Bergama Theatre Bergama Trajan Temple Dalyan Lycian Tombs Kaprulu Kanyon Afrodisias Tetrapylon Demre Beach Ortahisar Volcanic Plug Goreme Sunset View Yoruk Turquoise Treasures and Volcanic Vistas draw Travellers to Turkey
All photos copyright © 2014 Terra Encounters All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Antalya Kaleiçi

Kaleiçi – Castle of Antalya

Lost in Kaleiçi
This post is about two of the reasons for visiting Antalya: the Old City of Kaleiçi, with its gorgeous Ottoman houses, and food.  We had just finished our morning at the Antalya Archaeological Museum described in our last post and we're finally driving to our hotel.
Kaleiçi means “within the castle” but today this was more like the road to hell.  I did not have a paper map because I was relying on the old technique of “offline” Google map of Kaleiçi and, of all days, it disappeared from my tablet.  Antalya has the worst signs and there was no tourist office.  Doesn’t the city realize that there are tourists who are driving in their city?  
Kaleiçi Caddesi
We got lost several times and there are a lot of one way roads surrounding the old Ottoman city of Kaleiçi that necessitated going a long way around every time we came to a dead end.  It was exceedingly hard to find the one entrance you needed to take to drive the one way road into the mainly pedestrian only old city of Kaleiçi.  The narrow road (Kocatepe Sokak) is to the right just after Hadrian's Gate heading south on the main shopping street, Ataturk Caddesi, which is a one way road.  It looked like no entry was allowed.  Once on that road it seemed like it was taking forever and I still didn't know where the hotel was in Kaleiçi no signs for hotels are allowed.  Eventually I parked the car and walked until I found the pension.  Then I had to re-find the car and my wife too! Fortunately the hotel provided a great map.

Our Room in the White Garden
It had taken two hours trying to find our hotel, the White Garden Pansion, a gorgeous 125 year old Ottoman house. The photo shows our room, which has the oriel window that juts out over the street.  
In terms of architecture this was one of the special places we stayed at in Turkey. It was a pleasure to sit in the dining room each morning and have the typical Turkish breakfast surrounded by beautiful wood ceilings and green outdoor garden outside the glass wall.  

Outstanding Ottoman Houses
We still hadn't eaten so we walked through Kaleiçi along Hespaçi Sokak bypassing the more expensive tourist restaurants toward the place we were going to try out.  There were some touts – though not as bad as Istanbul asking you to buy at their shop.  We just ignored them.  There were many examples of stone and timber-framed Ottoman architecture.  This was definitely a larger and more affluent Ottoman area than two places described in our Cumalikizik & Bursa – Ottoman Delight post. 

Hadrian's Gate
Finally we reached Hadrian's Gate, which was erected to commemorate his visit in 130 CE, but was not built by Emperor Hadrian – who did complete the Temple of Trajan in Precipitous Pergamon.  Üçkapılar (its Turkish name) means three arches. 
This typical Roman triumphal gate is built entirely of white marble, which contrasts with the brown adjoining towers.  It is amazing that cart wheels could have carved the deep grooves in the stone pavement beneath the central arch. 

Tea anyone?
Once we exited the old city through Hadrian's Gate onto Ataturk Blvd, it was another world of Antalyans shopping and talking.
There were lots of young people in very modern clothes.  A çaycı (Turkish tea waiter) circulates the small wall-side park selling tea.  The word çay (pronounced chai) comes from Hindi chai, where their word and the tea originated.

Kaleiçi Kafe
We walked on Recip Peker Cd two blocks then turned right to Arik Cd 4 to find the non-descript Can Can Pide ve Kebab Salonu. We had a late lunch of two yummy mercimek çorbası (lentil) soups, one pide (type of pizza), and two teas.  I still think the pide in Toronto is better.  Even though we were only a couple of blocks away from Kaleiçi, there were no tourists.  We shared the table with the locals.  That meal cost TRY 17 for both of us!  In the tourist area the mains alone were TRY 20 ($10) each!!!  

