Go Turkiye: Antalya

While the entire trip to Turkey keeps you engrossed with the rich history of the nation, the geographic divergence in this country is noteworthy too. At the end of a trip to this country, there will be a realization that no two locations are similar. Also, usually the western and central parts of Turkey is part of the itinerary whereas the east is avoided, I was told that though there are beautiful spots in the eastern region too, they are not deemed too safe for international tourists.

From Pamukkale, our destination was Antalya, a commercial city on the Mediterranean Sea. Antalya is among the five largest cities in the country, known for its deep blue sea, waterfalls, and greenery. After a journey of about five hours, our tourist bus dropped us at Ring Downtown Hotel located at the centre of the city. The area was buzzing with restaurants, and foreign exchange dealers and looked like a shopping destination. 

We wanted to get to the seafront and asked people for directions. By now we were familiar with Turkish words like “Su”, “Durum” etc., and a new addition was “Deniz” the Turkish for sea. The seafront was a longish walk away. At the end of the road, there was a park from where we could see the sea from the top. There was a multi-level restaurant a distance away that attracted our attention. Boats of all shapes and sizes were visible too. At sunset, the Mediterranean looked fascinating with a myriad of lights from the shore as well as the boats.

On our way back we stopped for dinner at a Turkish roadside eatery.   Durum or shawarma roll (also known as Doner) is one of the most popular foods on the streets. There were two variants, Et (Beef) and Tavuk (Chicken). You can also have the bread and meat separately as Durum Sade. In this case, you can ask for some rice or bulgur instead of the bread too. Typically, doners cost 30-80 Liras (Rs 120 to 320) and can serve as a complete meal along with some tea or coffee. The durum here had some tahini provided with it, which added to the taste.

While walking back to our hotel from our dinner, we were stopped by the police to check our passports. Unlike many countries, you have to have your passport on you all the time in Turkey, you cannot leave it at the hotel.

The next day, we started early for the sights of Antalya. Our guide first took us to Tunektepe, the highest point in the city which you need to reach via a cable car. The top has a small café serving short eats and beverages. The views from both the car and the top are breathtaking, you can see a large stretch of sea, the harbor, and the city. We spent an hour here before moving to the next destination, Duden Falls.

There are actually two Duden Falls in Antalya. The Upper Duden Falls is located inside a park at the outskirts of the city. The location is nice, though it is not a novelty as we can see many such huge falls in our own country. The way to the fall is a little steep as you need to travel through a few caves. There are food stalls and shops just outside the entrance, and here we got to taste Gozleme, the stuffed Turkish paratha, the making of which resembles our Moglai Parota and Baida Roti closely.

The Lower Duden Falls, half an hour away was a unique place, as the Duden River falls over a cliff into the sea. It is a fantastic view, and for me perhaps the best site in Antalya.

Our last but significant stop was at Kaleici, the old Roman city of Antalya. The place is 2200 years old though most of the area has been modernized. Hadrian’s Gate, the entrance to this area is one of the few remains of the olden times. However, a new Antalya awaits you in the narrow alleys flanked by curio shops, stores, hotels, restaurants, and bars. The offerings in the shops are very interesting, and we witnessed intense bargaining by some of the locals. 

The main artery ends on the seafront where you can have a view of Hidirlik Tower, another old Roman structure. We were unanimous that this area is the best to stay in Antalya, though the boutique hotels on inquiry turned out to be pretty expensive. 

We enjoyed our stay in this city but were looking forward to the next destination too. It was a two-hour stopover at Konya en route to Cappadocia, where we wished to visit the Mevlana Museum and Mausoleum of Jalaluddin Rumi, the Sufi scholar many of us are familiar with.  

The museum located in a large compound in the centre of the city was thronging with visitors when we reached there in the afternoon. Rumi is considered a Saint in Turkey, and his mausoleum is a holy place. A large number of artifacts belonging to the Mevlana order which his father had founded can be seen in the small cells leading to the mausoleum where the dervishes used to live. To enter the mausoleum, you have to cover your shoes with plastic shoe covers which are kept there. Inside, you can find the tomb or Rumi as well as other dervishes of the contemporary period. In the museum, you can see a few models of contemporary times. In the evenings the famous Whirling Dervish programs are held here, though we could not experience them as we were proceeding to Cappadocia.

Konya is about three hours from Antalya and can be done in a day trip. It is halfway to Cappadocia our next destination, so instead of travelling to Cappadocia by flight, we started from Antalya in the morning, visited the mausoleum, and reached Cappadocia in the evening.

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