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My Favourite Alanya – Never a dull moment!
In this item of the magazine we join known and unknown residents of Alanya in their favourite places in and around Alanya. This month we meet up with Anastasia and Ayhan Çetinkaya. Ayhan is an editor at Daily Haber Alanya and Anastasia Petrova is a coordinator for the Alanya International Club. They are also the owners of the flourishing advertising and printing agency “ProMedya” in Alanya.
The ProMedya office
“Our office is like our second home. It’s one of our favourite places because all of our ideas come to life there. The creativity that is needed in our job is reflected in the layout of our brochures, posters and catalogues. The nice thing about our work is that we never know how the day will go. Every day brings new customers and new assignments. Some days we might have to work late into the night, but on others, we finish early and take a few hours off. For someone like me who doesn’t like regularity, this is the ideal job.”
King’s Pub – Alanya Marina
“Here we can escape the hustle and bustle of the city but there is still plenty to see and do, so you never get bored! I don’t like too many people around me and at King’s Pub, it is always nice and quiet and very cosy. You can have a pleasant drink and good food while watching the boats and marine activity. For me, it is important to see something that I haven’t seen before. Some people like to go to the beach to relax and lie in the sun all day. That is not my style, I get bored! Too much sand, sand, sand and blue, blue, blue ocean. This is why many of my favourite spots are places where there is activity and something to see.”
Cleopatra Beach, next to the Damlataş cave
“We often go here on Sunday morning for a walk after we’ve had breakfast somewhere. There is a very nice walkway along the beach and you can enjoy a swim in the summer, if we have the time. It is one of Alanya’s most visited sites, so again a place that is always interesting.”
“At the Peninsula there are several restaurants and cafes, they are all unique because of the spectacular location. We love to go to SuBay Café. It is small and basic, but what a view! It looks out over the whole of Alanya bay. This is always beautiful during the day but at night, it is especially beautiful, with all the lights shimmering everywhere.”
The Lemon Villa, Wine House Café Hotel, Alanya
“We always go out for breakfast to different places. On Facebook, I regularly had seen posts from Irina Kapukaya. She and her husband, Oğuzhan, are the owners of The Lemon Villa which is a hotel and restaurant at the Peninsula. Going by their posts, their breakfast ought to be great! So one day I thought: ‘that’s enough, I must to go there!’ And indeed, it was a perfect breakfast. Very extensive with not only the standard breakfast ingredients, it also had brownies, dried fruit and five different types of bread. Added to this, it is a lovely, charming place to spend some time.”
Park next to City Hall
“Having lunch in a restaurant is always a possibility, however, sometimes we like to just buy some çiğ köfte and eat outdoors. One or our favourite place to do this is in the park in the middle of the city centre. It has a lovely setting with fountains, ponds, wooden bridges and benches. There are always people in the park or passing by, going on their way. For us, this is a cosy place and very relaxing in its own way.”
The Finnish Terhi Alanya first came to visit Alanya in 1996 and became the first travel agent at the new established Detur in 1998. Now the tour operator is one of the largest in Alanya and brings tens of thousands of Scandinavian tourists to the beach resort every year. Terhi saw Alanya change and shake of its ‘cheap image’. “The last several years we worked hard to increase the quality of the city. But now, when there are actually more tourists with money to spend, we can not forget the tourists with tighter budgets that came to visit Alanya from the very beginning.”
Until a decade ago, Alanya was known as a cheap holiday destination. The range of hotels and facilities present aimed at tourists with a small purse. But at some point the call for more so called ‘quality tourists’ arose among entrepreneurs of Alanya. Or, in other words, tourists that had more money to spend. Terhi Alanya, destination manager at Detur tour operator, remembers this well.
"You may want another kind of tourist, but you should also do something to make them want to come. People often say Alanya is changed. I say: We have changed Alanya. Change is not easy. If we didn’t focus on change or worked hard, nothing would have happened."
Terhi first got to know Alanya in 1996 when she came here on holiday with a friend. Because it was too hot outside, and rooms did not have air conditioning yet, she spent her days reading in the lobby. There she met her current husband, Levent. “I thought he was working at the hotel, because he was so busy working all the time, but later on he turned out to be the owner.”
The following six months, Terhi travelled up and down to Alanya, and Levent came to Finland to meet her father. “I’m an only child and my parents were naturally protective of me. I already wanted to leave for Alanya and live there, but my parents didn’t let me go before I had a job and my own apartment there.” That was settled and Terhi started as a travel agent. The first six months, Terhi’s mother came with her to see how it would go in this other country.
“For my parents it wasn’t easy seeing their daughter leave for Turkey. But when they got to know Levent better, and also his family later on, they could calm down a bit, also because I was treated very well as a foreigner. I never had any problems with the Turkish people. When you come to Europe as a foreigner, people often look at you different. But in Alanya I have never felt like an outsider. Maybe also because I’m one of those people who doesn’t get upset easily. And I entered the family immediately, so I wasn’t looked at as a ‘foreigner with a Turkish boyfriend’.”
The things that were really different, were mainly practical, says Terhi. "For example the food. In Finland I was living on so called readymade meals. Fine food in our country but in Turkey they just don’t have it. Nothing pre-cooked or pre-cut or already cleaned. You had to do everything yourself. The first time I felt like having chicken was really traumatic. At that time it wasn’t possible to buy chicken filet or chicken legs. At the fish and vegetables market I had to buy a whole chicken and clean it myself at home. I managed, but don’t ask me how!”
In 1998 Detur was founded in Alanya, a tour operator focused on tourists from Scandinavian countries. Terhi was their first hostess and welcomed the first airplane to arrive with Scandinavian tourists at Antalya Airport. Meanwhile Detur is one of the largest tour operators of Alanya. “I was - so to speak - brought up with this company. When I started, tourism was still very different from today. Scandinavians were then what the Russians are now. And probably like the Germans before that. I mean: often it was their first trip abroad, alcohol was cheap and they didn’t know their limit. At that time Turkey was known as an inexpensive holiday destination and especially Alanya had the image of a cheap beach resort. That has changed over the years.”
Tour operators and entrepreneurs, together with municipality, police and other parties, started to modernize Alanya. “We then started to promote the new Alanya and at one point we saw more and more diverse tourists visiting Alanya: young, old, families, highly educated, poorly educated. And that is how it should be. We don’t have the luxury to say we only want tourists with lots of money. We need all tourists. Also elderly who might be living on tight retirement income and families with children that work hard to save money to go on holiday. We respect all tourists and Alanya should remain attractive for all visitors. This means for example that small, cheaper hotels mustn’t disappear. These are the ones that made Alanya what it is today and there is still demand for them.”
According to Terhi, there is still a lot that can be done to attract a more diverse public to Alanya. “The range of activities for families with children is still underdeveloped. There is a Luna park and an Aqua park but in comparison with for example the possibilities in Spain, we can do a lot here. I am thinking of a zoo of some kind. We have a lot of animals here, like cows, sheep, chickens, horses. Most Finnish children have never seen a donkey in real life. If you develop a nice, clean, well maintained zoo here, I’m sure it will be popular with tourists.”