After a wonderful time in Chania, passing through Athens, we knew we were in the home stretch of our trip. When doing a bit of research for a side trip before returning to Istanbul, I decided on Antalya. With a population of over a million, it's a very popular resort destination on Turkey's Mediterranean shoreline. I really didn't quite know what to expect and made arrangements to stay in the town's "Old City", also known as Kaleiçi. What was really interesting was after landing we found the shuttle bus stop. No one spoke English, so I just went with "Kaleiçi?", to which one of the gentleman waved me to the front passenger seat. We were driven to the middle of the city, where the driver came out and hailed a cab for us. We then took the cab into the gated Old Town. Entrance and exit is monitored....
The place I picked was the Villa Verde Cafe and Pension and we weren't disappointed. Our room looked very neat and tastefully decorated....probably because half of the couple, Misuyo Kimura Kocaman is from Japan! Yes, here in Antalya, wouldn't you know I'd run into someone from Japan. Apparently Ali Kocaman met his wife while living in Japan and I guess the rest is history.
I wish I took more photos of the grounds, there were lots to see...parts of the ancient plumbing system and such. Ali told me it took years to get approval to build the hotel. Because of the historic nature of the property they had to hire archaeologists to see what needed to be preserved and how things could be built.
Lest you doubt me, here's the view from the window in our room:
Now I don't know about you, but I thought having ruins of a Mosque that dates back to the 2nd century A.D. right out your window sure does add an exotic vibe to your stay......
We actually took a walk around the Kaleiçi, which was small, but full of character and ended up eating lunch at a very forgettable fast-foodish joint on the busy Ataturk Caddesi. When dinner arrived I was starved and I asked Ali for a recommendation. He called a cab, told me this was the place that he takes guests too. Apparently, Guneyliler has two locations. One is fairly close by, but the one we were cabbing to was far better. The restaurant was located in a huge and fairly intimidating building.
The place was packed, maybe 2-300 people, mostly large families were chowing down on what looked like copious amounts of food! Being only two in number, we were guided to a small table in the corner by the salad station.......
Before we even ordered, stuff started arriving.......
I have no idea what this is called...be it a borek, dolmasi, or what. The exterior had the flavor of perhaps ground lentils with a bit of kick. I quickly noticed that food in Antalya had a bit more spice to it....which made it right down my alley. It was filled with a meat mixture...very nice.
Of course there was Coban Salatasi, Shephard's Salad a standard.
We placed our order and even more stuff started coming......
The procession didn't stop until the long plank with a huge lavas was delivered to our table.....
Man, if ths was the salad and bread, I didn't think I'd survive dinner!
Compared to how things started, the rest of our dinner was pretty anti-climatic. I ended up ordering the Karisik Izgara, which if you've read any of my posts on Sultan, you'd know was a mixed grill.
I don't know how I managed to finish everything.....
The Missus had the Patlican Kebab.
I don't recall the exact price, but I remember it being very affordable.
We were sitting next to the salad station and the guy behind the counter was hilarious, giving us a big smile and a thumbs up when we sat. Before we left, he told us, "we famous chef, you take picture!" So of course I did. Man, what a hoot! And that was only part of the story for the evening.
After leaving the restaurant, we decided to walk around a bit. We would need a taxi back to the hotel and noticed what looked like a busy street a couple of blocks down. We walked past a snack shop and the Missus got some Turkish ice cream.
We walked to the main street and found a taxi parked alongside the road. The cab driver was a very stately, dignified gentleman. When we handed him the hotel's business card, he put his reading glasses on and still couldn't read the print. So he gave us a hand signal to wait and called someone. A couple of minutes later a young man in his late twenties appeared....the man's son. He told us his father didn't speak hardly any English and his eyes were so bad he couldn't read the business card. He told his dad our destination and we walked to the very nice, almost new looking taxi. And here the fun started. We noticed that the cab was pretty gaudily decorated, pom poms hanging from the roof, a model yellow cab mounted on the dashboard, little twinkly lights blinking on the roof. The man turned to us, pointed around the cab and said, "my son....my son!" I'm guessing his son had decorated the flying carpetcab. As we started driving away, the gentleman turned to me and asked, "mooo-zik?" Then pushed a button on the stereo...and holy crap, the cab had some major sub-woofers! A loud techno song started up BOOM BOOM, "do you like sexy?" BOOM BOOM "I'm so sexy?" BOOM BOOM.....the Missus was cracking up! The guy turned to me and asked, "you like?" I mean really, what could I say. Just then I noticed that he was driving like a bat out of hell, maybe about 60 miles per hour, on a surface street! So here we were, flying down the street in Antalya, Turkey, in a taxi driven by an middle aged gentleman whose vision was so bad he couldn't read the address on the hotel's business card with techno pop blasting away......it doesn't get much better than that!
Man, we were so stuffed and slept soundly. In fact, the Missus didn't want to get up and wasn't particularly hungry. So I went downstairs to breakfast.
Now remember, this is Turkey....they don't mess around with the carbs with breakfast. Remember, this was all just for me.
The Cigara Boregi were pretty good......
I took some tea up for the Missus who was still full from dinner.
Of course I opened the window and took a look at the ruins right outside our window. For some reason I found it to be so, well, cool.
I usually don't plug places; but with Madonna Suites in Chania and Villa Verde, we hit on two winners. Here's Villa Verde's website (The Japanese version). You can see some better photos of the grounds.
Thanks for reading!