Old Jun 13, 08, 5:22 pm
Flying Buccaneer
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: TPA
Programs: DL Plat, AA Plat 2MM, HH Diamond, WoH Explorist, SPG Gold
Posts: 2,199
My alarm went off at 8:43 this morning. I didn't want to sleep until noon, because that would have been a waste of the day, and it would have prolonged my jet lag. The first thing I did when I got out of bed was look out the window. The water was blue, the sky was blue with a little haze, and there was greenery all around, with white buildings in the distance and mountains behind them. I opened a sliding door to the balcony and made a cup of tea. After a few cups of tea and most of the remaining fruit, I showered and got ready to explore Antalya. It was a little after 11:00 a.m. by now. (I wake up very slowly.)

Before I left, I decided to call Guest Services to make sure I could keep this room for my entire stay, instead of having to change rooms at the end of the award stay and move to another for the paid stay. Guest Services transferred me to Reservations, and a very pleasant voice answered the phone. She told me that she saw that I had been upgraded to a junior suite for my current stay, and she would check with the front desk to see if it was possible for me to keep it. A few minutes later, she called back and said that I had a third reservation beginning today. That was actually the first reservation I made, but I canceled it when I decided to spend 4 total nights at the hotel. Fortunately, I had the cancellation number in my computer. She took it, called back a little later, and told me that everything was set, and that I could keep my room.

I went to the lobby, and realized I did not know where to catch the tram to Kaleici (Old Antalya). I asked the clerk at the front desk, and he told me to walk out the back door, turn left, and go out the gate, then walk about 70 meters. I also asked him about the no outside food and beverage policy, and if it applied to bottled water. His advice was to be discreet, and he gave me a wink.

I went down to the lower ground floor, walked outside, and turned left. I walked by the pool, which only had a few swimmers but was lined with sunbathers on chaise lounges. An outside bar, a tennis court, and lush plantings were ahead, but no gate. However, when I walked around again, I saw the gate to the outside world. I exited, and I saw the 30 meter cliff that the sign at the exit warned me about. The Sheraton Voyager is not on the beach. It's about 100 feet above the beach, which can be reached by an hourly shuttle from the hotel or a walk down a pathway. I don't think the walk down would be a problem, but the walk back would be a different matter. Anyway, I am not a beach person, even though I live in Florida, and I was much more interested in exploring Kaleici.

Antalya has one tram line. The west terminus (Muze) is across the street from the Antalya Museum, and that's closest stop to the Sheraton. There are two trams, each leaving its terminus on the hour and half hour and taking about 25 minutes to reach the other, then reversing direction. There's just one track for the most part. The only place where the track divides and comes back together is on either side of the Kale Kapisi (Tower Gate) stop, allowing the trams to pass each other.

When the tram arrived, it had to go around a circle to head east. There were two cars. I boarded the second, gave the man seated at the front a 1 YTL coin, got my receipt, and sat down. I stayed on the tram and exited at Selekler, which was the third stop. The reason I exited here and not Kale Kapisi was to visit the tourist information center. According to Lonely Planet, the office is "tucked behind the souvenir vendors of Yakuz Ozcan Park." Tucked behind is an accurate description. The first time I passed it, I thought it was one of the souvenir stands. I asked the woman if she spoke English. She did, and I asked her what I should do. She gave me some maps and a guidebook to the region. I don't think she ever really gave me a recommendation, but I didn't give her any idea what I wanted to do.

As I walked toward Kale Kapisi, I passed the Ataturk Statue. I am sure I will pass many more during my stay in Turkey. I knew little about Mustafa Kamal Ataturk before I started planning this trip. After reading about him and his impact on Turkey's birth as a nation and push to join the modern world, I look forward to learning more about him.

The next landmark I saw was Yivli Minare, more commonly known as the Grooved Minaret. As I walked around to take pictures of it from a better angle, I realized I was looking over the marina which was built by the Romans. Wow! Just then, the call to prayer began from a nearby mosque. That was the first time I had ever heard a call to prayer, but I was also hearing Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" playing from a restaurant overlooking the water.

Lunch at Parlak Restaurant

Seeing the restaurant reminded me that I was starving. I realized that I was close to one of the restaurants that Lonely Planet had recommended, a place called Parlak. I crossed Ataturk Caddesi (Avenue) and walked up Kazim Ozlap Caddesi, and quickly saw a sign for Parlak. I entered a courtyard and saw dozens of tables in the shade around a big grill. I sat at a table and a waiter brought over a very extensive menu. There were two types of kebap (kebab) on the menu: Adana and Urfa. I wasn't sure what the difference was, so I looked at the Adana and Urfa entries in Lonely Planet. Adana is ground lamb grilled on a skewer, while Urfa is chunks of lambs and vegetables grilled on a skewer. The waiter came back to take my order. I ordered the Urfa Kebab. He asked me if I like hot food. I told him I did. He suggested the Adana Kebap, because he said it was more spicy. I also ordered a Coban Salad, some chips, and an Efes, the local pilsner. Like I said, I was starving. My last meal that was not on a plane or airport lounge was on Tuesday night.

While I waited, the waiter brought a bottle of water. I looked at the guides I received from the info center. I realized that the only map I had of Kaleici was the one in the Lonely Planet guide. It would have to do. My beer came, and then the salad. It was a colorful mix of chopped tomatoes, red and green peppers, cucumber, onion, hot peppers, and olive oil topped with flat leaf parsley and served with a lemon wedge. It was delicious, kind of like a less finely-chopped version of tabbouleh without the bulghur. Before I finished it, the waiter served the kebap plate (kebap on pita bread, a couple of grilled hot peppers, and rice pilaf) and chips. I devoured it. The check came to 23 YTL (a little less than $20).

