Anytime of the year is good to visit Sagalassos, a two hour drive north of Turkey’s Mediterranean tourist hotspot, Antalya, but my favourite time is winter when this ancient site set in the Taurus mountains is covered in a layer of crisp snow. First, take a climb up to the 9000 seat stone-built theatre in order to orientate yourself and savour the view over the remains of this remote but important Pisidian city, most of which dates back to the 1st and 2nd century AD. Then head down to the library, complete with a mosaic floor, the rock cut tombs, a good place to shelter from the wind and bask in the sun, the agora with the decorative fountain, the Antonine Nyphaeum now boasting reproduction statues, the reconstructed heroon and the remains of the ancient bathhouse. In early spring, despite the lingering snow, purple croci can be glimpsed among the rocks and noisy nuthatches dart between the boulders. The site has ongoing excavations every summer, but for the rest of the year, you are likely to have the entire site to yourself.
‘Son Çare’ (meaning Last Chance), situated in Antalya’s atmospheric and beautifully restored Kaleiçi (old town) provides a glorious sight at any time of the day. This small – barely more than a kiosk – establishment is secreted away just behind the picture postcard Clock Tower. It comes into its own late at night when the bars, clubs and music venues are starting to disgorge their customers.
The smell and sound of sizzling köfte (a spicy Turkish meatball) will direct you to the right place. Ask for a köfte sandwich and the guy will throw four or five meat balls on to the barbeque, closely followed by a generous portion of bread. Once this is cooked, the fun really begins - a large counter out front displays every kind of fresh salad vegetable available including: different types of lettuce, rocket, flat-leafed parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, onions, carrots, the list goes on. Next there are bowls of spices: pul biber (red pepper flakes), sumac, thyme, cumin, black pepper and small but deadly pickled chillies. Fill your sandwich to your heart’s content and wash it all down with a cool glass of ayran – a refreshing salty yoghurt drink.
Not only does this mop up any alcohol and help ward off next day’s hangover, but you can feel justified in having indulged yourself in a healthy snack. Beats chips with curry sauce any day.
Just off Dönerci Çarşısı, close to the clock tower in Antalya's Kaleici - just ask any local!
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