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Published: September 5th 2011
This was our first stop on the kayak tour. The boat followed us in case anybody got tired of kayaking and carried our backpacks, cameras and other stuff we didn't want to get wet in the kayaks.
In Turkey they call Ramadan “Ramazan” which I think is kind of fun. It’s like a snazzy, spiced up version of Ramadan. The last day of the month is the end of the fast, and therefore something to really celebrate. In Arabic it’s called Eide, but here they say Bairam. There are two Bairams, one for the end of Ramazan and one for Eide el Adha, when Muslims sacrifice a ram in remembrance of Abraham’s sacrifice.
I got a whole week off for Bairam, so I decided to visit a bit of Turkey outside the city. As amazing as Istanbul is, and as many sights as there are I haven’t visited yet, I can do that any weekend. If I have a whole week off I should try somewhere a bit farther afield. I have never visited the Aegean coast and the town of Kaş is known for scuba diving and Lycian ruins. I haven’t dived in years, and I’ll admit I’d never heard of the Lycians until this trip, but it still sounded like a great place.
I flew from Istanbul to Antalya on the day of Bairam with a couple other American teachers. We didn’t spend any
This is the best shot I could get of the "sunken" city. There were lots of stairs carved into the bedrock all over the island, and some remnants of walls, but I couldn't see much in the water.
time in Antalya, which was deserted due to the holiday. All the shops were closed and it felt like a movie set, not a real city. The bus station wasn’t too crowded and we found a ride to Kaş pretty quickly.
The first day we looked around town and booked some tours for the next day. Victoria came for the scuba diving and the rest decided to go on a sea kayaking tour. We had three nights in Kaş, but with the travel days on each end, we were left with only two full days there. I had my heart set on kayaking the first day and hiking the second.
The kayaking trip was beautiful. We drove over the peninsula from Kaş and got in the kayaks in a small town named Üçagız Köyü in Turkish, but called Kekova in Greek. I’m sticking with the Greek on this one. It’s closer to Demre (where St. Nicholas was born and lived) than to Kaş. The tour group was a mix of Turks, Italians, Americans and Australians, but there were only fifteen of us total.
We crossed the bay to an island and stopped to swim. I snorkeled a
Dennis and Ben work with me and both live near me. I didn't plan on this being a group bonding experience, but we ended up hanging out together the whole time.
bit and walked around the island. There weren’t many big fish, but they schools of little ones were fun to chase and play with. The ruins on the island were the first Lycian buildings I had ever seen.
As we were getting back in our boats the guide told us that we were going to go over the sunken city, but not to expect Atlantis. It had been a ruined city, ransacked by pirates, that sunk during an earthquake. We had to stay close along the shore and our motor boat would be next us. One guide would be in front and the other behind us. Basically, we would be penned in. Motor boats are only allowed to go a few kilometers per hour over the city and recreational diving is prohibited while archeologists study the site. He warned us that we wouldn’t really get to see much besides the ruins along the shore.
This still sounded pretty exciting to me. I hadn’t actually read the brochure when I signed up for the trip. I just wanted to go kayaking. I had no idea that there were ruins and a sunken city along the route. Even if I
We stopped for lunch below a Lycian castle and saw more ruins and some tombs. The water was shallow enough to wade around part of the island. It dropped off in shelves, which looked like fault lines.
couldn’t see anything, the idea of kayaking over a sunken city was cool.
After skirting around the island with the sunken city, we crossed another bay and stopped on another island for lunch. It was the sort of buffet lunch that comes included in the price of the tour, but the food was great. I’m a big fan of Turkish food. We had over an hour to wander around the Lycian ruins and swim in the bay. I saw my first Lycian tomb, which was half sunk in the water and very creepy.
The tombs are not separated from town or set off in a cemetery, but are part of the town and often right on the harbor. Some are carved right into the bedrock, but others are carved from a single block of stone and topped with another stone shaped like the hull of an upside down ship. Most of the tombs have been worn down by time, but some still have visible writing on them. It was all incredibly ancient and fascinating. I haven’t taken the time to read up much on the Lycians, but here’s a link for those of you who are interested. http://www.lycianturkey.com/index.htm
The Take Out
We ended our day in the harbor on the right. The island across the bay is the one with the sunken city.
The next day I had signed up for a gorge hiking and jeep tour, which sounded like a good idea at the time. After the kayaking trip I called to cancel. Another day of set schedule with a tour guide and group of strangers didn’t sound too appealing. I opted for a lazy morning in Kaş and a short ferry ride to a beach on the peninsula across the bay.
It was a pebble beach surrounded by short cliffs. Since I grew up visiting the Oregon coast, rock beaches are my favorite. Sand is pretty, but there’s not much you can see on a sand beach. I left the beach area and climbed along the cliffs. It was fun: part bouldering above the water, part jumping from rock to rock, part wading through the water. I had a backpack with my (not waterproof) camera in it, so when I got to a place where I couldn’t safely boulder across and where I would have had to wade in water shoulder deep, I turned back. I found a flat rock where I could leave my stuff and got in the water to snorkel. Again, there weren’t many big fish
It's silly, but I feel like I have to put myself in my blogs to prove that I'm not just stealing pics off somebody else's website. The boxes with tops pushed off in the bottom right of the photo are looted tombs.
but the schools were fun and I saw some very colorful medium sized fish. There was a very shy eel that wouldn’t let me get close enough to see well, but I had fun trying.
Our third morning we paid for a guy to drive us to the airport in Antalya, which was twice the price of the bus, but totally worth it. The bus ride to Kaş was four hours, plus the bus and train from the airport. The car took us straight from the hotel to the airport in two and a half hours. If I go back to Kaş I will not be taking the bus.
The flight back to Istanbul was uneventful and it felt good to be back in my own bed after sharing a hotel room with three other people. I had a great time and might go back to Kaş for the scuba diving some day.
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