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Antalya, Turkey

From Fethiye we headed to Antalya by bus. We were able to eat a leisurely Turkish breakfast on the patio of Villa Daffodil, stuff our gear into a dolmus, and show up at the otogar (bus station). Again, given that it was the shoulder season, we found a bus with space leaving for Antalya immediately. Back through the mountains and scenic countryside we went, stopping at a roadside cafe for a coffee break. Ezra did great, by now a seasoned bus traveler. As usual Brown Bear, Brown Bear and cheerios figured prominently. Check out BA making Ezra work for his cheerios:

Antalya is the largest Turkish city on the western Mediterranean coast. Its highlights are the old district of Kaleici (literally, “within the castle”), a Roman-era harbor and a good archaeology museum. After arriving at the bus station I changed some money and bought some snacks. Then we jumped in a taxi and headed to the White Garden Pansiyon in Kaleici. Kaleici is unique in that it is preserved as a historical district. Entry and exit is controlled via gates and the only inhabitants seem to be tourists, hotel employees, and shop owners. After checking in and dropping off our gear, we headed out to explore the city.

                               From a small square near the hotel, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the Roman harbor. The harbor was Antalya’s lifeline from teh 2nd century BC until the late 20th century. It is now a marina for yachts and excursion boats. While descending from the park I encountered a candied nut vendor. Intending to purchase a small serving of nuts, I asked him how much. “3TL per 100 grams” was his hurried answer, as he started scooping nuts from different containers into a large bag. Again, I asked him how much, and, pointing to his scale, he replied, “Don’t worry, automatic, 3TL per 100 grams”, and continued scooping. Finally, I told him to stop. He threw the bag on the scale, announcing, “700 grams, 19TL”, and before the realization could set in, he threw in a final scoop “for free”. I had already handed him a 10TL note by the time the realization set in that I had been “duped”. I was pretty annoyed and tempted to walk away. “Already mixed” he pointed out slyly, as I realized that the last scoop wasn’t for free at all. I forked over another 9TL and took my large bag of nuts, which I now expected to be snacking on for weeks to come. “I am not thief!” exclaimed the vendor as I shot angry looks at him.

                               From the harbor we meandered through the narrow streets to the main square called Kale Kapisi. Here we stopped to admire the clock tower (saat kalesi) and statue of Attalus II of Pergamum, the city’s founder. We strolled north through the strolling Sunday afternoon crowds in search of a bus which might transport us to the Antalya Museum. Eventually we boarded a bus that dropped us near where we had started. We grabbed chicken doner kebabs at a cafe and then started walking. At the museum Ezra was showered with attention by the welcome desk employees. Once inside, Ezra spent his time making loud baby noises and crawling around the statues. We visited the Hall of Regional Excavations with artifacts from Pantara and Xanthos. I enjoyed the Hall of the Gods where we viewed 2nd century AD statues of Zeus, Apollo, Athena, Artemis, and the rest of the Olympian gods. Most of the statues were found at Perge. Also interesting were the large, intricately carved sarcophagi, especially one which told the story of the twelve labors of Hercules.

After the museum we caught a bus back to Kaleici. We strolled the narrow streets for a bit before stopping for dinner at Villa Perla, an Ottoman building with a beautiful courtyard surrounding a pool. Mama Perla spent plenty of time cooing over Ezra and laughing with him. The meal was fantastic – I got a chicken and steak dish while Beth Ann had pasta.

Lodging: White Garden Pansiyon

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