Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Time Out in Turkey

Evening lads and ladies 

I haven’t blogged since LA and it’s made me realize that as much as this blog is fitness based, because of my bloody crazy schedule back in the UK, my blog has become as much travel as it is fitness these days! The only time I really get to sit down, chill out and have some time with my thoughts is when I’m away – so I started this blog in Turkey and have just had the time to sit down and finish it off for you :) 

Since I was in Turkey I thought I’d write a little piece about my time over there, and why I want to encourage you all to consider it as a destination for your travels this year and next (and take less notice of the propaganda spouted by the Daily Mail and other similar media channels full of crap in the UK).

This holiday always is my most relaxing holiday throughout the year. I spend time with my family, chill out and enjoy the peace. Kalkan is probably one of my favorite destinations in the whole wide world and I want you all to experience it too. 

When I told my clients and friends I was going to Turkey with my family there was a commonplace reaction amongst everyone. It generally tended to go a little bit like ‘oooh, are you sure?’ or ‘oh no you are bonkers'. I don't blame them for thinking this way, we are all fed the same negative ideas about the region in the media.

Baring in mind all of the people who gave this reaction lived in London, one of the top cities in the world on ‘red alert’ of a terror attack. 2016 is the third year in a row me and my family have stayed in Kalkan, on the South West Coast of Turkey, so when we arrived this year, it was noticeable how quiet the streets, restaurants and shops were compared to previous years.Lets put a little bit of perspective in here - Kalkan to the Syrian border in Eastern Turkey is roughly the same distance from London to Berlin. That's nearly a 30 hour drive to the ‘danger zone’. Never mind the fact that Kalkan is not a beach resort and is in fact a cove so the chances of a beach style attack is near impossible. Or the fact that Kalkan is a tiny town, with only 3000 residents and the chances of a small town like this being affected by an attack is slim to none. It still meant regular visitors and tourists, have stayed away this year in their droves. Businesses suffer. The town suffers. The people suffer. The town has limited sources of income through the winter. They rely on tourism to feed and support them all year round. And Kalkan aren’t alone. The whole of Turkey suffers because of this stigma. I can’t even imagine what the ghost towns of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt look like, or Tunisia (god forbid).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to hop on a plane to ‘high threat’ locations. I’m just telling you to use a little bit of savvy when listening to media stories and try not to tar the whole region with the same brush.

So what is it that's so great about this location? Example a, the view from my balcony in the picture below...

The scenery in Kalkan is a 360 panoramic view of the ocean wherever you are in the town. You can't lose. It's tranquil, relaxing and beautiful. The perfect place to go away, get your mind together and recharge for the UK. 

The residents of Kalkan are probably some of the most welcoming people I’ve come across in the entire world (tied with Irish and Barbadians). Not only are they welcoming but they don’t pressure you. They don’t pressure you to buy their goods, they don’t pressure you to come into their restaurants. They will say good morning in the morning, good evening in the evening, give you a smile without hassling you for a thing in return. 
When I have been to Ibiza, or Paris, I quite frequently feel unwelcome by restaurateurs or shop owners. I try and talk to them in French, they reply in English, in a way that makes me feel like I am being deliberately patronized. As much as many countries welcome the money British tourism brings, I can’t help but feeling like they despise us Brits. In Ibiza – I find them just plain rude. The people of Turkey on the other hand make me feel extremely welcomed and appreciated.

While being away me my sister and my cousin worked out every morning. We usually did a HIIT and abs circuit using body weight exercises. Despite it being a relaxing holiday with no gym, we all brought out skipping ropes and our bodies and that was all we needed! 

Me... posing on a bed

Me again... posing on a roof haha

The food out there is second to none. Not only is 90% of Kalkan’s restaurants located on rooftops overlooking the ocean (with the other 10% being located in a stunning harbor). But 99% of restaurants are 10 out of 10 food. Fresh sea bass, prawns, calamari, for you meat eaters, steaks, lamb dishes, chicken fajitas, mixed grills and kebabs, houmous, halloumi, mixed mezes. Top restaurants I can recommend if visiting – Mussakka, Sade and Samphire for rooftop views. Kosk for a town view and Aubergine by the harbor. (not forgetting Mini Bar and Trio for after dinner drinks).

A typical Kalkan restaurant roof terrace - this was 'Samphire'

During my trip I would stick to a clean diet day to day. Every morning I would have my porridge before my work out. Every lunch time I would have a mix of fish. eggs and salad, but dinner time - was treat time. 

Porridge every morning without fail - routine is key

Fresh Morning Juice from 'The Brothers'
Typical clean and easy holiday lunch 

Dinner at Sade 

King prawn and champagne Rissotto - from 'Moussaka' 

Sea Salt and Caramel Cheese Cake from 'Moussaka'

Fresh mint lemonade from 'Moussakka'
If the food hasn't done it for you - just have a look at the colour of the ocean. You get a Caribbean style crystal clear water, but only a 3 hour flight away....

View from 'Fenur Cafe' - best place for a morning coffee
The town is lively but classy. There's tons of boutiques, fresh greengrocers, and cafes around the town.There's also plenty of outdoor bars where you can sit and have a cocktail or a macaroon and turkish tea.

M,y family at our favorite evening cocktail spot 'Mini Bar' 
I also can't write a blog on Turkey without mentining the reliably sunny weather. Every year I've been I have had 7-9 solid days of sunshine. No overcast, no rain, no storms, just sunshine and 30 degree weather (and this is in May). 

Another thing you'll notice is how well kept the town is. There are the most stunning flowers everywhere you go. I've never seen anything like the flowers all over the town. It's like floral heaven. Bright vibrant flowers light up the place like nowhere else I've been. 

Another endearing factor is the way they look after their animals. If you go to Kalkan you will no doubt notice the packs of stray dogs that roam the streets. As a dog lover, this breaks my heart. However these dogs are well tempered and looking for love. They understand the need for tourists, it's hilarious to see them play up for visitors. I had a stray cat I looked after for the week I was there, most tourists also tend to 'adopt' an animal for the week and feed it to do their bit. The restaurants and business around the town feed all the stray dogs and cats in the morning and evening, there is a charity within the town that vaccinates all the strays, and the animals happily roam the town as if they were residents. Kalkan gives them love and food, and the dogs give their good nature in return. 

Every year me and my family spend the day on a boat which brings you around Kalkan bay, anchoring 4 times throughout the day so you can jump in. The boat even stops off at a beach where you can do a natural mud mask out of the clay under the sand. The food is home cooked fresh Turkish food (delicious) and the day is one you'll remember, and all for £20. 

Fresh home cooked food by - 'Yazidi Tours' Boat Trip

If this all isn't selling it to you as an ideal destination, the beautiful (and reasonable) places to stay might. Every year we rent a villa out here, and brand spanking new villas with 3 floors, 4 bathrooms, 3 double bedrooms (and a sofa bed in the living room), never mind the infinity pools and view of the beach, usually range from between £700 and £1000 a week. Get 6/7 friends together and do the math. Cheap as chips! 

Our villa for the holiday
I'm always on here encouraging you all to book a flight, and every time I go away it just reinforces this idea to me even harder. I'm back with a smile (and a tan), I feel more relaxed than ever, but ready to work as hard as possible until my next trip away. Life is for living - go live it people, don't let the media scaremonger you into hiding away in your bedroom. 

Ciara x 

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