It all started here...

It all started here...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Antalya-Istanbul-Los Angeles

Day 9, November 20, 2013 -- AYT-IST-LAX

Time flies, especially when you're having fun! Our tour of Turkey came to an end after nine days of amazing travelling around this beautiful country. We had to have breakfast at 3:00am and leave the hotel at 4:00am to get to the Antalya Airport on time for our 6:45 flight out. After the very simple breakfast, we left the hotel. On the way to the airport we picked up our guide at a gas station. Antalya is his home so I guess he spent the night at home instead of staying at the hotel.

Leaving the hotel in the dark.

Last picture of the mini bar on the bus.

Needless to say, the city was still asleep.

Arriving the Antalya Airport. Our whole group came from the LA area so we would be on our last legs together.

A huge Burger King inside the airport.

This airport is quite nice, much bigger than I had imagined.

Bidding farewell with Ahmid, our guide for the nine days.

Going up to the departure level.

Looking back down to the check-in hall.

At the gate. No free wi-fi here.

We've joked around of having "President Aquino" of the Philippines with us on this tour. Got to have a picture of him and his wife.

Boarding the plane to Istanbul.

actually, pretty nice

Leaving Antalya as the sun rises.

Snacks--cheese sandwich (OK), cake (yummy!), and fruit.

a cute picnic basket

arriving IST

following the transit signs

out to landside

We noticed that we were back at the "meeting point" where we waited for everyone the first night we were here before taking the elevator up to the departure level.

IST is a very busy airport if not a bit confusing.

No lounge access, but here is the entrance to the TK lounge.
We had to use their code for free wi-fi so we were trying to get as close as possible.
We actually found some comfortable seats down a level on the right and still able to utilized their code.

Time to get to the gate. BTW, it's better to get water from the vending machines at the different gates for TL 1.75 instead of buying them from the cafes/vendors for TL3.

After a slow and horrendous secondary security check (behind the glass windows in the background), we were able to relax a little before boarding our plane. Everyone had to be questioned of where we came from, who packed our bags, and if there was anything in our luggage that looked like weapons, etc. etc. before they put a sticker on the boarding pass. The security personnel were not very nice either. Felt sorry for those who couldn't speak or understand English very well.

Drink--TK signature homemade lemonade, excellent!
Snack--Turkish hazel nuts, great!

TK is really not a bad airline, even in economy. They even have printed menu for economy class, which I have not seen for many years.

First meal--Grilled Chicken Breast with sauteed vegetables and potato puree. (or Rigatoni)

For people who wants wine, they passed out little bottles of red/white wine for people to enjoy with their meals.

Second meal--two hours before landing, Smoked salmon with sour cream sauce or Turkish Style Minced Beef with sauteed seasonal vegetables and rice.

A cute amenity kit in a little pencilcase-like tin box, even for economy.

Unfortunately, I had a drunk woman sitting behind me and she claimed that I made her spilled her drink and walked up to me with her foul mouth. I called the FA and told them that I do not want to be harassed and I wanted her to stay away from me. I think she was so drunk that she did not bother me after that.

Back to LAX, the new baggage claim area is really nice but it took forever to get our bags. For some reason the carousel was not working right and stopped a few times. Workers had to unload some of the bags from the belt before it would move again.

All in all, we had a great journey in Turkey. For the price that we paid it was worth every penny. I am not sure if I am ready to deal with American European Travel again for their pre-trip customer service (or none of), but I must say that we had a great time enjoying the sights, meeting some amazing people in our group, and enjoying the wonderful country of Turkey.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Antalya and Perga, Turkey

Day 8, November 19, 2013 -- Antalya and Perga, Turkey

This was our last full day in Turkey and we expected that we will be spending much of the time in shopping stops. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm. Actually we had been pretty fortunate to have had good weather throughout other than the couple of days in the beginning of our tour. As I mentioned before, the coldest day was in Troy and as we continued down to the southern part of Turkey, it got warmer and better.

