A Travellerspoint blog

A Happy New Year in Istanbul

snow 3 °C

A New Year in Istanbul

New Years Eve in Istanbul saw us in our own flat, with flatmates we chose, in a quiet part of town called Moda. Right in the thick of the coolest part of the Asian side of Istanbul. We had a party to attend down the road in Kadikoy, with some other Ex Patriot Teachers. All of a sudden the Istanbul that we had left behind a month earlier was relegated to the depths of an unsavoury memory and we were away. The new year brings a new wealth of opportunities and with it, renewed motivation to get out into this city and get to know the inhabitants. One of the oldest and most complex places on Earth, Istanbul is full of surprises and never rests for too long.

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Our new apartment is only a few minutes stroll from the shore of the Marmara Sea, a walk away from downtown Kadikoy – the throbbing heart of the Asian side and a relaxing 30 min ferry ride from Sultanahmet or Taksim – Europe.

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Through the huge wall to wall windows in our front room I can see snow falling, it has been doing so for about 30 hours, there is snow on the ground throughout much of the city and we are doing our best not to freeze. So too are the hundreds of birds of every type, flying about the place from balcony to balcony, I am amazed that there is so much birdlife in a city that is so polluted.

İ am also amazed at the weather. İt has snowed here a couple of times since we came back. İt is freezing cold.

The snow from our loungeroom window...

We have had a couple of visits since we moved in. We will put some pics online soon...

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So life is good for the Bevans we are both working enough to save som e money and have enough time off to contemplate this amazing city.

Posted by adamandmeg 02:50 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Happy birthday to me... happy birthday to me

Middle aged near the Middle East

rain 5 °C

Well today I think I officially cross over into the middle ages.

Meaghan has just given me the most amazing present.

Let me set the scene:

Growing up on the road in the late 70s and early 80s was pretty tough. Most of my mates were temporary and lived, like us, in caravan parks and rode secondhand BMXs. Most of us wore cords, skivvies and gym boots. Because we all wore the same uniform and all lived in the same compound (Westnova or Big 4) and all had the occasional adult supervision, we pretty much had it made out of school. It was kind of like an adventure every day. It was pretty tough though sometimes starting at new schools. I can speak with authority here because I spent a year longer than most - just researching my point. New kids, different social sets, different gangs. Kids are really mean at school, and if you didn't fit in straight away you got tough, really tough really quickly, or you just didn't fit in. That's where the gym boots come in.

Gym boots. Canvas sides, rubber soled shell toe gym boots. At the time they cost about 5 bucks and while they were absolutely perfect for the adventures in caravan parks, they were not recommended fashion wear for the schoolyard. In fact, they were referred to as "poor kids shoes". This seems like a pretty lame insult nowadays, but at the time it was pretty tough, and resulted in a few scraps. They were the kind of shoes that meant that you just weren't part of the gang if you had them on.

Looking back, the mini mates of mine that wore them included people like Muscles, Nugget and the Fridays. Kids of Outsiders, Indigenous and Hippies, they would probably still be my friends now.

Then something happened that changed the way that an entire generation of kids looked at the world. On the other side of the planet, a struggling basketball team in the USA, signed a contract for uniforms with a struggling, but cheap, sporting retailer. Converse, the manufacturer of the ubiquitous poor kids shoe - the gym boot. Although the shoes had already been popular among a few of the teams, the signing of the shoe as part of the official team uniform changed everything.

Overnight, the world changed, now the shoes, were not only cool, but had rocketed Converse to the upper echelons of sportswear fashion. The problem is though, the shoes suddenly became a whole lot more expensive, guaranteeing that me and my mates would never be able to justify the price of another pair. But for one summer, we were the shit! We were the coolest gang of run abouts in the country, our gear was already well worn when it became popular. For one summer we were the kings.

I should note here that Mum and Dad never made us want for anything, in fact they probably well prepared us for life and made us appreciate what we had, and what we didn't have. But, fashions change all too quickly as an 8 year old and sometimes, the most important thing in life is the colour of the pads on the bmx, or the style of shoes (Bata or Converse) worn to school.

Whilst we had wished for our uniform to be cool, it now was, and was out of our reach. So our shoes wore out and became ragged and we became uncool, again. They had become the type of shoes that meant that you were not part of the gang if you did not have them on - new ones at that.

For 30 years I have secretly wished for a new pair of Converse All Star Gym boots. Partly because I have regularly wheeled out my soapbox to tell the story I have just written down, I have never bought myself a pair.

