Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Parisian shortbread, Turkey and cats.

Sylvie's stellar decorating skills are on display in the Sibel's reception area

Should you find yourself in city of Antalya on the Turkish Mediterranean coast (well you never know), and should you be weary from your travels, in need of a room with a western bathroom and a cracking aircon then listen up – the Sibel Pansiyon will light your fire.

Tucked in the back alleys of the historic Kaleiçi district of the city, the Sibel is a Parisian shortbread in the budget hotel cookie barrel. The unseasoned traveller may at first mistake the hotel for a kooky upmarket cattery whatwith the boggling number of moggies sprawling on all available surfaces, however a quick turn about the streets and one will find that the stray cat is in fact the national animal and no respectable establishment (restaurants included) would count itself Turkish without at least fifteen. Thus the Sibel is both undeniably French and Turkish, and it is with the marrying of the two that the story began …

Some years ago a charming Parisian songbird named Sylvie met a dashing Turk. They fell in love, married and moved to Antalya with their son, who grew up to be very thin and possessing the most wild of beards. It is Sylvie and her son who greet us when we arrive with the warmest bustling, chatty welcome (truthfully the son is more of an inert object than anything, but Sylvie has enough joy de vivre for the two of them). Exclamations ensue –
‘Oh but you came so far today!’
‘Oh but you do enjoy your trip so far!’
‘Oh oui oui of course we can do that for you, oui!’
And we are escorted by this Warhammer playing son from the quaintly shambolic reception area (reminiscent of Nanna’s lounge room) to an equally quaint room decked out with Turkish carpets and French countryhouse furnishings. The most unique thing about this room though is the prospect from the window – we are literally across the road from the ruins of an Ottoman-period church, which is surreal to me considering not a building existed in my neighbourhood until a measly two hundred years ago, if that.

And finally breakfast. Never have I had such an eager hostess, such nodding and smiling and delightful French babble, such lovely cheese and delicious peaches (plates of which kept appearing on the table once Sylvie discovered we liked them, until we either had to burst or walk-away-Renee). We sat in the ivy and cat strewn courtyard bathed in goodwill, listening to crickets and feeling the balmy morning air settle on our skin and I honestly wished breakfast would never end.

But end it did and our delightful Turkish-French cross culture experience is yesterday's news - we're road tripping to older F-off sized ruins at Ephesus - Kaleiçi UPSIZED. For any intrepid traveller who may wish to pick up where I left off, the 411:
Nightly rate is 60 Turkish Lira for a double, breakfast and internet included.