12 March, 2010

Antalya - day 1

Thıs ıs goıng to be rocky... i'm ın a webcafe using a Türkçe keyboard. Whıch means that there are 29 letter keys and the peripheral keys are different. Where @ usually ıs you fınd ' , is now ş, and the usual i space ıs occupied by ı. There will be typing errors!

old fıshermen mendıng nets, Antalya harbor
AŞTI seems more like an airport than a bus terminal. By my poor metric estımatıon, the concourse stretches a kilometer or more, lined with büfe stands and booksellers. It ıs a hard sell from one end to the other. Men stand amid the concourse shouting the names of destinations; if you so much as glance toward a büfe stand the (usually early 20s) young man reacts like a fisherman to a bite and begins realing you in with the verbal equivalent of an unbreakable nylon line. Outside an unbroken line of buses inches from the statıon entrance in a long semicırcle out to the highway.

Our bus departs at 23:00. I am traveling with a Finn, a Frenchman, a Chinese student, and two "halfies" from California. (Halfie, i learn in conversation, is a slang term for half-Asian ethnicity.) The night highway is desolate, save for buses and the occasıonal truck. İt's a comfy ride, and i need to sleep. At 3 AM i wake at a bus terminal in Adalya - a.k.a what seems like the middle of nowhere. But ıt seems like 3 in the afternoon: half a dozen buses are parked, and attendants in tall rubber boots wash them with long handled spray-squeegee devices. In the single long buildıng facing us is a sign "fast food" (only fıve hours later do i realize it was in English). It's a crazy dream. Four small boys sit around a table drinking bardak çay, then dash off. Gırls pull toys from a shelf and run to the old cashier asking eagerly, "ne kadar? ne kadar? (how much)" There's a bin full of pillows, 2 TL each. Restrooms are ücretsizdir (free). And as abruptly as we awoke we are again enwombed by road noise.

Turbulence. I awake on a steep descent. Scrubby hills rise on all sides, and a thin crescent of moon - as if plucked from the flag of Türkiye - hangs in predawn blue. It is a long descent; at the bottom o these hills a coastal plain stretches 30 kilometers to Antalya. As the sky bightens, signs of habitation grow more frequent. Soon palms line the median; on the last downhill into the city, there are pines.

From the main bus terminal, an inexpensive city bus takes us to the shore, to Kaleiçi - the old city. Rounding a corner, we gasp. It ıs our first glance of the broad blue swath Türks call Akdeniz: the Medıterranean Sea!!!!!! (Okay, apologies for the excessive use of punctuation, but no quantity of exclamation points quite conveys the feeling of a dream come true.) We disbark at Hadrian's gate and walk a courtyard-lined street to our hostel. The city is yet to awake. Leathern leaves reach over walls, and the scent of orange blossoms fills the narrow way. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of the six-petaled flowers, nestled among the leaves beside ripe fruit. Doves' cooing echoes among the buildings as they forage on the smooth stone.

~

My friends check in to the hostel and sleep for a few hours, but i slept well enough aboard the bus. Rather than wasting time with thousands of words on thıs tricky keyboard - i will share the pictures from a morning walk as the city awoke around me, and an afternoon on foot along the waterfront. Click on one of the images below for a link to the full album - which will be growing...

surveyıng Hadrian's gate

road construction

and ahhhhhh, the pleasure of a Mediterranean evening breeze.