The moonless night conceals all but the high beam illuminated, endlessly twisting road before us. We've just touched down in Antalya, and are now barreling along at warp speed through a night thicker than the bottom of a Turkish coffee fix. Somewhere in the unknowable distance lies Kas, a seaside hamlet about as far removed from the culture and chaos of Istanbul as our driver is from traffic safety school.
At the first mention of including this often overlooked bastion of salt and sun on our Turkish itinerary, I was hesitant -- I'd never heard of such a place, and even some of my Turkish friends I reached out to were unaware of it's existence. Though I knew nothing about the town and my frame of reference for the Lycian coast is biblically dated, it’s not my style to argue against hanging out in a sun kissed yachtie haven for a week. All of the hallmark bits and pieces for vacation perfection were presented:
"Beaches, Scuba diving, sailing, seafood, and sunsets…? I guess we can work with this”
I knew it was going to be good, but that was only half of the story. The real action kicked in with the first sunrise from our Airbnb tucked back into the hills above Big Pebble Beach just outside of town. If we had done nothing besides sit out on our veranda for a week and fixate on the sweeping coastal vistas before us, we still would have gotten our money’s worth.
We sat hypnotized by the rising sun and magical view for an hour or two — it’s impossible to say how long, because vacation time had officially kicked in. A gentle knock at our door lifted us out of our reveries, and upon answering we were greeted by the beaming face of our perpetually jubilant host: Captain Ergun, a man who always brings good news.
This first morning, his good news for us was that it was time to join his family downstairs in their unit for a traditional Turkish breakfast. The rest of our week with captain Ergun and his family proved to bear similarly fruitful experiences — literally every time he came around, something great happened.
During our breakfast, which also featured a show stopping view, Ergun extended an invitation for us to join him for a visit to the nearby sunken city of Kekova.
What good fortune! We all had read about the sunken city and hoped to visit, but agreed that we probably didn’t want to fuss with haggling for a foreigner targeted package tour during this relaxation phase of our three week trip to Turkey. While we were still abuzz with endorphins reacting to this exciting new prospect, Ergun took the party up a notch with his next announcement: He would bring his Phantom 3 drone, the latest model at the time, and we would film ourselves climbing around the nearby UNESCO heritage site Kaleköy castle.
The rest of the week was full of surprises playing out in similar high octane fashion:
Scuba diving in a sunken plane? Check
Getting up close and personal with an Octopus? Check, then another check — he was so forward that he came up onto the beach out of the water and wrapped his tentacles around our leg.
And of course our boat trip over to Kastelorizo, the Greek island and radical departure from Turkish culture that likes just 10 km off shore here.
But the highlight of our week in Kas was…Kas itself. The town was idyllic happiness; everything existed in a slower, purer form here. The locals, the landscape, the food, even the friendly stray dogs— Kas had everything dialed in to perfection, and even the 5 am prayer calls from the minarets encircling us came to feel welcome, mixed in with the birdsong and the fishmonger cries and the gentle lapping of turquoise waters upon the rocks below our hilltop perch. Whenever you find yourself in Turkey, go get lost for a few weeks in Kas.