Mediterranean Islands Photo Essay

Photo Essay: Antalya, Turkey, on the Mediterranean Sea Special

Antalya - Located in the south of Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea, Antalya is a city of sunny castles, Greek temples, Roman gates, Ottoman mosques, and Christian churches. It is also a popular destination for tourists from cold climates.
Turkey is a country of contrasts. In the north, near the Black Sea and Istanbul, the weather can be stormy and cold, like eastern Europe. In the east, high mountains draw skiers to vast deposits of snow, and desert-like terrains uncover stone-age civilizations. In the west, Izmir and its Aegean islands create a Greek-like dream. And in the south, Antalya nestles on a crescent bay of Mediterranean sunshine framed by mountains. I went to Antalya because the weather is like my native Southern California. I enjoyed living near Istanbul, but after surviving one cold winter, I didn't want another. The Antalyan summer was so hot that many locals went up to their mountain cabins, and it didn't rain for four months. But I loved it, exploring the Old Castle (Kaleiçi) section of town with my Turkish husband, taking romantic sunset cruises out of the yacht harbor, and swimming at Lara or Konyaaltı Beach under stars in the calm, warm Mediterranean. It was easy (but time-consuming) to get around the spread-out city by bus or tram. The Mediterranean-style food was not expensive, and I found shops selling traditional Turkish goods in old stone buildings not far from modern shopping malls. Tall apartment buildings held balconies and roof-top, solar-powered water tanks. Narrow, cobbled streets wound between old stone villas. Grand hotels offered strong Turkish tea on the beach. I explored Duden Waterfall, took photos of Hadrian's Gate, and walked through the modern campus of Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University. Although I didn't get to the historic places of Aspendos or Olympos, Antalya was one of my favorite places in Turkey.
An overview of the Kaleiçi (Old Castle) section of Antalya. The castle walls frame the harbor.
Imagine dining with this view of the Mediterranean Sea and distant mountains

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What do you picture when you think of the Greek Islands? Blue-domed churches? Romantic beaches? Postcard-perfect ocean views?

Well, I have good news for you: the Greek Islands ARE full of these things, and plenty more besides.

My first brief taste of Greece did not go so well; I felt no connection at all to the mainland cities like Athens and Thessaloniki that I visited last year. But the Greek Islands? They promised to be different.

So, when I began planning the Europe leg of my round-the-world trip earlier this year, a couple of weeks in the Greek Islands was the first thing I put on my itinerary. And I am SO glad that I decided to go back to Greece — because the islands BLEW. ME. AWAY.

I'll be going into a lot more depth on each of the 5 islands I visited on my tour with Intrepid Travel (as well an overview of the tour itself) in the coming weeks, but I wanted to start off with what I'm dubbing “My Big Fat Greek Islands Photo Essay” — as much Greek Islands goodness as I can cram into one post.

Enjoy!

Syros

My introduction to the Greek Islands was Syros, a marble-paved, smallish-sized island in the Cyclades. There were basically no tourists on this island in early September, and so it was the perfect place to get used to the “slow-slow” pace of life in this part of the world.

Mykonos

If you want to party, Mykonos is the island to visit. With its Paradise and Super Paradise beaches being world-famous (and also very gay-friendly) and its nightclubs being packed even in September, Mykonos was a fun second stop.

Santorini

Santorini. Ooooh, Santorini. This is the island you see all the postcards of blue-domed churches from. And its cliff-top villages of Fira and (especially) Oia did not disappoint in the least.

Ios

A more rural island (yet still known for its party scene), Ios really surprised me with how pretty it was — in a sort of rugged, brown kind of way. If you want contrasts, you'll find them here.

Naxos

The last island we visited was also the largest — in fact, Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, requiring bus rides to get to its tiny, aging villages. It's also a fairly mountainous island, which was not something I was expecting to find.

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks, because there's a lot more where this came from!

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Based on photos, which Greek island would YOU most want to explore?

 

 

*Note: I received a complimentary Greek Islands tour from Intrepid Travel through my partnership with them. All opinions, though, as always are entirely my own.

Amanda

Traveler. Blogger. Photographer. All-around adventure-seeker. Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to see the world.

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