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Turkey: Touristing in Antalya

Arriving at the Harbour from the Bazaar

While I didn’t get to tour the natural features of Antalya, I did make a couple short trips into the city and into the old bazaar areas. If you want a feel for the ancient in this part of this world venture into these winding cobbled and narrow streets, lined on either side by small stores, crammed to the walls and spilling out with bursts of colour, texture and aromas.

There are so many things to shop (or window-shop) for in Turkey: carpets and tapestry in sizes from bookmarks to wall hangings; fabrics like the renowned pashminas; ceramics with the classic Turkish-Ottoman designs and colours; jewellery in silver and turquoise; teas, coffees and spices grown in Turkey and sold in huge bins showcasing a rainbow of colours. It’s incredible just to walk along and ogle everything. And be served Turkish tea while the proprietor extols the virtues of his wares and enters into bargaining with you. Tea, served with cubes of sugar and elegant little spoons, in the unique curved glasses on glass saucers, in lovely designs.

Turkish Bowls - colourful and microwave safe! Bazaar shop Turkish Tea while shopping in Antalya

It is an amazing experience, particularly, if, like me, you haven’t visited anywhere particularly eastern. Be warned however, that the stores don’t just spill their goods out on the street – the salesmen and proprietors lurk on the sides calling out for your attention, sometimes very aggressively, when all you want to do is soak it in. We even refrained from pointing out anything in particular, or staring to long for fear we’d be hounded and hassled about buying it. Since we had limited exploration and shopping time, it was hard to know whether we would get a good price or quality or be hoodwinked into tourist traps. Speaking of which, be careful about those nuts vendors. They have big carts all over the city, filled with a variety of sweet and savoury nuts and insist you try some, giving you tastes and telling you “it’s only 2 for 100 g!” We said, “2 ? That sounds good for a snack”. Right. They start filling up a bag, and telling you “you want a mix?” moving very quickly and by the time they’re done you have a 600g bag of mixed nuts for 12 and they shrug and say, “well, if it wasn’t already mixed…” So perhaps not everyone would be caught that way. Our colleague refused to buy at first and eventually said clearly “give me 1 ” and that worked. Please be guided. I know that there are areas in the Caribbean that have similar situations where tourists are aggressively pursued to purchase items, but it’s probably easier when it’s like my country, my people and my language to avoid or even ignore that. Once I open my mouth, they know I’m Trini (well, most of them) and the smarmy tactics have to disappear unless I do something else to make myself appear gullible.

Enjoy your shopping anyway – you can get decent quality items in the city bazaar, although it’s innate in me to want to peruse a couple times and compare. But I got the same kinds of deals and prices at the airport in Istanbul, but I think, for example, the pashminas I got in the old bazaar in Antalya were higher quality. They were certainly better labeled. And when it started to pour when we needed to look for a taxi back to the hotel, we asked the owners to direct us to the taxi stand, and they (father and son) said they would give us a lift. They were heading in that general direction, but as it turned out, they did go past their destination by a fair amount to drop us. But they were great and friendly, and the son was one of the few in Antalya who was fluent in English, and was therefore able to comprehend that we were from the Caribbean. The owner of the first tourist shop we visited also understood where we were from, because he was a yachtie, although restricted to the Mediterranean, he had dreams of one day going further on the sea. The owner of our hotel, a fairly small beachfront establishment, was also very friendly and accommodating, dropping us to the meeting, to the mall, to the museum…as far as people experiences go, Antalya was excellent. Possibly better if I had crammed a few Turkish words by sight or sound beforehand, but nonetheless!

This, as I’ve mentioned before, was a first for me really – visiting a place where English is not a common language and where the native language and I have no relationship whatsoever. Turkish phrasebook. Get one. If only to be able to recognise signs and menus. Or to figure out where the minibuses are going.

On the MinibusMinibuses are a good way to get around – like minibuses in the Caribbean, they stop anywhere along their route and are fairly inexpensive. For example, getting into the city centre from Konyaalte Plaj, cost 1.15 Turkish Lira. That’s less than a US dollar, a trip which would cost 10-15 Turkish lira in a taksi. We just needed our hotel proprietor to write down city centre in Turkish (I THINK it’s Kale Kapisi) and then the most intrepid of our trio hopped onto the first couple minibuses that stopped and showed them the paper. When they said no, we waited for the third and happily followed our fearless leader. Into the aisle of said minibus. No seat. Standing room only, with vertical space less than 6′. Less than 5’7″ I would say…Just like with such conveyances in our part of the world, you can pay before or after, sending the money up through the crowd and having your change relayed back. We came off when the bulk of people alit, and ended up pretty close to the marina and old city bazaar. The next time we took the minibus, we finally figured out we could try to read the sign on the front (on a little changeable placard just like in Trini maxis and buses) to see if the city centre was the destination. And along the way I spotted an actual MAXI-TAXI. Well, it was called a maksi-taksi and was smaller than the minibus (so about the size of a bread-van maxi), which made sense in the Turkish context, since the mini-bus was smaller than a bus, while the maxi-taxi was bigger than a taxi.

