CONTRIBUTED BY LARISSA KOERSCHNER
If you haven’t already, please read Welcome to Turkey Tamam – Part 1 first.
Obtaining an International Driver’s License is a must if you plan to get out and experience all that this new host nation has to offer. With that in mind I found a place in downtown Adana that translated my license right then and there (I’ll write a post about how to do this soon!). With our first off-base mission ending up being far more unproductive than we’d expected, but this time with my new license in hand, I was ready for another outing. Our destination this time was the M1 Mall. A neighbor had taken me here a couple weeks earlier so I was sure I could get us there without a problem. And we did! Success! But don’t celebrate with me just yet – on our way back I missed the ramp towards Adana (Dogu) and kept going straight. About 15 minutes into the drive, my husband and I realized that we were going the wrong way. Again.
Five minutes later we slowly approached an unfamiliar sight – a very large, unmanned toll station with no turn-around option. “How do we get through here if there is no one to take our money?” After debating what to do, we decided to pull off to the right and assess the situation. We spotted a building on the other side of the road, so my husband walked (okay, awkwardly danced/dodged) across 12 lanes of traffic to get there; only to be told that we couldn’t buy a pass because we had a rental car and we didn’t have our passports. With the language barrier he wasn’t even able to inquire what we SHOULD do.
We had no choice but to take our chances and drive through the toll. As we approached the toll, slowly and unsurely, a local Turk came dodging across the lanes to help us out. He offered us a toll-ticket for some Turkish Lira. It worked, and we were on our way after a 30 minute hiccup in our journey! We continued on the highway, searching for a turn-around for the next hour and a half (yes, you read that right! We went the wrong direction for an hour and a half!). In case you haven’t been out on the Turkish Highway System yet, there is nowhere to turn around! There are guardrails running the entire length of all of the highways. And without a GPS, there is no way of knowing which exits have re-entries that head in the opposite direction. We took our chances and exited in hopes of a re-entry return lane and chose unwisely – there was none. All in all, our return trip home from the M1 Mall took 3 hours!
After these failed attempts at exploring Turkey we decided to buy a GPS (and paid extra for the ‘Turkey’ chip). We also invested in a paper map of the area. Equipped with better knowledge of the roads, a GPS and paper map we felt invincible on our next local journey. We decided to try a restaurant this time – Great Wall Chinese & Sushi. We typed the restaurant in our GPS and headed on our way. As I’m sure you guessed, we didn’t make it there either. Our GPS kept repeating, “You have reached your destination” when clearly we were in a residential area and there were no restaurants around. We were overwhelmed with a sense of frustration and failure.
Did we just have bad luck? A bad sense of direction? Why is it so hard to get around here in Adana? Has anyone else experienced this?
Getting lost in Adana certainly discouraged us, but it didn’t stop us! We kept exploring (now that we had the GPS ‘Guide me Home’ feature – a must!) and eventually we started stumbling upon so many cool restaurants, parks, festivals, markets, shops and parades (and even a little zoo!). I have shared some of these great finds with a few of you, but I’m sure there are more of you out there that would love to explore Turkey if you knew exactly where you were going, how long it would take to get there, and what was offered once you arrived. I now know where the fabric district is, where to buy top quality fishing gear (and where to use it), the coolest parks for your kiddos to play at, the best shops to buy shoes, clothes and things to decorate your house, kid-friendly restaurants and fun places for adult night outs. I want to share all of this with you in hopes that when you stumble upon something enjoyable you share it here with me (and others) too!
After using Okinawa Hai* – a blog for Americans stationed in Japan that posts about local places to eat, things to do, and how to get around – I wanted to create something similar for those of us here in Turkey. Enter: Turkey Tamam!
You’ve heard my story and I’d love to hear yours! What are your favorite restaurants? Where do you like to shop? Where do you park when you visit Old Adana? What’s your favorite day-trip? Where’s the best place to vacation for the weekend? The list goes on and on! Together, we can create a community database for families and Airmen stationed here in Incirik. A one-stop-shop, if you please, that will walk you through the initial stages of PCSing here, getting acclimated to your new surroundings, the best places to get-away for some R-and-R, and finally, tips for packing-out when that day arrives. Turkey Tamam will strive to answer all your questions about being stationed here at Incirlik and ease your nerves when living overseas.
This post was originally published on Okinawa Hai, but we think it relates to life here as well. Overseas Yes and Okinawa Hai have no legal or managerial affiliation; please see the Legal Page for more information.