As I write this I must first point out that I am a little bias when it comes to Alanya, having lived there for more than 13 years.
With the current political climate and negative media coverage, I thought it only fair to let you all know exactly how it really is. With no media exaggerating, no political agenda, just the plain honest facts about a beautiful town in the southern tip of Turkey, that depends for the most time on the tourism industry.
I am a mother and grand mother first and foremost and İ would never knowingly put anyone of my family or the lives of others for that matter in jeopardy, by travelling to a dangerous destination.
I arrived in Antalya airport on 28th February this year to clear blue skies, sunshine and the smiling faces of the transfer staff, all eager to help with bags and baggage. Then a quick bus transfer to be in Alanya in under 2 hours.
Some airlines fly to Gazipaşa(http://www.gzpairport.com) which is 40 minutes from Alanya and new routes are being added for 2017 so ask your travel agent or go online for details of your local airlines.
İ have been away for almost a year , so İ was eager to see what had changed and what new and improved things were in store for me. İ especially love Alanya at this time, it’s not too hot or too cold and the town is starting to come alive after the Winter hiatus and preparations for the Summer season begin. Alanya doesn’t completely shut down, some of the better hotels offer ” long term” accommodation for seniors who would prefer to spend the Winter in a milder climate rather than face the harsh weather in their own countries. Check out Sunpark Hotels for their Summer/Winter brochure(sunparkhotels.com). The health benefits, low-cost of living and mild weather are the initial things that draw people here from October to March year on year, but they are soon drawn in completely by the warmth and friendliness of the people and the culture and history of the town.
So, back to my trip. After a good nights sleep in my friend’s apartment , I decided to have a good look around and see what was what. The beach front was looking great. With tons and tons of flowers being planted along the promenade and streets , the diggers were on the beach starting the annual cleaning and sifting the sand. Beach hut cafe owners are also starting to prepare for the hot summer ahead. Shops are reopening, or being renovated for the start of the season, with fresh paint, new fronts, restocking and generally getting things ready.
Alanya’s local council, Alanya Belediye(belediye.alanya.bel.tr) are busy too. Lots of planting in all the public areas, palm trees being cut back and repairs to streets and roads where necessary. With the addition of new roads, street lights and trash bins all being attended to before the tourists arrive. Alanya is fast becoming a strongly innovative and environmentally aware town, thanks to the modern open-minded Lord Mayor of Alanya, Adem Murat Yucel and his council members. In 2016 they introduced used bottle stations on all major thoroughfares, which automatically dispenses food for the local stray dogs in exchange for your empty plastic bottles. There is also shelters for stray cats on various corners of the public park.
Alanya plays host throughout the year to the annual Jazz Festival, the annual Triathlon and the many live concerts in the Acık Hava Tıyatrosu (Open air Theatre) Alanya. Not to mention the comedy shows, and live theatre plays in the Culture Centre. (details below).
The Expo Centre in Antalya opened in 2016 and is host to all major exhibitions, conferences and international shows, and is only a car/bus journey away.
And all the while when so much is going on and everyone is working so hard in this wonderful town, with only the thoughts of the coming season on their minds, it’s hard to believe the world media is telling us NOT to come. To be afraid to travel to Turkey and miss out on the wonderful experience of visiting Alanya. It’s so sad that we choose to believe some false things from the media but take their word as gospel for others, this being one.
On my second day, I was invited by an old friend and owner of Bistro Oba Restaurant to come and have dinner with him. Umit Celik is one of Alanya’s young entrepreneurs. Starting in the hospitality business as a waiter, he has worked his way up the career ladder with hard work, diligence and a dream he will never let go of. We were in for a special treat at Bistro Oba with Chef Huseyin at the helm, and Chef Fahri his right hand man. Our starters were a traditional mezes plate and toasted dipping bread. Huseyin didn’t disappoint us with fillet steaks grilled perfectly with a delicious sauce ( his own secret recipe) that he refused to share 🙂 The dessert was the equally decadent chocolate souffle with vanilla ice cream and just because I’m Irish, a whiskey and Cognac coffee to end an evening of good food , and good company. Definitely a restaurant to put on your list of places to go in Alanya. Open all year round you will not be disappointed. www.bistroobarestaurant.com
My third day was a pamper day with a visit to the hairdresser. Mikail is another thirty something self-made entrepreneur with 2 hair salons and a tattoo parlour. Mikail Hair is on the main street in Alanya and he and his staff are known for their expertise in extensions, colour technics and precision cutting. I put my faith in his hands and asked for a completely new style, cut and colour. The good thing about Mikail , if he genuinely thinks a style or colour you ask for won’t suit, he will give his honest opinion and suggest an alternative. Of course he and his staff are happy to do whatever you wish. While I was waiting for the colour to set I had a manicure and Shellac nail polish and my eyebrows were shaped and coloured. The staff is super friendly and willing to do what they can to help you. During the whole time there the staff are under the watchful eye of Mikail who guides and trains them in all aspects of their craft. In high season it is difficult for Mikail to be available for personal cutting without an appointment. However, in the low season he is more readily available but always by appointment and of course as you would expect the fee is a little higher, but well worth the experience. A few hours later I left the salon a very happy and different looking customer. If you are thinking of getting your hair done before your holidays …….WAIT, check in with Mikail you won’t believe the difference he and his team will make.www.facebook.com/mikailhairdresser
Ok, so by now you all know I love food so it’s no surprise that I have to give a shout out to one of , if not the best restaurant in Alanya. It is of course Green Beach restaurant. I couldn’t wait to visit and sample the menu for the new season.
Located on the beach front(hence its name), it has seating both inside and outside, a children’s playground and parking facilities. Tahsin Turan, the executive chef for the last 7 years, heads up the team of culinary experts for both the restaurant and The Grand Okan Hotel kitchens. Serving up a fantastic selection of Turkish and international A la carte dishes in Green Beach, and a full buffet service in the hotel. Not an easy task for the best of chefs but Tahsin manages to do this on a daily basis the whole year round.
The staff at Green Beach have a wide knowledge of the menu, complimenting wines and barista coffee and are ready to recommend dishes and drinks should you need help. Green Beach is open all year round and though the service never changes , the menu does and also the entertainment. During the high season you can enjoy al fresco dining from early morning breakfast to evening dinner. With live music and dancing every night, Sunday Brunch with lots of traditional Turkish food, or dessert from their ice cream parlour. Afternoon coffee – served by the barista, a soft sea breeze and a view of Alanya Castle is the only way to unwind before heading off to change for dinner. It is better if you reserve your table to avoid disappointment.
In the off peak season, the standards, quality and ambience never waver. Live music is changed for easy listening music, so guests can enjoy cosy chats and sit inside as the evenings get chilly. My friends and I had shared starters of stuffed mushrooms and deep-fried calamari. A personal favourite of mine is Chef Tuhsin’s signature dish, the Akdeniz Kebab, an Anatolian beef dish with lots of seasonal vegetables and served on an earthenware salver with a lid to keep it hot. It was my first time to try this dish, but it certainly won’t be the last and I highly recommend it. My other dinner guests had the steak with pepper sauce, thick potato chips and veg. The portions are generous and we had to say no to the desert menu .A couple of gin and tonics to finish the evening. Perfect.!!! http://www.greenbeachclub.com
Tomorrow the second part of my trip, with places to visit, things to do, the hotel I chose to stay in and lots, lots more.