According to the records in Acts, Apostle Paul visited Antalya on his mission trip (Acts 14:25~26). "From Perga, Paul and Barnabas went down to Attalia and sailed from there to Antioch after preaching in Pisidia and Pamphylia." So Antalya holds an important part in the history of Christianity. As we were traveling through Turkey, I was saddened by the fact that this country, once holding such an important spot in Christian history, turned into a place where mosques are at every corner, taking over all the churches and places of worship. We did not see a single church throughout this whole trip.  

Today, we will visit Perga (Perge) and the Archeological Museum of Antalya with the additional shopping stops included.

Trying to get a picture of the hotel sign as we turned from the exit.

Some pictures of Antalya.

People doing their morning exercise.

Finally, got a picture of one of the stop signs.


Perga is a little further south of Antalya, if I remember correctly, it's about half an hour away from Antalya.

The description that we received on our itinerary stated that "Start your discovery of Greco-Roman archeology at the exclusive site of Perge, where St. Paul gave his first sermons in Anatolia during a missionrary visit." According to Acts, Apostle Paul returned to Perga after he went to Antioch and Pisidia where he delivered a sermon. Then he left Perga and went to Attaleia.  Perga becamse an important center of Christianity after it had become the official religion of the Roman Empire in the first half of the fourth century. Barnabas, visited Perga twice as recorded in Acts.

Our bus dropped us off at the stadium first where we had a good view of the whole stadium before walking to the ruin site. Excavation of this area is still on-going and done by teams from different countries.

wall of the stadium

inside stadium

walkway to the city ruin

some new friends

the exterior of the stadium

the other side of the wall

Entrance to the city ruin.
MOR is posing with the sign--8 lira for a cup of promagranite juice. Generally, you can get a cup of freshly squeezed juice for 3 lira where the buses stop at and 1 lira at the local stand.

I found this ruin quite interesting. The set up of the city is still recognizable and seems to have a lot to be discovered still.

If I am not mistaken, I believe the background of this picture is where the church of the city once stood.

Entering the Roman bath area.

Under the sand are beautiful tiles. Sand was to cover and protect the beautiful mosaic underneath.

3rd level, the cold bath area

2nd level, the warm bath

1st level, the hot bath

butcher shop outside the agoura area

streets with many store fronts

walking along the street with stores on both sides

store front

three stores at one street corner

After our visits to the ruin in Perga, we stopped at a jewellery store for people to shop. Again, prices were amazingly outrageous. Bargain can be down to 80% but we did not need to purchase anything.

On our way to lunch.

Lunch at a restaurant by the seaside.

Salad was family style and then we had a choice of either fish or meat.

A whole grilled fish that was very boney.

My choice--the meat dish, very good!

What a view!

Then we stopped at the factory where they produce Turkish Delights. Prices are more expensive here but better quality than the ones at different bus/rest stops.

Then we went to the Archeological Museum of Antalya. We just went through the exhibits quickly and barely saw a small percentage of what is available in there.

Entrance to the museum

getting inside the exhibition hall

The Three Graces

many statues were on display

Then they have an area depicting the life of the nomads in the area.

Carpets are important to the nomads.

making utensils

This actually reminded me of the museum we visited in Tunisia.

game table

Back to the museum entrance. See the TripAdvisor certificate posted?

Driving along the Mediterranean.

I noticed that many apartments have huge balconies with fireplaces.

Our last stop for the day--the leather factory.

The fashion show was about to begin.

Some really nice coats and jackets but we did not get the deal we wanted. I think it was really nice that they put all the shopping stops on the last day and not taking time out on different days to interfere with the actual touring time and rushing through some sights.

Back to the hotel and our beds were decorated with blanket animals. Yes, the thin blankets that we used for the night.

A nice dinner to end the day with, finally we got to have big pieces of roasted chicken, and...french fries!