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Turkish Delight

Antalya: sun, scran, and suspicious medical procedures

By Matty LongPublished 2 months ago 9 min read
Top Story - March 2024

Firstly, shout out to my girlfriend Hannah for pointing out that the pun-based title of this blog was definitely going to be “Turkish Delight,” thus giving me the idea for a brilliant pun-based title for this blog. Couldn’t have come up with one better myself.

The aforementioned and I embarked last month on a trip to Antalya, on the country’s Mediterranean coast, for some winter sun. And I can wholeheartedly recommend this lovely warm, historic, and, most importantly of all, cheap, destination.

I’d wanted to go to Turkey for a while as I’d heard the food was good, the tea was good, and the beer was flowing, and originally intended to go to Istanbul. However, my intention to go in February (as I’m having a long summer break), put a stop to this, as I was informed by the weather forecasters of the web tat it would be blisteringly cold. In fact, pretty much everywhere BUT Antalya was going to be cold. However, the fact that it had a bit of history enticed me, and I decided to suggest the whole all-inclusive sunny holiday situation. Not usually for me but seemed like the right place for it, was very affordable, and I’d worked a lot over Christmas so was in the mood. I promptly booked the cheapest all-inclusive hotel that wasn’t 2 stars on TripAdvisor.

Now, in the time period between booking the trip and setting off, several people jokingly asked, when I mentioned that I was going to Turkey if I was going to get my teeth done. I was only vaguely familiar with the notion of Turkey teeth, whereby you fly to Turkey (it’s cheaper than he UK) and some mad dental surgeon grinds down your gnashers and tops them off with sparkly new veneers. A vanity project I’m unfortunately not interested in, but when we actually arrived at the airport, it appeared several of our fellow holidaymakers weren’t in fact holidaymakers at all, but these very tooth-seekers of which I speak. An interesting start.

The flight was fairly long over four hours – but I felt the time flew by nicely, as did the plane. As soon as we stepped off the it, my worries began, however. I was aware that there are often issues with package holidays, and I always expect the worse as a rule, but (although, as my regular readers know, I love travelling), this was the first holiday I’d ever booked where I organised it all myself, and was very much the “lead traveller.” The first taste of this was when some airport confusion and language barriers meant I took us towards the departure lounge to meet our taxi to the hotel. Thankfully, when we eventually found the taxi (located, strangely enough, at a huge taxi area just near arrivals), the driver hadn’t left.

We arrived promptly at The Falcon hotel, where the concierge took our bags and, on the way to our room, boasted that The Falcon was not only the “best hotel in Antalya,” but it came with a wonderful sea view. I told him that sounded lovely, just a shame that I found out in the following five minutes that the sea view in question was not remotely visible from the room in which we were to be staying…

But no matter, we still had a nice balcony. Now to begin the period of relaxation. Short-lived, as once we’d ventured onto the balcony, we realised that the door did not shut at all. Now, we were quite high up, but who’s to say spiderman-level cat burglars didn’t operate in the area. I put my lead traveller pants on and phoned the reception, who said they’d send a man. Twenty minutes later I waited still, but my friend re-assured me that that isn’t a very long time in Turkey. How long would I have to deal with this stress that cat burglars were going to steal my … T-shirts?? Not long, it turned out. The guy fixed the door and we headed to explore the hotel.

After saying hello to some Scottish men drinking pints, we headed for our meal. I wasn’t expecting all that much from the all-inclusive scran but I was pleasantly surprised. Plenty of pasta, hot chicken dishes, various meat dishes, and excess Aubergine, which is seemingly a Turkish speciality and that was fine by me because I’m a big fan. Hannah’s also a vegetarian and there was plenty for her to choose from, happily. Although I was assured by a friend that in his part of the world they view it as a condition, and consider vegetarians to be in the same category as the Gluten intolerant, the blind, and the terminally ill.

I did notice some bandages around the dining room but the most striking indicator that the hotel was frequented by Tooth-seekers and other such flavours of the vain, was the following speciality dish:

Furthermore, my cat burglar fears may have been relieved, but it was a good thing my cat fears are non-existent, as stray varieties of the animal are literally EVERYWHERE, in the courtyard, in the dining hall, on the table. Thankfully, not in the food, though, you have to travel a bit further into Asia for that.

I washed down my meal with some red wine, I believe of the brand “Red Wine,” and a few nice draught beers. I always find I enjoy the local lager on holiday and this was no exception, even though the local lager was Tuborg, brewed quite far away in Hellerup, which is in the more Northern region (… Denmark).

The next day the weather was lovely, so, after a breakfast consisting of something fried which I cannot quite describe but very much enjoyed, we set about exploring the historic oldtown. A taxi (they drive like MADMEN but it appears to be the norm) kindly took us from the hotel to the centre. There we could explore the lovely harbour. It was very nice, and we stopped for a drink. I’ve heard Turkey are as famous for their coffee as they are their tea, so I thought I’d sample this. It’s brewed in a unique way, whereby the coffee beans are very finely ground and unfiltered. This tastes, I must admit, exactly as it sounds. Like mud. Not for me.

I’ll very much stick to tea, and that was about to become a harsh reality of a very different kind as we entered the bazaar. The first shop we went into, we were offered tea, and I thought, after sampling some, that I was simply obliged to buy, and so promptly did so. Several shops later, when I’d drank what felt like galleons of the stuff in every shop I even neared never mind set foot in, I realised that this was more of a custom, and was frantically searching for a public toilet.