A typical tent of times past Money Money Money Ancient Bling

I managed to take a morning and visit the Antalya Museum, which is apparently famous for its archaeological collection, and is in fact award-winning. There have been many noteworthy excavations and well-preserved ruins in the region and many local archaeologists have gained fame and reputation in their discoveries here. You can see the usual display of pottery and statuary from the Roman empire and of course even older. And the impressive and beautiful displays of the Ottoman art and culture. There’s a Hall of Coins, a Hall of Sarcophagi, a Hall of Gods… You’re free to take pictures except where a display has a sign prohibiting all photos, or only flash photography (they are pictorial signs, you can figure it out). Cost – 10 Turkish lira). I don’t know if the museum has tour guides, but there were 2 large tour groups visiting at the same time, complete with their own guides. One Spanish, one American group, so I could wander around the latter and pick up anecdotes about the Roman gods and statues…or do as I usually do in such places – wander around and linger at anything that catches my eye.

Herakles missing torsoBe sure to catch the statue of Herakles with the missing stolen torso! I thought that was particularly interesting. And I like the way it was displayed! I tried to line up the photograph and the remaining portion of Herakles together :-) and got some strange looks from a couple people. But, why else would they have put it there on the wall?

There are some other nice displays, such as the tent set-up pictured above, scenes from a typical Turkish home centuries before, and Ottoman period garments, such as Turkish Bath Shoes, that I just thought were so very cool. And of course, tapestries and carpets.

A discussion of touristing in Turkey would be incomplete without mention of whirling dervishes. It’s a question everyone asks when they hear you’re visiting/visited Turkey – did you see the dervishes? did they whirl? was it cool? Yes. Yes. Whirling DervishAnd Yes. The meeting organisers held a gala dinner and Turkish cultural show for us, and I saw lots of Turkish folk dancing and the famed dervishes. The folk dancers leapt and twirled and stepped high, reminding me of Celtic dancing (even the women’s costumes) as well as being similar to those stereotypical Russian dancers kicking out from a stooping position. It was filled with energy and great to watch. The dervishes on the other hand were a lot more solemn than I knew. The music is eerie and sombre, which fits the description of the nature of this Sufi practice, being their representation of a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to “Perfect.” The pictures weren’t too great, given the darkness of the room and distance from the stage, so I only include one for the moment.

Other posts from this trip:

Turkey: Getting There

Turkey: Impressions and Antalya

Turkey: photos on Flickr

(I am still in the airport in Barbados, 2 hours after the previous post! Looks like we’re waiting for sunrise to clear the fog in Guyana. And I took longer than 2 hours to write these posts; I used the extra 2 hours on the plane to start the process. Some small advantage to this situation, I suppose.)

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6 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. Oh my, somewhere else calls them maxi-taxis??
    Why didn’t I think to ask about Whirling Dervishes.

    2. Lilandra, Empress of Chocolate and Envious Sister on December 7th, 2007 at 5:31 am
  2. Me too, Lilandra

    3. Rone on December 10th, 2007 at 9:50 pm
  3. alright…you two didn’t ask about whirling dervishes…OTHER people did 😛

    4. chennette on December 10th, 2007 at 10:13 pm
  4. SIL’s sister asked me if i put in my order about scarves yet…
    we’d not been talking about you
    i had no idea what she was talking about…she had to be like, isn’t your sister going turkey???

    i guess…in truth, when going to exotic places, the first thing i think about IS NOT shopping…weird huh?

    (I think about shopping if you’re going say to the USA and i want electronics…or if i’m going to a place and i need shoes etc)

    5. Lilandra, Empress of Chocolate and Envious Sister on December 11th, 2007 at 1:37 am
  5. I thought about shopping…Turkey is one of those places that brings that to mind—Turkish Bazaar…and all that.

    6. Rone on December 11th, 2007 at 12:05 pm
  6. Love those ceramics.

    8. wordtryst on December 28th, 2007 at 2:22 am

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  3. […] minibuses are called bread van maxis if they’re this small size. Maxi-taxi being the Trini (and Turkish) […]

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