Life In A Northern Town

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Life In A Northern Town

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck
After only two nights in Istanbul and an almost nine hour bus ride towards the Aegean Coast, we arrived at our eighth housesitting job, and our home until the end of May.

It is, without doubt, our most ambitious job to date. But at the same time it’s also a total dream.

There’s the house itself, while sometimes a little cold for us, is overall very comfortable and an easy place to ‘just be‘.

It is, without a doubt, our most ambitious house-sitting job to date.
Beautiful mountain views from our gate.

Then there’s the pups, or rather, four big dogs, that lap up all the love and attention they can get. We have lots to give, as one of the major things we miss about having a home is the fur babies that come with it.

And while most of the time they are quite innocent, they have already given us a good number of trying moments. It is, however, impossible to stay mad at them (look at those sweet faces)!


Save for a couple of new friends, we are actually quite alone to fend for ourselves, stumbling through town and constantly flipping through our dual dictionary to find the right words for the things we need. The biggest blessing is that the people we have met are friendly, warm, and incredibly patient as we surely butcher every Turkish word we try to use.

We wanted cultural immersion, and we got it. We’ve been told that this is one of the few places left that is authentically Turkish with few outside influences. What makes it difficult is also what makes it immensely satisfying – every trip to the market and every connection with a smiling stranger brings us closer to understanding life in another corner of the world.

And isn’t that what we left home for in the first place?

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    1. We do have to go back at some point and explore more. If we’re there when you are, we’ll send you a note 🙂

    1. Thanks Laura. It really is. We’re loving the quiet (apart from when the dogs bark at a passing camel) country.

  1. Awesome! I was considering a house-sit in Turkey myself (hey – maybe this was the one I applied for, and you snapped it out from under my clutches! ha ha)…and I had wondered what life in a small Turkish town would be like.

    Enjoy your total cultural immersion! I look forward to more updates and great photos.

    1. Thanks Nora! We are definitely enjoying the cultural immersion (although it’s frustrating not knowing more of the language and only being able to learn so much). I am certain these guys will need a house-sitter again.

  2. Wow, that is plenty cool! Too bad you didn’t have more time in Istanbul. Are you going to do a longer visit on the tail end of your stay? If you do, be sure and check out Istanbul Eats’ culinary walking tours.

    Our next trip is to Budapest – another place with what are for me mostly unpronouncable words/names! (and not a coincidence that the two languages are linguistically related!)

    1. Thanks Karl, we’ll be sure to check out the culinary walking tours as we will be back at some point.

      Budapest is high on our “must-see” list. Enjoy!!

  3. I can’t wait to housesit. How better to really get to know a place. Those dogs are adorable… what sweet guys. Can you pronounce their names?

    1. haha, yes. Daisy (the white one), Juno and Josie (sisters) and Zack (white with brown). Zack reminds me of the dog from “Up”. Quite Turkish rightz?

    1. Thanks Ter. The spring blossoms are so gorgeous. I wish we could pause and make it last for a long time…

  4. I am mustafa the dogs really look lovely I like your photos as someone living in this rural part of turkey.I wana say hello to everybody following your amazing trips and want to see them around.BURHANİYE is awesome ı love this word

    1. Thank you Mustafa. We are loving Burhaniye and can’t wait to show everyone more. It is Awesome 🙂 We will talk soon my friend.

    1. Funny, I was just saying this to Dalene the other day. The owners are English, but they are Turkish dogs. I tried using Turkish commands and they just tilted their heads and looked at me funny. I’ll stick with the English 🙂

  5. What a wonderful adventure! I love it when even buying groceries is an adventure. And the dogs — beautiful. But I reckon the brown spotted one is the ringleader when they’re naughty. I think he will punish you for not being his “real” parents. I hope they don’t act up too much for you.

