Difference between revisions of "Mediterranean Turkey"
Revision as of 20:03, 7 March 2011
Mediterranean Turkey (Akdeniz Bölgesi) is a region in Turkey. It occupies entire southern coast of Turkey and some places more inland.
Mediterranean coast of Turkey is mostly a narrow strip of land squeezed in between pine-covered Taurus Mountains (Toros) and the Mediterranean Sea. Having speared from pollution thanks to the lack of heavy industry, besides lying under one of the sunniest skies of Europe in addition to the rich art and history makes the region top tourism destination in the country.
Home to a number of ancient civilizations, namely Lycia, Pamphylia, and Cilicia west to east, Mediterranean Turkey was captured by the Romans about a century before the birth of Christ. After a brief occupation by the Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem, as evidenced by a number of Crusader-built or -expanded citadels mainly on the eastern sections of the region, and a number of Crusader-backed Armenian kingdoms, Turkic Seljuqs seized the region. It was during this era when the ancestors of most of the region's locals poured in from Central Asia as nomadic tribes. Some still keep the tradition to this day, wintering on the warm coast and heading for heights of Taurus Mountains or plateaus of Central Anatolia more inland to the north when summer approaches with their goat and camel caravans. Seljuqs were later replaced by Ottomans in around 1400s.
As expected, Mediterranean Turkey enjoys the typical Mediterranean climate: the temperature can go above 40°C in rainless—and even cloudless—summers, while the rest of the year is quite rainy, although winter lows rarely go below +5°C and snowfall is virtually unknown in the region (except the tops of the quite high mountains close to the coastal strip, of course). The season with the highest amount of rainfall is winter (more or less limited to late October through early April in this region) and can be accompanied by strong winds, to the point of storms, in the localities close to the shore, especially around Antalya.
Water temperature of the Mediterranean Sea is around 28°C during summer, i.e. May through October.
Inland Lakes District has an altogether different continental climate than the rest of the region, and the winters can be severe and quite snowy there.
The region is home to a plethora of Turkish dialects, from Muğla şivesi, some of which is totally incomprehensible for non-local Turks spoken in Lycia to the dialect of Cilician Mountains, which is essentially a mainland "extension" of Cypriot Turkish. Syrian dialect of Arabic is also prevalent around Antakya.
However, thanks to heavy tourism, English will likely be enough to communicate during your trip, especially in the western parts of the region (i.e. Pamphylia and Lycia) and especially if you don't intend to go off the beaten path. German, Russian, and Scandinavian languages may also be helpful, especially when you visit one of the resort towns mainly frequented by those nations.
By public transport
Buses (for long-haul routes such as Antalya to Adana) and minibuses (for shorter routes between a major city and nearby towns) will be your main mode of transportation within the region. Services are fairly frequent and quite comfortable, and especially so in more touristed areas of Lycia and Pamphylia.
There is no long-haul ferry route along the coast, however, round boat trips offer pleasant cruises into remoter parts of the coastline from major touristy towns.
There are no flights between region's airports.
The highway D400, which closely follows the shoreline of Turkish Mediterranean from one end to another, is the main road of the region. While most of it is very wide (at least 2 lanes per direction) and in a very good condition, some sections are very winding and narrow such as the section between Alanya and Silifke. There are other roads, such as D650, which connects more inland regions (Lakes District) with the D400, thus the coastline.
While local cuisine traditionally embraces goat meat, which is less common to the much of the rest of the country and may lead to stomach trouble to who are unaccustomed to it, restaurants in touristy towns frequently feature more familiar treats. Fish restaurants abound in seaside towns, while typical Turkish fast food döner and the like is common in bigger towns and cities. Adana in the east is known for its own style of kebabs (Adana kebabı), while cuisine of Antakya to southeast, being culturally a part of neighbouring Syria, features highly delicious and partially vegetarian (or even vegan)-friendly Middle Eastern fare.
A great way to reduce your bottled water costs in this hot region is to use free cold water dispensers, locally called sebil (pronounced say-beel), which can usually be found on the sides of the streets and mosque courtyards in less-touristed towns and neighbourhoods in the region. They look like small, white refrigators and usually have two faucets: red one delivers warm (or mildly hot depending on the weather) water, while the blue one offers comfortably cold water. Though the water coming out of the faucets is not from a commercially-bottled jar, and likely from the city water network, it's harmless and causes no stomach upsets. A way to reduce the risk may be allowing yourself a week after arrival in the region to get accustomed to local microflora and -fauna that may be present in the water and then taking full advantage of sebils.
Mediterranean Turkey lies on a more southern latitude than anywhere else in Europe except Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete, so take it easy in the beginning of your trip and pay close attention to early signs of heat stroke and dehydration. While on the beach, applying liberal amounts of sun lotion wouldn't hurt.
If you plan to spend time in the mountains, be wary of scorpions. They thrive in Mediterranean climate and rocky areas are their habitats, so never reach under a rock without carefully checking first. Keeping your backpack closed at all times will keep them out, and don't forget to check the inside of your shoes first, should you take them out for any amount of time.
On crowded public beaches (i.e., those that aren't owned and enclosed by a resort hotel), don't leave your valuables like cell phones and cameras unattended, or better yet, don't take them to the beach. While many beaches are patrolled by the police and security cameras, there are still reports of petty theft.