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Denizli Diaries

November 25, 2017

                                                                                                                                                             Atmosphere at Route, Denizli


 I remember my first night out in Denizli as it would be yesterday. I stormed Denizli all over from Bucharest, straight from wrapping up a theatre show I was in ( my first in Romania), and I was having my doubts for being in Turkey at that time. Winter holiday season, according to the press, was about to bring more turmoil to the area, deemed as highly unstable and sometimes under orange ( terrorist) code. What a bluff! Denizli is located in the south-western part of Turkey, at a 20 minutes distance from the unique calcified travertines paradise of Pamukkale, and is one of the safest cities in Turkey. And often filled with helium balloons. The palm trees can be seen by default down the Gazi Mustafa Kemal Boulevard:where all the amazing shops are! And they often practice "indirim" (sales). That's because Denizli is the major textile city in Turkey. It is basically, the place where all the fancy producers in Europe and Australia, manufacture their cloths.


                                                                                   Photo (c):my fabulous iPad @Boutique

                                                                                                                        Photo (c):Nomaddeea


Criminality is so low, that you can drop your wallet in the street and no one will take it. You can give thanks to the almost 300 surveillance cameras, perfectly placed on street pillars, on mayor's orders. The mayor actually welcomed my stay there, due to the fact I was managing a theatre & English course for local University students. He had an almost Louis Vuitton like office in the municipality building, with ..you guessed that right: a James Bond device for facial recognition upon entrance, & guards. And a cool photographer. You could easily mistaken the mayor for an artist or a gangsta. Just kidding! I had some difficulties over there upon teaching,  as I was always working with translators ( I give my thanks to Ecem).  Overall it was a very fulfilling task, but I had to agree with many cultural norms ( such as students boys not holding hands with student girls, which can be quite a problem when doing theatre warm up exercises).


I must add, I did not speak an ounce of Turkish, so my journey from the lovely airport of Izmir, to the train supposed to get me to Denizli, had a vaguely comic element to it. The airport has an impressive wooden architecture, so, typically, I spent some long minutes glancing over its beauty from the top of a glass made, upper floor. Maybe more than some minutes, since I lost track of where my international luggage was supposed to land. That is, I had to request help from the authorities to find it. Which, in return, did not speak much English. After the short lived inner drama, I set myself to find the train station, the surprise was, once out of the airport: no tourist, nor airport personnel were in sight..

                            Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport ( is it me, or does it looks a bit like the landscape in Singapore?)


I decided to pull my old Sanliurfa trick ( a city in Mesopotamia), so I basically went in a nearby Turkish store and yelled : DENIZLI?! TRAIN?! ..in under 10 seconds, 2 older Turkish men grabbed my luggage, while another was already out searching for a possible travel fellow. They identified a man in his 60's, that reminded me terribly of my grandfather, whom was going in the same direction. He was stopping in ancient Ephesus. By the time we reached the train though, they shoved me in without a ticket, which was obviously a problem. The old man had a quarrel with the train conductor, explaining I was a tourist so I did not know about the tickets system. Of course I knew, I just did not have time to buy it, since my luggage was already in the train before I myself jumped in. Lovely. Well, in the train, a man mistaken me for a spy, since he thought, by my Turkish extravagant looks, I must  magically understand the language also. I had to laugh that one out. I'm too outspoken and with many distinctive signs to be one. Maybe I am just good with understanding signs language.


And so I made it to Denizli, in a flat shared with Gloria, a very gifted painter & psychiatrist from Spain. We had this typical cozy Turkish flat to live in, full of light dramatically touching a red sofa in the living.


A few knocks at the door after a couple of days, and Fatma-Nur, the unaware owner of a fantastic musical ear, paired with a restless bodily energy, made herself known to me. She scrutinized my artsy cloths for a few seconds, quickly shook some dance moves, and the next thing you know, i'm in her car, with Gloria in the back, windows open, and Turkish music to the max. I did not bother to ask if she's a good driver, she was in charge of her vehicle better than I'll ever be. We hit the town's area of beautiful terraces, frequented by youngsters and students. Fatma chose a place called Route.



                                                                       Some of the best drinks in town, only at Route


                                                                                 Breakfast at Route Cafe Restoran, Denizli



Why I remember Route? Because is obviously fabulous: the best food & drinks in town, and because I ordered a thing called "CHOCOLATE FLOWER", that was brought to me in a Cleopatra the Queen Fashion, with straws rolled in a cobra position. Frankly, it was one of the best things I ever drank. If I head back to Denizli, you'll find me at Route 100 %. The chocolate flower has a sort of minty flavored, COLD liquid chocolate, on a bed of crunchy biscuits, and yes with plenty of added mint leafs on the top. Guys, is GOOD! I'm drooling.



