Sunday, October 23, 2011

She says Meis, he says Castellorizo

Across the bay from Kas, about 3.5 kilometers away, is the Greek island of Castellorizo, called Meis if you're Turkish. This ancient island has been in Greek hands for much of its history, but it's also been occupied by the Egyptians, Spanish, French, Italians, and Turks at various times. It has a strategic location just off the Turquoise Coast, so no wonder it's been coveted by so many countries.

We stopped staring at Greece and decided to pay it a visit

We stocked up on raw almonds before we left Kas
For us, it was a beautiful day trip by a fast ferry, a ride of about 25 minutes from Kas, and our first ever visit to Greece. (A trip of another several hours would take us to Rhodes from Castellorizo, but that was not in the cards.) Since Greece is (infamously) part of the European Union and Turkey is not, we had to hand over our passports before boarding the boat, and they were not given back to us until we reboarded the boat for our trip back to Turkey. Seemed a little odd, but apparently that's the accepted procedure so we went along with it. Actually, we had no choice if we wanted to get to Greece for the day!
Proof we were in Greece

Several thousand people lived on the island at some points in its history, but today there are only 300 full-time residents. They travel to Kas on Fridays to shop at the weekly market and then return to their beautiful island. The main occupations appear to be fishing and tourism.

After our boat docked in the sheltered horseshoe harbor on the island we headed left while everybody else went right, into town, so we were virtually alone on a beautiful walk along the coast to another little harbor. We stopped to talk to a distinctively Greek-looking woman who was supervising the remodeling of her family home, the Admiral's House, perched right on the coast below the fort. We chatted for a while (in English) about life on the island and then headed back into the main harbor area for lunch.

Most people live around the main harbor
The houses that line the harbor are painted in pretty pastels, making a gorgeous scene. We found the simple architecture of the homes very attractive-- more so than most of the modern Turkish architecture we've seen.

And I thought there were a lot of cats in Turkey!
Since we were in Greece, if only for a day, we couldn't resist the Greek salad and a giant piece of moussaka for our open-air lunch at a harborside cafe, with half a dozen cats underfoot waiting for scraps. At a nearby cafe we saw the captain our our ferry serving meals--I guess he does double-duty.

The cutest toilet I've seen in a while
By 3:00 we were back on the ferry for our return to Kas. We got our passports back as we boarded, but then had to give them up again when we arrived in Kas. Some guy put all the passports into a valise and carried them off somewhere while we were told to "wait in the park" nearby. Hmmm, what is going on here? An hour later the valise man showed up and gave everybody their passports back. Very strange, but all's well that ends well!

Castellorizo (Meis) harbor

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