Overseas Adventure Travel’s Turkey’s
Magical
Hideaways Tour
September 17, 2021 through October 4, 2021

 

Due to the length of the review, it is in four parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of each page.


Page 1:  Istanbul
Page 2: Cappadocia
Page 3: Antalya
Page 4:  Turkish Gulet Cruise
Page 5: Kusadasi

Day 8 - Overland to Antalya
When I walked outside, it was cold, 39 degrees.  Even though it warmed up during the day, I was looking forward to the warmer temperatures of Antalya.  We left at 7:30 AM, since we had a full day’s drive and stops.  When we got on the highway, Ahmet told us that we were on the Silk Road, one of the trade routes that connected the East with the West.  When he told us that we were about to pass an old camel stop, I quickly aimed my camera to the window and got a pic of it.  I was surprised it came out.  Kind of a cool thing to see. 

   

Ahmet had been on the phone for a while when he told us that he had a special stop for us.  While at the hotel, he had talked to someone there about Anatolian Shepherds and asked where we might see some.  The fellow happened to know the man that was the head of the Anatolian Shepherd society, Hikmet, and he lived close to the road we were traveling on.  We were so excited that we would see full blood ones, not ones that had them as grandparents.  Hickmet met us in parking lot and led the way to his yard where he raises shepherds.  The first one we saw was his guard dog.  Boy did he have a loud bark.  He weighed 170 pounds and weighed over 200 when he won 3rd place in a national competition.  He told us that we couldn’t pat that dog, since he didn’t always like people.  No problem, I was able to resist.   

He then took us over to some pens where they had younger dogs.  Some were of a different breed of Anatolian Shephard.  They were cute and anxious to lick us and let us pet them. 

We then met another dog that was much more friendly.  I think he liked me and wanted me to take him home.  I sure liked him.

   

Hickmet showed us another dog that we were able to pet.  Everyone took turns loving on him.

He had lots of pens and many dogs.  They appeared to be well cared for and healthy.

   

After we got back on the highway in town, we saw a statue of a shepherd with pups on her back.  They are popular in this town. 

Further down the road, we pulled over for a tea and restroom break.  Across the street was a very large camel stop.  This was a fancy one.  It was from the 13th century.  Just a beautiful structure.


   

Our only planned stop for the day was in the town of Konya to see the Shrine of Rumi.  Rumi was a great poet in the 13th century and established the Whirling Dervish brotherhood.  When we walked into the shrine grounds, we could see that the shrine’s famous green tower was being renovated and could only see the very top of it.  I have put in a photo that I found of what the tower looks like when not covered.

   

As we entered the shrine, I could tell that this was a special place.  People come from all over to see Rumi’s tomb and pray in the presence of it.  The building is quite ornate, especially around Rumi’s tomb.  There are several other tombs of Rumi's team in the shrine

   

   

   

   

I was so glad that we had been able to stop and see this holy place in the Muslim world.  As we headed back to our van, we passed a statue of a whirling dervish.

We still had a long drive ahead of us over a mountain pass.  The scenery was quite different from Cappadocia, but still pretty.

   

   

About 6:00 PM, we arrived in Antalya, a lovely town of 3 million people along the Mediterranean Sea.  Our hotel was another small one with just 22 rooms.  We were at the East Elegance Hotel (WWW.ELEGANCEEASTHOTEL.COM/EN/#4).  It was located along the main street in an area close to everything. 

   

The room was a little dated with gaudy furniture, but it was comfortable and clean.

   

   

   

Before dinner, I checked out the local area.  I walked down the palm tree lined street in front of the hotel to see what was near us.  There was a lot.  It reminded me of south Florida.  We would see a lot more of Antalya’s old town the next day.

