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Sunday, 03 September 2017 08:21

Namık Safyürek - owner of Botanik Garden Bar

Namık Safyürek - owner of Botanik Garden Bar Namık Safyürek - owner of Botanik Garden Bar

Name / Adınız Soyadiniz

Namık Safyürek

Occupation / Mesleğiniz
Owner of Botanik Garden Bar in Kalkan old town.

Originally from / Doğum yeriniz
Adana, (over 800 km to the east of Kalkan).

Family / Evlimisiniz ve çocuğunuz varmi
Single.  Not taken yet.

What time do you get up? / Saat kaçta uyanırsınız
Because I tend to go to bed in the early hours of the morning it is usually late morning or even perhaps mid-day by the time I get up.

What’s for breakfast? / Kahvaltıda ne seversiniz
Turkish breakfast with çay. 

What time do you start work? / Saat kaçta çalışmaya başlarsiniz
Before I start work I like to go to the town beach for a swim.  I start work in Botanik at around 4pm.

What time do you stop work? / Saat kaçta işiniz biter

Let’s just say it’s late.

Tell us something about your background and your working life. / Lütfen biraz bilgi söylermisiniz kendi arka plan yaşamınız ve çalışma hayatınız ile ilgili.
I was born on an orange farm near Adana, the youngest sibling with five sisters and one brother.  We lived in a simple wooden house with no electricity.  By the age of 13 I was working in a workshop learning how to be a mechanic, as well as doing a little wood carving and I was also working on the farm.

At the age of 19 I had learned a little English and had some guitar lessons, and I left home and headed to Ölüdeniz where I turned my hand to a few things.  I was selling carpets, leather goods and jewellery.  I worked in a couple of holiday villages.  My time in Ölüdeniz ended when I had to do my military service.

I then returned to tourism, this time in Fethiye where I sold carpets and also managed the Car Cemetery Bar.  Then some time around 1995/96 my brother Kemal suggested we should go to a small village on the coast called Kalkan where we could set up a travel and tourism business.  And so it was that Kalamus Travel was created and we set up the office in a spot close to where Hünkar restaurant is today.  We provided archaeology tours looking at the local culture and history.  We also did outdoor activities like sea kayaking and guided walks on the amazing Lycian Way.

I did lots of other things in Kalkan over the years.  I was interested in the traditional Turkish art of glass marbling (cam ebru) and for a while I ran a shop called Reflections Glassware (where Infinity Jewellery is now).  We sold marbled glassware that was hand made in Izmir.  A bit later just across the street (where Yardan is now) I opened the Blue Cafe Bar but Turkey then experienced a serious and deadly earthquake in Istanbul - one of the consequences was that tourism suffered and so with very few tourists coming the bar closed.

I then worked with my brother in his property business Mavi Real Estate and in 2004 I spent some time working at Aubergine restaurant and also with their estate agency arm. 

Coming right up to date in 2012 I worked hard to create the Fountain Bar in the old town but within 12 months I had to leave.  Then in 2013 I brought something new and unique to Kalkan when I opened the Botanik Garden Bar on Süleyman Yılmaz Caddesi.

What’s the best thing about your job? / Yaptiniz işte en sevdiği şey nedir
The Botanik Garden Bar is a dream for me.  I believe I have a real connection with nature and my bar is a natural oasis or a sanctuary in the middle of a vibrant town.  I want my customers to be able to relax in an environment where they can feel the same connection to nature that I have. 

It’s pretty much the last remaining significant garden in Kalkan and I almost feel a sense of responsibility or a duty to maintain it.  Maybe I get this from my parent’s who worked the land.  We have flowers, herbs, bananas, and a tree house that has been sympathetically built within the overall garden.

Describe a typical day / Bir gününüzün nasıl geçtini anlatir misiniz
A sleepy morning at my home in Kışla followed by a simple but delicious Turkish breakfast and a refreshing swim in the sea.  By the time I get to the bar some deliveries will have already arrived and I make sure the bar is properly stocked.  Some time in the afternoon I will check the garden and make sure the plants are watered.  There are over 800 plants that need looking after - I can spend as much as four hours a day just watering them.  We are open in the day time but it tends to be a quieter part of the day where it’s sometimes just me and the garden.

In the evening things start to get busier, although this season has not really bounced back as much as we all hoped.  I am towards the end of the street (Süleyman Yılmaz Caddesi) and whilst the street is quite busy I do wonder if some people know we are there because we are not actually on the street. 

I have experience working in bars so I am hands on in creating cocktails and other drinks.  I spend as much time as I can interacting with my customers and getting to know them.  It’s my intention to create an informal atmosphere where people can feel relaxed and enjoy a drink with good music in the background - but music that’s not too loud so that we are able to talk to each other without having to shout.

Do the seasons make a difference with your work? If so, how? / Yazın işinizde değişiklik oluyormu? Oluyorsa anlatın?

Of course.  Botanik Garden Bar is a seasonal business that relies on those visitors who come to Kalkan in the main tourist season.  In the summer months it is full on with very little spare time.

Out of season I have always taken any opportunity to travel abroad and to learn foreign languages.  I have learned German, French, English, Dutch and Arabic and whilst in the UK in the past I have helped out at a florist in Covent Garden, London and I worked behind the bar of the William IV pub in Cambridge.

When in Kalkan out of season there is nothing more I love than to head off to the mountains where I can walk all day. 

What makes you happy? / Sizi en çok ne mutlu eder
The Botanik garden environment - seeing plants grow from seed.  Meeting new people.  Having said that, it may sound like a contradiction but I also love the solitude of back-packing in the mountains.  When I get time I love to visit my family.

If you were not doing this job, what else would you like to do? / Şu anki yaptiğiniz işi yapmıyor olsaydiniz ne iş yapmek isterdiniz
Working as a tour guide.  Sharing Turkey with visitors.  I am well aware of the beautiful gifts this country has to offer.

What music do you like to listen to? / Hangi müziği dinlemeyi seviyorsunuz
Music from the 60s and 70s.  Afro Latin Jazz.  Turkish protest music.  I like Alevi music - this was often played at home when I was a child.

If you could meet anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be, and why? / Eğer dünyada yaşayan yada yaşamayan herhangi biriyle tanışmanız mümkün olsaydı onun kim olmasını isterdiniz?
I am going to say two people - two very different people.  Firstly Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.  Imagine how inspiring it would have been to know this great man.  Secondly I would have to say Marilyn Monroe, a true 20th century icon.

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know. / Kendinizle ilgili bir çok insanın bilmediği bir şeyi anlatırmısınız
Iraq was invaded in 2003 -  the second Gulf War.  At that time I acted as a guide for a number of international television journalists in northern Iraq.  It was only for a few months but looking back on it now it was an incredibly dangerous assignment.

Anything else / Başka her hangi birşey
I love a book called The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks.  I highly recommend it.