Our arrival to Antalya was another perfect example of Turkey's perfect transportation system. We arrived at the bus stop in Kas, booked a ticket on the spot, hopped on a bus, left in 5 minutes, dropped at the bus station in Antalya and headed straight to the "Tourist Information" desk, yes there was one! They told us how to get right to our booked hotel by public transport because a taxi would be something like 25 bucks. We were told city bus number 93 or 94, walked to the city bus stop, bus came in 5 minutes, got on empty bus which was amazing with our huge packs and paid super cheap fare, rode the bus for like half hour until our stop when we encountered one small glitch: only the front door opened and we were at the back but no problem, the seemingly gangsters from the back of the bus unsolicited, yelled for the bus driver to open the back door and we got off successfully, once again reinforcing how amazing people are. If you just stand there and fail, people will automatically help, even if there is absolutely nothing in it for them, and even if they may look like criminals. Anyways, then we walked the rest of the way to our booking.com booked hotel, a very helpful site for Turkey. Entire thing costing $1 each. The only other glitch being that at one point there was an epic Turkish screaming battle between the bus driver and two women on the bus...always a little unnerving when there is a brawl in a language you do not understand!
We arrived at the hotel where a super friendly guy who barely spoke English checked us in. The hotel appeared to be a steal at 22 CDN/night with ensuite bathroom, fridge, air conditioning, balcony, wifi, property had a pool, win! Hahahaha. Well, the thing about booking.com and we've encountered this before but this place took the award for most...umm...over represented, is that as long as you have some semblance of the advertised amenity, you list it. If the guesthouse is in your house and even though you sleep from 9 pm to 9 am but someone technically is present though nowhere to be found, you list "24 hour reception". If you will accept foreign currency at an exorbitant exchange rate, you list "ATM onsite" and so forth. This place, it was something special. It had the AC box with weak AC. It had wifi...in the common area...and only allowed one person to sign in and use it...soooo it didn't work at all. It had a computer but it wasn't working (except for solitaire which some questionably present old man was always playing). It had a fridge...but it didn't work. It had a tv...but it had no remote...and then when we found a remote... remote had corroded batteries so it didn't work. It had a pool...with no water in it and looked like it had not had water since 1992. There were no coat hangers in the clothes cupboard, Bridger opened a cupboard and the door fell off and we can't close the bathroom door because the metal piece on the bottom scraped against the floor. But it had brand new light switches! Aside from the wifi, I figured it was cheap so whatever but Bridger, a lover of "cold drinks", was hellbent on getting that fridge and also while he's at it, new batteries for the remote. At Bridger's request, the hotel guy replaced the batteries. It didn't matter, there was not one single English channel. He also said instead of us changing rooms, he'd just swap out the fridge. He disappeared for an awfully long time and came back about 15 minutes later, I kid you not, soaking through his clothes in sweat, carrying what I would imagine based on his physical appearance, the only working fridge in the entire hotel. It was missing the adjustor knob and the door fell off every time you opened it but it worked and Bridger got his "cold drinks" after all.
So through some casual conversation around this time, I realized that Bridger has a new dream these days. Just a small dream. In addition to the Land Rover, the camper, the four wheeler, the big house, more travel, a boat, and the snowmobile, he just wants a sailboat. I laugh! No problem right? Anyways, get on that.
Our hotel was, purposefully, very close to the mall where we would shop for a computer. We went to the computer store in the mall with full intent to buy until we ran into two snags. There is absolutely no computer for sale in Turkey to their knowledge that sells a laptop with an English keyboard and the return policy is pretty well, you don't return it. That would be shitty if we bought it to do the blog and it wouldn't open the blog and now we are stuck with a heavy $500 piece of junk. We were dealing with one guy with limited English so he called over another computer guy who spoke English well but was the weirdest guy in Turkey who set us up with internet to at least check if the blog opened on the demo computers. But not before insisting it absolutely wouldn't work, ridiculing us for doing a blog in the first place and trying to show me how to do the blog on my cell phone, which I know from extensive reading and experience, is not possible which is why we are in computer desperation! So he set us up on the computers and then I went to the website and entered my username/details and then the little shit clicked the "show" button so my password shows up, wtf! Not only that, but on the next computer he tried, he literally proceeds to go to the website and enter my username and password details HIMSELF! He got it wrong like 7 times but kept trying and not once did he step aside and say, like any normal person, "here, enter your details". I stepped in and then this freak of nature stares over my shoulder and comments on what it was in my password that he forgot when he was entering it!!! Totally inappropriate and so f'ing strange. In the end we ended up leaving without a computer. Total failure all around.
As we walked home from the mall that night we saw a few cockroaches wandering the curb. We had almost got away with thinking that Turkey didn't have gross bugs.
