EXPAT: Why Turkey? Why Izmir? Our 5 Reasons!

In our ‘Learn About Us’ section, we briefly share about our family, vision, and journey to this point. Even a little bit about why Turkey is special to us. 

Even more specifically Izmir, Turkey. 

In a recent little videos series on our YouTube channel called ‘Meet the Funks’, I shared about who we are and how we met. This blog post is a match to the 3rd part video sharing why we have chosen Izmir to be our expat home for now.

Let’s play catch up first if this is your first blog post you are ready, shall we? 

My husband Jason, our daughter Sofia, and I love to share turkey, culture, expat living and a little bit of travels along the way. If you want to learn more about our family you can always check out our about section, check out our FunkTravels podcast episodes 1 to 50 which documents two years of our lives moving from U.S. to Turkey and lastly, catch up on our videos here and YouTube episodes 51 to present day! If you want to continue getting updates about our family, subscribe to our newsletter. It goes out monthly and I like to include little extras that you might not get from anything else. 

I hope it will inspire you to travel here one day or who knows maybe even move here just like we did!

Ok, back to the regular program.

Jason and I are both Americans, but we actually met here in Turkey over 10 years ago when we are both living in Istanbul. You can learn all about that and how we met in our Love Story video.  

I lived overseas before for 4 years and when I move back to the state, started dating Jason, got engaged…. I hadn’t even been in the states for a full 2 years.  I knew that I wanted to live back overseas and that I knew Jason wanted to as well. But we didn’t have a plan in place. 

One evening or coming home from somewhere, I remember we stopped at a red light and I just broke down crying. I knew I wanted to move overseas but we didn’t have a plan. I was afraid we were going to get stuck. I’m not saying that getting stuck is bad. I just know that there was this desire to do this and I had vision. However, I didn’t see how we were going to get there.

Jason being the understanding and patient fiancé that he was, he surprised me with a timeline planning out our steps over the next few years and how we were going to work to move overseas. Of course, there were a lot of an Asterix or stars in those plans – like if this happens, then it may cause us to delay. BUT there was a plan! It was one of the best Christmas gift I have ever received. 

That was in 2013 and in the summer of 2016, we moved to Turkey!

From the very beginning of our relationship, Jason and I had this intentional dream to live internationally. 

First off, 3 major points that made us decide on Turkey first:

If you’ve been around at all, you know how Turkey is a pretty foundational place for us. But before I get into why we picked Izmir, I want to share why we decided on Turkey first.

  1. BOTH LIVED IN TURKEY BEFORE: We had spent significant amount of time, out of all the other countries, in Turkey. I spent two years here, and Jason spent six months here.
  2. FRIENDS: The second reason is that we have friends that continue to live here from our previous time! If we needed some support or had questions, then we had some type of support or network of friends that help us!
  3. BASE KNOWLEDGE: The third reason is that, because we already lived here before, we already some basic knowledge of the country. Things like how to pay rent, how to find apartment, how to pay bills, and bit of Turkish language. A little bit of a base just made it more comfortable a little less terrifying for a lot of people. While is it looks like we just moved here, we didn’t. To be fair, we did live here before and it’s been a huge role into why we are here again.

5 REASONS WE CHOSE IZMIR, TURKEY:

Like I mentioned, when we lived here before, we actually both live in Istanbul. But moving back together as a married couple, we chose not to live in Istanbul, but to live in Izmir. Let’s move on to why we picked Izmir!

1. NEW CITY FOR BOTH OF US

I spent a lot more time in Istanbul than Jason (1.5 years more to be exact). Sometimes moving to a place where one spouse has spent more significant time can actually cause some frustrations between spouses. Jason’s work only required a strong internet connection, so it left us flexible to try a different city in Turkey. That way we’re both starting off on Ground Zero where neither one of us knows anything really about this area and we are having to learn together. 

2. POPULATION

The second reason we looked into Izmir and not Istanbul is the population. Istanbul is a city of almost 20 million when you look at the whole state but whereas Izmir is bordering around 4 million! That is significantly less people and because Jason and I both grew up in small-towns and never lived in a big city in America, we personally wanted a city that was a little smaller but still drew an small expat/international community.

3. EXPAT COMMUNITY

Spinning off of number 2, Izmir does draw a small expat community here. NATO, few military families, universities and many global business headquarters are based out of Izmir. Plus, it is a shipping port and used to bring in a lots of cruise lines into this area. While our goal is to learn Turkish and be with Turkish friends too, it’s also nice to just know that there’s other international folk in the same place as you. 

4. WEATHER

I am a Louisiana girl who up in warm winters. Jason is from Iowa and the winters there are really cold and get snow. We lived in Iowa before moving to Izmir. I particularly was tired of freezing cold winters!

Izmir has hot summers but if you have an AC units bearable. The evenings in the summer generally cool off nicely and there’s always some type of breeze. The winters are mild. Unlink rainy Istanbul winter, Izmir has rain every once in awhile but it’s not every day.

5. HISTORICAL SITES

Finally, we love all the historical sites around this area. Ephesus is a really famous historical open-air museum and it’s within an hour’s drive of our home. Izmir is the old town of Smyrna. All of the seven churches of Revelation are within a 3 hour drive .

Thankfully Izmir being the 3rd largest city in Turkey, offers many direct flights to every major city in Turkey as well as international flights into Germany and other European countries. I didn’t feel like we always had to go through Istanbul to get another city or country!

There you have it! Those are the five reasons why we picked Izmir and have been so completely happy with it!

You can over on our Following The Funks YouTube Channel via our video: Why Turkey?? Why Izmir?? Our 5 reasons!

But I want to know about you!

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

  • Are you an expat? If so, where do you live?
  • Why did you pick that location?
  • Do you want to live in another country? If so, which one and why?

Check out our other videos in our Meet the Funks Series via our FULL PLAYLIST:

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!
Turkeysforlife

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?