Kas and Kastellorizo (the island where my great grandmother was born …)

Caught the bus to Kas yesterday from Fetiye.  Fairly crowded but straightforward.  Most of the countryside is hills and valleys, dry, covered in fuzzy pine needles to the extent the hills look furry! It is not thick pine forest, which is why the fallen pine needles stand out. We passed an aqueduct which I presume brings water from the huge mountains that are behind the large hills, inland.  From a distance they could even have snow on them, that is how high they are, and would explain the large amount of  water rushing through the aqueduct. There are lots of ancient historical sites around here but I don’t think I’ll get to any of them at this rate.

Well, the road brought us down to the coast and what a sight – water like a large sheet of cobalt blue silk rippling in the breeze. You could just slice between the ripples and sink into the watery world below, and escape the heat! I dread to think how it is in height of summer.

There are large islands everywhere, looks like all these drunken giants have fallen over and are sleeping it off in the sun while the water laps about their ankles.  One of them is Kastellorizo and so it was nice winding our way down the hill towards this delicious water and my island!

The taxi driver who collected me from the bus station was very alarmed at the sight of the big coat that I am lugging about in preparation for the Ireland leg of the trip. He kept giving me the sort of looks that you give weird people and telling me that I wouldn’t be needing this coat.  I think he felt that I should leave it at the bus station.  It was a complicated conversation as he had poor English and appears to be unaware that there is a country in the world called ‘Ireland’.  I of course can’t speak a word of Turkish.  Anyway, some back and forth and I was eventually allowed to put the coat in the car and off we went helter skelter through the little rabbit warren of streets that is Kas (pronounced car-sh).  Actually he was quite sweet. We came to a road block, due to the fact that two cars had parked in the same street, and he couldn’t drive any further. Instead of just dumping me there with all my luggage and the suspicious coat, he parked the car and lugged my suitcase the rest of the way to my hotel, in the burning heat of day, so I was very grateful.

The hotel is small and family owned.  Reception was manned by two little boys (because the oldies were out) and I was shown around in style, provided with bottled water, bags carried to my room, and solemnly told that if I needed anything at all I should just ask.  How cute!

My room is cute too, like a little cosy cocoon, scrupulously clean and all white inside. Tiny cupboard and dresser, ensuite not much bigger with a shower that I used to wash some clothes, and a tiny little ‘Romeo and Juliet’ balcony which is now covered with my washing blowing away in the breeze. I look out through the leaves of an ancient grape vine which curls around the balcony, and there are purple flowers and little orange berries dancing about in the breeze with my washing.

Upstairs there is a terrace with kitchen and bar. Last night I sat up there with a couple of mojitos and watched the moon rising on the left over Turkey while the sun set on my right over Greece, and directly in front was my island slumbering away.

I am here on the island now. The owner of the hotel is called Ahmet and he has a tiny baby daughter in a pink dress that he carried around this morning to meet all the guests at breakfast. She is Miss Personality Plus and was delighted to meet everyone and kicked her little legs and bubbled and gurgled enthusiastically.  It was lovely and made all the tired travellers feel at home.  Anyway Ahmet and his wife arranged my passage to Kastellorizo and all the customs stuff so that I didn’t have to go about clandestinely bribing fisherman to take me over.

I am now on the island awaiting departure, which is why I have so much time on my hands.  I have mixed emotions here so won’t go into it, but it is so pretty, like a little postcard of Greece – and I now know why blue is the Greek colour because in the water here is every shade of blue.

Ahmet told me to find a man called Kostas, whose son owns the first restaurant on the left as you get off the ferry. Well it turned out to be about 5 along, on the right, but no drama because Kostas found me first. He does little boat trips around the island to Blue Cave which is amazing. First we all have to lie down in the boat as it goes through a crack above the sealine with centimetres to spare, then you are in this massive high roofed cave where the light is blue and the water is iridescant blue.  Amazing. If you are ever out this way you must go – only costs ten euros

There is a little museum that played a moving video of the history of Kastellorizo.

I am sitting on someone’s stairs eating my lunch which is cherries and pistachios and Turkish delight which I brought with me from Istanbul.

Soon it will be time to go ‘home’ – which is what the little hotel feels like.

More mojitos for me tonight I think.

 

10 September 2011 – Kas (in Turkey) and Kastellorizo (in Greece)

PS – the island is called “Meis” in Turkey and may be referred to as that on some maps.

 

postcript with some photos below

The island is tiny but has a useful harbour and is helpfully positioned so over the years it has been owned by whoever ‘owned’ that part of the Mediterranean, including apparently Phoenicians, Venetians, Anatolians, Persians, Byzantinians, Ottomans, and so on.  It is currently part of Greece.  The island was occupied during the first world war. Many ‘Kastelloriz-ians’ immigrated to Australia around that time and I am descended from from some of them.  In the museum it said that the Kastelloriz-ians were renowned throughout history as being ‘expert mariners’, which is funny because I couldn’t sail a boat in a straight line let alone anywhere else.

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a pea green boat …. (said the Owl to the Pussycat)

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the island Duty Free does a roaring trade as it is a short ferry ride from Kas on the Turkish mainland to the island and back again – crossing an international border on the way ….

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inside Blue Cave …

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it is not a photo of a Greek island unless it has a cat in it

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This is a Turkish cat

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more blue blue blue

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(the above photo taken on Kastellorizo in Greece, looking back to the Turkish mainland)

below is an ancient ampitheatre on the Turkish mainland, I think the ancient people of the area were known as the Lyceans.  A few steps to the left of this photo and you bump into the place where I was staying, it was THAT close.  Kastellorizo is the island on the left.

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I took ‘lots’ of photos of olive trees …  It was the first time I had ever seen olive trees …

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Here is the little balcony where I drank mojitos.  To the immediate right is the old amphitheatre (and the olive trees) and directly across the water is Kastellorizo.  The little township of Kas (in the background to the left) looks really pretty at night with all the lights sparkling on the hill.

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That’s all for now.  I am off to get another mojito.

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