Mersin was earmarked a half-century ago as the seaside outlet for Adana and its rich agricultural hinterland. Today it is the largest port on the Turkish Mediterranean and for the most part a sprawling, soulless place that most people leave quickly. But Mersin, whose official new name İçel (also the name of the province of which it is capital) is ignored by most everyone, does have its moments. If you scrunch up your eyes, some of the streets near the sea almost have a Marseilles feel to them, and there are definitely worse ways to while away an afternoon than a lazy seafood lunch on the excursion boats lining the harbour.

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