After lunch, I decided to get a SIM card for my phone. I went to a Turkcell shop nearby, and asked if anyone spoke English. The employee of the four with the best command of English helped me. I told him what I needed, and he told me that the SIM card, with 20 units (5 minutes to the US) would be 25 YTL, and a 100 unit refill would be 17 YTL. I told him I would take it, and I took out my cell phone, took out the battery and SIM card, and let him set my phone up. After he did it and showed me that I had 120 units, I asked him about registering my phone. He didn't understand what I was asking. I had read that foreign cell phones needed to be registered in Turkey. I couldn't think of a way to ask that he might understand. He told me to wait, and a few seconds later, he came back with his someone from the neighboring shop. He introduced himself and I told him what my question was. He asked my salesman, and then asked me how long I would be in Turkey. I told him 15 more days, and the salesman told me that I would be fine. I hope he's right!

To the Marina!

I crossed Ataturk Caddesi again, and started walking down a street that led into a bazaar. All of the shop owners wanted to talk to me! Some of them were very persuasive about why I should look at their carpets, their souvenirs, or their Turkish viagra, but I wanted to get to the marina. After a few minutes, I found myself looking down a steep set of steps. These steps were uneven and required some concentration to negotiate, but I made it.

The marina was filled with pleasure boats, excursion boats, and what appeared to be rowboats with people napping or eating in them. I walked around to the south wall of the marina, when separated the marina from Antalya Bay. The breeze felt nice.

It's Getting Hot in Here!

After I took about 40 pictures, I walked upstairs and through another set of shop owners. I finally found Hadrian's Gate and realized something I should have realized sooner. I was hot. I was sweating profusely, even though the temperature was not that hot by Florida standards. Maybe it was the bright sun. Whatever it was, I realized I should drink some water, so I bought a 1.5L bottle. It was a little after 4 p.m., so I decided to go back to the hotel and relax. I caught the tram from Kale Kapisi and made it back to the hotel where I took a shower and a short nap.

After my nap, I was ready to get back to Kaleici. At 7:30 p.m., the sun was low in the sky and the temperature was a bit cooler. I took the tram all the way to Hadrian's Gate and picked up where I left off. I took pictures from just about every imaginable angle. I walked through the gate and saw the Italy-Romania Euro Cup game being projected on a wall. I wanted to get back to the Marina and see what kind of nighttime photos I could get. Apparently, when the Ottomans laid out these streets centuries ago, they didn't think about tourists who might want to walk directly from Hadrian's Gate to the Marina. So I just started walking, figuring that wherever I ended up would be interesting. Somehow, I found myself staring down the steep set of steps I had in the afternoon. They looked even more challenging in the dark, but I made it.

While there was not much light, and therefore, not much of an opportunity for great pictures, the view and the atmosphere were worth the walk. During the afternoon, there were people, clamor, and an oppressive sun. During the evening, there was an occasional person or couple strolling by, some music or laughter from the distance, and a rising moon.

Kebaps, Anyone?

I was hungry again, and I wanted to get out of Kaleici for dinner. Again, I wandered the streets, wading through shop owners who wanted me to stop in for a visit. I learned quickly that the best way to deal with the owners was not to make eye contact, which is difficult for me. Eventually, I found Hadrian's Gate and I went toward the Plaza Cinemas. I wanted to find another place recommended by Lonely Planet, called Can Can Pide. (I don't always rely on LP for my meal choices, even though today would suggest otherwise.) I couldn't find it, so I walked back toward the Gate, and there it was on a side street on the left. Pide is Turkish Pizza, and I thought it would make a nice dinner. I took a table on the sidewalk, and the menu was under the glass. No English menu, no problem. Also, no English-speaking waiter! Again, no problem. I came here wanting pide, but I wanted another kebap. At the risk of sounding boring, I decided to get the same thing I got for lunch: Adana Kebap plate, Coban Salad, and a Diet Coke. The waiter and I tried to make small talk in different languages. The food came, along with a bottle of water. Dinner was as delicious as lunch, but only 9 YTL! I left 11 YTL, and the waiter said "Tomorrow, come back!"

It was nearly 10:00 p.m., and I knew the tram would leave from Kale Kapisi at 13 minutes past the hour, so I walked in that direction. I stopped for an ice cream cone. Turkish ice cream is thicker than ice cream anywhere else. The server gets small servings of it out of an ice cold metal container, and scoops it into a cone. I think it would still be solid if I had waited an hour to eat it. But it's not an inedible solid, kind of elastic. And delicious.

I finished my ice cream at the tram stop. At 10:15, I wondered if the tram was delayed. Then I looked at the sign with departure times for each of the stops. The last train departed from here at 8:43 p.m. Doh! Time to start walking!

The Walk Back

Walking back to the hotel took 45 minutes, mainly because I stopped a few times to hear where music was coming from or take a picture. I saw a couple of laser beams coming from somewhere near the marina shooting to the west. I saw a red light on one of the mountains to the west. And as I walked past the Muze tram stop into the area behind the hotel, I heard a mixture of house, Middle Eastern, and vocal music from different places. I slipped my key card into the gate and entered the Sheraton grounds, ready for tomorrow.
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