Antalya Memoirs: Shores of Tranquility

15 Apr 2024 by Anithya Balachandran
Antalya, image provided by official tourism board

As the sun bid its fiery farewell over the enchanting skyline of Istanbul, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of reluctance in my heart, knowing I was leaving behind a city steeped in history and mystique. However, anticipation brimmed within me as I eagerly awaited my arrival in the coastal gem of Antalya. Dubbed the “capital of tourism” in Turkey, Antalya’s allure lies not only in its yacht-dotted Old Harbour and sprawling beaches hugged by grand hotels but also in its awe-inspiring ancient roots intertwined with modern luxury. Nestled along Anatolia’s southwest coast, embraced by the majestic Taurus Mountains, this city, once known as “Attaleia” after its founder Attalos II, king of Pergamon, now beckoned me with promises of unparalleled relaxation and discovery. As my flight descended into the embrace of Antalya’s azure waters and snow-capped peaks, the breathtaking vista unfolded before me, a juxtaposition so vivid it seemed straight from the pages of a novel. Welcomed warmly by my guide Mehmet, who exuded the charm and hospitality typical of the region, I found myself enveloped in a sense of tranquillity as we checked into the luxurious sanctuary of Gloria Serenity Resort. Indeed, amidst the serene ambiance, I could already sense that my time in Antalya would be a delightful amalgamation of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Our first day in Antalya kicked off with a visit to the impressive NEST Congress and Exhibition Centre, strategically situated just 32 kilometres from the airport and 45 kilometres from the heart of Antalya city. Boasting an expansive 15,000 sqm of indoor space spread across two levels, complemented by an additional 5,000 square metres of outdoor area, NEST served as an ideal venue for both business and leisure pursuits. The centrepiece of this architectural marvel was undoubtedly the 6,000 sqm main hall on the first floor, with its versatile layout capable of accommodating various event configurations. With a soaring ceiling height of 10 metres and a sprawling 1,500 sqm foyer, it set the stage for grand gatherings and impactful presentations.

Antalya, image provided by official tourism board

Following our enlightening excursion, we made our way to The Land of Legends, a realm that seemed to materialise from the pages of ancient folklore. As we approached the hotel, my awe was palpable, for it stood as a testament to opulence and grandeur. The expansive complex, adorned with an array of shopping outlets, a captivating theme park, and themed hotels, promised an experience unlike any other. Amongst the myriad offerings, the Kingdom Hotel captured my imagination with its whimsical charm and thoughtful amenities. As the day drew to a close, we retreated to the tranquil sanctuary of the hotel lobby bar, where the gentle ambiance and indulgent libations provided the perfect conclusion to our first day of exhilarating adventures in Antalya. With hearts full of joy and minds brimming with memories, I eagerly anticipated the myriad wonders that awaited me the next day.

As Mehmet forewarned me of the day ahead, promising a journey filled with exploration and adventure, I dutifully laced up my most comfortable shoes. Our odyssey began with a picturesque drive to the ancient marvel of Aspendos, a testament to the enduring legacy of Greco-Roman civilisation. Situated 40 kilometres east of the bustling metropolis of Antalya, this historic site beckoned us with whispers of meticulous antiquity. Upon arrival, a refreshing glass of freshly squeezed orange and pomegranate juice greeted me, offering a revitalising sip of what felt like the elixir of life itself.


Antalya, image provided by official tourism board

Eager to delve into history, we made our way to the awe-inspiring Roman Theatre of Aspendos, a testament to the architectural prowess of antiquity. Built in the second century, this magnificent amphitheatre stands as one of the best-preserved relics of the Greco-Roman era, evoking a sense of wonder and reverence. As I wandered amidst the weathered stone steps, I found myself transported back in time, envisioning the vibrant performances that once graced its stage, the echoes of laughter and applause reverberating through the ages. For someone who had long harboured a passion for the dramatic arts, this visit felt like a poignant culmination of a lifelong love affair with theatre.

Sitting amidst the ancient ruins, I couldn’t help but marvel at the historical surroundings that enveloped me, from its humble beginnings as a hub of commerce and culture to its transformation into a palace for the Seljuks in the 13th century. Today, restored to its former glory, the Roman Theatre of Aspendos stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the past, drawing visitors from far and wide to marvel at its grandeur.


Antalya, image provided by official tourism board

The next part of our day led us next to the enchanting Kaleiçi, the historic heart of Antalya, Turkey, where time seemed to dance between ancient stones and modern charm. Encircled by sturdy walls that once guarded its treasures, Kaleiçi boasts an impressive assortment of architectural wonders spanning Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman, and modern Turkish eras. As we strolled through its winding, cobble stoned streets, we found ourselves amidst a living museum, where traditional Turkish homes have metamorphosed into boutique hotels, quaint eateries, and artisanal shops brimming with folkloric treasures. We walked to Hadrian’s Gate, a testament to the enduring legacy of the Roman emperor who graced these streets centuries ago. After indulging in a sumptuous spread of fresh seafood, we found solace by the tranquil waters of the Old Harbour, where time seemed to stand still as we watched the gentle ebb and flow of small boats upon the deep blue abyss.

Returning to our sanctuary at the hotel, I surrendered to the allure of my first Turkish Hamam experience, a rejuvenating ritual that left me yearning for more. As I bid farewell to Antalya, my heart overflowed with cherished memories and my suitcase brimmed with tokens of protection in the form of evil eye souvenirs. Indeed, my sojourn in Türkiye had drawn to a close, but its ineradicable imprint upon my soul would endure for a lifetime.

My journey through Türkiye served as a poignant reminder of why I hold travel in such high esteem. It reignited my passion for exploration, unveiling the beauty of immersing oneself in diverse cultures and forging meaningful connections with others. As I made my way through the bewitching streets of Istanbul, marvelled at the ancient wonders of Antalya, and embraced the warmth of Turkish hospitality, I found myself renewed with a zeal for life’s adventures. 


Antalya, image provided by official tourism board
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The cover of the Business Traveller May 2024 edition
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