Baristas Best Travel Guides

Why Baristas Make the Best Travel Guides

NOTE FROM CATIE: Michael is a long time friend! It is crazy to think we met one another over 10 years ago now! He is also the one who encouraged me to give up my heavily flavored cream (with a bit of coffee) and to ‘just drink it black.’ It took me a few years longer than he probably would have liked, but now I am a very proud black coffee drinker! Now on to the article

The best-informed travel guide just might be the person making your coffee. The role of barista has long gone beyond the role of “bartender” like the original Italian might suggest. Baristas are cultural critics, political wonks, and amateur music historians. They know where the best Banh Mi is (which by the way, Catie cutting in here, is a Vietnamese sandwich). They’re probably eating it on their lunch break. 

Your barista very likely has a liberal arts degree if not an MFA. Their band has appeared on public radio and opened for some nationally known acts.  But more importantly for you, they’ve learned how to craft a perfect cappuccino, and that attention to detail has attracted the city’s top chefs, museum curators, and journalists to their café.

In short, they know people. 

Baristas Best Travel Guides

(Of course, this is contingent on being in a good, independent coffee shop. I cofounded to help people find the best cafés around the world.) 

Barista knows where the hidden gems are.

They know which sights are overrated, which restaurants are past their prime, and where the queue is too long to make it worthwhile. They’ve already been to the up-and-coming place no one has written about yet. 

Lucky for you, your barista will more than likely share a few tips with you— provided you’re a friendly customer and they’re not slammed making drinks.* (Do not— I  repeat—  do not ask for a travel recommendation in the middle of the morning rush!)

Baristas Best Travel Guides

The technique here is very simple. 

1. Order a coffee. If appropriate in local culture, leave a tip.

2. Drink said coffee. 

3. After you finish your coffee, thank the barista. 

4. Mention you are visiting from out of town, and ask if there are any restaurants/bars/museums/ etc you should see while you’re in town. 

Mosts of baristas love their cities, and can’t resist showing it off to out-of-towners. More than once, a barista recommendation has had a waiter or bartended asking me, “How did you find us? We don’t get many tourists here.” 

In short, your barista can curate an unforgettable travel experience

Just make sure you leave a tip.  

*Do not try this in Manhattan. Those baristas are battle-weary and interact with far too many tourists to care whether you find the best natural wine bar (it’s the Ten Bells, btw). 

Baristas Best Travel Guides

Michael Butterworth is the cofounder of (Instagram)

He lives in Istanbul with his family. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Turkish Summers + Chocolate Chip Cookies

For me, summer is the season for picnics and potlucks, marked by evenings of snacks and çay watching the sun paint the sky as it sinks into the Aegean. In Izmir, the bay is always lined with families and friends enjoying the sea breeze. In the summers when the sun doesn’t set until well after 8 pm, it can be hard to find a place to put down a blanket to sit and watch the sunset. But when you do find a space to spread out with your friends, few things are more of a crowd-pleaser than these chocolate chip cookies. They travel well, require no utensils or plates, and go perfectly with a cup of çay.

Izmir Turkey
Izmir Turkey

 This cookie has a caramelly complexity from browned butter, brown sugar, ground oats and cinnamon, a solid crunch with a structured crumb and chopped walnuts, yet all the gooey chocolate you could possibly desire. It is the combination of my favorite aspects of a few different recipes. I wanted a cookie that would give a crunch on the outside and hold together well, but with a soft interior, a bit of saltiness to keep it from being overly sweet, and the complexity of different textures and flavors. 

Izmir Turkey

This recipe is a bit time consuming as it requires for melted browned butter to come to room temperature, so I like to double the recipe ahead of time and keep pre-scooped dough in my freezer. That way, I can bake as few as two cookies for myself in the toaster oven, or a full dozen when friends or neighbors drop by unannounced. It’s a lovely feeling to know you are no more than 20 minutes away from a plate of warm, gooey and crunchy chocolate chip cookies that go perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee. The doubled recipe was enough for me to bring to 4 events.

Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • ½ cup oats 
  • 2 ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter
  • ¾ packed brown sugar (1 tbs molasses (pekmez) + 1 cup sugar = 1 cup brown sugar)
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
Chocolate Chip Cookies


  1. Brown butter in saucepan. Transfer into a bowl; place in fridge for up to 2 hours until room temperature.
  2. Pulse oats in a blender or food processor until oats are fine, but still retain some structure. Mix all dry ingredients except sugars (and chips and nuts).
  3. Cream room temperature butter and sugars. (If you’re in Turkey and don’t have brown sugar, mix 1 Tbs of pekmez (grape molasses) per cup of white sugar until well-incorporated, and keep in an airtight container.) Add vanilla, lemon juice and eggs one at a time. Stir until smooth. 
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients until sticky dough forms. Fold in chips and nuts.
  5. Scoop dough with ¼ cup. Freeze dough. 
  6. Preheat oven to 185 C. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Take out a few scoops of dough, placing them 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown on the edges, but still slightly under-baked. If you enjoy a salty sweet taste, sprinkle a pinch of salt while the cookies are hot.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes. Eat while warm. 

Let me know how the recipe turned out for you! What kind of chocolate chip cookie do you prefer? 


Nia McRay from @Tastes_Like_Turkey

I am a lover of words and stories, student of culture, amateur photographer, adult cross-cultural kid, English tutor to TCKs (Third Culture Kids), and aspiring foodie. We will probably be instant friends if you give me good coffee, invite me to cook with you, or start a conversation with me about personalities, culture, and how the two intersect. I’m a life-long nerd, believer, and creative-in-the-works. I am all about the journey, so traveling and cross-cultural living is always something that has captured my heart and inspired my imagination. 

In 2016, after teaching in an inner-city school and needing a change of pace, I spent a year abroad in Izmir, Turkey with a friend. I absolutely fell in love with the city and the people. The conveniences of a big city with a friendly, slow-pace-of-life atmosphere is all found between the mountains and the sea. What’s not to love? So, after my year of adventure, I knew I wanted to come back to Izmir to live. 

Positioned on the perch of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, Turkey is both a mix of cultures, and a unique culture all its own. The more I learn, the more I want to learn, and this desire to learn is what drives me to write. As a pretty quiet person, I write to learn, to discover, and to process. As someone who grew up in a cross-cultural context, Turkey’s diversity and mix of cultures is something I personally relate to. Plus, if you’ve ever tasted Turkish food, you know that it is definitely something to write home about. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Funks’ blog and to grow and learn in the process.


EXPAT KID: What education is best for YOUR ex-pat kid in Turkey?

Learning about other foreigners and expats living in Turkey and their TCKs’ educational opportunities.

*Note: If you are a Turkish citizen reading this post, foreign families in Turkey are under the same requirements as Turkish citizens. It is not compulsory for foreigners to send their students to public schools, and they do have the options to homeschool.

The school bell rings… or maybe the sound of mom fixing sandwiches in the kitchen signals a lunch break. Living abroad can mean rethinking what you assumed about education coming from your passport country.

Some parents can feel overwhelmed when they are presented with the options available. Questions like these floats around in their heads:

“Should we send him to the public school down the street to learn language?”

“I don’t like the curriculum at the more affordable school, but I could never be a homeschool mom.”

“Our TCK wouldn’t go to a private school in our passport country, but since my company pays an extra living stipend for expats, is that the best option for her here?”

For those who may be unfamiliar with the terminology, a TCK, or Third Culture Kid, is a child who grows up for a significant part of her life in a country that is not her passport country.

The “third culture” created in the home is neither entirely the culture of the passport country, nor is it entirely the culture of the country of residence. An ‘aTCK,or adult Third Culture Kid, is an adult who grew up with the TCK experience as opposed to adult expatriates who may or may not have lived abroad as a child. There are so many unique benefits and challenges to being or raising TCKs. One of those is the educational opportunities available to a TCK, often in a second or third language. 

As someone who was a teacher in the States (and always a teacher and learner at heart) I am passionate about education. With some of my expat friends here in Turkey, that passion often comes out when I spend time reading with their kids, reinforcing lessons I know they are teaching their kids, and asking and answering good questions. So, I asked a few of them to share their educational journeys with me.

I synthesized their answers into five tips to help guide any parents of TCKs who may be struggling to decide what is best for their family.

But first, a little bit about the families: 

MOMS: All of the following quotations are from expatriate moms who live (or have lived) in Turkey. Each of these parents has begun the process of thinking through how best to educate their TCKs. Two of the women who shared with me are aTCKs themselves, and I was particularly interested in their experience with education and how they plan to educate their children.

