Hertford, London, Munich And More

Okay, besides all the culture shock and weird stuff, a lot else happened on my trip.

In transit, I chatted with several fascinating people:
– The Aussie married to a German who I sat next to on the flight from Munich to London
– The Dutch political science student also waiting for a bus in Heathrow who was in London for a conference
– The British pilot on the flight from Heathrow to Munich. He flew air ambulances for an insurance company as well as being an airline standards consultant.
– The Aussie in Heathrow Airport who had spent a harrowing time transiting through LAX (Los Angeles Airport). Even just to transit through the USA, a foreigner is required to give eye scans and fingerprints.
– The British doctor on the Ankara airport bus visiting Turkey for a week.

In Hertford, Jen and her flatmate, Flora looked after me wonderfully well. All 3 of us (and Rob the Scot from the same block) were foreigners: Jen comes from a town near Glasgow (Scotland) and Flora is from Galway (Ireland).

On Saturday I stocked up on rarities in the massive Cheshunt Tesco Extra, a hypermarket, part of Britain’s largest retailer. I was tempted to purchase far more than the curries, Tim Tams and other goods, but the British pound is much more valuable than the Turkish lira and I just bought the “must-haves”.

Besides Jen, Flora and Rob, I was very happy to meet Ryan, Erman, Chris, Karl, Nil, Fecir, Markus, Nadja and Lea.

Unfortunately, I will have to wait until next time to catch up with Tom, Richard, Carol, Calvin and Sue.

Markus and Nadja, my Munich friends, had their lives completely turned upside around in 2000 when their gorgeous daughter, Lea, was born with Down syndrome. Nadja is now president of the 150-strong Munich parents of down syndrome children association and fights for greater recognition and acceptance of the condition.

A certain friend, who shall remain nameless, recommended I buy a particular Sunday sport newspaper. This newspaper contained very little news or sport and was a definite eye-opener.

At a pub on the Thames opposite the cathedral, Karl and I bored Chris and Erman with a debate on the importance of Internet technologies. I won’t go on with it as there was no agreement in sight and this dead horse was well and truly whipped.

Most of my food goals for the trip were met. I managed to eat at Bollywoods, a great Indian restaurant;

sweet and sour pork at a Chinese restaurant;

Loin of pork;

a full English/Irish breakfast with bacon, eggs, pork sausages, beans and black pudding (cooked brilliantly by Flora);

and a German schnitzel with white asparagus and potatoes in Munich.

The first night back in Mersin I prepared ham and tomato macaroni.

Although pork is super, by the end of the trip I was also looking forward to Mersin’s fresh fruit and vegetables.

Many pubs were visited. Most pubs still have early closing (11 pm or 1 am) and we were kicked out of a few at closing time, particularly in Hertford. A noticeable difference between Mersin and the UK is the number of women in pubs and how late they stay. Go to any place in Mersin and I can almost guarantee there will be a 3:1 man to women ratio. In many pubs I went to on this trip there was an even mix.

Other titbits:
– At Heathrow on the way back there were two police officers in normal uniform except for body armour and assault weapons. I didn’t ask to take a photo 🙂

– In Turkey the Sunday Express newspaper costs 6.75 new lira or 7,750,000 old. Well, that’s what the paper showed.

– Besides a few signs, there was not much evidence of the upcoming British national election.

– Jen and Flora’s monthly rent costs the same amount as my apartment’s yearly fee.

– At both Heathrow and Munich airports I coincidentally had the exact coinage (down to the last penny and cent, respectively) to pay for the purchases, meaning I wasn’t left with any Euro or pound coins.

– The weather was quite pleasant for the duration of the trip. In fact, on Thursday afternoon, Jen became mildly sunburnt.

– The 23rd was St. George’s Day and the St. George’s flag was displayed on houses and cars.

– One of the stations on the Hertford East-Liverpool Street train line is “Turkey Street”.

– The only touristy thing I did was the London Eye.

I am now back in Mersin and life is relatively normal again. The short trip was well worth it. After Turkey, sometime in the future, I may take up the ancestry visa option (Mum’s parents come from Britain) and earn a few pounds there. Thanks again to Jen and all who made the trip as fun as it was.

