One of the things I love about living in Antalya is exploring the different neighborhoods. While studying at Tomer for the month of December I had the opportunity to get to know the part of downtown known as Dogu Garaji ( East Garage). This area is just steps away from the upscale restaurants on Attaturk Caddesi and the tourist shops in Kaleici, but it’s a world apart in atmosphere.
I always used to get lost in the winding streets of Dogu Garaji, whose defining landmark is a giant hole in the ground. It’s not the only unfinished construction project in Antalya (the white shell at Eski Otogar is just steps away) but I believe it is the largest. I asked my teacher, Aysun, about it, and she said the construction had begun for a shopping center when ancient ruins were found at the site. I wonder how long it will take to dig up the ruins? I’ve been here over two years and haven’t seen any change in this crater.
Much of Dogu Garaji seems to be under construction, which gives the area a bombed-out look. Other than Kaleici, Dogu Garaji is the oldest part of the city. You can see its age in the narrow cobblestone streets, contrasting sharply with the palm-lined avenues of Ataturk and Isiklar. In the holiday season (Turks don’t celebrate Christmas but they do have Christmas trees at their New Year celebrations) the avenues are festively decorated with lights.
Despite the area’s run down look, there is much to discover in Dogu Garaji. One morning I happened to pass a Helvaci (a place where they make the sesame candy we call Halvah in the states) and I stopped to take a photo of it. The woman working next door was hanging up clothes, and I heard her say to someone “Yabanci galiba” (I guess she’s a foreigner). No doubt someone had asked her why I was photographing the helvaci. I started talking to her, explaining that the store was interesting to me because we don’t have whole shops dedicated to this confection, and she told me this helvaci was actually quite famous and was the oldest in the city.
Another discovery was that the best street food downtown is in Dogu Garagi. It makes sense, since this is an area with a lot of students. There are several language schools as well as dershanes in the area. Dershanes are the Kaplan Courses of Turkey; students go there to prepare for tests.
So now I know to go to Serhat for a quick lunch downtown. I get a delicious chicken doner with lettuce, tomato, mayo, ketchup, and pickles as well as an ayran (yoghurt drink) for a total of 3 lira (about $2). I also know I can get an Izmir sandwich (a salami hero) across from Serhat, and that there are two ev yemekleris (home cooking places) just across from the Post Office bus stop, where I can get a full meal if I’m really hungry.
And of course, the area is full of stores. Clothing (everything from traditional baggy pants, salvar, to trashy lingerie), household goods, and just about anything else you can think of is available at the best prices in town. Are you looking for a vintage alarm clock? Here you go:
I haven’t bought anything lately, but it’s always fun to window shop. Sometimes the designs here are quite…interesting.
Yes, that purple thing is a lamp. Inside the purple metal pine cones are little light bulbs. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.Google+