We decided pretty quickly that we needed to get in and get out of Antalya. Except with hotel staff that spoke no English and no wifi available, we were hard pressed to find out HOW to get out. So naturally I had a bit of a super meltdown about what our plan was both to move on from this hotel and the city in general, especially because we were literally in the middle of nowhere where tourists don't go, therefore, there was no structure or people to ask to assist tourists. And naturally, Bridger had a melt down that I was "blaming him" even though I wasn't and then we scrapped one more big city.
At one point we had just decided to cut our losses and take a bus out that night. We first asked the lady at our hotel reception if we could use the computer in the lobby. She didn't speak any English either except for "no" which is what she said and then tried to say something in Turkish we didn't understand. And then she got out Google translate and then pressed speak and it said "is computer". Sooo that didn't really help. Eventually we gathered that the computer did not have internet. So we hit the streets again. We found a travel agent around who spoke English amazing but she didn't book bus tickets so she referred us to another store down the street that was a bus ticket booking agent. This lady was so lovely but didn't speak any English, though spoke to us in full Turkish sentences in spite of the total look of confusion on our faces! Ultimately she pulled a computer screen out and showed us some stuff. It was amazing, given no common language that I could even make out anything, but from what I could gather, she said there was a night bus of A company that left at B time and we had to be at point C to catch a service to point D at time E. Buuuut that was what I thought I understood and wasn't totally confident in a) how reputable the bus company was (there are some shitty, especially on night buses) and b) maybe I didn't really understand her at all and we would check out of our hotel and come over at night and find out actually there's no bus and we've paid for something that we don't know what it is and probably missed whatever we paid for at this point anyway but nobody can communicate it to us! So it was risky. We left saying "we'll think about it". We went to several other travel agents who not only could not/would not book us bus tickets but discouraged us from going ourselves and why not just pick a package. Ugh, travel agents, they drive me nuts. Then we stumbled into an internet cafe and went in to see if we could find some reliable info re: transport out to no avail. But we did chat through Google translate with the most lovely Turkish guy working there who was SO welcoming and friendly! Buuuuut that didn't help us get out of Antalya.
Our time in Antalya thus far had pretty well sucked and been full of things that were annoying. The one saving grace was that Bridger found some pore cleaning strips at the pharmacy at the mall but the elation was short lived when he realized that, much like Antalya so far, they also sucked.
At this point I'm having another mental breakdown. I'm frustrated, I'm exhausted of trying to figure stuff out, especially without any internet at all to help, I'm angry at everything, I don't want to talk to anyone and I'm just generally apathetic and resigned. We decided to just check out the next day and somehow move to the touristy Old City part of Antalya called Kaleici where hopefully we could find some people who could help us out of this freaking city. Given my total resignation on life, I threw my hands up and told Bridger to be in charge of how to get us from where we were to the Old City. Of course, the next morning I'm rip roaring pissed at him now because he didn't do anything to figure out how that was going to be done. In his defense, he was equally hands tied without internet or an English speaking anyone, however, he didn't bother to read the guidebook, charge his phone to have it ready, look at a map to find out where Kaleici is or even set his alarm so we could get moving very early as we discussed. So basically I was seething 2 minutes out of bed. Then his plan is to walk with our stuff to the road and catch a bus. Now me, I'd be figuring out which freaking bus, but nope, he just says "Old City?" to the first city bus driver that stops because he didn't even bother to actually learn the actual name for it. Now this is what happens all the time: if you ask a leading question like that, so many people will not understand you, but they wont tell you they don't understand you, they will just say yes. So sure enough, bus driver says yes. We get on the bus and I have no faith that it is actually going to Kaleici and I'm quite certain it is actually going to the bus stop which is what the bus driver would have interpreted what we said when we are carrying our packs. We're riding the bus but Bridger had no idea when to actually get off the bus nor did he bother pulling out his phone to look at the map. He just sat there. Until the bus driver yelled "next stop city centre" basically looking directly at us in the rear view mirror, essentially telling us that we've been near the old city for multiple stops and we still haven't gotten off sooooo get off because we're now leaving the Old City. We get off the bus and Bridger again doesn't bother looking at a map, just starts walking in some random direction asking people all along the way and stopping for a coffee break to buy coffee from some guy who directed us. We stumbled around this way until we eventually found the hostel (luckily I had looked some up earlier so actually had a name to say), hot, sweaty and annoyed..successful but not at all efficient. I will always like my way better. I think Bridger secretly does too (so long as the onus for doing it falls on me because he'd rather not put in the effort) but he was too proud to admit it.
We asked the hostel people where to buy a bus ticket out and they directed us to a place outside the wall which we went to and sure enough, there was no bus ticket office anywhere to be found. We had looked for bus companies online long ago and you can't book online because it either doesn't take foreign credit card and/or, more of a barrier, the entire website is in Turkish. We were really quite certain that Antalya might kill us and we would never make it out. Ever.