North of Pozanti, in the mountains north of Mersin.

Hi From London – What A Culture Shock!

Female bus drivers; different keyboards; people of a million different shades; understanding and reading everything; amazing supermarkets; people who gladly and silently queue; hardly a car horn to be heard; foods of every origin; pork; decent Indian restaurants; almost only new cars; extremely expensive; people wearing blue-tooth phone thingies in their ears…

Yes, visiting London has been a culture shock. I am glad to have come here, refresh myself and see an “exotic place” far removed from Mersin.

The trip here from Mersin took almost 24 hours and involved a taxi, 3 buses and two planes.. Yesterday I was met in Hertford (a village north of London) by Jen. We saw a few local places and ate at a great Indian restaurant. I’m sure she is sick of me saying “wow, how amazing” to everything from the supermarket wine displays to, well, almost everything else. Oh, Hertford does have a kebab joint called “Bosphorous”. No, I haven’t eaten there 🙂

Today I went into London for a ride on the London Eye. Sooon, I’m meant to meet some friends at a pub so I must go.


Saying Bye And Hello

Two weeks ago (6th) Uta and Victor came to Mersin from Adana for a short stay. Uta was a former trainee visiting from Germany. We went to the “Mavi Sanat” restaurant for a great evening. Also at Mavi Sanat was Dogan abi, one of my boss’s business associates. He mischievously paid our bill. That night, two Ukrainian backpackers, Olha and Ihor, rocked up into town on the late train from Adana. They were on their way from Ukraine to Ukraine via Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Turkey. Five of us slept in my tiny apartment this night.

The next day Richard from a UK language school came to Mersin for a few days to discuss business. On the Friday (8th) I became sick, rundown with a cold.

Last Wednesday (13th) it was Hari’s farewell in Adana. He is going back to India. Conveniently, at 1 am that night, Auntie Annie, Uncle David and cousin Graeme were arriving from Germany. For 3 days I introduced them to Turkey, visiting Silifke and Tarsus during this time. They brought some lovely German bacon, which I enjoyed immensely 🙂

In the intervening time I visited 5 or 6 schools with Sevil for work. Speaking to the classes has been a joy. Some (most at some schools) of the students have never heard a native English speaker in their classes. Several students asked if I was married, and other funny questions.

This afternoon I’m jumping on the Koksallar bus to Ankara from where I’ll catch the early morning flight to London, via Munich, for a few days rest and recreation. I can’t wait!

My Uncle, The Hero

From Edithburgh, Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia; the place I spent several Christmases with family:

Shortly after, another local, Damien Taheny, entered the water with his surfboard and went to the aid of the three teenagers struggling against the current. They all used the surfboard to get to the jetty and then Damien made his way back out to Mr Cowdrey, who was floating on the surface and did not appear to be moving.

Mr Cowdrey was brought onto the surfboard where Damien rendered mouth to mouth resuscitation and CPR despite the difficult circumstances.

Unfortunately, the father passed away but the son was saved. Thank you Dud (Damien), Karly and Matt (the other rescuers).

See full article.

Drowning is a far larger danger in Australia than sharks, spiders and snakes combined.


The Brave

At an informal meeting in Yorketown yesterday, the State branch of the Royal Life Saving Society, represented by its Executive Officer, Aileen Milazzo, acknowledged the bravery of Yorketown teenager Karly Harris, and Edithburgh resident, Damien Taheny (pictured at right), for their actions during an incident at the Edithburgh jetty two weeks ago.

Read the rest of the Yorke Peninsula Country Times story.

“Kina” (Henna) and Wedding

Saturday night on a Tarsus street Serkan’s cousin’s “kina” (‘henna’). Similar to a wedding with music and dancing, the centrepoint of ‘kina’ is the bride-to-be and groom-to-be, along with the closest friends and family (particularly the bride’s female friends, I believe) staining their hands with henna. On Sunday afternoon, the wedding was held in a Mersin wedding salon.

This was my first “kina” and I have plenty of photos from both events. When I get the time I will upload some pictures and write more.