(written by Dave)
Today we covered what we’ve been lead to believe is the last of the package-tour capitol of Turkey (perhaps the world). I didn’t get many photos because there is just nothing photogenic about a massive hotel that is designed to enable various northern European countrymen visit Turkey without spending a minute in real Turkey and in fact not even having to leave the hotel. We heard about the hotels yesterday but they were off the main highway mostly so we didn’t get a good look at them. Today, they were on both sides of the road in all their glory. By design a number of them resemble giant multi-wing cruise ships. I don’t really get the point of this sort of holiday but to each his own, I guess.
It threatened rain all day but we had a tailwind so we made pretty good progress. No stopping for photos does seem to aid our progress (as Nancy pointed out once or twice on this trip already). We made one stop at a servo for a comfort break (photo included here because it is a big part of our lives. – not every photo opportunity we get comes at a stunning vista).
We arrived in Alanya, our planned stop, at 11AM, which has to be a record for this part of the trip. We had a couple of hotels picked out here so we stopped for lunch/tea at café across the street from our first one on our list, the Miray Hotel. It was Nancy’s turn to inspect rooms so she visited a couple nearby. The Miray worked out to be the best value, it was clean and we could get a room with a view out to the sea. Best of all, in keeping with the “all inclusive theme” of this part of the coast, the price included breakfast tomorrow and dinner tonight (what they call half-board here). The other hotels Nancy looked at were also priced with half-board so it seems to be the practice here. I’ve been wanting to try out one of these places and specifically what they have on offer for dinner. Nancy is more skeptical than I am so we’ll see how it goes. There are hundreds of places to eat outside our hotel so if it looks really dodgy, we’ll make a run for one of them.
Alanya is another town with a long history. They have found caves that date first inhabitation as far back as 20,000 years ago. It has been successively ruled by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Mongols and Crusaders. At various times in between it was also a haven for pirates – which explain all the tourist boats at the harbor and their pirate themes. There is large castle and very impressive multi-kilometer castle wall still remaining but we ran out of time to visit it. Instead we headed for the harbor area and visited the kizikule, a five-story octagonal defence tower. It was built in 1226 and is in very good condition. You are allowed to walk up into the tower, up some very steep stairs, and up to the top where you get some great views of the harbor and of the walls running up to the castle.
It got very stormy this afternoon, with the winds whipping around and large dark clouds coming down over the city. Though it looked like it was really going to start bucketing down, it actually only sprinkled just a bit, but the storm made for some great weather watching from the top of the tower. It was nice and calm inside the tower but once we made it out of the tower it made for a bit of a chilly walk back to the hotel. That meant, of course, that we had to stop along the way back for a tea (and a couple of cookies) to warm us up.
Okay, back now after our dinner. It actually wasn’t too bad – lots of different kinds of salads, a nice lentil soup and a main dish of some kind of stew, rice and chickpeas. The only disappointment was the desserts, which were not so good – well, actually pretty much inedible, except for the strawberries. Oh well, can’t have everything. Good thing we bought a few extra cookies at the pastry shop this afternoon!
Assuming we don’t wake up to rain tomorrow morning, we have two possible destinations. The next place we are aware that there are hotels or pensions (assuming we do ride out of package-tour land) is a little town called Gazipasa, about 45k from here. After Gazipasa we are not sure if there will be places to stay until we reach Anamur, which is about 120k from here so is probably too far for one day (unless we have flat roads and a nice tailwind). So we’ll see how we feel when we reach Gazipasa and decide whether to keep on riding. The weather remains unsettled so that may determine where we finally end up.