Time to leave the loop.

If Istanbul struck me immediately as awesome, Antalya is just the opposite. Within a few minutes of arriving in the giant bus station I wanted to leave again, and the rest of the day didn’t improve much. I’m sure the town has some good history, but right now it’s crowds of complaining expats, Russians who look like they want to fight Rocky, and two (count ’em, two) things to look at.

That was fine with me though, since I was sporting a modest sunburn from my walk, my feet were still red and raw, and it was 37 C / 100 F yesterday. Cold drink and a seat in the shade, please.

Antalya harborThe town grew on me a little though, particularly last night when I found myself in a park, at night, unconcerned about taking my camera out. Turkey so far has been a wonderfully safe experience, I have barely even had a sketchy feeling as I wander backstreets. (Maybe they just have discerning eyes for cameras, and know that 97% of the other tourists have cameras worth way more than mine.)

I’m knocking on the wood of my breakfast table as I talk about how safe it is, though. In a couple hours I fly to Diyarbakir, in far Eastern Turkey, which has a much less savory reputation. From there I plan to travel south to Mardin, a city that has lodged itself in my brain as someplace I need to go. I can’t tell if the fact that it’s quite literally 5 miles from the Syrian border is a plus or a minus in my mind.

Antalya eveningI have nearly no idea of what to expect. Guide books from several years ago don’t even mention Mardin, but a couple years ago they started including the place that has been “unofficially closed to tourism for 30 years due to the violent rebel conflict in the area”. It sounded like the Wild West, but then in this year’s guide book, it mentions that tourism is flourishing.

If it’s flourishing enough to have reliable internet access, I’ll tell you what I find.

Otherwise, see you May 8 in Istanbul, the same day the Kurdish guerrilla fighters are scheduled to begin withdrawing from the Mardin area…

Antalya was consummately on the tourist loop. I’m ready to get off it.