10 Best Expats to Follow in Turkey!

Back when I lived in Turkey the first time (2008-2010) blogs were just becoming a thing. I even had one… that I didn’t do much with… and I can’t tell you whatever happened to it!

Fast forward to 2021, there have been tons of blogs come and go about Turkey.

I find that bloggers tell you the truest, first hand accounts of life in Turkey and the little details of travel that are missed. These are usually expats who LIVE IN TURKEY, giving you the inside scoop. Some are intriguing, informative, or just purely entertaining – sometimes even giving you the feeling of having a coffee break with a friend.

Even though COVID is making it hard to travel right now, you can still explore and discover Turkey from the comfort of your computer screen!

Check out these great blogs and YouTubers that love to share about Turkey too!!!

Little Recap:

For the month of February (the month of lllooooovvvvveeeee), I am doing a quick little mini LOVE series. Each week I will cover 5 “…” I love about Turkey.

Here is the line up! (scroll to the bottom for all the links)

  • WEEK ONE: 5 Things I love about Turkey 
  • WEEK TWO: 5 Places I love in Turkey
  • WEEK THREE: 5 Foods I love in Turkey 
  • WEEK FOUR: 5 People who also love Turkey too 

DON’T FORGET: FREE PRINT!

If you’re new here I have a newsletter that goes out every month with a free download. I just sent out our first one for this year! This newsletter includes 3 free prints with the Turkish words faith, hope, and love. Please subscribe and access to those freebies will go straight to your mailbox!  

Let’s get started! Read on to learn the 10 PEOPLE I love to follow in Turkey

I started with the 5 from the video and then the rest are just in random order!

NOTE: There are a LOT of blogs I could post here… unfortunately many have gone inactive. I only included those I knew are still active and maintained regularly.

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA

American Duke Dillard and his family moved to Cappadocia back in 2011. This blog started shortly after to share all the tips for exploring the area but more importantly to encourage you to look pasts all the rocks and get to know the wonderful people of this region.

What I love?

  • Longer term. Their website (not sure when it started) but I found it in 2013 has been around for almost a decade. 
  • Challenge you to take the roads less travelled and truly meet the people of Cappadocia
  • Amazing book that covers all things Cappadocia: Captivating Cappadocia: The Comprehensive Guidebook to the Heart of Turkey. It will NOT disappoint you – includes some discounts too!


TURKEY FOR LIFE

Julia and Barry are a British expat couple who have made a home in Fehtiye. Their blog, Turkey’s For Life, sprouted from life here and exploration of Turkey over the years.

What I love: 

  • Long Term! I’ve been following since before we moved to Turkey…. soooo 2014 ish. But they have been writing since 2009.
  • Their love for soccer and really knowing the Turkish soccer league!
  • Always willing to try and share a new restaurant or Turkish recipe.
  • Expat lives – they aren’t just full-time travelers. They love sharing daily life and all about the latest news of their beloved town of Fethiye in their Fethiye Weather newsletter!


SLOW TRAVEL GUIDE

These two Belgian expats, Pascale and Mark, don’t love the spotlight but they LOVE sharing all about Turkey. So you will find that their blog is all about Turkey and not about them. These explorers love to bring you detail articles about the less explored parts of Turkey!

What I love: 

  • Their guides, writing, and photos are always in-depth and gorgeous.
  • They appreciate taking the solo (non-tour) route and can tell you EXACTLY how to go about it too!
  • Their goal to visit every ancient site in Turkey!


WEST2EAST

Ginny Lou and Leslie are two American friends that share their expat experiences living in a more eastern region of Turkey, Adana. They know how to connect to the people and culture and share that with you! They have also branched out to create “Explore Adana,” a website devoted to sharing the unseen Eastern Mediterranean.

What I love?

  • It’s a different part of Turkey most blogs don’t cover and most tourist never visit. But you can via their website!
  • Genuine love for the Turkish Culture and people and you can tell it in their writings.
  • They have some fun merch in their little shop.


HASAT CO

American expat, Jocette, and her Turkish husband, Salih work together to share their passions in agriculture, gastronomy, and cooking. No matter where you live, their stories and recipes are fun and easy to follow.

What I love?

  • True look into Turkish village life with her husband’s family on their family farm.
  • Super fun Instagram reelz sharing non-traditional (or let’s say typically known) Turkish recipes. Oh, and some new YouTube videos coming along too.
  • Some sweet prints that depict Turkish life and some fun recipe prints. Check it out at her shop.


