‘Ah beautiful, where you from?’
Flattered, my step-daughter politely replies that she is from England.
‘Ah, that’s funny, I thought you were from heaven’ her suitor continues as her dad and I burst into peels of laughter. Undeterred he continues, intent on inviting her out for an evening of dancing and before you know it, the shortest courtship ever turns into a proposal of marriage and a conversation with her father involving an exchange of camels for his eldest daughter. Meanwhile her brother looks on in utter embarrassment. Seeing his sister chatted up is a vision of his worst nightmare and he desperately wants to escape!
It soon becomes apparent that this an elaborate ploy to entice us into his restaurant. Merchants in Antalya have a whole repertoire of wily tools to seduce you into purchasing their wares, eating in their restaurants or drinking in their bars.
Tea-time in the old town of Antalya in Turkey
Only moments before, we had been accosted by a gentleman claiming to have lived in Yorkshire. Before you knew it, we were indulging in a ritual of tea tasting. Not your usual Yorkshire tea either – these were more akin to powders, which when mixed with water resemble a cold cordial. Mango and kiwi, apple and cinnamon, pomegranate, blackberry and a rather hideous concoction of herbs designed to cure colds. That is, if it doesn’t kill you from the overwhelming smell of vicks as you attempt to swallow it.
The day was turning out to be fun in a rather unexpected way. Hours before, it had started off rather more frustratingly, as we waited at what we thought was a bus stop (but we couldn’t be sure as there was no sign to evidence it. The key to taking a bus in Antalya is to spot a bus, see where it stops and then stand there until the next one comes along. This we did, only to discover that we were on the wrong side of the road. Hurrying to the other side, the KC06 turned up and after some wild gesticulating, we handed over our cash and received a number of paper bus passes in return.
Once settled on the bus, we fervently prayed that we were heading in the right direction amazingly making it to Kaleici, the old town of Antalya (you can download a FREE infographic here to help you navigate the bus system in Antalya if you are heading there soon.)
Arriving in Antalya
Entering the old town between the Mosque and towering red-brick minaret, we descend down shaded cobblestone alleyways towards the marina, with shopkeepers continually calling to us with promises of a ‘good price’. I secretly chuckle to myself, wondering if anyone ever says ‘I give you bad price?’
We barter over purchases of shisha pipes feeling satisfied at negotiating a few lira off the price, only to surpass all expectations in our next shop obtaining a whopping 50% off the price! It’s an education for the kids who are used to set prices, and a challenge to prevent them handing over their cash without undergoing the ritual of elaborate bartering, the looks of horror at our pitiful offers of money, and the capitulations minutes later when I start to herd the kids out of the shop without buying.
We continue through the labyrinthian streets, passing honey coloured, imposing walls, a frustrating sight no doubt for bygone enemies looking to scale the heights and emerge to a marina packed with pirate boats and luxury yachts. Merchants selling mussels and boat trips try to accost us and we are even offered seats on a boat trip for just 3 TL each (less than a pound per person! Business must be slow!). It’s a dramatic place with sheer cliffs rising up to the fancy bars and restaurants perched above. That’s where we head to laugh about Abbey’s unexpected proposal.
To wed or not to wed?
Back to that marriage proposal, we suggested one camel and called it a day! My step-daughter was not in agreement and after posing for a rather embarrassing photo with her suitor scuttled off for a cold beer!
Have you visited Antalya old town?
Maybe you said yes! What were your thoughts and do you have any great tips for eating or drinking? I’d love to hear from you.