Time to explore the historical side of Alanya in Turkey.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’m not a history buff. People assume those who travel lots, have brains filled with historical dates and political facts. Dates often escape me, I mix kings and queens up, and don’t get me started on ancient politics! It’s often a tumbleweed moment! But, I do really enjoy dipping into the history when I visit a country, after all – it’s what came before that shaped the place into what it is today. I’m just not going to pretend it’s my forte.
When I visited Cappadocia earlier this year, I LOVED being able to touch the history! I spent days exploring ancient underground cities and caves. It wasn’t like trudging around a soulless museum filled with artefacts – it was real.
The same goes for Dubrovnik. Climbing all over the city walls was exhilarating and gave me the chance to see the city from the perspective of those who created it.
Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina was fascinating in another way. Tragic scars marred the beauty. Bullet holes showed the real brutality of the events in the 1990s. Seeing it for myself encouraged me to learn about the city’s sad past.
A traditional Hamam in Alanya isn’t necessarily a relaxing spa experience…!
“While you’re here you should definitely try a traditional Turkish bath.”
These were the words of one of my guides when I arrived in Alanya, Turkey a few weeks ago. Over three days I was whisked from beaches to caves to restaurants, and now, just ten minutes after returning from a jeep safari, I found myself in the ladies changing room at Çemberlitas Hamam.
As mentioned in my recent spa review of the luxury hamam at Dolphin Square, the hamam (also known as Turkish bath) isn’t an activity done for pure relaxation. No, it’s a cultural experience with an emphasis on cleansing. It’s also a place where people go to catch up with friends and family. Parents take their children and friends go together. It’s a communal experience, with most of the time spent in the hamam chamber – a beautiful marble room with sinks around the outside and a large heated marble stone in the centre. Men and women have separate facilities, although at this hamam, the sauna and steam room were mixed.
After a sauna and a steam, I entered the hamam chamber in my bikini unsure of what the protocol was. I was swiftly pointed in the direction of the shower then the jacuzzi. One thing to note, when I arrived I wasn’t told what the experience would involve, so I spent the whole time apprehensive about what was going to happen next.
During my recent trip to Alanya, I checked into one of the region’s most popular hotels – the Grand Okan.
I’m a firm believer that a luxury is nothing without good service. The most expensive meal can taste quite bland when there is no passion from the people serving it. Some of the best hotels in the world suffer from their stiff, impersonal ways. It makes me wonder: how difficult is it to provide warm customer service (are you listening Barcelo Solymar?)?
I checked into the Grand Okan Hotel in Alanya well after midnight. I was tired from travelling and suffering from a bit of a cold. Thankfully, I was welcomed by Amanda – the hotel’s incredibly friendly general manager. From Britain originally, she moved to Turkey over 15 years ago and lives and breathes the culture. Full of stories, charm and infectious warmth, she oversees a happy workforce who go out of their way to meet customers’ needs. It’s no wonder loyal holidaymakers return year after year.
I’ve just returned from three days exploring Alanya in Turkey, and when I say exploring… I really mean it!
From Jeep safaris up winding mountain roads, venturing into beautiful caves, jumping off pirate galleons in the Mediterranean Sea and chasing sunsets, to witnessing traditional village life, sampling the best in Turkish cuisine and meeting some of the friendliest people on the planet. We really packed a lot into three days.