Falling in love abroad isn’t easy - especially when your faithful pet is waiting for you at home.
When Karen Mayfair booked a last-minute holiday to Fethiye in 2011 she had no idea she was about to fall in love - twice.
Fed up with the long, cold British winter, the 52-year-old from Berkshire decided to fly out to Fethiye for a long weekend of sunshine. She’d never been before but her friend had visited Calis the previous summer and raved about it.
Little did Karen know, the weekend would turn out to be life changing. “Firstly, I was struck by the beauty of Fethiye and the coastline. On the drive from Dalaman Airport you keep getting glimpses of the sea and the coastline - I was transfixed,” she says.
By the time she arrived at her hotel she was smitten. “It was a gorgeous May afternoon, the sun was shining on the sea and the boats were making their way across the harbour. I just fell in love with Fethiye.”
That night Karen, dining alone, found love of a different sort when a “friendly gentleman” asked her to join him for a meal. Her new friend Emir was “charming and funny” and over dinner regaled her with stories about the area’s history. The following day Emir took Karen on a tour of the area. “And that was that,” Karen says. “My fate was sealed forever.”
Karen flew back to the UK at the end of the long weekend, already planning a return. Emir was desperate for me to come back, but I needed time to think, and then there was the problem of Bungle.”
Bungle is Karen’s cat. The two of them have been inseparable since Bungle was a kitten. “There was no question at all that whatever I did, Bungle would always be in the picture.”
Karen began to look into ways to take Bungle into Turkey. “I was reluctant to commit to living in Turkey full time, so I thought I would dip my toe in the water: buy a small property in Turkey and spend half the year there. But I did not want to do this until I had sorted out what to do with Bungle.”
Hours of research and a few phone calls later, Karen discovered that taking a pet in and out of Turkey wouldn’t be as difficult as she’d thought.
“Basically, as long as you keep your paperwork up to date it’s really quite simple. Pets used to have to be quarantined coming back to the UK, and that’s what I was worried about, but now as long as everything is in order, your pet has all its jabs and an EU passport, you can travel pretty easily with your pet.”
Armed with the knowledge that she and Bungle could continue their life together in two countries, Karen flew back to Fethiye in mid 2011 on a “whirlwind property buying trip.” She bought an apartment in Calis, one street back from the bustling promenade, and as soon as she was able, moved in with Bungle for three months.
“Calis is fantastic,” says Karen. “In the summer it’s really busy and buzzy, I often go down to the promenade and drink in the atmosphere. I have a regular cafe where I go for coffee and baklava and just sit with a book or just look out to sea or people watch. In the cooler months it’s very quiet, I miss the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds but the peace is nice.”
Bungle took to travelling “with alacrity,” Karen says. “Once we got into the swing of it it really wasn’t difficult.” The pair always flew with Thomsons, and Karen made sure she always informed cabin crew that Bungle was flying below in the hold, to make sure the heating was turned on for her cat.
Karen and Emir married last year, and are planning on buying a villa together. Karen is planning on living in Turkey full time from the end of the year, ending Bungle’s years of travel. “Bungle’s getting on a bit now, he’ll be relieved to turn in his passport and settle in Turkey permanently.”
Our guide to bringing a pet into Turkey - and taking it out again
One person can import two pets into Turkey. Turkey does not currently require a pet passport but this might change in years to come, so keep an eye on current regulations.
Taking pets into Turkey
You will need:
- Certificate of health (http://www.turkishconsulate.org.uk/tr/trforms/Health_OriginCertificate.doc). The health certificate must be completed within 96 hours of travel.
- Vaccination certificates
Turkey currently does not require pets to be microchipped. This might change in the next few years. However, the UK requires incoming pets to be microchipped.
Dogs must be vaccinated against:
- Canine Parvovirus
- Canine Distemper
Cats must be more than four months old and vaccinated against
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia (FVRCP)
- Rabies*, at least one month prior to travel.
*The rabies vaccine must be administered at least 30 days before travel. If your dog or cat’s rabies vaccine is currently in date, you will need a blood sample obtained at least 30 days before travel showing that blood serum levels are within acceptable range.
For re entry to the UK
You will need:
- A microchip
- A current rabies vaccination (administered AFTER the microchip)
- A blood test showing rabies is not present (this will need to be taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination)
- EU Pet Passport OR an official certificate of health from your Turkish vet
- A tapeworm treatment (for dogs only - administered between one and five days before travel).
Travelling with a pet
Not all airlines will carry live animals, so check before you book your flights. Thomsons and Thomas Cook are two airlines that will. Budget airlines generally don’t.
Airline procedures for taking pets vary slightly so make sure you ask your airline for the rules and regulations surrounding the transportation of animals.
Your pet must be in an approved cage. Again, this varies from airline to airline but will generally be stackable and have room for the pet to turn around.
You may be liable for a customs fee on the Turkish side when you collect your pet from the cargo customs desk. This unfortunately varies wildly so take cash as well as your paperwork with you.
If your pet needs feeding during the flight, make sure you supply food and instructions at check in.
You must travel on the same flight as your pet.
Surrounded by utmost nature and quiet settings, Ovacik is the ideal destination for those who are looking to escape to Turkey and life to their own beat, this secluded villa gives you the opportunity to embrace a slow lifestyle all to yourself and your loved ones.