"" Writer's Wanderings: Alanya, Turkey

Monday, October 09, 2023

Alanya, Turkey

The morning greeted us with wonderful sunshine and a beautiful coastline to look out on. It was a welcome sight especially knowing that we would have been in Ashdod, Israel, today and hearing on the news that there were rockets fired at the city. 

Alanya is a resort town and that was quite evident as we walked along the shoreline from the ship and into town. Vendors were just beginning to uncover their wares and store doors were soon opened. The ship's cruise/travel director had given us a glimpse of the town the night before with all the information she could collect. The excursion department had scrambled to find several tour companies that could handle us. I had the feeling that this was a new port for Holland America. It certainly was for us and we looked forward to exploring.

We passed on the excursions. A couple were for some archeological finds in neighboring towns and one was for a panoramic of Alanya. Armed with the major sights to see of the city and hooked into the AT&T network, we used Google maps to know that we could indeed visit the castle and the shipyards and the red tower which were close by.

The only problem with the castle was it sat way up on a hill above the city. The good news was that there was a cable car we could take up to it. The cable car was about a half hour walk and the incline was gradual. We arrived and just missed the crowds from the bus tours. 

The cable car wasn't expensive. It cost us $20 USD for a roundtrip for the two of us. It was reminiscent of a Disney ride though as you had to quickly load eight people into the car as it circled the loading zone. We barely made it in before the door shut and we were on our way. 

The trip up was scenic and gave us a good view of Cleopatra's beach, the largest beach in the area. Legend has it that Marcus Antonius gave Cleopatra Alanya as a wedding gift and she enjoyed bathing and swimming on the beach.

Carefully and quickly we exited the cable car and went around the corner as the sign indicated to the castle. I stopped and looked up. No one had said there would be a hundred steps or so to get to the castle after the cable car ride. I took a deep breath. At least we'd had some time to sit a bit after what we'd walked already and it was early in the day. Knees don't fail me now, I thought.

We took it slowly and stopped for picture taking along the way. There were several landings especially for that and one marked "selfie station". Finally reaching the entrance, I found a bench empty and sat a few minutes and felt better as I watched some who were younger than me reaching the top out of breath as well.

The castle offered great views of the area which is probably why the Sultan Keykubat built his palace there. The fortress and castle have been there through several eras but it was the sultan during the Seljuk Empire who is credited with the castle build. I was unfamiliar with the Seljuk Empire so I looked it up. It dates back to the early 11th century and was culturally Turco-Persian, founded and ruled by the Qiniq branch of Oghuz Turks. So, okay, history is not my best subject. I still don't know for sure who they were exactly.

Cleopatra's beach

We wandered on the marked path through it. The path led us out of the main part of the castle and into a mini bazaar that also included some fruit bars and small restaurants. There was a mosque that was open to visitors as well and Bob went in while I sat and rested a bit in the shade. He reported that there really wasn't much to see inside.

We actually had the choice to continue down the path toward the shipyard or turn around and go back with the cable car. Since we had purchased round trips and the walk to the shipyard was actually shorter from the cable car station, we turned around and went back through the castle and down all those steps.

A half hour later we were nearing the shipyards and I really needed a stop. The sun was very warm and there was little breeze. We found a restaurant that appeared open and looked out at the harbor. We sat down and ordered two Turkish teas and a cheese and mushroom toast to go with it. What we received was absolutely wonderful. It was a triple decker, lightly flavored with a mild cheese and mushrooms and accompanied by a small salad and wire basket of fries. A little bit of gastronomic heaven.

A little rested, we continued on. And yes, we found more steps although not as many. The shipyard was very interesting. It dates back to the 3rd century BC but what we see today is from 1226. We walked along a fortification wall and past a catapult and a battering ram. I'm not sure the battering ram was authentic to the period though.

A ticket booth with two men enjoying their lunch was where we stopped to pay the $5 USD fee for the two of us and we continued into the actual arched shipyard. It was worth the steps and the fee. Water lapped into the underground area. There were lots of numbers on the exhibits that were there but we did not get a guide to what each thing was. We figured out some and found an explanation for a couple.

The truly interesting one was the first exhibit we came to. It took Bob walking into the exhibit to be able to read the English explanation. It was a display of ancient ship building and the contraption that was there was actually a crane. Someone would get into the wheel and walk it around to raise or lower the crane. Human hamsters!

The bare bones of a hull were there as well as a nice little skiff that didn't look like it was all that old. Or maybe it was just very well restored. 

The Red Tower is also a part of the shipyards and again said to be built by the sultan. All I could find on it was that if you took the 850 stairs to the top, there was a great view. We'd had enough of the great views and especially stairs.

We retraced our steps to exit and then decided we'd had enough exploring for the day and headed back through the gate to the pier. Something that they had done at this port that was unusual was giving each passenger a "landing" card to fill out, sort of like you get sometimes on an airline before landing in a foreign country. We weren't exactly sure of why but we dropped them in a box before boarding the ship for the last time for the day. I think it was more a way to know who was visiting and from where possibly for marketing as much as immigration.

Back on board, Bob decided to use his spa gift card that we'd each received when we had to leave Israel. He got a great haircut with it. 

Rested, showered and dressed for dinner, we reflected on what a great port city Alanya had been and after catching up on the news, grateful that we were out of the war zone.

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