    1. You guessed right, he is the ringleader, at least from what we can tell. We love them no matter how much trouble they get into…

  6. Sounds stressful, but also really amazing. I get frustrated trying to adapt to living in Germany, mostly because I don’t speak German, but at least here there’s a good chance someone will speak some English. I can’t imagine living somewhere with almost no English speakers, and somewhere as remote as this sounds. Can’t wait to hear more about it!

    1. After awhile I imagine it would be frustrating, but right now, we love the challenge. I hope we can handle it for three months – we are trying to learn as we go!

  7. Wow. That is a really amazing adventure. And talk about a contrast from your previous location.. somewhere which was about as commercial as you could get! Have fun 😀

      1. Well, if there’s one thing I learnt at school, it’s that my brain is great at remembering pop lyrics 🙂 Assume you have the original in your head rather than the Dario G Sunchyme version, which sampled the chorus?

  8. Looks like you found a great place to be. Can i use some of these photos in your interview and expand on the house sitting a little bit more. Love the four dogs as well

  9. We’re in sort of a similar boat! We just arrived in France for a month-long housesit, and we’re in a tiny village with like 65 people… none of which speak English. Thankfully we have use of a car to get around to bigger towns near us, but even there most people only speak French.

    The folks in this village are so sweet and friendly — two people have already come by to give us eggs, another to invite us to lunch on Saturday, and a 21 yo asked if we wanted to go to a discotheque w/ her while we’re here! Al least I think that’s what’s happening… we don’t really speak French at all. =P

    1. One month in France! Not too shabby! 🙂 We’ve been invited over for tea to our neighbors house several times now, and I’m so scared to go – what on earth would we talk about (she speaks no English either!) 🙂

  10. I love hearing about people who venture off the beaten path and try to immerse themselves in the local culture. I think you have such a different travel experience when you head for the small towns where people still live using traditional products and methods. Kudos to you for doing this!

    1. Thanks Reena! We really enjoy traveling this way because you’re right – it is a totally different experience. That’s why this house sitting opportunity is so perfect for us!

  11. It’s hard to imagine how cold it must be as I type this from Laos! And despite the challenges, (or perhaps because of them) I’m sure you are in for an amazing month, away from the tourist trail, being immersed in a completely different culture. Good on you, I look forward to hearing about your adventures and misadventures 🙂

    1. Thanks Sarah! We are so lucky to have three months here, where we can visit other parts of the country as well as enjoy just “being” in Burhaniye!

  12. This is an absolute dream. I want you guys to come to Vegas so you’ll photograph my dogs — I have no good photos of them! Yours are gorgeous. I want those pups!

    1. 🙂 We are just traveling down the coast for a couple of days to visit a friend, and I find that I miss the dogs so much! They are so sweet.

  13. Aww, Anatolian Shepherds! My godmother used to have one who was just an amazing dog, so I’ve got it in my head that all of them are just as great. Enjoy your immersion experience.

  14. I spent a few weeks living in an apartment in Ankara last year, it was a great experience. I LOVE Turkish food and the whole Turkish dining experience.
    Looks like a fun place to dive into the Turkish culture!

  15. This is so awesome! I would love to do something like this one day. I have been to Turkey a long time ago, but I have never done house sitting and that would be such a good way to immerse yourself in the culture. I love that you got the dogs too, what a bonus!!

  16. This is exactly why you guys are my inspiration to do house sitting soon. Great pics, I enjoy them as if I was there, you guys must’ve been having a blast there, keep having fun 😉

  17. D, Been wondering what u are doing now. Holee!
    What a wonderfull surprize. I am so happy for the both of you, to be able to do what most only read about. Great pictures and stories. Going to take me some time to see where ya all been.
    Safe Travels
    p.s. love the name
    h (:

  18. AMAZING! Such a cool place to be … glad to hear that although it’s challenging that you’re working your way through it.

    And those dogs are cute! 🙂

  19. Hi.I am a student of Mr.Özkaya’s from Burhaniye/Turkey.
    He was talking about you two in the lesson.You two were awesome.And I hope to you meet you guys if you two come again in Burhaniye 🙂

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