Wedding Photo Shoot
I also became a wedding photographer today.  I was walking down the narrow alleys and came upon a shocking sight. A Turkish couple all dressed up and making dramatic poses.  They were so cute and really seemed to be enjoying their photo shoot.  
I even photographed the wedding photographer as she was wearing special outfit as well. 
Capturing the Photographer

After that we walked to the clock tower – wow, this is where the locals were hanging out.  Then we walked back via Uzun Çarşı Sokak.  We were nearly back – I think it was around Kaledibi Sokak – when I saw a sign for sahlep TRY 3.  As mentioned in the Topkapi Palace Paradise post, the aromatic sahlep drink is made from wild orchid root, milk, honey, cinnamon and vanilla – and it is yummy!  I could have had a second cup.

Because that very late lunch was filling, we never did have supper. We went back to the pension but sat downstairs in the Ottoman lobby where there are divans and sofas and had tea (just ask the desk) and talked with the concierge.  
Hidirlik Tower

Kaleiçi Day 2

It was a glorious sunny day.  We went to the Ancient Roman Hıdırlık Tower at the end of Hespaçi Sokak.  

Taurus Mountains

We discovered the extensive Karaalioglu Park along the sea with fabulous views of the snow-capped Taurus Mountains across the bay.  So that’s why people like it here.

Our Oldest Breakfast Table
We returned to our hotel for breakfast in the Ottoman foyer.  In summer everyone goes outside to eat in the inner courtyard.  In the mornings we talked with the owner, Metin, and especially his very helpful nephew who was working the reception at the hotel.  Breakfast consisted of fresh fruit, cereal, cooked meats and cheese, and very good coffee.  

The Youngest Tourist

At breakfast, we met the cutest Dutch girl who had a gorgeous smile, and loves football (soccer). Unfortunately, she didn't talk very much but you cannot have everything. She is only 14 months old!!!   

Next Post: Stupendous Aspendos and Köprülü Kanyon
Last Post:  Antalya Archaeology Museum

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Antalya Archaeology Museum


Is it worth going to Antalya?  The top five reasons for coming to Antalya are:
  1. Antalya Archaeological Museum one the best in Turkey
  2. Old City of Kaleiçi yes it's touristy but quaint
  3. Base for surrounding ancient sites such as Aspendos, Termessos, and Perge
  4. Base for Köprülü Kanyon day trip
  5. Food
Antalya Archaeological Museum: Roman Sculpture
Roman Sculpture Alley
Each of these bolded places will get its own post.  Some travel forums are very negative about visiting Antalya.  Yes it's a large city but so are Istanbul and Bursa.  If your goal is to mainly spend time on a beach then for sure stay at smaller towns discussed in pervious posts, like Dalyan, Demre, and Kaş.

Digging Archaeology at the
Antalya Museum

As we are driving in from the west side, we made an executive decision to go straight to the Antalya Archaeological Museum rather than our hotel in the old city, Kaleiçi.  There was ample parking and we spent at least two hours there.  If you dig archaeology you could easily spend more time. The museum is located at the curve in Konyaalti Caddesi that heads to/from Kaleiçi.

Silk Routes

Antalya Archaeological Museum: Gorgeous Blue Bowl and Flasks
Gorgeous Blue Bowl and Flasks
The reason for the wealth of objects in Turkey is that Istanbul and Ephesus served as the terminus of the Silk Trade Routes.  There was not a single Silk Road, a term invented by German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen in the 19th century.  There were many routes, including some sea routes (see the Silk Routes Map).

Antalya Archaeological Museum: Glass, one of the West's Inventions
Glass, one of the West's Inventions
There is another misconception to clear up.  While we know many inventions, art, silk, paper, gunpowder and other goods came from the East; there were many inventions and goods from the West that went to Asia.  In the hall of small objects look at the amazing glass with ornate colour patterns.  Glass is one of these inventions. It is associated to Ancient Rome but the first true glass was invented in what is now Syria.  Cotton, cosmetics, chairs, peaches and grapes are some of the western exports. 

Antalya Archaeological Museum: Romanesque Niches
Romanesque Niches
The museum is very well laid out with lots of space between artefacts. I loved the Romanesque niches that were used to highlight each statue. This also gives a feel for the way these statues would have been displayed in Ancient Roman times. The lighting was either very atmospheric or purposely too dark for good photography.  Their policy of no flash is ridiculous as I seriously question whether flash can affect stone.  Let's get real.  
Antalya Archaeological Museum: Resting God
Resting God
The more likely reason is to prevent photographers from getting good photos rather than buying the museums' books. After learning how to let my new digital camera adjust the ISO sensitivity (formerly film speed) automatically, I was able to capture photos without the use of a tripod. However the photos may be grainy.  Some of the best photographic subjects are the Ancient Roman sculptures.  The main hall to visit is filled with statues of gods excavated from nearby Perge, 11 km east of Antalya.  The next in importance is the hall of Emperors and their wives.

