Saturday, September 26, 2015

Kaleiçi – The Old City

September 20-22th, 2015

Other Fulbrighters visit us in Antalya.
Because of the Kurban Bayram week-long vacation, Fulbrighters are traveling to all corners of Turkey and hitting as many cities as they possibly can before schools open. Given that Antalya is a hub spot for tourists, Alex and I drew a few visitors this past week. Having guests encouraged us to explore our own city and was a great excuse to start becoming accustomed to the complicated bus system.
A total view of Kaleiçi.
This post is dedicated to a beautiful part of Antalya known as “Kaleiçi” (c is pronounced as “ch”). Kaleiçi is the “Old City” with narrow streets leading to a grand harbor, smell of kebabs and fresh seafood following you everywhere you go, and shopkeepers using their scripted English to lure you in.

Here is a description of Kaleiçi from one of my brochures that describes the Old City better than I can:
“Kaleiçi (Citadel), the old city center of Antalya, combines the aesthetics of old and new, its charms surrounded inside and out by fortified walls. These walls, some of which have survived to this day, were built by the various civilizations that inhabited the city over a 2000-year period and there are 80 towers rising on them. Within the walls, the narrow streets that lead to the port, perfectly reflect the atmosphere of old Antalya. The ancient port of Kaleiçi is now used as a modern yacht harbor. The yacht harbor and old city together make a splendid view which has inspired numerous painters, writers, and poets.”

I was so happy to find spices at a Kaleiçi shop!
My favorite parts of exploring Kaleiçi were finding spice shops (the Pakistani in me!) and marveling at souvenirs ranging from beautiful scarves to intricate carpets to ceramic magnets to shiny key chains. I love shopping for gifts for friends and family, so the shopkeepers are lucky to have an eager tourist such as myself. I must admit, though, I do appreciate the times when Alex nudges me away from these shops because they can sometimes be a waste of time. We have already experienced shopkeepers trying to make conversation with us as we walk by and cajoling us into wandering into their shops. Alex and I scheduled a boat tour for our friends on Tuesday evening, and although it rained, it was a lot of fun.

I’ll end with just one other noteworthy experience. I call it “The Mysterious South Asian Beauty.” I have been asked the following question countless times at stores, restaurants, buses, and even in the streets: Are you Indian? Saying no would be letting them off the hook too easily; saying yes is just a lie. More often than not, I entertain the conversation and flip a question back to them: Where do you think I am from? This is hilarious but I kid you not, they reply with “India.” I shake my head in disapproval, with a smirk on my face, and ask them to try again. They squint their eyes, raise an eyebrow, and scratch their heads as if they have stumbled upon something so extraordinary that their eyes cannot believe it. I stare back at them, smiling and puzzled, thinking to myself: they are smart enough to know what an Indian woman looks like, but they cannot guess another country in all of South Asia? Unbelievable. When I finally put them out of their agony and reveal the mystery by saying “Pakistani,” a huge smile emerges on their faces, with what I think is both approval and awe. Çok güzel, they say, çok güzel. Very beautiful.

I have not seen any public butchering of goats yet, but if I do, I’ll be sure to provide the juicy details. Just kidding, I won’t be writing about any of that. I once witnessed a butchering of a goat as a child, and it was not a pleasant experience to say the least. I was unable to eat meat for a month or so. On that note, preemptive Eid Mubarak to those observing!

Historical Yivli Minaret and Clock Tower in the background.
At the famous Umbrella Street.

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