Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Kaş and Back Again

In addition to the endless charms of Kaleiҫi, the Antalya region has a great many attractions around and about, ancient ruins as well as natural wonders. We considered renting a car to explore the area, but opted instead to take the bus down the coast to the seaside village of Kaş (pronounced Kash).

The bus was a good idea, given the traffic in and around the city and the endless opportunities for error and frustration. Once settled on the small bus, though, all we had to do was watch as the driver expertly negotiated the wide and very busy roads, with many (frustrating!) stops before we finally got out of town.
The Road, winding along the coast, and a view of Kas from the road.

It was a good highway, four-lane divided for much of the way. While it later dropped to two lanes as it wound along the coast, climbed into the mountains, and dropped back to the shore, the road was always wide and safe. That part I wouldn’t mind driving on, although the landscape was incredible, and as driver I would have felt cheated in not being able to enjoy it freely. So, we were glad we took the bus this time, although the narrow, closely-spaced seats did make me long for the relative comfort of a cramped coach-class airline seat. But we did make a rest stop, to stretch our legs and light up (next to football, smoking must be the Turkish national sport), something that rarely happens in air travel.

The sun sets over Kas; from the street where we stayed.
Rock tombs on the hill above the town.
About four hours after leaving the big city behind we arrived in Kaş, and quickly found our way to our rooms on the upper level of a house perched on a hill at the edge of town. We had a magnificent view of the bay, the surrounding green hills, and the island of Meis, about 8 Km (5 mi.) away. (Oddly enough, although practically in the harbor of Kaş, Meis is a Greek island and Turks need a visa to go there. We didn’t even consider visiting, since Greece is in the EU and we’re still running down our 90 days “out” time.) We thoroughly enjoyed the hours we spent looking out across the town at the island and the sea beyond. (We really like those sea views!)

View from our balcony, day and night.
As the sun sank low we wandered our neighborhood and came upon tombs carved in the hills above the houses. We never learned much about these particular tombs, but this part of Turkey has many such rock tombs. There are areas with strikingly elaborate tombs, although these were rather simple. They were probably carved in the 2nd Century BCE.

Views of the town.
Relaxing in the sun, awaiting the crowds of summer!
We spent two nights in Kaş, giving us one full day to explore. Like the Kaleiҫi, the old town of Antalya, an expectation hangs in the air of Kaş: restaurants and shop keepers are waiting for the season to begin, the crowds to arrive. And like the Kaleiҫi, there are quite a few (mostly empty) shops and restaurants in a small space. For our short time there we spent our mealtimes in the restaurant recommended by our host, a place right off the harbor (well, that would be the whole town, come to think of it) called the Smiley Café. The food was great, the servers were friendly, and the owner very welcoming. Why go elsewhere?

A shop entrance.

Our first night we were offered halva for dessert. “Just out of the oven”, we were told. We’ve seen plenty of halva here in shop windows: big blocks of crunchy, sweet candy, and have tasted it often enough back home. We were not prepared for this dessert, though! It arrived in a small flat earthenware dish and was more of a thick sweet stew. OMG, liquid halva pudding! Very good, and totally unexpected!

The unbelievable blue water of the Mediterranean!

The ancient theater of Kas with its fabulous ocean view; it's been refurbished and is used for modern productions.

Kaş is a small place, and a real delight, but we felt the one day was sufficient. There is more we could have seen. The beaches are lovely, and the water warming (although not yet, this early in spring, really comfortable for swimming). By the second morning we felt satisfied with our trip and were ready for the long ride home. We agreed we’d be returning to Southern Turkey some time, and will probably rent a car then and explore father along the coast.

Views from around Kas.

The iconic king's tomb, a centerpiece of the town. This type of tomb with it;s "overturned boat hill" roof is seen all over the Anatolia region.
Our really great waiter / dining consultant brings our dinner.

A final view of Kas, seen from the outward-bound bus window.

As it was, though, we were happy to get back to our pleasant apartment near the old harbor in Antalya.

A Gentle Warning:

We had not thought to bring our passports on the trip to Kaş—we weren’t leaving the county, after all—and the bus was stopped twice for a routine ID check. We keep photos of our passports on our phones, and the first time that was ok, but on the return trip we were asked to get off the bus while the police verified the IDs they’d collected from the other 30 passengers. We stood around wondering who we could call, but in the end, we were waved back on the bus and all was well. Thankfully Google translate came in handy with a “We are very sorry” in Turkish. Moral of the story: carry the required ID! It’s just simpler…

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