Antalya is located in a fabulous setting. The sharply rising snow-capped mountains surround the city and provide a great backdrop for the ancient harbour and Konyaalti and Lara beaches.
The pebbled Konyaalti Beach
Although similar-sized Mediterranean port cities, Antalya is much richer and more famous than Mersin. There are far more luxury hotels, international-chained fast food restaurants, pizza outlets and upmarket shops, and prices are generally higher. Mersin does have more kebab shops and infinite number more tantuni restaurants, though!
Yachts in the ancient harbour
Antalya’s main foreign tourists are large numbers of Germans and Russians as opposed to Mersin’s small numbers of Arab visitors. From what I understood, the Russian influence is a topic of many Antalya conversations.
Most chemists (‘eczane’) have the English (pharmacy) and German (Apotheke) equivalents displayed. Many also are written in Russian and one was even in American (drug store). Mersin just gets ‘eczane’.
Weird as it may seem, but in some ways I feel more anonymous in Mersin than in Antalya. Along with the tourists in Antalya comes the expectation to meet foreigners and the associated tourist claptrap, something foreign to Mersin (excuse the pun).
The sunny weather added greatly to my trip enjoyment. I walked a lot and relaxed far more than I have for a long time.
The fruit crepe and cappuccino at the café in the sun and the tiramisu and coffee drink at Kahve Rengi were two amongst many memorable moments.
Fountain with mountains in the background
Umut and Beysun live to the east of Antalya’s centre, near his workplace and in the same area as both Yasemin and Umut’s Grandmother.
I met Umut’s Grandmother a few times in Istanbul and then she was a wonderful bright and bubbly woman. Unfortunately, in 2005 Alzheimer’s took over and she is not completely with it, but still very bubbly.
Umut, Grandma, myself
One evening, Umut and I armed with chocolates and flowers respectively, went to see his Grandma and her Bulgarian Turk carer. Grandma still remembered me and we were both very glad to see each other. I don’t know if we will meet again.
I also met up with another Mersinite friend and university classmate of Umut’s, Mutlu, in town visiting his sister. Another evening was spent at Tunca’s, a high school friend of Umut’s, Beysun’s and Yasemin’s.
Mutlu, Umut, Beysun, myself and Yasemin