The Colorful Streets of Kaleiçi, Antalya

The alarm went off. The camera, some clothes, bathing suit and towel, all went into the backpack. At 7 o’clock we were leaving JoSiTo Camp behind and were heading out to Antalya. We wanted to reach the main road as early as possible in order to catch the dolmuş (minibus) from Geyikbayıri to Antalya. We decided there was no point in waiting for it by the road and it was better to slowly walk down because it will surely stop for us. Oh well, we reached the first village, Çakırlar, and still no sign of the bus. Finally, just as we arrived at the crossroad where the Sunday Bazaar is held, a car picked us up and dropped us in Antalya, not far from the city centre.

It was half past eight and we were hungry, sleepy and in great need for a coffee. Even though there were buses and tram, we wanted to walk to the Old Town. We had warm pretzels from one of the ambulant stalls on the sidewalk. When the streets were getting narrower and there were more and more shops, all exposing their best merchandise outside, it was clear to us that we were getting close to our destination.

First thing we did was to run across the street to the belle view point and look at the Mediterranean.

We hurried down to the Harbor. The rocky shore of Antalya is interrupted by a small gulf, protected by the large walls of the Old Town. Tourist ships and boats were going in and out. Others were nicely “parked” by the docks. There are cafés and restaurants all around. It was time to have that coffee we craved for all morning so we found a nice little place just above the harbor and we sat at the “Paradise” terrace, which was actually a balcony on the old walls.

We were now ready to start exploring. So from left to right we walked on every narrow street of Kaleiçi. Small colorful houses are glued to each other. There are many ancient monuments that still stand as witnesses to the history of this town. The old city walls around Yat Limanı (the old harbor), the Clock Tower and the Hıdırlık Tower were all built during the Roman era. In the middle of the Old City, the ruins of the Korkut Minaret Mosque serve as a meeting place for all the cats in Kaleiçi. All the important details, pieces of columns and floral motifs can be seen from behind the fence. This building has been witness to two millennium worth of history. From temple to church then mosque, it suffered attacks and changes until it was severely damaged by a fire at the end of the 19th century.

Built in 130 to welcome the Roman Emperor, Hadrian’s Gate is probably the best preserved out of all the monuments in Kaleiçi. Flocks of tourists come to look and take photos of this triple arched portal that nowadays serves as entrance in the old town’s bazaar.

There are souvenir shops at every corner selling all kinds of small memories from Antalya. Eyes stop on these colorful hand-made fabrics, wallets, purses, hats and I start to picture myself wearing them. Very beautiful painted ceramic is exposed in special boutiques. A lot of carpet galleries with an oriental taste. Turkish Delight, Baclava and Cotton Candy. Spice Shops lour you with their fragrance. Shelves full of jam, honey and tea. Hookahs of all sizes. Funny traditional pants with all sorts of floral motifs. I mustn’t leave Turkey without a pair. Let’s not forget the Bazaar… piles of clothes, all “original” brands, where sellers are trying to convince you to buy everything, no price is ever shown and where negotiation is the most powerful weapon of all. You won’t leave this place without a good laugh. These are all Turkish flavors that are worth tasting and savoring.

In the morning, when we first laid eyes on the Mediterranean, it was quiet and calm. But as we were getting deeper into Kaleiçi, the sky was turning black. I was still hoping to take a bath so we tried to find our way out of the old town and  headed toward the beach. This is when we realized how bad the wind was blowing. Anyway, this didn’t stop us from enjoying a nice “romantic” walk on the alleys along the coast, with balconies, stairs and belle view points. It’s like walking through a very spectacular park, high above on the steep rocky cliffs, the Mediterranean on one side and exotic vegetation on the other, cacti, huge Aloe Vera and small dry bushes, all surrounded by yellow limestone boulders.

We could hear the huge waves crashing by the rocks under our feet. When we finally arrived at the beach, there was nobody there. And it was no wonder. The wind and waves wouldn’t let you do anything. Not even sit. We tried to eat something on a bench. The view was nice indeed, but the wind was blowing the food out of our hands. We decided it was enough. So we went up the coast again and took the old tram back to Kaleiçi. From here we jumped in another tram, a lot more modern, that crosses Antalya from top to bottom. We got down at Otogar (Bus Terminal). From here we already knew where to look for the 521 dolmus to Çakırlar. Hitchhiked and arrived once again at the “gates” of  JoSiTo Camp.

We arrived in Antalya by plane. It was the fastest way to go. There are plenty of companies to chose from, but you might also find some international air charter that better suit your needs. Once here, you have various possibilities for getting around the city. There are buses that can take you downtown, taxis, or you can simply rent a car and be independent. If you don’t want to have trouble finding a parking space at the airport, you can also use an  airport parking assistant service.

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