Some of you may remember Yuriy and Lena, a lovely couple from Kyiv who we met when they first holidayed in Fethiye back in 2017.

We were so struck by their absolute delight in Fethiye that, when they sent us a letter describing their holiday, we published it.

They had such an amazing visit that, true to their word, they came back for a second visit in 2018.

Now Yuriy and Lena have packed up – lock, stock, barrel – along with Terra, their 20-year-old cat, and moved to Antalya.

We know there are so many people who would love to do the same and so we asked Yuriy, Lena (and Terra) to share – in their own words – their story.

From Kyiv to Antalya – the couple (and cat) who changed EVERYTHING

“They say the best place on Earth for us cats is Antalya” – said our 20-year-old tuxedo Terra last summer, and left no choice for us but to pack our belongings and book 3 tickets for the late October ferry across the Black Sea. Deep in our hearts we knew, she was right. :)))

In short, it was a 3 days’ car-ferry-car journey starting from Kyiv. There was one tired night in Odesa, one cold inhospitable crazy night in Chernomorsk port, one beautiful night somewhere in the middle of the Black Sea, and an exciting day on road from rainy but friendly Karasu port to Antalya. Our Antalya.
We are home, finally.

It would be just unfair not to mention that our desire to relocate was first pinned by Fethiye. Starting from 2017 we spent two summer vacations in this paradise town, met fantastic people there and rooted our hearts on Çalış beach. And I guess it was the changing point. But, giving it a second thought, we decided on Istanbul. Another place which we couldn’t resist and fell in love with. Yes, we are “mega polices children”. But. The Mediterranean Sea and mountains are far from Istanbul. Not too far, of course, but you know.

So, yes – Antalya!

The art to live can be simple. In the midst of the routine office race, you take a vacation once every two summers (or every summer if you’re lucky enough) to go to Turkey …

But sometimes something happens, and all of a sudden you realize that there is certain transformation waiting for you. And, perhaps, everything will not go as planned. Well, where is the guarantee that what you have in your life right now has not “gone wrong” already?!

They say, in order to move on, you need to be aware of your current boundaries. And go beyond them.

That’s why, torn by thoughts and doubts, we decided to try and change EVERYTHING – our country, work, home, financial guidelines. Sticking to our nature and constantly seek and find new meanings – that is the main thing for us, we decided. 

So, as you already know, we set off from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and dived into the depths of Turkey, Antalya.

Someone may think – Oh, common what is Antalya! There is a huge number of Ukrainians, Russians and other people from the former USSR living there. Yes, that’s right. But in Antalya, most of them live in the tourist areas along the coast.

We took the risk of settling in a very non-tourist peaceful and spacious residential area, 15 km from the sea, where for 10,000 people there are 1-2 English or Russian speakers. And, strangely, nobody speaks Ukrainian. What is more, at any time of day or night the mounts’ peaks peep into our windows.

Scary? Nope

It was scary to make the decision to change EVERYTHING and to give all the necessary vaccinations to our 20-year-old cat Terra before the trip. Would she get through this trip at all? This was scary. The rest was trifles.

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, our plans in Spring 2020 ended in smoke, but … we re-planned everything. And finally got what we wanted. In August 2020 we already celebrated having TAPU in our hands. Our own home. In a completely Turkish house, where there are a bunch of easy-going Turkish neighbours and their big surprised eyes. But now we needed to get back to Ukraine and prepare for that historic trip to Turkey. Or rather, even three trips. But hold on, let me tell you everything in order.

From Kiev to Antalya - the couple (and cat) who changed EVERYTHING

It happened so that we have only three members of our team – Lena, me and our cat Terra, who is with us all our married life. And after Terra caught the plans soaring in the air to change absolutely everything in our life, she yawned and noted melancholically that she would not mind basking in her old age on the Mediterranean coast under a palm tree!

