01.08.2015 - 05.08.2015 40 °C
So I started this blog with some comparisons and thought it appropriate to finish with one final one. We spent 4 days in the old city of Istanbul and now 5 days in the old city of Antalya. Both cities offer lots of similarities and also lots of differences.
Istanbul is a city of 16.8 million people, spanning two continents. One minute you are in Europe and the next minute you use the "welcome to Asia" sign. No other country can offer the to a visitor.
Some would argue that Constantinople (as it was called back then) played a pivotal role in many of the past centuries. Hagia Sophia is a great example of this, built first as a mosque, taken over and then converted to a Christian church by the rulers of the day. Now a museum, it offers visitors a look at both religions.
Istanbul is busy, noisy, frenetic and crazy. It is hard to find a quiet oasis to escape the bedlam. Every shop keeper wants to be your friend and show THEIR carpets. No thank you is your favourite and most used words in the city.
Antalya is a large and sprawling seaside city on the Aegan coast. The first and only word to describe our stay is HOT. While Calgarians are battling rain, hail and wind storms we are suffering through a hot spell where daytime temperatures have been between 35 and 40 everyday. I thought China was hot last year but this is hotter.
Our hotel, Hadrian's Gate Hotel is just a few steps from Hadrian's Gate. The marketers didn't need too much time to come up with the name for this hotel! It is a little oasis amongst the old walled city. Hadrian, a Roman Emperor cut a wide swath through Europe. Yes, this is the same Hadrian who built a wall in England. What a guy! His gate still remains intact despite being built in 130 AD.
Inside the walls of the old city, Kaleici, is a charming community. Taxis barely have enough room to drive down the marbled streets. Shopkeepers are happy to show their wares but are just as happy to greet you with a smile and a wave if you aren't in a buying mood.
The favourite pastime is to sit in one of the many cafés and watch the people go by. With the exception of restaurant row, the cafés are not busy and offer a wide variety of "non-kebab" fare. We had a meal of arugula salad and pizza a few nights ago that rivalled any Italian town. Sitting in the garden we almost thought we were in Italy.
Having been on the road for almost three weeks our hotel has become our oasis. The salt water pool is not busy and is always refreshing. The staff is always on hand to offer a nice cold beer, however when it is 40 degrees it doesn't stay cold too long.
We ventured out yesterday to visit the Antalya Museum, partly to escape the heat. What a lovely surprise! This is a GREAT museum, offering a chronological view of history. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to figure out if it was the Hittites or the Ottomans that came first! The marble statues of the Roman gods and goddesses gave a lesson in Greek mythology. The sarcophaguses on display were like nothing I had ever seen. This is one place getting my "Trip Advisor" seal of approval.
It has been a totally incredible trip. The Turkish people are some of the kindest and hardest working people we have met. Shopkeepers cover their wares by the side of the road and find them there in the morning. Tables, chairs and tablecloths are left out each night, even in Istanbul. The five times daily call to prayer is hypnotic and serves a a way to tell time during the day. The history and culture rivals any other destination in the world. While we didn't visit all of the country we got a great taste of Turkey. I hope you enjoyed reading about the adventure.