If you ask me to choose between mountains, ocean and forest and put a gun on my head, I would promptly start rambling ‘Sea, oceans, beach, waves’. But secretly, I am an ever greedy soul when it comes to travel. Greedy as in, I want to have it all. To me, a perfect place to visit is the one that has mountains – not too high, sea-that is calm and pristine, forest – not too deep, and something more. All in one.
Are you wondering how I found my perfect man, if so finicky I can get in choosing a perfect vacation? My man, well, let’s not get distracted here, and keep the topic away for another post. But of course, it was a delight to explore this romantic place with him. I believe nature has tailor-made everything as per the whims of each one of us. We just need to know how to look! Am I not right? When I visited Turkey last year, we had covered Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, and Kusadasi. Antalya was the last city to visit. I had the idea that Antalya will be just another beach vacation spot, probably not even better than Kusadasi. (More about Kusadasi later). How this world likes to surprise us, every now and then! It was a 3 and half hours journey by road from Pamukkale to Antalya. There were some popular beaches in Antalya like Konyalti and Lara, with lots of good sea view hotels lined next to each other. But we were on an impromptu trip in the peak season. We found a hotel in old town area – Kaleiçi. And once again I was wrong in anticipating it to be an unfortunate alternative to the Konyalti beach side hotels. Our car entered the old town area leaving Hadrian’s Gate on our right. Roman King Hadrian had built this three-arched gate, made majorly of white marbles in the year 130. Narrow cobbled lanes and small stony buildings marked the town. I might not be a good narrator, but surely you will get the picture of how romantic this place is when I tell you it is a popular wedding destination. On entering the cozy, winding lanes of this town, our car was rather slow to move, as we came across five wedding gatherings, one after another. The brides in beautiful fairytale wedding gown and their men in shining suit were posing for photo shoots with the lanes of Kaleiçi as background. We stopped our car, and got out. The rest of my way till our hotel was a little uphill walk with small shops on both sides. Puding Marinahotel gave us a small yet luxurious studio bedroom. It was funny because on the foot side of the bed the whole wall was glass made overlooking the marina and streets adjacent to it, and next to the headrest of the bed is the shower cubicle, which was hardly a cubicle! The Turkish bath in the hotel spa was complimentary, but one needed to pay extra for further spa treatments. Now if you are curious about what Turkish Bath is, I would insist that you experience it to believe it. Just one small tip: Free yourself from the present life bondage before entering the hammam and imagine being some Ottoman King or Queen. Our hotel was very close to the ‘Marina’ (harbour), where the evenings were well spent. In fact, I enjoyed the night view of Kaleiçi more than anything, when the lanes turned into courtyard, with October mist in the air, live music and open air restaurants – I would have given away anything to stay there forever. But the beaches were not to be missed. Konyalti is a smart beach, as I would like to put it. It was more rocky than sandy. The beach was lined with bars and restaurants with cushioned decks, one better than the other. There were almost all cuisines available, but the fish and chips were to die for. Ephes is the most popular beer in Turkey. Laze the day away here, and then at night, don’t even bother to go anywhere else. For this same food joints would turn into discs at night. Didn’t I tell you, best of everything and a little more, that’s what Antalya is.
Away from the crowd, for a quiet beach experience Cireli and Phaselis Beach topped my chart. Both these beaches are on the way to Chimera and Mount Olympos, about which you would know if you had read my earlier post. We had to pay a nominal entry fee to enter this protected green beach and national park of Phaselis. Having had too many archaeological experiences in Ephesus and Pamukkale-Hierapolis, we had given the Phaselis ruins a miss here. Phaselis beach is noteworthy because of its pristine serenity. The water was absolutely transparent and calm, making it perfect for scuba and other water sports. This beach was not crowded at all, and because it was widespread, you would feel it to be your own private romantic getaway, essentially out of the world. The benevolent Mediterranean Sea has gifted a lot more wonderful beaches here in Antalya. But we were pressed for time. And there were a lot of other things to see. We were advised by a friend not to visit Antalya Aquarium. Mister Husband chose to listen to his friend, and hence I can’t tell you for sure if it would be a waste of time and money really. There were a number of waterfalls here, and I was determined to see at least one. We visited Duden waterfall, and it was fantastic. I would recommend the fresh pomegranate juice and roasted or boiled corn from the road side vendors outside the entrance of Duden waterfall. But beware the long stretch of road from the city area to Duden. Summer in this part of the country can be really daunting. For us, thankfully it wasn’t that bad in October. However, if you are travelling in winter, skiing and cable car ride from the top of Taurus Mountain are other fun activities you wouldn’t want to miss. And thus, in Antalya, I had found my perfect vacation spot which included almost everything in my check list.