Today we went on a gulet trip – that is a leisurely boat ride around the Kas bay. The boat was lovely and spacious, with a motor and masts for sails, though there were none on it today.
DH and I spent the entire day basking in the sun, occasionally braving the waters for a bracing swim. The water is pretty cold, since we’re early in the season yet, but after a little bit getting used to the temperature a brief swim is refreshing. We had a great group of people – all really friendly and easy going, and over a baked sea bass lunch we swapped stories about hammams and travel round Turkey. I finished my sock club sock, and stuck it on a foot form and took a bunch of photos… much to everyone’s amusement and DH’s utter embarrassment.
This area of the coast is rich with Lycian ruins, and we went to visit an ancient town called Xanthos yesterday. The Xanthians are legendary for their fierce protection of their freedom. When the Persians invaded in 540 BC, the Xanthians facing defeat rounded up their citizens and committed mass suicide rather than be captured as slaves. Eventually Xanthos was repopulated, only to revisit the grisly scene again with a mass suicide when Romans invaded in 42 BC.
We walked around the old town, visiting the theatre and the royal house – walking through the weeds and grass and visiting the old dining/reception room, bath, agora (open courtyard) – and the commercial centre where walls still stood and most of the old church, along with mosaic flooring. Only the old church was walled off, the rest we could freely clamber around. The old Roman pipelines were visible in many places as were the original drains in the bathrooms and the cisterns. Most of the excavated finds at Xanthos were removed and now live at the British Museum courtesy of explorer Charles Fellowes. It will be nice to go home and visit the Lycian exhibits there – seeing the ruins in situ really helps bring history to life.
The goats had the run of the place, running around and munching on the weeds. Our guide told us that in a month the goats will have done a stellar job of clearing all the weeds. “Goats are good for ancient sites” he told us.
Sunday night the hotel restaurant had a special dish called Testi Kebab (just normal lamb, not a special cut!) which was like a tagine, cooked in a terracotta urn. The urn came to the table on a plate of flames, with the opening at the top covered in foil. The waiter then wrapped the foil with a cloth, held the cloth and the urn upside down, and used a huge metal stick to tap the bottom of the urn (now sticking up in the air), which was supposed to break off and allow him to pour the contents onto the diner’s plate.
Unfortunately for our waiters, the dish proved to be very popular, and tricky. The foil lids leaked, meaning they got burned quite a lot, and a few of the terracotta urns simply refused to part with their bottoms, meaning they could not get the stew out. Some urns decided to part with more than their bottoms, meaning the stew inside was littered with terracotta pieces. At one point, there was a fire in the kitchen, since an urn and its meth laden flaming plate base had fallen to the floor. That one happened to be the one for DH! Still, it was quite a show and despite having to wait 2 hours for our main course, there was more than enough to entertain us, with diners exploding into spontaneous applause everytime one of the bottoms was successfully tapped off!
We’re going to try out a restaurant in Kas tonight. The weather is perfect, warm and still. Off to find some Turkish mezze and kebabs. Maybe even some guzleme.