FIORE BELLA EXPLORES TURKEY- YOUTUBER

Hailing from Costa Rica, Fio is a trilingual beauty and new to sharing her life with others via her YouTube channel. She has quickly become popular for her upbeat videos- which she has done in English, Spanish, and even Turkish. Most of her videos are in Spanish but will have subtitles if you want to follow along.

What I love?

  • Super postive, upbeat gal with amazing story telling skills. Even in Spanish I am mesmerized by what she is saying (and I don’t speak Spanish!).
  • Love for sharing Turkey with others!
  • I definitely admire her for doing one of her videos completely in Turkish! (YOU ROCK!)


CHELSEA ELIZABETH – YOUTUBER

American expat, Chelsea, has lived in Turkey for several years now. She is super popular among the Turks sharing what it is like for a foreigner to adjust to living in Turkey and even what it is like to learn Turkish.

What I love?

  • Some fun videos about what it’s like to move from America to Turkey.
  • Her bravery for speaking in Turkish on video! (Obviously I am not there yet!)
  • She is a tell-it-like-it-is and she is not afraid to cover some of the harder topics like Fem on her channel – (THANK YOU!).


INSIDE OUT IN ISTANBUL 

Lisa Morrow, a writer from Australia, shares interviews, advice for foreigners, cultural information, and even some personal accounts of her time as an expat in Istanbul.

What I love?

  • Longer term – having visited for the first time in 1990.
  • Great writer and she always comes up with some of the most creative topics! has published three books on Turkey, including “Inside Out in Istanbul: Making Sense of the City,” “Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom” and “Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries.”
  • Encourages you to really get to know areas of Istanbul that you may never consider!


EXPLORING THE TURKISH KITCHEN

Originally from Wales, Christa now lives in Aydın with her Turkish husband. Exploring the Turkish Kitchen is a blog sharing Turkey’s culinary delights and recipes from the expat perspective. As well, she share a bit of her personal accounts of her expat life usually via a connection with Turkish food.

What I love?

  • Christa doesn’t live in the typical Istanbul or Izmir expat locations. This gives her a different insight into more regional Turkish cooking – which always differs slightly depending on the region you live in!
  • Sometimes learning a completely new culture and food can be intimidating, but she has 5 years of learning how to fight with the skill and does a great job sharing it with you!
  • Free Turkish Recipe ebook with 15 Turkish Recipes! Check it out!


TRAVELING LENS PHOTOGRAPHY

American Lanell and her Lebanese husband decided to move abroad after their kids graduated college. While Antalya, Turkey is becoming more and more their home, they are sharing their exploration of the area via photography and writings.

What I love?

  • Newer to Turkey which means they are sharing all their learning and fun eploration. Lots of expat info too in case you want to move here!
  • Located around Antalya and have some fun articles about it.
  • Beautiful website and travel guides covering lots of countries outside of Turkey too!


TURKISH TRAVEL BLOG

Having moved Aegean Coast over a decade ago, British expat, Natalie Sayın’s blog is one of the most informative on travel, history and culture in Turkey.

What I love?

  • Long term!
  • Seriously great content on almost every part of Turkey! Super easy to read and navigate.
  • Some fun expat write up on Turkish culture, film/tv, and news.


BONUS: My Pretty Everything

I came across her YouTube when I was writing this post! So I am a new to learning about her. Here is some info:

Rosemary, a Dutch expat, move to Marmaris, Turkey for her Turkish husband. She makes video’s about everything from makeup and fashion to daily life vlogs and explorations in Turkey!


There you have it! Those are my top TEN PEOPLE I love to follow about Turkey.

Check out our matching video over at our YouTube Channel.

Comment below and let me know about some of the questions below:

  • Have you visited Turkey? 
  • Who do you follow to learn about Turkey?
  • Who did I miss on my list???

Check out our other Mini LOVE Series videos and blog post too!

Thank you for watching my mini love series and so thankful for you and I hope you enjoy the freebies!

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

TURKEY: 5 Turkish Foods I Love

What comes to mind when you think of Turkish food? A lot of people come to Turkey and they think kebabs and rice. But as someone who took Turkish cooking lessons once a week for a year and a half, there is SO MUCH MORE

ADANA KEBABS IN ADANA – MASSIVE MIX GRILLED PLATE!

Little Recap:

For the month of February (the month of lllooooovvvvveeeee), I am doing a quick little mini LOVE series. Each week I will cover 5 “…” I love about Turkey.

