“Please come in, take shelter from the rain, you don’t even have to look at the carpets, just have some tea and wait out the rain”, so said Arhan, inviting us to step out of the pouring rain and into his carpet shop in Antalya. Since A had been looking forward to purchasing a carpet, this seemingly innocuous invite was fraught with danger. So, did we just have tea or did Arhan actually make a sale? This will have to wait till we get to Antalya, for now were headed towards Fethiye after a couple of days in Izmir.
Fethiye is a touristy town on the Aegean coast, built on the site of the ancient town of Telmessos. We got into Fethiye after a somewhat long but pleasant drive, there were stalls selling freshly squeezed juice along the way, we stopped at one of these for some pomegranate juice (Naar Suyu). We stopped for lunch at the Egesan Service Area, I think we were the first customers for the day, the staff was extremely friendly and wanted to know all about our trip. By the time we got into Fethiye it was late afternoon, took us a little while to find the Tiryaki Boutique Hotel where we were staying, one of the store owners on the main drag actually guided us to the place on his motorbike. The hotel itself was in one word, interesting. The decor was a little garish, but all i nall the place was quite comfy. We also found that a lot of Brits descend on the town during the summer, which kinda explains the strange names we saw on shops in the city including “Daddy’s Bakehouse“.
We had some dinner from a nearby restaurant and turned in for the night. After breakfast the next morning we headed out to the Lycian Rock Tombs, these are a reminder of the majesty of a civilization that is now lost in time. I would definitely recommend this on any travel itinerary for the region. There are a few cafes in the area and we stopped for some tea at one of these enjoying the beautiful views. On our way back we stopped at a doner kebab joint, the owner was very nice guy who was concerned about A not eating properly and fussed over her, making sure she had a full lunch. After roaming around the city for a bit we headed back to the hotel for some rest. Based on recommendation by the hotel staff we went to the Girida Restaurant later in the evening for dinner, the place was packed, which is always a good sign. The food was great, although I am not too inclined to have a whole fish, head and all, on my plate. I was delighted to see that at the table next to us, there was a guy holding prayer beads chatting away with his friend who was sipping away raki, a very good example of cultural mix that exists in Turkish society. After imbibing some of the good stuff myself, I had to be driven back to the hotel by A.
Next day we headed to Antalya. After a short stop for some tea by the pier in Fethiye, we were on our way. There are two ways to get from Fethiye to Antalya, the first goes over the mountains and the second is a bit longer and takes one along the ‘turquoise coast‘, both are very scenic. We decided to take the mountain route, the road is very well maintained and the views are stunning. Since it was early spring there was still some snow on the mountains. We stopped by a truck stop for lunch, the food was good and the place had an interesting decor. The hotel we had booked, Hadrian’s Gate Hotel in Antalya was in the walled city, Kaleici, which is the historic part of Antalya.
We got to the old city early afternoon, one has to get a ticket to drive into the walled city, which, if you are staying there, can be validated by the hotel. Driving in Kaleici was quite the experience, the narrow streets, most of them going one way with pedestrians and cars all sharing the road, put my driving skills to the test. We managed to find the hotel after asking around a little bit. After some rest we went out to explore the area, it is a very pleasant walk down to the marina which takes one by the Kesik Minar and Hiderlik Tower, these are prominent landmarks of the area. There is a huge covered market where one can practically get lost in, for hours. Since were tired after the drive we turned in early after dinner from a nearby restaurant. The next morning we got out after a good hearty breakfast (did I mention Turkish breakfast is the best!). It was drizzling outside, A got some roasted chestnuts (kestane), which had become her favorite snack in Turkey. It had started to rain by now, this is when we heard someone inviting us to take shelter in his shop, this turned out to be Arhan owner of a carpet store, mentioned at the beginning of the blog. After having some tea, A as I had anticipated, started browsing the carpets. After Arhan had given us a detailed tour of his inventory, A shortlisted about five carpets. After another cup of tea and much haggling we decided on a beautiful 11′ x 14′ carpet. We met with Arhan’s business partner and the guy’s wife, who it turns out was form Peru. We exchanged travel stories with them, and Arhan took us for some lunch. In the afternoon we went to the covered market, got some souvenirs, also saw the Yivli minar and the clock tower which are well known landmarks in Kaleici. There is a bust of Khiaruddin Barbarossa by the marina, Barbarossa who became the Admiral of the Ottoman fleet, established their naval supremacy which lasted for about half a century. Since out hotel was right next to Hadrians Gate we had the chance to see this historic monument several times during or stay. We had a leisurely dinner at the Otantic Restaurant before calling it a night.
The next day we left Antalya, headed to Konya, the city best known now, for the mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi.