Thursday, January 20, 2011

All-Inclusive Turkish Riviera

Many tourists who swarm to the Turkish Riviera each year—around 25 million—end up holed up in an all-inclusive 5-star hotel. There are lots of reasons for this, the first being that very few foreign tourists speak Turkish, so they’re wary of heading off the beaten path where they can’t read the menu.

And what’s wrong with an all-inclusive 5-star hotel anyway? The short answer is this: plenty. The long answer is that most tourists get all they need from these hotels (sun, food, alcohol, activities for the children), so they serve their purpose (to make me 2 kilos fatter). So why criticize a successful billion-lira industry?

“All-inclusive” means that all your food—breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snack—and all your drinks are included. But what do you actually get?

If you take a drive along the Turkish Riviera from Antalya to Alanya, you’ll see a million orange trees. There’ll be men in trucks along the motorway selling oranges. There’ll be monuments to the Great Orange. I’m sure half the villages on the Turkish Riviera are named after the orange. But will you get real orange juice for breakfast at your all-inclusive hotel? I hope you do, but we didn’t. We got orange sugar water. For REAL orange juice we would have had to pay 4 lira a glass.

I love coffee. Maybe you read my post about the Starbucks in Ubud, Bali (Indonesia). I’m a “bit” particular about my coffee in the morning. I grind my beans. Heat my cup. Let the coffee steep (steeping is so important). I use a French Press made in Denmark. It’s ceramic and will someday break (my heart). The smell of freshly ground Arabica coffee beans soothes and wakes at the same time.

Have you ever smelled Nescafé? I’ve been to their site, so yeah yeah yeah I know it’s real coffee, but it certainly doesn’t smell like real coffee. And it’s gluten-free supposedly, so I could have drunk it. I could have drunk the water out of the toilet too. All things are possible. I'm sure there are lots of Nescafé fans out there, and I don't mean to offend you. Ha.

The Turkish would marry Nescafé if they could (or maybe they’re just in love with the profit they make from drowning tourists in instant coffee). If you hate instant coffee, ask politely for coffee from the machine at the bar. There will certainly be one. I went with the waiter to the other end of the hotel and showed him the machine (with the coffee beans in the top). The next morning there was a new waiter, so I took him all the way to the other end of the hotel and showed him what I meant when I said I wanted “coffee.” And so on. I went through the same procedure every morning.

The food? I won’t dare complain about the food. The food was terrific. I love Turkish salads. Lamb: yum. Fresh fruit (you can eat all the oranges you want, but they won’t make you juice). Incidentally, if you take excursions to one of the beautiful towns along the coast, you can get a glass of freshly squeezed orange or pomegranite juice for around 1 euro ($1.35), a fourth of the price they charged at the hotel.

But complaining is much more fun. The wine? Wow, so bad. Much worse than bad. The white wine tasted like medicine; the red wine smacked of cherry juice. But you know what they say, the first sip is the worst. I managed to struggle through a few glasses each night. What? It was included.

If you’re booking an all-inclusive holiday in an enormous hotel, know what you’re getting yourself into. The hotel will cut corners. You’re in a herd, so expect to be fed accordingly. If you really want to enjoy the Turkish Riviera, rent a car and head to the stunning Taurus mountains, but of course be back at your hotel for dinner. You won't want to miss that tasty wine.

I must be off,
Christopher

5 comments:

  1. They won't make OJ, they are dead to me. End of.

    You should write a guide to good coffee worldwide. I can't drink the stuff, it gives me the runs.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh man--I can both see the temptation, and the loss of experience with this. It seems that for the price difference, you could instead pay a translater to hang out with you for a few days and take you to the real sights with the good deals on real food and drink. (but yeah... no matter how bad, I'd probably drink the booze too, if it were included and all)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, Mark! I should! Unfortunately it would be only my taste in coffee. It's such a touchy subject. I would be funny though.

    Hart! :) You'd be surprised how cheap these all-inclusive hotels are in January. I think that's another reason people do it. To be fair, the hotels have the real food. The food is fantastic. They just don't put so much importance on things like real coffee and real juice. The vodka was real . . . I think.

    ReplyDelete
  4. With you all the way - real coffee and real OJ. But mind you whilst the Spanish only serve real coffee they do seem to take the abundance of the local crop (I live on Spain's Costa Blanca - oranges for everywhere, even after the construction boom)for granted and the packet stuff is more in evidence. But some bars will squeeze you the real stuff (if you know here to go)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hardly dare admit that I love Nescafé`s Instant Chocolate Cappucino... Sorry.
    But for real coffee, go to one of the old-fashioned plushy cafés in Holland.
    And no, I don`t mean a coffee shop.

    ReplyDelete

INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEAVING A COMMENT: To leave a comment, first choose how you would like to do so by clicking on the drop-down menu Comment As and select your provider. In many cases this will be Google if you have a gmail account. The quickest way to leave a comment is to choose Anonymous. Then write your comment and click on Publish. Then the blog will ask you to confirm that you are not a robot. Do this. You might have to click on some rivers or dogs, but it takes only a moment or two. Then click on publish again. You're all set. This should work.