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An Exciting Afternoon of Haggling in the Old Town of Antalya

Scenes of the old town in Antalya
Scenes of the old town in Antalya

‘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.

drinks in the old town of Antalya
Drinks in the old town of Antalya

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.

tea tasting in the old town of Antalya
Tea tasting in the old town of Antalya

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.

Marina in the old town of Antalya
Marina in the old town of Antalya
Kaleici old town
Kaleici old town
Hadrians Gate Old town Antalya
Hadrians Gate Old town Antalya

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.

What you need to know

  1. Buses in Antalya are a challenge but cheap. Cards appear to come charged with multiple journeys although we never figured out exactly how many. I think it was around 2 TL per person per journey which works out considerably less than taxis into town. To avoid getting lost, be sure to download our FREE infographic.
  2. For Antalya hotels, you can use the hotels.com search engine. For every ten bookings you make, you will receive one free night. Furthermore, if you refer from the Top Cashback or AVIOS sites you will earn either cashback or air miles.
  3. To figure out your best option for getting to Antalya, use a site such as Skyscanner which allows you to search all airlines including budget flights.

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The old town of Antalya
The old town of Antalya

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of TravelTheGlobe4Less. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 80 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money saving travel tips

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18 comments

  1. I think bartering can be a lot of fun, but some people can get a bit frustrated with it. Like anything else, it just takes practice. I learned about it early on when I’d go visit family in Guatemala over the summer when I was a kid. What’s funny is when the opposite happens. My grandmother came to the states once and was trying to barter at a department store, where the price is most definitely a fixed price. When the confused woman behind the counter repeated the price, my grandmother thought she was just trying to play hardball and tried adjusting her offer. I had to quickly step in and pull my grandmother from the counter!

  2. Megan Jerrard

    Haha it’s amusing that the merchants attempt to seduce you in an attempt to seduce you into their restaurants and shops lol!! I can imagne that’s an amusing family story which will be told around the dinner table for years to come! Antalya looks like a beautiful town, definitely an education for the kids in experiencing haggling culture… and what they’re worth in camels 😀

  3. My husband loves Turkey and Antalya, I’ll have to get him to take me now. That should do away with any potential marriage proposals, haha! Turkish tea is such a great social tradition, looks like you enjoyed yourselves!

  4. The inital story made me giggle, as I’d received comments like that in Jamaica as they tried to convince me to smoke, get my hair done, or buy handmade jewelry haha. The teas you tried sound delicious (minus the hideous concoction of course), as I’m normally a coffee drinker rather than a tea drinker.

  5. I’ve never been here, but it sounds like a unique experience. It sounds like you had a fun time utterly embarrassing the kiddos, but totally worth it because that’s a story you’ll be tell for years to come! The market looks like a great place for a haggle indeed!

  6. I love playing the haggling game when I’m in countries but also it’s amazing at the lengths locals will go to, just to get you to their venue, you have to admire their imagination 😀 – The marriage proposal was done to a girl I traveled with in central America but I think that guy was actually being serious haha – I have yet to visit Antalya but looks like a fun and incredible place to visit 😀

  7. What an adventure — now you can check off the bucket list option of receiving a marriage proposal in a foreign country! But I have also seen equally determined employees vying for the attention of passers-by …for seating at a restaurant, or purchasing wares, or going on a tour!

  8. The marriage proposal story is so funny. That made me laugh…I can only imagine. Nonetheless, the market looks amazing…filled with so many local delicacies. Great experience for your kids to go through the haggling process…not everything is at it seems. Have not made it to Antalya yet and when I do, I’ll stay away from the marriage proposals 🙂

  9. What a gorgeous town, Anne. I love haggling for the best price. It can be such fun if you’re prepared for it and you know it’s what is expected. I can only imagine how many marriage proposals have been offered! So funny! When I make it to Turkey, I’d love to visit Antalya. Wonder how many would be suitors there will be…hmmm?!

  10. I love Turkey – it’s got so much charm and colour hasn’t it? I haven’t been to antalya though – but I doubt I’d get the marriage proposal!

  11. Loved Antalya. Very nice town

  12. In case anyone else is as less-traveled as I, I Googled it and my semi-educated guess was correct: Antalya is in Turkey. (Didn’t see any reference to the location of the city in the story.) Looks like yet another place I wish I could visit. Thanks. (Seriously, I always enjoy even the vicarious visit of these amazing places. Thanks!)

    • Chris that is a fine point and I will make a quick amend to state that. We sometimes mistakenly assume as travel bloggers that everyone knows where everything is lol!

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