Only one week into ‘work’ and we were on holiday. A group of 11 other coworkers and I decided to use our extended break to get out of Istanbul and see another part of the country. With sunken ruins, clear waters, and the recommendation of those that had been there, Kaş sounded like the place to go.

It began with a bus ride. While flights were an option, it made economic sense for a group our size to reserve a mini-bus and drive through the night. The logic went that we would arrive in the morning refreshed and ready to go, but the reality was not so straightforward.

The “before” picture. There is no “after”.

12 people on a bus is a lot. We sprawled over seats, bags, the floor, and each other to get comfortable and try to find a position to sleep in. We had limited success, in no small part thanks to the roads of Turkey. It also became apparent that our bus driver was not exactly sure where we were going. We stopped more often to ask for directions than to get gas.

Or food and water. Sometime in the morning I awoke to discover we were bouncing over mostly dirt mountain roads. My phone had long given out on us, so I wasn’t quite sure when or where we were, but it was clear that most of us were still tired, hungry, and out of water.

The bus driver didn’t speak English, so the only one of us fluent in Turkish hopped up front to convey the situation. Soon after we pulled over at the only structure I’d seen for several miles (sorry, kilometers) and piled out.

I’m sure we were quite the sight to the owners of the restaurant: 12 disheveled foreigners who immediately swarmed through the roaming chickens to the outside tables. There we had an incredible meal, all the more impressive for the fact that we were still in the last days of Ramadan (or Ramazan in Turkey) and our hosts were fasting. I cringed at this realization, but was halfway through the meal at that point.

Soon we were new people and off again on the last few hours of the trip. We arrived on the coast in the midday and checked into our rental with only a few dramatics about showing up with double the people we had reserved for.

Kaş was indeed as picturesque as promised, especially when it came to the water. The Mediterranean was crystal clear and surprisingly warm. We could alternate between jumping from the ladder into the sea and following fish around the rocks. It was so clear that a large boulder next to the shore could look right beneath the surface but still be 15 feet down. We swam morning, noon, and night, only occasionally alternating to the shared rental pool.

Several members of the group were industrious enough to cook meals for everyone, so a few of us who couldn’t cook anything more than mac and cheese (myself included) volunteered to bring groceries back from the town center. Kaş was certainly a tourist destination, as the number of gift shops and adventure tourism storefronts attested to, but it wasn’t without charm. The main square was ringed with restaurants and paved with cobblestones, and local cafes advertised friendly service and specials.

A local dog we adopted for our walk into town.

We also spent one day kayaking with a tour guide where we saw the remnants of civilizations past and sunken ruins. After eating, the views were stunning and the water inviting. The water was astoundingly clear and I relished the opportunity to swim over little fish and follow the seabed.

A fish that didn’t make it.

The trip was over before we knew it and so after a final meal in town we boarded the mini-bus and set off again. This time I was able to sleep on the way back and the 11 hour ride (considerably shorter now the driver knew the route) flew by. Certainly not a bad way to start my time in Turkey, even if it set the standards high!

The sunset while leaving Kas.

Jack Struck

Student in our nation's capital, studying International Relations with a focus on the Middle East. Web designer, runner, reader, and leader.

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