ANTALYIA, TURKEY

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This morning, I awoke long before the alarm was due to go off (which is generally set at 8am on port days, or 7:30am on class days), and I’m glad I did because out of the window was the most amazing sunrise I’ve seen for a long while. That’s not to say that there haven’t been any amazing sunrises in that time… I just haven’t been up early enough to see them.

Needless to say, this one was an absolute corker, and I couldn’t resist quietly slipping out onto the balcony into the early morning sea air, to take a couple of photos of it, and shoot some video of the moment.

When I awoke the next time (of course I went back to bed…), we were in port, and the view that greeted us when we went out onto the balcony was quite different, but no less spectacular… there were mountains. I love mlountains, me.

We were docked in the port of Antalyia, in Turkey, and the mountains that provided the backdrop to the view were quite splendid indeed.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then spent most of the morning working in the cabin. We were booked on a tour this afternoon, with a shoreside meeting time of 12:15pm. This meant we were going to miss lunch, but it also meant that there wasn’t really any extra time to do much of anything else (such as hopping on the shuttle bus). Best to just chill, then.

At the appointed time, we were on the quayside being guided onto our coach, hoping that the tour was going to be a little more favourable than the one we went on in Athens. We chose it because it had ‘waterfalls’ in the title, so I was looking forward to some raging white water…

The excursion was titled ‘Perge and Kursunlu Waterfalls’, so imagine our surprise when our coach took us to a large archaeological site… this was Perge, not a waterfall, but an Ancient Greek city, believed to date back to between 4000 and 3000 BC. While the archaeological site in Paphos had impressed us with its scope, and its mosaics. Perge took all of that and turned it up to a whole other level… at least level 11, I’d say.

I should mention that our guide was absolutely brilliant. Not only was he incredibly knowledgeable about the area, and ancient civilisations in general, but he had a pleasing manner about him and a very listenable voice, and his enthusiasm for the subject was quite palpable. Crucially, I found myself hanging on his every word… such a different experience to our tour in Athens…

We’d set out on the tour expecting waterfalls, and was presented with an incredible, immense ancient city, with walls, arches, a stadium, aqueducts, baths and columns, all of which made visualising how the city might have looked in its heyday very easy indeed. Despite it being unexpected, we were absolutely blown away by it, and could have spent far longer at the site than our tour permitted.

After leaving Perge, our next stop was to see the Kursunlu Waterfalls.

Which turned out to be not at all what we expected.

I’ll be honest; I’m not sure what I did expect, but it wasn’t what we got. The area is clearly designed to cater for large numbers of visitors – mostly families and children; the walk from the car park had lots of play areas and vendors trying to sell us stuff. When we finally arrived at the waterfall (singular), I was a little underwhelmed, to say the least.

Not that it wasn’t an attractive location; there was very much a ‘fantasy grotto’ feel to it, with lots of vibrant-looking vegetation surrounding the pool into which it flowed, and higher up, from where the water emerged. To be fair to it, I expect it probably looks more impressive at different times of year, and after heavy rain. Today, it was barely a trickle. I felt midly duped, and was convinced that there was another waterfall somewhere else in the park that we were missing… sadly, there wasn’t.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the weekend, and the site wasn’t very busy (so too with Perge), although I can imagine just how busy it must become. A bride and groom were having photos taken by a professional photographer, which was nice to see, but also sort of slightly annoying because they were hogging the pathway adjacent to the waterfall, and we all had to wait for him to finish giving artistic direction to his subjects, before we could pass. And he was not going to be rushed.

The tour was not at all what we expected then, and in the waterfall department, I’m afraid to say that it didn’t really live up to its hype, but the visit to Perge more than made up for it. That aspect of the trip had been totally unexpected, but became a highlight in its own right.

When we’d left the port just after lunch, clouds were gathering in the mountains, with flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder. On our way out to Perge, we’d effectively run away from the oncoming storm, and for the whole of the time we were out, we never saw a single drop of rain. When we returned to the port, at just before 4pm, we could see that Antalyia had undergone something of a deluge.

We returned to the cruise terminal and boarded the ship just in time for our daily covid testing, and was on our way by about 5pm, heading towards our next port-of-call, Cannakale (pronounced ‘chan-ack-a-lee’).

Peter Woolley

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