Friday, August 14, 2015

Nutches in Kaş

DSC03551 (1400x905)The village of Kaş(Pronounced kosh, rhymes with gosh) has been named one of the 52 Places to Go in 2015 by the New York Times.  Ranked #52, they characterize it as a gem... While the nearby town of Kalkan has fallen victim to hordes of hard-partying Brits (many a Kalkan restaurant now serves "Full English" brekkies), the old fishing village of Kaş remains relatively untouched. Known largely as a divers’ paradise, the city has a hippyish sensibility, partly owing to a number of jazz-playing waterfront watering holes.

How could we resist?

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‘no question that Kaş feels more authentically everyday Turkish than Kalkan: more everyday shops, a working DSC03681 (1256x1400)feel to the waterfront, and a different tourist vibe.  Where Kalkan is dominated by families and older couples, Kaş harbours more 20-something groups and young marrieds.  The café’s feel a bit grittier, the slopes a bit steeper and rockier over town.  I never did find the jazz, although there was some great food, a good bar, and a very weird beach.

DSC03693 (1400x842)The local bus (the dolmus) may be the cheapest way to Kaş, but it is also the hottest and requires the longest vertical climb.  Halfway up, we opt’d for a taxi, roughly 50 tl each way (£12). discounted for booking the round trip.  The coast drive is great, a good view of the Turkish and Greek islands just offshore and the local beaches dotting the steep coves.

DSC03571 (1400x1035)The driver left us at the harbour entrance, next to a narrow strip of gardens and café’s that passes for the local tourist area.   A quick pass through the flowered streets brought us to Sempati Restaurant, a lovely spot for (more) meze,  meatballs,  rice pudding, and (still more) Efes.  Hidden back in an alleyway, it’s surrounded by art and textile shops, a refuge from the midday sun and heat.

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A wander along the harbour shore brought nice breezes and views of the anchorages; a short climb deposited us at the upper entrance to the Cinarlar Beach Café.  We wandered in and down among the tables, winding along a beige stone cliff, down around some huts, some platforms, some crowds, some-thing unexpected.

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I’m not sure how best to describe this.  Imagine a narrow steep cove, ocean lapping up onto a sandy beach at the bottom.  Up the sides of the cliffs are wooden platforms, and each platform is covered with lounge chairs, filled with people sunning themselves.  As far as you can see, up and down the cove and the coast beyond, are arrays of small platforms, filled with people.  The lower ones are used for diving, the blue waters filled with  bobbing heads riding the swells up and down.  Waiters scurry about delivering drinks; young boys stage diving competitions off the rocks.  It’s just amazing to sit and watch the whole crowded, water-loving, sun-worshipping scene..

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SeussIt reminded me of an old piece of Dr. Seuss doggerel about how every Nutch had its Niche…

The competition for lounge chairs was as fierce as the story, the main difference being the blue waters throughout.

A little (more) beer, some people-watching, mugging in the sun, and it felt like we’d pretty well done Kaş.  It take a little time to settle into the vibe and I’d still recommend Kalkan as a sleepover destination, but the town has it’s charms.

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and it’s Nutches.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I can smell the sea….

DSC03313 (1400x933)The plane landed only ten minutes late after a four hour flight from London; everyone stretched then wandered, sleepily, into the warm dry night of Dalaman.  We’d arrived at the Turquoise Coast of Turkey.

Dalaman is a jumping-off point for destinations to the southeast: Fethiye, Oludeniz, Kalkan, Kas.  It sounds incredibly exotic to American ears: I wouldn’t have a guess as to what this arid, mountainous region of southeast Turkey might be like.  Recent violence along the Syrian border to the east gave me a moment’s hesitation the past week, but I realized that I was sounding like my European friends who wonder whether a shooting in Chicago is relevant to their trip to LA.

I’d arranged for a driver to take us the hundred miles of coast road to the resort town of Kalkan.  kalkan map

On the map, right, Kalkan yellow dot at the southwest corner of the country along the ancient Lycian coast.  Rhodes lies just offshore, southwest, Cyprus southeast, Istanbul north.  The other major resort towns, Fethiya and Kas, lie to either side less than an hour’s drive each way.

The highway was new and relatively untraveled, we made good time repeatedly bobbing up into the mountains then down into beach communities.  One stop at a roadside stand for beer and baklava, my first Efes Pilsener at half the price of a British tap.  My kind of holiday, already.

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Kalkan is a  resort community nestled in a steep, hollow cove along the Mediterranean Sea.  The focus is the harbour, a slot filled with white sailboats and wooden gulets.  The town  rises steeply from the docks, a row of restaurants and bars, then a step up to another, and again, and again.  The steep trails and narrow streets would become a nightly challenge, stomachs full of excellent food and drink burdening a step-by-step climb to the villa.  But the slope also afforded wonderful views, golden mornings and purple sunsets across the broad curving bay.

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The driver dropped us just above the lower part of town, and helped with getting things down to the rented apartment.  A collection of cats patrolled the terrace, waiting for a chance to come inside.  The night air, midnight, was warm, dry, scented with flowering bougainvillea.  The villa turned out well: clean, modern, well-stocked.

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It seemed unlikely that we’d find much, but we walked down to see where the town might be.  It wasn’t far; we could smell the sea in a couple of blocks and the next turn was into a welcoming road decked with multicoloured lights: restaurants, lounges, and markets, all bustling, filled, and happy. 

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It was enchanting – the way every vacation should begin….

More pictures, as always, at my Flickr site.