Pearls of the Mediterranean: From high speed to slow down
During the 210-kilometer taxi transfer from the airport to Kas, there was no conversation with Mehmet—not a word—but I learned a lot about life here on the goose chase through Antalya’s metropolis of around 700,000 inhabitants.
What traffic! I’ve been a pretty keen driver for more than 30 years, and I am used to driving in big cities such as Barcelona, Milano, London and Paris, but the traffic in Turkey is something different. Mehmet just about flew me through the city. Only if absolutely necessary, did he drive less than 100km per hour, and red traffic lights seemed to be only a recommendation—a useless illumination for him.
To cut a long story short, the transfer was an adrenalin rush into a new and interesting and different world that exists so close to Europe. McDonalds, shopping malls, big city architecture are nearly the same here as in any other European city. On the other hand, the culture and atmosphere here makes the place seem so far away from European life. To be honest, the mixture of East and West in Turkey is like an amazing spice on a good meal.
Outside Antalya, we drove endless kilometers along the coastal line. My nerves calmed down. The road slid along the hills of the Taurus Mountains. Little villages and picturesque port towns bordered vast forests. The fantastic view over the Lycia coast, the smooth light of the nearby sunset and the amazing colours of the sea, which I would soon be exploring, inspired a wonderful holiday feeling.
It was shortly after sunset when Mehmet suddenly left the road and drove onto a small path into the forest. “What’s going on now?” I wondered and started getting a bit irritated when we suddenly stopped in front of a small restaurant. Bringing three fingers into his mouth, Mehmet made me understand that this would be our dinner pause.
We entered the restaurant where Mehmet was well known. We were welcomed and served at once, and I ate one of the best trout dinners I have ever had in my life, plus an amazing fresh salad and a Turkish “meze” antipasti plate. The compulsory deep black Turkish coffee completed the perfect transfer break.
Astonishingly, for this opulent meal, I paid an amount that one would pay, in Germany, for a little more than a few French fries and a beer.
We finally reached Kas close to midnight, and the beauty of this small historic port town was already blanketed by the night.
The next day, bright sunshine awoke me with deep blue skies and temperatures of more than 25°C, which is not high for Turkey, but hot for this time of the year. Hamburg was a little bit warmer than 4°C when I left in the beginning of March. The climate in south of Turkey was pleasant compared to the rainy and cold season some 2500 kilometres north.
It is like early summertime in central Europe, and that’s why Turkey is a very popular travel destination in the early part of the season during March and April.
I stepped into Kas Diving, which is close to the hotels and only a few steps away from the sea. I was welcomed by Arzu Övünc. She had such a nice German Berlin accent, that I immediately felt at home. She is Turkish but has lived in Germany for many years, has perfect in English as well and knows all about everything. She manages Kas Diving, the client relations, bookings and accommodations, and she is a very professional guide for guests who wish to discover the endless historical and tourist highlights on the Lycia coastline, and she is, of course, a keen diver, too. Sometimes she is bothered a little by her position and not having enough time to accompany Levent, the owner of Kas Diving, and his two instructors, Murat and Jeff, on their daily trips along the Kas coastline.
After one week of diving, I understood Arzu’s feelings, because my prejudices against eastern Mediterranean diving where blown away. There are about 30 dive spots that are used for diving here. All the trips start from the little harbour of Kas. Kas Diving has an own space at harbour with an exclusive place for the dive boat. Right next to the peer, there is a compressor station, which Levent installed.
Clients of Kas Diving enjoy the comfortable way of diving. Nobody has to take care of equipment. That job is done by the crew during your entire stay on board the dive boat. Nobody has to carry tanks or weight belts—everything is perfectly organised by Levent and his crew.
So again, the question is, “What makes a ‘pearl’, a ‘pearl’, as we define it”? Well, Kas is a good example of how a holiday destination can be perfect in so many different ways.
It was not much more than 30 years ago, that Kas could only be reached by a narrow, impassable goat path. That’s why nowadays Kas is far from the disastrous tourist development of many other Mediterranean destinations. There are no hotel bunkers, no classical signs of mass tourism to be found ...
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Our main travel feature in issue #24 is North Sulawesi where Wolfgang Pölzer visits Bunaken and Lembeh. Harald Apelt takes us to another Mediterranean pearl, the picturesque little port town of Kas in Turkey, while Arnold Weisz takes another dip in Brazilean waters by visting Ilha Grande, the resort island with no cars. Arnold also writes about the coral trade. Kurt Amsler shows us how to make great black and white images but, more importantly, he continues his mission to save the seaturtle from illegal hunting in Indonesia. Our new dive doctor, Kevin Chan MD, from Singapore writes about diving with asthma. In our new column, GirlDiver by Cindy Ross, we find out where the girls are. This issue's unique dive site is Lake Thingvellir on Iceland, and the portfolio section features painter Jens Poulsen of Denmark.