Antalya, Turkey

April 25

One of our favourite things to do while travelling is to wander the back streets of old towns. We did just that today. In the relatively recent past, this area of Turkey has been valued by tourists for it’s beaches. Old Town does not have any beach facilities and therefore the tourist counts were low. Now, however, visitors no longer just want to lounge on beaches, they also want to appreciate all the charms a historic town like Antalya has to offer. With this new attention Old Town is undergoing some major transformations. The main street from Hadrian’s Gate to the water is being reclad in stone tiles. Buildings are being bought up, refurbished and restored.  It is a popular place for Germans and other Europeans to invest.

We walked from the Sabah Pansiyon towards the water ... the Mediterranean. There is was in all it’s blue shining glory. Tables and chairs under yellow umbrellas called out to us to sit and drink in the view for a while but we moved on with the thought of returning.

Antalya Antalya Antalya Antalya
At the bottom of some stairs leading into a neighbouring park we saw a man with a three-wheeled cart selling some green round things. Fruit of some sort we guessed. A little paper hand-made sign was tucked under a box which held little bags of these green orbs. The sign read, "ERIK CAGLA 1 YTL" . We understood the 1 YTL which meant one Turkish Lira. But the other words still did not give us a clue as to what it was he was selling or what you did with them. Two teenaged girls walked up to the cart and handed him one lira. He took one of the small bags and from a bottle poured water over the green globes and then took a spoon full of salt from another bag and sprinkled it over the top. The girls each took one of the green things and started gnawing on them like they were miniature apples. We tried to ask them what it was but the language barrier was there and we were none the wiser. The only way to know was to try ourselves.
Antalya Antalya

So we gave the man one lira and he went through the same ritual with water and salt as he had done with the young ladies. Sherrie tasted one. It was hard, sour and bitter. One was enough. It tasted like something one would get a bellyache from. Terry also found his sour but tried several more. The little bag was still half full when we deposited the balance in a garbage receptacle. Within ten minutes Terry’s stomach began to rumble and within thirty minutes he was on the toilet back at the pansyion. Terry has a Lillooet name for it but we shant repeat it here.

We wandered through the park for awhile watching the boats, then returned passed the tables, chairs and yellow umbrellas and went down to the old Roman harbour. Some fishermen had brought in their fish nets. Three were removing fish from the nets and a fourth sat on a very low wood bench and scaled the little fish. He would take them from a big blue tub of water, scale them on top of a wooden crate which was balanced on top of a chunk of styrofoam and then put them in a white plastic bucket. We asked them what kind of fish they were and after going through several languages, determined that they were sardines.

The area beyond the fishermen was filled with beached fishing boats. Fishermen were busy. One man was mending his boat, another was applying a new logo to a freshly painted hull while others near the water’s edge had removed everything from inside their boat and had it piled on the hard gravelled shore.

Antalya Antalya Antalya

We walked back inland through streets lined with tourist souvenir shops. The day was lovely. Blue skies, a few white fluffy clouds and gardens filled with flowers in a rainbow of colour. We walked passed one of Antalya’s 16 meter high Old Town towers build in 1244 A.D.

We walked down side streets and peeked into open doorways, we stopped and talked to locals and locals stopped us to invite us into their restaurants, stores and carpet shops.

Antalya Antalya Antalya Antalya

We returned to the tables, chairs and yellow umbrellas and sat at a table overlooking the blue Mediterranean and settled in with a drink to do some people watching.

Antalya Antalya Antalya

There were locals and tourists; gypsies trying to get people to have their palms read, school boys in animated conversations, school girls trying to get somewhere in a hurry, people out walking babies and little boys cooling off in the park’s reflective pool.

Oh, the boys weren’t suppose to be doing that and soon a parks person was standing beside them and encouraging them to gather their clothes off the surrounding flower beds and clear out. The boys put up a little argument but then reluctantly did as they were told. Again we took to the side streets, streets where the tourists weren’t, where the houses exposed brick and underpinnings were in dire need of attention.

 No doubt they would soon have that attention as more and more tourists come and more and more changes are made to accommodate and cater to the travelling hordes.

Terry’s tummy was a little upset and our thoughts wandered back to the green things.

Back in the park for sunset, the palm trees created a delicate silhouette against the pink, purple and blue sky. Very romantic, these Mediterranean sunsets.


April 26

When we arrived in Antalya, we had come through Hadrian’s Gate, but had not stopped to take pictures. This morning we left Antalya’s Old Town through Hadrian’s Gate but did so early enough to appreciate its beauty. Except for the pillars, it is made entirely of white marble and is still beautiful despite it’s 1877 years. It was built in honour of the Roman emperor Hadrian who visited Antalya in 130 AD. He wasn’t the only VIP to have passed under these gates. Legend has it that the Queen of Saba brought gifts of diamonds through these arches for King Solomon. Not just VIPs passed through the three arched gate as is evident by the deep wheel ruts in the stone road. Today only pedestrians pass under, now using twelve stairs on either side leading down to the gate’s "ground level" reminding us how the earth continues to bury its past.

We took the local commuter bus the long way around to the Otogar (Bus Station) and boarded the first of two buses that would get us to Pamukkale. The large bus which went the longest distance again offered steward service. Starting off, as before, the steward offered a few shakes from a bottle of lemon cologne into the cupped hands of riders who then rub it into their hands. We don’t know how disinfectant it is although it does have a strong base of alcohol. Carrying a long column of plastic cups and a water bottle, he then balances his way down the aisle of the moving bus pouring glasses of water. Next he carries a tray of heat resistant cups, swivel sticks, packets of tea and coffee. The single serving Nescafe tubes have powdered milk and sugar already mixed in with the coffee. Once those are doled out to those wanting tea or coffee, he then returns, starting at the front of the bus, with a thermos carafe of hot water and fills each cup. For the non coffee and tea drinkers he again repeats his front to back trip with a cola bottle and more plastic cups. We admired his balance for although the bus service in Turkey may be excellent, the roads they travel are not always smooth. Another tray, this time with a snack, is prepared and carried down the aisle. One bus company offered a cookie much like a North American ‘Wagon Wheel’, this bus company offered a choice of chocolate centred cookies or some rather bland crackers.

It was late afternoon when the smaller local bus dropped us on the highway by a dirt road. A sign close by pointed in the direction of the Venus Hotel. A cowboy looking fellow with longish brown-blond hair rode up on a motorcycle. He seemed to fit on it as comfortably as John Wayne did on a horse.


click here to continue April 26  ~  Pamukkule, Turkey ...

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