We first came to the village (köy in Turkish) of Kaplan (Tiger) in the summer of 2014. My Turkish friend, Levent, who lives in Istanbul, had been looking for somewhere to retire to. Somewhere quiet, with quality of life and a relatively economical cost of living. Kaplan ticked every box and a few more.
Kaplan is situated about a hour's drive inland from Izmir and is perched on a hillside overlooking the town of Tire. Not only is it a traditional Turkish village, where people walk their sheep and goats daily, where chickens roam and where you are more likely to see a horse than a car...it also boasts stunning views and three excellent restaurants. Indeed people come from Istanbul and Ankara just to dine out in Kaplan. One eaterie - Dağ Restoran - has even been revıewed in the New York Times. You can read it here.
My friend and I eventually bought houses opposite each other, divided by a blockwork road that quickly turns into a dirt track and meanders down bisecting endless olive groves. Both properties required extensive renovations. But we did not move in until January 2015....only to endure the worst winter the village had experienced for 40 years. One night it was minus 14 degrees.
When we arrived our immediate neighbours gave us some of the riches our garden had provided during the previous summer. They included a huge tank containing 47 litres of olive oil and a large sack of walnuts.
View of the village and Tire beyond.
Our plot actually contains two houses and a roofless stone building used in olden days to keep animals. We did some basic repairs on the main house, bought a second hand bed frame and a new mattress, fridge and other white goods, a second hand sofa and a few chairs and hunkered down with only the annual sunshine charts to fuel our optimism.
We also fenced in part of the garden as a run for our rescue dogs, English setters Darcy and Willow. It is fair to say they enjoyed the subsequent snow a bit more than we did. Despite unfounded warnings that they may find it hard to mix with tougher local dogs from the 'hood they soon made friends. We named their best mates Winston and Corbett (after Ronnie Corbett).
Darcy and Willow with pals Winston and Corbett