Cary, Mom, and I flew from Simferopol to Kiev and from Kiev onto Antalya, Turkey in order to celebrate my 26th birthday properly. We decided not to stay in a hotel in Kiev, because our flight to AntaIya was at 4:30 am and we would have to leave the center of Kiev around 2 am anyway just to make our flight, so we took a bus around midnight and just hung out at the airport and tried to sleep in our chairs until boarding. As you can imagine, by the time we arrived in Antalya, we were exhausted.

I really didn’t have many expectations about Turkey, other than good food and uncomfortably warm weather. To my delight, only my first presumption rang true. Antalya was a lot cooler than Sovietskyi had been, which made walking around all day bearable. I still tried to stay as cool as possible, after getting overheated and sick after a day in Feodosia with my mom, just two days prior to leaving for Turkey. Through the grogginess, on the cab ride from the airport, I still managed to notice how pristine Antalya was. I also noted that that the majority of signs were in English and the presence of a number of brand name stores suggested a decent shopping spree would be in order.

Upon arrival at Hotel Oscar, we were warmly greeted in English by the concierge and encouraged to partake in the breakfast buffet being served in the courtyard while the cleaning staff readied our room. So, less than an hour after arriving in Turkey, we were already sampling an array of cheeses, sauces, fresh bread, and vegetables and washing it down with complimentary black tea, which reminded me of chai tea after I added a little milk. Later that day, we discovered a Starbucks within a few blocks of our hotel and on most of the following mornings ventured out to get our caffeine fix American style.

Getting around Antalya turned out to be really easy. Walking was a great option for shorter distances, but we also took a tram a number of different places, such as the beach and the Antalya Archeological Museum. The beach was made up of little stones and the water was perfectly clear and calm. Despite my usual apprehension, Cary convinced me to swim out to the buoys outlining the designated swimming area by first proving to me that if I did indeed panic, he could save me AND keep most of my body out of the water while doing so. So, like a proud child, I got my mom’s attention so that she could watch me swim out in the water that was way over my head. However, with my first attempt, I got spooked and I only swam about 15 feet before turning back and my slightly bemused, yet supportive mother gave me a puzzled smile and a little wave. On my second try, though, I made it all the way out to the buoys and came back beaming.

Another day, we spent almost entirely at the Antalya Archeological Museum, looking at room after room of ancient statues, coin collections, and ceramics. Cary took pictures of almost every exhibit and I wish I could post them all! A few rooms were dedicated solely to statues of different Roman and Greek gods. Each had an extensive description about the role that god or goddess played in history and I spent at least half an hour just reading those descriptions. The collection of artifacts housed in that museum is greater than any other I’ve ever seen.

One of the many other impressive things about Antalya is the plethora of day trips available from the city center. One day we went to see Romeo and Juliet performed at the Aspendos roman theater and another day we took a taxi to the foot of the Termessos ruins and proceeded to hike around all morning. The performance of Romeo and Juliet was most notable for the surroundings. The orchestra played beautifully, but I imagine the play would be better than the opera form of this performance. The show itself seemed to go on a little longer than we would have preferred, but then again, you don’t get to see an opera on an ancient stage every day. After the show, everyone from our group piled exhaustedly back onto the free tour bus for the hour long ride back to downtown Antalya.

Termessos, on the other hand, was spectacular. We hiked up into the mountains to explore this little city that was never conquered by the Romans and found out for ourselves why that was. The bottom line is that it would have just been too much effort with its tightly curving paths along the edge of a steep mountain. Cary, Mom, and I spent an entire morning just climbing around and exploring the ancient amphitheater, aqueducts, and various other buildings.

In the three hours that we were there, we didn’t even see all of the sites still standing there, but we took a bunch of pictures and got enough exercise for the week.After a week in Turkey, we were all relaxed, rested, and full of tasty treats. My dad planned the whole vacation for us from home and I’m sorry that he couldn’t join us this time. Hopefully next time! I would highly recommend Antalya to anyone seeking an active vacation or simply a place to relax.

Pics: 1) Me and Mom next to Hadrian’s gate 2) Mom outside Hotel Oscar 3) Me and Mom at the beach 4) Display of ancient ceramic tombs in the Antalya Archeological Museum 5) Me and Mom at the Roman theater at Aspendos watching the opera Romeo and Juliet 6) City streets in Antalya 7) Cary pretending to dive over the side of an ancient theater at Termessos 8) Our dessert plates the last night in Antalya

Originally written for Ukrainian Memoirs

posts by Lauren