                                                                 Flower Chocolate at Route, Denizli, Photo (c): my fab Ipad


Some other friends of Fatma joined the party and we, inevitably hit  the bow wow chica wow, love stories chu-chu train chats!


                                                                                                                                          Route Cafe Restoran, Denizli



Fatma is quite intuitive. She looked at me and asked: " Why aren't you married?" I said " well...i'm in a 10 years relationship." She went on" And..why aren't you married?". I said I don't feel the need for that ( i really didn't, since I wasn't feeling anything but the traditional repulse for the one you share your life with, minus the non-existing common interests and lack of intimacy, after a decade of being together,  blame it on family upbringing for not getting out sooner!). She scrutinized me some more and declared: " By February you will break up!". And she was right. Better later, than never. I love new beginnings, freedom, and less co-dependency. Also less boring drama. I wonder what the hell was I doing hanging in  limbo, over something that was not making me happy at all.  Plus the dude was a complete cockamamie momma's boy.  That is, he used his own mother to break up with me, and disappeared with his new ridiculously ( fat) new girlfriend in the ocean of his own blue happiness. Farewell cockamamie momma's boy!


The best thing of all was when he sent me, months later, (an even more ridiculous than his girlfriend)  2 paragraphs mail, sent in forward, written by...guess who? Yep, his mom. Why do I say his girlfriend is ridiculous? Because, despite she is fat, she had the audacity of stealing some of my cloths from my shared flat with him, while I was in Turkey. ..anyway.... Long (boring) relations aren't made for everyone. Now, forgive me, my cup is overflowing with whip-cream.

                                                                                                                     Route's lovely drinks design!




Back to... what more, can YOU see in Denizli: 


Do not, in God's name, miss WOOPS!


WOOPS is this fabulous musical place, hosting nights of live music every Tuesday and Thursday, and where they make the most fabulous MANGO ( & WATERMELON ) smoothies. The real deal kind of smoothies, where you can feel the fruit pulp on your tongue!! It was really close to the flat I was sharing with Gloria, so we were frequently there. That's where I met musician Mestan Adoree. His voice is able to fluctuate from low to high with such a phenomenal flawless intuition among the musical columns and the " musical flowers" echoing from his neck and tummy, that I guarantee you...you will not leave the place unmoved. GO! And have a smoothie!


                                                                                Above: Atmosphere at WOOPS! 


Are you feeling WOOPS today?? Because I do!




Then: go to  DONAS!! The Chicken DONAS ( literally, donas tavuk in turkish) and do the piggie! Because the menu is huge

( suitable for 2 persons, and under 10 TL- turkish lira, in which they include the fries and the ever flowing ayran). The demand is so high, that I have seen times, after I was out of my evening courses with my students, where the waiters at DONAS were going to the upstairs terrace with over 20 DONAS packages on one plate, arranged in an unmistakable Turkish way. What makes DONAS so special? The pita ( bread) in it, is unlike the one used in shaorma & durum & other Turkish specialties: it's a pita mixed with potatoes. Honestly you eat till you drop. I am not that much of an eater, but in this case, I declared myself conquered. I confess there were nights when me and Gloria were sneaking out of the flat just for  a quick dinner at DONAS. Don't miss it! 



                                                                                 Donas Wrap, Photo (c): my fabulous iPad


Of course, you can always pick the fancier restaurants,  such as Ekmek Arasi Doner! We went there when we had a visit from one of Gloria's friends, that came all over from Ecuador to see her. I recommend the pizza and the lahmacun at Ekmek Arasi, and the ayran comes in ..a pint!! You can also order the classic (supermarket) one. I suggest the pint though...don't forget to wipe your white mustache after that. Hehe.



                                                                               Rivers of Ayran, Photo (c): my iPad

                                                                 Lahmacun, at Ekmek Arasi Doner, Photo (c): Nomaddeea


The other behind the block specialty we encountered, was a family business, where the husband was cooking, and the wife was selling.  The family had these two best adorable daughters, always by our table when we ate there. Best chicken soup and lentile soup! And what I noticed is that they almost always bring on the table really hot & dry peppers.

                                                                                        Photo (c): my fab iPad


Damn, I miss those hot & dry peppers! I used to watch the news in their restaurant. Sadly, all  the news in that time, were about refugees. The place is named Palmyra, and is very close to Cinar, near the Rooster 'statue'.