This was after many (successful, in this instance) attempts to avoid the tactic of insisting that you buy fake perfume, which must work well for it to be so frequent. I noticed a building later on which may have been a marketing school for the Bazaar merchants:

My ineptitude as a lead traveller also reared its head once again in the bazaar, when, in search of a little bit of literal Turkish delight (as in, the substance that persuaded one Edmund Pevensie to sell his entire family to the White Witch), I was, quite simply, conned. Bag of that shite cost me three times the price of the pissing taxi, and I had to lug it around all day as a painful reminder of my incompetence and excessive Britishness.

However, I can’t complain, because the price of literally everything else was phenomenally low, and we went on to enjoy a nice drink in the oldtown, which, as a fan of oldtowns, I thought as particularly lovely. One thing it had that I’d never experienced before was lots of mosques, their minarets dotted all over the skyline. The sound of the muezzin reciting the call to prayer from these five times a day is something I found very tranquil, no matter what time it was.

Further highlights of the oldtown were the influence of Roman culture on the region, including Hadrian’s gate, built to honour a visit by the emperor in 130 CE. That’s the same Hadrian who built the famous Wall to keep the Scots out of my hometown of North East England, which, as someone pointed out to me, really demonstrates the breadth of the Roman Empire, considering it took me over four hours, in a jet, to travel from one of these regions to the other.

There was also this statue, which I can only assume is a homage to French culture, though I have no historical evidence to back that up:

We opted to walk back to the hotel, as it was a nice evening, and it only took about an hour, although what felt like HALF of that was crossing the road outside the hotel due to the previously mentioned madmen drivers. Excuse my probably cultural ignorance, but they have about as much respect for zebra crossings as British drivers in supermarket car parks.

Food was nice again at the hotel, and I don’t think our Scottish friends had moved from their exact position 24 hours earlier.

The next day was still nice weather, so we opted to take one of the boat trips we’d seen advertised the day before. I say advertised, chased down the street by a persistent man with a flyer and promises of waterfalls and turtles. I mentioned to a friend that that we were embarking on this particular day trip and, as a frequent visitor of the country, he assured me I’d fallen for an age old scam, the one where every boat trip in the country promises “turtle island,” only for the excited punters to frequently find that the turtles are “shy.”

No matter, waterfalls, I assure you, were not shy, even though my journey towards them was in the company of incredibly loud “popular” (I believe it is known) music, and an abundance of Instagram types.

We were offered some photo souvenirs of the trip ourselves, and despite the impressive efforts (see below) to take tat to a whole new level, I’m afraid to say we declined.

Back to the hotel it was, for red wine, nice food, and plenty of baklava, the little Turkish pastries which I had grown very fond of. The Scottish men had also been on an excursion that day, as they were now located at a different part of the bar.

Only one day remained, and so we ventured back into town. For some reason the road was incredibly easy to cross this particular day. And as we kept walking, I noticed that in fact it was … deserted. I then started to notice police cars, and people coming out and standing in their gardens. It was very eerie, and I quickly accepted, being an avid film fan, that this was the apocalypse, and waited for the four horsemen to appear. In their place appeared hundreds of cyclists, as the road had been closed for the Tour of Antalya.

Fears of impending doom relieved, we had a nice few drinks with the stray cats (and dogs, it turns out, in the centre, lots of dogs, too), and a few pints of Greatness in the Sheffield pub.

Deciding to dine out on the last night, we eventually found a nice restaurant which catered for the less fortunate in society (vegetarian options) and I opted for a very nice Aubergine kebab dish. Unfortunately, they’d sold out of baklava, and burnt ice cream (a local speciality, apparently), but the last thing on the menu was a hazelnut dish, which reminded me, of kinder bueno but also wasn’t anything like kinder bueno, and was delicious.

The next day it was time to leave, so we said goodbye to our cat friends, the staff at the hotel, and the Scottish men (who, as far as I’m concerned, are still there).

We then headed to the airport and boarded what I can only describe, due to the high numbers of bandaged mouths, heads and gastric bands, as an air ambulance.

But, jokes aside, I really enjoyed the trip, and for an affordable holiday with a bit of everything, I’d highly recommend Turkey. It’ll put a smile on your face, so to speak.

humorculturecouples travelbudget travel

About the Creator

Matty Long

Jack of all trades, master of watching movies. Also particularly fond of pizza, country music, watching football, travelling, and tea.

X: @eardstapa_

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (7)

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  • Esala Gunathilake14 days ago

    Congratulations on your top story.

  • Ameer Bibi2 months ago

    Congratulations for top story that's very different and adventurous amazing

  • ROCK 2 months ago

    Oh my lawd, this is exactly what Condé Nast is overlooking; I laughed in my bath ( not Turkish, Swedish) and spit my tea through my teeth ( my own; I use a standard Colgate) and I could feel my lungs tightening as each furry beast was mentioned ( asthmatic response to severe allergies). I can't say you sold me as Sweden has all that was mentioned ( especially balconies without Mediterranean views). I noted your lovely wife wearing what appears to be my long lost jean jacket. What airline did you say you flew? Any hooooo, I subscribed as the lack of sun is driving me mad and I quite fancy your writing.

  • Thank you for taking us along on this adventure Congratulations 🎈

  • I could visualize your trip with every word I read of your story. this a heart warming story of fun!

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    Ah, red wine red wine. Such red wine!

  • Sounds marvelous, though I do believe I'll pass on their dentistry offerings.

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