Trip Start Sep 29, 2006
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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Saturday, July 14- Olympos to Kas (pronounced like the word "cash", but with the A like an "aah")

We left after breakfast on the 10 am service bus from Turkmen. 3 YTL each got us up to the main road, where we paid an additional 11 YTL each for the minibus to Kas. Not wishing to repeat the carsickness debacle, we rushed the bus and took the front seat by storm.

With all the stops and winding mountain roads, the trip from Olympos to Kas takes about three hours. We decided on Kas because I have two friends, a well-traveled English woman and a Turkish man, who met there, and they rave about it. When I got there, I knew why.

Kas is one of the most beautiful and cozy tourist towns I've ever seen. And it is just that, a tourist town. It's small. Everything looks brand new, from the boats waiting on the pier to take tourists on Mediterranean tours to the freshly built hotels and pensions dotting the cityscape; from the almond vendor's mobile kiosk to the Turkish delight seller's shop; from the restaurants selling 50 YTL per plate fish courses to the cute little dress shops offering simple flower imprinted designs for 100 YTL; from the "traditional Turkish" rug sellers, who have probably only seen a handful of hand-woven rugs in their lives (most of the rugs looked machine made) to the hawkers of other "traditional" Turkish goods.

Indeed, Kas was designed with foreign tourists in mind, and the prices and variety of touristy options (all advertised in English) reflect this. But the touristy overtones do not detract from the Turkish experience, as the people are still very hospitable and the restaurant workers still overly persistent. The cleanliness and organization of the town are not indicative of the typical Turkish town, however, a fact which led Ece to comment, "Kas is very nice. I think I like city tourism better than country tourism." (she was still reeling from the Yanartas Tour)

We gathered our belongings and went down to the rocks. Kas has very few beaches, two to be precise, one of which is only ten meters long, although the other one is considerably longer. But again, this did not take away from our enjoyment. We found a restaurant that gives people a nice, free dock to sit on, complete with sun chairs and a plank from which to jump into the water. Ece was once more heard to remark, "I think this is the best beach we've been on. And the best water!" The whole aura seemed so idyllic that the sea even tasted less salty (growing up around the lakes of Minnesota, I'm strictly a freshwater lover).

In the evening we shopped around the market bazaar of the city center. We picked up some cheese and fruit for dinner and sat on our balcony, which had a nice view of the distant islands, and I opened up the wine I had brought back from Thessolaniki, Greece, and which I had been saving for just such an occasion.

Sunday, July 15

We went on a boat tour today. Did you know that being on a midsized boat on the sea can make me very, very seasick? Well, neither did I. Surprise!

At 8:30 am the tourists of Kas all flock to the pier to board any one of the slew of tour ships waiting to escort them on an island excursion. Each tour lasts about six hours and offers to grill you lunch right there on the boat. The only difference between one tour and the next is the price, most tours being 45 YTL (especially if you want the glass bottom boat). Our tour was 30 YTL, and our boat was named Safari 2.

The first hour and a half were great. The ship bounced lazily around the islands, depositing us in different coves every half hour for a swim. We were provided with snorkeling gear and allowed to jump from any part of the boat we could climb up to.

But all of a sudden a change swept over me. My hands went completely numb. My arms tingled. I couldn't stand up, my legs wouldn't support me, and my breathing became a conscious effort. I retreated from the bow to the ship's stern and hope the sickness would abate. I noticed all of the people on board trying very hard not to look at me, which I think was a silent plea on their part that I wouldn't toss my cookies. I must have looked deathly. Ece later told me, "I was really scared for you. Your face was white as a ghost." In retrospect, I think I must have looked much like Jodie Foster in the movie Nell. I was swinging my numb, enfeebled limbs around and mumbling incoherencies like "I... don't wanna' be on a ship anymore." "Can we... go back? Is it possible?" and "Kill me now. Please."

We finally stopped at Kekova the Sunken City, which is the tour's main destination and attraction. We docked in the sunken city's old harbor. As the ship's crew prepared the meal, I curled up into the fetal position for about fifteen minutes until I worked up the strength to roll myself off the boat. I sunned myself on a rock like a turtle, and when the food was ready I decided to force some food on myself. It turned out to be a good idea since the grilled chicken was literally the best-spiced I've had in Turkey.

As for the sunken city itself, there is not much to see but the stubby remains of the old city walls, the poor quality of which reminded me of Troy. We departed from the sunken city and continued onto the above water city of Kekova for an hour-long excursion (my stomach was ecstatic about the prospect of this stop).

The modern-day island, however, is not really so modern. The first thing you notice is the giant citadel dominating the skyline, an Byzantine relic built on top of an earlier Lydian one. Upon exiting the boat you are swarmed by hoards of impoverished children selling bracelets and necklaces. I knew that they were very poor indeed not only from their dirty faces and shabby clothes, but by the fact that they didn't care if we were foreigners or Turkish. The prices of all wares stayed the same. "1 YTL for a bracelet?" a particularly cute little boy asked Ece. She couldn't bring herself to say no.

We walked up to the castle and paid the 5 YTL admission. We were two of only four tourists who did so. We were then escorted around the crumbling castle landscape by a rotund, energetic old woman who must have been half goat. She was giving men and women half her age a hand up the rocks. At the castle's summit she gave us insights, information and gossip about the city's wealthy population.

"You see those houses?" she asked, indicating four large villas complete with helipads. "They are own by (explain)

The return trip was much the same, minus the debilitating illness. I learned that by fixing my eyes to the horizon and bending my knees in sync with the ship's motions I could avoid the worst of it. But apart from that little stint right before Kekova, the tour was a magnificent journey and I highly recommend it.
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