Quotation #4 TCK Education.jpg

KIDS: The ages of the TCKs range from newborns to high school kids. Some have only known life in Turkey. Some experienced the majority of their childhood in Turkey and have returned to their passport country. Some have been in Turkey for a relatively short time and are still learning the language. Some can speak Turkish and are in an international school learning a third language. Some kids went to a private preschool, some public preschool, both to acquire language. Some moved from preschool into homeschool, or public elementary school, or private. Some parents foresee different educational journeys for each of their children. Some are grateful that their kids are all in the same boat. Everyone’s journey is different, and everyone that I interviewed is still on the journey.  

Quotation #2 TCK Education.jpg

From watching families make these decisions, and from my interviews with these moms, here are the top five tips I’ve learned in making educational decisions for your family. 

1. Research all the options

There may be resources you don’t know are available. It could be a private school that you’d never heard of, special educational funds available for expats via your company, another expat from your passport country who is willing to tutor your child in her first language. Your options may be limited, but ask around and you may find that they are less limited than you thought. You may even find that the options are more abundant and enriching than what you would have chosen in your passport country. 

2. Consider your goals for your family and your children.

Ask the questions that are relative to your family and lifestyle:

  • Is it important for your children to learn the local language?
  • Or are you on a military base, expecting to move to a new country in the next few years?
  • In what areas do your individual children need consistency?
  • Where do you see the need for them to grow?

Remember that you are this child’s parent for a reason: you have insights into their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and you can help them to grow in areas they would never expect of themselves. 

3. Ask for advice, pray, and trust God.

There may be differences in how schooling works in your country of residence versus your passport country that you would never know if you didn’t ask. If you know a teacher, ask questions about the education philosophies of different school options, the class sizes, the length of the school day. Tour different types of schools, research what homeschooling options are available to you.

Personally, I suggest that parents pray about the decision and trust that God has made you the parents of these little ones for a reason. I believe as a parent, you have a particular insight into your children’s minds and hearts. He can give you the wisdom to make a good decision. 

4. Every child is different.

Take into consideration the personalities, strengths and challenges for each of your children individually. It may be that you end up choosing the same schooling option for all of your kids, but it may be harmful to start with that assumption.

Don’t be afraid to include your child in some of these conversations, especially if he is old enough to understand the options. Seek out the answers to these questions together:

  • What kind of learning environment is she comfortable in?
  • What kind of school would help him grow?

5. Don’t be afraid to try something different than others and allow yourself the option to change course, if needed.

Maybe you have a lot of expatriate friends, and they are all content to educate their children in the same way. Maybe it will be helpful for your TCK to be a part of that community. Maybe it would be best for your child to do schooling differently.

Feel the freedom to make that decision, knowing that doesn’t have to be permanent.  Changing schooling options every year or in the middle of a year to find a best fit may bring unnecessary transition stress to your TCK, but you needn’t feel locked into an option just because you started with it. 

Quotation #1 TCK Education.jpg

An interview with an ‘aTCK’ (adult Third Culture Kid) viewpoint for her own TCKs:

I also talked with a new friend who has the great vantage point of being not only an aTCK (adult Third Culture Kid) herself, but also an educator to TCKs and mother to a TCK! Since she has this unique perspective, I wanted to leave you with her thoughts on education abroad.  Here is our interview: 

Nia: What is your passport country? What country (or countries) did you grow up in?  Where do you live now?

Grace: My passport country is S. Korea. I grew up in Turkey, went to boarding school in Germany for 6 years, Korea for university, and am back in Turkey.

Nia: What was your educational experience growing up (public, private, boarding, international, home school, etc.)? Did it change as you got older? Why or why not?

Grace: I attended a local preschool, an American military school for Kindergarten-3rd grade, school in Korea for 4th grade, a small [international] school in Izmir for 5th and 6th, and a boarding school (Black Forest Academy) for 7th through 12th grade.

Nia: What did you appreciate from your educational experience? What would you do differently for your own children? What effect do you think your educational circumstances have had on you?

Grace: I appreciate my early exposure to Turkish and English. My boarding school experience was a personal time of healing where I felt I belonged and I wasn’t the “odd one out.” I would want my child to attend the school I attended, but I wouldn’t want him to be at a boarding school. I think times have changed and media has brought people closer together so he does not need to go to a boarding school to feel the sense of belonging that I did. 

