Wednesday, 27 November 2013

How do we find the Turkish winters?

Some years ago we were sitting in a restaurant on Çalış seafront and were appalled to hear a British lady sitting with friends say "God, I'll be glad when the tourists have gone home" We very quickly left the establishment. Personally speaking I love the buzz of the place when the holiday makers are here. At the end of the day the Brits who live here now presumably started off as holiday makers themselves once, as did we!

But we love the winter too, albeit very different. This year the autumn weather has been incredibly kind to us but there is no denying that we are finally heading into a Turkish winter. So what does that mean for us?

Although it can be quite warm during the day time until well into January, it gets dark and cold in the evenings very quickly and it is all the more noticeable when it has been a warm day. Up in Uzumlu it is colder than down on the seafront (around 5 degrees) which is a blessing and a curse in the summer and winter respectively.

Like most ex pats we live in a villa rather than a traditional Turkish house and they are very much built for summer use and it can be a devil of a job trying to keep warm in the winter. We have installed a wood burner which runs a central heating system, but we still have problems with draughts from the windows and doors. During the winter we burn a lot of wood and good hard wood is not cheap to buy, so it is quite an expensive affair.

Sun loungers have all been taken away for winter storage
But it is nice to have some decent days when we can still go out. We know people who have a beach BBQ on Christmas day. We remain reluctant to let go of the apron strings of our traditional Christmas at home, but may well try something different at Christmas in the future.

In January this year we went up to Cadianda for a picnic and had a great day, we virtually had the place to ourselves and with the bonus that there is no charge in the winter months. February and March brings the worst weather with lots of rain and we do have some spectacular storms at any time during the winter.

Enjoying a picnic at Cadianda on 15th January this year
But weather aside there are a lot of other changes here too, the most noticeable being the absence of holiday makers. Most people visit Turkey for the sunshine and that and the fact that other than a few days over Christmas and the New Year there are no direct flights from the UK into Dalaman airport means that the area is much quieter than during the holiday season.

A lot of the restaurants down at the coast shut up shop for the winter as do some of the shops. But Fethiye is a normal working town and other than along the harbour front and Paspatur which closes until spring, there really is not so much difference. In the village where we live pretty well everything remains the same all year round.

The restaurants that do stay open in the winter immediately drop their prices and many of them also do some incredibly good value set meals in an attempt to bump their trade. The market traders don't jump in with such ridiculous prices because they know that you probably live here. Some shops too are happier to negotiate prices because there are not so many buyers around which makes trading more competitive.

Eyna Restaurant Çalış preparing their specials board
A huge plus for me with my obsession of second hand stuff is that the Çalış car boots are held monthly from the autumn through to the spring. Their dates are a definite in my diary!

Oooh I love a rummage at the car boots
Pool and darts tournaments start between the hotels and bars. Those dates are definitely not in my diary, but a lot of people do enjoy them.

One of the down sides of winter is for the street cats and dogs. During the summer there are a lot of holidaymakers who feed them and they have numerous restaurants to hang around to get food. A lot of these places are closed during the winter and suddenly their food source goes dry. Also some of the resort shops get puppies at the start of the season because they think they attract trade, then when they close their shops they just abandon them leaving them to their own devices. Most areas have animal aid groups who set up winter feeding programmes but the cost of this is enormous and they are of course reliant on donations to pay for it and willing volunteers to visit set areas every day to feed these hungry animals.

Of course a visit to any of the local beaches is wonderful at this time of year they are quiet and tranquil and so beautiful, and taking walks is so peaceful. It seems so strange to see the resort beaches with no sun-loungers, sun bathers or swimmers around. Just the odd dog walker, fisherman or street dogs having a frolic.

Street dogs enjoying a frolic on the quieter beach
I'm a sun lover myself, so I can't wait for spring but I enjoy the winters here too. Its a beautiful place to live whatever the time of year summer or winter they are just different.


  1. I don't enjoy the intense heat of summer, preferring Autumn and Spring. I don't mind winter too much, but you're right about Turkish houses, of which ours is one, and it's cold and damp in Winter. We only have klima in our sitting room, but rarely use it, preferring to wear extra layers of clothes, and we go to bed very early having heated the bed with the electric blanket.

    I have heard that comment by many expats here and it irritates me too. Somehow, these people seem to think that because they have chosen to live here they are somewhat superior to those who come here on holiday. Being married to a Turkish man who has always worked in tourism, I am grateful to the tourists or we wouldn't eat. I have my pension but feel sorry for the Turkish families who really struggle during winter.

    And as for the dogs and cats...well you know how I feel about the situation. We are feeding as many as we can during the winter as well as our 6 rescues. And here's a shameless plug for my blog if anyone wants to read about what we do and how they can help. (You can of course delete my shameless plug offence will be taken xxx)

  2. Ayak you are my hero! I cannot bring myself to compromise on being warm. David like you is quite happy to don extra clothing, I like to be comfortable and just can't hack that. So we do spend a lot of money on winter fuel, at the expense of not eating much meat or being able to go out as we live on a very tight budget.

    I find it deplorable to hear comments like that from arrogant ex pats! To me there is no excuse for such arrogance.

    As for the animals in winter. We can only do what we can do. Every little helps, but it is heartbreaking to know the enormity of the situation here and particularly in the winter months.

    I don't mind at all that you plug your own blog Linda, you know it is one of my own favourites to read. xxx