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A Journey to Alanya, 8.-22.5.98

Why do people travel to Alanya? The simple answer is: because they have not seen it yet. Of course there are others who travel there because they have seen it. We have not seen it, but we are curious due to the literature of Yasar Kemal, who was awarded by the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (Peace Award of the German Book Trade) at the Frankfurt Book Fair last year. Meanwhile I have read three books of this author: the trilogy of Ince Memed (Memed, My Hawk). This Memed gets a robber and revenger caused by the suppression of the landlords in the Cukova Plane near the town of Adana. He was forced to hide in the Taurus mountains and finally becomes a folk hero. A delicacy of this prose is the description of the landscape, weather, winds, and light, as well as plants, flowers and animals of the Taurus and the Cukova.

On the other hand this landscape is no touristic area and is located 500 km east of the Turkish Riviera between Antalya and Alanya. We decide to spend our holidays this time at Alanya. We start early to book a flight and a hotel and find what we want as usual at the Karstadt travel agency. We think to have booked a smaller hotel with 40 rooms at the beach of Alanya. So we are very surprised as we get our final documents with the booking of quite another hotel named Sunny Hill, located at a slope 300 m from the beach. But then we slightly remember, that this was a spare offering and we had forgotten about this matter.

But we do not forget the date of the journey which starts in the middle of the night. We use a taxi to the airport to avoid the trouble with the car and parking place etc. I take a folding bike with me, the suitcase nearly does not fit into the car boot of the Mercedes. I had planned to cycle in the Taurus Mountains, mountain villages etc. But there are DM 50.- extra charges for the transport.

As we sit in the plane (Aero Lloyd) and feel the pressure of the start on back, butts and ears the holidays have begun. We do not know, that the ears will play an important roll during this vacation. In front of us there sits an odd lady who listens to our conversation and from time to time gives a comment. She was above the clouds once on a flight to South France she says. This time we have no orientation of the land below for there is no screen information as usual.

After breakfast we are above the Black Sea and can recognize the mouth of the Danube. Soon we pass the giant town Istanbul. It gets more and more dull outside and the lady in front of us thinks it turns to be foggy. May be this is caused by various beers which she has consumed during the flight. After 3 1/2 hours we touch down at Antalya and have to correct the clock for 1 hour later. We have 11 am now. We then lose one long hour as we have to wait for the passport control which is very slow. The officer types each name into his computer and if one is no member of a terroristic conspiracy and has an otherwise good reputation he gets a stamp into his passport and can feel free thereafter. We get our baggage from the baggage conveyor and say farewell to the "lady in the fog".

In front of the brand new airport building there are special trolleys which are to be unlocked by German DM 2.- coins. We don't know what the foreign visitors do - we have no problems ourselves. But when the Euro will be introduced all these discrepancies will have gone. Then we are escorted to the transfer bus and after one other hour until the last passengers have arrived we finally start for the 140 km tour. Meanwhile we have changed some clothes according to the warmer temperature.

On the tour we see all these "All Inclusive Resorts" along the beach and the coastal main road. It is impossible to leave the resort and walk or hike around. We are content to have choosen a town with a historic background, so we can do something else than to lie around at the pool all the time. We pass the town of Manavgat where there is not so much tourism. Monday and Thursday are market days and we make a note on it. At last we see the peninsula of Alanya at the horizon. The ruins of the old castle are enthroned on top of the headland. After the last of the passengers have gone we finally leave the bus at the hotel Sunny Hill and we have about 3 pm. There are some clerks of the hotel and they take our baggage and the bike and we have to spend DM 5.- for baksheesh.

And then we get our room with a nice view to the town and this looks like a sea of stone. It is to be seen that many buildings of the town are not completed. Here and there are those minarets looking like large pencils, may be about 20. In the background the beginning Taurus mountains, at the left the shining sea and the Cleopatra beach. We will learn about this name some time later.

After we have stowed away our baggage we get Turkish currency at the reception. They just have an increasing inflation so the exchange rate varies each day. For DM 100.- we get one hundred thirtyseven Millions. So we start our first excursion with a fat purse. We look for the harbour which should be 300 m from here. We go down from our hotel but instead of the harbour we find the stalactite cave named Damlatas, and the translation of this is stalactite cave. The cave was detected in 1948 during quarry works. We will visit it later.

We prefer to go to the tourist bureau to get a city map. This map is somewhat abstract but better than nothing and finally we find the harbour. The season will soon start so they are busily at work to prime, sand and paint their boats. As we have holidays it is nice to watch others at work. But suddenly we are stunned, a strange singsong comes from above and various other directions. Soon we understand: these are the Muezzins who shout their prayers to God resp. Allah from the minarets. We await some pretty old men wrapped in some white cloths or something like that but there are only loudspeakers at the top of the minarets. When it is dark moreover there will be some coloured illumination. We will enjoy these singsongs five times the day and soon get used to it. Only the first time at 5 am is somewhat nasty, especially because at this time they seem to be overmotivated.