Today, my beautiful wife Meaghan, gave me a new pair of my own. A red pair - because they go faster.

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I know that since the revolution, a lot of people have gotten on this bandwagon, many of whom were way to young to remember the revolution, but I'll be wearing these ones with a sense of tremendous pride that
I WAS THERE. Today, a piece of me is there again.

So when you see middle aged people wearing the original and the best, take a minute to think how life changed for them, as it did for me, way back when.

Posted by adamandmeg 07:08 Archived in Turkey Comments (3)

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Home for a BBQ, A Wedding, A Quick Trip to Tassie, and Christmas

22 °C
View Homeward Bound for Christmas on adamandmeg's travel map.

What a few weeks we have just had.

İ know we have been slack with the photos but İ promıse we will upload a heap soon.

We wish you a Merry Christmas.

The flight back was uneventful except for a burning desire (satisfied) to by Megs a new laptop in Dubai. We were picked up at the airport by Annie and taken straight to The Basin, for our date with Bacon, lots of Bacon. Breakfast over, we went our separate ways for a week.

I can’t explain how strange it was to be away from Meaghan, my best mate, for a week, after having spent every day, every night for nearly a year, away from home together. I missed her before we had even left the front driveway. Whenever we are apart even for a day İ am constantly reminded why she is my best mate. İ feel like İ should be explaining some huge secret or some overwhelming sense of connection but it is actually something very plain. Her constant companionship and consideration is what İ miss when she is not around.

It was so good to be back home though, we realised that it is actually easy to be away. The novelty doesn’t really wear off, on the road you are always meeting new people, in new places with new beer. Sure we had missed home but we had also been very busy. It wasn’t until we were home, doing nothing, just hanging out at home, that we realised just how much we miss it.

First date on the social calendar was a wedding of two of our best friends, Kate and Ossie. In 50 words or less this wedding went like this: Pole dancing on the Hens, Ferry sinks on the Bucks, A lovely ceremony (Adam starred as the Usher), beautiful reception (Megs starred as MC) and kicked out of the bridal suite at 330 am by Matron of Honour. A great night was had by all.

Then we spent a really relaxing few days in Tasmania with Megs parents which was really nice. Then Christmas week at home. For me it was the first home Christmas for years and it was great.

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Then, all too soon, we were on the plane back to Istanbul, and our new jobs (uncomfirmed), new apartment (unconfirmed) and new suburb (unconfirmed).

Posted by adamandmeg 02:33 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Do they know it's Christmas time at all

December in Istanbul

10 °C
View Homeward Bound for Christmas & Istanbul or Bust on adamandmeg's travel map.

Well, the last few weeks of our time in Istanbul (Before Christmas) were somewhat exciting. Because we lived through it, we are stronger for it. But a few of the events we would both prefer not to have experienced. Let’s start at the beginning.

The last of the blog updates had us leaving Berlitz and, following the ritual shaving off of the Mo’ (with Jen and Steve) looking younger, smarter and faster. We were completing our last few lessons with the classes that we had for Berlitz, when one night, it all seemed to come crashing down.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

We got home from work to find our flatmates (now referred to as Hat and Melon – to protect the innocent) in a flat spin and all excited about a gun related incident. After a few questions and a lot of “Hat! Calm down and explain what happened”, we discovered that the gun related incident was infact very serious and a little too close to home.

Some of the Berlitz teachers (and good friends of ours) had returned home to their apartment to be followed inside by a guy with a handgun. Claiming to be searching for a large quantity of elicit substances he held these good friends of ours hostage for 3 hours. Terrifying to say the least.

Eventually they were released and immediately reported to the police and began the arduous tasks of providing witness statements etc for the investigation. That night they came back to ours and our other friends places to try to relax and get some sense of normality back. What an ordeal. For one night, and one night only, differences were set aside for those in the Adam, Meaghan, Hat and Melon household, while we all set about trying to provide a sense of community for the girls.

This effort continued the next day when a few of us had a little chat to the owner of the Berlitz franchise in Istanbul. It seemed a little strange to us that he would interrogate the girls himself and subject them to accusations that they had brought this on themselves, so we let him know what we thought. Some things were said that were pretty imflamatory and under any other circumstances (ie if we were dealing with rational people) we would have burned every bridge concerning working with Berlitz ever again. Not so here though – they are already chasing us for work.