Antalya Archaeological Museum: Emperor Trajan
Emperor Trajan
As you look upon an ageing Trajan dressed in military cuirass, remember that he was the one who fought many wars to expand Rome to its greatest territory. Also remember he was responsible for starting the Temple of Trajan in Pergamon (discussed in an earlier post), which was finished by his successor, Hadrian.

Antalya Archaeological Museum: Emperor Hadrian
Emperor Hadrian

Admire the statue of Hadrian from the North Nymphaeum at Perge.  Hadrian stopped expanding the Roman Empire as he preferred to promote the arts and architecture. As you take in his portrait, remember that he was also an architect and sponsored the construction of the greatest building and dome of ancient history the Pantheon.

Antalya Archaeological Museum: Coins
Heads or Tails?
A side trip upstairs brings you to the numismatics section. Lydia (located just north of Lycia) invented the first coins in the world.  Alexander the Great spread the idea around the world while promoting his image on the "heads" side.   Some things have not changed.  Royalty or presidents still adorn the "heads" side.
Coming back to the ground floor, is probably the best statue in the museum especially because it used to be in two pieces.  The “Weary Herakles” is a Roman marble statue that was excavated in 1980 in Perge, Turkey.  However, the top half was removed during excavations and sold to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.   After much negotiation, Hercules finally returned to Turkey in 2011 and the top portion was reattached to the torso.

Antalya Archaeological Museum: Hercules
Hercules 1 Lion 0
Herakles or Hercules was the god of heroes, sports, athletes, health, fertility, and divine protector of mankind.  One look at this statue and you know he was a paragon of masculinity, strength, and sexual prowess. Heracles used his wits on several occasions when his strength did not suffice.
The skin of the conquered Nemean Lion is shown draped on his left side.  This was a mythological lion with golden fur that was impervious to attack and claws that could cut through any armour.  It could not be killed with human weapons.  The lion was strangled to death by Heracles.
I love the chiaroscuro lighting with Heracles appearing out of the dark shadows in a corner niche.  It is truly the piece de resistance of the museum, which really has a knack for presentation and lighting.
Next came a hall filled with Sarcophagi, lots and lots of them.  Normally, this where your brain shuts down because you don't know what to look for or appreciate.  It's also so much easier to get "museumed out" when you're hungry we still hadn't had lunch. Sometimes our days feel like we are on a guided tour but without the meals and we have to do the driving.

Antalya Archaeological Museum: Sarcophagus of Aurelia Botain Demetria
Riot of Figurines
We did notice the sculptured bas reliefs along the sides of the coffins.  However one huge coffin was a work of art, the Sarcophagus of Aurelia Botain Demetria, from 2nd Century Perge.  Soon after several art students sat down and drew pictures of it. So we had made a good choice.

Antalya Archaeological Museum: Blue Outfit
Blue Woman

As we completed the tour, we were impressed by the clothing and artefacts in the ethnography hall.  What gorgeous blue dyes were used in the clothing.  It's hard to believe that the outfits are in such good condition.  

Next Post: Kaleiçi – Castle of Antalya
Last Post:  Cirali and Demre - Turquoise Coast Treasures

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cirali and Demre

Turquoise Coast Treasures

Don't Stare and Drive
Today was a very long drive time-wise along the Turquoise Coast.  Çıralı was a pleasurable one night stand.  The main highlights of the day were (1) the best view of emerald waters on the Turquoise Coast at Demre and (2) the pension in Çıralı where we felt like we were guests of a family. 

Turquoise Coast – Demre

Our Turquoise Treasure
Large stretches of the main D400 highway are inland. When we finally reached the coast not only did we find our favourite “turquoise view” in all of Turkey but there were several viewpoints built along the highway where you can actually pull over.  The best scenic spot was 50.8 km east of Kaş just before Demre with probably the most turquoise water lapping long beaches and no civilization. 
Demre's Turquoise Treasure
Demre also has a beautiful long turquoise-tinged beach all along the town.  Along cliffs can be found Lycian Tombs from the ancient Lycian town, Myra.   Demre is also the city where a famous bishop St. Nicolas became Santa Claus.  The church of St. Nicolas is a "pilgrimage site" for many of the Russian Orthodox faith.

