Ahh! I have been waiting to write this post for so long. I cannot tell you what a great time I had this past few weeks. It has been so busy, busy that I had no time to breathe, but in a good way. Wasn’t there a saying? It goes about something like this ‘life is not about how much you breathe, it is about the moments that take your breath away’. I must thank my amazing boyfriend for facilitating that part for me. Effortlessly. Thank you for being my tour guide in this crazy life, everything looks different when I see it with you 😊. This one is for you…
This city feels like home too, after all.
I adore this part of the city. Whether you want to walk along the stone roads with a book in hand or holding someone’s hand that knows you like a book. Kaleici now consists of narrow streets however, the stone walls were once part of a castle that was built in the Helenistic era. It is believed that the Pergamon King Attalos II united two cities of north and south, and their ports. There were numerous ramparts over the castle for protection, which clarifies many narrow walls of Kaleici today.
You will enter Kaleici through the Hadrianus Gates (‘Uc Kapilar’), walk through the streets and you will find nostalgic coffee shops, bars and oh, fish restaurants! You are very close to the yacht marina. This place is amazing in the morning, but magical at nights… You can take a yacht tour for two for about 15-20$ in season, (for 5$ if its on May and sailors are desperate!). I am not the person for water-related tours as I get bored, these tours are approx. about 30-50 mins long. Let me tell you, they are worth it. Take a mind break, and just watch the waves crashing to edges of the small ships.
Walking along the Hadrianus Gates, you will find the Broken Minaret Mosque (‘Kesik Minare’) in front of you very soon. The mosque was originally a church however, it was restored by Sultan Korkut who was the son of Beyazid II. After a fire that broke out during XIX. C the wooden part of the minaret was burnt. The damage that the fire caused gave the mosque its name. Next up, walk a little further. You know you want to! Our friends told us about this place last December and I remember just trying to find this building… We walked in circles, about 3-4 times to be exact, passing this place, and not imagining that it can be this locked up old wooden house. ÇaY-Tea’s Lunchroom & Deco Home, I found out that I was a hopeless romantic when I walked in there. Red, pink and all warm colors, a comfy sofa upstairs under the dimmed light of thousand of candles, handmade decorations. Two ladies run this restaurant/coffee shop. It warmed my heart in last December, we never found the place again in Kaleici this summer. I am sure we passed by it a couple hundred times though!
As you head out of Kaleici, please be sure to walk to the Donair Bazaar (‘Donerciler Carsisi’ located at the Inonu II. Street, Tuzcular). I felt like a kid just walking across the main street when I just turnt my head to the right and saw this tiny street full of umbrellas. There are a few hundred of them, in every color. There are the little things… like that 2-minute walk under a sky full of umbrellas. I swear I was flying because I didn’t see my feet taking another step after.
Isiklar street is the busiest street out of the historical Kaleici right across the Isiklar House of Teachers (‘ogretmenevi’ a place where local teachers meet, teachers from outer cities stay and eat for cheap prices etc.). You can find all the popular franchise cafés located here as well as some local street food. I do not know what to call this place, but I had the best tasting fish there for a very reasonable price. Must-visit: Citir Balik (Turkish ‘Crunchy Fish’). Mezgit has always been my favorite fish to eat, accompanied by the lemony, juicy appetizer: mussels. Many girls get disgusted by these stuff, please give it a try. You listened to my advices all along, right? My boyfriend introduced me to spicy turnip juice when we went to Citir Balik. I don’t fancy it but—If you like pickles, go for the non-spicy one, you’ll be fine! (Side Note: If you do not like fish, there are a bunch of nice donair and durum (‘wrap’) places you can try!).
