let live I say T! 

The first time I visited Fethiye around 2003, it was a cold February half term week when I went on a house hunting trip with my family. We stayed at the Yeni Ceri Hotel, a simple hotel close to Fethiye's then sleepy marina. The guys from the hotel were really friendly and welcoming during our weeks stay, it was when charter flights didn't fly to Dalaman. We looked at several houses around the local area but we found the gem on Onur Sitesi but more about that later. Fethiye has changed so much over the years but in one way it's just the same as it was back on that house hunting trip. Ah, BIM! A supermarket the same as Lidl so we made that budget supermarket a family favourite throughout the years that we holidayed in the Fethiye area. Nefis Pide serves up a tasty meal on a regular, we ate there during our February week all those years ago! I first tried Ayran at Nefis Pide and I loved it instantly! Tabii!

Grabbing a bite to eat in Fethiye is an absolute pleasure, another reason why this city is my favourite! Paşa Kebap has been a favourite restaurant to enjoy the perfect tomato soup with cheese. Honestly, the best tomato soup and cheese I have ever ordered, the crown goes to King Kebab! Paşa Kebap serves up a super fresh and ice cold tankard of Ayran, so during that summer heat I took one for the win! Over the last eleven or so years this restaurant continues to serve the same delicious food at the same top quality and its reasonably priced as well. I have a very sweet tooth so I can appreciate Fethiye's premium cake shop. Going back to Sultan Patisserie serves the perfect cakes and puddings, something to remember! From the very first time I had a sweet treat I knew this place would continue to be my preferred cake shop. I must admit that I always have room for desert, so I always treat myself to a Sütlaç. Having a major sweet tooth has never been a problem in Fethiye! Çok lezzetli!

The true gem of Fethiye has to be its harbour, the gateway to the Aegean sea, Greece and also Northern Cyprus. Fethiye's marina is where the exclusive yachts and catamarans meet the everyday boats that operate daily boats around the bay area. The Çalış Beach Dolmuş Boat docks right in the centre of the action, its a less stressful way to access Fethiye because the Dolmuş can get very busy. She's a working girl! The harbour boasts some really expensive and luxurious boats, amongst the grandeur of these luxury vessels the less than grand boats go about their business. The Flying Poseidon Hydrofoil zips back and forth from Fethiye to Rhodes, Greece. At the beginning of my holiday I contemplated going to Rhodes for a short trip but I chose to see Istanbul. The Ece Saray hotel and spa is located in harbour, this hotel is one of the most luxurious places to stay in town. Ece, I will make reservations! Bu benim sarayım! 

Fethiye is a city that will remain sweet to me, from the first visit in 2003 I will always stay faithful to this city. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Fethiye has welcomed the fast-food giants into its centrum, McDonalds has one restaurant and Burger King has opened two locations, time has changed but this city will stay the same for me. Every chapter comes to an end but with another one ready to begin I see myself visiting Fethiye in the future for sure. I loved my independent day in Fethiye, it should be a mandatory part of any holiday to do what you wish. I'm going to miss my tomato soup and cheese, no one does fresh Ayran better than Paşa Kebap so I best get inventive when I return back to England. The Tuesday Market just isn't my thing anymore, thankfully I'm grown enough to do my own thing now and with the years that we have returned, I know where I am going! Until next time, I wonder what fast food franchise will open next? Will it be a KFC or Subway? F, hoşçakalın şimdi!

Fethiye'yi Seviyorum!

Joseph Harrison