Here is the line up! (scroll to the bottom for all the links)

  • WEEK ONE: 5 Things I love about Turkey 
  • WEEK TWO: 5 Places I love in Turkey
  • WEEK THREE: 5 Foods I love in Turkey 
  • WEEK FOUR: 5 People who also love Turkey too 

DON’T FORGET: FREE PRINT!

If you’re new here I have a newsletter that goes out every month with a free download. I just sent out our first one for this year! This newsletter includes 3 free prints with the Turkish words faith, hope, and love. Please subscribe and access to those freebies will go straight to your mailbox!  

Let’s get started! Read on to learn the 5 FOODS I love in Turkey

1. BEYTI KEBAB

It’s funny that I mentioned kebab’s first, especially after using it as an example of what people assume Turkish food is…  To be fair, it’s a slightly different take on kebab which is probably why I enjoy it more!

Beyti is a Turkish dish consisting of ground beef or lamb, grilled on a skewer and served wrapped in lavas (or flat bread) and topped with tomato sauce and yogurt. Like most Turkish meals there is usually some type rice or bulgar served as a small side (as if the bread it was wrapped in wasn’t enough…) 

Fun Fact: I learned is that this dish is actually named after a Beyti Güler, the owner of the popular restaurant Beyti in Istanbul.

TRY THIS RECIPE AT HOME.

2. ALI NAZIK

Gosh, I love anything with eggplant. Let’s get this straight – TURKISH eggplant. It’s just different than what we have in the states. I even mentioned that eggplant, or aubergine, in my ‘5 things I love about Turkey’ video.

And my favorite eggplant dish? Ali Nazik. 

Ali nazik is a scrumptious Gaziantep specialty. The delicious marriage of char-grilled smoked eggplant puree mixed with yogurt is then topped with tender lamb stew. Ali nazik is sometimes served with rice pilaf and grilled vegetables. Unfortunately, this dish gets overlooked by a lot of foreigners that they’ve never have really good eggplant. So if you come to Turkey please, please, please, give it a chance. That’s all I’m asking because the mixture of the eggplant with the lamb that is so tender on top with makes it so incredibly delicious. 

It really is a feast to all senses and a special dish to share.

TRY THIS RECIPE AT HOME.

3. MEZE

Meze is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers or served as a part of multi-course meals. Mezes are a parts of the Middle East, the Balkans, Greece, and North Africa. You can kind of think of it like a larger portions of Spainish tapas (not free). 

Our neighborhood in Izmir is know for its meze, especially the Rakı-Balık combo. Balık is the Turkish for fish and rakı is the Turkish version of their licorice tasting spirit which personally it’s not my favorite because I don’t love the licorice. Part of the rakı-balık experience is getting all these little side dishes to eat alongside your hand picked fish. I love being able to explore the freshly prepared selections of mezes and choose four or five and then later pick my fish. 

This meal is most definitely a slow and social experience with friends. Everyone sits, chats, eat a little bit at a time, and maybe there will even be singing if a lingering 2 person band comes by to serenade you.

If you are a person who loves everyone ordering different items from the menu so you can ‘try it all’ then THIS is your type of place (and food). It is a great option for those who want to try a little bit of everything.

TRY THESE RECIPES AT HOME.

FollowingTheFunks Turkish Meze

4. KUNEFE

Kunefe is dessert made with shredded filo pastry, soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, and typically layered with cheese in the middle.  If you aren’t a fan of super sweet desserts like kadayif or baklava, this is a great combination – something about the mix of cheese and simple syrup balances the flavors out and makes it seem lighter. This dessert is made fresh when ordered and it takes a while baked on the stove. If you are out of restaurant and know you want to this tasty dessert, make sure to tell them at the beginning of your meal. If you forget you’re going to find yourself waiting another 20 minutes.  

I especially love Kunefe with pistachios sprinkles (or if you are in the hazelnut capital of Turkey then maybe hazelnuts would be a good choice!) and a little(actually a lot) scoop of clotted cream, or kaymak in Turkish.  The mixture of shredded wheat, syrup, and cheese sounds odd, but you have to at least try once. 

And yes, you’ll thank me for it. It’s just absolutely delicious.

TRY THIS RECIPE AT HOME.

FollowingTheFunks Turkish Kunefe

5. KAHVALTI

I am sure it isn’t a surprise to those of you who have been following along for any amount of time here. From our blog post write-up, breakfast in Kalkan, video explaining what Turkish Breakfast is, and our recent Black Sea series telling you about the must-trip mıhlama breakfast dish served in Trabzon and Rize, it’s my jam (get it?).