Turned out there was an Apple store in Antalya so we headed there to see if we could replace our iPad that had screwed up internet problems all the time. This would be our third Apple store of this trip, the only difference here being we were served steady cups of tea the entire time we were there with the tech! We were still unable to switch iPads because a replacement needs to be the exact model which they didn't have but he did loosely suggested to us that we should avoid using the VPN which ultimately would be the solving of all our problems, so I suppose Antalya wasn't a total wash. After leaving the Apple store, it started pissing down rain so we ducked into a nearby mall. Turns out the mall had exactly the same stores as the other mall we went to and more soooo there was no reason to go to the wasteland area that we were stuck in before. You live you learn. We picked up a delicious Starbucks cookie and a chai latte before heading computer shopping in the mall. While unsuccessfully visiting another computer store, we realized that Ramadan had started and here I was being a shithead drinking my tea in public which is not overly respectful during Ramadan. In case you don't know, Ramadan is the one month where all Muslims fast from first prayer to sunset. They wake up before first prayer to eat their meal, fast all day and then eat again only after sunset. Even though it sounds no fun, it is actually a totally jubilant time of celebration for people.
After walking multiple km in Antalya and still finding no sign of a bus ticketing office, we decided to just bite the financial/time bullet and go directly to the main bus terminal to book a bus ticket out. As it turns out, the tram goes directly from where we were to the bus stop very cheap and once there we booked our ticket no problem in 5 minutes for the following night. Everything was so freaking easy, we wondered why we had spent days on end in this stupid city.
At least once that was done, we could just invest in enjoying ourselves in Antalya. Actually the old city itself was beautiful with it's cobblestone streets and beautifully restored buildings. There was a green space park close to our place so I went wandering there at sunset while Bridger did something else, can't remember. It offered beautiful views as the sun set over the mountains and obviously locals thought so too because the boardwalk was full. Turns out that night in the park was a huge deal because they were having a kick off to Ramadan party with food stalls, carnival rides, night markets and a huge public dining area where I'd say hundreds of people gathered together to eat their evening meal, as is common during Ramadan. The atmosphere was really quite jubilant and exciting! On my way home I saw some delicious looking street food and checked it out and of course, got the sales pitch from the non-English speaking staff but nonetheless I was able to communicate that I would go get money and come back.
We did and they were shocked that I actually followed through. I ordered a chicken wrap and Bridger, for some reason decided he was going to try the minced liver. It actually just looked like ground beef so I think he had just already mentally committed before he found out what it was. No problem when you walk away and eat like we usually do, tossing the food failure in the trash as soon as you're out of sight. Not this time because they were insistent that we sit at their table even though between the owner, chef and policeman that sat with us, there was no English spoken but many a conversation had somehow! I tell you everyone wants to know if we are married and if we have kids. With both answers being no, we are a total anomaly to people. At one point we accepted an offer for tea thinking they would bring it over from their own stall. Nope, the owner ran away to get tea from totally somewhere else. That is this part of the world for you...tea is always flowing and hospitality and treating the guest is number one!
The next day we had scheduled our night bus for like 10 pm or something so we had to check out of our hotel and kill an entire day. I was eating breakfast at the beautiful outside patio by the pool when I saw a little tortoise cruising through the place like a dog, waiting under tables and grabbing scraps of fallen food. At one point I heard a thud and sure enough the the little guy had cruised full speed ahead, but a chair leg on each side of his body, creating too narrow of a space for him, totally blocked his way. These are the little moments every day that are so meaningless but make me laugh! Most of the day we literally spent sitting in the hostel chairs like lazy lumps. The hotel people must have thought we were so lame that here we were on vacation sitting in chairs in the reception area for hours on end. When I got a bit restless, I wandered the streets a bit or just sat on the curb outside the hostel. On one such occasion the carpet selling guy doing the same thing across the street started a whole convo with me, blah blah blah, ongoing until asked if I wanted to come over and sit down and chat with him to which I casually responded that I had to go back and meet my boyfriend. Within seconds, after having a rather large conversation prior, he immediately excused himself because "he had a customer". This happens all the time...the second people hear boyfriend or friend (i.e. someone else), they promptly disappear. I'm not sure what to make of it all whether the convo is a precursor to scam which won't be possible if you have a traveling buddy, if it was an attempted pick up, whether it's culturally totally taboo to even speak to another man's woman or none of the above!
Finally, for the love, we boarded our 10 or 12 some hour, beautiful leather seated with a bus attendant night bus to take us out of Antalya to Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey known for it's otherworldly landscapes. Too bad the AC sucked so I ended up feeling nauseous which spurred a panic attack because there was, as always, no toilet on the bus leading me to pop an anxiety pill as well as a sleeping pill, successfully knocking myself out for the duration of the trip :) Well, until I woke myself up by my enormously loud snore snort anyway.
This is a boring update. Probably because Antalya was very boring for us.