The girls ended up leaving town a few days later. Sad to see them go, we then set about getting our stuff organised for our big Australian holiday.

Not before the fateful events of the last night in the Hat and Melon house though. I’ve lived with a lot of different people in a lot of different places but these two are by far the weirdest, most inconsiderate, socially deficient flatmates I have ever had the pleasure of cleaning up after. I don’t feel in the least bad about writing that here because they gave us an opportunity to state our case and tell it like we saw it on our last night in the flat.

It went something like this.

As we left the flat and started down the stairs Hat came running out of the flat, screaming at us all red in the face and turned, ran inside and slammed the door. Unexpected… you could say that, he had not said a word to either of us in 6 weeks. So we went back in to investigate.

The door opens and Hat jumps up from his chair (A chair surrounded by filth collected over a month or two of utter laziness that extended to personal hygiene) and comes running at us again yelling indecipherable abuse, waving his arms around and looking very much like he was going to hit us. Unexpected… you bet.

Anyway, those of you that know Meaghan even half as well as I do, know that my beautiful wife has more nerve than most and is almost impossible to beat in a fight head on, so she takes it back to Hat full steam. I sit down, hands in pocket and talk to Melon about these strange events unfolding.

It all comes out that Hat and Melon were terrified that we were going to leave the country without paying for the time in the flat. Now this wasn’t too unexpected because they had been hiding bills from us for a couple of weeks. Strange but true. So after a few home truths about our financial situation and our ability to pay the bills etc both Hat and Melon were left a little embarrassed by their tantrums.

So we explained the plan and that we were in fact coming back to Istanbul to work. This seemed to reassure Melon and by this time Meaghan had all but beat the living daylights out of Hat (Verbally anyway). Hats screaming abating, we packed the remainder of our stuff and left that night.

Amazed. In my previous life counselling in Western Australia I have met a range of people with some pretty serious social and personality disorders. Hat and Melon take the cake though.

On the flipside, we did end up staying a night with our good friends The Canadians – Josh and Jess, soon to be our flatmates.

So, bridges burned, guns away and nowhere to be seen, Hat and Melon wondering what they had done to deserve living with us, we were ready to come home for Christmas.

Posted by adamandmeg 07:34 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Anythıng by Queen

Movember

semi-overcast
View Istanbul or Bust on adamandmeg's travel map.

Recently I've been referring in jest to the new addition to our family - Dennis the Moustache. Dennis is a bit of fun for the month but is representative of my efforts to support the Movember charity.

Movember started in my homeland, Australia, but is now a world wide phenomenon. Movember supports raising awareness of Prostate Cancer and male Depression in Australia.

Last year in Australia 18,700 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 2,900 died of prostate cancer - equivalent to the number of women who die from breast cancer annually.

That's a lot of us blokes getting pretty sick.

Men are far less healthy than women. The average life expectancy of males is 5 years less than females.

So join in, Grow that Mo Bro and fight the fight for awareness. If you are a 30 something Bloke - talk to the doc, get a checkup. Donate or talk about it, either way help a bro out this month. Girls can join in too. Mo sisters are involved as well.

All donations are made directly to charities which will use the money to fund high quality research into the causes, treatment and impact of prostate cancer and to provide support and information to men and their families.

I am registered with the UK charities, but should you prefer you can also donate at Australian sites at the link below.

If you are interested in finding out more about Prostate Cancer or Depression, or Movember let me know. If you want to follow my Mo' let me know and I'll send you a daily update.

Should you wish to join the team, let me know and I'll get you registered.

For info about Movember at the Australian Site

http://www.movember.com/au/

If you want to donate or sponsor my Mo, click on the link below enter my registration number which is 102677 and your credit card details.

Sponsor my team at the UK site

http://www.movember.com/uk/donate/

So think about it, consider the effort involved for Meaghan and I enduring a month of me sporting the Mo - here in Turkey. I teach, attend meetings, shop and generally get about with Dennis on my upper lip. That's quite a challenge - and Meaghan supports me all the way - imagine the effort to stand next to me and Dennis, in line at the supermarket, at the Turkish Bath etc.

I've put another pic here for you to see the progress.

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14 November

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21 November

One the night of the 30th, we had a fundraising party in Istanbul to support the cause, Jen and Steve were here so we had a ritual shaving to raise some much needed last minute funds. The night also doubled as Steves birthday bash.

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Posted by adamandmeg 06:04 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

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