Kahvalti, the Turkish word for breakfast, literally means ‘under coffee’ or a better translation is ‘before coffee’. Turkish breakfast is often diverse and consists of several different foods eaten together with a big pot of çay, or Turkish tea. Turkish kahve, or coffee, comes at the end of the meal. Breakfast in Turkey, traditionally, is family gathering, much like a brunch is for us Americans.  With a line-up of tastes all its own, who wouldn’t look forward to it the night before and WANT to make it a longer, sit-down affair.

What makes Turkish breakfast even more appealing? Every region of turkey has a different type of breakfast tradition or breakfast dishes that they love to serve in their spread. Of course the most common items are usually there: tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheeses, eggs, and usually some types of jellies or honey with bread

Turkish breakfast is usually done best on the weekend – during the week families are busy, but usually on a Saturday morning or Sunday morning, families make a point to sit down and have this breakfast or brunch with their families. Our family too has followed this tradition! I LOVE a good brunch on a weekend, and our favorite restaurants in Karsiyaka know us now! (Well, when they are allowed to be opened – stinky covid.) I also appreciate enjoying it with good friends and/or family. 

I’ve got a couple of videos about Turkish breakfast but if you’re curious to learn more about what all could be found in a Turkish breakfast at a restaurant you can watch one of my videos called “What is Turkish Breakfast???”.

TRY THIS LIST GUIDE AT HOME.

FollowingTheFunks Turkish Breakfast Kahvalti
FollowingTheFunks Turkish Breakfast Kahvalti

There you have it! Those are my top five foods I love in Turkey. I think I will have to do a part 2 because I could easily name 5 more!!! 

Check out our matching video over at our YouTube Channel.

LISTEN to our podcast episode about our top 10 favorite Turkish food!

FollowingTheFunks Turkish Meze

Comment below and let me know about some of the questions below:

  • Have you visited Turkey? 
  • Where do you love to visit?
  • Or where would you love to visit one day?

Check out our other Mini LOVE Series videos and blog post too!

  • 5 Things I love about Turkey: BLOG POST (coming soon!) + VIDEO
  • 5 Place I love in Turkey: BLOG POST + VIDEO 
  • 5 Food I love in Turkey: BLOG POST + VIDEO
  • 5 People who love Turkey too: next week

Thank you for watching my mini love series and so thankful for you and I hope you enjoy the freebies!

TURKEY: 5 Places to Visit in Turkey

If you have been following us on our adventures, you know I just finished up the 8 part video series and blog posts about our Black Sea Road Trip. You can always go back and check that out! 

You have been asking for some more Turkey content and here it is! 

For the month of February (the month of lllooooovvvvveeeee), I am doing a quick little mini LOVE series. Each week I will cover 5 “…” I love about Turkey.

Here is the line up!

  • WEEK ONE: 5 Things I love about Turkey 
  • WEEK TWO: 5 Places I love in Turkey
  • WEEK THREE: 5 Foods I love in Turkey 
  • WEEK FOUR: 5 People who also love Turkey too 

DON’T FORGET: FREE PRINT!

If you’re new here I have a newsletter that goes out every month with a free download. I just sent out our first one for this year! This newsletter includes 3 free prints with the Turkish words faith, hope, and love. Please subscribe and access to those freebies will go straight to your mailbox!  

Let’s get started! Read on to learn the 5 PLACES I love in Turkey

1. ISTANBUL

While it is first on my list it is not necessarily my favorite city in Turkey. Obviously when we moved here we live to Izmir. 

However, Istanbul will always have a special place in my heart. I live for 2 years, ten years ago. It’s where I first met my husband (also American). It is a lot longer story, but we became friends during that time.  As well, I never lived in a big city in America, and Istanbul was my first major massive big city. It will always be a very dear city.  

Grown to a city of 20 million people, Istanbul has been a part of four major empires. Positioned between two continents, you can travel from Asia to Europe in one day by just taking a ferry or you can cross over one of the intercontinental bridges. Most people only spend a day or two going to the most visited tourist areas and seeing sights like the Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapı Palace which is where the Ottoman sultans used to live. With all the historical sites, one can easily spend two weeks in just Istanbul. 

So many people who have come to Istanbul and fallen in love with this city. I think it has the same big city draws as New York. So many people, not just Turkish, but other nationalities who come for a visit, find a city so enticing, and move here.

