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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

Robbi from Dalyan

 Untitled Document

Thanks to Robbi Atılgan for sharing her experience in Turkey with us.

Tell us about yourself
My name is Robbi Atilgan and I've lived in Dalyan, a small riverside town near Dalaman, since 2000. I'm English but also Turkish, through marriage and though cultural immersion. I've worked in tourism and property but now run a trekking gear and art shop and help my husband with his internet café as I try to kick some life back into my long-neglected writing career.

What made you come to Turkey?
Initially, disillusionment with Greece. Tipped off by my next-door neighbour (thank you Simon!), I bought a flight to Dalaman and spent three weeks following the coast down to Kas. I was seduced - not by a man (not yet!) but by the charm of the Turkish people, the unspoilt countryside and the laidback Turkish lifestyle.

In 1999, after many explorations of Turkey, I was offered a job with a travel company and settled in Dalyan for the summer. Repping didn't float my boat but I returned to Turkey in 2000 without the safety net of a 'proper job' and met my husband Erden. I've been a Dalyanli ever since.

What do you do in your daily life?
These days I don't do nearly enough. Turkey makes you lazy. Some days it's a major achievement if I pay a few bills, do some shopping, answer emails and write for an hour or two. There are too many people to chat to, too many glasses of cay to drink in between. It's nigh on impossible to get stuff done.

But then again, in previous years I worked like a dog. With my husband I first set up a property management and pool care company and then an estate agency and from 2001 till early this year, our lives were work, work, work. I now have more time on my hands. Time to try to appreciate the place I live in and the reasons I came here in the first place.

Family?
My husband Erden is a rock. I read in forums about the experiences women have with Turkish men and thank my lucky stars that I met the right one. Erden made a lot of sacrifices to marry me -his family weren't very supportive though they've learned to accept me now. He stood by me through an illness which has left me unable to have children and that's a major issue for Turkish men. Five years down the line he is my best friend and I probably wouldn't have stayed in Turkey if it wasn't for him.

My parents and most of my friends still live in the UK and I miss them terribly. But they visit and I have a network of 'family' here, foreign and Turkish. I try not to make the expat mistake of surrounding myself with Brits. In general I have found Turkish people make better, more honest and reliable friends.

Can you compare your first days here with today?
When I arrived here, I was totally naïve. I made the mistake of thinking, as so many foreigners do, that Turkey was some kind of promised land where everyone was helpful and kind and the sun always shone and life was all yoghurt and honey. Sure everyone loves you when you're contributing your cash to the local economy. But there comes a point when you cease being a tourist and become a local and the transition isn't easy.

The Estate Agency Years were especially difficult. Our success at the business lead to a lot of jealousy and recrimination - I was a female foreign upstart in a small town with 50 estate agencies and I was beating some of the locals at their own game. There were people who didn't speak to me for three years.

I'm much tougher these days but also more relaxed. I can hold my own with the language. I am learning to think like a Turk. I know now that that the Turkish people can be cunning as well as charming and that earning a living here can be just plain tough. But I still think Turkey is a challenging and rewarding place to live.

Has living in Turkey influenced your approach to life?
I come from London and used to thrive on big city stress. I've had to learn to sloooow down and accept a different culture, the good and the bad. We all make the mistake of comparing Turkey to the place we left behind. Usually to Turkey's detriment - the bureaucracy, the bad TV, the lack of Marmite. I try to make a conscious effort to acknowledge the advantages of living in Turkey. I find the occasional trip to Britain dramatically underlines these advantages!

Turkish language?
I think basic Turkish is attainable even for the most linguistically-challenged foreigner but the real test is in learning to speak the language well. I speak Dalyan Turkish. That is, I speak enough Turkish to get by but I feel as if I've hit a glass ceiling and that it will take a great deal of effort to bring myself up to a standard acceptable in, say, cocktail-hour Istanbul. And as I've said, Turkey makes you lazy…

Let's talking about the region you are living in…
Dalyan is a one-time fishing and farming village which is slowly morphing into a tourist town. An hour from Marmaris, it's best known for its rock tombs, mud baths and the exquisite Iztuzu beach, a nesting site for the Loggerhead sea turtle. It's an undeniably beautiful place which has attracted a great deal of property investors, expat residents and city Turks. So it sometimes feels like a place which has been forced to grow up too fast and is still catching its breath from the effects of the yabanci (expat) invasion. I hope Dalyan survives. I hope we can prevent it from turning into a mini Marmaris, awash with villas and pubs and fish and chips. I think its village mentality will maybe save Dalyan. If not there are many other places in Turkey…

Have you traveled in Turkey? Tell us your discoveries
Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Antalya - I've seen all the usual places. But some less expected destinations, too, such as a sweaty trawl through the bazaars of Urfa, shivering on the shores of the Marmara sea in Kocaeli's late December, sleeping in a mud house on the Konya plains and time out in the olive territories near Aydin. Everywhere in Turkey, if you stray for even half an hour off the main highway you will find something rewarding and essentially Turkish. There are so many places left on my wish list - Van, the Black Sea coast, the houses of Safranbolu…

What is your preferred characteristic trait of Turks?
Generosity, appreciation and respect for the family and elderly, open-minded acceptance of strangers from other countries and different faiths, optimism, contentment even, in the face of adversity

What was the annoying one?
Their unquestioning acceptance of a system which needs to be questioned. Why does it take a day and/or a 75km drive to another town to renew something as simple and essential as a health insurance vize (visa)? It seems bizarre that a people who have so readily accepted modern communication innovations such as mobile phones and the Internet are still prepared to put up with an ancient and pedantic bureaucracy. If they don't demand changes then changes won't come!

Turkish Cuisine?
Finding true Turkish cuisine is almost impossible in a tourist town where Chicken Gordon Blue is the height of sophistication but I love to trawl the markets for unusual foodstuffs and pick up tips from local women. My neighbour does a mean spicy pumpkin gozleme and I am trying to master the art of the borek.

Any suggestion to new comers to Turkey?
You are entering a culture which is vastly different to your own. Do it with both eyes open and not wearing your 'holiday head'. Learn some Turkish - it will earn you great respect. Don't buy a big villa in a small town just because you can afford it - it will set you apart from the people you live amongst. Do befriend the Turks - you are living in their country and you need them on your side.

Any suggestion to people planning to visit your region?
Dalyan is popular with Turks and foreigners. Turks love it when I tell them I live there - they refer to Dalyan as gizli cennet or hidden paradise. Foreigners see it as an upmarket alternative to Marmaris or Fethiye. There are scores of identikit villas in Dalyan but you'd do better to stay in one of the small riverside pensions and eat at the local lokantas (restaurants). Take time to visit the ancient city of Kaunos, preferably at sunset with a bottle of wine. Walk the length of the unspoilt beach. Take a boat out onto Lake Koycegiz and swim under the stars then immerse yourself in Byzantine hot springs with a steaming hot çay (tea). Just don't try to do too much - Dalyan has its own pace of life and the slower you go, the better you will enjoy it.




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Latest comments about this article

 By Joan.pw  16.11.2010

Loved your article, spot on. We have been staying in Dalyan for the last 5 years, love it. This year stayed for 3 months next, out for 2 months home for short while then back to our beautiful Dalyan till Nov ???

 By davedelamare  13.1.2007

Dear Robbie Great article on Dalyan, my partner Drew and I fell in love with it in April 2005, he won´t come back home again. We have now settled and trying to get the Hotel open. I think you know who we are. thanks again dave

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