Meet a Team Member – Mirey from Turkey
Mirey is our representative in Turkey. She lives in the magical city of Istanbul and has done 20 exchanges so far since joining the HomeExchange community in 2007. Usually, she travels with one or two friends…and so she did last month, when she exchanged her home to go on a 2-week adventure to Kenya. Read all about her trip, then take a look at her can’t-miss tips for visiting her home city of Istanbul.
A home exchange adventure in Africa
Mirey went to Tanzania last year and she loved it so much that she quickly arranged a new home exchange in Lamu Island, Kenya. “Every day I spent in Africa was like a scene from the movie Out of Africa. The scenery is really captivating, especially in the safari camps, the trees are so amazing, big, strong and high. The sky is also very impressive…so blue with very white clouds like a painting. The people, even though they are impoverished, are so worthy, helpful, and always smiling.”
The house in Kenya that Mirey and her friends stayed at belongs to a French-Swedish couple who lives in Nairobi. Lamu, their second home, is a beautiful 4 story stone house with local decor. On their first day, they met Harrisson, the family’s caretaker, who was always there to help and he even offered to prepare their meals! Who needs room service when you can live like a local and still have breakfast waiting in the morning?
“There are no cars in Shela. Either you walk or you take a boat and also there were lot of donkeys, used as transportation by the locals.” When we asked Mirey what was a normal day like on Lamu Island, she told us they would go to the beach, explore the city’s culture, do some local shopping, and still have some time to do some jogging in the evening before gathering to go to the most popular restaurant in town, Peponi. Sounds like a plan!
There was time for a little adventure, too. They went to a safari in Shaba Reserve in Joy’s Camp. Sunsets, candlelight dinners, boat trips, and a peaceful atmosphere made it just the perfect nature escape.
Her favorite memory from the trip was when she met the local children who used to play around the house. “We took some candies, notebooks and coloured pencils with us from Turkey and each morning we were distributing it to the children around the house. The happiness in their eyes made us cry!”
And now, back to Istanbul…
A language I adore: French, because I was brought up in Paris.
Something I always carry in my baggage: My camera and a notebook.
The first thing I do when I arrive at a new exchange home: Visit the house and the neighbourhood. Then I find a market and do the food shopping so that I feel at home.
And the first thing I do when I return from the exchange: Think of my next exchange…
If I could exchange to any place in the world for a whole year, I would definitely go to: Any new place that I haven’t been yet. The sky is my limit!
The most amazing city I have visited so far: Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with lot of huge parks, lots of districts to visit, and the people are so friendly and helpful. I loved every day I spent there! I visited every bit of it and every part was different. The city is very colourful with plenty of large avenues and every neighbourhood has its own character. And of course, I have fallen in love with Africa!
Something you can’t miss if you visit Istanbul: a boat trip on the Bosphorus, to see the “yalı” along the coast and have a glass of “rakı”, the local liquor. The Bosphorus sea divides the city into Europe and Asia.
A neighborhood I would recommend staying in during a home exchange in Istanbul: Taksim (Beyoğlu, Cihangir) and Beşiktaş (Ortaköy, Maçka, Teşvikiye) where you can find all kinds of transportation.
The best day trip excursion from Istanbul: İf it is in summer you must definitely do a “blue trip” on the Mediterranean Sea. This trip is idyllic. You navigate on wooden boats to virgin creeks with no one around just you the sea the sun and the moon…Cappadocia and Ephesus for their archeological sites are also a must.
Three local cafes or restaurants I love: Karaköy Lokantası. They serve typical Turkish mezzes (cold or hot dishes that are served with Rakı). The decoration is very simple but nice, the service is perfect, the food very tasty and the price is affordable. For fish I would highly recommend Vira Vira on the Bosphorus. And for a typical Turkish meat restaurant, go to Beyti or Günaydın.
A local dish I love: As a vegetarian, all the mezze (vegetables cooked with olive oil), and fish (as we have three different seas, the Black Sea, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea, we have a large variety of fishes).