Kas and Kekova

This town reminds me of:

1) Monterosso, the northern-most town of the five fishing villages called Cinque Terre on Italy’s north west coast

2) White Rock, a small seaside town south of Vancouver on the US border where people in the 30s and 40s used to have their summer homes


3) Ganges, on Salt Spring Island just off the west coast of British Columbia.

It doesn’t really feel Turkish to me (whatever that means). Perhaps it’s because of the mix of people here, the greenness and the fantastic hillside location. The main downtown area has a beautiful pedestrian area around the harbour with white stone pavement, lots of cafes, restaurants, bars, and small shops, and many gorgeous flowers and flowering trees. From what I can see, without having actually gone inside any, the shops look like they are selling interesting and unusual handcrafts. Attracted by their beautiful colours, I did buy a couple of small things from a roadside vendor. What I really like is that most of the shops seem to have their own unique products, not like some places in Turkey where shop after shop sells exactly the same items. The vibe here is laid-back and artsy. And, best of all for a voracious coffee drinker having to live on Nescafe, there are several cappuccino bars – yeah! I love this place!

At the top of one of the main shopping streets near the harbour is an enormous sarcophagus mounted on a plinth standing just underneath a tree with sweeping leaves. Here’s the blurb about it:

This monument, a Lycian tomb, which has become the symbol of Kaş, is a single-doored hyposorium, which together with the thick base surmounting it, is carved from the solid rock. Above this is the sarcophagus itself, which is cut from a separate piece of stone and its lid. Two lions’ heads resting on their paws are carved on each of the lid’s two long sides. In addition to providing decoration the lions’heads also facilitated lifting the lid and placing it on top of the sarcophagus. Male and female figures connected with funerary observances can be made out on the narrow western face, which is divided into four panels. On the tomb’s base is an eight-line Lycian inscription. The monument dates to the fourth century B.C.

Since it’s still early in the season, many of the beachside restaurants aren’t open yet but that’s ok. There’s one failed restaurant right on the water, shuttered and decrepit, with flat stone pavement extending out into the sea and, when it gets just a bit hotter, I’m going to take my towel down there and jump into the water. Two nights ago, the four retired teachers I met on the acropolis in Kaunos were in Kas, after having sailed here from Dalyan. Terry, Doug, Bob, and Dave were kind enough to invite me down to the boat, the SV Manca docked in the harbour, for dinner. Doug cooked a lovely meal of herb chicken, potatoes and carrots, which we enjoyed with some nice vino. The boat is beautiful – 45 feet long with a cherry wood interior. I don’t know a thing about sail boats but this one looks pretty sweet. The guys intend to sail all the way down the coast to Antalya, I think.

Yesterday, I was off on a kayaking day trip to Kekova with Bougainville Travel and 6 other people. This area has the remains of three ancient towns, Teimussa, Simena and the island of Kekova, just offshore. It is a beautiful spot, with many small rocky islets and islands, lots of small scrubby trees, and goats running around on the hills. I had been here last June on a day trip from Side and the harbour had been full of tourist boats and noise. Now, though, at the beginning of the season, the place is quiet with only a few boats operating – much nicer. After getting a very brief briefing on the use of the kayak, we 7 and the guide hopped into our small boats and were off to Kekova. It became immediately apparent to me that I was the weakest paddler in the bunch. My companions were two older teenage boys, one huge – too big to fit in a regular kayak, two late 20s guys, one with enormous arms, and a couple in a double kayak … sigh. I got used to bringing up the rear; the problem with this was, they would pause far ahead of me and wait for me to catch up, then as soon as I got there, they’d be off again, so I never really got a rest while we were paddling – waaaahhhh. Anyway, we paddled across the inlet to the island and pulled up on a pebbly beach bay there with the remains of a Byzantine church and Roman houses. Ruined stone house foundations could be seen all over this part of the island. The others swam while I clambered around the rocks looking at the ruins.

After half an hour, during which our guide smoked many cigarettes and talked non-stop on his cell phone, we were off again. As we left the bay, another bigger kayak group came in with everyone in double boats and an accompanying motor launch, presumably with their gourmet BBQ on board … It occurred to me that my experience would have been better had I been able to share a double kayak with someone stronger. We paddled along the coast of Kekova and saw the remains of the ancient harbour and Roman baths. Our guide explained that there had been an earthquake in the 2nd century bce that had split apart what used to be a peninsula and completely destroyed the city, causing it to sink, leaving part on the island and part on the mainland. We then paddled across the strait once more and pulled up at the mainland underneath the castle of Simena. I could see a nice Lycian rock tomb in the hills above me but I did not have the energy to climb up to it. Instead, I drank a cup of – yeah – Nescafe (no cappuccino in these parts).

After a short 20 minute break we were in the boats again and paddled along the harbour to a free-standing Lycian ogival sarcophagus right in the water just offshore. In these tombs rulers were buried with their slaves, ruler in the chamber above, slave in the one below. These date from the 4th c bce but the Romans also used them, simply pulling out the skeletons left there and putting in their own dead. “Sarcophagus” means meat-eater, so named because the tomb consumes the dead bodies so quickly, leaving only bones after a very short time. In the hills here are the remains of two necropolises; we could see the many sarcophagi from the water as we paddled back to Teimussa. I would have loved to have gone on shore and taken a closer look but that was not on the program. Once back on land, we had a very good buffet lunch at a dockside restaurant – all of us went back for seconds, some for thirds, with heaping plates of food.

For me, kayaking always looks like something really fun to do, cruising silently along the water, being able to get up really close to things. However, the reality is that I don’t have the upper body strength for it and paddling turns out to be a real chore. It is damn hard work! I would do it again in a double kayak with a strong partner, like Ty, but not alone, I think, unless I suddenly develop a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s.

I couldn’t take any pictures of the kayak trip but did get some video footage with my waterproof Flip videocam which I will post one of these days. Here are some pictures taken around Kas.

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