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.