A few bars and restaurants in the lively city of Antalya in Turkey.
by Slug on April 17, 2013
With one of our party being the walking wounded after "popping" her knee joint out during the scramble off the plane and with it being well past 9pm, we hobbled her to one of the nearest open restaurants in the centre of old town Antalya. The place was the rather amusingly named Abad Pension. In fact we enjoyed our meal here although the place was definitely something of a less favoured son in its location given the brisk business enjoyed by the rather trendier looking bars just up the street. We had a few beers (the local rather strong but tasty Effes) and chose something to eat. While we waited for our order, the waiter guy served us with a rather nice plate of tapas including harissa beef, some boiled cucumber, a tzatziki sauce (yoghurt, garlic and cucumber), a sweet salad with mandarin pieces and a borlotti bean salad with plenty of crusty bread. Our waiter was a friendly young lad with a good standard of English and we had some fun at the expense of our friend and her predicament with her busted knee. We were sitting outside enjoying the heat of the spring evening and enjoying the nice pedestrianised street and watching the carpet sellers opposite. The actual bar inside was nothing really to write home about; just a plain tiled dining area. However the toilets were pretty clean and user friendly; something my mother in law always checks and uses to gauge the standards of cleanliness overall.My main course was chicken fajita at £8. I was hoping for something fairly light and heavy on the vegetables, but received a sizzling dish of chicken cooked in a tomato and cheese sauce with fries and rice as a side. It was lovely, absolutely scalding hot but not the light fajita I was anticipating. Our dining friend did much better with her lamb kebab, as the lamb was particularly lean and tasty, while my beloved had picked a meze and broadly received another plate of what we had shared as a starter.The other diners at the Abad Pension were a mix of locals and tourists, and I'm always pleased to see I'm dining in a place locals eat as it indicates we are not being too badly ripped off. After a winter of sub zero winds and the largest snowfalls in 30 years, we were quite happy in the warm and gentle sea breeze, but the locals were given blankets to cuddle up into as the evening wore on and the temperatures dropped a little. We were on something of a mission with the beers as it was our first evening of the vacation. With 2/3 half litre bottles beers each our meal came to 97 Turkish Lira or just shy of £40 for the 3 of us. The price was actually pretty standard for old town Antalya. Given that we were sitting outside in the attractive setting of Antalya old town enjoying watching the locals and their cats prowl around the streets we still felt it offered good value. Tip: I'd recommend the lamb kebab if you visit.
I was actually looking forward to hitting my bed as it was about 10:30 by the time we had finished our meal and we had travelled all day. However, my beloved had caught some kind of second wind in the excitement of being in a new city and insisted we travelled further into Antalya’s party town. While Antalya isn't as cool for the kids as some of the Mediterranean coastal resorts, there are quite a number of more sophisticated places to while away the evening until the small hours and Bar Macha is one of them. As we wandered past, we discovered Bar Macha was popular and had almost fully occupied seating outside. While it's always nice to enjoy a beer under the stars and the streetlights we decided that the inside of the bar looked lovely and decided to have a nightcap there. Beers at the Bar Macha are in the mid price range for old town Antalya (they generally ranged between 6-12 Turkish Lira (£2.40-£4.80) for a large half litre bottle) at around £3.20 for a large bottle of Effes but we didn't feel too ripped off given that we were paying similar prices to home. Our service again was very prompt and pleasant and we chewed the fat over the events of the week while admiring the lovely original wooden furnishing and more modern tat to give the place an "authentic" Turkish look. In fact, I’m guessing the place was more of an upscale Irish theme bar. No matter, it looked quite classy and we a perfectly pleasant place to enjoy another couple of beers. Bar Macha also styles itself at a cafe, but I must confess I didn't see anyone dining and felt it looked more like a bar than a restaurant. The toilets were clean, and in the cellar. The Gents were a little unusual in that they had a window looking into the urinals from the communal stairs. I'm sure no one lingered too long to have a look at men urinating (and to be fair they had their backs to the windows) but the arrangement surprised me in a Muslim country. The music was perfectly pleasant in a modern and non offensive way. Most songs seemed to be fairly dreamy songs sung by women with a slight jazzy but modern edge. The music was nothing to write home about but neither did I find it too loud or start to grate on me. We actually preferred Bar Public just across the street, but to be fair Bar Macha was a perfectly pleasant place to linger and enjoy the atmosphere.
We wanted to eat a little bit back from the harbour front, using the logic that it would be cheaper and perhaps the restaurant would make a little more effort with the meal. Many of the restaurants in the old part of town, Kaleici, are attached to a pension which again means that they might persuade their guests to dine here a few times if their meal is good. On our way back to our Pension we spotted a larger Pension, the Blue Sea Garden with an outdoor dining area, and pricing which suggested it was cheaper than most of the immediate sea front restaurants. The said gardens were actually quite large and pretty with a couple of family dogs, a beautiful cat and a tortoise prowling around it. The tortoise rather freaked me out as it kept on going under our tables and chairs and I was frightened of putting my chair leg on the poor critter. We later had an amusing moment as it tried to crawl into my beloved's handbag. Imagine explaining that one to the customs and excise people as you leave the country with a tortoise hidden in your bag! We had asked to dine at the back of the restaurant as it appeared to offer the best views over to the sea, but when we got there we discovered it more looked over the rather dilapidated gardens of the pension next door and so didn't offer the best views, although it meant we were a little tucked away from most of the other diners. There is a Blue Sea view but it is rather distant.My 2 dining companions chose a simple tuna salad, and got an absolute mound of tuna (good quality albeit tinned) with a gently dressed salad of pomegranate juice and oil. I splashed out just a little and my Calarmari Salad (for the equivalent of £6) also had a lot of nice fresh octopus which wasn't at all chewy. A large bottle of Effes lager was 6 lire (£2.40) which was as cheap as we found in old town Antalya. We were quite happy with our meal, which when added to the gratis starter of bread and a plate of nice tasting tapas to share was certainly ample for a lunch. The only downside to our dining experience was that as the place was also someone's hotel, it felt a little strange but understandable that a fat man was playing in the pool in the centre of the restaurant with his young daughter. He was certainly braver than me in getting his man-boobs out in front of diners and kudos to him, but if you are uncomfortable with the thought (either as resident or as diner) then it's something to bear in mind about the Blue Sea Garden.To sum up the Blue Sea Gardens offered one of our cheaper dining experiences and we enjoyed our good and well presented meal. While the garden is pleasant, the "Blue Sea" is a little distance away on the horizon.
