At first Antalya looked like many of the larger cities in Turkey, row after row of off-white or peach apartment buildings all modelled after the same design. But once we started walking around, the beauty of the city was apparent.
The city is located on the Mediterranean ocean. It’s natural fortifications resemble those of Dieppe in France. The city is perched on dramatic and beautiful cliffs. Walks, promenades and quaint parks weave in and out along this impressive coastline. The buildings in the old city all look as if they just received a fresh coat of paint. The shops display colourful shawls, pillow cases and rugs. Above all, the people of Antalya are welcoming, relaxed and friendly.
In fact, having just joined CouchSurfing 10 days before arriving, Chris and I were aware of a monthly CouchSurfing meeting occurring while we were in Antalya. We were also aware that Ben and Pen, the Australian couple we first met on our Gallipoli Battlefield Tour, were also in the city, so of course we had to meet up with them. On purpose we hunted down the hotel they were staying at. We enjoyed our breakfasts and dinners with them. We also visited the Antalya Museum which does a wonderful job of taking you from the stone age to more recent finds from Turkey. The museum costs 15 Turkish Lira ($10 CAN). My advice is to make sure you are well fed before you go to the museum because they do not have any food on site and the security will not let you re-enter even a few minutes later if you leave (not the greatest customer service). We unfortunately had to rush through the museum because we were feeling very faint.
We enjoyed the company of our friends but Ben and Pen left Antalya before us, catching the bus that night to Cappadocia. The morning after they left Chris and I were 80% sure we were going to get the bus that night to catch up with them but while enjoying breakfast Chris piped up and said, “I forgot to tell you something...” He mentioned the .CA contest and I agreed that we should enter. In order to do so we would need to stay and work on the development and full production of the video in Antalya. We brain stormed for hours at the hotel. For a break we headed to a cafe with the view of the sea. While enjoying our Efes beer and throwing ideas back and forth a man approached us. He asked if he could sit with us and chat. This had not happened to us before, so not wanting to be entirely rude I said he was welcome to sit next to us but that we were busy working. “Working?”, he questioned. After I mumbled a few other things and Chris too was trying to explain he said, “Let me guess. You’re Chris and your Laura.” Chris and I were both shocked and our minds frantically tried to figure out how he knew that. “The blog? Surely not.”, I thought. Then Chris said, “Turker”. And so it was!
Turker is an ambassador on CouchSurfing. We had e-mailed back and forth a few times but had not planned on meeting. He was persistent and determined to find us. Apparently, while strolling around Antalya with his mom and sister he looked everywhere for us. He said he saw us go into the restaurant. At least he was pretty sure it was us. So the three of them sat at another table on the side walk level and when a table became available on the patio where we sat they changed tables. Whipping open the ever handy cell phone he signed onto CouchSurfing and had his mom and sister compare our profile photo with us. They agreed, it must be us and he was right. Can you believe it?!
Needless to say we put the video work aside and had the most enjoyable afternoon hanging out with Turker and his mom and sister. We chatted as we finished our beers and with Turker as our guide we hopped onto a city bus to visit the local waterfall. We returned from the waterfall just in time to catch the 6:30 pm nightly light and water show at the cities main downtown park. I haven’t seen such a wonderful display and synchronization of water and music since Disneyland.
It just so happened that it was also the day of the CouchSurfing Antalya meeting. So, promptly after enjoying a lovely meal with Turker and his sister, we went to the designated bar to meet and meet and meet. In the course of the evening and into the wee hours of the morning Chris and I made conversation with many locals and some other travellers who came to the meeting as well. We could not have found a better way to start meeting the CouchSurfing community.
The next day I was hit with my first case of food poisoning which left me toilet/bed ridden for one day and night. With determination, between visits with the toilet, I put on a smile and we filmed the footage you see in our .CA video entry.
The next day it seemed my visits with the toilet were over so we decided to catch the 10-hour night bus to Cappadocia. All in all it took my stomach five days to fully recover from my first experience with food poisoning.