   

 

Day 9 - Antalya

This morning we met with a former professor of Ahmet’s, Mr. Edip.  He was an archeologist who had been involved in many discoveries in the area.  He told us about his experiences as well as what and how he made his discoveries.  It was fascinating, especially since many of them were in the museum we were going to after our talk.  He was such a nice man, and he must have been an awesome professor.  He is the type that has so much passion about what he is talking about that he draws you in and keeps you focused on everything he says.

   

Ahmet’s home is in Antalya, so he knows and loves the city.  He was looking forward to showing it off to us.  We started our walk and quickly came to Hadrian’s Gate.  It was built to celebrate Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Istanbul in 130 AD.

   

We had seen many cats during our visit to Turkey, but not many dogs, so it was nice to finally see some.  These two guys were chilling on the sidewalk.

We came upon a golden statue of a woman.  It was the symbol of the Antalya Film Festival that was happening the next week.  There were golden statues all over town.

We passed by a quaint Greek Orthodox church on the way to Ataturk Park.

The open area of that park is a very large.  The centerpiece is an impressive bronze statue, the Monument of National Rise, with Ataturk in the center of it. 

   

   

The main reason we were at the park was for the beautiful views.  And there were many.

   

Ali picked us up in the van and took us to the Antalya Archeological Museum.

Most of the pieces in the museum came from two sites that we would be visiting the next day Perge and Aspendos.  There were lots of smaller objects.

   

But I am always attracted to the large objects like statues, and they had a bunch of good ones.

   

   

   

   

In one section they had a tile floor from a home.

The funeral vaults were amazing.  So ornate.

   

   

   

This one was particularly interesting, since it had a relief of a big party going on.

   

The museums most famous piece is a statue of Hercules.  It was found in two parts.  The bottom was at this museum.  The top part of the statue had been discovered much earlier and smuggled to the United States.  It was in the Boston Museum for 30 years before it was discovered by a journalist who realized that it was the top part of the statue in this museum.  The Turkish laws forbid taking antiquities out of the country without approval, so they were able to get it returned.  It is a beautiful piece.

After seeing everything we wanted inside the museum, we went to see the outside exhibits.  Even though it is a small museum, they certainly had a lot of pieces.

   

When we were at Ataturk Park, we were able to see a section of the beach area.  Ahmet said that he would take us to a better viewing area, and here we were.  It is a very long beach.  It did look inviting.

We then went to another scenic viewing area where we would start a walk through old town.  It is so nice to see the mountains and the seas together.  Always a gorgeous sight.

   

The old town is colorful and full of interesting shops and restaurants.  It was so nice that it wasn’t crowded.  Of course, it was Sunday morning.  Ahmet said that it would be very crowded at night.  I’m sure he was right.  Since we did not have an included lunch for this day, Ahmet and I came back to one of the restaurants we spotted on the walk.

   

   

We had a free afternoon to do whatever we wanted in Antalya.  When Ahmet was making some suggestions for this day earlier in the tour, we all jumped at the opportunity to get a Turkish Bath.  None of us had ever had one and didn’t know what they were.  Ahmet explained the whole process and it sounded like a winner.  We could have gotten one while in Istanbul, but Ahmet explained that they were much more expensive there.  The one we were going to was just $35 for each of us.  What a bargain!  Ali dropped us off at the entrance.

We went into the lobby, and no one spoke English.  But they did know why we were there and knew enough words and gestures to tell us to go up the stairs.  When we got to the top, they told us to go into our changing room and put on a towel.  We were able to lock our personal items in the room while we were gone. 

   

Obviously, I couldn’t take a camera into the various rooms, so I will try to explain the process.  Derby and I were then directed by our individual attendants into a very hot room that was covered in tiles with several tiled platforms with towels laid out on them and a thicker piece of material for putting your head on.  We were shown to lay down and the attendants left.  Ahmet had told us that we would be laying there for a while so that we would sweat.  Well, it worked, we were sweating profusely. 

