Turkish Vacation: Side and Manavgat

SIDE

Side, pronounced Seede, is an ancient Greek city dating all the way back to the 7th century B.C., but is now mostly a Turkish resort town with some of the best-known classical sites in the country. To us, however, it was home for the week. I’m not gonna get into our five star hotel, which was awesome, or the all inclusive food/drink option, which was super awesome. I’ll just get straight to the sight seeing.

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The photo above is of the Temple of Apollo, right on the edge of Side’s peninsula, from around the 2nd century A.D. It’s located right next to Side’s beautiful harbor, although filled mostly with tourist, pirate-looking, ships. The one thing that bothered me the most is that all the merchants around have a sell-sell-sell mindset, and you can’t walk five meters without someone trying to sell you something or invite you for a coffee or a drink. “No, I don’t want to buy your knock of perfumes”, “No, I don’t want to buy real Turkish leather”, and “No, I am not Russian!”. That last one really got on our nerves as pretty much everyone started talking to us in Russian, then German, and finally a “Dzień Dobry” in Polish. I have to give them credit for knowing a few words in so many languages, but I hated being approached in Russian every single time.

We later found out that the name of the town Side is actually Anatolian in origin, meaning pomegranate. And for a good reason, too. There are pomegranates everywhere! And fresh squeezed pomegranate juice is available everywhere as well, for only a $1 a glass.

MANAVGAT

Manavgat is quite simply a medium sized Turkish city located about 7km from the coast, left pretty much untouched by the touristic boom taking over all coastal towns nearby. BUT, every Tuesday and Thursday, a few city streets are shut down to form a huge bazar, a.k.a. flea market, targeted mostly, if not entirely, at tourists. We saw every knock off possible from perfumes to clothes, to bluetooth speakers, shoes and purses. We quickly walked through it mostly unimpressed. We were told of this bazar at the hotel and made to believe that this was a real Turkish place of trade, when in fact, it’s all a bunch of touristy crap priced, conveniently, in Euros or U.S. Dollars.

Walking around the city, however, we did find a local market which was exactly what we wanted to see to begin with. It was mostly locals, and mostly fruit and vegetables, but it gave us a glimpse of what we thought were the real people of Manavgat. The city in general is full of small shops, and even when taking a detour via small streets Ania didn’t feel too comfortable walking, there was always something to buy nearby.

By the way, to get to either Side or Manavgat, all you have to do is stand right outside your hotel room for no more than 8 minutes. It’s crazy how quickly public transportation busses came by, all with very friendly drivers that will pick you up from anywhere, no bus stops, and drop you off anywhere on their route. Just wave and pay $1 dollar.

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