Cinar is the very center of Denizli, and the rooster, is the symbol of it! That's why they were selling so many rooster statues! Keep in mind that 2017 was declared the year of the Rooster! Fast-moving and filled with opportunities, that come as quickly as they go! We served our last dinner in Denizli at Palmyra. My idiot ex boyfriend was there as well. Lol. I don't think he enjoyed though. That's because I received so many gifts from the Turkish side, due to my work there, that I needed an extra bag to carry everything. And probably booking an entire plane to myself or a camel, was not such a bad idea.

                                                                                                        Photo (c): Nomaddea

                                                Above: The Rooster, symbol of Denizli, here displayed in Cinar ( city center)


Back to the streets of Denizli: On Saturdays, me and Gloria were having lessons at the Youth Center, some streets away for which we sometimes used the Municipality car, sometimes the mini bus, or a semi-convertible, with Hassan ( a local writer & photographer) driving ultra safely and smart.  The place was lovely & we had a nice view to the mountains ( Denizli is a mountain city, with a ski slope attached)


                                                                                                                                                    Photo (c): my fab iPad


The nearby Taurus Mountains of Laodikeia are also super nice to stroll by.  So, at the Youth Center, I got this crazy young boy that told me: "you really need to try nar juice!"

 me: " nar what?"

he: "Nar juice!: in the city center! it's freshly squeezed" ( the freshly squeezed came with Google Translate..)


 Long story short, during the break, we hoped in the mini bus, got to the place, drank the juice. Oh my God! I cannot tell you! The place is as small as a match box! A Pakistani guy was selling, along a Turkish one. Pakistani guy also believed both me and Gloria were spies. I in turn, believed he was the real spy, judging by the ridiculous amounts of time he said he had his eye on us, when we were just passing by, without necessarily saying hi to him, nor entering for a nar juice. "Nar" means pomegranate, you can find it simple, with no mix, or in the  "Atom" glass, meaning with all other fruits you'd like to mix it with, including kiwi and pineapple, up to a maximum of 5, of your choice. It's a common thing to order in western and south-western Turkey. You will find the same dosed fruits in Izmir for example. Very common for the place that sells these juices, to be tiny and randomly built.

                                                                                                   Photo (c): my fab iPad


One of our best times, where when we ate at a local family outside Denizli one Saturday after classes. The family was composed by at least 30 people eating together, and the women cooked massively in huge pots. Why do I remember this? Because we encountered the Turkish look-alike of Meryl Streep!


                                                                                  Huge family meal in Turkey, Photo (c): my fab iPad

                                                                                  Turkish Meryl Streep look alike, Photo (c): my fab iPad


Wanna see the food from those big pots where Turkish Meryl Streep was cooking?? All of them to die for, I am serious!

                                                                                                        Photo (c): my fabulous iPad


Now, let's go to more special places in Denizli:



most of the Turkish" kahvesi" places ( kahve means coffee), serve coffee with a super duper clean glass of water, plus a ROSE! Gosh, they totally got me here! Most chic thing ever...this is one romantic nation, romanticism runs through their blood. The owner of TAÇEV, allowed me to take pics and film in his restaurant, including when the staff was roasting chestnuts! The film will be available soon on my website! Also, the place is fine for a quick sandwich based breakfast.

                                                                                                                        TAÇEV Coffee Place, Photo (c): Nomaddeea


And as usual, flowers included, every time you go at Tacev..doesn't really matter if the flowers are fake, love itself can be fake sometimes. It should be a moral code of behavior between lovers, when love dies...to offer dead flowers, when they want just a one night stand to offer fake ones. At least, in Turkish coffee places you always receive candies as well. Hmm....maybe just go in for a coffee then?

                                                                                                                          TAÇEV Coffee Place, Photo (c): Nomaddeea


Now, I have saved the best 3 for last!


 Glorious HACI SERIF ( registered mark since 1938) for the incredible Turkish delights ( the kind that have an expiration date, so everything is ultra freshly made) & Meriday Waffle: for the best waffles in town! And Tugba of course!


I am still reminiscing  how good looking and tasty everything at HACI SERIF is: honestly everything they serve, tastes so disarmingly well, that they deserve a separate article and I might write one! If the land of natural sweets and Turkish delights would have an haute couture department, it would belong to Haci Serif, a natural food store! because at Haci, they sell art: perfectly tailored little sweets, that melt in your mouth, sold in perfectly tailored velvet & golden boxes! With silky ribbons and tickling tassels attached.


