Partly because we were tired, and partly because it sounded like a good idea last night, we decided to spend an extra day here in Antalya, just taking it easy and exploring the old city.
Even though we spent the afternoon and evening looking out on the same visa, we were captivated by the amazing view from the terrace out over the bay, and of the amazing mountains in the distance.
We were invited to join Alper, the manager of our Keskin Pension, on a shopping expedition to the markets to buy food for the BBQ that he was preparing for us (and some German guests) this evening.
It was 11AM and outside was brutally hot in the sun. Compared to the hive of activity last night, there were very few people out on the streets of the old town. And, what few people there were, they were skipping from shaded awning to shaded awning to avoid the sun. The people walking so close to the stalls to find respite in the shade must have been a boon for the hawkers.
The markets were a proper local produce market, pulled together with hundreds of independent umbrellas (though, not the colourful ones, that was a trendy little alley. The markets had loads of cheap fruit and vegetables, as well as other things like fish and a crazy amount of cheese (but sadly no haloumi). Also interesting to see was the butter still inside the stomach of a cow, sure to please vegans and vegetarians everywhere – though I dare guess there aren’t many in Turkey, given the lack of non-meat menu options here.
After returning back to the guest house and rehydrating, we ventured back outside again after noon. There were still very few people outside, and it was still very hot and uncomfortable. Alper recommended a döner kebab from a restaurant on the main street. Due to the heat, we only really wanted a snack, but ended up spending 30TL ($15) due to a overly pushy salesman. I don’t know if it was due to the distaste from the service, or from the over powering scent of the ladies at the neighbouring table, but we didn’t overly enjoy the meal. It was OK, but not worth a special visit to.
After a short while of wandering around aimlessly, we ended up at a large shopping mall, mostly because we knew there would be air-conditioning! On the ground floor there was a huge pirate themed kids day care, which looked like a load of fun. As is usually the case, I fell victim to H&M again… But, everything I bought was on sale… and nice… and things I actually needed.
As we were walking home, through some of the old streets down by the marina with all their strange pirate ships, we were approached by an old man. He started chatting to us and we knew a scam or request for money was coming. He made no indications that he was after money, and preceded to walk with us, dropping facts and titbits of information as we went. He was quite nice, and did a good job of explaining the history of town, including some insight into some of the old and shuttered buildings including the Sultan’s family living in town. He also explained about the massive increase in property prices since (Turkish) tourists started moving in and buying up and renovating the old properties. There were several old mosques and churches, but I due to the heat I was wearing shorts and was unable to enter.
As we got closer to our hostel, he started telling us about his diabetes… and then I knew what the angle was going to be. We kept walking, and he kept telling us about the finer details, like the small figureheads above some of the doors. He smelt of alcohol, but was coherent and pleasant and did a pretty good tour around the old town, so when the time eventually came when he asked for money, I was happy to give him a little something for his efforts (but certainly not the 30TL he was asking for!).
While we’d been exploring, Alper had been preparing tonight’s BBQ. So, as the sun set and gave us another beautiful vista from the terrace, Alper set to work with the BBQ. It was a small feast of vegetables (green pepper, onion, potato), stuffed mushroom (with Alper’s secret recipe), köfte (meatballs) and spicy chicken wings. Oh, and (Danish) Beer.
As dinner was wrapping up, one of the German guests (who has been coming here to this guesthouse every year for nearly a decade) told us about a light show that was about to start at a fountain in the distance. And right on time at 8:45PM, over in the distance, we could see an automated water display taking place. The whole show was set to music, and went for a lot longer than I would have guessed. Surprisingly, it happens every night at 8:45PM for 30-minutes. If we’re ever in Antalya again during the evening, we’ll have to make our way over to see it up close.
After we’d finished with dinner, we joined Alper to watch a famous Turkish folk act who were performing for free outside a nearby bar. The musicians, Erkan Ogur and Ismail Hakki Demirciouglu were a lot older than I was expecting, especially considering the average age of the audience. The music was very chilled and even though I had no idea about what was being sung, a sense of sorrow was imparted, but in a comforting way. They were playing traditional Turkish string instruments that had their own unique sound, mixed with soulful singing and nothing else. Alper said that they’re quite famous here in Turkey, and I have to say that I enjoyed it way more than the pop/dance remixes we’ve been hearing on the radio. I did however find each song to sound rather similar to the last… There is a huge selection of their material online, check out the YouTube clip below to get a taste for their sound.
It was a totally unplanned day, but we were both quite glad we took a day out of our constant moving to take it a little slower here.