Nia: As an educator of Third Culture Kids, what do you see as the pros and cons of the educational opportunities available when people live abroad?

Grace: Pros: [One] can get a faith-based education, can find a like-minded community, be in a safe environment, be exposed to the universal church and a truly multicultural experience.

Con: [T]here is a sense of a “bubble” and being removed from the local community and language.

Nia: What do you enjoy about teaching Third Culture Kids? What are the challenges?

Grace: I love how vibrant TCKs are and I feel honored to be able to relate with some of their experiences. A challenge is working in and with such a tight-knit community and the ramifications for the kids and adults.

Nia: How do you plan to think through your child’s educational experiences?

Grace: I want my child to be safe and happy. Those are my priorities and I hope to work through whatever situation I am faced with when my child becomes of school age and choose what is best.

Nia: What advice do you have for any families struggling to decide how to educate their children in a different country?

Grace: As expatriates, we sometimes feel driven into a corner when faced with options for education. It can be difficult to deal with guilt when thinking about our children’s education. Instead of thinking that our children’s education was the ONLY option available, trusting God and trusting that it was the BEST option.

Quotation #3 TCK Education-2.jpg

Now your turn!

  • Did you find any of these tips helpful or encouraging?
  • What tips would you add?
  • If you are an expat with school-age kids, what is your story and how did you decide to go that route? Please share!


Nia McRay from @Tastes_Like_Turkey

I am a lover of words and stories, student of culture, amateur photographer, adult cross-cultural kid, English tutor to TCKs (Third Culture Kids), and aspiring foodie. We will probably be instant friends if you give me good coffee, invite me to cook with you, or start a conversation with me about personalities, culture, and how the two intersect. I’m a life-long nerd, believer, and creative-in-the-works. I am all about the journey, so traveling and cross-cultural living is always something that has captured my heart and inspired my imagination. 

In 2016, after teaching in an inner-city school and needing a change of pace, I spent a year abroad in Izmir, Turkey with a friend. I absolutely fell in love with the city and the people. The conveniences of a big city with a friendly, slow-pace-of-life atmosphere is all found between the mountains and the sea. What’s not to love? So, after my year of adventure, I knew I wanted to come back to Izmir to live. 

Positioned on the perch of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, Turkey is both a mix of cultures, and a unique culture all its own. The more I learn, the more I want to learn, and this desire to learn is what drives me to write. As a pretty quiet person, I write to learn, to discover, and to process. As someone who grew up in a cross-cultural context, Turkey’s diversity and mix of cultures is something I personally relate to. Plus, if you’ve ever tasted Turkish food, you know that it is definitely something to write home about. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Funks’ blog and to grow and learn in the process.


REVIEW: 2019 – Adoption, Rebranding, + Visitors

What better way to get back into the game. I said this last February(2018) when I finally published our 2018 Review. I am breaking my ‘how late can a year review be recorded’ by publishing this 2019 Review halfway through March *cough* April!

Jason and I forwent one of our favorite traditions of grabbing sushi and go through my list of year-end questions. Instead, we celebrated with our friends at their new home across the bay. It was a fun night of good food and some game-playing, topped off with entering the new year while on our drive back into Izmir.


2018 was ‘technically’ the year we became parents. In 2019, custody of our daughter was legalized. Our private adoption will be finalized in 2020. 2019 started in weariness, uncertainty, and trusting the Lord for His plan; it finished with a celebrating with certainty that we have a beautiful 1-year-old daughter, Sofia Marie.  Due to our adoption here, we will be around for another 2 years in Turkey to complete the necessary paperwork.

If you are just joining in … you can find our adoption information here: Announced our adoption plans! (Adoption video #1 on our YouTube channel, but you can view the adoption playlist here.) Decided we had to move to America for said adoption plans….Then decided not to move to America because of an unexpected but exciting private adoption opportunity that came up here in Turkey!


Due to our adoption, we have placed almost all travels outside of Turkey on hold until all of this adoption stuff is complete and for 2019, we stuck close to Izmir. We SAID we were going to share these travels but it just hasn’t been practical right. There are so many parts of our lives that just don’t revolve around travel even though we are ex-pats! Also, because our status in Izmir is a temporary one, I hope this website will eventually be more all-encompassing of our lives as the Funk family – balancing life, work, expat living, mini-travels, and parenthood.