                                       Velvet Boxes with Golden Tassels, filled with chocolates, Photo (c): my fabulous Ipad


 Forget about the non-sense Belgian chocolates. They lack the class found in Haci Serif's home made confections and truffles! Men should collectively learn from this natural sweets store: how to deposit in the box, a similar content to what's outside the box! Now, do you know what else can you have at Haci Serif? HOT ICE-CREAM! Don't ask what's made of, but is really HOT ICE-CREAM. We had it on every rainy day. It's excellent and I am so drooling!


                                                                            Haci Serif Hot Icream, Photo (c): Nomaddeea


Add to that, that there is always live street music on the background in the evenings. One of the guys in the band, was actually my theatre student and he was very talented! Mind the dog. He is too sweet to look at!

                                                                                                                                                                     Photo (c): Nomaddeea


And you know what, I actually asked the guys at Haci Serif how come their sweet invention is not international, to which they replied: " we do not wish to decrease the quality of our goods, it would be like making Ferrari available to everyone." And they are right indeed! Have a look at the sweets variety below:


                                                                                                                                                                    Photo (c): Nomaddeea


                                                                         Outside of Haci Serif, Photo (c): my fabulous Ipad


                                                                                                                                        Haci Goodies, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                                                                                  Photo (c): my fabulous Ipad



At Haci Serif, they also serve, you guessed that already: incredible coffee! ...but..here we go.... I'm giving you a tip:..you can go 2 minutes down the boulevard on Gazi Mustafa Kemal, and find Tuğba, another great coffee house, where everything is packed so nicely ( especially the pistachio & pomegrante turkish lokum), and they also have tea of roses,  lavender & thyme! and fresh coffee of course...which...if you are a tourist...you will get your coffee for free ;) Yes you heard  that right, let me repeat it in short: FREE COFFEE at Tuğba! Go there if you feel like an empty-pocket tourist, pretend to look around, and they will come and treat you well. I wish we had that in the West :( Mirvari Kahvesi & Damla Kahvesi are the best two types of coffee at Tuqba! ( damla is similar to a candy flavored coffee, is my favorite actually).


                                                                                                                                         Free coffee for tourists at Tugba! Photo (c): Nomaddeea


                                                                                                                      Inside Tugba, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                                                                                                                       Photo (c): Nomaddeea




Than, Meri Day Waffle! Do you wanna add some merry layers to your  belly? And achieve the well known Turkish belly? Then, my friend, head to Merry Waffle in Denizli! The furniture is so colorful, I promise you won't feel when you grow fat. In an instant, you can order a Waffle with sprinkles, gummies, jelly sweets, Haribo Candies, M&M's, 10 types of sweet sauces, plus chocolate, caramel & co, and you can roll like a boss!


                                                                                                                                            Photo (c): my fab iPad


                                                          The Meriday Waffle with everything in it! Photo (c): Nomaddeea



What I particularly liked about Meriday Waffle was the fact that they were handing blankets to cover with when it was cold at night! Awww!

                                                                                                                                                                                 Photo (c): my fab iPad



Try then to shop at Coten or Addax, the two best Turkish boutiques, and see if  anything fits..Coten is just across the street from Merry Waffle..and when you cross the boulevard you'll find Addax as well. By the way, fashionistas!! Denizli, as I said in the beginning, is a textile city: most of the Turkish fabrics are made here, and they export to the Uk & other places. They are commissioned for River Island, ASOS, Pull & Bear, Zara etc. Wanna know the prices? A quarter of what you can find in Europe!

                                                                             Addax Boutique, Photo (c): my fab iPad


You can also buy,  unique pottery with 'diamonds', for cooking stuffed cabbage if you are a fan... tea-pots, and ..towels..as many towels as you can imagine..the land of towels is in Denizli definitely!  I found basically everything sold in Zara Home, which is in fact made in Denizli.


                                                                                                                      Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                                                                              Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                                               Zara Home Towel, made in Denizli, Photo (c): my fabulous iPad


Though... the towels you buy in Denizli, are royal ;) the real Turkish towels, made of cashmere and cotton.  You can find them at Babadaglilar Ishani Shopping Centre. It's all about towels at Babadaglilar Ishani . And, trust me, your skin deserves it! Now rusg to visit Denizli with an empty bag and an empty stomach. But, with a full wallet!                                                                                                 

                                                        Land of Towels, Babadaglilar Ishani, Photo (c): my fabulous iPad


Also, don't forget to pay a visit to a local mosque, they have plenty. My favorite mosque was  Denikli Cinar:



                                                                                                          Denikli Mosque in Cinar, Photo (c): my fabulous iPad


You wanna know why? Because I was there listening to the imam's song, on the day that Leonard Cohen passed away.



The End.

Is only the beginning.


Special thanks to Pamukkale Belediyesi for having me with them!


© Deea Wolf











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