Slideshow

The Turkish Riviera

Monday, June 30, 2014

We flew southeast from Izmir to Antalya (in the Anatolia region), another one hour flight.  This took us from the Aegean Sea back to the Mediterranean! (And we have also seen the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara.)

From the airport we went directly to the Antalya Archaeological Museum. This is a wonderful museum which has man-made artifacts from the entire region covering pre-historic times, through the Bronze Age, the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and even into the Ottoman era.
A magnificent statue of Heracles 


 A Roman sarcophagus for a wealthy person

The Turkish word for "entrance" is "giris", so we have seen many signs that look like this:
...and each time we think it is the "girls entrance"! 
Then, back on the bus to head to lunch. On the way our guide, Ali, talked about two common images of Turkey that people often have. First, he asked if anyone had seen any camels yet? No one had. “Well”, he replied, “that’s because there aren’t any in Turkey.”  Wha??????  Turns out the only ones you might see are there for the tourists. They used to have them ages ago during the time of the Silk Road, but no longer.

Then he asked if we had seen anyone wearing a fez. When you think “Turkey”, you think “fez” (an excellent Scrabble word by the way). No again! He told us that one of the first things Ataturk did when he came to power in the 1920s was to ban the wearing of fezzes and encourage people to wear Western-type hats. Why? Those who refused were clearly identifiable as “living in the past”, and those who switched were deemed more modern and progressive.  The same phenomenon can be seen today in reverse. In many places (especially in the rural areas), women are forced to wear full burqas.  This, then, identifies them as fundamentalist.  Our various guides have told us several times that the majority of the women we see wearing these are tourists and probably not Turkish. They are very proud of their stable secular society (even though it is 98% Muslim).  
Lunch was a "real Turkish meal" at a local restaurant near the museum. We were served (family style) a typical assortment of mezzes...
 ...and then grilled chicken, veggies (they love those peppers here!), rice, AND mashed potatoes (well...that's what we think they were).
This was similar to our experience in Istanbul where the plate included rice and French fries. Why the double carbs? 
This part of the country is called the Turkish Riviera.  Perhaps this is some wishful thinking or just P.R.  The town of Antalya (pop. 1 million) is beautiful and the waterfront part does look a lot like Nice or Marseilles or other Mediterranean resort towns (wide boulevards, row after row of palm trees, 4-storey white apartment buildings with shutters and little balconies, beautiful mountains in the background); here is a view from there (note the beach is typical Mediterranean rocky rather than sandy):

...but the actual resort area is not there! You have to go about 40 minutes farther east, to a row of hotels. There all you can see is the water (and the plush resort of course).  Our guide told us that a large percentage of the guests here come from Russia, and after a few minutes sitting by the pool and listening to the conversations, we could verify that.  We are at the Kempinski Resort, which is really fabulous. All on the group agreed that it was nice to be able to sit in the sun or go in the pool after the torrid touring pace we have been on! :-)

The beach is rocky and the sand is too hot to walk on barefoot, but the pool was so nice that even Wayne went in!

Dinner was at a huge (really huge) buffet (too big even for photos!). We ate outside with another couple and had salads / mezzes, talked for a while, and then went right to the fabulous dessert bar. A person can only eat so much!

Monday, June 30

This morning's tour was of Perge. Yesterday afternoon our Tauck director told us that this is another Greek ruins city, much like Ephesus, and that the forecast for today was for 110 in the shade (but since it is mostly ruins, there is no shade). Hmmmm.....more hot ruins or stretch out by the pool? Half the group (including us) decided to skip the tour and just loll around...until it was time for Wendy's TURKISH BATH AND MASSAGE!

This is Wendy writing and I decided to have a Turkish Bath because (d’oh) we’re in Turkey and why not?  I had hoped to go to the Cemberlitas Hamami  in Istanbul but when I heard that the women’s facilities were inferior to the men’s, of course, I was not going to indulge.  The Turkish Bath at our hotel’s spa in Antalya was decadent and relaxing—though definitely not for the prudish or shy.  I’ve had spa treatments and massages on six continents and I can genuinely say that this one was among the best.  This treatment took high maintenance to a new level.  To start off, the attendant showed me to the sauna where I spent 5 minutes.  Next, she signaled for me to lie down on a hot marble platform in my private bath suite—there was a public co-ed suite; I was happy my treatment was not there. 

Next steps included urns full of warm water, a loofah scrub (the best part), a silky, dream-like stream of flower-scented bubbles poured all over me, alternating warm and cool rinses, head massage and shampoo, and, after being encased in warm towels, palm fronds waved in front of me for a final touch.
(Obviously this isn't me as I did not have a camera with me to take pictures, so I got this off the internet to show you the "bubble machine" in action. Also, my therapist was a Turkish woman named Sefika.)

A little bit different from the shower at the health club!  If you go, beware of the marble platform, very slippery and there are no OSHA standards (nor did I sign any waivers) in Turkey.  If you can deal with the modesty thing, a must-not-miss authentic Ottoman Court experience.

Tomorrow we head to Konya.

Love, w&w.............

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