We were only in there around 10 to 15 minutes when the attendants returned and took us into another tile covered room, this one at room temperature, thank goodness.  It was then that I understood how to use the Turkish bath that had been in my Istanbul hotel room.  He dipped the container into the water bowl and poured it over me several times.  It felt so good after being broiled in the other room.  He then took out a loofa and proceeded to sandpaper, I mean exfoliate almost every inch of my body.  With my big body, it was no small job.  He really went to town.  He was a small guy, but very strong.  He showed me how much old dead skin he had on his loofa at one point.  I could have done without that.

I then had another series of rinses to get off everything that he had scraped off.  He then put on the fluffiest soap I have ever experienced all over my body and he proceeded to give me a massage.  This was a rather nice relaxing massage.  I was liking it.  But as expected, it had to be rinsed off also with the big scoops from the bowl.  We were motioned to go back downstairs.  When we got down there, the other people that were sitting around in the room, apparently other attendants that didn’t have customers, began to wrap us up in towels and motioned for us to sit down.

We were there for quite a long time.  We thought that there was supposed to be more to this, like a real massage.  Eventually we were directed to go back upstairs into the same room with the Turkish bath bowls.  I laid back on the table and proceeded to get oiled up.  I was getting another massage.  With this one I realized how strong the little guy was.  I think that he was punishing me for being so big.  But it was a good massage, and I was pleased when we were motioned to get up and go get dressed.  We were done.  The whole process took about an hour and 45 minutes.
My skin did feel very good after this, and I have to say that I would do it again.  It was an interesting and probably beneficial experience.

The bath’s van driver who was taking us back to the hotel happened to be my masseuse.  I guess he has many jobs at the office. 

That evening we were having a home hosted dinner with a local Turkish family.  Ahmet would not be joining us at the dinner, so that the family would feel more comfortable talking with us about anything.  After a short drive we were at the condo where they live.  We met the husband, and he took us to the elevator.  We went up to the top floor, got out and then went up the stairs to where their home was.  It was a very nice modern apartment.  In addition to the husband and wife were their twin boys and the wife’s parents.  The grandmother was attending to the kids while the wife was doing the cooking.  The husband spoke very good English and the wife spoke a little.  The grandfather actually did pretty good because he used to work in one of the top restaurants and dealt with a lot of English-speaking customers.  We talked about a lot of things. We found out that this apartment used to be the roof above his father’s apartment.  Since the father owned the top floor, they were able to add on to it by making the apartment we were in.   They did an awesome job.  It was really nice.  I didn’t take any photos, since it was their personal space, and I didn’t want them to be uncomfortable.

One subject we discussed that really floored me was their electricity cost.  Even though the average income level in Turkey is significantly below that of the USA, their electric bills are around $150 per month.  He told us that if he didn’t own his apartment, he wouldn’t be able to live there.  But the most grotesque thing he said was that they can’t reduce their electric bill by using solar panels.  They are allowed to have solar hot water heaters; but if they use solar energy for other uses, they must pay for it to the government.  Was I hearing that correctly?  If you put up a solar panel and generate your own electricity for your home, the government will charge you for that energy as though they are providing it.  That is just so wrong in so many ways.  Just amazing.

The dinner that was prepared was just wonderful. I even asked for a recipe for one of the items that I know Cathy will like.  After dinner we continued our conversations about life in Antalya.  Like many people we talked with, they are looking forward to the 2023 presidential election.  Erdogan has been in power for 20 years and has recently become much more conservative.  He is beginning to pull back the progress that Ataturk brought to the country in 1923. Antalya is a much more liberal area of Turkey and going back to the old ways is not popular there. 

Before leaving we asked if we could take a photo of the family.  The grandmother was with still with the kids.  They were just a lovely couple and such pleasure to spend time with.  Being able to really experience the culture of the places being visited makes an OAT tour such a valuable experience. 