Hence the change of name from FunkTravels to FollowingtheFunks! We hope you will stick around longer than what Izmir, Turkey has to hold for us. (Don’t worry, we are still here for another couple of years!)


One of the BEST parts of 2019 was all the visitors we had. While Jason and I would love to think it was due to us, we know it is because of an adorable little baby. Several friends came down from Izmir or ‘popped by’ for a night on their way somewhere. Thank you all for coming to see us!

Finally, here is our recap of 2019:

  • My parents stayed for 10 weeks with us here in Turkey and saw Sofia grow from 6 weeks to 16 weeks! That is a lot of growing they got to be a part of! We took them around Izmir, down to Ephesus and up to Pergamon.

FollowingtheFunks-Review Ephesus Turkey

FollowingtheFunks-Review Pergamon Turkey

  • Spent a weekend showing my parents Pammukale, Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Sardis.

FollowingtheFunks-Review Pamukkale Izmir Turkey

  • February we said goodbye to Catie’s parents and started ‘solo’ parenting again. 
  • In March, we celebrated year 5 of marriage in Kusadasi with our sweet Sofia. We took her to the beach for the first time. 

FollowingtheFunks-Review Anniversary Izmir Turkey

FollowingtheFunks-Review Izmir Turkey

  • In April we took Sofia for her first major roadtrip to Istanbul to meet some of our old friends there. We also had the honor of hosting the Keil family in Turkey!

FollowingtheFunks-Review Istanbul Tulips Turkey

FollowingtheFunks-Review Izmir Turkey

  • In May, our friends, the Bradley family, came to visit for a few days.

FollowingtheFunks-Review Ephesus Turkey

  • Also in May, we celebrated adding twins to our nephew and nieces clan and another nephew joined in October!
  • But most importantly, we finally received legal custody for our adoption of Sofia and we announced her to everyone! We felt like we could start to breathe normally and relax more.
  • At the beginning of June, our friends the Rowells (our South East Asia traveling buddy) came for a week and we literally rented a house in Bodrum for a week and did nothing. It was AWESOME. And we spent a weekend in Alacati with the Cruz family. The flowers were in full bloom!

FollowingtheFunks-Review Bodrum Turkey

FollowingtheFunks-Review Bodrum Turkey

FollowingtheFunks-Review Alacati Turkey

  • June brought some sad news that one of Catie’s friend(definitely considered family) passed awake. She went to the states for a dear friend’s funeral while Jason was a rockstar at solo parenting. She also got to see the twins!


  • A few weeks in the summer we passed it like a true Izmirlian with some friends at a summer house. Sofia took her first trip out to sea.

FollowingtheFunks-Review Izmir Turkey

  • Sofia’s also had her first major sickness which left us taking her to the hospital for a fever.
  • In September, we finished our 3rd year living in Turkey. Sofia went to her first Turkish wedding.

FollowingtheFunks-Review Turkish Wedding Turkey

  • At the end of October, Jason’s parents, Wanda and DeWayne came to visit! We took them to Ephesus and Pamukkale!

FollowingtheFunks-Review Izmir Turkey

FollowingtheFunks-Review Pamukkale Izmir Turkey

  • November – Sofia turned one!

FollowingtheFunks-Review Sofia First Birthday Izmir Turkey

  • Again Catie left Jason for a wedding of one of her bestie’s in the states. (Don’t worry Jason has just made a trip to the states!)


  • In December, after a lonnnngggg 5+ years, Catie got to snow ski once again in Uludağ. Our family spent a few days together enjoying a cozy ski lodge friends and lots of snow!

FollowingtheFunks-Review Uludag Skiing Turkey

Some other random thoughts:

If you are wondering:  We still think our car is the best purchase of 2018…. about all the modes of transportation we used in Izmir, and then (finally) bought a car at the end of the year in 2018! (Maybe we should do a video about it and allllll the things that comes with owning a car in Turkey one day…)

If you haven’t had a chance, you can still read about things to do IN IZMIR and day trips from here.

Several words come to mind as we think back to our year: parenting, hurdling over all the legal hoops, hardship, but so much more joy. It is fair to say that our lives have now been rotated to revolve around Sofia! But now that she is a year old, we feel there is some ease that is coming back into our independence.


When we started this expat journey, we committed to 3 years of overseas life. As we enter our 4th year living in Turkey, we can’t wait to see what God does next. He has been so good to show us how great of a community we have here in Izmir especially in this season of change and unexpected blessings.

