After food, of course, we have books. As a book nerd who loves exploring old bookstores I was excited when a friend introduced me to the Owl Bookshop. Tucked in Kaleici, you will find this quaint treasure house of books that is run by Old Hemingway. Of course that is not his real name but he reminded me of the beloved Hemingway. There is a diverse collection of books; I even found books set in Kenya and some by South African writers. It is a common stop for backpackers so you can expect to run into some. Grab yourself a book and when Old Hemingway offers you some tea sit down for a little chat. He is pretty interesting; you want to hear his stories.
From the Owl head to the St. Paul Cultural Center. If there is a community that made sure I wasn’t so homesick, it is the community I found at this center. It is a hub of different cultures with people from Holland, Iran, Iraq, US, UK, Africa, Norway, you name it. The Center organizes different events, has different programs and clubs that are open to both Turkish people and foreigners. You will love it.
By now you must be hungry so let’s go to the pazar. The pazar, farmers market, is an explosion of colour. There are all kinds of fruits, veges, and foods. The many vendors are always offering you stuff to try which means you are full by the time you leave the market. Also, fruits and veges are so cheap compared to NL, where I currently live. Oh, I miss a good pazar day in Antalya. The folks at the pazar are very friendly. I once lost my wallet at the pazar and came back to find it all intact in the safe hands of the lady who had sold me some bananas a couple of hours earlier. Good people.
Talking of people, I met some decent people in Antalya. Given that I hardly spoke any Turkish and was finding it hard to pick up the language, it is amazing how these people were patient with me and even helped me improve my Turkish. Ayten: the hippie who not only did my locs again but also opened up her home for me and made me love Turkish coffee. We went out for walks after dinner and enjoyed the cool summer nights. Sule: the artist who turned fabric into gorgeous totes, scarves, pillows and dresses. I dropped by her shop every now and then for a coffee and a chat. Her daughter and husband were also amazing. Elif: the kindly soul that introduced me to the awesome Nina Simone and to the heavenly waffles I raved about in bits from Antalya (1).
I think this is enough of a glimpse into the beautiful place I called home for a couple of years.
Thank you Antalya, Turkey; you will forever be etched in my heart.