Popular travel planning websites and blogs had thrown up names like Bodrum, Izmir, Antalya, Fethiye, Marmaris on the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea Coastline in Turkey. Akin to how I travel in India, we had decided to keep the Turkey trip flexible with no fixed itinerary. After spending a few days in Istanbul and Cappadocia, we decided to take a bus to Antalya from Urgüp. My research had revealed two pretty destinations, Kas and Kalkan on the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey.
Kas was a more logical choice since it lie first on the road, and as if by providence as soon as we reached Antalya Otogar (Otogar is bus station in Turkish), there was a small bus ready to take us to Kas. The officer mentioned the ticket fare as 20 TL-Turkish Lira and we confirmed the same with other passengers. Our huge bags were kept in the luggage compartment and we were ready to roll after a hurried visit to the toilets at Antalya Otogar.
After about an hour of leaving Antalya, the road wound up the mountainside and revealed an unending view of the Mediterranean Sea. I wished that the bus wasn’t air-conditioned and would let me open the window to savour the incredibly beautiful sight of the blue water.
The bus was a run by a local operator and picked up passengers at numerous stops. After around 3-4 hours, we finally reached Kas Otogar which felt uninspiring since I had dozed off and was woken up with a jolt. No sooner had I got out of the bus, I was hit by the piercing sunshine since it was just past noon. It felt hotter than it really was, maybe due to our having spent considerable time in far colder Istanbul and freezing Cappadocia. We immediately put our #AllDayWifi to use google maps and reach the hotel. It was only a short walk away but felt very tiring due to the heat.
Kas showed a glimpse of its small town beauty when we walked from the bus station (otogar) to the hotel. The main road had umpteen open air restaurants and surprisingly the staff even called out to us to try their offerings. I had noticed the restaurant’s signboard menus with prices and was pleased to note that the eateries had reasonable rates. The hotel lane was full of artistic frames with pretty flowers hanging outside wooden doors. Most hotels (pansiyon’s) were family run establishments and they seemed to be devoid of tourists.
We were pleased with a view of the Mediterranean sea from the room, it was quite hot though and I dozed off for a while. My headache was gone once I was up again, and a quick shower later we were out on the street searching for our lunch stop. I asked a few locals and decided to sit at a eatery serving both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. In Turkey, freshly baked bread comes complementary with the dishes.
1 dish normally suffices for one person and is priced anywhere from 8 Turkish Liras to 20 Turkish Liras. Water is not served in restaurants and one needs to buy water bottles for the same. After a hearty meal, we went walking around Kas. Our first stop was the Antiphellos – Ancient Theatre which is a Roman Amphitheater built in 200 BC. It is a circular structure facing the Mediterranean Sea and has seating to hold around 4000 people. All in all, it was a fascinating historical sight with stunning views of the blue Mediterranean sea while the background was full of towering green mountains.
I had spotted a cute looking lighthouse from our room and we immediately set about finding it. At the intersection of the market, a whitewashed mosque stood tall. A gaggle of travel companies advertised boat tours to the Greek island of Meis. The pier was to our right and among other popular boat tours, a visit to the sunken city of Kekova was widely advertised. We had no Greek visa and hence it made no sense to try and make that 25 Euro day trip to Meis. The lighthouse towered over the surroundings even as the sun was still shining strong.
Someone suggested that we should walk on a circular path that would enable us to explore a different part of Kas and we set out for the same. There were artistic boutiques selling dresses, Turkish cotton towels, pottery, souvenirs, carpets, soaps etc. Every second establishment was an eatery; and unlike the simple and cheap ones on the main road, these restaurants had gorgeously colourful chairs and a fancy vibe. This part of town was laid-back and geared up for tourists. A sole Dondurma shop occupied centerstage as I noticed some tourists clamouring for the ice-cream.
Kas suddenly felt more livelier as evening descended on town. Sunsets across the sea are always pretty and the sky changed colours repeatedly. As night fell, we walked back to our accommodation fully convinced that we needed to spend more time exploring Kas. It was Diwali that day and fireworks looked dazzling in the far distance across the Mediterranean Sea. We also understood that there was a different area in Kas away from the market and with better views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Since our plan was flexible; I immediately set about finding accommodation for the next 2-3 days. The search revealed we could stay in a ‘Villa’ in an area called Kas Peninsula that was around 6-8 kms away from where we were staying. Next day, we woke up to a spectacular morning view while sitting in the breakfast area of the hotel. 4 tables had been laid out under trees surrounded by greenery while the inviting blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea beckoned in front of us.
The platter of feta cheese, tomatoes, honey, jams, Turkish Coffee and Turkish tea, other varieties of cheese and breads made for delicious breakfast (as always). A family run place always has a warm feel and I didn’t hesitate to ask for another round of cheese and bread, with more Turkish tea. We met a kind soul when we went to ask the taxi price for dropping us on the peninsula. He helped us with the exchange from Euro to Turkish Lira(Turkish Lira); helping us bargain for a Zara Man jacket at a store, and in arranging a taxi to Kas Peninsula for 30 Turkish Lira.
We had spotted a small dolmus (shared taxi) that plied from Kas to Kas Peninsula and ferried passengers for 4 TL but taking that would have meant trouble with the bags. Therefore we first went to the taxi stand; and we were flabbergasted to know the official taxi rates. The small distance commanded a fare of more than 60 TL and we immediately went back to ask our newly-made acquaintance to ask his taxi friend to come and drop us for 30 TL. As we moved towards Kas Peninsula, the views of the Mediterranean Sea became even prettier.