Turquoise Coast – Olympos 

About 78 km (1.5 hours) later, we went off the main highway down to the coast at Olympos.  It felt like a backpacker’s oasis with many young people hiking into the Lycian ruins.  It is also the end of the 540 km Lycian Trail, which starts at Ölüdeniz.  It is hard to believe that back in the first century BC, Olympos was one of the main cities of the Lycian Assembly, the federation that is the foundation of many of  today's democracies  
Road to Olympos
Now it feels like a tiny one-street Nepali village with unpaved roads and many pensions all along the road to sleep/eat.  The road to the national park even required driving across a shallow river – there is a photo for that. 

Çıralı – Fruits, Friends & Fire

Çıralı Beach
After a short drive from Olympos, Çıralı was also a strange place.  Seven km off the D400 highway, it was less a town and more a farmland with wall to wall signs advertising for tourists.  Again the narrow, rough streets reminded us of Costa Rica with too many cars.  There was a political rally going on with loudspeakers blasting slogans and music from the tops of a caravan of cars and buses.  Çıralı was also a very spread out village and our destination was nearly at the end of the road. 

Snowy Contrast to Green Hills
Located two hours before (west) of Antalya, it is, I believe, the last place to stop on the Turquoise Coast before getting to the big city. One reason to come here was the long unspoilt beach between low cliffs at one end and a tree clad mountain on the other side plus behind the beach a snowy peak emerges above some impressive large trees.  The beach was not as special as various travel forums and travel articles make out.  Yes there is sand but then you have to cross a band of gravel to get to the sea.  The area is protected because of the loggerhead sea turtles so there are no resorts or other major developments. 
Our Chimaera Fireplace
The other reason to come here was to see the eternal flame at Chimaera. This is natural gas (mainly methane) seeping through the cracks that had the ancients in awe, especially at night when it contrasts with the dark surroundings.  The ancients thought it was a lion-headed monster, Chimaera, which sprouted fire.
Our Rustic Wood Cabin
But what was most special was staying with a family on their orchard farm.    Our cabin on the right was ultra clean and very rustic with an all wood interior.  Kiyi Pansiyon was very simple but nice.  The hosts were so friendly and welcoming.  The very first thing they did was to serve apple tea and a bowl of fruit.  We sat on our front porch amongst all kinds of fruit trees.  The fresh oranges were the best we have ever eaten. 
The only person who spoke English well was the brother-in-law, Suleyman.  His wife was living in Demre so their child could go to school.   Since it was cold they made a fire in a wood stove.  Then the power went out so this became very romantic lighting, our personal Chimaera fire dragon (see photo above).  Then they brought a LED lantern and spoiled the atmosphere - just kidding.

Top Chef
The hosts were eager to please though the wife spoke no English – but what a smile.  The pension included supper as well as breakfast. This was a true home-cooked meal with sea bass and lots of fresh vegetables from their farm.  It was really good.  We ate in a huge dining "tent" next to their house.  
My sister "Sevinç" asked how we liked having coffee with the chickens as she remembered her time at the café at the Archaeological Museum in Antalya.  Well, we had breakfast with the chickens in Çıralı!!!  We are used to seeing animals roaming the streets in Asia.  On our Round The World trip, we ate at an Indian restaurant with author Rick Steves.  He said you know you've been in India too long when a cow walks into the restaurant and you don't even react.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Kaş and Kekova

Kaş Delights

Spectacular Kekova Coast
Kaş is one of those towns that is made for relaxing.  In itself there are no spectacular sights but it is surrounded by plenty of outdoor delights. Kaş Karst-embedded Kekova coast takes your breath away.  We couldn't have picked a better vacation from the vacation. 

Kaş Market

Talk Time at the Kas Market
Talk Time at the Kaş Market
On Friday we went to the Kaş market, a short walk from the Hideaway Hotel.  It was a great place for photography since people, many of them from the countryside, are dressed more traditionally this is not Istanbul.  There were few tourists other than the British expats who live in Kaş. The market has many types of good for sale as well as food and spices.
Gözleme Time at Kaş Market
There are also food stalls with tiny tables and stools.  We had authentic gözleme. Göz means "compartment" and indeed this is a kind of crepe stuffed with cheese and/or spinach and various other fillings and cooked on a large pan.  The women come from villages and cook for Kaş literally!!  Definitely have the very reasonably priced gözleme here.