2. IZMIR

I’m sure it is no surprise that the second place on my list is Izmir. I don’t just say that because we live here, but I’m sure it has some influence. It is truly a beautiful city. Much like Istanbul, it is positioned right along the coast curving around a bay area. Here too one can enjoy a ferry from one side of the city to the other. 

This city of 4 million people is big enough to attract expat community. It tends to be sunny most of the year with a little bit of rain and cooler temps in the wintertime. Known as the ancient city of Smyrna, Izmir is the starting point for people to visit Ephesus. Being one of the biggest open-air Museum in Turkey, Ephesus is absolutely worth your visit. As well, Izmir is a great base for taking several day trips out to different areas like the beach, mountains, villages, and other historical sites. i

3. PAMUKKALE

I know that Pamukkale would not make most people’s list. Because I have never seen anything like this outside of Turkey, it has become one of my favorite places in Turkey! 

Pamukkale literally means ‘Cotton (pamuk) Castle (kale).’ The white hill juts up from the ground in the middle of valley making it visible for miles on a clear day. It looks like cold, snowy mountain, but it most definitely is not!

So, what makes it white? The mineral rick thermal hot springs in this area are particularly rich in calcium sulfate. This unique site and thermal pools make it a popular stop-off for folks doing a huge Turkey tour.

Pammukale is also part of the ancient city of Hierapolis. The theater is one of the best around and has an awesome view of the area. The grounds of Hierapolis are extensive and can take you up to 3 hours to see everything, including the extensive city roads and tombs.

Just 15 minutes south of Pamukkale is another historical site, Laodicea, also known as the last of the 7 churches on this route. Laodicea is ACTIVELY being excavated/restored and continually improved. Since I first visited in 2009 ish, they discovered a church in 2010 and now have opened it to the public!

If you live in or visit Izmir OR if you have never seen anything like this before, you should definitely add Pamukkale to your itinerary. While you can make it out to Pamukkale and back in 1 day (if you do it this way, get a bus tour and let them do all the hard work), it will be a VERY long day. Otherwise, it’s best to make the trip an overnight one since Pamukkale is a solid 3 hours drive ONE WAY without stops (near a town called Denizli).  

Laodicia Turkey

4. CAPPADOCIA

The area of Cappadocia is well-known among tourist for its world-renowned hot air balloon rides and massive sprawling rock formations that have been created into the soft rock. For nature lovers, this is an ideal location – several hiking routes, ATV tours, and horse riding. It’s beautiful anytime of year, but I especially love it in the snow!

Several different valleys with unique rock formations that have been created throughout this area of Cappadocia. Cave homes where dug into the rock. Even though still a lot of people who actually live in the cave homes, a lot of these locals have opted to turn their homes into hotels.  

There is a historical significance when it comes to who lived here too. At one point, this land was known as Galatia and a Christian group called Galatians resided here. During their time, there was a lot of persecution among the Christians. Due to that persecute, they created underground cities – yes, multiple underground cities. Derinkuyu is one of the most visited and this city extends 6-7 (that they have safe discovered) levels underground. People would retreat and hide whenever they felt threatened by raiders. 

In the same way, homes were built high up into these rock formation for safety too. People were able to pull up their long ladders and hide from their enemies. Because there were Christians in this area, many churches were discovered within these caves and underground cities covered in original frescoes. Today you can still see frescoes that date back hundreds of years. 

Thankfully, these areas are very much protected can truly see kind of all these communities trying to live they how they lived based off of these seeing these cave homes. 

Once you get a small taste of Cappadocia, you will definitely want to go back for more. 

5. RIZE

It’s probably because we just did our 2-week trip road trip throughout the Black Sea region…  (By the way, you can see a whole playlist on that). We took two weeks and drove from Ankara all the way to Rize.) Out of all the places we visited on this trip, I wish we had more time in Rize

When people think of Turkey, what comes to mind? I’ve asked people what they thought and they usually think desert, camels, etc. but never imagine lush, mountainous, densely forested green paradise.  It is absolutely beautiful.  The mountains provide a very different scenery than here in Izmir where we’re on the coast. Actually, Rize IS on the water, located on the Black Sea, but the landscape escalate very quickly into the mountains. 

The mountains in this area have a type of plateau on top, called ‘yayla’ in Turkish. On these spots they have created little communities of hotels, pansiyons (like hostels), and even little groups of bungalows. From the top of these mountains you can experience just the beauty of nature. We visited waterfalls, castle, try different foods that are only known to this region. 

