A bit late, but here are some updates from the last part of my trip along the southern coast of Turkey, Antalya, where I also almost reached the end of my energy, but it’s so worth it. On my way I kayaked over a sunken city at Kekova island, and from Antalya went up to the beautiful ancient mountain city Termessos, chilled out at the beach in Side right next to the ruins, of course not skipping the awesome ruins of Perge. I also couldn’t skip treating myself with a visit to Antalya Aquarium, just because… fish! I couldn’t make it to the eternal flame of Olympus, but oh well, next time.
When I read about the possibility of kayaking over the ruins of a sunken city I just had to do it and called several places to book a tour, and one of them luckily managed to get enough people together so I could go (thanks to Meltem Pension who tried their best with this. They have really nice affordable single rooms for 60TL and were so nice to pick me up from the bus station without having asked for this). To be honest not that much can be seen of the ruins that sunk under the water after an earthquake, but the scenery is so amazing that I’m glad I went. We stopped for a swim on the island Kekova which used to be connected to the mainland and went to the village of Kaleköy (which means castle village) with the partly sunken ruins of Aperlae. I couldn’t find the way to the crusader castle and went to the necropolis (graveyard) with a lot of Lycian sarcophagi instead, which I admired from the hilltop giving a view of the surrounding landscape. Wow.
Once I started the tour I realized why we had to leave at 7 in the morning. Around 11am the boat tours arrive and you wouldn’t want to bump into a boat while sitting in a kayak. Cost including lunch: 100TL
My first impression of Antalya was the old town (Kaleiçi) which looks beautiful in the night light (and also during the day) with it’s gate and old buildings from different time periods (Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman and modern Turkish republican eras). I can really recommend my accommodation, the Blue Sea Garden Hotel with it’s relaxing garden restaurant with a pool in the middle, and the affordable 3-bed dorm (around 15€ per night) that I happened to be the only person to book. Tours can be booked in the hotel.
I had to sort out some paper stuff at the consulate because I lost my drivers licence a while ago and now I figured I need it in Ireland. I still had a bit of time though to visit at least the essentials:
-Antalya Museum, that exhibits many statues and sarcophagi (even one dog sarcophagus) recovered from the surrounding excavation sites like Perge and Termessos. The only downside was that the explanations on this part were abundant (besides the fact that statues out of their place somehow don’t keep me very interested), but explanations almost were completely missing concerning the parts exhibiting items from burial rituals how normal people who didn’t have the money for a sarcophagus were buried. It seems that each family had some sort of underground cave for their burials.
-Antalya Aquarium: I was about to make a Chewbacca mum type of video when entering. I’m crazy about fish and aquariums. Here the disadvantage of having seen too many things before kicked in, because biggest tunnel aquarium as they said… the tunnel was long but I’m not sure if the actual tank is bigger than the London aquarium tank. Probably it’s better in general to go places without any expectations whatsoever. Anyway, I saw my fish and was happy. And 35$ poorer haha.
Perge and Side
Perge… That’s what I mean by not having any expectations. I thought it would just be another ruin and that’s it. It’s so huge and well preserved, it really gave me the impression of being there and walking through the streets. Here I saw the effect of a statue in it’s real place. For a second I thought, what’s that woman doing lying around there. Ah, just a statue hanging out on top of the fountain. All the other statues have been brought to museums, mostly Antalya museum, sigh. I was almost alone on the site, which made it even more impressive to walk around there.
Side is more touristic, but I liked that I could hop from the ruins right to the beach. Wandering around in the ruins exploring was a lot of fun. Shameless Yoyoma posing even more. A beer at the seaside after a nice swim and the day was perfect.
I’m glad I did this tour on my own instead of booking a tour. It was easy to do in public transport, I could spend as much time as I wanted at each site and I saved at least 50TL of the 160TL they wanted for the tour (or 80TL not counting expenses that wouldn’t have been included in the tour price either). I skipped Aspendos that usually is part of the tour, but all that can be seen there is a theater restored with probably not the best methods, which in fairness seems to be huge. I just was thinking it’s better to be visited during one of the events held there (e.g. the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival http://www.aspendosfestival.gov.tr/en/ )
Here is how I went by public transport:
-Tram (new, red line) to the stop Meydan (takes about 8 minutes from Ismetpaşa)
-Bus AC03 to Aksu (20 minutes), both Tram and bus payed with the Antalya card
-16 minutes walk to the Perge site and back
-Bus from Aksu to Manavgat (I waited here for the bus) + free servis (shuttle) to Side 1hour, 14 TL (buses from Aksu to Manavgat can be flagged down close to Aksu Belediyesi – a bit hard when they drive fast, but a local helped me)
-there is a servis (shuttle, I think it was 1TL) from Side to the pick up spot for Antalya buses. The bus from there to Antalya took an hour (14TL), I just had to wait a bit for it since less buses go in the evening.
-25TL site entrance Perge
-10TL site entrance Side Museum
-water and coke in the Perge site was really expensive: 15Tl. But I didn’t have enough water with me..
-Lunch in Side: 15TL in Öyküm Ev Yemekleri on the left side on Atatürk Cd. right before coming back to the highway D400 (I’m glad I ate in Aksu, because in Side everything is expensive)
-a beer and water in the beach bar 15TL
-the new double peanut magnum, omg, so good, and oreos 6.75Tl
Sorry for the unnecessary details, but I just had to say how much I liked the food and the ice cream haha.
Termessos and Düden waterfall
This tour feels more like a pleasant walk in the forest that happens to include some ruins. They are remarkably well preserved, because the city was abandoned and left untouched ever since. This also gives it a unique character, nature seems to take over in an undisturbed manner. The acoustics of the theater work really well!
The visit to Termessos is followed by a stop at a viewpoint over Antalya and a visit to Düden waterfall in Antalya. We stopped in a restaurant next to the river to have lunch.
These sites are fairly hard, if not impossible, to reach by public transport (the bus drops you off 9km away from Termessos), so I booked a tour. The tour guide was more of a outdoor guide than a history geek, but oh well, I figure google and the leaflet know it all.
For example that Termessos was founded by the Solyms (who spoke Solymish) and that Alexander the Great surrounded the city in 333 BC, maybe more by mistake, because why would anybody take such a steep mountain path past a city that has such good natural barriers that it basically can’t be conquered. He didn’t actually attack the city and attacked the city Sagalassos, at least so says Wikipedia.
One interesting story worth mentioning is included in the detailed map available at the ticket office (5TL):
The tomb of Alketas at the north-east of the Necropolis is the most important tomb of the necropolis. It is of a Macedonian. Alketas was one of the commanders of Alexander the Great. Alketas, following his brother Perdikka’s defeat by Antigonos, fled from Antigonos with his four thousand soldiers and took shelter in Termessos (309 BC). Antiogonos layd siege to Termessos. The city was in danger of famine. The youth of the city did not intend to give up Alketas to Antigonos and fought him off. However, the elders of the city decided to give Alketas to Antiogonos. Upon hearing this Alketas commited suicide. His body was dangled down the city walls and given up to Antigonos. In that manner Antigonos’ attack of the city and keeping the city under constant siege was prevented. The youth of the city were unhappy with these events and were mad at the elders of the city. After Antigonos went away the youth of the city prepared a magnificent funeral for Alketas and buried him in an tomb built by the city council. On the relief of the tomb the warrior on his horse depicts Alketas and the eagle and the serpent symbolize the deceased’s rank.
Now I’m already far away from Antalya, the next post will be about Cappadocia where I spent a few days afterwards.