We had to explain to our queen of cats that the Black Sea is just a big puddle of salt water, it’s not scary, and this was enough for her blameless conduct for 2500 km of travel by land and sea.. (feline heartbreaking songs during the first 4 hours of our drive – don’t count)

Those who have an experience of relocating abroad, probably know all this “workflow” – endless stuff packing, re-packing, an attempt to understand “what is needed and what’s not so much needed”, farewells / explanations / sadness / hopes for upcoming meetings …

After selling off most of our stuff, we still had our old car, but even a third of the things left would not fit in there. Therefore, we borrowed a bigger car from our friends, packed the “unpackable” and set off on a journey – across the whole of Ukraine from Kyiv to Odesa, then on a ferry across the Black Sea and further across all of Turkey!

As I mentioned, there were 3 trips, 2 of them I made on my own. After the first trip, when I brought Lena and the cat to Antalya, I returned the car to my friends in Kyiv, got into our car with all the rest of our belongings and once again made all this way from Kyiv to Antalya. (I counted about 14 total days spent on the road between the old home and the new one)

If you’re still not bored with all this jumble of my emotional memories, here are a few more details of the trip. 

Crazy queues at customs in Ukraine, bureaucracy and waiting hours at the freight-and-passenger marine port. I do not envy those passengers who were there on feet, without cars. The conditions of waiting for landing for hours in inhospitable almost winter weather are simply anti-human there. Seriously. (On my 2nd trip I met a middle-aged American there who was trying to understand what is happening and how to get through all the complicated paperwork procedures and roaming along the unlit open-air unpaved passways.)

The ferry, where no one except us wears masks and 99% of passengers are truckers. For the entire ferry, there is only one cabin for passengers with animals, which must be booked one month in advance. And what can you plan “for a month in advance” in 2020, I wonder? When the borders of the country can be closed at any time. And don’t forget that the validity of certificates from the state veterinarian is THREE days – and you must be in time.

Ok. In this charming atmosphere of exploring the new reality of unpredictability on the ferry Chernomorsk-Karasu we arrived in Turkey. On the Turkish customs an officer looked at the cat’s veterinary passport in surprise and waved his hand – well, cat, so what?!? – ride away, do not hinder with drinking tea here! Ok, maybe he put it in other words, but we got his idea 😉

It is difficult to convey the feeling when we left the port in Turkey. Probably, this is comparable to when you propose to your loved one, and are afraid that she will say “no” … and then you hear “YES”. Perhaps this is how we can describe our first kilometres in Turkey.

From Kiev to Antalya - the couple (and cat) who changed EVERYTHING

650 km Karasu – Antalya – and we are at home. 

In a place that we can call HOME. It will not become a home right away. We understand this very well. It will take a very long time before the walls where we live, this whole area, the people around us will truly become our HOME. But now we are on this path. Gradually, step by step.

They say the Great Path begins with a small step?

(Oh yes! – let’s add a few non-lyrical facts. ) We are quite grown-up persons (although not very serious). I am a TV director, my wife, Lena, a freelance photographer, our cat Terra is the most serious member of our team, and we were quite normally settled in Ukraine, in Kyiv.

But, at some point, Lena said – “What is the point of living without the sea? What’s the point in waiting for rare sunny days? Maybe we should try to change EVERYTHING?!”

I must specify here that the three of us grew up on the seashore in Odesa and the smell of sea salt is the smell of our skin (and fur, for someone, of course).

Yes, we will rebuild the whole life. Yes, we will fall off our rungs of the social ladder. We will move away from many close people and risk relationships with them …Yes, this is all a big risk and the cost of a mistake can be very high.

But there is one “But” – if we do not try now, for the rest of our life we will say “what if ….”

This is not for us. We are eager to try to move forward and discover new sides of our personalities. And the local cultural background, friendly people and absolutely fantastic nature are the best conditions to explore our “new us”. 

This is how our journey began. And we are on this way. Glad and excited to share our story with you. 

%) to be continued! %)

Terra, Lena, Yura

PS: To learn Turkish is still a challenge. It turns out that the most difficult thing for us in it is not grammar, these are words. “Sorun değil” for Terra, though 😉