As well, Rize is also known for its çay production. Because it gets so much rain, it makes it a perfect location to grow çay bushes. Çay is the Turkish words for tea. It’s funny, (and perhaps you have noticed in my videos…) whenever I’m talking even in English, I generally still use the Turkish word for tea! 

Every country has their own culture and traditions, and these can differ within the country based off of smaller regions. Turkey is no different. 

Unfortunately, most tourist never make it out to the Black Sea region. If you are repeated visitor to Turkey than I think the Black Sea region definitely deserves on some of your time when you come next!

There you have it! Those are my top five places I love to visit in Turkey. I think I will have to do a part 2 because I could easily name 5 more!!! 

Check out our matching video over at our YouTube Channel.

Comment below and let me know about some of the questions below:

  • Have you visited Turkey? 
  • Where do you love to visit?
  • Or where would you love to visit one day?

Check out our other Mini LOVE Series videos and blog post too!

  • 5 Things I love about Turkey: BLOG POST (coming soon!) + VIDEO
  • 5 Place I love in Turkey: BLOG POST + VIDEO 
  • 5 Food I love in Turkey: next week
  • 5 People who love Turkey too: 2 weeks

Thank you for watching my mini love series and so thankful for you and I hope you enjoy the freebies!

REVIEW: 2020 – COVID, YouTube, + Turkey Travels

Living in Turkey has some great benefits but when come to COVID, they are (semi) serious about their restriction and lockdowns. Due to those restrictions Jason and I shared our sushi and reflection questions with Sofia this year.  I am now sitting here on a 4 day New Year weekend lockdown writing out our 2020 REVIEW for this week. It will be the earliest I have gotten out a review. 2019 Review took me until April 2019. 2018 Review was in February 2018.

FIRST OFF: ADOPTION

Everyone always wants the updates of Sofia’s adoption. So instead of making you search for it, I have put it first on the agenda.

2018 was ‘technically’ the year we became parents. In 2019, custody of our daughter was legalized. We hoped our surprise private adoption would be finalized in 2020, but unfortunately it is delayed until 2021. Thankfully nothing can be ‘undone’, but we are just having to wait longer until everything is finalize.

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!

SECOND: COVID

2020 has been an odd year for all. Turkey did not miss out. We had 3 months of strict restrictions and lockdowns last spring. In June, they started lifting and we ventured to a seaside town for a few weeks to get out of the city. We have cautiously made the most of our freedom and are thankful some family came to visit.

Unfortunately, as winter is approaching the covid numbers are rising again. We are already back on some partial lockdowns, and it looks like the winter will bring even more restrictions once again.

THIRD: YOUTUBE

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 wasn’t until COVID that I got back into my website work and editing videos for myself! I hope you have found our content to be more all-encompassing of our lives as the Funk family – balancing life, work, expat living, mini-travels, and parenthood.

Our recap of 2020:

I did something a little different this year to share our year via our Following The Funks YouTube Channel. I started back on our FollowingTheFunks website and videos this year and it has been so rewarding!

This video has a TON of pictures and videos we have NEVER shared before with you (if anyone has been around since 2018, you would have noticed I took a crazy amount of time away from Instagram with all the transition going on in our lives). This April/May I finally buckled down and started producing content again – if not for you, then for our family to remember our lives here in Turkey.

Since there is not much explanation for anything in the video. So I did want to write out a quick recap of some of our memories over 2020!