Is the Water Safe?

Kaş Market Was This Distinguished Man Posing for Me?
Was This Distinguished Man Posing?
Before going to Turkey, we heard and read so often that you cannot drink the water.  Water bottles were given for free in Istanbul.  Now it costs 2TL per bottle.  Have you eaten uncooked vegetables during your travels?  Brushed you teeth and toothbrush using the tap water?  Used ice in drinks?  If the water is bad, anything washed with that water would quickly make you sick!  Having travelled for three years in Asia we know from experience. 
Yummy Time at Kaş Market
Yummy Time at Kaş Market
We realized that we had been eating the raw veggies that are served with the kebabs, et al.  We never got sick.  It dawned on us that the water problem cannot be that bad.  Perhaps we have built up a better immune system. 
If the water is unsafe where you are going to travel or you just want to be sure then read about the steri-pen in the Drinking Water Tips page.  What a superb invention used by development agencies throughout the developing world! 


Karst-embedded Kekova Coast
Karst-embedded Kekova Coast
After lunch we drove past snowy coastal mountains to the side road to Kekova region (now a maritime park). We were stunned by the surprising surreal karst scenery of the Uçagiz (village) area. Unfortunately this is a narrow road with non-existent shoulders and heavy tour bus traffic though not too many cars.  So we looked for places to pull off the road and enjoy the views.  Even if they built some pullovers there would never be enough room.  There was a one km stretch that had the best views.
Near the Ancient Lycian Ruins of Kaleköy
We were told to go to the right by locals probably so we can but later we went the other way where the tour buses go and there was parking near some cafes and craft stores. All of these places were overpriced. However there are nice views of the coast. 
Cruise Time in Üçağız
We parked and walked along the harbour with lots of tour boats to view the underwater ancient Lycian ruins of Kaleköy - underwater due to an earthquake during the 2nd century.  It's located just past those jagged rocks in the middle of the water. Also note the many islands that were just to the right of the jagged rocks.  If you want to go on the boat cruise drive here in the morning or book the cruise from Kaş.

Çukurbağ Peninsula

Castle Time in Çukurbağ Peninsula
Castle Time in Çukurbağ Peninsula
Towards dusk, we took a self-guided "tour" of the Çukurbağ Peninsula.  This is where wealthy expats and locals buy villas.  According to a real estate storefront, houses sell from GBP 300,000 to 700,000 – yes in British Pounds as a lot of Brits retire here.  The house I want to buy is the one with a turret in the photo -- your personal castle on the coast.
This is also the location of the most expensive hotels.  My sister Umet (code name) asked if we were staying at the Peninsula Gardens Hotel that she saw on the Internet.  The rooms start at EUR 1190!!  That's way beyond our league. 
Our Turkey Trip Planning page shows that it is possible to economize simply by going in the off-season.  Now that we have left Istanbul and Bursa (expensive cities), we paid on average $65 per night including breakfast.  From mid-May to mid-Sep prices can sometimes triple or quadruple. 


Greek Theatre, Kaş with Kastellorizo
We woke up in the morning to beautiful views of Greece outside our window. Yes, I said Greece, as in the Greek Isles. This one is called Kastellorizo.  In other words the Ionian Islands synonymous with Ionic temples such as the ones in Priene, now Turkey, where Ionic Architecture originated.  Some of the most famous Greek Islands are just 6 to 18 km off the Turkish coast – Chios, Samos, Kos and Rhodos, better known to Anglos as Rhodes.  Rhodes was famous in ancient times as it held one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes.  Take a look at the artist's drawing on that web page.  Its arm stretched out in welcome, its head held a crown of sun beams, and its purpose was to welcome maritime visitors.  Does that sound familiar?  This statue was used as the design for the Statue of Liberty.

Yes, you can easily go by ferry to any of the islands.  But we decided that the focus of this trip was Turkey.  If you have unlimited time or have limited the geographical distances you are travelling then a Greek side trip is definitely feasible. Keep in mind the rule of thumb described on the Itinerary Planning page. 

I went to the ancient theatre outside our window in Kaş (see picture above). The outer wall was visible in the picture of the view from our window.  This is all that is left of the Ancient Greek city of Antiphellos.

Last Post:  Old Kaş
Next Post: Cirali and Demre - Turquoise Coast Treasures