We left last Saturday for Antalya, where we had booked an all-inclusive resort deal online. The price was really good, the dates were just right for the Norwegian Easter holidays and the hotel was 5 star, so it seemed a good thing.
And it was, mostly. The first day POURED rain and was really dreary, plus they stuck us in this little dark room that had no view, no sun and a balcony so small you couldn't fit two people on it standing. NOT what we expected. The pool AND the beach were closed. Between that and the all-inclusive food fight (see below) and the feeling we were stuck out there with no escape, I was just about ready to go home and call it a day.
We managed to get a new room after a couple days by getting the front desk to understand we weren't asking for a free upgrade, that we would pay, but we definitely wanted a better room. They ended up giving us a much better room with a big terrace, so we could wake up, stagger straight outside and get some sun. Much better. Things picked up from there.
Things I wish I had known:
- I had never been on an all-inclusive vacation before. All inclusive is a cool idea (it means all your food and drink are included) but it also means that you will probably be fighting hordes of really large, hungry and extremely pushy Russians and Germans to get at the food on offer. This isn't too much of a problem, as I am 5'10", half German and not that pushable myself, but I can't abide rudeness and I swear a few times I actually had to tell some folks to step off me. I mean, is getting that potato wedge THAT urgent?
- The hotel wasn't IN Antalya, it was about a 40 minute drive outside of it.
- The hotel offered no excursions, shuttles or ways to get around AT ALL.
- Neither did our booking company.
- So we were kind of stuck.
- Ways to get about were thus very expensive taxis or the local option, the dolmus.
- Dolmus are very efficient, very indirect, very noisy and very cheap.
- Think of the NightBus on Harry Potter and you have an idea.
- Taxis are a lot more expensive and much more direct.
- It took us a couple days to figure out the transport, how to get around, what were the best options and where to go. My dad had lived in Antalya in the early 60's, so told me some places I had to see, but the getting there was an issue as they were all on opposite sides of Antalya and there was no way we could do them all. We settled for seeing Phaselis (an ancient port town), Perge (a bigger city) and Aspendos (home of the world's best preserved Roman amphitheatre).
- We took the dolmus to Phaselis, which took FOREVER and involved a change in the town of Kemer.
- Phaselis was amazing though, with a lovely and completely secluded beach.
- For Perge and Aspendos we splurged and negotiated for a taxi. We got a decent deal as they are in the same area, on the opposite side of Antalya from where we stayed.
- We made it into Antalya once, had a nice wander and had a beautiful sunset meal overlooking the harbor. Bit of a pain in the ass getting there, as it took a dolmus, a taxi and then the lovely and quaint tram to get into the Caleichi, or the old city.
Stuff I didn't buy.
- For those of you who know me well, prepare to be shocked: I did NO shopping. There was no time and no chance. I managed to buy a nice silver ring from a really nice jewelry guy who actually stopped me to talk about the necklace I was wearing which I had gotten in Jordan. He wanted to see exactly how much silver it contained (a lot) and offered to buy it from me. I said no, of course, but then bought a ring from him, so win win for him. That ring was my sole purchase.
- Yesterday, the last day, was picture perfect temperature and full on sun. I went straight out to the now-open beach, grabbed a chair and did not move for about 6 hours, except to flip to roast the other side. Surprisingly, for someone as almost blue-white as I was, I didn't burn (much, only a very little in a few spots) and I now am sporting a rather nice, even, glowy tan.
- After another dark Norwegian winter, that sun felt impossibly good.
- I felt quite the goddess out there, in my bikini, surrounded by all those large, oversized, all-inclusive buffet experts.
- Ladies, if you ever want to feel good about yourself, get thee to an all-inclusive resort, wear your tiniest bikini, and see how you compare. You will definitely win out.
- This holiday was quite possibly our cheapest vacation EVER.
Also, Turkish rose is very, VERY good. We drank quite a bit of it.
Apropos of nothing, this might be the best picture of me ever taken.