Friday, 29 March 2013

Me and Orson Welles

This morning over breakfast Voltar told of his days as a ralley car navigator in Norway.

From there he proceeded to berate the Turkish over their driving, judging it the worst in the world.

"An Italian knows what good driving is, but chooses not to do it. But a Turk? A Turk knows nothing of good driving."
"If a Turk uses his indicator...IF!...IF!...then he uses it AFTER the turn!"

He also told me that each male member of his family (there are no females except his mother, apparently) had married a Stranger. This was a baffling comment and required some investigation. It turns out that in Voltar's world there are only two types of people : Germans and Strangers.

Marlene Dietrich once said a brilliant thing about Orson Welles that sums up my feelings about breakfast with Voltar :
"When I talk with him, I feel like a tree that has been watered."



The Esteemed Elder Brother of Sima Peace

During the 7km walk down to Cirali I passed dozens of roadside ads for hotels and pensiyons (family owned guest houses).

Some looked too expensive - there was one called Hotel Nerissa that was rumoured to take you for everything you've got...


Some were tempting...


But it was this advertising campaign that won me over

We have a winner....

When I finally reached town - 3 streets alongside a vast beach - it quickly became apparent that there are more hotels than guests at this time of year.

Nobody around!

"Sima Peace" is one of the oldest hotels in Cirali and rightly famous for it's unusual and charismatic residents.

The most famous of these is Koko, a 25 year old South African parrot that speaks Turkish, English and German.

"Sind sie verheiratet?" ("Are you married?") Koko will inquire of the unsuspecting - only in German, sadly.
"Jawohl!" replies the hapless tourist
"Armes Schwein!" ("Poor pig!") is Koko's pithy rejoinder. Pure class.


Then there is Voltar - a spry, skeletal, hyperkinetic German alcoholic, well into his seventies, who arrived here as a guest 13 years ago and hasn't got around to leaving yet. Every morning in the breakfast area I am greeted by his sapphire eyes, already half-cut grin, constantly waving arms and tales, songs and more tales...

After the first hour of sitting with him he'd told of discovering sunken galleys and being attacked by an eel off Sardina, heat exhaustion in the Amazon, drunken madness on his brother's cattle ranch north of Sydney and singing a duet with Harry Belafonte in the Caribbean.

Needless to say, he still doesn't know the first thing about me.

Sneaky picture of a camera-shy legend...and Koko

But his best story to date occurred right here in Sima Peace - or, I should say, just a couple of hundred metres away where Sima Peace was situated until last year.

It started with a land dispute between the legal owners of the land (Sima Peace) and an large hotel group with lots of clout with the government. This corporation had set it's avaricious heart on Sima Peace's land and when legal proceedings didn't go the way they wanted they decided to use other means. So, one day last May, cops and soldiers arrived with bulldozers, set up a road block and started demolishing the hotel.

One unfortunate Australian family apparently returned from a relaxing day at the beach to find the roof of their room had been torn off.

The original Sima Peace Hotel

Into this chaos strode Voltar.
He cut through gardens and scaled walls to skirt round the blockade and got to Sima Peace.

He grabbed a large portrait of national hero Attaturk then marched out to face the forces of tyranny.
Holding the photo aloft, he bore down on the line of soldiers, who stood goggling.

In a moment of divine inspiration, Voltar kissed the portrait as he reached them and they parted before him like the Red Sea before Moses.

TV crews were there to capture the moment and he was the star of that evening's TV news broadcasts.

What more can be said - the guy's a nailed-on legend.

When I checked-in I was greeted by a lovely, old golden retriever with a tennis ball in his mouth. After putting my bags down I decided to explore a bit.

The dog came with me - sometimes he went on ahead, sometimes he dropped behind when he found something interesting to sniff. It felt like he was protecting me.

We were headed towards town. At some point I noticed that he had started to cough and sneeze - similar to a cat when it has a hairball. Later, I noticed him eating grass.

I stopped at the local shop and bought some plain biscuits and was surprised when he seemed uninterested in them. At a certain point I couldn't see him anymore, so I continued alone.

When I finally got back to the hotel about an hour later the dog was there lying down in obvious distress.
Just at that moment a car arrived and the lady who owns the hotel got out. I told her the dog looks sick and she flew into a panic.

Voltar, who was also in the car checked over the dog and said it looked like poison - later, he told me that ten dogs in the last month alone had been killed by eating poison and that there was a dog-murderer in Cirali.

We somehow managed to lift the poor dog into the back of the car but he died on the way to the vet.

As you can imagine, I feel absolutely dreadful about all this. I know that it wasn't my fault, but at the same time I also know that if I had chosen a different hotel none of this would have happened.

The owner is still inconsolable - she'd had the dog for 12 years and he'd slept at the foot of her bed every night, along with Koko.

The dog's name was Efe, which means "esteemed elder brother".

The Last Walk

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Leaving Antalya - An Even Burn

Having walked all day yesterday in a straight line with the sun on my left I awoke this morning looking like the supervillain Two-Face.

