Leaving Antalya - The story of Hanni and Cordelia
Trip Start Nov 05, 2008
16Trip End Nov 25, 2008
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This morning we said goodbye to Antalya and sadly to our
fantastic hostess and pension owner, Hanni. When you travel its seems that sometimes, if rarely, you
meet someone who instantly feels like an old friend.
Denis and I had arrived in Antalya with little knowledge and
less expectation. It had never
come up in our discussion of our trip's itinerary as we poured over maps and
consulted the traveler's holy books, Fodor's and Lonely Planet. Yet there we were, at yet another
adequate but unmemorable pension called the Blue Sea Garden Hotel surrounded by
ancient walls of the Old City; a tip from a couple of Aussies who had just
passed that way.
of the empty alleys n the late afternoon of our second day, we passed a lovely
garden set up with bistro chairs and tables underneath an overhang of twisting
offered bed and breakfast for 25YTL (@ 17 US.) Even more compelling, another sign promised Senseo Filter
Coffee! We went inside to inquire
about a room and met Hanni. I
don't think Denis or I had to say anything because we both knew at that moment
we had decided to spend another day in Antalya.
Hanni exudes all the greatest attributes of humanity:
Intelligence, Warmth, Strength and Beauty. She is a smallish woman in her mid
sixties with piercing blue eyes, a long grey braid which curled around her
neck, wearing a long caftan and embroidered Hmong boots. In perfect English, she took us
on a tour of her tidy, nicely decorated pension. The room was lovely and... the espresso machine was in working
following night and retreated to the beautiful terrace for a smoke and chat
with a middle aged Swedish woman named Cordelia, (we think,) who we would later
learn to pity.
Antalya became the vacation portion of our voyage. The truth be known, D and I did not
visit any of Antalya's plentiful historical sites or museums. I think it will always be a small
disappointment that we didn't make it to the Archeological Museum, which is
said to house some of the finest examples of statuary of the Greek Gods. Alas, we spent our two days wandering
about the sprawling city by the sea drinking coffee, tea and trying, sometimes
in vain, to locate the cities lauded eateries.
pension for an evening with Hanni and company.
A young Turkish
woman whom we had not met earlier greeted us. She was Hanni's evening help with
the restaurant service. Candles
had been lit; soft Turkish music was playing. Hanni was seated on the tufted,
carved back sofa puffing on a long thin white HD cigarette. Across from her sat a young Turkish man
with dreadlocks and a strikingly handsome face. A plump, mid thirties British woman who proved to be more
charming and smarter than her ridiculous Goth get up might suggest was eating
and chatting with the room.
Cordelia, the Swedish woman we had met the previous day was seated at a
table for one eating a bowl of soup.
She was very happy to see us again recounting how she had gone swimming,
visited a 700-year-old Hamam and floated about the city alone that day. She looked forward to spending
her evening at Hanni's pension in the company of people like her. "This place
feels like home," she declared. It
felt odd but true to agree.
Hanni and Cordelia made for odd bookends of the same story.
Both had come to Turkey in the hopes of finding an affordable life in a warm
weather country close to the sea.
Both had been the tragic victims of Turkey's less-than-correct real
estate market. Cordelia told us how a Turk/Swedish team of swindlers had sold
the same 25 new construction apartments to over 40 buyers. Most lost everything but she had fought...
hard. Almost a year and a half had
passed without the apartment being habitable and she still didn't have the
certificate of ownership. She
could not leave the country for fear of squatters moving in while she was
absent, could not work in Turkey since she had not received her papers and had
lost her job and benefits in Sweden where she had been a teacher. She spent her days living on 15 YTL (@
10 US) waiting ...and wallowing in her victim hood and blond, femaleness in the
land of the savage Turk.
Hanni had come to Turkey for the same reasons: warmth in
semiretirement after the death of her husband over 20 years ago. She had bought a home in a nearby town
which under Turkey's tourism boom had become unlivable with the throngs of
German tourists and mega sized resort hotels When she tried to sell the home that had cost her
twice as much as any Turk would have paid, she was told that the home had not
been built to plan and therefore uninhabitable by law. A generous Turkish man offered to help
her by buying the house for half its value. Just days after the sale the problem with the plans had been
solved and the house was back on the market. A cautionary tale....
Yes, she is bitter but she is not a victim. "The Turks," she
says, " are miserable but they cannot beat me." She speaks perfect Turkish, runs one of the nicest pensions
we have seen with her cat, Bari and dog, Sarah as companions along with 2
chickens and 17 tortoises, welcomes Turks and foreigners alike into her home
for a cup of tea or a warm kofte from her kitchen and proudly displays a royal
crest above the entrance which states, " je maintienerai." (I will survive!)
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