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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

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