1 day in Antakya
An usual day as a tourist in Turkey and especially in Antakyashould definitely start with a healthy and diverse breakfast.
This is how our first day started in one of our trips there. We woke up relaxed and went to have breakfast in an outdoor restaurant, 15 min away from Antakya, Yagmur Restorant ve Kahvalti Salonu. 2 very nice waiters welcomed us and arranged for us a table exactly where we wanted in the yard.
At first we were surprised to see that they were arranging a big table for only 5 people but what followed was even more surprising as you can see in the below picture.
You might think this is too much but people here enjoy taking time to have breakfast, eating slowly while discussing different topics and in the end actually finishing everything and even ask for more.
Traditionally, comparing with the western culture, you first drink black tea, as strong as you want as you receive a cup with infused tea and one with hot water to prepare your tea as per your taste and at the end you can enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee. Of course, you can also ask for coffee first and for sure you will surprise the locals.
After this breakfast you need a walk so we did this. In 15 minutes by car we reached St Simon Church, on the hills of Hatay from where you can enjoy a beautiful landscape of both hills and sea.
St Simon Stylites the Younger, was a Christian monk that dedicated his life to preach in this church in the first century A.C. There are not too many information about how this monastery was abandoned or if it was really abandoned but for sure it was still working as a monastery in 11 century. What is impressive here is the immense building, built almost 2000 years ago on these hills as details of the decorations and of the walls are still visible.
After this religious emersion we went to visit Vespasianus Tunnel, a tunnel built in the first century A.D to deviate the water during the floods. The way from the beach to the tunnel it’s just a relaxing walk in the nature, having the possibility of stopping to watch different type of birds that are living in this habitat or have a break with a coffee, tea or fresh fruits.
The tunnel is built into the rock, making you feel very little comparing to its magnitude. Worth to mention to wear sport shoes and not sandals or slippers as inside the tunnel it is pretty dark and the rock might be slippery. Just near the tunnel, few years ago there were discovered some caves that were hosting some beautiful sarcophaguses dating from Roman empire. These sarcophaguses are today exposed in Hatay Archaeology Museum.
The rest of the day was just well spent in Samandag beach, enjoying a beautiful sunset and a delicious dinner by the sea.