2019 finished out in a blur and all of a sudden it’s April 2020 (even though I started this post a month ago!). While we have not been overly present here on social media in the last few months, it does not mean that we’ve been lazy! We have so many good things to share as we are finally adjusting to the work/parent life balance.

THANK YOU for sitting around when our posts have lulled and being part of our 2019.

Jason + Catie + Sofia

COVID19 Turkey expat

COVID-19 + Turkey + Expat (Update 1)

Back from the depth of newish motherhood, language learning (yet again) and what life looks like for our expat family living in Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic

If you are new here, welcome, and if you are surprised to see a new post, THANK YOU for sticking around. You see, motherhood is full-time work… motherhood and living in another country can feel like double time… FIRST TIME motherhood VIA adoption AND living in another country means a lot has just been neglected when it comes to our website. I think my last post was just over a year ago, but we did do some fun videos mid-year!

There are so many things to write and say but the most pressing one I felt should be shared (and maybe the last one you want to read about!) is COVID-19. While it may be interesting to our non-Turkey followers, I thought this may be of more interest to our English speaking expats living in Turkey.

First, let’s catch up on the COVID-19’s arrival to Turkey. For this timeline, I found the DailySabah and Wikipedia (oh the irony here) were helpful resources. I actually started this post a week ago and have be updating it as I come back to it. We are now 2 week into the ‘stay home’ and ‘self-isolation’ period. In this time, Turkey has jumped from 89 confirmed cases to 7402. This is not to scare anyone but it is to be expected that once you can actually start testing for the virus then the numbers will increase.  (If you want a timeline from China to the present day, I found this article to be a good start.)

The timeline in Turkey:

  • February 3: Ankara stopped all flights to and from China. 
  • February 23: It closed all air, land and railway crossings from Iran.
  • February 27: Turkey established field hospitals at its border gates with Iran, Iraq and Georgia. 
  • February 29: All passenger traffic between Italy and Turkey was stopped.
  • March 10: The first case tests positive. (From what I understand, this is when Turkey actually started testing for COVID-19.)
  • March 12: Turkey closes all schools starting on the 14th, the postponement of public officials’ travels abroad and the playing of sports matches without fans. Turkey temporarily suspended the activities of entertainment venues such as bars, casinos, night clubs, museums and libraries where many people come together. They also banned public gatherings and pilgrimages, implements health checks at the borders.
  • March 13: All arts and culture events were postponed until the end of April. The number of COVID-19 cases rose to five in Turkey.
  • March 15: The number of COVID-19 patients in Turkey reached 18. 
  • March 16th: Religious authorities announced that community prayers, including Friday prayers, would not meet. Turkey closes coffee shops, cafes, cinemas, theaters, concert halls, wedding halls, baths, sports halls, indoor children’s playgrounds and more. The Minister of Health announced that the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 increased to 98 and Turkey lost its first patient, an 89-year-old citizen.
  • March 20: The government encourages everyone to “stay home” and “self-isolate”.
  • March 22: Those who are 65 years and older are told to stay home… maybe a little hard to implement when the old ladies hit you with a walking stick… BUT it has also brought back one of my favorite things here – basket deliveries!
  • March 23: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 COVID-19 Health Notice for Turkey and warned travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to Turkey. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that 3,672 tests have been carried out over the last 24 hours and 293 new [COVID-19] cases were identified. He also wrote that despite our best efforts, 7 more succumbed to the disease. AND we finally got anti-virus test kits sent over from China.
  • March 24: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Turkey has increased by 293, making a total of 1,529. The number of deaths has risen to 37.
  • March 26: Turkey has 2,433 diagnosed cases and 59 dead. Schools and universities closures have been extended to possibly April 30.
  • March 28: All international flights have been shut down(besides a few exceptions) and restrictions placed on inter-city travel . 7402 cases of COVID-19 and 108 related deaths in Turkey


Turks pride themselves on their cleanliness. Their homes are immaculate, shoes come off outside the door, and they have a deep love of their lemon “cologne” given to guests upon entering their homes. The main difference between perfume and kolonya is its ratio of oils to alcohol. Some kolonya can be up to 80% alcohol. Experts say this serves as an excellent preventative measure in spreading viruses and bacteria. Just don’t actually DRINK pure alcohol to ward off the virus

Turkey has also been taking extreme measures to disinfectant public areas which has been applauded by WHO (World Health Organization).