We then find the area with the bazar-like shops. There are a lot of hallways under roofs. One can buy textiles, leather, clocks, jewellery, perfumes etc. There are some open-air restaurants and keen young men try to get in contact with the flowing crowds of tourists. "Hello, where are you from, have a drink?" or "Just a moment, English, Swedish, German?" or "Give me your hand ... why don't you give your hand?" And other phrases. It is a mistake to stop or look around for then they come up like a wasp swarm. But Heidi is looking for a T-shirt and short pants. Finally we are captured by a friendly gentleman who pulls us to his booth behind a rubber-tree. Heidi successes to find her stuff and immediately we get an apple-tea. The gentleman tells that he is a teacher in German and has this shop together with his brother. We get a visiting card and there is printed:

Mustafa & Ali Akis
Unter dem Gummibaum

If we want we always should return for a tea, even if we do not want to buy something. On the way back a taxi-driver tries to get a profit: "You want to go to the airport?" "No, we have just arrived!" "Doesn't matter, come on!" We are somewhat amused about this efficient atmosphere.

At about 7 pm we have the dinner. At first we have a soup. When this is finished a waiter grasps across the table to clear the dishes. If you want one soup more you must look where to find a new spoon. Then we have some salad from the buffet. Then you must be careful that there is enough hunger left for the warm meal. And at last there is a dessert as cake, ambrosia, fruits or pudding.

Then we have 8 pm and a final stroll would be fine. At last we end at our balcony above the illuminated town of Alanya. We enjoy a forbidden bottle of vine. It is forbidden if it was not bought in the hotel, which is much more expensive. We now gradually realize that there would be a problem with the noise. We are just on top of the hilly road where the vans or mopeds howl, sometimes honk and moreover have their Wumm-Wumm-techno music. We have to stop our conversation at each vehicle coming up the street. The first night is not so good.


At first we tell at the reception about the noise. The friendly young man tries to explain that this is worse during the weekend when the discoes are open. Just now there is no better room. The next disappointment is the breakfast. There is only one kind of sausage and two kinds of cheese with white bread.

We have the welcome-date with the organizer today. We have a short walk up the hill before but then a heavy rain comes up just as we jump into the bus. We are receipted by a lady named Natalie and we get a glass of orange for free. Natalie promises that there soon will be a better weather. She then explains various excursions and invites everyone to book a trip at her. There is an excursion to the villages at the unspoiled and original areas. But one should not pamper the locals by opulent donations otherwise they would loose their originality. Sounds somewhat schizophrenic. Then there is the occasion to absolve the donkey-license. And of course one can buy jewellery at the shops franchised by Neckermann. It is not recommended to buy branded perfumes, for some time later this will start to smell like chlorine. Then there is a hint to the nearby stalactite cave. This is used for cures of the bronchial tubes because there is a 98% amount of air in the cave. So she says, we think she means humidity.

Let us discuss another problem. I have a lock for my bike but have forgotten the key at home. So we have to look around to buy a new lock somewhere. And this is difficult because the most shops offer touristic stuff only. There shall be a supermarket Micros and we walk along the main road, but then resign due to the rain. We better return to the bazar area with the hallways under roofs. After we have asked some people we know where to find a bikeshop: in a side road behind the postoffice. And this is a real little rat-shop, but in fact there is a bundle of white and blue locks at the wall. I have to pay 5 Million Lire which would be DM 3.50. The boys of the rat-shop beam with joy and so do we.

As we are back in our hotel the rain stops. As we go out again the rain continues. So we will go to the cave and hope that it will not rain in there. The cave is a large dome with well draped stalactites and stalagmites - you know the difference! Here and there I look under a ledge to find a continuation - but in vain. So we tick off this sensation and start for another walk around. Our main shopping street is the Damlatas Caddesi. There is a house partly broken down, a former jewelry shop, and the owners have put a sign to the door in poor German: "Wir sind 50 m nach unten getragen" ("We have carried 50 m downwards").

We have to buy two things yet: a set of Ohropax (some waxe to block the ears from the noise). This stuff seems to be a common article because it is available just behind the counter. It is named Kulak Tikaci. The other aquisition are two bath-towels because those of the hotel are forbidden. We get two towels for the price of a single one (so they say...).

There will not happen very much today and we sit at the balcony and watch the mountains disappear behind the clouds. At last we install the Ohropax and then hear the own breathing much louder than before. And in the midst of the night one usually has to look for the ear-plugs all over the beds.


No sunshine today but the fog from yesterday. We walk to the harbour and have a look to the Red Tower, the landmark of the town. Left of this tower there is an entrance to the historical part of the town. The houses are picturesque and vividly settled if there are any inhabitants. Some houses are in decay and up above there are only the fundaments of the former buildings.

During the way back the sun comes up and we hurry to reach the pool to induct our bath-towels. The floor around the pool is an artificial plastic grass and soaked wet after the rain. We spend the afternoon with clouds and sun and think to get the first tan.

The evening and the night are noisy again and we do not know how to stand this for nearly another two weeks.

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