Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Antalya with Tchibo Resien

We booked a trip to Antalya during the Christmas week in 2013 with Tchibo Reisen. The prices were decent (€1800 for 7 days/nights for 2 adults and 2 kids with airfare from Stuttgart, airport transfers in Turkey and hotel room with meals and drinks included) and my wife wanted to get away for at least one week during the German Christmas break.

We booked really early (in September) and though we had confirmation that the trip was booked, the only other info we had received until a week before the trip was that the hotel was under renovation. Not exactly welcome news but there was nothing we could do about it as the email containing the info made clear that cancelling was not an option. A week before the trip airline tickets and all vouchers arrived in the mail.

The vouchers had a couple of unwelcome surprises. One of the selling points of the trip was that train tickets to the Stuttgart airport were included as part of the trip. Technically this was true. However, the flight to Antalya was so early in the morning that it was not possible to get to the airport with the train. It was not an option to take the train the day before either as the train voucher was only good for the day of the flight. Another surprise was that the flight back was at 6 in the morning. Meaning we ended up having to wake up at 2:30 to catch the transfer to the airport. That being said, the flights on Freebird Airlines were well organised, and everything about the flights was hassle free.

The Antalya airport was also a good experience, considering I was expecting an Indian airport type experience. Its a relatively compact airport and there are no long treks. We disembarked, got our luggage, headed outside to the kiosk for H&H touristik (which was organising the transfer) which was directly outside. Our names were on a sheet with the bus number that would take us to our hotel. We jumped on the bus, waited for everyone to arrive and about 45 minutes after we got off the plane were at the hotel. It was all super easy.

We had chosen to stay at Hotel Titanic. We got to the hotel, checked in took about 10 minutes with minimal waiting. I had read reviews about Hotel Titanic on Trip Advisor and though most of the reviews were great, there were people who hated the place (I am a pessimist more than an optimist and so was not entirely sure what to expect) The hotel was great. It was very clean overall, our rooms were in great shape, the bathrooms were super, though our room was a bit on the small side for 2 adults and 2 kids (but that came down to what we were willing to pay) We also had a pretty large balcony that faced the sea side of the hotel which we unfortunately did not use too much since it was the end of December.

The food at the hotel was also really good. There was a really good salad bar to choose from for every meal, and even though I abhor salads in general, I willingly ate salads for several meals. The real plus was that there was no fighting with the kids as the what they wanted to eat. There was always something that fit their fancy. The only downside to the food situation is that it is buffet style and I had a really tough time holding back from over eating. I gained at least 2 kilos during the week we spent there. I also had not expected that alcohol would be included but we never had to pay for anything. Beer and wine was offered with dinner and the bars on the ground floor looked like they had most of the popular hard drinks (again at no extra cost) There was also a cafe on the ground floor that had sandwiches and desserts in case you were hungry outside of regular meal times.

The hotel had a good indoor pool, a few different saunas, and a turkish bath, all free for use. Since we were here during low season, none of the facilities were ever full. We felt like we always had a run of the place. There was a great fitness room with free weights and machines which I used every day. There was also an olympic style outdoor pool with lanes that looked like it would be great for doing laps. If I had known how to swim, I definitely would've given it a shot but I never saw anyone in there.

A part of the package was a free tour into Antalya, which included the requisite stops at a jewelry place as well as a leather store where there was hardly any pressure to buy anything. Those were a bit annoying but it also included a free trip into the city, a boat ride around the harbor and a tour guide who was friendly and really interesting to listen to. For subsequent trips into Antalya, it turned out that a bus (LC 07) went right past the hotel and it hit all the tourist sights: Downtown Antalya, the archeology museum (I am not into archeology by any means but this museum was downright fascinating)

TerraCity Mall, the weekly Saturday market in Lara......etc etc. Be warned though that the bus is pretty much packed during normal hours. Expect to stand in a bus packed to the brim.

We also organised a trip to Aspendos via the taxi stand that is directly in front of the hotel. We paid €70 for the 45 minute ride there and back as well as for the driver to wait there for about 2 hours. I really enjoyed wandering around Aspendos (which is far more than just the amphitheater) and the drive there and back gave me more of a sense of what Turkey is like outside of the big city.

The weather was pretty good during the week we were there. It was generally sunny and warm in the afternoons, except for one afternoon mid week where it was overcast (which made it a bit chilly) and on the last evening, there was a pretty extreme thunderstorm that started in the late evening and was still going on when we flew out on Sunday morning. Also on the last evening, there was an earthquake of magnitude 5.8. I was in the pool with the kids and did not notice a thing. My wife came by and said there was a lot of shaking in the rooms but nothing more. Everyone was a bit frazzled but nothing more happened.

I really enjoyed the trip but I am not sure I would do the trip again as an all inclusive package. This has nothing to do with any problem we faced. It seemed like 75% of everyone at the hotel was over 60 and/or was just there for the food/drink/shopping. It was a very inactive bunch of people, who also seemed like they had little interest in experiencing any of the culture that was on offer. I had conversations with a few of the guests and most were about where we were from, rather than where we were at. No one seemed interested in talking about Turkey, at least apart from the shopping on offer. That annoyed me more than anything else. And a lot. In the end though, this trip was perfect for us at the time we took it.


Antalya Vacation Planner said...

It seems that you enjoyed alot in Christmas vacations in Antalya..Even I was in Antalya city during Christmas time in December with my whole family..
I had planned trip for 3 days for exploring the city from closer.

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