We’re bar people. You’ll know that, anyway, if you read this blog on a regular basis…
Wherever we are, we always find ourselves a little place; a haven where we can just sit, rest, feel comfortable with our surroundings, not worry about the outside world. We’re no strangers to a few beers – we love a beer! – but it’s not just about the beer. It’s something else.
Some people like to sit in cafes and coffee shops. Others like to while away a few idle moments, sitting on a bench overlooking their favourite view. We like all of those things, too…but for us, they’re just not the same as a bar. A bar has it’s own unique personality and is a familiar, friendly face even when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings.
And we know it’s not just us. At the moment, Barbara at Turkish Muse is on the hunt for that special somewhere in her current home city of Izmir; somewhere along the kordon where she can sit with a glass of wine at the end of a long day. She is yet to find that place and we feel her pain and wish her luck in her quest!
I don’t know if we’ve been lucky in being drawn to our special havens (or maybe we’re actually just not that fussy), but wherever we’ve been to on our travels, we have vivid memories of the pubs and bars we have settled into. There’s something about the atmosphere of a building that makes us think, ‘That’s my bar!’
Living in Turkey, spending time in bars has helped us to break down a few barriers. Deep Blue Bar in Fethiye is where we’ve met almost all of our Turkish friends. We know tour guides, dentists, teachers, computer programmers, students, civil servants – all people we wouldn’t have met had we not spent time in the bar. A person we met in there introduced us to Baraka Bar in Istanbul; somewhere we would never had found without her suggestion.
Deep Blue is also where we heard our first Turkish rock track (Bir Derdim Var by Mor ve Ötesi) and from that, we’re now huge fans of many types of Turkish music. That’s been an important part in helping us to settle into life in Turkey – we like our music!
And maybe in Turkey, that’s what it is for us. Maybe the music plays quite an important part in this equation. Our friends’ occupations are not important. Much of the time, the type of music determines the type of people who go into a bar and therefore determines whether you enjoy your experience in that building.
Filika Bar in Antalya’s Kaleiçi drew us immediately. It was our oasis in a city centre we were struggling to get to grips with. Don’t get us wrong; downtown Antalya is a beautiful city and a must-see…but for some reason, it just wasn’t happening for us. Filika Bar however, is a fond memory.
We wandered in there on our first night in Antalya and that was us for the weekend. Live music on all three nights, good crowd, good staff. On one afternoon it poured down with rain just as we were wandering around to take some photos. Oh, how we were pleased we had a haven – a happy shelter – nearby.
I say that because as we rushed inside and ordered a beer, we watched the torrential rain outside. We also watched through the window as other tourists stood outside – in the rain – getting wet – wondering where to go – flip flops – bedraggled. That’s what put this blog post in my head. ‘What are you doing? Come inside, get dry and experience this bar,’ we wanted to shout. But even though they were getting wet and looked lost and confused, they obviously weren’t bar people.
That day is our best memory of this bar. We were the only people in there, taking shelter from the rain. Black and white photos of various Turkish rock stars from the 1960s and 1970 lined the walls. The usual suspects: Cem Karaca, Erkin Koray, Barış Manço and another face we didn’t recognise. We asked the guy behind the bar who he was. Bingo!
“It’s Kasım Koyuncu,” said our previously bored bartender, now looking a bit confused.
“Is he a famous singer or musician?”
“Yes! And the other people are…”
“We know those people,” and we proceed to say who they are to the surprise of the 20-something bar guy.
A conversation follows and it turns out that Kasım Koyuncu sadly passed away in 2005, was an environmental activist and was also a fantastic musician.
For our introduction to Kasım Koyuncu, we thank our Filika bartender. Many a moment has been passed on YouTube searching out Kasım Koyuncu and he’s now a part of our music listings. That afternoon in Filika, we spoke people-to-people, rather than waiter-to-customer. And for that Antalya memory…well, it was the people, the music…and the bar we went to to come across the people and the music.