Still a bit tender

I had half a sunburnt nose and a left cheek the colour of a baboon's ass. Out of interest I typed "What animal has reddest ass" into Google and nothing happened (except for my hotel's IP address being quietly added to an Interpol database). It seems that the internet doesn't know everything yet and there is still a (fast receding) edge to the info-sphere - a comforting notion.


Went for a last coffee and spoon recconoitre at Coffee Dreams.
The waiter who brought the coffee asked "What sports do you play?"
Now, this a markedly different question from "Do you play sports?" or "Shouldn't you think about playing sports?" - and the difference is so gratifying that I felt impelled to lie.
"Soccer. Football", I crossed my fingers under the table "twice a week..."
After that, "Got any chocolate spoons?" felt like a wholly inappropriate line of inquiry.

Half an hour later I heard my boxers tear in half as I clambered clumsily into a taxi.
Justice is swift in Turkey.

The taxi took me to a motorway layby where I was to catch a minibus to my next port of call : Cirali.
The driver looked like the actor Wilford Brimley (from "Cocoon") and the conductor must surely have been his brother.

Minibus driver.......and conductor
An hour an a half later I was dropped in another layby and told that Cirali was 7km away down an off-ramp.
I had a quick tea and decided to walk there rather than take a taxi. The sky was overcast and I felt it was a good chance to practice the walking skills I would employ later on the Lycian Way hike I had planned.
So, chin held aloft, I strode purposefully past frankly disbelieveing cabbies and set off.
The road dropped steeply through a wooded valley right down to the sea.
For the first 15mins or so I was frequently being passed by taxis filled with muffled laughter and cheering but they eventually gave up and I was alone on the road. 

The hills here are like rows of tall thin blades and remind me of the plates on the back of a stegasaurus.

It took about an hour and a half to reach Cirali and I was about halfway down when the clouds evaporated and the sun emerged again - this time on my right, thankfully.

Tomorrow morning I hope to be greeted by a nice even burn...

An even burn

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Turkish Restaurants...and Music

It being my last night in a big resort for some time I decided to splash out on dinner.
I went to "Seraser", which Lonely Planet called "arguably the city's best".
As you can see it is a sumptuous place.

And quite, quite deserted - a bit like dining in The Shining's haunted Overlook Hotel.

The food left me wanting more...

But the "Sultan's Coffee" dessert was as delicious as it looks...

Finally, I must vent a little about Turkish background music. Firstly, it isn't
Turkish. I wouldn't mind terrible music if it was authentically Turkish - but it
isn't. It's British. It's British pop standards from the last 30 years being
covered by some sibilant, whispering ghoul who sounds like a cross between
Astrud Gilberto, Whispering Bob Harris and the chorus line of the Evil Dead
Musical. It's eldritch and unearthly.

I've heard "Wonderwall" and "Boys Don't Cry" this evening.
"Boys Don't Cry" did actually bring me close to tears.
Oh, that reminds me - I heard "Shout" by Tears For Fears too...but then again even the original of that song makes me shudder.

And it's not just in tonight's restaurant, it's happening everywhere.
Yesterday I was forced to endure "Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics and was genuinely alarmed for the first time by the lyric:
"Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused"

It was like hearing a messagge from the pits of Hell itself...
I'm thinking of buying a crucifix...

The Statues of Antalya

The pictures say it all.
The museum has done a magnificent job of presenting these pieces - and there are dozens of them.
I've limited myself to 12 pictures for this blog in honour of the first statue - Hercules.

Actually, I found some of the most incomplete pieces the most interesting.
They looked like they could have been produced by minds like Salvador Dali or even M.C. Escher

Antalya Museum

This is possibly my new favourite museum in the world.
I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

It contains beautifully presented objects from prehistoric times

though the classical  Greek and Roman periods

and early Christian ikons

and in the gardens outside there's even a resident peackock who seems to revel in being photographed!

Unbelievable and practically deserted too.

But the best thing about the museum was the huge collection of classical statues and busts.

They are the subject of the next post...

A Walk Along The Coast

Today is my last day in Antalya - and it was great. The weather was perfect.
Suddenly I could see that those distant mountains I plan to cross are snow-covered...

and really, really big...hmmn...

The suicidally-inclined were out in force, too.

Enjoyed a Turkish tea in a clifftop cafe which was being attacked by handgliders.

As usual, the waiter spoke to me in German.
My friend Ali told me it's because my green jacket looks ex-military and I have a soldier's haircut.
Can that be right? Am I reminding the locals of WWII?!!

Really not the look I was going for...

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Searching For A Spoon

Found a branch of Coffee Dreams - the Place of the Chocolate Spoon.
Sat at the most photogenic table available, ordered a double cappuccino and got my camera ready...

Coffee arrived - without spoon.

 I remonstrated with the waiter; it seems a coach load of chunky Belgians had passed through less than one hour before and had demolished the lot.

"Tomorrow?" I asked, a little desperately.
"Maybe tomorrow..." he said, frowning slightly.

The coffee was wonderful to behold...but tasted faintly of ashes.

My "no-spoon" face

Arrival in Antalya

Antalya Marina

The mountains I plan to walk through...

Bigger than I thought....hmmn


"Does it have tasty fish, precious-s-s-s?"