Continuing our drive west along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, we planned to drive through, rather than stop in, Antalya. The main airport in the region is here in Antalya, a city of more than 1,000,000 people.
Something that has surprised us in Turkey – outside of Istanbul – is that Americans are a bit of a novelty. In Side, we were again enticed into a carpet shop after seeing an artisan weaving outside. There are more hand-tied knots in a 2×3 silk carpet than there are people in Antalya! We sat and had tea and chatted with the owner of the shop and he told us that, so far this year, he had only seen ten Americans; most of the tourists here are Germans, Danes, Dutch and Swedes. His comments were confirmed by others throughout the day.
In Cappadocia, where most of the tourists visited around Göreme by bus, it was mostly Germans, Japanese, Chinese and Australians. Again, there weren’t very many Americans.
At any rate, our new friend at the rug store asked where we were going after Side and we said we weren’t sure, but that we’d like to see sites that weren’t so crowded with tourists. He responded, “But, why? You’re tourists, no?” To which I replied, “No, we’re adventurers!” That got a chuckle out of him, and maybe a little discount on the silk carpet he managed to sell us. Last one, absolutely. This one is for a wall, “Tree of Life.”
Now, back to Antalya. As we drove through this busy city, we passed a long line of cars and trucks pulled off to the side of the road. Something was obviously going on, so we pulled over to investigate. It was a local bazaar and farmer’s market!
During the day, we have been skipping lunch and nibbling on nuts and fruits that we carry with us. As we walked the market, we came upon a thriving little sidewalk restaurant and decided to stop.
For 10 Lira, the equivalent of $5.50, we had chicken kabobs, pita bread, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, various greens, a yoghurt drink that was, um, interesting, tea and the Turkish equivalent of baklava. Not only good food and a great value, but free entertainment, watching the shoppers and vendors in the bazaar while we ate. By the way, the cheeses here are amazing. Here’s a cheese vendor.
After lunch and shopping for fruit and nuts for the road (another 10 Lira for 4 peaches, 4 apples, a huge bag of raisins and a huge bag of dried apricots), we continued along the coast where the mountains drop all the way down to the beach.
Our destination was Çıralı, known for its hipppy-like community of small pansiyons (pensions) and its beach.
To get to Çıralı from the main road, we had to drive down a narrow, steep, twisting road to the Sea. We drove past all the beach pansiyons, looking for something away from the water for a change. The road continued and narrowed, becoming a small dirt track as we followed small signs to the “Nerissa Hotel,” at one point passing chickens in the road and farm refuse strewn alongside.
To our amazement, the Nerissa Hotel was a boutique hotel, surrounded by mountains and chirping birds.
Maybe we are tourists, after all.