Days 9-12 Relaxing in Kas and Kalkan

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This part of Southern Turkey is known as the Turquoise Coast and is truly beautiful. It has a rugged and rocky feel to it and the whole coastline (at least that which we have seen) has high rocky hills (or small mountains?) surrounding the land like a castle wall protecting Turkey from the marauding army of the Mediterranean Sea with the small towns such as Kas (pronounced Kash) and Kalkan looking like marketplaces have sprung up around ornate castle gates. The view of the little harbour of Kas is stunning as we float high above it, close the top of these mountainous castle walls suspended under a large banana shaped parachute. Paragliding had not been on our original itinerary but the lure of the thrill of this new experience had been just too difficult to resist as we had sat by our hotel pool at Club Hotel Phellos watching these human birds fly over our heads.

20130807-120722.jpg So despite the fact that this was a 'relaxing day' we got up a little early (not really early - it was about 9am!) and walked down to one of the many activity tour operators for the trip to the top of the mountain. Each of us was to be accompanied by an experienced paraglider but that didn't prevent the nervous silence that prevailed as the minivan bumped and rocked over the gravel roads towards the take off site. Tom had chosen his most appropriate t-shirt for the flying down the hill with only the aid of a piece of material - his batman one! However far from being a roller coaster adrenaline rush, after we had been strapped in, the parachute unfolded on the ground and we had been instructed to start running, we lifted off into the calm, warm skies and drifted first upwards making use of the natural thermals to take us up to the top of the closest cliff before making our relaxed journey crisscrossing the landscape towards our eventual landing spot on the harbour arm.

The most stressful part of the experience was actually the video being taken to capture the moment. I don't object to the idea of a video but they did insist on trying to get us to whoop or scream which really didn't seem appropriate on such an otherwise stress free descent. The panorama as we flew was immense and I wished that I had been able to bring my camera. The curve of the coast looked like a scimitar blade with the turquoise blue sea meeting the reddish/white cliffs of the coastline before it turned green with the many small climbs of bushes and olive trees that run all the way up the hills. As we came lower we could easily spot our hotel and the place where,the previous day, we had sat contemplating whether to do this. As we landed I think we unanimously enjoyed it but now also yearned for something a little more exhilarating - Sky Diving seems to be top of the list!

The rest if our day and much of the rest of the days were spent either by the hotel pool, walking around the beautiful market of Kas, eating and drinking in the many restaurants and by the beach which had the unusual feature of a fresh water spring running into the sea which meant that the top of the water was ice cold while beneath it was comparatively warm. There was not a proper beach as such where we went but a series of sun loungers severed by a local restaurant and a large platform about a metre above the sea with a ladder to the water but plenty of depth to dive or jump in.

Callum and Kate to into town to get a 'noodle' float but despite 45 mins of searching (and as I later found out a bowl of ice cream) they return with 2 plastic inflatable rings a pink one and yellow one. They're cheap but do the job and Kate and Tom spend a good deal of the afternoon drifting further and further from the shore until their paranoid father (their words not mine) calls them in as he is worried they won't be able to make it back against the strong current. There are so many shops but many if them sell the same or similar. Callum buys Turkish Delight for his friends, Kate buys a white dress (with a substantial donation from Callum) and Tom finishes off his money by buying rose water soap (a present, not for himself !) and a pen. The kids also club together to buy me a t-shirt I have been eyeing up (basically a Turkish Flag (bright red with a crescent and a star). It seems by the end that Callum has given away most of his money so the rest of us decide to buy him a backgammon set he has been eyeing up for a while.

I've been looking everywhere for a local picture or painting but despite the amazing array of artefacts on sale, artwork is difficult to find in the shops. Initially I find a beautiful water colour of Istanbul in an antique shop but it turns out to be by a semi-famous Russian artist and costs 700! Finally I find a small workshop where a local artist is creating handmade wooden print landscapes of the Kas area (although even this man is not Turkish - he has a distinctly French accent). During our trip we've all eaten and tried a lot of the local food but now we are in a tourist area the kids all rebel and insist on a cheese burger! They also pick a spot in a local cafe/bar near the town centre where they sell excellent milkshakes and ice creams. We come back to this spot whenever the heat gets too much or they need something cool to drink.

We play rummy, go fish and motormouth for many happy hours and even learn (or in my case re-learn) a new game - Pit (which is really a very old game). We also have breakfast here one day where we discover that 'scrabled' egg is not the same as scrambled egg. In fact it appears instead to be fried egg!

20130807-120819.jpgOur final day relaxing is spent at the villa that the Harris' are renting in Kalkan, a nearby town. In order to tick off another experience we decide to take the bus. However this isn't quite as 'local' as I had thought. It turns out to be a minibus carrying lots of tourists to and from beaches along the coast. Once in Kalkan, Martin comes down from their villa which is high in the hills of Kalkan in his hire car which is a little white Fiat to collect us. It would be a strenuous walk up the hill to the villa and even the 1000cc Fiat struggles in anything less than 1st gear.

The villa is wonderful. There is a good size swimming pool surrounded by paving stones an sun loungers, a small garden with a lovely pale green olive green that dapples the garden with some welcome shade and where the wall meets the road there is a wide vista of the bay of Kalkan. Inside the building it is tastefully furnished. A lounge, kitchen, diner gives way on one side to a small conservatory with wicker table and chairs while the other accommodates a spiral staircase which leads to two good sized bedrooms with a connecting balcony. A further set if stairs takes you to a roof terrace which a handy wooden roof than provides shade.

20130808-081921.jpg It is a wonderful afternoon if playing in the pool, relaxing by the side or on the roof terrace and just generally enjoying the company of good friends. Martin has some interesting ideas on pool games - the simplest involve simply jumping into the pool with a summersault and landing on the air bed while the more complex including submerging the table, placing two chairs on top with people sitting on them to secure it and then others racing the air beds around the newly created island in the middle! The BBQ of burgers, red spicy sausages and salami-type bologna sausages was excellent followed by a healthy helping of water melon from perhaps the biggest one I've ever seen!

I am not entirely sure what the kids were up to on the roof terrace but Kate and Tom Harris made their way through most of the strawberry wine and also helped finish of the quince before apparently having a chocolate spread and yoghurt fight? In the evening we all go down to the town centre which was even more busy than the Kas.

20130807-120755.jpgInnumerable shops selling Turkish lamps, carpets, clothes, fezs (Kate and Tom Harris both buy one and manage to negotiate a buy one get one half price - 15 TL for the two), painted pottery, obviously fake leather handbags, watches and t-shirts. Every restaurant appears to have its own roof terrace and we had a very pleasant meal in one called Authentic Restaurant (is this an implied insult to the rest!?).

After a quick tea and night time swim back at the villa, Martin kindly gives us a lift back to Kas which he may be regretting as the combination of tiny engine on the car, steep curves on the dark road and misleading signs made driving very treacherous. I can't mention everything we did in these few days but they were a very happy relaxing time and we were sad to leave Kas when our new driver arrived at 7.30 the next day but we are excited about our final expedition to Cappadocia.