I am not Turkish and neither is my husband. But just like everywhere else, COVID is taking a toll on people. There is fear, concern, and the struggle between needing to work and trying to self-isolate. Lots of places have closed by government mandate, but even more that have temporarily closed because they just can’t stay open. While we didn’t run out of toilet paper, there was no flour or pasta to be found one day I went to the market. Here are a couple of pictures from my local store back on March 14th ish.

COVID19 Turkey expat

COVID19 Turkey expat


When it comes to self-isolation… some (I would even dare say the majority) are doing well. But people have to work, get food… survive.  However, there are some things that are still happening I don’t understand… Weekly markets are still happening. Restricted hours vs. closing. As well, there are still a good number of people out when I have to finally get out to run an errand.

The government has announced a TL 100 billion ($15.3 billion) economic package intended to protect Turkey from the financial effects. The package includes the postponement of tax duties, loans and social insurance payments as well as many incentives for Turkish businesses and citizens.

Even phone companies are pitching in by changing their names to support the “Stay Home” requests with “Evde Kal” or like below “Hayat Eve Sığar

COVID19 Turkey expat



This article sums it up well for expats that are supposedly “stuck” in Turkey. We have lived here 3.5 years now and have no plans to leave during this time. Most other expats we know are here to ride it out too. Everything has shut down so quickly that it would be difficult to get out and probably not the wisest at this time either. Plus, we actually can not leave the country because of our adoption with Sofia. 

If you are a foreigner living in Izmir, Turkey, here are some action steps our embassy recommended:

U.S. citizens who are considering returning to the United States are urged to work with their airlines to make travel arrangements while flights are still available.  

Otherwise, the US Embassy sent out these action steps to citizens living in Turkey. I found this information and links could be helpful to any foreigner living in Turkey right now.

What this means for Jason: 

Since Jason has always worked online via his USA based business, not much has changed for us. We are thankful that his job is still in full swing and that he got a few new jobs to work on before things have gotten bad.

What this means for a Catie (me):

I finished my Turkish classes (which were every day) back at the end of January. We do have a house helper that comes to help during the week but isn’t coming this week. I have mostly stayed homed and took some measures to work on being prepared for a potential lockdown.  My role looks more like caring for Sofia and less time working on my side projects.

What this means for Sofia: 

We are blessed that our 16-month-old daughter Sofia is at an age that she doesn’t fully beg to go out to the park. But it’s hard because she is still active and loves seeing people and new things. Our apartment has a large terrace and we have rearranged Jason’s office so that we have full access to it. Thankfully the weather has warm up a little bit and we can enjoy it more.  She has been confined to our apartment and while we did take her our for a few walks before, we are a little warier of it now.  

Our daily life right now:

We have stocked up a good bit of groceries and other necessities, as well as prepared for April’s rent and bills, and have cash on hand for emergencies. We usually have help during the week to watching Sofia, but Jason and I are adjusting our “stay home” routine.

There are still beautiful moments of joy and laughter as we look around (virtually) and see who is still here in Turkey, and how we can help and support each other. It’s hard. But seeing God at work in the center of it is beautiful.

Here are some recent joys:

  • SO MANY COMPANIES have opened up free services and subscriptions during this time. I have a list below.
  • Seeing our daughter grow and learn new things every day. The other day she said the word guitar (crazy).
  • We have a balcony area that is great for Sofia to play outside on good weather days!
  • My favorite and we haven’t missed a night yet! Every night at 9 pm, everyone gathers on their balconies to applaud the healthcare professionals. It is so great to see Turkey rally together in this way!!!
  • The local churches are keeping in touch and meeting online now. Thank you technology!
  • Right now I’m thankful not to have been in quarantine for 2 months already
  • And I don’t have to worry about having enough TP in Turkey
  • Praying through this time using a sweet little prayer guide! (Thanks Lifeway!)COVID19 Turkey expat

What you can do from your home:  

COVID19 Turkey DevletOpera

Just a couple of pictures of our self-isolation time below!

COVID19 Turkey expat

COVID19 Turkey expat

COVID19 Turkey expat


Finally, stay home and stay safe! We have a long way to go until we are back to normal.

Please let me know how you are doing and if you have updates or more resources I can share here!