I find Ho Chi Minh overwhelming with it’s chaos, traffic and pollution. I met somebody who described Saigon as not having a soul as it was hard to connect with the city. I’m not sure I’d go that far but I was certainly happy to escape the heat, the hustle and bustle and hit the beach in Da Nang.
Barry and I ‘wintered’ in Turkey, spending much of December and January in Alanya, two hours south of Antalya, on the Mediterranean coast. We’re not sure if we were lucky but the weather was gorgeous and one of few places where I’ve had the chance to live the dream of working from the beach in spitting distance of the ocean.
Alanya is a nice wee town, much smaller than Antalya but still spread out along the coast. The beaches are quite sandy and there are few site to visit when you’re not working.
We managed to rent a small apartment during our stay for the bargain price of €14 per night at the Twin Apart Hotel. It was a bit of a luxury for us, having a separate bedroom, bathroom, and living/kitchen area, and balcony – no working from the bed!
I wish there were more railway lines in Turkey. I love a good train journey but was only able to take one rail journey in my time in Turkey, a 3 hour ride between Denizli (for Pamukkale) and Selcuk (for Ephesus).
The train journey between Denizli and Selcuk is faster than the bus and cheaper, at less than 15 Lira. Amazing. The train station in Denizli is pretty non-descript and I would have missed it if it were not for the signs and my map research the day before. The tracks are below street level so looking for a railway crossing didn’t help.
I’m not sure about the absolute best way to buy bus tickets in Turkey as it seems that I haven’t quite got it right but I can certainly give you some tips and make you aware of a few things I wish I knew before fronting up to Antalya Otogar.
Dolmus minibuses are straight forward
At Antalya bus station there are two sections – a big hall for long distance buses and a smaller one for buses and dolmus for the local area (a dolmus is a public minibus plying a set route, picking up and dropping off passengers at will). When Barry and I were travelling from Antalya to Kemer, it was really straight forward. You go to the smaller terminal, tell folk your destination, go outside, double check the destination on the boards next to the buses and get on. You pay the driver when you get off the bus later. It’s something like 8 Lira per person for the journey from Antalya to Kemer. It takes anywhere between one hour and two hours (faster to get the boat from town which I never got a chance to do)
Larger coaches going to Alanya also leave from this terminal but you buy your tickets from one of the guys at the counters. There seemed to be two companies selling tickets for Alanya and they were pretty good about sending you to the other seller if their bus was the next one leaving. Tickets from Antalya to Alanya cost 20 Lira per person. It takes about 2.5 hours.
I just can’t get enough of ancient ruins. So it’s lucky that Turkey has so many of them.
The freezing, rainy conditions of the day before had been swept out to sea leaving a glorious sunny Sunday, and almost wishing I’d worn shorts for our trip to the ancient seaside town of Side.
Walking through Side from where the bus dropped us on the highway, it seemed like a peaceful little town with a slow pace of life (at least in January). Soon, the stones of ancient Side started cropping up in the parks and along the sides of the streets, as though the modern town exits within the old.
We came across the Collonaded Street, blissfully deserted on this sunny January Sunday (counting my blessings not to be here in the height of the summer). Badly ruined after thousands of years.