While we ate breakfast, Mr. Muharren, our Landlord, reserved 2 nights for us at The Beach House in Side. I learned early on that using the concierge to make future reservations was wise. Also, the rooms and service of the next hotel were 3 steps up from the typical because of this personal contact. We could not leave Cappadocia without touring the extraordinary phenomena of one of the underground settlements. Some of them were large enough to have accommodated up to 30,000 people.
We headed to one ‘of the best: Kaymakli. This structure went 5 levels underground but I could only take 3 before claustrophobia arrived. Networks of narrow tunnels with small living caves opening to the side; underground plazas with community kitchens, horse stables, and storage areas. Looking up you could see the light from the ventilation system and hear the water from the deep wells. These people were very short and it hurt to straighten up after 90 minutes of narrow hallways, uneven steps, and darkness.
A leisurely drive to the sea and the Beach House in Side. Our room faced the sea and we sat on our balcony sipping wine and watching the waves. We went next door for dinner, excellent sword-fish, at Soundwaves run by the hotel’s owner’s son and his wife. With live Turkish music, a couple of waiters pulled Mike into the dancing. (Men only of course.) A transplanted Aussie and her Turkish husband own the Beach House, the first hotel in Side in 1960. Our room (205) was typically small with a hard bed and pillow. The bathroom shower floor had no demarcation between the shower stall and the rest of the bath. But there were plenty of towels!
Breakfast in the lovely bar that opened to the outside terrace and the passersby. We decided to do a “walk about” this ancient town of Side. It was founded in the seventh century BC because of the defensive potential of the rocky cape. The city had its ups and downs until the 1980s and a tourist boom struck. The Old Town was built in and around the classic Roman ruins and most of them were walkable from the hotels. We walked to the monumental gate and into the 20,000 seat theatre. Stunning. It is a freestanding structure supported by massive arched vaults and was not built into a hillside. Next were the Agora, certainly large enough to accommodate the forum and markets, and lastly the Antique Baths. What with the heat and humidity, I headed for a breeze on our balcony and took a book while Mike headed for other sites.
Dinner up the street overlooking the bay. Mike asked for a wine menu and the waiter answered “I am the wine list.” He bought a glass to taste– not good. A second about the same. Then a bottle, discolored and old–but our meal arrived and we drank it. A breeze came up and eliminated the humidity.
Weather comfortable today so off to the magnificent remains of Perge. The grandeur of the defense wall, stadium, baths and the theatre were overwhelming. The original inhabitants were quick studies on how to survive an attack of marauders. They welcomed the Romans into their city, they believed the Romans would help defend against the Hellenistic tribes and they did–and stayed.
When arriving back at Side, we discovered the police had blockaded the road to the sea side community and motioned us into a public parking area. We simply sat there blocking the road and repeating the name of our hotel. The two police, one on each side of the car, yelled and gestured to the public lot. I smiled, said “no” and repeated, “Hotel Beach House”. This continued until a car pulled up behind us. The barriers were dropped and we drove though. Later our hotel owner told us that the city wanted to preserve the beach town for “pedestrians” only, for those who eat and shop. So the city enforced the public lot at the entrance and disallowed the hotel residents to drive in and out with their luggage. Not a wise decision. . .and it didn’t work with us.
That night we ate at Soundwaves again, eating outside under the overhang to watch the storm moving into the bay. By morning the beach was littered with boats, fish and the detritus of a storm. But the sun came out.