When researching what exactly we could do in Turkey – besides staying on the resort all day, every day – we tried to research excursions to go on. We e-mailed the hotel beforehand, and they said to contact our Travel Company – weird. In Egypt we were able to book our excursions through companies at the resort, so I was confused, and a little disappointed. When we took the shuttle to our resort the first day, we were told that we had to meet someone the next day in case of travel changes – okay…
We meet the guy, and he tells us through him is where we can book excusions. Ahh, makes sense now. He tells us the main family one, and we took it right away! It included transportation to the popular Duden Waterfalls in Antalya, to downtown Antalya for two hours of free time to walk around, and then to the Antalya Aquarium, with transportation back to your resort at the end. I read online and the aquarium was a big tourist attraction – and something my kids would LOVE! It was 42€ per adult for the entire tour, and each kid was supposed to be something like 20. He gave it to us as a “New Year Discount” for 103€. After researching the website, just the aquarium itself would cost the five of us 114.93€ – this was cheaper, plus included a lot more! Completely worth it!
We were picked up at 9:00, headed to another hotel to pick up more people, and off to the waterfalls we go! The drive was nice. As mentioned in another post, driving was very civilized. I was expecting crazy like we had in Egypt, but not at all. I also remember in Egypt feeling nervous the entire time we spent off the resort – I honestly felt completely comfortable here! Vigilant of course (like anywhere), but comfortable. I was enjoying looking outside, and loved getting off the bus at the waterfalls! We had about half an hour to walk around and get photos. Kids loved it! There was a side vendor selling fresh bagels (2 for 1€) which the kids loved snacking on! The waterfalls themselves were beautiful. Seemed like such a random place to have a waterfall in town, but it fit the area. There was a path to walk more, which would have been great to do, but we just didn’t have the time for that.
They they brought us to a jewlery shop – they had 85,000€ earings, and after seeing a million euro necklace, I wanted out. Not to say the stuff wasn’t nice, but it was completely unaffordable… Wasn’t as bad at the silver section, but still not cheap.. I didn’t even want to linger; I just felt uncomfortable being there at all…
Finally onto downtown Antalya. I was excited for walking around! We found our meeting spot for in two hours, and off to explore. Two hours was not a whole lot of time when you first have to figure out where you are going. When we travel we just walk to find whatever we can find. I was looking for only two things – umbrella street, and Hadrian’s Gate. First off, the views from the square. They were beautiful!!
We followed signs for Old Town thinking the two popular attractions would be in old Town – they were not… We did find though this extremely cute little souvenir shop where we bought a bigger Turkish Lamp than we’d gotten in Bosnia, and a hanging one to match it. Price was very cheap compared to if we were to buy them in Germany. I was a little thrown off by the fact that the worker kept offering us drinks. The kids very gladly just accepted them (excitedly might I add before I could even say a word), hubby and I not so sure. I even said ” Oh, no thank you, I am okay”, to which his response was “maa’am, this is from my heart, this is what we, as Turkish people do” – felt a little more comfortable after that. Needless to say, this tea was delicious. I am very glad I tried it. It’s just not the “normal Canadian thing” to accept drinks and snacks (kids got cookies as well…) from people we don’t know. When they say you learn about culture while traveling, this is exactly what it means…
From there, we headed to the gate and the umbrellas! Someone working in a restaurant saw us looking at our phone GPS and asked what we were looking for. We told him the umbrellas, and he told us to follow him – figuring he would tell us where to go. We get to the other side of his restaurant, and he says “This is umbrella avenue” and my heart kind of dropped a little. All the umbrellas were closed 😦 I was quite sad. I was expecting this beautiful colourful road, and instead it really was no differant than all the other streets. Oh well…
We found Hadrian’s Gate next, which was beautiful. It is the only remaining entrance gate for the walls surrounding the city and harbour.
We didn’t have a whole lot of time left at this point, so we started to walk back to our meeting point. Along the way there was this really cool singing statue.
Last, but definitely not least, was one of the best parts of today – the Antalya Aquarium!! Now, before we go on, let me just tell you, no matter how cool this place was, I am very glad I did not pay full price. It was not worth the full cost, but with everything we did today, it did end up being worth it. BUT…. Seeing the looks on my kids faces, WAS worth it! Tyler has this addiction to fish and tanks and especially sharks, so for him, this was just perfect!
We get inside, and there was huge tanks all over, with these amazing colourful fish! Kids just kept running from one to the other, we couldn’t even keep up! They had catfish and eels, and stingrays…etc
Nathan learned a little about pirates at school, so he was excited to take his picture with a pirate!
There was a full-sized old airplane which was very awesome.
I didn’t realize that the aquarium is the Longest Tunnel Aquarium in the world until we got there.
Going through this was quite cool. You have stingrays (big and small) and sharks swimming all around you! I thought I’d start to feel slightly claustrophobic inside but I didn’t at all. The kids couldn’t stay still – running all the way through to find “more sharks!”. Once we got to the end, I felt like after barely fifty minutes in the aquarium itself (remember I said it wasn’t worth the full price – well this is why). You go through quickly, as it’s not huge. I think the aquarium is most popular becuase of being the Biggest Tunnel Aquarium, which I mean, isn’t a terrible thing. So because of that, we walked back through the tunnel towards the start, had a coffee at the coffee shop, and walked back through. I felt by doing this, we got a little more out of it.
From here, we had to head back to the bus, and get back to our hotel. We made it back by suppertime, which was good. I was a little sad to be leaving town though. It was actually an amazing day. I know I shouldn’t keep comparing it to Egypt, but it’s barely even comparable. Egypt, if you remember, had me nervous all the time; looking constantly over my shoulder. Antalya, I felt comfortable walking around. Of course viligance is key, but I never felt scared or worried. I didn’t feel the constant need to keep the kids literally next to me, they were able to keep their own independance by walking in front of us. I left here happy; sad to be leaving because it really was a great time, but so happy for the experience we had!