We spent two nights in gorgeous Antalya in a little hotel in the Old Town, Kaleici. Our first task was to unload a pillowcase full of excess baggage that we immediately deemed unnecessary for our continued travels.
From a distance, Antalya is a gleaming white city that sprawls from the blue Mediterranean sea up the hills in the East and thinning out into the steep and craggy mountains to the West. The Med is a deep deep blue that gently slides into a rocky coast line, with the city high above on a cliff.
The old town itself is a pretty stone village, with smooth marble streets lined with hotels and restaurants that give just enough of a peek through to their lush courtyards to invite you in for a Turkish tea served in a tiny little curved glass cup. It’s high on a cliff above the sea, and has fantastic views over the Mediterranean, the modern part of the city, and the seriously steep mountains beyond.
It has a long pedestrian boulevard running along the top of the cliff, lined with palm trees, and backed by a nice pine tree covered park.
Between the boulevard and the park is what looks like one long cafe with a single row of tables overlooking the ocean. It’s actually a series of cafes, all with much the same food on offer – tea served in large urns, sandwiches and maybe an odd Turkish variation of a hot dog. Families and friends were out in droves on the warm sunny Sunday we were there.
We had arrived the night before around 11 pm after our day of travel drama. We were greeted warmly at our hotel, promptly dropped our bags, freshened up, and went out for a Turkish dinner. The Old Town was buzzing with well dressed locals out enjoying their Saturday night. We had our choice of a mix of local establishments, night clubs and an abundance of cafes and bars geared toward tourists. The row of road house style bars, blasting out Zac Brown Band from their speakers and advertising hot dogs were clearly there to cater to a certain type of tourist, and judging from their full tables, they were doing pretty well. We even had a fantastic Mexican meal one night prepared by a friendly Senora from Morelia.
But on our first night, we wanted a “real” Turkish dinner, and right away spotted a little cafe in the middle of a busy square that seemed to be filled with more locals than tourists. So we sat down for a kebab and a beer, and had neither!
I had seen signs all around enthusiastically advertising Kokorec, what looked like grilled meat on a pita, and this cafe had a big banner proudly exclaiming that they had whatever this very special delicacy must be.
I’m an adventurous eater, and like to try new things when I go new places. So I ordered the Kokorec. Mark asked if I wanted to look up what it was before I ate it, and I joked that I didn’t want to know, in case it was some sort of Turkish Haggis.
It was delicious, if not a little on the fatty side. Juicy, meaty chunks of roasted lamb filled a fresh pita, with the freshest tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. So good. After I had chowed it down, and we were waiting the hours it takes for Austin to finish one damn hamburger, I looked up what Kokorec is.
It’s Turkish Haggis.
The exact definition is “lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal, including sweetbreads, hearts, lungs or kidneys.” So that explains the fatty bit. So now I can say I’ve tried it. It was tasty. But my brain won’t be letting me order it again!
We were in the mood for a beer after the long day (and actually weeks) that had gotten us here, and not having any available at the cafe (no beers at most cafes, in fact), we wandered into a shop and tried to buy a beer. Apparently it was too late in the evening to sell alcohol, but the old man operating the shop told me to put one in my handbag, and we paid for it and left. I felt like I was 17 trying to buy beer and sneak it out of the store!
Mark and I shared that beer over a fresh plate of grapes on the balcony of our room, overlooking a pretty little courtyard after we put Austin to bed.
Day one. Bliss.
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