Antalya clock tower at night
I didn't arrive to Antalya until 8:30 pm after several problems catching a bus from Denizli. But I knew I would be rewarded when I noticed the temperature guage increasing one degree every minute we started our descent from the mountains north of Antalya. This city recently surpassed İstanbul in terms of the number of international flight arrivals, thus securing its rank among holiday destinations around the world. It wasn't like going to the tropics, but the temperatures were in the mid teens Celsius and palm trees were everywhere--a sure sign that you've arrived in a beach destination.
After taking a bus from the station, my host Mehmet met me outside the gate of the government housing area where he lives, about 20 minutes walk from the center of the city and the same distance by bus from the main terminal.
On the way to Kanyon
I quickly settled my stuff and since I was later than planned, I wanted to get to the CS meet-up that was going on downtown at the Jungle Bistro. Mehmet was game and had probably been waiting for me, so we combined walking with a local bus to get to the Kaleiçi district. When we arrived at the clock tower, Mehmet told me to hurry and started running toward the opposite direction of where we had been planning to go. I followed and discovered that he was trying to show me the musical light show at the fountain in front of the government building. We caught the end of it but it was a nice welcome to the city. On the way back towards the clock tower, we could take our time passing the illuminated buildings such as an old minaret, city walls and a mosque. However I was most surprised at how quiet and lifeless this city center was compared to other places I'd been.
View of the Kanyon
For a city of nearly 800,000 on a Saturday night, it was more like a Monday night in a village. But it was a calm, relaxed atmosphere to say the least.
We entered the Jungle Bistro and found a table of about 12 Couchsurfers sitting around. There I met Berengère, a French girl I'd met in İzmir, so we started talking. I met a few other people like Semit, Türker, Özgür and a few others whose named I can't recall. I had a dark beer and ordered a tost, which was my dinner for the evening. Some people left but a few of us went upstairs to the live music area where a cover band was doing a good job of several western songs from blues to pop. It was a really good time and they played nice music to stand and dance a little to. Mehmet left early but I discovered that Berengère was also staying with him so we decided to walk back at the same time.
The actual canyon bottom
Türker and Abdurahman walked with us for awhile before calling it a night around 1:30. The best thing was the 12 degree temperatures and not needing to bundle up for the first time since I had been in İstanbul.
The next morning we had planned to go hiking, but I just missed Berengère and another CSer, Nathan. However I quickly caught up with them and we met Türker and all took a bus out to a place about 20 kilometers west of Antalya called simply Kanyon. Actually it was part of the long Lycian Way that stretches across southern Turkey. The weather was cloudy but even warmer and perfect for a hike. The scenery was amazing and along the way we found tangerine and lemon trees with fresh fruit begging to be picked. At the end of the hike was a small waterfall and the actual canyon, a pristine blue stream that had eroded smooth rock and etched back into the rock and out of sight.
The Fab Four hikers!
Had the water been warmer, it would have been a perfect place for a swim. We rested and ate our citrus fruits and chatted, enjoying the natural beauty of the canyon. The views along the hike were amazing, from towering rock cliffs above to the turquoise stream below, flowing over boulders and all surrounded by lush green vegetation. I think in all we ended up hiking about 15 kilometers that day. After the hike and walking back to the highway, we split up into two groups and hitchhiked back to Antalya. It really didn't take long for us to get back and luckily we made it at the same time even though Türker and I hitched a ride in a different car.
We stopped briefly at a shopping center and then walked back to Türker's flat, where we rested for a little while.
He then took us to a nearby restaurant that served up an amazing set of meze, including salads, vegetables, çiğköfte
, yogurt and several feet of flat bread on a tray hovering over all the food. This was in addition to the individual meals we ordered. I tried the yoğurtlı Adana
, which was excellent kebap meat over sliced döner bread. Yum! For dessert, we split a delicious candied pumpkin with tahini sauce. I also sampled some of Nathan's homemade vanilla dondurma
, or Turkish ice cream. After that we were all pretty tired so Türker headed back home and we went back to Mehmet's for a quiet evening for a change. Mehmet prepared some special herbal tea for me to soothe my throat. I don't know if it helped towards ending my cold, but it tasted good and healthy and was just what I needed after a long day of hiking.