We were surprised to spot a tiny portion of white sand beach to our left and the fact that many local families were enjoying that hardly 20 metres of beach! At that moment, I quietly appreciated things that we sometimes take for granted; like the enormous coastline with beaches; in India. We couldn’t control our amazement and were totally in awe of the postcard perfect look of the villa once we were dropped at the gates. An endless expanse of blue spread in front of us; and the villa was a four storey structure in pretty off-white colour.
The staff was excited about meeting Indian tourists (thanks bollywood) and the owner showed us the different rooms and even offered us an upgrade but we were happy to stick to our original choice. The dining area was set up beside the pool and the ambience was almost perfect for a romantic setting, including the mellow dance music that played all day. The colours were soft and pleasing to the eyes and with the aesthetic beauty of the Mediterranean Sea we felt we were living a proverbial Greek fairytale.
We had been smart enough to buy hordes of wine bottles at the wineries of Cappadocia and wasted no time in finding majestic drinking spaces in our ‘Villa.’ There was also a walkway that took us right to the waters of the Mediterranean sea, since there was no beach on the coast. The rocky cliffs shined white in the afternoon sun and the water was in a pristine shade of green, blue, turquoise and aquamarine. Classy sun-beds had been laid out in different enclosures and depending on the intensity of the sun we chose the shaded part or the alfresco sun beds.
After a short swim in the sea, we decided to lie down and watch the sky changing colours. It was quiet and the serene setting just amplified nature’s beauty to the next level. We ambled around the various nooks and corners of the villa soaking in the prettiness and enjoying the views. The colours were even more pronounced during sunset. I could try and type a nice quote but it would be inadequate to express the magical sights in Kas across the Mediterranean Sea that day.
Since the villa was in a nice and secluded area, it didn’t make sense for us to try and head out for dinner. Also, we had assumed that since Kas Peninsula was an area full of villas and boutique hotels, there would not be any local eateries. We asked for the menu at the Villa that we were staying at so that there would be no price shocks later. There were only a few options with manageably high prices and dinner for two cost us around 60 Turkish Lira.
Fine Dining at its very best – In Kas, Turkey
In that setting, it could rival the finest fine-dine restaurant in the world. On one side, there was a never ending view of the tranquil blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea while Kas town’s harbour with a backdrop of green mountains was visible on the other side. The staff (A couple from Tblisi, Georgia) was really helpful and covered us with shawls as it got breezy and cold outside in the night. We played Indian songs on the speaker and danced happily, with our tummies happy with copious amounts of wine.
Next morning when I woke up and walked to the open air sit-out, the charming sight in front of me will be etched forever in my mind. The pink bougainvillea blooms with the blue sea, a ship floating past, all while a mellow breeze blew across Kas – it was a glorious melangé of colours. The proceedings could not have become any better until we went to the postcard perfect breakfast area of the Villa. An array of different varieties of cheese, jams, coffee, tea, olives and other delights were brought to the table by our friend from Georgia as we gobbled down the cheese and tomatoes with aplomb.
It was decided to go walking around Kas Peninsula after what seemed like a never ending breakfast. During the day, the water of the Mediterranean Sea shimmered like stars. The weather was quite hot and we tried to find some shade wherever we could. In no time, a ride came our way and I wasted no time in flagging it down. The gentleman didn’t speak any English but was happy to drop us to Kas. As we were just about to enter Kas, the small matter of a weekend market came to view.
Locals thronged the market that looked like it had been setup only a few hours ago. One section was dedicated to vegetables and fruits sold by farmers at wholesale prices, another section comprised of dry fruit sellers. Street food vendors were doing brisk business feeding hungry passersby. I tried a glass of Ayran (Turkish buttermilk) for 5 TL that tasted a bit sour for my liking. A giant parantha-sort of dish was also being made on the pan, the lady at the counter mentioned it as gozleme which had a filling of spinach and the price for the same was 10 TL.
And while we were roaming around, it was an inexplicable joy to stumble upon the cloth market area. There were enthusiastic sellers showcasing carpets, bed linen, towels, shirts, jackets and a whole plethora of other products of day-to-day use. It was good humour while we bargained to shop to our heart’s content. Turkish textiles are really good quality and I went berserk shopping for value-for-money buys. My best souvenir from Turkey was a bed cover / carpet for approx. 2000 Rupees. Later when we were wandering in the market, shops advertised the same carpet for more than 5000 Rupees.
We had also found a way to not exchange all the Euros into Turkish Liras by asking the sellers the prices in Euros and Turkish Liras and conveniently paying whatever exchange suited us more. It was late afternoon by the time we ended up near the boutique shops of Kas. The weather had suddenly turned stormy and a pleasant evening suddenly turned chilly. It was time to chat with the locals and finally try dondurma at the locally favourite shop. It cost us only 5 Turkish Lira each and the dondurma was out of the world tasty!
We had not carried a jacket and were happily roaming around in shorts but now we were more than 5 kilometres away from our ‘Villa’ and had no idea about the timings of the dolmus (shared taxi). Our only aim was to reach the villa before dark.
As we stood at the dolmus bus stand, locals helped us get into the right dolmus destined for Kas Peninsula and akin to our customary ways of impromptu explorations we got down from the dolmus before reaching our destination. The walk along the Mediterranean coast watching an epic sunset easily became one of the highlights of our trip to Turkey.
‘Life is short. Try to see as many sunsets as you can.’
Check these posts : Photo Stories from Hornbill Festival, Nagaland