Politics aside, Turkey is a beautiful country
We have booked our vacation in Spring 2017, way before Germans were randomly sent back at Turkish airports or worse. In our case there weren’t even any police officer or military present at the airport. Having said that, I’d like to jump right to the core reason of this blogpost.
To be honest, I hardly can remember the last time I’ve booked a vacation package. Usually – as this blog is concrete proof – I pack a bag and off I go. But € 378 for 1 week all inclusive? We simply couldn’t resist. I don’t know what the word „ultra“ means, but we literally paid nothing for anything. Train to airport, air, accommodation, food, drinks, shuttle to the beach – everything was paid for. The 5* Hotel (tourist class 5 stars) is excellent and the variety of food at the buffet is outstanding (see here for more details). The goal of the vacation is to relax and read books. Well, we’ve achieved that goal with 2 each. The beach in Belek is quite nice, whereas the sand is not as powderish as on some other beaches. In comes with the territory, that every Hotel claims its section on the beach and sunbeds are aligned in an orderly fashion. Thinking positive, you do not need a beach towel.
Apparently a daily routine of Breakfast-Pool-Lunch-Beach-Dinner won’t last long. That’s what excursions are for. The Hotel and several tour agencies provide a big variety of different tours and it is worth to watch the price tag. On our first day a Spa treatment seems logical, since the skin appreciates to be cleaned before it gets tanned. 1/2 day to the city of Antalya is combined with 2 stops at shopping occasions. The 1st stop is at a fake clothing store and the quality is fake, no matter how much it is praised by the tour guide. Eventually he isn’t really hiding the fact, that is obtains a commissions of everything his bus is buying at the shop. Our 2nd stop at a leather store doesn’t make any sense to me. Those jackets run between 200-500€. Who in his right mind spends so much money within 30 minutes? Well, obviously some do.
Antalya itself has 1.5 million citizens. It’s basically as big as Munich. In 2015 the unemployment rate was at moderate 3%, with most of the people working in the tourism business. The region was hit hard in 2016 by the Russian travel ban and less Germans booking trips. This resulted in an increase of unemployment to 30%. As I stated in the title, politics aside, imagine within a year 30% of Munich’s citizens would loose their jobs. I wouldn’t wanna live there! It got better this year, mainly thanks to Russia lifting its ban.
The city is very modern and very very young compared to our german age pattern. If I get that right, over 40% of the people in Turkey are younger than 25. Think about that for a minute. That’s a gigantic workforce, hungry for new innovations and ideas. In comparison only 16.2% are under 20 in Germany. The harbor and the old city of Antalya is worth a visit, but I’m honest, I don’t get the „pirates of the Caribbean“ themes everywhere. First of all, Turkey is far away of being located in the Caribbean, and secondly it isn’t famous for its pirate heritage. Actually, that’s how you can make money of tourists.
Taurus Mountains, Perga & Aspendos
This trip was really really good. Who would have thought, Turkey has deep canyons, a wonderful backcountry and some greek/ roman heritage. Perga or Perge was an ancient Anatolian city in modern Turkey, once the capital of Pamphylia Secunda. The roman theatre in Aspendos is located about 40 km east of the modern city of Antalya, Turkey. It was situated on the Eurymedon River about 16 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea; it shared a border with, and was hostile to, Side. German folks might know the amphitheater from the famous show „Wetten, dass“ (Video).
Further inland are the Taurus Mountain ridge. Those mountains and the local climate of the region make it once of the fruitful areas in Turkey, where farmer get to harvest up to three times per year. You can book a rafting tour or just tour bridges and canyons there. Unfortunately a bus tour limits your free spirit. I assume, it would have been perfect to drive in your own car.
Turkey is so much more than tourist hotels. The people we met were all very polite and all shops accepted Euros. That was weird, more than often the price in the local currency were pricier than in Euro. It made life easier, but on the other hand it also shows the high dependency on the tourism.
But after 1 week in an ultra all inclusive tourist hotel we can go on record saying, that this kind of vacation doesn’t work with us. Basically it boils down to the fact of the buffet in the hotel. The attitude of our fellow vacationer was close to be disgusting. The amount of food on those plates was reckless and wasteful. It was very obvious, people suffered from some „fear of missing out“ while walking down the aisles of food. As if the hotel would ever run anything empty. Even if they would, who cares, there is always a tomorrow right? It is reckless to poorer people, that many times half of the plates were thrown away, it is also unhealthy to eat such amounts of food. Bottom line, it was hard to enjoy all these fantastic dishes, while the vast majority of customers behaved like pigs at the feeding trough.