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!
Only two days in Istanbul – what to do? The more I saw of the city the more I wished we were going to spend a month there. But I made the most of the two days we had. Luckily I’d seen most of the major tourist sites on our first visit. The weather was gorgeous and tempted me out for a walk to Sultanahmet.
So, down the hill I went and crossed Galata Bridge, watching the fishermen pull my lunch from the Golden Horn.
I’m the first one to spot a bakery when we arrive in a new town. We might be walking down a street, long after the shops have closed, looking for an ATM but a sign for fresh bread and cakes will leap out at me, telling me where to find breakfast or lunch the next day. Barry teases me that I could navigate the world by bakery.
So, when I came across this list of 25 bakeries to visit before you die, I promptly added it to my Pinterest list.
I was very pleased to find that number 18 is in Istanbul, Hafiz Mustafa 1864. With Istanbul being so big I was prepared to spend an entire day hunting down this palace of baklava. Imagine my (Turkish) delight when I discovered that it was a mere 15 minute walk from our hotel, the Witt Istanbul, by Taksim Square.
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.