Ancient castle and sunken city

Trip Start Nov 09, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In the morning we said goodbye to a Scottish couple (Angela and Danny) that had been staying at the Hideaway Hotel too. They live just out of London but had just completed the purchase of a holiday apartment here in Kas and were very excited about it. We hope it all goes well for them. Certainly their apartment is in a great location with sweeping views of the bay.

We drove the short distance from Kas to Ucagiz to pick up a boat that might take us on a cruise around the ancient cities of Semina and Kekova.

As we arrived at the car park of Ucagiz there was a man in a yellow shirt stalking us. We spotted him straight away, but he was very polite with the way he approached us and offered us a cruise. He said 'I have nice boat'. I said 'How much?' He said 'Come and see my boat.' I said 'OK' and off we trotted. He led us through the small village and out the other side. It turns out that his boat was moored as far away from us as possible.

He introduced himself as Hassan and he did in fact have a nice boat. Jess asked to see the life jackets (just in case) and we haggled on the price for a 90 minute tour (he wanted 80 lira, I wanted 50 lira, we agreed on 60). Then we piled on board and were treated to a private cruise around the area.

First up was Semina. This is a small village that can only be reached by boat. From the water we could see a magnificent castle in ruins. Dating back to the 4th Century BC, this castle has artifacts also from Roman times and from Byzantine times. After docking we were left to our own devices to try and find a way up to the castle from the shore. Naturally I led the way and naturally we got hopelessly lost. Jess took the initiative and asked an ancient Turkish woman how to 'get to the castle'. This meant nothing to her, but thanks to our now almost perfected grunts and arm waving we were able to get our message across. 'Ah', she seemed to say and grabbed Jess's hand firmly as she led her up to the correct path to get to the castle, all the time having an extensive conversation in Turkish. Jess, who clearly had no idea what the woman was saying nonetheless replied with whatever she felt like saying. 'Yes, we are from Australia'. Also 'that's right I have four children'.

The castle looks like quite a long way from the shore, but when you are walking it, it's actually much much further. We were all pretty puffed when we made it, but it was fun to poke among the ruins and the view of the bay from there was brilliant. As we were exploring the ruins a man was calling out to us from the castle entry 'excuse me, castle entry 5 lira'. We paid on our way out and went back down to our boat.

Hassan looked relieved that we had finally come back and he took us across to Kekova island. On the shores of this island are the sunken remains of a large part of the Lycian city of Semina. The city was devastated by an earthquake in the second century AD and most of the shoreline fell below sea level. It was fascinating to observe the stairs descending into the water, half-houses at the water's edge, and sunken mosaics and artifacts. Hassan produced a bucket with a clear bottom to allow us to see the bottom of the bay more clearly. I in turn amazed him by putting Georgie's video camera underwater to try and capture the scene. On viewing the video later it didn't work but impressed Hassan no end. 'In 25 years of [operating this boat] I have not seen this' he told us.

When we got back to shore we thanked Hassan for a marvellous trip. I had the bright idea that we might grab a bite to eat. We asked to see the menu at a place that had a few people in it and had a wonderful location right by the water. The men apparently had no English and looked a bit worried by our request but seated us and asked us what we would like to drink. We ordered our drinks and then waited for a menu. We'd still be waiting now if we hadn't decided that we weren't going to get anything, so we paid for our drinks and left.

We had a bit of an explore around the area in the car, including the peninsula attached to Kas. This peninsula is the location of a huge (and ugly) building expansion of holiday villas and apartments. Hundreds of them, spoiling what must have been an area of great natural beauty just a few short years ago. We both agreed that we are lucky in Australia that there are much tighter controls on coastal development. However bad you think the Gold Coast is, it can't match the unbridled development of large chunks of the Turkish Mediterranean coast line.

We went back to Kas and strolled around it for hours, buying a couple of items, eating a kebab, having a ride on the dodgem cars and then dinner in a place called 'Mama's Kitchen'. We dined al fresco and had a really pleasant evening eating and chatting. It was a great last night to spend in Kas.
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