Monday, September 24, 2012

Kas trip: Across to Kastellorizo, Greece

We went to Kas at the end of Ramadan, when everyone has off from work, and since the hotels there were all fully booked for our last two days, we decided to spend the end of our trip across the way in Greece, on the island of Kastellorizo. (It seems like the Greeks also refer to it as Megisti, and the Turks call it Meis.) If you look at a map of Turkey, you'll see that all of the islands, with only two exceptions, belong to Greece, even though a number of them are just a stone's throw from Turkey. Kastellorizo, Greece's easternmost island, is only about 20 minutes by ferry from Kas, out in the harbor.

Kastellorizo was AMAZING. Heavenly and divine. It's pretty small -- according to Wikipedia, the current population is only 430, and everything is centered around the harbor, the hills just above it, or the small cove just on the other side. Not surprisingly, there's not a lot to do, but that was one of the things that was so great about it -- we spent our two afternoons by the water, lounging or looking for turtles, and our evenings strolling and eating good food. (Not a lot to do was good for us, but of course, not so great for the island. It seems like there wouldn't be much job opportunity there outside of tourism, and a good number of the islanders have resettled in Australia. As a comparison to the current 430, 9,000 people lived on Kastellorizo in 1910.)

We stayed at Poseidon Hotels, which were actually little apartments on the other side of the harbor, directly across from the ferry. We didn't know what to expect; I'd had a hard time finding someplace to stay in Kastellorizo (there are only three places listed on Trip Advisor), and a travel agent in Kas had found this place for us. But it was really great, and I'd highly recommend Poseidon Hotels. It's a street back from the water (although we could see the harbor from our balcony), but they've set up a "beach"-side area with chaise lounges, umbrellas and kayaks, so it didn't make a difference.

On our first afternoon there, we took advantage of the chaise lounges. It was divine. The only interruption came around 5pm, when this huge ferry came sailing in, completely taking up the entire harbor. I actually felt incredibly sorry for everyone who was leaving.

On the second day, we woke up early to take a short boat trip to see the Blue Grotto, a small cave where the light emanates this eerie blue. You have to go early because of the tide, and when we got there, around 9am, the tide was already too high for the boat to go in. But no problem -- we put on our scuba masks and swam in. It was cool, but it was also kinda creepy, and for a little while, I was freaked out by what might be in the water. (In the end, I decided nothing much was in the water.)

We spent the rest of that day in the chaise lounges. Then, in the late afternoon, we decided to do a little exploring. We'd seen a Lycian tomb in the hillside as we were going to the Blue Grotto, and we decided to try and find it. It turned out to be pretty easy -- there's a little walkway that clings to the side of the island, and we just followed it along. After, buoyed by our success, we decided to try and make it up to the 14th-century Castle of the Knights, a ruined fortress visible at the top of the hill. We got up to it pretty easily -- once there, you can climb up about 30 steps, to where the flag is. Next to it was a 15th-century chapel, St. Nicholas, but it was closed. As we walked up, we felt like we were walking through people's backyards, but once you're at the top, there's a clear paved pathway -- we followed this down, and it led us to a couple more churches and then through the back alleyways of the harbor area. It was fun just to go wandering around -- Kastellorizo is too small to get lost, so you can pretty much go any way you want and feel sure that you'll find your way back.

We had a great holiday overall, but our two-day trip to Kastellorizo was a definite highlight. I'm hoping we'll go again next summer, it was just that fantastic. :)
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