When I got back to the hotel, I was uploading photos to my MacBook, when I received a call on my phone from my 78-year-old brother’s boss.  He told me that my brother had just died that morning from Covid.  He also told me that my brother was an anti-vaxxer.  I was in total shock and disbelief.  I was also mad that my brother hadn’t taken the vaccine.  I couldn’t believe it.  Mark was in great health since he worked out a lot and took way too many supplements.  He had run a supplement store in Dallas for over 40 years and was an expert in the subject.  But he unfortunately thought that his supplements and good health would protect him from Covid.  Like most people that go into the hospital for Covid that haven’t had the vaccine, he admitted that he should have gotten it.

I notified my family and started to make plans to resolve some issues they were having to deal with.  I would have to take care of some things the next day when I had the free afternoon. 

 

Day 10 - Antalya

Before breakfast I told Ahmet about my brother.  He asked if I needed to go home or if he could do anything.  I told him that I could handle everything that needed to be handled that afternoon online.  There was no reason to go home and then go to Dallas, since it would all be taken care of.  We could have a memorial service when I returned.  I also told him that I wasn’t going to tell Cam and Derby, since I didn’t want to put any type of damper on this wonderful tour.
We would be seeing some amazing ancient cities today. 

As we left town, we went down a street where every building seemed to be devoted to wedding dresses.  They aren’t very good pics because they were taken from a moving van, but you get the idea.  This was several blocks of shops on both sides of the street that only appeared to sell wedding dresses.  There must be so many weddings in Istanbul.

   

The first city we visited was Perge.  The town was founded in 1209 BC.  Most of the structures we would see were from around 200 AD.  As we entered the complex, the first structure was the theater.  It was so complete!  I was impressed.

As we walked in further, we saw many partially standing structures and lots of stones that could someday be put together to make more.  It is a very slow and complex process.  Apparently, they now have computer programs that greatly assist with the ruin’s jigsaw puzzles.

   

   

   

   

   

The Roman Gate is the most popular photo opp in the complex.  I can see why.

I was lucky to have the cat pose for me at just the right place.

They have had to cover up the streets because people were stealing the tiles.  So sad!  There was one section where they had some exposed tiles like those that were now coverered.

We went into the Roman Bath buildings.  Ahmet told us about how the heated water ran under the floor to heat the floors above.  We could see where the water would run amongst the supports.

   

We moved further in where they had been doing much more restoration.  This was an amazing place.  I can’t believe that I have never heard about it before.

   

It was difficult to get a photo of the tiled floor with the sun shining on a part of it.  But the beauty still shows.

I was so impressed with the twisted columns.  I can’t imagine how difficult it was to make those without modern tools.

We then headed out to the next ancient city of Aspendos.  It is actually a century older than Perge.  The main attraction there is the amphitheater.  As we come up to it, it doesn’t look old at all on the outside. 

When entering the theater, I was once again blown away by what great shape it is in.  Ahmet said that unlike other theaters that were abandoned, this theater was in use for various purposes and kept being maintained.  It is truly remarkable.  This theater is still used for performances by musicians and others.

   

Ahmet said that we should get higher up to take a better photo of the interior.  I only went about halfway up and got great photos.  The others went to the top. 

   

Ahmet did take the below photo of the portico.  Very cool!

The area behind the stage has some interesting reliefs.

   

I also like the arched tunnels leading to the theater.  This was quite a place.  Once again, a place I had never heard of.  Turkey really needs a better marketing department to show off their treasures.

Close by the theater, we stopped at a local spot that Ahmet had been to before.  They make a quesadilla type meal for lunch.  We watched one of the women make it and put it on the oven.


   

It was quite a tasty dish and way too much to eat.


They also squeezed pomegranate and orange juice.  Ahmet recommended the combined one.  It was very good, as was the second one.

Both women were dressed in traditional Turkish clothing.

When I got back to the room, the maid had decorated my bed with leaves, and a heart made from a towel.  I spent the rest of the day arranging for my brother’s cremation in Dallas.  Thank goodness everything could be easily handled online.

 

 

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