by Slug on April 20, 2013
In choosing an Antalya hotel, The White Garden Pansion was pretty much where we wanted it to be. When we last visited Antalya a dozen or so years ago we stayed out in the modern resort area along the coast and got fed up with the endless stream of large anonymous hotels and the bus ride drag of getting into the city every day. I remembered that when we wandered around Antalya’s pretty harbour and old town area there were a few little pensions dotted around and decided it looked a much more suitable billet for us. The White Garden is exactly one of those places we aspired to a dozen years ago. Good things come to those who wait. Our check in was initially a little chaotic as we had a travelling companion who managed to "pop" her knee in the scrum to get off the plane. Heh we aren’t getting any younger, she was wheel chaired off the plane so did very well to hobble the few steps to the hotel. Unfortunately the receptionist didn’t seem to have any idea of our booking but all was well as the hotel is quiet. He simply shrugged his shoulders and laughed so I’m guessing these things happen on a fairly regular basis.The staff were particularly friendly and very considerate in that our friend got a ground floor room in view of her unexpected injury, which in effect was a free upgrade to a double room for her. Our room worked out as around £40 a night (she paid £20) following our decision to upgrade to an apartment (it would have been £30 for a standard double). The apartments are located just a little way out of the hotel in the next adjoining block to the main hotel. There was a shared hallway from the street, and then our own door to the apartment. Our residence was really quite large with a large corner sofa with seating for about 6 people, a small flat screen TV (which we couldn't get to work, but no matter) and a small kitchenette area for preparing quick meals (just enough cooking space for two pans, but only one pan) and fine for cutting cheese, preparing olives and the like. Our shower room was nice and modern and we had lashings of hot water (perhaps this was because the hotel was pretty quiet given that the water is solar heated). Our bedroom was fairly small and quite simply furnished at the back of the apartment. There were windows all around the room making it surprisingly light and airy for the old town. Our hotel was very quiet at night which surmised me as "party town" was literally a stone's throw away, but most folks shuffled off home in the other direction. I was only woken up once by a couple of drunk locals who decided to have a chat on the front step very near the window of our sitting room, but it didn't last for long. There were a couple of still closed bars near to the hotel as we visited so early in the season, so I can't vouch for this quiet aspect in the height of summer. Included in the room price was a breakfast which was pretty good with the most fantastic yoghurt on offer and plenty of fruit preserves to go with them. The Kiwi fruit and orange segments also went down well, as did the feta, cucumber and tomato combo with a piece of fresh bread. I was particularly happy to see a nice range of herbal teas including fruity ones and leafy ones if you wanted. We found the hotel to be nice and clean always, with opportunity to sit outside around the small swimming pool if you wanted to chill a while. Summing upWe found the White Garden Pansion to be cheap, clean, friendly and in a great location with a good breakfast and a nice atmosphere to it. Totally recommended.
Our travelling companion had done a little pre-trip research and had heard that the Vanilla Restaurant was supposed to be good so we thought we would take a wander in that direction to check it out. Unfortunately for a routine meal we thought it looked quite expensive at around £15 for a main course (although the pizzas looked interesting and at £9-£10 a head acceptable value) so we decided to drop off at the Vanilla Lounge next door for a pre-dinner cocktail while we mulled over the expense. In the end we dined elsewhere, but we did enjoy our cocktail nevertheless.I'm not sure whether the place is owned by the upscale hotels and ice cream chain movenpick, but they certainly provide the ice cream desserts for the Vanilla Lounge. We decided to skip the addition of a few scoops of ice cream as well as our cheeky late afternoon cocktail. If the temperature had been as it often is in high summer then I would have been sorely tempted. The Vanilla Lounge was nicely furnished with mood music and lots of comfy gold-green sofas and chairs. As my mother in law regularly buys such furniture only to replace it the following year, it rather disconcertingly reminded me of all her folly purchases over the years shared into one room. One slightly frown of disappointment came with the array of well thumbed paperbacks on display in the book cupboard; it left us wondering whether the place was a lending library of some kind. What was Jaws doing there?The bathrooms were very tiny, but in an amusing touch was that they were through the wardrobe door towards the back of the room. It lent a lion the witch and the wardrobe air to proceedings (although of course in that case going through the wardrobe led to an adventure in another world rather than the pleasure of an empty bladder). Our cocktails were around £8 each, but they did not disappoint although my mojito was a little tarter than some I've had. It was fine for me, but those with a sweeter tooth may be a little disappointed, The strawberry daiquiri and the Manhattan chosen by my travelling companions were served in nice flat cocktail glasses and I'm told were perfect. The wait staff did get a little confused by our pronunciation (although that my companion asked for a "daktari" didn’t help!). We did find service rather slow with the wait staff seemingly more interested in wandering over to the main building next door, but to be fair they did take our order quite quickly and got on with the comparatively slow process of making us the three different cocktails that we had ordered. To sum up we found the Vanilla Lounge a nice place to stop for a fancy cocktail although at those prices I wouldn't wish to linger for too long.
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