  • January was normal life – work, Catie with her projects, and Sofia learning to walk more steadily. I think the most amazing part of this last year is watching Sofia grow from baby toddler to full on toddler child. (Is that a thing?)
  • February Sofia took her first airlines flight and we visited some friends in Istanbul. She then came down with the flu and we spent the rest of our week in the tiny airbnb apartment.
  • Jason also took a trip to the USA. It had been over a year since he had seen his family (remember I went 2 times in 2019?). He was able to visit our 3 new nieces and nephews and celebrate with his family at his Grandpa’s 90th birthday party.
  • Meanwhile, Catie took a solo trip with Sofia (on her second airline flights) to see her friend in Adana, Turkey. Sofia did unfortunately throw up all over me at the end of our arriving flight.
  • In June, most of the restrictions started lifting. We stayed closer to home but we thankful to take Sofia out daily at this point! Let’s just say that reentry into semi-normal society in a global pandemic is a lot like culture shock.
  • In July we decided to give ourselves a break from Izmir and skipped out to a little beach town called Kalkan. We stayed 3 weeks and enjoy each week with a different family/friends. The freedom to move around was refreshing (yes, we were cautious and wore mask). You can see a playlist from some of our summer here and what travel was like during COVID-19 in Turkey).
  • August was low key for everyone but Sofia. Jason changed out her crib to a toddler bed, gave up her Paci completely, and was potty trained. Oh and I am sure there was always coffee involved!
https://followingthefunks.com/category/black-sea-road-trip/
  • October came and went in a blur – literally… as I write this, I can’t remember what we did. I did a pumpkin decorating workshop and macaroon workshop with friends. Otherwise, it was a lot of normal life, Turkish breakfast every Saturday morning, and a lot of friend time. Oh and Sofia’s first fall party.
  • At the end of October, our city of Izmir was hit by a 7.0 earthquake. We were at home and experienced 15- 20s of strong shaking, which was very scary. Thankfully our home is fine but there are areas in Izmir that were devastated. Around 20 buildings immediately collapsed, over 100 people died, and 500+ buildings are scheduled for demolition.
  • November – Sofia turned two! This is the turning point for Sofia language! She started making sentences, and by the end of the year we were have two-way conversations (not just yes or no stuff!).
  • As well, a couple of Jason’s cousins came to visit us and we took them to Cappadocia and Istanbul. We are so thankful the new COVID restrictions and lockdowns didn’t start until after our cousins left.
  • In November, we had high hopes that our adoption would be finalized. We waited almost a year for this court date. But it was disappointing that it will be delayed until 2021. Thankfully it does not undo anything that has taken place. It is so surreal to think that we announced her to everyone in May of 2019!
  • In December, we enjoy filling our lives with advent activities to celebrate Christmas. This also included a last minute plan to spend a weekend out at a farm with friend. Sofia’s was able to ride a horse which is a daily topic of conversation still.

Last but not least! Our new contributor at Nia’s Corner:

Nia, a fellow expat living in Izmir, Turkey, joins Following The Funks as a contributor writer back in the spring. I am SO thankful for her insight, knowledge and thoughtfulness she puts into every post she writes over at Nia’s Corner! You haven’t seen her post these last couple of months because the earthquake effected where she was living. She has had a lot on her plate finding a new home and moving. I am hopeful you will get some more content this 2021.

You can find the complete list of her writings here. I think you will find more than a couple that will entice you! Thank you Nia for all you have share here on FTF!

WRAPPING IT ALL UP:

It is crazy to think we are in our 5th year of this journey. We are hopeful that 2021 will bring finalization of Sofia’s adoption as well as her USA immigration paperwork. If all works out then by the end of 2021 we should find ourselves in the states finalizing Sofia’s citizenship!

If anything I am so thankful I did this to remember all the GOOD 2020 held in the middle of a crazy global pandemic and restrictions and lockdowns in Turkey.

Thanks for letting us share our lives with you and being part of our 2020.

Jason + Catie + Sofia

Comment below and let me know about some of the questions below:

  • What is your best thing about 2020?
  • What was the hardest?
  • How did you grow for the better this year?
Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

FOOD: Let’s ‘Do’ Turkish Breakfast [Kahvaltı]

Note: I, Catie, am so excited that Nia’s amazing article will be partnered with a video coming Friday via FollowingTheFunks YouTube! Stay tuned!!! But until then you can get a quick peek at another Turkish Breakfast we had in Kalkan too here.

A Turkish friend asked me one day if Americans really wake up at 6:00 am to an alarm clock, have cornflakes and coffee for breakfast, and then head off to work like they do in the movies. A laugh erupted from my lips. Compared to the sprawling table of a traditional Turkish breakfast, a bowl of cornflakes must have seemed insufficient to count as a meal.  

When you talk about eating a meal in Turkish, you use the verb yemek for “to eat.” However, when you talk about breakfast, you use the verb yapmak for “to do/make.” It has a similar feeling to the phrase “let’s do brunch.” And in fact, Turkish breakfast can be much more of an event than a simple meal.

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Of course, on a workday, one may grab a simit (bagel-like bread covered in sesame seeds) or a breakfast sandwich on the way to the office, and there are even pre-packaged breakfasts with the essentials, or single person plates at restaurants. But, the true kahvaltı experience, like much else in Turkey, is shared. Late on Saturday or Sunday mornings, one can easily find a family of several generations gathered around a great spread of foods in the center of the table feasting together. 

What makes a Turkish breakfast so delicious is the freshness of all the ingredients.

