Antalya is a tourist city of about one million inhabitants. Many northern European visitors stay at the resorts on the edges of town and sun bathe during the day and come to the center of town to shop at night. We are staying in a lovely hotel in the old town area that used to be a private home/mansion. The rooms are dispersed throughout two buildings interspersed with little restaurants. The lavish decor makes me feel like I am living in the kasbah. Just outside our doors the shops begin and seem to go on forever down narrow lanes that twist and wind to the sea.
Two things were on our schedule today: a visit to the archeological museum and an optional trip to some ruins with the best preserved arena around. For some of us a little archeology goes a long way and Turkey has so darn much history, but the museum here was not overwhelming in size and had lots of signs in English so we could understand what we were looking at. The exhibits started with the stone age and moved through the early 1900's, so there was just a bit to cover. I was impressed by how well preserved delicate items made of glass and ceramics were. I love to look at the faces on the old statues and try to see if they look like anyone I know personally. In marble they seem rather godlike, but they really were just people. The star of the show was a statue of Heraklion. The Turks discovered the bottom half of the figure during an excavation, but the top half was no where to be found. Then a local archeologist visited a museum in Boston and saw what she swore was the upper torso. Of course, the Bostonians denied it since they didn't want to give up a precious artifact and after about twenty years of argument and back and forth, we had to admit that it was a perfect match and the two pieces are now reunited in one statue of Heraklion here in Antalya.
No one felt like taking the optional tour to the ruins and Ken had spotted signs for boat tours of the harbor so I asked our guide Fatih for a suggestion on which boat to take. He immediately phoned an old school chum whose family owns a boat and we quickly found our group of nine on a boat big enough for fifty. We asked if we could eat lunch before we set sail and within five minutes a waiter from a local restaurant was on board taking our orders. First someone appeared with china and silverware and as soon as the food we ordered was served, we set sail. I felt like the Queen of England - ask and ye shall receive.
The Antalya harbor is naturally an enclosed cove, but once we sailed out the cliffs were high and craggy. Near the town there was one hotel or resort after another, but as we sailed farther the buildings got a bit more widely spaced. We were told they belong to local retirees, who built treacherous staircases down the cliff sides so that the residents could swim. Even on this cool day we saw numerous gray heads bobbing amidst the waves. The turn around point was a vigorous waterfall plunging down the cliffs. When the rain falls in the nearby Toros Mountains, it filters quickly through the porous rock and plunges to the sea. It was a wonderful afternoon. Fatih got a chance to visit with his old college buddy and we got a boat tour and lunch for a great price.
The walk back to the hotel took us past one cute shop after another. For Americans the Turkish salesmen are somewhat aggressive, but once you understand how things work here, shopping becomes sport. They stand outside the shop door and have a constant line of patter in different languages until they come to one you react to. They love to kid around about helping you spend your money and once you show the slightest interest, the bargaining game begins. It works best for us when we don't really care if we buy something or not. Ken finished a deal on a watch half way down the block after he walked out of the store and the shop owner ran after him.