Jesse and I are on to our next adventure; our first visit to Asia! We left Geneva, saw Mom off back to Chicago after our whirlwind trip, and went looking for some R&R and exploration on the Mediterranean Sea. We landed after a few hour flight into the Antalya airport, bought Turkish phone cards, and arrived at the hotel late. We went to bed early after the long travel day, excited for our first full day in Antalya.
Our first stop in the morning was Hadrian’s gate, built back in 130 AD to welcome the Roman Emperor to the city. Antalya and the region around it was very important from ancient times through Roman times as a port city, and is now a popular tourist destination for its turquoise waters, beaches, and beach-side hotels. We stayed in the Lara neighborhood (which is quite large, and is located along the sea on the eastern side of Antalya). It was a short walk to the old market, which dates back to the 1400s, and is full of vendors all asking you to stop in and look at their wares. These range from soccer jerseys, socks, shoes and underwear to trinkets and jewellery, lamps and rugs, and other unique items. It is fun to browse, but can get annoying constantly being asked to look at a shop with things one has no interest in.
After the market, we decided to get some ice cream and walk along the sea front, high above the shore, and then had a snack and a drink at one of the many restaurants overlooking the harbor.
We checked in with the meetup app to see if there were any groups so we could meet some people, and, lo and behold, there was one meeting that evening, on the seashore. So, we went back to the hotel, changed, and took a taxi near the Kent Meydani Konyaaltı park, where we went searching for dinner before the meetup.
We found a restaurant right on Konyaaltı beach, which served us a tasty filet and lamb chops, with fresh veggies and mashed potatoes, for a very reasonable price. We have really liked that vegetables and fruit are included with many meals, and featured prominently, particularly after our year in Asturias, where beautiful veggies and fruits are sold at the markets and fruterias, but we rarely saw them with any meals (outside pimientos de padron and ensalada mixta, that is).
After dinner, we walked to the meetup and met some cool people and we also learned that there was an influx of people from Latin America so we were even able to practice our Spanish! We talked on the grass as the sun set on the evening; three hours passed like nothing.
Afterward, Jesse and I decided to walk back to our hotel; the city was still very lively and we liked seeing the city at night. We have found that it is very hot during the day, and at night the temperature drops, so people are out and about, bars are buzzing, shops are all still open, and families are taking the young ones to the park (just like in Spain).
A few nights later we went to another meetup group where we met people from all over the world; Denmark, Pakistan, Iran, Russia to name a few. It was so fun and interesting to talk to people from all over the world, and lucky enough that English is the language we communicated in.
Also, there are a lot of cats. Like all over the place. People leave food out, and we even saw some kitten litters around the city’s streets and parks. There are also some really large dogs that usually are laying around, resting in the shade. At first we were a bit leery of these big dogs, but after talking to some of the residents at the meetup groups, we learned they were harmless, and as the guy from Denmark said, “they chill super hard.”
We did more walking around town over the next few days; right near our hotel is a very cool lookout point; the first evening we saw it was the only slightly rainy evening we had encountered thus far in Antalya; the second picture is the next morning, bright and sunny.
The Lara neighborhood is very big and stretches for miles along the Sea; there is a beach at the far end (named Lara Beach) and we attempted to make it there (we did not make it there) but still we walked along the cliff-side all the way to the Düden Park. While an hour-and-a-half walk back in the reasonable temperatures of Gijon would have been easy, walking in the oppressive sunlight, with little shade (though the parks on the cliff-side are nice and usually well-kept); we still had to take our time.
Look for our trip to see the Düden Waterfall and our other adventures in Antalya, Part II, coming soon!
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