Falez beaches in Konyaalti were within walking distance to where we resided in Antalya and the sea side has very many beach clubs (I believe they all cost about 7$ for two), as well as free sites that are open to public. I am going to be honest here, the only downside of Konyaalti is that when it gets wavy, all the dirt in the see finds its way to the shore. However, that doesn’t mean that it happens often! I have been to Tudors Beach, Cemil (‘Cemil Plajda’) and other beach clubs I cannot recall that are managed by hotels. Out of all of those Cemil was my favourite. We happened to be there for their first year celebrations which included a live DJ, foam party, giveaways and dancers (Disclaimer: Wow! Winky face).
So, you have been to Kaleici, you enjoy the beaches for sure, but also need a morning plan that doesn’t involve sweating under the sun? In the heart of Antalya, there is the Aquarium which is a huge tourist attraction. Hello, expensive! I was curious to see what they had in there so I bought a million-dollar ticket for the underwater exhibition (there are other options such as the amazon forest and the poles). It is a fair walk along lantern walls that might take you an hour at most to finish up. However, I didn’t see any predatory (or just big…) sharks, whales or anything that could make me say wow. Honestly, I enjoyed it but don’t go in with any expectations. Better yet, spend your money in something more fun.
Aktur Fun Fair (‘lunapark’) stole my heart for sure. I had a great night spent there almost puking out anything and everything in my stomach. It is never too late to try the Ranger. Or the Adrenalin Maxx. Or the Loop Zone. I was scared as hell and just had my eyes closed praying 93 per cent of the rides. BUT—I had so much fun. It took about 20 years for me to prepare myself to get on those machines. If you have someone that holds your hand it gets easy 😊. Also, try the virtual reality glasses! I thought it could be like a joke after the big machines but it was successful to give my stomach more cramps and a flight with a parachute as seen on the screen! Oh fun
Where to eat? Very important. Muratpasa neighbourhood (which is the home for Konyaalti) has a few great options I got to try. If you love burgers and you want to try gourmet burgers, go to Zilli Okuz. I didn’t know what a real burger tasted like until I had one. Ah-maze-ing! My favorite was the burger with grilled veggies (I believe it was called ‘kozlenmis burger’), my boyfriend loves all of them. I think his favorite was the beef bacon one. Their fries have a very different seasoning and they have a minty yoghurt sauce to go with it. Did I mention unlimited pop? All for about 7-10$ per person! (PS. They have vegan burgers.)
I was very eager to try another place for the kumru, which is a sandwich with sausages, sujuk, pickles and some sauces. I read online about Evren Bufe, and later found out that it was a franchise. I have to say my classic order of kumru came on the table like warm-from-the-oven but too saucy (for me, because I am not too big on the sauces). It was a huge portion with a bit of fries that weren’t oh-so-fancy. Overall, it filled my tummy for 5$, but would I go again? Not likely.
Antalya is full of history. There is so much to explore for one that is looking for historical ruins, and another one is the museum located in Serik. Aspendos city, which has Anatolian origins to its name, was located by the largest river (‘Eurymedon’) in the area. The historical city is mostly famous for its theatre built by Zenon of Rome, and its waterways that benefit the city’s trades over the history. The historical ruins (which are considered to be a museum by the municipality) are approx. 15$ to visit. I did not get the chance to get in to the sight because I was there right at the closing time. However, the security assured me it would take over half an hour to spend to see everything. Use your own judgement to visit, but if you do not get a chance, catch a show in the Aspendos theatre! (Tip: Walk the road between the museum and the theatre, you will not miss the ruins along the way).
I was extremely lucky that we had connections to an amazingly talented dancer who performs in the Fire of Anatolia. She invited us to hours long rehearsal, the fascinating show and the after dinner of the cast. The tickets are originally about 30-50$ per person for the show. Watch the show. I am telling you, the mix of Turkish and Russian dancers were so in harmony with each other that it created an amazing stage illusion. There were numerous dance routines such as the belly dancing, kafkas, caydacira and horon, each special to a region of Turkey. They deserve viewers that would appreciate the effort they put in such production. I recommend this show that will take you through a mythological story, and let’s be real, I would go again.
Do you want to Visit Antalya yet? Wait for Part II to see more.