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

From the fruits and veggies to cheeses and honey, a good breakfast is a smorgasbord of incredibly fresh homemade ingredients… this is perhaps why people in the city will travel to surrounding villages for a village breakfast in a garden surrounded by the plants from which their breakfast has come.  It can be a treat for kids to be greeted by the chickens and goats from which their eggs and cheeses came.

I mean, you can certainly settle for the café in an airport or bus station to get a decent breakfast, but if you’re visiting Turkey, you MUST find your way out to one of these village breakfasts to get the best and freshest kahvaltı available.

If you haven’t ‘done’ Turkish breakfast before, let me take you on a tour of the kahvaltı table.   

Kahvaltı is the word we use for breakfast in Turkish, but it literally means “under coffee” or “before coffee.” It’s the meal you eat before you drink your first cup of Turkish coffee.  Like me, some Americans can’t imagine breakfast without coffee, and may wonder what people drink in Turkey to wake up. This brings us to the first essential part of Turkish breakfast: çay. 

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

The Essentials

Çay

Usually, a çay damlik (the double kettle that Turkish tea is brewed in) is left at the table so everyone can have countless refills of çay as they slowly graze on their breakfast. 

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Bread 

Bread is the vehicle of Turkish breakfast and the highlight. Turks have perfected the art of bread making, and kahvaltı can be a show of some of the best breads and pastries. The range is from simple white bread slices, to soft rolls, whole wheat, sourdough, village bread, pita bread. I’ve even had French toast with kahvaltı! Pastries vary just as much, ranging from fluffy and light pastries stuffed with ground beef, cheeses, spinach, potatoes, or eggplant to heavier lasagna-like pastries, from the bagel-like sesame-covered gevrek (also known as simit in the rest of Turkey) to the light and fluffy pişi (fried dough pictured above) which is my personal favorite. 

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey
Pişi: Fried Bread
Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey
Gevrek/Simit
Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey
Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey
Sigara Boreği: Fried Roll with Cheese in the middle

Raw Veggies 

Tomatoes and cucumbers are traditional, and are often accompanied by fresh greens like arugula. 

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Eggs 

There are a plethora of ways eggs are prepared for breakfast in Turkey. Boiled eggs are popular, as are fried eggs, which can come plain or include sucuk [pronounced “soo-jook”] (Turkish sausage made from beef with a good helping of garlic) or other cuts of meat. Other options include: scrambled eggs, omelets, and the lovely menemen (a mix of eggs, tomatoes, peppers, salça and spices, pictured above).

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Olives

Usually both green and black olives are available at kahvaltı. As someone who never ate olives in the States, the olives here have slowly begun to grow on me. One place I’ve been for kahvaltı even had pink olives!

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey
Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Cheeses

Cheeses range widely in hardness, saltiness, and sharpness. Sometimes, you can even find fried cheese, or a melty cheese and cornmeal dish muhlama to dip your bread in. There are usually at least a few types of cheeses when you go out to a restaurant for kahvaltı, but in someone’s home, there may be fewer options. 

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Savory Items

Salça 

A flavorful tomato and/or pepper paste that can range from mild to spicy. 

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Fresh Butter

Sometimes the best toppings are the simplest.

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Olive oil + Breakfast Spices 

The combination of fresh olive oil and this mix of spices is not something you’ll find at every kahvaltı place, but it is certainly one of my new favorites.

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey
Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey
Zahter Spice: You dip your bread in the olive oil then into this spice.

Yogurt

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Cooked Veggies 

Potatoes may take the form of French fries, roasted potatoes, or even boiled potatoes with herbs.  I also particularly enjoy when roasted eggplant and peppers are a part of the spread. 

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Sweet Spreads

Honey + Kaymak (clotted cream)

Tastes like decadence first thing in the morning. 

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Jams

Whatever is in stock or in season. Strawberry, cherry, fig, apricot, blackberry, mulberry… the possibilities are nearly endless!

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey
Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Nutella

Because who doesn’t want to start their day with a little chocolate?

Turkish Breakfast Kahvaltı Turkey

Tahin & Pekmez

Often times the tahini and grape molasses are poured into the same bowl and need to be stirred to get the right combination of sweet and nutty. 

Ok, we have to hear from you!!!

  • If you have had Turkish breakfast, what else have you had that I didn’t write about?
  • If you haven’t had Turkish breakfast, what is something you haven’t tried for breakfast before that you might try after seeing Turkish breakfast?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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.