The sun was baking the window when we woke this morning reminding us that summer is not far away. As it’s Anzac Day I was thinking how 101 years ago the troops landed at Gallipoli up the coast. I’ve seen how inhospitable some of the coastline is and thinking how cold it was during the night but how hot it suddenly became once the sun was up. Those who made it ashore clambering up those rocky hills must have been really thirsty lying out in the sun with all that equipment on. Meanwhile I can jut go to the fridge and grab a bottle of water and turn up the air con. I’m glad that 101 years later that the Turks I see extend their hands in friendship and welcome.
After a shower we started packing our bags in preparation for our trip from Antalya to Koru Beach.
We headed down to breakfast and we had our last smorgasbord. It’s a great layout of breads, cereals, and salads. As usual after a bowl of cereal I got a plate of tomatoes, cheese, cucumber, watercress, black olives, omelette, veal salami and washed it don with a few cups of coffee. This Mediterranean diet is quite interesting. Jeff and Penny joined us and we had our last goodbyes. It’s been a fun few days with them. After saying our goodbyes we packed the bike and soon were on our way.
As we headed from Antalya to Koru Beach the road took us past the Expo 2016 site. Looking at it from the road we must’ve almost covered the whole site yesterday. No wonder our feet were sore today.
Ancient City of Side
Our first stop on the road east is the Ancient city of Side, situated on a peninsula 78 km’s east of Antalya.
Side dates from 10th century BC and was founded by Greek settlers from western Anatolia. Judging by the ruins they prospered very well and Side became a major trading point and they even minted their own coins. The new settlers adopted the local language and were known as a piratical bunch.
The city was conquered by Alexander the Great in 333 BC and experienced boom times as it later became a slave trading port. The Romans conquered Side around 67 BC and it became part of the Byzantine Empire. By the 12th century it was abandoned after being sacked and the population moved to nearby Antalya.
Riding into Side we were instantly struck by its grandeur. Columns lined the edge of the long boulevard with the ruins of houses, buildings, temples and theatre stretching beyond. We passed through a gate to find a park near the theatre and using our Mediterranean Museum Card went inside.
The theatre is quite different from the others we’ve seen along the coast. As there is no hill to use as support this one uses a series of arches. It’s a massive theatre which seated about 15-20 thousand people. The elaborately carved walls at the front of the stage, although a bit collapsed, give an idea how beautiful the theatre would’ve been.
Nearby the theatre, ruins of temples give the impression how rich the city was in its day.
Along the peninsula from the theatre a thriving tourist area stretches and a little thirsty from wandering around the ruins we took a wander down the main street. All sorts of vendors sell their wares with lots of T-shirts and souvenir shops, jewellery, leather goods, special craft work, and elaborate Turkish lamps. There’s also hamam’s tucked away in side streets, tourist agencies, hotels, restaurants and cafe’s.
We took a break overlooking the harbour where a few tour boats bobbed slowly at anchor.
In the countryside surrounding Side there were not many hothouses like further west. As it’s situated on a large coastal plane instead there was lots of wheat fields of golden brown.
As we passed further east along the coast we were shocked as we realised how many big resorts there are. Town after town with massive resort hotels overlooking the beach and not much else.
Arriving in Alanya we headed towards the castle which overlooks the city stopping off for a meal along the way at one of the many tourist restaurants which line the foreshore. The ride up to Kasel Alanya wasn’t as dangerous as we’d been led to believe except for the single lane gateways and paved road. The castle overlooks the harbour below and was built by the Ottomans in the 13th century. It has great views along the coast and the azure blue waters that surround it have to be seen to be believed.
Far below the Red Tower (Kazil Kule) ,which was also built in the 13th century overlooks the harbour. Built to protect the shipyard, these days it’s home to the Alanya Ethnography Museum.
We headed east along the coast past more resorts until the road swung back inland around Kesifli and the countryside more rural. Around here we started seeing banana plantations. They were growing on terraced hills, on the flats and even on the low cliffs right up to the Mediterranean Sea. It was the last thing we’d expected to see in Turkey. There were also a lot of concertina greenhouses growing strawberries.
As we passed through Gazipasa we missed our turnoff completely and headed into the hills heading out of town, before realising our mistake. Our garmin has been problematic lately as it has problems finding addresses. We’re unsure whether it hasn’t had a Turkey update or if it considers it part of Asia, but it really is annoying. We now are using the satnav to get us close and then screen shots of google maps as a reference. Retracing our route we found the turnoff and headed down a dusty bumpy road. The road led through fields of wheat, bananas, and hundreds of hothouses growing (Kazil Kule) tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and peppers with the occasional modest dwelling.
On the hills overlooking the coast were lots of new holiday units, villas and apartments. At the end of the road just before the beach we spotted our accommodation, Koru Beach. A two storey home restaurant overlooked a long line of bungalows amongst an avenue of trees. After checking in to our bungalow we went for a walk along the beach. One large bar was tucked away at the end of the beach and a tiny bar in the centre. It wasn’t your standard beach but a series of flat rocks formed by the compression of sand and pebbles millions of years ago. The crashing waves had formed large pools amongst the rocks and my original plan of swimming in the pools went out the window when we saw a group of fishermen all fishing in them.
It was a beautiful place and so peaceful, with just the sounds of the crashing waves so we grabbed a drink and sat in the garden at the small bar to take in the view.
After the sun had set we headed back to the accommodation where a large crowd of people were celebrating a birthday at the restaurant so we decided to grab a meal. It was a nice atmosphere at the bungalow restaurant a bit like being in a caravan park.
Tomorrow we head to Mersin along some more of this beautiful coastline.